Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How to Make Friends With Your Neighbors

Little do our neighbors know that they will be surprised with some chocolate-y goodness and homemade decorations soon. I recently read a lovely article about a family who didn't know their neighbors due to distance and the privacy that accompanies the essence of living rurally and decided to make traditional fruit cakes to share with the folks in the surrounding areas. A simple way to introduce themselves and hopefully make a bit of connection with the people they live amidst. This was a common homesteader's tradition (if they had the means to do so), sharing special food and taking time to visit with neighbors during the winter and Christmas season. I'm inspired to make, even if it's a brief, connection with these new neighbors I know little about. Wooing them with some dark chocolate, salted hazelnut bark and a sweet-smelling cinnamon tree decoration seems like just the ticket.

Chocolate Bark:
10-15 ounces of dark chocolate (Trader Joe's had a large brick of inexpensive chocolate for such a project)
3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1-2 cups of roasted hazelnuts (or any nut you desire)
A dash of celtic sea salt

With a double boiler, melt the chocolate and coconut oil. Add the hazelnuts and pour into a pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle a generous amount a sea salt on top of the chocolate mixture. Put into the fridge to harden. Then break and eat. Be prepared to not share this. It's just too good...

The second part of the Meet-the-Neighbors Project was a snowy afternoon of decoration-making with the one set of neighbors we do know, and adore! After a short walk to their warm home, we set up shop with three little boys, some cookie cutters and wine (for the mama's). Using some traditional cutters and some candy molds passed down from my grandmother, we made a whole lot of presents for those unsuspecting neighbors. My mama friend had a fantastic recipe for these decorations:

1 cup applesauce
1 cup cinnamon
2 Tablespoons of Elmer's glue

Bake at 200 degrees for a couple of hours or until hard.

These smelled fantastic baking and continue to smell amazing while they sit around waiting to be decorated.