Home Cooked Gifts
I love making special foods at Christmastime that speak to family traditions. For me there is no greater joy than a drop-in visit to deliver a homemade snack or condiment that someone might not make for themselves. Personally I’ve settled on the port wine – cranberry relish with orange and toasted pecan that reminds me of Christmas at Nana’s with her flash bulbs and Tick Tock smiling in his cardigan and pocket watch always ready for a hand of rummy. The fact that my relish is probably better than hers is totally irrelevant. I see that loving music teacher now as clear as day when I zest the oranges and boil the jars.
Current economic challenges causing many families to curtail holiday spending are actually an incredible gift in disguise. I heard a woman sobbing on the radio last week imploring someone to buy toys for her kids and couldn’t help but wonder if she couldn’t trade out the spending contest for handmade items, gifts of service, small treats and time together – things that provide lasting meaning and memories. Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas” was not so long ago in a dirt floor cabin that she remembers fondly. The passion and effort that go into making something unique result in a special gift for both giver and recipient that improves over time – something that can’t be bought in a store or ordered online – especially if it comes with a story and fulfills one of our simplest and most primal sensory pleasures.
We are blessed to have many Farmers Market friends who support our efforts to bring you top quality tasty animals raised with respect. While your family stories and recipes always inspire us for the rest of the week, occasionally someone shows us generosity that goes far beyond a friendly relationship based on commerce. Nan and George made sea salt at their summer place on the Cape by hauling 5 -gallon buckets from the wide Atlantic to fill evaporating pans. A wet paste was scraped up and spread onto mesh screens for further drying and turning. I was honored that she would know the special appreciation I have for artisan foods. It’s beautiful. Thank you. And of course it found its way into the special port wine – cranberry sauce we are making for Christmas gifts as follows:
In a big thick bottomed saucepan on medium heat – 1 C water, (2) 12-oz. bags. cranberries, 1 1/2 C brown sugar, 1 C port wine (and some for the chef), juice of 1 orange, 1/2 t sea salt, 1/2 t ginger, 1/2 t cinnamon, 1 T balsamic vinegar. While it is boiling and berries are popping toast a handful of pecans in a dry pan, tossing occasionally for 6-8 minutes until you get a nice dark fragrant toast. Chop medium-fine and stir in about 1/2 C. Turn off heat after about 1/2 hour. Zest the orange into the mix as it is cooling. Taste and add salt, ginger and cinnamon to taste. Boil jars for 10 minutes, fill leaving 1/4″ headspace and seal with new lids and rings. You can reuse old jars. Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas with your friends and family. Thank you for enabling us to follow our star.
Respecting the Protein, PMB