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5 DIY holiday recipes and crafts to avoid supply chain problems

Want to do gifts the old-fashioned way? We have some crafty ideas for you.
Al Barry
/
Getty Images
Want to do gifts the old-fashioned way? We have some crafty ideas for you.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, as they say. That is, unless you ordered the latest gadget too late, and now it's stuck in supply chain limbo.

Or if you are the kind of person who leaves their shopping until it's down to the wire, like Daniel Gritzer, the culinary director of Serious Eats.

"I am very much a last-minute gift giver, scouring the internet and thinking of all the things I'd probably have thought of four months ago to then not be able to remember them, and have to fake something else in desperation," Gritzer says.

Whatever your struggle, we have got you covered this holiday season.

We have asked Gritzer and other food makers and crafters to make the case for going the homemade route this season and have provided the following recipes and project instructions:

  • OVEN DRIED GRAPES, by Dan Gritzer from Serious Eats
  • WORLD PEACE COOKIES 2.0, by Dorie Greenspan
  • CHILE CRISP, by Genevieve Ko from The New York Times
  • SPA IN A JAR, by Aris Rossi from Sailing Into Second
  • DRAWSTRING BAGS, by Ursula Carmona from Homemade by Carmona
  • Oven-Dried Grapes (a.k.a. Raisins)

    Daniel Gritzer's Oven Dried Grapes, which he says are fruiter and brighter than the box of raisins on the grocery shelf.
    Vicky Wasik / Serious Eats
    /
    Serious Eats
    Daniel Gritzer's Oven Dried Grapes, which he says are fruiter and brighter than the box of raisins on the grocery shelf.

    Gritzer says when he first published his recipe for oven dried grapes, many readers asked: "Why in the world would you oven dry grapes when you could just buy raisins?"

    He says it's a valid question, but the dried grapes are pretty special.

    "You get caramelization that happens on the surface of the grapes as they dry in the oven. So it's fruitier and it's brighter and it's fresher than you would get from a box of raisins on a supermarket shelf," he says.

    INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large bunches seedless grapes, preferably mixed colors, stemmed
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for greasing
  • EQUIPMENT

  • Rimmed baking sheets
  • METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 225°F (110°C). Very lightly grease 2 rimmed baking sheets with oil, then scatter grapes all over.
  • Bake, checking periodically for doneness, until grapes are nicely shriveled and semi-dried but still slightly plump, about 4 hours (see note). The exact time will depend on your grapes, your oven, and your preferred degree of dryness.
  • Let cool. Use a thin metal spatula to free any grapes that are stuck to the baking sheet.
  • The dried grapes can be refrigerated in a sealed container for about 3 weeks. How long they keep will also depend on their degree of dryness; drier grapes will keep longer.
  • Gritzer's notes: The precise cooking time can vary quite a bit depending on the size of your grapes (larger ones will take longer to dry than smaller ones) and how your oven functions (some ovens are prone to big temperature swings, which can speed up and/or slow down total drying time). Make sure to check in on the progress of your grapes periodically to avoid any mishaps.

    This recipe was originally published by Serious Eats.

    World Peace Cookies 2.0

    If you're feeling a bit more festive, New York Times food writer Priya Krishna recommends the trusty holiday classic: cookies. Specifically, she says Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies 2.0.

    "If someone gave me a jar of cookies the size of a fire extinguisher, I would be so thrilled," Krishna said.

    They're a chocolate cookie with a salty note and Krishna says, "they're impossible to hate."

    INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (60 grams) rye flour
  • ⅓ cup (30 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa (I prefer Valrhona)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons; 5½ ounces; 155 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at cool room temperature
  • ⅔ cup (135 grams) packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fleur de sel or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch of piment d'Espelette or a smaller pinch of cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces (140 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (chip-size pieces)
  • ⅓ cup (45 grams) cocoa nibs
  • ½ cup (15 grams) freeze-dried raspberries, coarsely chopped or broken
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
  • METHOD

  • Sift both flours, the cocoa and baking soda together into a bowl; whisk to blend.
  • Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the salt, piment d'Espelette or cayenne and vanilla. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once and pulse to start the blending. When the risk of a flour storm has passed, beat on low speed until the dough forms big, moist curds—this can take a couple of minutes, so don't be afraid to keep mixing. Toss in the chocolate pieces, nibs and raspberries and mix to incorporate. Sometimes the dough comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl and sometimes it crumbles—it'll be fine no matter what.
  • Turn the dough out, gather it together and, if necessary, knead it a bit to bring it together. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a log that is 1½ inches in diameter. The length will be between 7 and 8 inches, but don't worry about it—it's the diameter that counts here. If you get a hollow in either of the logs, just start over. Wrap the logs and freeze them for at least 2 hours, or refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (If you'd like, you can freeze the logs for up to 2 months; let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before slicing and baking.)
  • When you're ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
  • Using a chef's knife, slice one log of dough into ½-inch-thick rounds. (Don't worry if they crack, just pinch and squeeze the bits back into the cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between them. If you'd like, sprinkle the tops sparingly with flaky salt. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes—don't open the oven door to check, just let them bake. They won't look fully baked and they won't be firm, but that's the way they're supposed to be. Transfer the sheet to a rack and let the cookies cool until they're only just warm or at room temperature. Repeat with the remaining log of dough, using a cool baking sheet.
  • Dorie Greenspan's notes: Although making these cookies is easy, each batch seems to have its own quirks. It's always easy, it's just not always the same. Sometimes the differences have to do with the cocoa. (I usually use Valrhona Dutch-processed cocoa because I love its flavor and color, but I've made WPCs with many kinds of cocoa—they're always good, not always the same.) Sometimes the differences have to do with the butter, and often the temperature of the butter—it's best if it's at cool room temperature, but sometimes I miss the moment when it's just right. My advice is to mix the dough for as long as it takes to get big, moist curds that hold together when pressed. Often this happens quickly; just as often, it takes more time than you think it should. Go with it. Also, when you roll the dough into logs, check that they're solid—squeeze the logs to see if there are hollow spots. If there are, ball up the dough and roll into logs again. Plan ahead: The logs of dough need to be frozen for at least 2 hours or refrigerated for at least 3 hours. Storing: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature (they will get a little drier, but they're still good) or for up to 2 months in the freezer.

    Excerpted from Baking with Dorie, by Dorie Greenspan.

    Chile Crisp

    Chili crisp is a spicy, sweet, nutty, salty condiment that many food makers say you'll want to eat on everything, even ice cream. <em>Food Stylist: Victoria Granof.</em>
    Ryan Lieber / The New York Times
    /
    The New York Times
    Chili crisp is a spicy, sweet, nutty, salty condiment that many food makers say you'll want to eat on everything, even ice cream. Food Stylist: Victoria Granof.

    If your sweets doesn't have a sweet tooth, Gritzer and Krishna suggest making chile crisp — a spicy, crunchy, sweet, nutty, savory condiment they say you'll want to eat on everything.

    "People have done ice cream sundaes topped with chile crisp," Gritzer says.

    Krishna makes dumplings ever year at the holidays.

    "So chile crisp would be a perfect thing to gift me," she says.

    This New York Times Cooking recipe, by Genevieve Ko, is highly customizable, especially to your desired degree of heat.

    It makes about 1 1/4 cups and takes about 10 minutes.

    INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • ⅓ cup finely crushed dried small red chiles or red-pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
  • METHOD

  • Combine the oil, onion, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes evenly golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the chiles, sesame seeds and Sichuan peppercorns, if using, and sizzle, stirring, for 1 minute, then stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Spoon over everything. It adds big flavor to milder bases, such as eggs, tofu, noodles, rice, vegetables, white fish, lean pork and chicken breast.
  • This recipe was first published in The New York Times.

    Spa in a jar

    A "Spa in a Jar" created by filling a mason jar with items like nail polish, hand cream or a hair tie.
    / Aris Rossi
    /
    Aris Rossi
    A "Spa in a Jar" created by filling a mason jar with items like nail polish, hand cream or a hair tie.

    If working in the kitchen isn't your thing, fear not. We also have crafts.

    For Aris Rossi, a crafter and school teacher who runs the Instagram page Sailing Into Second, a go-to gift is a "spa in a jar".

    She fills a mason jar with things like nail polish, nail files, or bath bombs.

    "I'll throw in some of my favorite toiletries or just fun spa gifts and wrap a big bow around it," she says.

    ITEMS

  • Mason jar
  • Nail file
  • Nail polish
  • Lip balm
  • Hair scrunchie
  • Hand cream
  • METHOD

  • Gather your favorite self-care or spa items.
  • Add your items one item at a time into the mason jar.
  • Create a label for your jar using your favorite fonts.
  • Print and attach the label to the front of your jar or lid with a ribbon.
  • Drawstring Bags

    Ursula Carmona suggests making a gift bag to stash store bought gifts when you insist on a touch of DIY but your recipient doesn't want anything homemade.
    Ursula Carmona / Home Made by Carmona
    /
    Home Made by Carmona
    Ursula Carmona suggests making a gift bag to stash store bought gifts when you insist on a touch of DIY but your recipient doesn't want anything homemade.

    Finally, for those on your list who don't like anything homemade, Ursula Carmona, who runs the DIY blog Homemade by Carmona, suggests combining something store bought with something a tad crafty.

    "I have three teenage girls and they don't want anything homemade," she says. "They just want cash, cold, hard cash."

    But, maybe she'll make a bag to stash the cash.

    "You don't have to be great at painting. You don't have to be great at a lot of things in order to do something as simple and special as that, " Carmona says. "And I think the receiver will still appreciate those sweet little touches."

    METHOD

  • Cut your material of choice into a rectangle, once this is folded in half, it will be about the size of the drawstring bag, so size it accordingly.
  • Fold a crease of about an inch on both short ends of your rectangular, and iron to preserve the crease. Make sure the folds both face forward.
  • Sew along both folded edges. This will be where your drawstring pulls through later.
  • Fold the entire rectangle in half, with the sewn edges outward, and iron to preserve the crease.
  • Sew the two sides closed, from the folded bottom all the way up to the top seam. Be sure to stop right at that seam where your drawstrings will loop through.
  • Flip it inside out, and pull a ribbon through the top of your drawstring bags.
  • Customize your beautiful bags. Use a little all-purpose paint and stencils or painters tape to create a design.
  • Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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    Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.
    Megan Lim