Holiday memories alive and ... fragrant

info@islandpacket.comNovember 14, 2011 

  • 3 tablespoons Wesson oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    6 garlic cloves, minced
    4 celery ribs, chopped
    28 oz. can Hunt's Diced Tomatoes
    2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
    1 teaspoon dried basil
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    2 bay leaves
    1 orange, zest and juice, discard the rest
    2 cups dry vermouth
    2 cups water
    2 cups chicken broth
    1 pound shrimp, cleaned
    1 pound firm, deboned fish chunks
    8 ounces scallops

    Saute first four ingredients in a large, heavy pot. Cook until tender. Add the remaining ingredients, exept for the seafood. Simmer for a while. Just before serving, add the seafood and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes or until fish is cooked. You can add a pinch of saffron if you like (I don't). Remove bay leaves and sprinkle chopped parsley on top. Serve in big bowls with lots of bread and good wine. Serves 6-8

Chestnuts roasting, la, la, la.

I am sure you remember that "old chestnut," sung by everybody's favorite, Johnny Mathis. If we were in Europe right now, we would be able to buy chestnuts roasted right before our eyes. Vendors have small tin charcoal stoves in which they roast the nuts. The smell is so wonderful -- smoky, sort of like burning fires.

I love the way chestnuts taste. They have a haunting flavor and are a bit like artichoke hearts in texture. Chestnuts are used in all kinds of food and candies, sweet and savory. I used to order chestnuts in a jar, cooked and peeled. Well, I was looking through a Sunday supplement several weeks ago and saw chestnuts advertised for about half the price of the ones I had been ordering. In a state of disbelief, I hopped in the car and zipped -- no, I was not speeding -- over to see if the ad was correct. The chestnuts were genuine, imported from France and delicious. I was, for a moment, transported to the bois de blah blah in Paris. I regained my composure and bought two jars. They will be delicious in our stuffing and mixed with my roasted brussels sprouts.

Still, nothing can beat standing in the middle of a lovely spot in France on a cold, frosty day with that wonderful aroma beckoning you, except maybe the sight of birds setting out for their day over the marsh at the crack of dawn.

  • If you have a business in the old part of Bluffton, you are invited to enter the Christmas Door--Yard Decorating Competition. Old town Bluffton is the section bounded by Bluffton Cemetery, Burnt Church Road and the Bluffton post office. In the "old" days, Bluffton was a square mile. The intersection of Lawrence and Calhoun streets was the center of town until all of the land was annexed recently. When Calhoun Street was repaved, the medallion in the center of the intersection that proclaimed this was, unfortunately, covered up. We always thought of Calhoun Street as being the "center" of our universe.

  • All decorating must be done by Nov. 25 if you wish to enter the fun event. The winners will be announced Dec. 3, also the day of the Bluffton Christmas Parade. There will be gift certificates and flower arrangements as prizes.

    Don't get your tinsel in a tangle, though. Just have fun!

  • If you have ever wanted to join in the fun at the Bluffton Christmas Parade, now is the time. Call Bluffton Town Hall, and you will be told how to go about the process. I was in charge of the parade for years and all one had to do was show up. Now it has gotten a bit more formal, and the organizers want to know in advance so they can put together a lineup. You can use your imagination and come up with a fantastic entry. Hurry and call soon. The parade is Dec. 3 -- not a national holiday, but it should be. I can't wait to see you there!

  • With all of this talk about Christmas, you might think I have forgotten about Thanksgiving. I haven't. It is one of my favorite holidays. Some of my fondest memories are of this time of year. There is something so comforting and calm about Thanksgiving, family cooking together, not rushing about.

  • I'll see you at the grocery store ... bon appètit!

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