This started with a post I wrote years ago (2007) on my Christmas blog, when I'd been doing some thinking about
gifts from the kitchen: how they come from the giver's heart and also from
the heart of the home. When I was growing up, our family always gave
away lots of cookies, fudge, and yeast breads at Christmas time: My mother made pans and pans of her maple fudge, but she also made lots
of Christmas cookies, and loaves of cinnamon swirled bread which she
topped with a thin white icing plus sliced almonds and a few candied
were also the recipients of some kitchen gifts, so I'm going to share a
few of those memories and recipes this morning.
Great-aunt Bessie always made large batches of Chex Mix and gave tins of it to everyone on her list.
I've done a bit of research to try and find the recipe Bessie would have used. It's somewhat different from the Chex Mix of today. I seem to recall that there were short, thin pretzel sticks in it, peanuts, and Cheerios. I definitely remember fighting with my siblings over the Cheerios. These seemed to absorb the butter and seasonings better than anything else, and were really tasty. Somewhere I can picture the recipe, written in Bessie's handwriting on Ralston Purina letterhead (her late husband had worked for Ralston, and they were also the company Chex cereal was originally made by, so this was quite meaningful) but I haven't been able to find that paper. Bessie would pack the mix in recycled cans which she covered with Con-Tact™ paper. This is the best I've been able to do as far as finding a recipe for it: Bessie's Mix.
I don't recall my grandmother giving kitchen gifts in my childhood, but in later years, she also had a traditional homemade gift that she would give -- large jars of creamy hot chocolate mix. She would stir all the ingredients up in a gigantic bowl and then transfer the mix to jars for giving. It made a very rich-tasting cup of hot chocolate, so we kids were always happy to see that jar! Here's her recipe: Gram's Hot Chocolate Mix.
Gram also traditionally made a special kind of fudge. I think it
was basically the "Five-Minute Fudge" and that she used to use both
chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in it, maybe in equal quantities.
Neighbors also shared kitchen gifts with our family. There was a German family who always brought an assortment of delectable homemade cookies. Another neighbor traditionally made a pear quick bread. And another delivered her gift on New Year's Day -- a dessert called Pumpkin Snow (made from her own pumpkins) with an accompanying jar of custard sauce.
What fun it all was! When my hubby and I got married over four decades ago, we decided to share Christmas cookies with our neighbors. Some reciprocated with jars of salsa or loaves of homemade bread. Not sure where the neighbor gifts will be going this year amid coronavirus fears, but we will be giving plenty of kitchen gifts to our family. So happy to keep these memories going.