Garden Gift Boxes

Now that all our Christmas gifts have been given, we can share how our garden gift boxes turned out without ruing anyone's surprise. For my sister, some homemade cosmetics:


Here is a gift bag of oatmeal-comfrey soap and comfrey lip balm. Check out the fancy-schmancy labels! That was my Christmas craft project last week. Some quality time with PowerPoint and sticker paper made for some professional(wish)-looking presents.

For our other relatives, we put together garden gift boxes. They were each a little different, but here is a good example:


Kirk nailed together the boxes from workshop scraps, and we filled them some freshly-labeled items from our store of preserves. In this box we have a bottle of dandelion wine, a jar of brined pickles, a jar of tomatillo jam, and a package of tomatillo-lime dodgers. 

Kirk made the tomatillo jam back in the fall, when we picked out last major baskets of tomatillos before the frost. This is a made-up recipe, substituting tomatillos for gooseberries in the Ball Blue Book gooseberry jam recipe. Tomatillos and gooseberries are relatives, and both share a tart flavor. It was an experiment, but it went reasonably well. The autumn tomatillos were far more sweet and yellow than the sour green ones of summer, but for my money, the sour ones would probably make a much better jam. This jam came out golden, lightly flavored, and sweet.

One way we've used this jam is in cookies – also part of our gift boxes. Our tomatillo-lime dodgers are a basic sugar cookie, with lime zest and juice added to the dough. In the center is a dollop of the tomatillo jam. The idea came partly from my wish that the jam was more tart, and partly from thinking about the classic Mexican flavor pairing of tomatillo and lime. These cookies are a refreshing change of pace from more traditional Christmas cookies, and we're really happy with how they turned out. Since we have several more jars of jam left, I'm sure we'll be having many more of these cookies throughout the winter.

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