The Odessa Record -

Super tasty, homemade from scratch, gift ideas

Series: Recipe Column | Story 68

Last updated 1/3/2019 at 8:20pm

Gifts from the kitchen lend a personal touch when shared with family and friends. Homemade and from scratch recipes make gifts and events more festive.

Eggnog, a traditional holiday beverage, is a cut above when homemade. It takes some forethought, as the base must be made and chilled at least four hours before serving time, but the end result is well worth the extra planning.

Holiday Eggnog

12 large eggs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 quarts whole milk

1 cup brandy (optional)

2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Ground nutmeg

2 cups heavy whipping cream

At least 4 hours before serving, place eggs, sugar and salt in a heavy, 4 quart saucepan, and beat with a wire whisk until well blended. Gradually stir in 1 quart of the milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a heat resistant spatula, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon when dipped in the mixture. This will take 25 to 35 minutes.

Use a candy thermometer to make sure mixture reaches 170 to 175 degrees, but do not let mixture boil or it will curdle.

Pour egg mixture into a large bowl; stir in brandy if using, vanilla, 1 tsp nutmeg and remaining milk. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.

To serve, beat whipping creamin a medium bowl until soft peaks form. With a wire whisk, gently fold whipped cream into chilled egg mixture.

Pour into a chilled 5 quart punch bowl and sprinkle with additional nutmeg. Yield: about 16 cups, or 32 punch cup servings.

Savory yeast breads are welcomed gifts as they are a nice addition to any meal, but also freeze well for later use. Rosemary Bread is especially good with any Italian theme meal or served with a meat and cheese selection.

Rosemary Bread

2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)

2 Tbsp honey or molasses

2 envelopes or 4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

3 cups unbleached or whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 2 Tsp dried

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour

2 Tbsp cornmeal

10 small rosemary sprigs (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, stir together water, honey, yeast and unbleached flour to form a sticky dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until double in bulk.

Stir batter until deflated, then stir in oil, chopped rosemary, salt and seasonings until blended. Stir in 3 cups of the all-purpose flour.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead with floured hands for about 5 minutes until smooth, adding more flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking.

Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until double in bulk.

Lightly grease two baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal. Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a 9 inch round. Poke a hole in the center of each loaf and carefully stretch to enlarge the hole to 3 inches. (Loaves should look like large donuts)

Lift onto prepared baking sheets. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Adjust oven racks to middle and bottom of oven. Preheat to 400 degrees. If using rosemary sprigs for garnish, insert 5 toothpicks evenly spaced around top of each loaf. Sprinkle loaves with additional cornmeal. Bake 30 minute or until loaves sound hollow when tapped, switching pan positions at 15 minutes.

Remove loaves to wire racks to cool completely. Remove toothpicks. Just before gifting or serving, insert rosemary sprigs in the toothpick holes. Yield: 2 loaves.

When I first moved to Odessa Alva Richardson shared her recipe for Washington Nut Pie, a treat we enjoyed at our first Deutschesfest, but also a favorite at holiday events. Alva’s tip: “use the real ingredients”.

Washington Nut Pie

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 Tbsp melted butter

1 cup dark Karo syrup

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup chopped pecans

Line a 9 inch pie pan with pastry and set aside. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add vanilla, sugar, butter, Karo syrup and salt. Mix well until sugar dissolves. Fold in pecans. Pour mixture into prepared pie pan.

Bake 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until almost set. Don’t overbake, it should be like custard. Cover edges to prevent over-browning during last 15 minutes of baking.

Good pie crust can be a trick to make. Our dry climate, means more liquid is required to make the crust hold together, and water, when mixed into flour begins the process of gluten forming a structure that can lead to a tough crust. Some recipes use vinegar or other acidic additions to counteract this but I have found the recipes using plain vodka work best for me.

Vodka Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into very small pieces

1/2 cup solid shortening, chilled

6-8 Tbsp cold water

6-8 Tbsp cold vodka

Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add butter and shortening. Gently cut in with a pastry blender until a course meal forms.

Combine water and vodka. Add one to two tablespoons at a time to flour mixture and gently stir until mixture clings together and can be formed into a ball. Divide dough in half, form into two 5 inch disks and roll out to desired thickness to line pie pans. Yield: 2 crusts.

Note: the trick is gently, gently, gently, so you don’t work up the gluten.

Our next column will come out after the New Year. We will be doing our annual pantry clean out. Share your tips for pantry control and using up items on hand by sending them to: Welcome to My Kitchen, c/o The Odessa Record, P.O. Box 458, Odessa, WA 99159, email or drop them in the Welcome to My Kitchen mail tin in The Odessa Record office. Discarded Christmas trees make a great windbreak for your roses. Cut in several pieces and nestle among the bushes.


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