Deirdre here... Excitement continues to build as we get closer to Christmas. We got our tree on Friday, and decorated it Saturday night with help from some aunts, uncles and cousins. Max spent most of the time holed away in the kitchen experimenting with inventing healthly Christmas treats while I tried making persimmon sugar plums for the first time!
I am not sure if they really are called Sugar Plums, I think I heard someone call them that, but they are a Japanese treat called Hoshigaki. I first had them at a contradance that we played for a few years ago. They were the most delicious treat ever! Sweet and sticky almost carmelized dried persimmons. The best part about them is that they do not have any added sugar!!
Later my sister-in-law learned how to make them when she worked at a farm to table cafe in our town and later experimented with making them at home. They look really awesome when they are drying, like bright Christmas ornaments hanging in the window! Ever since trying them at the contradance and seeing them at my sister in law's house, I have wanted to try making them.
So yesterday at the farmers market, we traded our microgreens with another vendor for some Hachiya persimmons. Hachiya are a variety of persimmon which is inedible until soft, but for making Hoshigaki, you need to start while they are still firm. I peeled the persimmons and then tied twine to the tops of them to hang them. They are hanging in our sunny main living room right now. I plan on leaving them hanging for about a month. In a week I will start to "massage" them every day or so to get rid of excess moisture. I have no idea how they will turn out, but we'll see! If they don't taste good, then at least we will have super cute, festive persimmon "ornaments" hanging in the living room, so it will be great either way!
For the last several years, we have had a big pine cone collection in our Christmas box, but I didn't know what to do with them. On the way home from the market yesterday, I saw some beautiful pine cone ornaments hanging in the window of a local florist shop. I did the same thing with ours last night, and hung them in our living room. Together with the drying persimmons, they look festive and cheery! They were simple to make: just screw an eye-hook into the top of a pine cone, add a ribbon/bow, and hang it with twine. My brother pre-drilled the eye-hooks with his drill, which made it a lot easier to screw them in.
Max here... While Deirdre was busily crafting and decorating with others in the living room, I was trying to come up with some good recipes for Christmas treats that are not wildly unhealthy. We both LOVE Christmas baking and Christmas treats all season long. Growing up, I was the household Christmas baker, and turned my parents' kitchen into a cookie factory each December. Deirdre's family has an impressive array of decadent baked goods which they make every year. The hours of work and preparation that go into it are a big part of the joyful anticipation that leads up to Christmas for us.
But more recently, we have eaten almost none, because they are so often loaded with sugar, white flour, and vegetable oils which don't do our bodies any good. I am currently on a quest to find/create alternative recipes that are both completely delicious, and less taxing on the immune system. At a time of year when colder weather and late-night parties already make us susceptible to illness, we don't want to make ourselves sicker by eating tons of refined sugar and flour! I like to be healthy for Christmas time!
I came up with a few recipes that worked, and I'm working on refining them, and making a few new ones. I will post the final results with photos in one or two days!