December is a pretty crazy month for us, as I am sure it is for most people.
The lead up to Christmas full of parties, gatherings and gift giving. Every year (mostly) I make a batch of edible gifts to give to friends, extended family members, work mates and the like. One year I made Watermelon and Sour Cherry Jam, another time Peach Chutney. This year I decided to make gingerbread trees and stars and make use of all the glass jars I have been collecting and recycling throughout the year.
I love homemade gifts, especially edible ones! These are the perfect little token to let your pals know you love and care for them, without having worry about what to give. They are are also the perfect something to bring when you don’t want to turn up empty handed. I guess like a box of chocolates – but more personal. Homemade gifts are particularly handy when on a tight Christmas budget, especially if you recycle your glass jars.
When I was a young child we lived with my Nonna and Nonno.
Like many Italian migrants, they were born into a time of great poverty. They didn’t have much and were taught to appreciate everything they had. Nothing was left to waste. They still find useful and creative ways to re-use old goods. I remember looking in my nonna’s fridge to find countless old jars. Instead of Tupperware products, my Nonna just recycles her old jars. My Nonno also uses them in his shed. Bottles of passata from the previous year get sterilised and used again for the next batch. He also stores his nails/screws/bolts etc in old food containers. I used to make a light joke of it, and now I find myself doing exactly the same thing. It’s funny the habits and behaviours you pick up with out realising.
For some, Christmas can be a quite a wasteful day. By the end of the day, the bin is overflowing with plastic packaging and gift wrap. I like to keep the waste to a minimum by keeping last year’s old wrapping paper, making little edible gifts, and using all the jars I’ve accumulated over the year.
Thank you Nonna, you led by example.
gingerbread trees and stars
adapted from Everyday in the Kitchen, Michele Curtis and Allan Campion
125g soft butter
70g brown sugar
1 free range egg
125ml warm organic honey
300g self raising flour
150g wholemeal self raising flour
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg beaten, for glazing
raw sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
Cream together the butter and the sugar using and electric mixer. Add egg and beat again.
Next add the warmed honey and stir until combined. Stir the flours and spices into the wet mixture until well combined. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and place in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
When you are ready to cook the biscuits, place the dough in between 2 layers of baking paper and roll it out until it is even and fairly thin, say about 4mm. I cut the dough in half and did it in two batches, I found it much easier to roll out a smaller piece.
Now get your cookie cutters and cut out your shapes, placing them on a lined baking tray as you go. I gathered up all the excess offcuts of dough, rolled them into a ball and continued the process, you know, to minimise the waste.
Brush the tops of the biscuits with the beaten egg and sprinkle liberally with raw sugar.
Bake for 8 – 10 mins, or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.
Makes about 30 – 40 biscuits, depending on the size of your cutters.