|Bringing in the Tree|
It seems like we just reluctantly put Adytum’s signature orange umbrellas and chair cushions away and here it is – Christmas already…We have guests all throughout the month of December and the transformation into the magical fantasy of Christmas in the little castle Adytum has begun with the bringing in of the tree, tiny white lights going up everywhere and fresh cedar draped over every chandelier and level surface.
|Fresh From the Field and Heavy!!|
This year, we opted for a 6’ Noble instead of the behemoth trees of the last two years that we could barely drag in much less get in the special tree stand and upright. It truly takes a small team to accomplish that! So this year the fragrance is spilling down from the third floor library and the lights from the tree are visible as you drive up to the front door.
My daughter, Alyssa, was here to help install the garland around the library rails and get Fragment 2 into a Christmas wrap of her own set atop of web of golden ephemeral fabric. Alyssa was between a month long kite boarding adventure in Brazil and heading to Germany and Denmark for another week before settling into a new position at Children’s Hospital in Seattle. We have a tradition at Adytum of making sweet and savory nuts for the holidays that are always a huge hit. When Alyssa asked for recipes for her friends in Germany who loved them, I decided to share them with you too.
They come from a book called, Party Nuts: 50 recipes for spicy, sweet, savory, and simply sensational nuts that will be the hit of any gathering. By Sally Sampson Listen to some of the recipe names: Cinnamon Sugar and Orange Macadamia Nuts, Honey-Cardamom Almonds, Curried Coriander Spiced Pistachios…and one of my favorites: Slow-Roasted Southern Buttered Pecans which is quite simply exactly as it sounds.
She named this book accurately and she’s right. We appreciate being able to make healthy foods even during ‘party times’ and while these may deviate a slight bit from our usual ‘no sugar’ policy at Adytum, they don’t deviate far. As one of my mentors, Dr. Richard Shulze says, “It’s party food. Just don’t make it everyday food.” These nuts make perfect hostess gifts and also great gifts for those that have everything already. We like the idea of disposable gifts and these nuts will truly disappear fast. We pack them into cellophane bags with festive ribbons to tie them closed or fill holiday tins.
Don’t forget your UPS man, the teller at the bank that knows your name and the neighbor at the far end of the block that you don’t see often enough! Christmas is a chance to let those in your life know that you appreciate them and don’t take them for granted. While nut prices have risen, these are still an economical approach and a very loving approach in a season of undue focus on commercialism. We wish each of you a very Merry Christmas full of an abundance of love, joy, great health and peace! May you truly reconnect with all that really matters in life….
Jennifer Ligeti’s Classic Sugared Holiday Nuts
2 large egg whites (1/4 cup)
1 cup sugar
½ tsp sea salt
4 cups lightly toasted pecan halves (10-12 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees F)
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the egg whites in a large stainless steel bowl and whisk until frothy. Slowly whisk in the sugar and salt until thick. Fold in the pecans and toss until well coated.
3. Transfer the pecans to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer. Place in the oven and bake, stirring gently every 15 minutes, until the meringue covers the nuts with a chewy, pale golden brown coating, 35-40 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes, then removed the nuts from the pan with a metal spatula and set aside to cool before serving.
5. If you’re sipping, pair with mulled wine for adults and hot cider for kids
Lauren’s Vanilla Walnuts
4 cups raw walnut halves
2 T unsalted butter, melted
6 T sugar
1 T vanilla extract
1 T vanilla powder
1 Tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degree F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the walnuts and melted butter in a large bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated. Sprinkle the sugar and vanilla extract over the nuts and toss again until evenly coated.
3. Transfer the walnuts to the prepared sheet and arrange in a a single layer. Set aside for 10 minutes.
4. Place the vanilla powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a small bowl,, mix well, and set aside.
5. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the nuts are lightly browned, stirring a few times, about 30 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and immediately loosen the nuts with a metal spatula. While hot, sprinkle the nuts with the spice mix and stir well but gently. Set aside to cool before serving.
7. If you’re sipping, Lauren likes these best with ginger ale, no ice.