You can cook and box these gifts for pennies but they look like hundred dollar gifts!

GOUGERES- 5 tbsp butter, l tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1 cup flour, 1 cup grated cheese, (gruyere) 5 eggs, room temperature. Boil butter, seasonings, add flour cook for 1 minute, add cheese, then eggs l at a time. reserving a little egg to add to water to brush on top of batter, which you drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake 425 deg for 15 min. Cool, pump filling, in crab and cream cheese, onion. Give away IMMEDIATELY. Like get your coat and keys!

 MISS GEER'S LEMON BARS:- IF LIFE HANDS YOU LEMONS (or YOU HAVE A LEMON TREE) make LEMON BARS. INGREDIENTS: 2 1/4 cup sifted flour, 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1 cup butter, 8 eggs, 3 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup lemon juice, 4 tsp lemon zest, l tsp bk powder, 1 tbsp UNsifted flour. METHOD: Sift flour, pow. sugar, cut in butter until it resembles crumbs. Pat into bottom of 13 x 9 baking pan, bake 350 deg. until brown. Beat eggs with gran. sugar, stir in juice, zest, bk powder, unsifted flour, mix well, pour over crust, bake 350 for 45 min. Cut into 32 bars. This recipe came from the daughter of Will Geer, that old man on the Walton Family, who was not only a good socialist, who knew about Poverty and the Great Depression 1st hand.

PINATAS- These are little paper wrapped collections of sweets which you store in a jar in fridge. Each colored paper cone is filled with ribbon-chopped dried cherries, apricots, peaches, raisins, and my all time favorite, dried pears, also home-blanched almonds. You can also make peanut brittle. Make hand-dipped chocolates (use a fruit center, for instance a red whole seedless grape..) all made w. no sugar. (Use brown sugar loafs and rice bran syrup to create a high Vitamin B brittle, or rice bran syrup in your dipping chocolate) You can also stuff larger dried fruits like dates, figs with nuts or homemade marzipan, (below) set in paper cups.

HOMEMADE JUNGLE MARZIPAN-(Grind dates, walnuts, blanched almonds, lemon juice, lemon rind, dried figs and fresh grated coconut in blender, add almond extract.) Scoop into balls, wrap in square of plastic wrap, twist neck and tie. Or roll in sugar, put in fluted cups in a box.

SESAME ORANGE COOKIES- Cream l stick butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar and l egg. Add almond flavoring or vanilla, spices, pumpkin pie spice is good, and 4 tbsp of pan-toasted litely browned sesame seeds, 1 tbsp orange rind. Add 3/4 to 1 cup brown flour or whole wheat flour that is sifted (takes out the bran) or unbleached whole wheat w. a little *NON-aluminum baking powder, (only avail at HFS) salt, stir, add little liquid, (l tbsp, can be orange juice or milk) Raisins, oatmeal, dates, nuts would make them even better. Bake, being careful not to burn raisins which require low temp oven and to be PRE-SOAKED AND DRAINED! Cool well before you cover w. plastic or cellophane. Store in tins or give away on a thrift store plate with cellophane.Gift IMMEDIATELY, same day. (*note: Aluminum bk. powder may cause Alzheimers).

WHITE ORCHID CAKE-  I can never decide which cake is my favorite, lemon, coconut, fruit cake or almond marzipan, so I have all FOUR COMBINED. Is this greedy or schizophrenic? INGREDIENTS: 3 cups whole grain or unbleached flour, 2 cups Succanet sugar or real sugar, 2 cubes room temp butter, or 1 cup cold clarified butter which is called ghee, 4 or 5 eggs depending on size, a can of coconut milk, extracts, spices, nuts, dried fruit of high quality, from healthfood store, or the unsulphured dried cranberries, cherries, dates, figs which are avail at reg. Markets. If you serve at home, put white orchids on top, the little ones.

TO START: SOAK your dried fruit in lemon juice /rind to reconstitute. Set aside.

NEXT: Cream 2 cubes butter, four yolks, (reserve whites to make a meringue to help 'lift' the cake.) Sugar or Succanet to taste (actually, this IS real sugar with all the vitamins), add your extracts: coconut, almond or vanilla flavoring, plus plenty of orange & lemon zest, beat until creamy. To make a birthday type cake, I use canned or real coconut milk as liquid in the cake along w. liquid fruit is soaked in. To make a FRUITCAKE style, I use orange juice and milk as liquids.SIFT DRY INGREDIENTS. We are going to slowly add them to butter, ALTERNATING with the liquid. You need 2-3 cups sifted whole grain flour (sift out & throw away the bran) or Kamut flour but mix first with 3 tsp aluminum free baking powder. WHEN YOU put flour in, add a dose of flour followed by a dose of the liquids. You will now take the LIQUID THAT DRIED FRUIT WAS ReCONSTITUTED IN, and add orange juice or milk or coconut milk straight out of coconut or can. Add liquid, stir a little bit, then another 1/2 cup dry ingred, then another dose of the juice/lemon/coconut milk liquids, stirring until batter feels right. For a light cake, the minimum of flour is used. If you feel it's OK at 2 cups dry ingred, quit there.

SEPARATELY, BEAT EGG WHITES TO peaks. Fold stiff whites into the cake batter, then put a lot of pecans in batter using a dusting of flour on them.THEN ADD DRIED FRUIT/NUTS: (Now, take that batter and add all dried fruit that you soaked in lemon juice several hours before but to do this, pat fruit dry, flour lightly) and fold into the batter. We used the juice they were soaked in, in the LIQUID section of the cake. BAKE: Turn into buttered, floured or paper lined pans, (cupcake best for gifts, or fruitcake tins) put in very hot oven for the initial 4 minutes. It solidifies from the heat. But this is too fast an oven to cook the thing through to the middle, because it would burn outside black before inside was cooked, so then the trick is, you open door slightly, turn oven down to 325, ( a slow oven) finish to a deep golden brown color. Remove gently. COOL on rack. FROST- with powdered sugar frosting. Use 1 cube soft butter beaten with a lot of lemon rind, then a whole box of powdered sugar added 1/3 at a time with real lemon juice and lemon rind added after each dry sugar addition. As we want several different but clear flavors, we will slice fruit cake in two, fill middle with real almond paste (homemade) then glue the sucker back together with frosting. 

ALMOND PASTE: grind a 1/2 lb of blanched almonds (boiling water, one minute later peel) with some boiled sugar syrup and almond extract. The third, clear flavor is coconut. Cover entire exterior frosted cake with shredded sweetened coconut. Soak more dried pineapple in lemon juice, decorate outside of cake with these pieces. OPTION: At Xmas I fill the same cake batter with unsulphured dried fruit, dates, raisins, dried pineapple, dried cranberries, dried natural cherries, pecans, walnuts. I bake in loaf pan, no frosting. Wrap it in cheesecloth soaked in brandy and then foil or plastic. Mail them to pals.

PACKAGING- Thrift stores have baskets, paint these w. spray paint, Buy roll of colored cellophane, suround it. Buy METAL COOKIE CANS, CLAY cookie jars, all kinds of old stylish nostalgia boxes that you can use for fresh baked cookies which when cool are best air tight. GOURMET COOKING Stores have bon bon papers, fluted baking cups. For poured (fudge like) home made candy, an antique forties plate. Cellophane.