Homemade for Holiday giving
When I was growing up in the 1950s one of my earliest Christmas memories has to do with a bike my dad was fixing up. As I recall he found it in the dump and brought it home. He would work on it after work and on the weekends in the garage. Along with my sister and brother, we were very curious about what he was going to do with it. He said he was fixing it up for some “poor kids.” I remember thinking we weren’t poor but we didn’t have a bike and now these kids were going to get this second-hand bike, no gears and painted green the same color as our house and garage and all my dad’s tools.
I was 6, my brother 7 and my sister 10 years old and that Christmas the bike was under our tree. We all learned to ride on it and I did not get my own three-speed, chartreuse, Schwinn bicycle until the fourth grade. My good friend Jackie Brown (now Behan from J’s Bistro in Dayton) and I got matching Schwinn’s. A present doesn’t have to be new to be enjoyed and appreciated. We knew how hard my dad worked on that piece of junk to turn it into something usable for the three of us.
Earlier this year by a Dumpster I found a chartreuse Schwinn bike circa 1960 and put it in the back of my car and brought it home from California. Over the summer my grandson worked on it for me and now it is as good as new, even better because it brings back all the wonderful memories I have of the green Schwinn from years past.
For Christmas I have a tendency to give practical and mostly homemade gifts. With no little ones in the picture who always seem easy to buy for, gift giving gets harder because it seems we all have too much of everything and don’t really need more stuff. So, I stick to homemade jams, jellies, butters, pickles, applesauce, cookies and spaghetti sauce. I also make a potpourri that I collect and add to throughout the year. Almost every week when they were available at the Farmers Market I was buying a flat of raspberries and the next day I would make jam. Like the squirrel stashing away those acorns for winter, I made a lot of raspberry jam and now that it’s December I’m happy I did.
With the economy the way it is, a little slow down seems appropriate for the holidays coming up. Let’s get back to basics: enjoying your family and friends and being thankful for what we have in our lives, a home if you have one and certainly your health. Try and make an effort to shop locally if you want those folks to be in business next year, plus the sales tax stays in our community. Try and give what you can to those in need, even if it’s a scaled down version of what you normally do, it will be appreciated more than you know.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Mother Teresa, “Every act of love is a work of peace, no matter how small.”
The next two recipes I’m going to share with you would make great gifts for the foodie on your list or can be given as a hostess gift. The key to transforming food into a great gift is all in the presentation. Look for cellophane bags or to-go containers for packaging then add your own special touch; a ribbon, gift tag and a small spoon or spreader.
Prize-Winning B-B-Q Rub
3⁄4 cup packed brown sugar
1⁄2 cup paprika
21⁄2 tablespoon course sea salt
11⁄2 tablespoon course ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon ground red pepper
Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl, stirring well. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Sprinkle rub evenly over meat, poultry, or fish. Rub in seasonings with fingers, grill as desired. Yield about 2 cups.
Saga Blue and Walnut Spread
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 5-ounce package Saga or other favorite blue cheese, rind trimmed
1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
Serve with crackers or celery sticks.
Beat cream cheese and blue cheese until smooth, stir in walnuts, lemon juice and pepper. Store in refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Makes about 11⁄2 cups.
– Linda Marrone has been a Carson City resident since 1973 and together with her husband, Ralph, formerly operated Marrone’s Restaurant in Carson City and Somethin’s Cookin’ Catering.