First, I should establish that I love this jar. When I am asked where I find inspiration, I should probably answer, “An empty yogurt jar.” It’s so smooth and empty, I just want to fill it with something creative. But not just any yogurt jar …
Only a White Mountain Bulgarian Yogurt jar. Not only is the yogurt creamy and good for you, but when it’s empty the label comes off like an onion skin. With just a quick rinse under the faucet, you will have a sparkling jar of a perfect shape and size for anything from soup to nuts, both of which I store in these jars. (Note: I am not being paid by this company, but if they ever need a spokesmodel, I’m the one to call. I even have a closet full of empty jars that would make an excellent backdrop.)
Above is a stop-action photo montage for you to see how easily this label can be removed. It is so satisfying … you might want to buy the yogurt just to enjoy the label-removal moment.
So enough about the jars. On to the matter at hand … a birthday present for a friend. I had heard that it is always a good idea to give someone a gift that you might like to receive yourself. Here are two things I might like to receive, as they are figure-friendly snacking items that are great to have waiting in the refrigerator at a moment’s notice: 1) fresh blueberries that have been washed by somebody else. 2) toasted almonds that have been toasted (and not burned one little bit) by somebody else. Aha. A perfect gift for my friend who likes what I like!
I began with the purchase of blueberries that looked firm, sweet, yet tart. They are out of season now, so they were a bit more expensive, but that made them all the more gift-like. I proceeded to wash the blueberries and made sure that there was not one single mushy one in the lot. This is a gift in and of iteself … a mushy blueberry can ruin an entire snacking experience. Below are the blueberries after their thorough bath and spa treatment.
While they were drying, I turned to the almonds. I toast almond slivers often, and I have to admit that I am sort of a ninja at almond toasting. You can be, too. It just takes practice and getting to really know your oven. I actually buy almonds frequently in the bulk section of our market and keep them in the freezer so that they are always on hand. So to begin, I preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then, I simply spread out the frozen almond slivers … not the flat kind, but rather the quartered kind … on a sheet pan. I don’t use any oil. Then, here is the secret: SET YOUR TIMER. To whatever. It depends on your oven. I set mine to 7 minutes. At first beep, I usually remove a few of the toastier ones that are on the edges of the pan to save for later. Then I continue to cook the rest a bit longer. SETTING THE TIMER again for about 2 minutes. (You can see by my screaming use of capitalization, that there have been some times that I did not SET THE TIMER … resulting in burned almonds every time.) I continue this process until they are perfect … usually 9 to 11 minutes total.
Now, you may say, “what’s the big fuss about toasted almonds?” First, they satisfy that afternoon snacking need: “just a little something crunchy,” and combined with blueberries, taste like a blueberry crisp, and yet, this crisp is almost “free” in Weight Watchers language! Plus, almonds are handy to have on hand for everything from salads to desserts to my favorite snacking indulgence: sprinkled right on top of a spoonful of Nutella.
In order to make this seemingly mundane gift more gifty, I decided to package the two items in … you guessed it, my favorite re-purposed yogurt jars. Then to add a a spiffier touch, I cut a circlette (using a plate for measuring) from one of our fabrics, Shady Grove, and attached it to the jar lid with an attractive matching ribbon. All it needed was a decorative label and we would have ourselves a present fit for a blueberry-and-almond-loving queen.
So I created some label art for my foodie gift and proceeded to attach it to my sparkling jars. If you are making this gift, or a similar one, for your friend, here is the moment when I must say with capital letters again, CAUTION: Be sure to look at the labels before you attach them, or else you may end up with a set of gifts like I did. See the uh-oh moment below.
Sadly, unlike the magic easy-remove yogurt label described earlier, my label papers only tore when I tried to trade them. And, of course, our birthday dinner was to take place in about 5 minutes, so off we went with our mislabeled gifts.
If you already made this mistake before reading my caution alert above, do not worry. You probably were making this for a good friend, who, like mine, will love you anyway.
And, although this label switching does play games with your taste buds, your friend will think of you with a smile every time she pulls out a spoonful of nutella and tops it with on-the-ready toasted almonds from a blueberry jar.