Lately I have noticed a lot of discussion about holiday greetings. Sometimes heated, the debate appears to be whether it is appropriate to say the customary “Merry Christmas” to everyone regardless of their religious affiliation. Is it more respectful to neutralize it to a wish for “Happy Holidays” for those who are not Christian? I do not pretend to know the answer but I am surprised at the amount of energy spent on this. Christmas has always been part of my life but I have family, friends and acquaintances who do not celebrate this holiday so I usually choose the more neutral greeting but greet with wishes of Merry Christmas quite frequently as well.
Friday, during our gathering with family, there was such a feeling of celebration that nobody cared what the greeting was. Greetings of Merry Christmas were readily returned regardless of differing religions and beliefs. As we gathered around the tree and dinner table it was all about love and respect for each other. Everyone was just happy to be breaking bread and sharing the days activities. Later as we departed, laden with gifts and goodwill, hugs and kisses were exchanged along with words of gratitude. I wish the energy spent worrying about how to address each other could be spent getting to know each other. Perhaps we would realize that we are all human and without as many differences as one might think.
That said, let’s talk food. Traditionally, our son-in-law makes prime rib for Christmas dinner. This year, to accompany the star, there was Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls and carrots. I provided an appetizer of bacon candy to get things started and dessert of chocolate cake, made by our son-in-law’s mother, was the crowning glory. If you read my post, “Gratitude”, I referenced my plan to make Maple Glazed Carrots for Thanksgiving. At the time I wrote the post, I was still developing this recipe, so I couldn’t share it ahead. Turns out they were so well received that our daughter’s family submitted their special request for a repeat at Christmas. I obliged and here is how it went down.
MAPLE GLAZED ROASTED CARROTS Serves 6
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
2 1/2lbs. young thin carrots or small baby carrots, peeled
2T extra-virgin olive oil
1T (1.5 oz) apricot jam
1/8c Naturally brewed soy sauce
2 medallions of fresh ginger root (or a 1/2 t ground ginger)
1/8c Pure maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Lay carrots in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (use two sheets if necessary. Do not over crowd). Drizzle with olive oil and stir to thoroughly coat the carrots.
- Roast undisturbed for 15 minutes. Stir the carrots and rotate front to back in the oven for even cooking. Roast for additional 15-20 minutes or until fork tender. Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the carrot.
- While carrots are roasting, melt apricot jam in a medium skillet. When melted, add the soy sauce, ginger and bourbon. Simmer over medium-low heat until mixture begins to thicken.
- Remove ginger and discard. Add the maple syrup, cook another 2 minutes. Take off heat and whisk in the butter. The glaze should be somewhat thick and glossy.
- When carrots are done, transfer them to a serving dish, add the maple sauce and toss thoroughly until the carrots are all well-coated.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be made ahead and reheated or serve at room temp.
Note: Rainbow carrots, if available, make a very colorful presentation. If sauce gets too thick, it can be thinned with a bit of stock (vegetable or chicken). The freshness and quality of the carrots play a very important role in the outcome of this dish.
The carrots seem to appeal to both children and adults and were perfect sideliners for the turkey and the beef. Given their popularity, I think these glazed carrots will be making a frequent appearance at family gatherings. Perhaps another tradition was born this year as well. Realizing there were three generations of trumpet players present and enough instruments to go around, an impromptu concert of Christmas songs filled the house. It was a joyous sight to see two grandpas, two sons and a grandson all playing their horns and caught up in the merriment of the season.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate (or not) the holidays, I hope your days have been busy making happy memories. As we approach the new year I want to believe the feelings of love and goodwill will prevail. The world is getting smaller as we come together not only as a nation but as members of a larger more global society. May we all live together in peace. Good food, great fun and sharing is what makes the season special. I do hope you keep spreading the love, one dish and shared experience at a time. Wishing all of you a happy healthy new year. My family always ate pork on this day to symbolize good fortune. Would love to hear your New Year food traditions. We will visit again in 2016! Until then, lots of love from my kitchen to yours. Jeanne