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Homemade Christmas Gifts From the Farm

Lori HavensChristmas on the farm is a new experience for our family, since we just moved to this lovely patch of the Earth this past June, but I already know that homemade farm gifts are exactly what we will be sharing with family and friends. The staggering costs of starting up a farm mean that funds are tight, as they may be for your family, so creative gift giving is that much more important. Gifts in a jar aren’t anything new…I’ve both given and received layered cookie and brownie mixes, as well as soup mixes, and they’re delicious. But I came up with a unique idea this year, and I’m happy to share it with you.

Our “Farm on the Hill” had mature grape vines when we arrived, and they provided us with eight pounds of flavorful, organic green grapes from which I made lots of jam for gift-giving.

Grapevines
Wisconsin Green Grapes

Grapes
Farm on the Hill Green Grape Harvest

Grape Jam
Farm on the Hill Organic Green Grape Preserves

In addition to our farm-made jam, I’ll be adding large jars of home-mixed, good-for-you, flavored instant oatmeal. I’d come across a blogger who shared her recipes for really yummy homemade, healthy instant oatmeal packets (see source at the end of this post). They are simple to make, and scrumptious to eat! I was oven-canning our pantry’s dry goods to keep them safe from the mice that occasionally get past our two farm cats and make their way into our old farmhouse, and I decided to make larger batches of this wonderful instant oatmeal to fill a few quart canning jars.

Healthy Instant Oatmeal Jars
Healthy Instant Oatmeal Gift in a Jar

As I was enjoying my Coconut-Pineapple Oatmeal for breakfast the other day, it dawned on me what a terrific Christmas gift a jar of this stuff would be alongside of our grape jam! A single serving of dry mix is about 1/2 cup, so I made the recipe times 7 to fill a quart jar with a little headspace. Adding dried chopped fruit takes up extra space, too.

Here is the basic recipe to mix in a big bowl:

2 1/3 cups rolled oats (Instant or Quick)
2 tablespoons chia seeds or ground flax seed, optional
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons oat bran (or wheat germ/bran)
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons powdered milk (I use Organic Valley brand)
2 to 7 tablespoons sweetener to taste (brown sugar, sucanat, maple sugar, coconut sugar)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 pinches of salt 

For Coconut-Pineapple Oatmeal, add:

3/4 cup chopped dried pineapple or 1 3/4 cups freeze-dried chopped pineapple
1/4 cup freeze dried coconut 

For Mocha Oatmeal, add:

1/8 cup plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder 

For Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal, add:

3/4 cup chopped dried apple or 1 3/4 cups freeze-dried chopped apple
1 3/4 teaspoons additional cinnamon

(Using pure maple sugar as the sweetener in the base mix makes this “Apple Cinnamon Maple Oatmeal.”) 

Attach a label to the jar with the following instructions:

Add 1/2 cup oatmeal mix to mug or bowl. Stir in 2/3 cup boiling water. Cover and let stand 5 minutes, then enjoy!

The shelf life of this oatmeal mix is several months, depending upon the ingredients used. You can freeze the jars to extend their freshness. There are many more flavor combinations available from the source of the original recipe here:
http://www.theyummylife.com/Instant_Oatmeal_Packets

From our family here at Farm on the Hill to yours…wishes of Peace and Joy this holiday season!

Christmas Tree
Our First Christmas Tree at Farm on the Hill