This Christmas was full of a mixture of things. Our granddaughter came from school in Ireland to bake and prepare for the holiday and enjoy spending time with us. Our grandson (he was vaccinated but got pretty sick anyway) had recently recovered from Covid and was tired but glad to be out of isolation. Another granddaughter learned that she was exposed to someone who tested positive and had to skip the Christmas Day fun. Meanwhile, the day came and went, love was expressed and gifts were exchanged. We were all left feeling the need to enjoy the times we have together and not take them for granted.
This year I discovered the fun art of making “trays”. It was inspired by a picture I used from Unsplash of a dessert tray which I used in a story about holiday eating. I decided to make one of my own this year and ended up making several variations and having fun doing it. This is my favorite picture of it. It is more about assembling beautiful bits of food on an attractive tray to emphasize different colors and textures.
with Orange Cream Cheese Dip
I began by finding a recipe for a dip that would look nice in a small dish and go with a number of things on the platter. I decided on a recipe for an orange cream cheese dip. I chose an attractive tray, a small bowl for the dip, and a tiny wooden spoon. I made a list of the things that might be nice to include: a pomegranate, a green apple, an orange, some candy canes. I actually bought these things on purpose. Since I had made an assortment of cookies, they were on hand, as were interesting herbs, spices, and whole nuts, some chocolate truffles, some dried fruit. The idea was to make the tray from whatever I could find lying around. Turns out there were a lot of possibilities.
Then I placed the pomegranate near one end, the bowl with cheese dip near the other, and started filling in the spaces with larger cookies and crackers. The plain cookies and the crackers could be used with the dip. Then garnishes were provided by differently shaped cookies, candy canes, pieces of chocolate, slices of lime with the rind showing, round nuts in the shell, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks. It was such fun to arrange these things in different ways. I kept finding new takes on the original plan, new things to add to fill a corner or add dimension or another layer. I suppose part of the challenge would be to place things carefully without adding too much and ending up with a mishmash. Anyway, it was a lot of fun and not very hard other than restraining myself from going overboard with additions.
Orange Cream Cheese Dip
Grate the rind of one orange or tangerine and measure two tablespoons of its juice. Mix 8 ounces of cream cheese in a bowl until softened, then stir in the rind, orange juice, 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, and 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Cointreau. Mix till smooth. You could also use a small bowl of the processor. This is good with apple or pear slices, salty crackers, plain cookies, etc.
In writing this week
Three Day Anti-Inflammatory Eating Plan to Improve the Festivities for Seventyish People
Or, Oh no, It’s seven days until Christmas and we already feel sick from eating cookies