Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Season of Giving--Giving Tuesday

Gifts come in all shapes, sizes, and price points. The photo above is of a man who bought a "Pasta Pass" from Olive Garden, then proceeded to try and feed the homeless with the food that he received with the pass.  As we think about the gifts we give this season, it's important to remember those who won't be receiving gifts, let alone have enough to eat. 

Here in San Diego it's simple to donate to the Jacobs-Cushman food bank; you bring non-perishables to a red barrel in supermarkets, and some supermarkets will charge you an extra $10 (with your permission) to donate to a bag of food to the food bank. 

There are many ways to give, but my point is that we should give generously to those in need.  Today in San Diego it is a cold and rainy day; there are homeless under the overpasses, just trying to find shelter from the storm.  Donating to local charities will help some of these people get a hot meal or shelter if they need it.  So instead of buying Uncle George that tie, maybe donate in his name to your favorite charity.  If he's like me, it would mean more than a gift bought at the last minute that I don't really need. 
Today is "Giving Tuesday" and after all the hype with Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, take the time to think about those in need, and give. If you order things from Amazon you might want to order from Amazon smile, some proceeds from the sale of your items will go to a charity of your choice. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Season of Giving

It's that time of year again, and whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday at this time of year, there will be presents.  This year (barring any unforeseen shoulder breaks, or broken bones) I will try and post a gift a day for the next two weeks.  My first book published in 1993 was The Perfect Mix, a book filled with nothing but mixes that you put together and gave as gifts.  Unfortunately now out of print, some of these recipes will be from the book, as well as new recipes that I've developed since then.  These are items easily put together in your home kitchen, to give as gifts to friends, co-workers, and those you want to remember at this time of year.
Trust me, homemade gifts are as rare as dinosaur eggs, and it's time to teach your children, and those you love that gifts from your kitchen can make the holidays merry and bright.  Try enlisting your children to make some of these gifts, since they are simple, but filled with great foods to enjoy during the holidays.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love a cookie?  This gift practically makes itself and you can have your kids layering the ingredients into the jars, while you print off the recipes for your friends.  This recipe will make 1 jar, that holds 8 cups.  Layer in the order given, or change it up to suit your needs.

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla powder (or sub in vanilla extract in the recipe card)
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Variations:  Add 1 cup dried cranberries to the layer between the oats and flour.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 4 dozen
One jar Oat Meal Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 egg yolk

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, line baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners.  
  2. Put the mix in a large bowl, and blend in the butter, egg, and egg yolks until the mixture is incorporated.  
  3. Using a portion scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, 2inches apart.  
  4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the edges are dark golden brown.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. 

Ideas for decorating the jar can be raffia tied to the recipe, custom made labels (www.avery.com) bits of seasonal fabric cut with pinking shears to cover the jar top and sprigs of silk holly, or ivy.  I tend to use wired ribbon since it holds up well.