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Happy-Gourmand

Nuts at Christmas

The big day looms ever closer, and everyone is running at mach speed trying to check everything off the list and be sure they are ready to fulfill all their holiday obligations.

  • Fight the traffic to get to the mall
  • wait in line to buy the gifts,
  • stay up till midnight wrapping and baking and decorating so that it’s all going according to plan for Christmas Eve.

You barely have time to get to the parties to see people, and then you are thinking of the million other things that need doing when you get home.

The problem is, Christmas is all over too soon and many of us are left feeling symptoms of withdrawal or even depression when the usual rat race picks up in the New Year.

So, fear not, gentle reader, I have a simple solution for you to save the spirit of Christmas, and your sanity.

Here it is:

  • stop the rushing
  • just listen 
  • look and enjoy.

You think I am a bit nuts, don’t you? I can’t stop, you say, or I shall never get it all done! Well, so what?

Isn’t the most important thing to be able to enjoy the season, to spend time with family and friends, to be grateful for what we have?

I have written many times about the magic and mystery that is in the true spirit of Christmas. It seems to me Christmas is only mysterious when we lose sight of its true significance.

When we notice children laughing or the twinkle of the lights, it all seems simple again for a moment, doesn’t it?

Instead of worrying about all the gifts from the store, think of a simple meaningful gift for your loved ones (maybe it is a “gift certificate” for an afternoon spent sharing a coffee).

Instead of the complicated holiday menu, try the shortcuts you can find all over the Internet or on the Food Network.

Ask the kids to help wrap gifts, clean the house or shovel the walk and then spend the time gained sharing a hot chocolate or humming a carol or two.

You will find that even the smallest moment spent simply enjoying the fun of the holiday season gives your heart a boost that will broaden your smile and increase your stamina.

Author Tom Robbins said,

“It is contrary to the nature of mystery to stand still. Yet, it’s always there, somewhere, a world on the other side of the mirror … a promise in the next pair of eyes that smile at us. We glimpse it when we stand still.”

Take the time to stand still and enjoy Christmas and you will realize another truth this same author wrote: “It is never too late to have a happy childhood.”

As a closing note, here is a simple treat for you to enjoy – it can be a great gift when packaged in a tin or gift bag, too!

Spiced Pecans

  • You can use hazelnuts or walnuts too (many of us have trees – include the recipe with some nuts from your tree and you have a very personal gift for a friend or neighbour!)
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened (OR see option below to avoid using butter)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar (you can substitute brown sugar for a more maple-like taste)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups pecans
  • 2 tsp EACH ground ginger and sea salt (you can substitute cinnamon if you like, or a combination of fragrant spices like cardamom, nutmeg and cloves)

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment and spread parchment with butter. OR, if you have a silicone baking sheet, put that on your rimmed baking sheet and you can place the nuts directly on it. (Martin sells these on his website if you need one.)

In a saucepan, pour water and then pour sugar over, in a pile in the middle. Bring sugar and water to a boil – DO NOT STIR – and let boil for approx. 5 minutes, or until golden in colour. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans and let stand for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Using a sieve, drain pecans and return to saucepan; stir in spices. Spread on prepared baking sheet and bake at 350F till toasted, approx 10-15 minutes. Let cool on pan and then package for gifts or serve.

A very Merry Christmas to you all.



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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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