The Roundup -

Prairie Fare: Gift Ideas That Are Easy on the Budget and Positive for Your Health

You can opt for giving gifts that do not take a lot of space or cost a lot of money.

 

December 4, 2019 | View PDF

Cranberries are readily available during the holiday season and can make a tasty salsa. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

"I've bought and wrapped gifts for myself," one of the meeting attendees said.

Most people in the room nodded, especially parents.

I was among the people nodding my head.

Yes, I've wrapped a lot of holiday gifts for myself. I tend to go a little overboard in the gift-giving department for my family. As we take turns opening gifts, I quickly run out of gifts to open.

Even our dogs give me gifts.

My family has labeled me "hard to buy gifts for."

Who, me?

Yes, I have a lot of stuff already. Maybe they think I have enough stuff.

I beg to differ.

In this season of gift-giving, you can opt for gifts that do not take a lot of space or cost a lot of money.

By the way, I have a gift for many of you. Be sure to read to the end of this column. You might win a gift from us at NDSU Extension - Food and Nutrition. I promise: It doesn't take a lot of space.

Here are some ideas for useful items that promote health and/or safety.

- Food thermometers are internal temperature measuring devices that are easy to use and don't take up a lot of drawer space. Food safety experts encourage the everyday use of thermometers because color is not an accurate indicator of doneness. A food thermometer also helps you avoid overcooking meat and can improve the quality of your meals.

- Pedometers are step-counting devices. They can be powerful motivators as people set goals to increase their physical activity. According to a recent Stanford University study, participants who set a goal walked 2,000 steps (one mile) more than before they set a goal.

- A storm survival kit can save your life. Winter weather can be unpredictable and result in emergency situations. See the information at https://www.weather.gov/oun/safety-winter-safetykit for more information about assembling a survival kit.

Most of us enjoy tasty food, so are here are some food-related make-it-yourself gift kit ideas. The handouts include ready-to-go gift tags with the recipe.

- "Mix It Up" is available at https://tinyurl.com/NDSUMixItUp. Along with Friendship Soup, the site features mixes for Homemade Cornbread, Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookies and Country Chili.

- Warm up after an afternoon of sledding with a warm beverage such as Spiced Tea Mix or Double Chocolate Peppermint Candy Hot Cocoa. Find "Beverage Mixes in a Jar" at https://tinyurl.com/NDSUBeverageMix.

- Quick breads make tasty brunch items for holiday mornings. How about some Cherry-Chocolate Scones or Peanut Butter Bread? See the do-it-yourself mix directions at https://tinyurl.com/NDSUQuickBreadMix for details.

Finally, here's your free gift opportunity. Send me an email with your name and address to julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu before Dec. 20, 2019, at noon Central time, and I will enter your name in a drawing for a copy of our full-color, recipe-filled 2020 "Field to Fork" calendar.

I will give away at least 20 copies, so don't think you won't have a chance to win. See https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/fieldtofork to look at an example before you enter.

Do you want to stir up your family's taste buds this holiday season with a home-canned gift? Canning isn't only for the summer and fall seasons.

How about a jar of cranberry salsa for the person who has everything? Cranberries are readily available during the holiday season. Cranberries are rich in natural antioxidants, which have potential health benefits.

This recipe is from the University of Georgia's Athens National Center for Home Food Preservation. It was released by Elizabeth Andress, Ph.D. It goes great as a side dish with chicken or pork. Try topping a block of cream cheese with it, and serve it with crackers.

Your gift recipients probably will bring their empty jar back and ask for a refill next year.

Spicy Cranberry Salsa

6 c. chopped red onion

4 large serrano peppers, finely chopped

1 1/2 c. water

1 1/2 c. cider vinegar (5% acidity)

1 Tbsp. canning salt

1 1/3 c. sugar

3/4 c. bottled lemon juice

6 Tbsp. clover honey

12 c. (2 3/4 pounds) fresh whole cranberries, rinsed

Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves when handling and cutting hot peppers or wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

- Wash and rinse six 1-pint canning jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids according to manufacturer's directions.

- Combine all ingredients except cranberries in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat slightly and boil gently for five minutes.

- Add cranberries, reduce heat slightly and simmer mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

- Fill the hot mixture into clean, hot pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Leave saucepot over low heat while filing jars. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.

- Process in a boiling-water canner according to the following recommendations: 10 minutes at 0 to 1,000 feet altitude; 15 minutes at 1,001 to 6,000 feet altitude; or 20 minutes at above 6,000 feet altitude.

- Let cool, undisturbed, 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

- Remove ring band and store upright. For best quality, consume within one year.

This recipe makes six pint jars.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson)

 

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