For me, Christmas really is all about giving. I love to give people presents any time of year, so when the holidays roll around I tend to go overboard and dole out the gifts to one and all with reckless abandon. I remember in years past (pre-husband, pre-baby, pre-illness, pre-house, pre-new job) when I seemingly had all the time in the world; I would bake treats and lovingly prepare packages for everyone I knew. A dozen different types of sweet delicacies wrapped tenderly in wax and tissue paper, addressed only to the luckiest of people in my life.
The recipients would gush and smile and peek inside, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the contents while they mentally tried to decide what they would break into first. Of course I ate up the adoration with a spoon and it only served to spurr me on the following year when I would go through it all once again.
But that was pre-everything that rules my life now (see above), back when time was not quite so scarce a commodity. Even last year I toned things down a bit and cut the dozen treats to about half and the packaging was not quite as nice as I would have liked.
This year I’m not quite sure what happened. I had lists of people, lists of foodstuffs and lines all over these lists attaching names to preferred treats. I was organized with shopping lists and recipes and schedules. And then whammo! It didn’t happen. The weekend that I was supposed to be baking up a veritable storm I ended up on the couch, half asleep and stuffed up with an awful cold. All that following week I kept promising myself I was going to tackle the baking and everyday I just…well…didn’t. There was work-work to do, house-work to do, husbands and sons to take care of, laundry to fold, sleep to catch up on…and the baking never got done.
I ended up finally, the day before I wanted to give out my gifties, taking a vacation day from work. I spent it in my kitchen, making a gigantic batch of utterly gorgeous Chili Pepper Jam. While it might not have been as taste-bud tempting as my usual sweet delights, it is absolutely striking, and quite festive with it’s flecks of red throughout. Sweet and quite spicy, this "jam" goes great with cheese, eggs, and is particularly good spread on a turkey sandwich…maybe even with a little cranberry chutney (recipe to come soon) joining it.