Many families don’t exchange gifts among adults any longer, but dropping the traditional gift giving is sometimes difficult.
Our family is divided, some still buy (or make), others don’t and this creates a different kind of stress. But it’s not what you think. We’re a pretty creative family so the ones who give, give home-made gifts. They could be gifts of unique preserves, a sewn or quilted item, a wood crafted thing or what ever the passionate hobbiest is into at the time. It’s pretty nice.
A new tradition with holiday celebrating is for everyone to contribute at least something to the meal. It shares the work and everyone gets to feel a part of the festivities by contributing. This my family loves to do.
So what I started doing is buying a really nice piece of dinnerware. Then I make the food in the new dish and then I leave the dish as a holiday gift. Last year, I brought a baked stew in oven-safe soup bowls. I’ve brought a baked vodka gnocchi dish in a casserole dish I bought at a local potter and a crustless chestnut cheesecake in a stunning glass cake plate. This year I found a stunning burnt red soufflé dish with a beautiful rooster on the lid. I think I’ll make some sort of gnocchi, pancetta and cheese casserole – they’ll love it.
It’s a gift that’s always enthusiastically received and others in my family are starting the trend, baking a dozen mini-quiche in antique muffin tins or a pair of art-deco salad tongs with the salad contribution. Obviously some of these gifts have been picked up throughout the year when the perfect culinary item calls out someone’s name. Others are purchased when they figure out what dish they’ll bring.
So I have another perfect gift for any women on your list. Let’s face it, I can’t change a tire and neither can most women I know. But I was recently stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire the other night – how vulnerable!
A good Samaritan stopped to help and Pokies pulled out an air pump. He plugged it into the cigarette lighter of the car and it automatically pumped up my tire. It was enough to get me home so I could get to the garage the next day (the same garage that just put my snow tires on that same day!!).
So while I can’t change a tire, I can quickly pump air in a tire so I won’t be stranded, vulnerable or frustrated. For women, it’s perfect.
So here we are and it’s Christmas and everyone is out scrambling to find the perfect gift. If there is a women on your gift list who travels a lot, this gift of safety may just be the life saving tool they will thank you for one day. The portable air pumps at Canadian Tire start at $9.95 and go up from there. Happy Holidays.
Chestnut Ricotta Cheesecake
2 pounds (1 Kg) fresh ricotta cheese
2/3 cup (160 mL) sugar
1/3 cup (80 mL) all-purpose flour
6 farm fresh eggs
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 cup (250 mL) chestnuts, cooked and choopped
2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
pinch of Ontario salt
Preheat oven to 300F (150C). Set rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and flour a 9 1/2 inch spring form pan, and tap out excess flour.
Place the ricotta in a large mixing bowl, and stir it as smooth as possible with a rubber spatula. Stir the sugar and flour together thoroughly into the ricotta. Stir in the eggs 1 at a time. Blend in the vanilla, cinnamon, chopped chestnuts, and salt. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, until a light golden color. Make sure the center is fairly firm, and the point of a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. It will sink as it cools. Cover, and chill till serving time.
To serve, remove from spring form pan and place on a gifted cake plate.