Going nuts at Christmas

By the time you read this it will be Boxing Day, or later. For those of us who celebrate Christmas, the fuss will all be over.

I do hope that you made the most of it, despite all the limitations. Even though 2020 has been crazy in all kinds of ways, we still deserve to have memories.

Even if Christmas Day didn’t live up to your expectations, you can have good memories of this season. I like to take the “12 days of Christmas” approach, continuing the celebrations through till Epiphany on Jan. 6.

The Christmas tree is still up and there are plenty of goodies to eat (or at least recipes I wanted to cook). Perhaps there are board games yet to try out, or a jigsaw puzzle to work on, or someone who would like more Zoom time.

Here’s your chance to check more things off your Christmas entertainment list.

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression, though. I am not espousing the idea that you need to stay busy. Do not fill the day just for the sake of ticking things off a list.

Make it about quality time. I hope that is one of the things we learned this year with more free time available to us (whether we liked it or not).

Years ago, I read a book that stuck with me, “Still Life with Woodpecker”. It is not a Christmas tale, but I think this quote relates well to the season.

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

As a closing note, I will offer some real nuts to sample instead of the nuttiness that has been the world in 2020. These make a delectable sort of fudge-y praline. If you want something without dairy, I have a recipe for
Spiced Nut Brittle on my blog, too.

Spiced Pecans

You can use hazelnuts and/or walnuts too, your choice.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups pecan pieces

First, toast nuts in the oven at 375F for approximately 5-8 minutes, until slightly darker in colour and you can smell the fragrance of their oils.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment or, if you have a silicone mat, put that on your baking sheet and you can place the nuts directly on it.

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, spices, and evaporated milk. Place over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil.

Keep cooking until candy reaches 234F on a thermometer, or when a few drops of the mixture form a soft ball when dropped into cold water. Remove from heat at this point.

Quickly add vanilla, water, and nuts; mix well until nuts are fully coated.

Spoon mixture onto your lined pan and form a layer, or if you prefer pushing nuts into separate clumps. Let cool completely.  

More Happy Gourmand articles

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


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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