Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Orchids on your budget #3....Christmas when times are lean...gift what you have with elegance...

 
Yesterday, we were discussing being honest about your Changed Circumstances this Christmas.
 
Thanks to Marjorie Hillis and her gorgeous little book, written in 1937, Orchids on your Budget, we now know that many folk far more wealthy than we mere mortals, were forced to deal with Changed Circumstances back in the day.
 
I mentioned one of her case histories, that noted that surviving lean times can strengthen your relationship and the family unit, if done in the right spirit.
 
I think one of the most important elements of this idea, is to find the right language to be generous and gracious in your own way, without having to live up to other peoples expectations.
 
You don't have to say 'we can't afford it this year'. You can say 'we have other priorities for Christmas 2015'. And no, you do NOT have to explain yourself beyond that.
 
One of my darling friends, going back years ago when we were both single parents of three sons, would just say 'we're poor this year, and lovin' it' with a full bellied laugh and a twinkle in her eye. Mind you, this is the same friend mentioned in yesterdays post, who still grows basil like a weed and conjures up the best pesto, like, EVER, at this time every year. If she ever gave me something other than her fab pesto for Christmas, I'd be most put out.
 
See, it's a tradition between her and I. Well her and about 50 of her closest friends actually. Her pesto is a thing of beauty. Freshly harvested basil, Italian Olive Oil, parmesan, toasted almonds (not pine nuts...too expensive....lol!), and garlic grown in her garden. Un-Believable.
 
Now you're in for a treat, because she's agreed to share her recipe here. I refuse to make it, because she's told me she's put a curse on it so her friends can't replicate it. I believe her ;-)
 
As you don't know her, and therefore at this stage cannot be numbered amongst her 'friends', I think you'll be fine. That's bound to change once you try her pesto though. This is the recipe as she recited it to me.
 
La-La's Un-Believable Pesto
 
Stuff as much fresh basil as you can into a food processor bowl. Add 3-4 peeled garlic cloves and a glug of olive oil (must be olive oil). Whizz. Add a handful of grated parmesan or pecorino cheese. Whizz. Add some more oil to get it the consistency you want. It should be like a thick dip, not slush. It should smell AH-maaaazing. Add a small handful of lightly toasted blanched almonds and pulse until they're ground. You can add lemon zest or chilli if you want to be non-traditional. Who cares. It's your pesto, right? Taste it and add salt and pepper if you want. Spoon into jars. Fin.
 
My note: Pesto, can be made from anything really. I've made a Semi Dried Tomato one by just replacing the Basil with the Tomato. Coriander (Cilantro) makes an incredible Thai inspired pesto to toss with rice noodles. Mint and lemon is amazing to serve with Turkish bread and home made Labna.
 
Lets assume, as we said yesterday, that you don't have basil or anything green for that matter, growing like a weed.
 
How about making a Caramel Sauce to serve with those Sundaes we talked about yesterday...
 
 
Mimi's Caramel Sauce
 
Mix equal parts of soft brown sugar and cream, and add a bit of vanilla essence. Heat and stir till well combined. Pour into your chosen vessels. Gift in enormous jars with lavish ribbons, or use as part of that Ice Cream Sundae buffet, that you're going to have after Christmas Carols by Candlelight, instead of buying gifts you can't afford for friends.
 
Again, it's about being generous in ways that don't bite into the budget.
 
Marjorie Hillis relates a Case of a young bride, Mrs V. Living in New York has always been costly and when Mrs V moves there with her new husband to Improve His Prospects, Mrs V wonders how to expand their social circle with little money. She has a silver tea service received as a wedding gift, and each morning lays it out, fills the sugar bowl, and sets out her best teacups. She conjures a small selection of delicacies that can be served as 'Tea' for callers, or as 'Supper' if no callers arrive. She makes delicate cookies, and serves Cinnamon Toast with such elegance that her friends feel inadequate serving anything more substantial.
 
We can all be a Mrs V.
 
My Mum was a Mrs V, and served everything with elegance and style. My Mum could serve jam sandwiches and Vienna coffee (that's black coffee with whipped and sweetened cream on top, dusted with cinnamon sugar) and people would feel like they'd have a first class feast.
 
We can all, like my friend La-La, like Mrs V, like my Mum, cultivate a speciality of our own, and serve or gift it with such elegance, that others will feel inadequate in gifting their wildly overpriced, store bought wonders.
 
What's yours going to be?
 
 photo signature_zps33fd9dfd.png
 
Sharing at...
 
Ivy and Elephants
The Charm of Home
Rose Chintz Cottage
A Stroll Thru Life

28 comments:

  1. Beautiful Mimi. Usually i grow masses of basil but it grows best after Christmas so this will be coming (asPesto) around March i think. It has so many uses i love it. Recently i had rocket and basil pestowhich was lovely. I couldnt stop eating it. It was served with crusty bread as you would pate. A gorgeous gift!

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    1. Hello Annabel! The basil and rocket pesto sounds divine! Our basil is going crazy here, and between ours and our sons, we have enough to make pesto for a year...lol! Alas I have promised my friend I won't, and will instead gift her the basil to make more for me *wink*. Mimi xxx

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  2. Mimi I love this post and thankyou for sharing the pesto recipe - I do not have anything growing in the garden but that will change and then look out.

    I bake biscuits because I pick up extra bits and pieces during the year when they are on special or I have money from the previous grocery shop left over. The biscuits are never the same because of my self imposed rule to use what I have.

    Love

    Lynette
    XXXXX

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    1. Lynette, I love that rule. And yes I know you. Before long, basil will be just one thing of many in your garden. Mimi xxx

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  3. Lovely thoughts and ideas Mimi. I make my nephews satin boxer shorts each Chritmas. I've done this since they were little. One year I spent a fortune at Smiggles buying pens and pencils. I was asked where the boxer shorts were. Those nephews are older teenagers and still look forward to their single pair of boxer shorts each year. Making what you can afford and serving it with a large dose of love is what Christmas is about to me.

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    1. That's a lovely tradition too Jane. I know what you mean about Smiggle...eeeek! Love it. Mimi xxx

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  4. I appreciate the recipe for basil! A friend gave me an AeroGarden and it is growing prolific basil! I needed to find someway to use it, and I am going to try your friend's recipe, although with a little bit of this and that... she is right, no one will be able to make it like her, lol! Appreciate you sharing the "bones" for the recipe though. Hope you are having a fabulous and lovely day :)

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    1. Lol...make it your own, I say! I've heard those Aerogardens are pretty amazing. Mimi xxx

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  5. Thanks for the pesto recipe, Mimi. With this rain we are having everything in my garden is growing like weeds. LOL!

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    1. I hear you on that one Chel! Mimi xxx

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  6. Thanks for the inspiration, Mimi! I love that story. Women use to know what elegance was in those days. So glad there are ladies like you and Annabel working to bring it back.

    Merry Christmas,
    Leslie

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    1. You're so right Leslie. It was a different era, but there's no reason why we can't adopt a similarly elegant outlook. Merry Christmas! Mimi xxx

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  7. These sound so great! Yum!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J! Merry Christmas!

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    1. A pleasure as always Jess. Merry Christmas! Mimi xxx

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  8. This is an encouraging and timely post! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. I'm glad you found it to be both those. Merry Christmas. Mimi xxx

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  9. Oh wow, such fabulous ideas for giving of yourself and talents instead of funds.

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    1. Thankyou Marty. A real compliment coming from you! Merry Christmas. Mimi xxx

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  10. These would make wonderful home made gifts, Mimi, and home made is always best when it comes to food! Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas!

    Blessings,
    Sandi

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    1. Thanks Sandi. I agree. Home made is always best. Blessings of the Season to you and yours. Mimi xxx

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  11. Very inspiring! I loved that story about Mrs. V.

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    1. Yes Mrs V was one clever chickie! Have a wonderful festive season Mrs T! Mimi xxx

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  12. This is such an important message today as well as back in the depression era. I do love pesto but never seem to have luck growing basil. But maybe this recipe will encourage me to try again. Merry Christmas blessings to you and your family.

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    1. Thankyou Beth. I am sorry I didn't see this comment sooner. Blessings to you too. Mimi xxx

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  13. Mimi, I loved reading your post this evening! It is a great reminder to use what we have and let the giving come from the heart. Thanks for sharing the recipes for the pesto and caramel sauce. I'm pinning them both! Today is my first visit to your blog, so I am signing up to follow you. Wishing you a blessed, happy and healthy 2016.

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    1. Thankyou Lynn. Likewise I did not see your comment till now. Blogging is imperfect in that respect! Thankyou again. I'll visit you now to say hi. Mimi xxx

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  14. Dear Mimi,

    Oh my word, I've just come across all your gorgeous posts on DIY gifts and am in my element! I'm so excited to read through all of these. I love basil pesto. Once a friend and I bought a garbage bag full from a local growers market. We made enough pesto to last both families for ages! We aren't growing any basil but we do have loads of rocket in the garden. I'll give that a go. I have another friend who loves my peppermint bard for Christmas. Last year I made her up a bath gift set and she asked where the peppermint bark was, lol. xx

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    1. Hello Mel, my lovely. Rocket pesto is awesome so I hope you tried some! As for peppermint bark...well...yum. Mimi xxx

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I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx