Homemade Holiday Gifts: Pecans & Cookies

“Why don’t you post about things made in the US?” my friend Sharon suggested. She’d had a frustrating afternoon, searching for some specific items on-line, that were both within her budget and made in the US.

“I ‘ll think about it as I ride my Italian bike with its Dutch components or drive my Japanese car,” I emailed her back. In a later phone call, I empathized. “Try at least to shop locally,” I offered.

While supporting small stores in your hometown doesn’t guarantee you’re buying made in the USA, the gesture helps the mom & pop shops generate some holiday dough, hopefully keeping fewer storefronts from closing.

In my town alone, there are about 20 vacant stores. We’re less than a mile from a huge high-end mall, and close to divided highways offering all the big-box brands. No shortage of shopping options.

With the economy the way it is, I figured everyone would be making orange-clove pomanders.

But pre- holiday sales seem to be strong.

Here are two of my favorite gifts—guaranteed made in the US (my NJ kitchen):

I was an AFS student to Tasmania, Australia in the summer of 1974, before I entered college.  I brought back this recipe, which became a family favorite and a popular gift for others.  The cookies, or biscuits, commemorate the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landing at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915.

They’re easy to make: one bowl does it all.

1 cup sugar (you can cut a bit)
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup flour (I use ½ whole wheat, ½ white)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
½ lb shortening- margarine, Promise, etc. butter not really needed
1 tb. Golden Syrup (a British sugar syrup, I use corn syrup)
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 325.   Melt shortening with syrup over low flame. Boil some water at the same time. When it boils add the baking soda to about ½ cup of water.

Mix all dry ingredients together, add melted ingredients, vanilla, and baking soda/water mixture. Lightly grease baking trays—I use spray-on stuff.  Drop batter with a teaspoon, about  2 inches apart—they spread.

Bake for about 12 minutes until golden.  They can be a bit undercooked and will become crisp as they cool.  

Sugared Pecans
1 lb pecan halves
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinammon
1 cup sugar
1 egg white
1 Tbs. water

Beat water and egg white until frothy, not stiff. Stir in sugar, salt and cinammon. Add pecans and stir well until coated. Spread nuts on baking sheet and bake at 200 for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 – 20 minutes. Cool, store in airtight container. (I’ve frozen these and they last for months. I pack them into cellophane gift bags, add a ribbon,  and gift tag or sticker. Perfect teacher presents!)

What are your favorite homemade gifts?

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6 Responses to Homemade Holiday Gifts: Pecans & Cookies

  1. Sharon Gill says:

    I’m trying.
    Ordered Redfeather snow shoes MADE IN USA!
    Ordered backpack from LL Bean – hmm, assumed MADE IS USA but learned that it was made in Vietnam.
    Aforementioned gift – could not find appropiate version MADE IS USA.


  2. Madeline Taylor says:

    Over Ruby’s years at Sandy Spring, the teachers really lucked out – When she was in 5th grade, we made each of thema hand painted t-shirt with a huge cut-open apple painted on the front and “you’re the apple of my eye” painted on one sleeve. The apples were painted in non-traditional apple shades (instead of reds and greens on the outside with ivory to white insides, they had purple skins with green pulp or brown skin with perriwinkle pulp and the like) – they can still be seen worn all over campus. Likewise, one year we made them name magnets using scrabble tiles to spell out their names – we accompanied that gift with a gift certificate to a local (non-chain) eating and watering hole. Again, the magnets still adorn their classrooms and hopefully they enjoyed supporting local businesses. Each year, I make hand-collaged thank-you notes to all the artist who come to my school for A.R.T.S. Day. AND I’m considered the neighborhood baker. As for Holiday gifts this year; I’m letting my craft tools collect dust but am supporting local artists – Hittin’ craft fairs with a mission and a passion!


  3. This is the hardest thing each year. To decide on small gifts. This year, I may give books. They are I think still printed in the US and about uplifting topics. I used to bake. I did find a site with fresh-baked cookies
    I have a friend who bakes and gives away the best assortment of cookies. Maybe I will try again. I used to do pound cakes. It was the best.


  4. jakesprinter says:

    Looks yummy and makes me hungry 🙂


  5. Leah says:

    Looks so good! I love making homemade gifts. And love receiving them too. It’s so personal that it’s better than buying. I can’t wait to try this recipe.


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