Thinking about Christmas….

November 4, 2016

holiday-basket…baskets, that is.

Long-time readers will recall that I make annual Christmas baskets, collections of goodies, for gifts for some family and friends. It’s about the time of year I start thinking about what’s going to go in those baskets.

Yes, I know it’s hard to think about Christmas when it’s 80 degrees outside and you still have tomatoes on your vines. I can’t help global warming. Work with me, here.

I’m thinking this year’s baskets are going to lean toward the savory, a turn of mind inspired when I canned jalapeno peppers someone gave me last week. Such pretty, Christmasy-looking things they were.

Well, why not? Maybe not pickled jalapenos, but something leaning in that direction?

Child A told me about a pickle someone used to give for gifts, that involved taking a gallon of el cheapo hamburger dills, draining off the brine, and making a new brine with sugar and significant quantities of hot sauce. I went a bit further than that and contemplated adding garlic and sliced onion. I’ve had similar pickles, known as “wickles,” for “wicked pickles,” and they’re pretty dang good. We shall experiment.

Today, there was a discussion over on eGullet about pickling and otherwise preserving eggs, which put me in mind of the big gallon jar of pickled bologna and eggs that used to sit atop the meat counter at the little country store up the road from where I grew up. Self and I riffed off that idea — how about cutting either good frankfurters (say Hebrew National) or small bologna or knockwurst up in chunks and pickling them with quail eggs, garlic, hot peppers and onion? Should be an entertaining appetizer. May experiment on those, as well.

It may be time to bring back the chicken liver pate, as well. Haven’t made that for several years. And maybe some pork rillettes. Those would need to be kept refrigerated, or I’ll need to borrow a pressure canner (I really need to buy one of those things), but that’s doable. Add to that some kind of jam or jelly (maybe pepper jelly?).

That collection will call out for some kind of something on which to eat it. I’ll throw in a bag of garlic crostini; I cheat on these, and get the small baguettes from the grocery, slice them, paint them down with garlic butter, and bake them the second time. Let ’em cool, and then bag ’em up. They can be done way early, too, as they last forever. Then perhaps this will be the year I will try my hand at making crackers; I have a recipe that is alleged to taste like Rain Coast Crisps, which I dearly love, and a couple of others that have been referred to me as very good.

A small bag of spiced nuts, and another one of candy, should finish off a quite nice little collection. And there’s nothing that requires cooking during the madness that leads up to cooking Christmas dinner.

We are not yet speaking about Christmas dinner.  Although I’m thinking it may be time to do a cocktail-style spread.

If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em have any suggestions about holidays, I’d love to hear them. Pass them along, would you?



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