Every Christmas my dad tells the story about the kid who goes to his mom and says, "Mom, I don't like Olive." And his mom says, "Who is Olive?" And the kid says, "You know, Olive. The other reindeer?" (i.e. Olive the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names). My dad loves Kid-speak. In fact, he loves it so much that even after my brother and I stopped using Kid-speak, he still called children "churren" and yellow "lellow" and balloons were still called "bombaloons." My sweet little 10 year old sister (who is now my sweet little 22 year old sister) sat him down one day and said, "Dad, I need you to stop using those words. I am 10 years old and don't know which words are real and which words are not real." Thus ended the day of Kid-speak in the house of Thomas.
Back to Olives. Every time I go to Seattle I have to stop at Pike Place Market to pay homage to the olive man. His store is the 31 flavors of olives. I once asked him if I could try them all and he told me yes. It was glorious. Glorious.
With that said, I have come up with a few Christmas presents, which will help your pocket out and 2 of which indulge my love of olives. The only way you'll save money with these is if you give multiple people the same gift. You'll need small jars for each of these--I suggest getting them at Old Time Pottery. Let's have money for groceries this month.
You'll need: a big bottle of Stoli vodka, a jar of olives, a jar of jalepenos.
Fill 1/4 of your vodka jar with jalepenos and olives. Pour a bit of olive juice into it if you'd like (I'd like). If you have the money and want to complete the gift of Bloody Mary, accompany your vodka with a bottle of Zing Zang and tabasco miniatures.
Rosemary Olive Oil
you'll need: a big bottle of extra virgin olive oil (whole foods has a nicely priced one) dried herbs (I'm just using rosemary, but you can fill it with any herb). It is important for the herbs to be dry because if they aren't the water left in the herbs can grow harmful bacteria. I have a Rosemary plant outside, so I am drying whole sprigs of this to put into my olive oil. However, I'm sure you can find what you need readily available at specialty food stores. Place your dried herbs in your bottles, then pour olive oil over them.
This gift will be of no use to someone who does not have a salt grinder. Make a mixture of coarse Kosher salt, peppercorns, coriander, and dried herbs. Package. Fini.
You'll need a big bottle of bourbon (I suggest using the giant Bulleit bottle for $40 or just good old Four Roses yellow). Good, smokey bacon--it'll be worth the extra bucks--I mean, who wants putrid bourbon? I use Benton's bacon (available at our very own Mitchell's Deli).
Cook your bacon. Make a sandwich for yourself, then pour the grease into the bourbon (1/4 c. of grease to 3 cups of bourbon). Let it sit for an hour, then place the mixture in the freezer and let it sit for 24 hours in the freezer. The fat will separate from the bourbon. Remove from the freezer and strain the bourbon immediately with cheese cloth or a coffee filter. Voila! Bacon bourbon.
If you have the extra bucks, accompany your bacon bourbon with angostura bitters, an orange, maraschino cherries, and some brown sugar (or grade B maple syrup) for the ultimate Bacon Old Fashioned kit.
You'll need: Vanilla Beans (Olive Nation has good prices), your liqueur of choice (you can use vodka, bourbon, rum, or brandy), and sweet little glass bottles.
Use 1 vanilla bean for every 1/3 cup of liqueur.
Place the bean in your bottle and fill the rest with liqueur. Shake the mixture and allow it to sit, shaking it again every week or so. The vanilla needs to sit for 2 months before it's ready to use. So, whoever you give it to will have to wait a month to use it. But it'll be worth it--you just can't buy good vanilla anymore.
Homemade Sugar Scrub
Technically, this one isn't for consuming--but should you want to, there's nothing stopping you. Click here for the recipe. If you're giving it as a gift leave the citrus out so it doesn't spoil.