This time of the year I get struck by a nearly uncontrollable craving. As the shelves of the grocery store fill with the enticement of seasonal treats, I focus my attention on seeking out my personal holiday favorite: peppermint. I think this desire was instilled at an early age with that miracle known as peppermint ice cream, a frozen miracle of flavor, spotted with little peppermint candy bits. I looked forward to its arrival every year. Now as an adult my culinary tastes have expanded and my sweet tooth has been (somewhat) tamed, but the annual love for that cooling peppermint remains. With that urge in mind I set my eyes to Etsy to seek out some items that would bring lip-smacking, smile-inducing peppermint pleasure to the rest of these chilly winter months. What I found only fuels my need to stock up. Full credits and shop links below!
Lately, I have been experimenting with making hard cider. I’m really low-tech when it comes to this sort of thing. I make mead too, but I can’t be bothered with all that racking and bottling and stuff. So, I make an herbal tea, mix it 50/50 with honey, add some yeast and yeast energizer, throw an airlock on the bottle, and forget aboudit. When it’s time to drink the mead (3-6 months later), I just pour from the same bottle, which I store indefinitely with the airlock on it. I have the same approach to cider. The simplest way I know to make homemade hard cider is as follows:
I don’t know about you, but every Christmas I’m confronted with the dilemma of what to give to people I don’t know terribly well. You know the category: extended family, business acquaintances, neighbors. I care about them and want to give them something nice and heartfelt—but what? Solution: homemade sweets!
Luckily, I work at Lark and didn’t have to go far to find a recipe. Poring through Sweet Confections by Nina Wanat, my mouth watering at every page, I came across a recipe for Sour Cream Candied Nuts. This old-fashioned recipe makes nuts enrobed in a thick, sugary coating and infused with alluring spiciness. Mm, what a crunchy, crusty treat! Make some up, wrap them in pretty packaging, embellish with ribbon, and presto! a gift from the heart.
SOUR CREAM CANDIED NUTS (makes about 2 cups)
- 2/3 cup of packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1/4 cup of sour cream
- 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 1 1/4 cups of roasted walnuts, almonds, or pecans
- Baking sheet, parchment paper, wooden spoon, candy thermometer, food-safe gloves
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the sugar, salt and sour cream in a 2-quart saucepan and stir occasionally over medium heat until the mixture reaches 240 degrees.
- Remove from heat. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and nuts to the syrup and stir vigorously until the syrup becomes dry and matted, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Pour the coated nuts onto the parchment paper, put on your gloves, and immediately separate the nuts. Let cool, then store in an airtight container. So easy, so fast, so tasty!
Directions for use
- Grasp a few nuts between the thumb and index.
- Bend the elbow and raise the hand to the face.
- Open the mouth and pop in the nuts. Chew, savor, repeat. Yum!
Besides being snack-worthy all by themselves, you can also toss them on salads (a mixture of baby arugula, shredded manchego and candied pecans is oh-so-delicious); garnish ice cream, brownies and other baked goods, or bake them right in (sinful!); or put them in cereal to start the day off right (!).
The holiday season is now in full swing; there are gifts to be made and greeting cards to be sent. In this world of mass-produced and yes, electronic holiday cards, wouldn’t it be nice to slow down and create a card for those you care for? If a picture says a 1000 words, then a handmade card says ten times that. While making a beautiful, heartfelt card is a labor of love, it doesn’t have to be all that laborious.
Geninne Zlatkis, author of Making an Impression, shows you how to create a stamped, tranquil town under a night sky full of embroidered stars—she even supplies you with a template. The beauty of this card is that once you create the stamp of the town, (made with simple, straight lines), then you can easily stamp up multiples for your family and friends. The limitless options of embroidery floss available—including metallic and glow-in-the-dark fibers—makes it easy to personalize each card. You’ll find the instructions here.
Hi everyone! I am here to give away a book and some candy-making supplies. Someone
is going to win won everything in this photo:
I was just chatting with one of the many awesome women who work here at Lark about homemade holiday presents, and how to give gifts that are thoughtful and full of love without spending a fortune. We talked about all sorts of ideas, from little potpourri sachets and holiday tea blends to infused vodkas and butters.
Well…what about candy? Like liquor lollipops, sugarplums, nougat, truffles, or candied ginger, for example? It does make a great gift. You could give a whole box of chocolate stars to each of your very favorite chocaholics, or maybe make one or two batches of fudge to cover all of your acquaintances. No wait, that came out wrong. Don’t cover them in fudge. Give them each a little square of fudge wrapped in cellophane and festive fabric and tied with a rustic little piece of twine.
And of course, homemade candies make a really special contribution to a party! Bring a tray of Peach Turkish Delights to a pot luck and wow everybody. Or better still, clean the house, throw a party yourself, cook all the food, make homemade candy on top of all that, and go to sleep exhausted but satisfied that you fed everyone well and made them really happy.
The giveaway includes everything you need to make lollipops (except the saucepans):
One copy of Sweet Confections by Nina Wanat
A candy thermometer
A silicone spatula
Five lollipop molds (each one makes five lollipops)
150 lollipop sticks
The book includes 40 confection recipes, including three outrageously tempting lollipop recipes: Salted Chocolate Caramel, Coffee, and Liquor! Once you get the hang of this thing, you can make up your own recipes! I personally can’t wait to start making herbal lollipops–lemon balm, rosehip, maybe an echinacea and elderberry one for cold season…
Aaaaanyways, just comment on this post. Tell us by 5:00 PM EST on November 22nd: What is your favorite homemade gift to give or receive? Or maybe there’s one you want to make, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. We’d love to hear your ideas! And one lucky, random winner will get the goodies! Please click here for the rules.
We have a winner: Congratulations to Flo in New York, and a huge thanks to everyone who commented! Happy holidays!
Cooking for Dad on Father’s Day might not be mandatory the way Mother’s Day breakfast is for Mom, but dads appreciate being appreciated. What better way to say, “Thanks for never telling Mom about that time I got arrested,” than to cook a delicious and nutritious meal for him? Here are a handful of recipes among my own favorites that I think dads would dig, a strict criterion I based on one of two highly scientific possibilities: if my dad would love it, or if it seems like a DAD kind of food.
Hungry Man Casserole
This first recipe definitely fits in that second highly scientific category of foods that dads would probably like. It was the manliest thing I could think of–dude food, if you will.
I am a big fan of PaleoPot because the recipes are simple and straightforward, and even when there are a lot of steps, author Jason does an excellent job of explaining them concisely. You don’t have to be a paleo dieter to like these recipes. In general, they’re hearty, spicy, and very meat-and-(sweet)-potatoes. And, as the man says, “If you don’t like sweet potatoes, you’re wrong.” Maybe not a great Father’s Day strategy, but a good life philosophy in general.Continue reading...
You’re a good kid. Or maybe not, but you do love your mother. Why else would you have gotten that tattoo? Now make her something nice for Mother’s Day, and tell her we say hi. Here are some recipes we think your mom might like:
Moms have come to expect breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, and they should get it. Your mom has probably prepared at least 12,317 meals for you, approximately. If you are a grown-up and don’t live with your mom, and don’t want to break into her house early in the morning lest you get shot, then you might just have to plan the breakfast thing instead of surprising her with it. She’ll still appreciate it, I bet. Anyway, how about a momelette?! I am going to just give you some delicious ideas because I know you can figure out how to make an omelette.Continue reading...
Spring has sprung, friends! Whether you’re planning to learn a new craft this new season or looking to use all the craft supplies you hoarded over the long winter (guilty!!!), celebrate with this bounty of free projects…and a spring sale! Right now (until April 26), all of these featured books are on sale at 50% off their list price at BN.com.
We’re celebrating Spring with a big 50% Off Sale of hundreds of our books on BN.com!
Just in time for Mother’s Day (and with summer break on the horizon), you’ll find this Spring Sale abuzz with how-to guides, gorgeous gallery inspiration, and insights into the technical and inventive processes of wide-ranging creative categories. From jewelry to clay, crochet to paper art, pies to moonshine, and more, Lark celebrates creativity in its myriad forms, and our 50% Off Spring Sale on BN.com celebrates creative readers and makers everywhere!
Are you ready to try a new creative outlet?
Are you seeking the perfect gift for a special mom in your life?
Are you that special mom whose bookshelf needs a little love?
Making plans for a summer break filled with creative activities?
Planning ahead for the upcoming school year?
Now through Friday, April 26, say hello to spring with a bevy of books—visit the entire list of sale titles here:
*And remember, as with all BN.com orders of $25 or greater, readers get free shipping!