Chances are that we’ll be entertaining folks this year instead of anxiously eyeing one another. We aren’t quite so worried about COVID, which is a relief, plus Mr. Sanders and I got the latest vaccine last week. My arm is still sore, though, as I think about the next few weeks, wondering what goodies I should be squirreling away, in preparation for the holidays. I’m looking forward to a couple of friendly get-togethers, when we can share a little food and wine with folks we haven’t talked with, except over for over-the-fence chats, for ages.
The Washington Post had an amusing article about a contest in the UK this week: the winner takes home a turkey-sized Swedish meatball from IKEA. The mind boggles at the thought of a 10-pound meatball. I wish we could enter the contest! The Post thoughtfully included the recipe for homemade Swedish meatballs that IKEA supplied to its biggest fans of the tasty dish, which they were unable to enjoy in situ during the pandemic lockdown. IKEA Swedish Meatballs I’m going to make a batch. I think having a Rubbermaid container of meatballs in the freezer will be an excellent idea. I love being prepared. Enjoy! IKEA Meatball
We have neighbors who might stop by for drinks during the holiday season. He is a genial, chatty fellow, who enjoys his riding mower; she is vegan, and eschews gluten and sugar and loves decorating for Halloween. Luckily, she does drink. We’ll give her a glass of fizz and a bowl of wholesome sticks and twigs, and he’ll Hoover up some beers and the homemade Chex Mix (from a super-secret family recipe), iced Christmas sugar cookies, and now, some of those homemade IKEA meatballs.
INGREDIENTS – a mere guideline of suggestions
3 cups Corn Chex™ cereal
3 cups Rice Chex™ cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex™ cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Pre-heat oven to 250°F. Put cereal and seasoning mixture into ungreased roasting pan and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes.
Our Substitutions: we use 1 whole stick of butter goodness. We do not stick to the standard Chex ingredients, instead we use 2 cups of peanuts, 2 cups of thin pretzel sticks, 2 cups of Bugles (which are the best addition EVER), 3 cups of Honey Nut Chex or Cheerios and 2 cups of Goldfish. Also we use a lot of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt. You might like to add some Old Bay seasoning. Deelish!
Other neighbors who might wander over don’t drink, but do love homemade sweets. Out will come the Annual-Never-Fail-Christmas-Fudge I make to the delight of our dentist, the letter carrier and our favorite UPS delivery guys. This is also a super-secret family recipe: Christmas Fudge
If you stop by at cocktail hour any other time of the year you would lucky if I managed to find a box of fresh Triscuits in the pantry, a block of cheddar cheese, and some pepperoni in the fridge. Around Christmas, though, I try to be more pro-active, and warehouse a decent stock of nibbles: olives, almonds, walnuts, pecans, fancy Pepperidge Farm crackers, nice, runny, fragrant cheeses, grapes, apricots, grainy mustards, and charcuterie-type meats: salami, speck, prosciutto, and, of course, pepperoni. Spare me the precious charcuterie board, however. I have tiny china plates and little silver bowls, with spoons, that come out but once a year, and I am determined to use them. If you call ahead, I will even iron some pretentious linen cocktail napkins for you.
I like a warm nibble or two at a cocktail soirée, don’t you? I especially love brushing exploded puff-pastry off the front of my hostess-y outfit. Our son and his wife will be here for a few days, so we will have to have a stash of nostalgic pigs-in-blankets, some of those IKEA meatballs, bruschetta, and warm ham biscuits. Nothing fancy, just foods that can be scarfed down in an instant, and will delight Luke the wonder dog when bits fall to the floor. It’s Christmas for the dog, too.
Cut a baguette into slices (I like cutting the bread a diagonal)
Toast the slices under the broiler until golden brown
Allow slices to cool
Rub each slice with a big chunk o’garlic
Drizzle each slice with olive oil
Scatter a few basil leaves on the toasted, oiled and garlicky bread
Chop up a couple of the nice fat heirloom tomatoes
Scatter the tomatoes over the basil
Top with crumbled feta cheese
Pop the bread back under the broiler until the cheese sizzles
Go get your COVID shot so you have something to complain about while you finally decorate your Christmas tree. And then start to enjoy yourself. Even if no one is coming over, have a handful of Chex Mix and a bowl of cheer. Give an angel some wings.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
― Edith Sitwell