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It’s Coastal Holiday Time

All over the world people are readying themselves for the holidays and folks living in coastal regions have much to celebrate – and much to celebrate with. I come from the Chesapeake Bay and our holiday traditions inevitably include delicious seafood choices. A buffet – or even dinner table – will include platters of steamed shrimp, oyster stew, and crabmeat stuffed rockfish.

Of one the Chesapeake’s favorite seafood holiday traditions are crab dips. They come in all shapes and sizes but my personal pick is Jo Jo’s Curried Crab Dip. This curry-infused dip studded with plumped currants and enriched with coconut milk, will enliven any party.

Turkey is always big on the holiday entertaining list. I purchase a free-range, organic turkey, or better yet, a free-range heritage turkey. Chesapeake cooks often prepared oyster dressing for turkeys and a side dish-must-have in Baltimore - is sauerkraut. Baltimore is one of the sauerkraut capitals of the world. Growing up at our house, with my grandmother, Gertie Cleary at the helm in the kitchen, was no exception. During the holiday season there was not one feast served without a large bowl of steaming kraut. The version I always love best is Gertie’s Sauerkraut and Apples.

Another favorite for this time of year – to give the turkeys a break – is beautiful Roast Goose with Apple Chestnut Stuffing. When approaching a goose with the intent of cooking it, it’s a good idea to check its credentials – or flying license. You want a younger bird – about 4 to 5 pounds. An older bird is best for braising or stewing. The apple chestnut stuffing is the perfect for the succulent flavor of the goose.

Punch makers are in high gear making hooch-enriched concoctions – some fruit-based or creamy eggnogs. For those not imbibing I like to make a Paca House Christmas Punch. A colonial based recipe, it not only warms the body, but the aroma of the steeping punch perfumes the whole house.

There’s no end of holiday food, traditions, and party ideas. But for me the most important aspect of the holidays is to visit with family and friends, sharing good food & drink and wonderful memories.


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