Wednesday, December 21, 2011

UnRecipe: Holiday Wishes and Last Minute Gift Shuffle

I know I said this before, if you weren't holiday gift-ready by the first couple of weeks of December, it's Game Over by now. Hey, the Prime doesn't pull punches when it comes to the holidays! Procrastinators, abandon all hope, ye who enter these waning days before December 25th. But I've got one final bit of last-minute holiday gift inspiration!

Homemade vanilla extract, easy-peasy 1-2-threesie gift idea - Photo by Wasabi Prime

I talked before about making vanilla extract -- it's pretty basic: take a bottle of vodka and shove some vanilla beans in the bottle, let it sit. In a few weeks, you'll have at least the basic beginnings of liquid vanilla gold. If you had a vodka bottle-sized batch of vanilla extract in your pantry, siphon some of that tasty goodness off into some smaller bottles and label them up as a little gift for someone. Sharing is caring, and it always sounds impressive that you made it yourself. To gussy-up the bottles, I  got some decorative oven mitts, shoved in a decorative tea towel, some silicone spatulas and a bar of baking chocolate to go with each bottle of vanilla extract. For a friend who loves to bake or just loves chocolate chip cookies, it's a sweet, easy gift where a lot of those items can be picked up at a grocery store. For someone who prefers cocktails over cookies, give it as a flavoring agent to add to a cocktail, along with a pair of highball glasses. If you've been steeping vanilla beans in bourbon, all the better to give to your cocktail nerd friends for a vanilla-flavored spirit.

Share some flavor and sweetness - Photos by Wasabi Prime

But, Wasabi, I don't have a giant bottle of vodka sitting in my pantry, shoved full of vanilla beans. What then? Well, if the vanilla beans aren't fully steeped, consider adding a label of "Do Not Open till (Almost) Next Xmas" to the flask of soon-to-be vanilla extract and throw in a batch of fresh-baked cookies. Chances are the recipient is wrapped up in their own holiday whirlwind and will be pleased to just let the science experiment of homemade vanilla extract take its course. I didn't say this would be the perfect gift, just one that could be fashioned as a last-minute holiday gift bail-out!

From December 2011

Meanwhile, as for the Prime, I'm in the home stretch of finishing off our own supply of holiday sweets for ourself and getting ready to settle in for a bit of a winter's nap. I love the holidays, it's a mad dash of crazy-busy energy getting things wrapped and out the door, and the reward is just feeling like I made the most of the season trying to let others know how much they mean to both the Mister and myself. Yes, I totally took shortcuts this year, doing a mix of homemade sweets mixed with store bought treats for some care packages -- Trader Joe's always saves my bacon when sending gifts to family in TJ-less Hawaii. I don't feel bad about it because there's only so many hours in a day and a big gift for myself this year was trying to give myself a spare moment's breath wherever possible. Time is the greatest luxury of all, and it's one of those gifts we can only give ourselves, if we can afford it.

A very Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all, and to all a good night, from the Prime.


  1. Where do you get the pretty little glass bottles?

  2. @Dana - The bottles were actually from sample-size rye tasters. But you could go to a liquor store, get some inexpensive vodka in the smaller (but not mini) glass bottles and re-use those when the vanilla beans were steeped. You just need a bottle that can be resealed, preferably glass. Labels can be soaked off and you could just paint the top of the cap if you want to hide what the original contents were!

  3. Oh my gosh, such great ideas. Thanks! Home made gifts really are so much more fun to receive. I made Big Newtons (a much tastier version of fig newtons) for gifts this year. So time consuming but always worth all the work because people go crazy for them.

    I wanted to make truffles too but never got around to it. Last weekend flew by.


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