Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Year-End Teacher Gift: Oatmeal Scone Mix and Strawberry Jam

Ah, the end of the school year! The first year my son was in preschool, I was caught completely off-guard by teacher gifts. There was a picnic the last day of school, and many of the other parents had nifty little things for the teachers, and it hadn't even crossed my mind! It may have been because my son was going to be with them all summer, but I still wish I'd thought to express my appreciation for his teachers, who we loved.

Last year I was ready - I hit on this idea of homemade jam and homemade scone mix.  I liked it so much that I did it this year, too (for a new set of teachers)!  I wanted to give his teachers something from us, and since I bake so much (and bring baked goods to school), I liked the idea of a baked good.  I also figure the teachers don't need lots of little tchotchkes from every student every year - I like that they can use this up and repurpose or recycle the jars.

I think this would make a nice hostess gift, as well - the recipient doesn't have to do a lot of work or have special tools, ingredients, or skills to make the scones.  I made a jar of the scone mix for us, too, because it's convenient to have on hand!

I made and canned the jam last weekend (so convenient that our favorite farmer's market opened for the season last week!), so it's nice and fresh and they can keep it for a year if they want to.  I don't really use a recipe for strawberry jam; it depends on how many berries I'm using, and how fresh they are, and that sort of thing.  I generally use lime juice, sugar, honey, and Pomona's Universal Pectin in my jam, because I don't like it too firm or too sweet.  There are tons of recipes around!

The scone mix is just the wonderful Cook's Illustrated Oatmeal Scone recipe, without the wet ingredients.  I toasted the oats the night before, so they have time to cool.  I mixed the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the food processor, cut in the butter, stir in the toasted oats, and put it all in a quart-size mason jar. You'll have to bang the jar on the counter after every few scoops, in order for it all to settle and fit in the jar, but if you do that it will fit! The reserved oats for the bottom and top of the scones go in a tiny baggie just under the lid. Note the "use by" date on the butter you put into the mix: that's the use-by date for the mix, too (it does need to be refrigerated).  I typed up the instructions and other labels and printed them on a big, full-sheet-size label, and stuck it on the side of the jar. (Here's a pdf of that file, so you can use it.)

I tied a nice little ribbon around each jar, with a note for each teacher, and put the scone mix and the jam in a gift bag.  My son drew cards for his teachers, and we had a nice, personal, teacher gift!  I made four of these this year, and all of this assembly (with the oats already toasted, the jars washed, and the labels printed) took me under an hour to do (we won't talk about how long it took me to get the labels right...).  The teachers loved it!


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