Many apologies for delay since last post. My Yale talk went over great, and I meant to make a Q&A: Grad School post with all the questions the undergraduates asked and my answers, but my amanuensis didn’t take any notes! Since then I’ve been reading a lot of cool stuff, including this awesome paper by the awesome Matt Clay. So hopefully I can get that paper into a blog post, as well as some cool math from the SECOND annual Midwest Women In Mathematics Symposium (the first one was last year at UIC, mentioned in that blog post). But this is not a math post.
I cannot imagine doing this for a wedding of more than 25 people (and really I did favors per household so I only made 14), but if you had helpful friends then knock yourself out. These are also “fill in the blank” favors or small gifts (housewarming?). I made four types of flavored salts, which are SUPER EASY and fairly quick if you just let them dry out for a day or two instead of baking them. They mostly follow the same idea:
Take X amount of salt, and mix thoroughly with Y amount of flavoring using your fingers. Spread on a baking sheet and let dry in a not-humid room for a day or two. Package cutely. Note the lack of equipment, expertise, or active time!
Most flavorful: Sriracha salt
This one is a darling of the internet and is straight from the Sriracha cookbook, which I do not own nor think I ever will (we own two or three cookbooks right now: my mom’s 1970s copies of “Joy of Cooking,” a Three-Ingredient Cookbook from my sister-in-law, and possibly his copy of Rachel Ray’s 30-Minute Meals, which he claims is a misnomer). I did 1 1/2 c salt + 1/4 c + 2 TB Sriracha.
Mix that up with chopsticks until there are just little clumps left, and lay it out for a day or two. This ends up being pretty chunky, so people recommend beating it (wrap in a towel and hit with a rolling pin) or pulsing it in a food processor, but I am lazy so my guests got chunky Sriracha salt.
Prettiest: Rosemary salt
This one is the opposite of the last, in that it’s not all over the internet and the Martha Stewart website I got it off of kept being down. Other recipes call for a food processor and just pulsing the rosemary to teeny bits, but I actively hate having pieces of rosemary in my food so I went with rosemary scented salt.
You heat up rosemary with salt in a pot (I did 1 1/4 c salt + 4 stick/twigs of rosemary) and stir every minute or two for 10-ish minutes until little pieces of rosemary start falling off and it smells good, then put it in a tupperware and forget about it for a few hours.
Or you’re Martha Stewart and you remember about it after five minutes and cover it. In any case, pop a lid on that and leave it for a day or three. It’ll smell SO GOOD when you take off that lid. For packaging, I popped a teeny piece of fresh rosemary in to each little jar and topped it with salt, discarding the big pieces and leaving in the little cooked parts.
Most unusual: Vanilla salt
I still don’t really know what to do with this one. I bought a vanilla bean from the store, which I’ve never seen before, and mixed it into a cup of salt using my hands. You use your fingernails and scrape out the inside from the bean-holder-thing (pod?), and then use your fingers and massage it into the salt. It smells good! Then spread it out and let dry like the others.
Best smelling/most versatile: Citrus salt
This is a fun one: take 1 1/4 c of salt, and zest a bunch of citrus over it. I used two oranges, two lemons, and two limes.
Use your fingertips to crush the zest into the salt, releasing the yummy smelling oils, and then spread out a baking sheet.
I tried to dry this in the oven and hated the results and did it over again- I cooked it too hot and it sucked all the citrus flavor out. Plus you have to pay attention to the oven and who likes to do that? (Possibly readers of baking blogs, but let’s forget about that…)
We buy 4 oz jars of flavored salts when we do so (it’s always truffle salt), so half that for a favor sounds perfect to me. Plus the colored lids precluded the need to label each jar, which would’ve been a pain for ~50 tiny jars. I threw them in clear favor bags I picked up a Target, along with a printout of a Bible verse/Byrds song, some suggestions on how to use the salts, and a thank-you tag.
20 count Favor bags (Target): $2
Ribbon (Target): $3
Printing (Fedex/Kinkos): $5
Salt (Grocery store): $4
Vanilla Bean (Grocery store): $3 (!)
=$17 if you don’t count stuff you’re going to use anyway
Lemons, Limes, Oranges (store): $5? (and then we ate them later, so basically free!)
Bottle of Sriracha (store): $6? (we’ve had this for awhile)
Rosemary (store): $3 (and then we ate some lamb with it!)
=$31 if you count things you will eat
I’ll leave this post with something I thought was ridiculous when I went to Target. Also, shout out to the amazing Alliance Bakery for the BEAUTIFUL job they did with our cake! I’ll post pictures of that cake up when I get some. It was lemon with a mango mousse filling. Yum!