Holiday Gifts From The Kitchen

IN THE KITCHEN

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If the kitchen is your comfort zone, use it as your own holiday workshop and create gifts of the edible kind.

The old standby, Kraft Fantasy Fudge, is a favorite of mine to make, and it seems to be a favorite to receive among my family.

With all the different kinds of baking chips available now -- semi-sweet, milk chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, mint, peanut butter, etc. -- the assorted variations would be enough for several gifts.

If I remember the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip package right, a batch is about three pounds, so if you just made a single batch using the six different chips listed, you would have 18 pounds of fudge. Mix and match in one or two pound containers and you have between nine and 18 gifts out of the way.

Among my collection of recipes is a box of cards published almost 20 years ago by General Mills. They are divided into different sections, including one devoted to gifts from the kitchen. Two good ones for gift-giving: Granola Bonbons and Spiced Orange Tea Mix.

Granola Bonbons

2 cups powdered sugar

1-1/2 cups granola, any flavor

1 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

2-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Finely chopped nuts or graham cracker crumbs

Mix sugar, cereal, peanut butter and butter in a large bowl, combine well and form into 1-inch balls. Refrigerate until firm.

Heat chocolate chips in top of double boiler over hot water until melted. Remove from heat, but keep hot water under pot of melted chocolate. Dip pre-formed balls into chocolate, rolling some in nuts or graham cracker crumbs and leaving some plain. Put a tray lined with wax paper, cover and store in refrigerator.

Spiced Orange Tea Mix

1 cup powdered orange breakfast drink mix

1, 3.4-ounce package presweetened lemonade mix

2/3 cup instant tea

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Mix all ingredients and store in air-tight container. To make tea, dissolve a tablespoon of mix in a cup of boiling water, cranberry juice or wine.

Years ago, in a high school home economics class my team made this as part of a holiday open house we hosted. It was quite a nice treat against the damp and cold, and had a fabulous aroma.

This mix is one either my mother made one holiday season or someone gave to us and it represents a special memory.

Hot Cocoa Mix

1, 8-quart box instant powdered milk

1, 16-ounce jar nondairy creamer

1, 2-pound box instant chocolate drink mix

1, 1-pound box powdered sugar

Sift sugar and mix together. To use, fill a mug half full of mix, about a quarter cup. Add boiling water.

My cousin Gayla made this for us one Christmas.

Soup Mix

14 ounces dry split peas

12 ounces barley

1-1/2 cups rice

14 ounces small pasta

12 ounces lentils

4 cups dried onion

Combine ingredients. Using clean, dry jars that seal well, or zipper-type plastic bags, place 1-1/3 cups mix in each jar or bag, seal and store.

To make soup, boil 2 quarts water. Add pre-measured soup mix. Season to taste. To make heartier, add a pound of browned ground beef and stewed tomatoes, or leftovers -- such as pieces of cooked meat, celery and carrots which have been cut into bite sizes. Simmer for 1-1/4 hours. Serve with warm bread, biscuits or cornbread.

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