This past weekend I infused honey in my tiny Brooklyn apartment. Before you get the wrong idea: infusing honey is no great feat of urban homesteading. The process itself is not much more difficult than than steeping a bag of tea. Avoiding a sticky mess is the real challenge but barring any honey disasters, it’s a simple task: add spices to honey, heat honey, strain honey, pour honey into sterilized jars and seal them up. Before the holidays I’ll wrap my amber jars of cinnamon and cardamom-infused honey in a piece of burlap and tie them up with ribbon. They’ll serve as tiny gifts to family members who we’ve traveled far to see: a little treat from my kitchen to theirs.
I like this kind of gift-giving. It’s simple and the act of making the gifts serves as a quiet moment in what can be a hectic season. To be totally honest, it’s more about the joy that it brings me than anything else. Instead of the anxiety of spending hours looking for an affordable gift in crowded stores, making the honey was peaceful, even soothing. For the hour or two that I spent gathering my supplies and preparing my gifts, I had nothing to do but remember to stir the honey and make sure that I didn’t spill anything. There was no whiny Christmas music, no pushy shoppers, just me and my glass jars in a comically small kitchen.
As I strained honey into cup-sized jars I thought about the different ways that our hosts might use their gift. One will stir hers into into cups of tea, another will drizzle it over buttered toast, still one more will pass it along to an unsuspecting neighbor, never to be seen again. There’s no perfect solution when it comes to giving holiday gifts, but in my view, making a little something in your own kitchen comes pretty close. Even if the finished product languishes in someone's cupboard, you've gained yourself a few quiet moments of holiday cheer. For me, that's reason enough to roll up my sleeves and get to work.