Simply in Season

News and reflections on all that's good about local food
from the co-author of Simply in Season,
a World Community Cookbook in the spirit of More-with-Less

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

All we really want for Christmas

For whatever reason I was more than ready for the Advent season to begin this year. Normally I find the approach of Christmas is more like looking in those rear view mirrors -- always coming closer than I expect or am quite prepared for. But this year, I could hardly wait until Thanksgiving to start playing my Christmas CDs (especially this one -- and this one).

Maybe it's something about the year we've had. There's a yearning to celebrate. To light up the darkness.

(Gotta love the recent political cartoon by Steve Kelley. "Settle for an iPod," indeed.)

I'm fortunate in that my family doesn't have a tradition of a lot of holiday gift-giving, at least not among adults. In part I think our exchanges lost their appeal because most of us lean toward the side of the gift-receiving continuum that prefers getting items we want -- as opposed to preferring to be surprised. We find it too tempting to just go buy what we want when we want it. And when we found ourselves exchanging presents of cash and gift certificates, the process started to feel a bit, well, silly.

One option to consider is the "buy nothing" approach. Certainly many of the best gifts are those that cost little or nothing (and the link here offers ideas along with coupon PDFs for desserts, child care, back massages, etc.). I'm a fan of food gifts or consumables in general: regional specialties, homemade salsa, chutney or jams, cookie mixes in a jar, fancy socks (OK, you don't want to eat those). Or just an afternoon to play board games (this is my current favorite).

It's fun, though, to see other creative ideas for gifts that have something extra good about them. Here are links for places to start.

Co-op America’s “Green Gifts” catalog (which includes lots of special holiday discounts for places like fair trade organizations Ten Thousand Villages and Equal Exchange)

Grist magazine's ideas for the "trendy clotheshorse," "angsty teen," "self-righteous enviro" and more on your list.

Practical, fun and earth-friendly ideas from the National Resources Defense Council, Treehugger, and Sustainable Style.

Lots of gift-related links in the fifth Carnival of the Green (an entirely new concept to me -- so I'm new at this, so what).

Oh, yes, and then there's that list which mentions the "most intriguing gift ideas on MCC’s online store." It was an honor for Simply in Season to be included on Christian Century's 2005 gift-giving guide as well.

Other lists to recommend, anyone? Or care to share the favorite item on your gift list -- or wish list -- this year?

* * *

The Simply in Season recipe of the week, Stuffed Acorn Squash, offers five different stuffing options. The lesson: pretty much anything goes when it comes to squash stuffings. Rice or bread, apples, dried fruit, mushrooms, sausage -- it’s all good.

Tasty as these five options are, I think my personal favorite squash stuffing is still the cornbread dressing from page 187 of More-with-Less Cookbook. No better way to use up half a pan of leftover cornbread.

I like to put a spoonful of chutney (a fairly sweet and syrupy chutney -- as opposed to something thicker -- works best) or maple syrup in the cavity of the cooked squash before piling in the dressing for the final baking step. Add a side of Wild Mushroom Sauce (SIS page 55) and you’ve got a feast.


At 6:31 PM, Anonymous Kris in TN said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I've signed up to receive your weekly recipe and will definitely be checking out your book. It's kinda hard to focus on good eating around the holidays (haha!), but I'm really going to get back to cooking more whole foods and planning healthy, wholesome meals in January. I'm looking forward to it so much!



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