I know it’s almost sacrilegious to admit this, but if I’m being completely candid, this time of year doesn’t really do it for me.
There, I said it.
I think it may have something to do with the year my mother gave me and my sister There’s No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein as a Chanukah gift.
To be simultaneously presented with what felt like the best. idea. ever. and told that it was never going to be an option, well, I think that it’s safe to say that almost 20 years later, I’m still not over it.
This ranks up there in the cannon of childhood disappointment with the realization that, despite my countless campaigns, I was never going to get a puppy.
I may be exaggerating slightly. (I am prone to do that, after all.) But, the fact remains that, at least for me, it’s a little hard to get into the holiday spirit at this time of year, when it’s not really my holiday. Don’get get me wrong, I can appreciate a well trimmed tree—the pagentry of it all. But, mostly, I think about where all of the Manhattanites are keeping their oranments and find myself grateful for the extra space for my clothing.
I suppose it’s safe to say that I’m always just slightly out of step anyway. After all, in the next few weeks, I’ll be providing you with Thanksgiving recipes. And, I’ll probably give you a recipe for latkas sometime in April.
I’m working on it.
The first step, for me, seems to be finding my way in through cooking. My logic has always been as follows: host a dinner party, get into the spirit. I’m going a little more low-key here. The sweet and salty spiced nut recipe that I’m sharing with you below was part of my holiday gifts. After all of the cloying sweetness of the season, these are a nice change. Delicately sweet, with a jolt of heat at the end. It’s a palate cleanser. And, if you’re looking for that last thing to put on your table during your New Year’s Eve party, these are it. They’re filled with protein, to coat your stomach in case you have one too many (not that I’ve ever been guilty of that, mind you), and come together in a little over twenty minutes, although your guests will never know.
Happy holidays to you, whether you’re celebrating in front of a well appointed tree or the glow of a movie screen. May your days be merry and bright.
Sweet and Salty Spiced Nuts
Recipe Courtesy of Serious Eats
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsps kosher salt
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 lb mixed nuts (I used peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts)
1 egg white, at room temperature
1 TBS water
Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
In a large bowl, mix sugars, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne until it is combined and free of lumps. In a small bowl, beat egg white and water until it is frothy but hasn’t created soft peaks. Add nuts and stir to coat. Add nuts to sugar mixture and toss to coat evenly. Spread nuts out on prepared baking sheet, taking care to spread them into one layer. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Let nuts cool, breaking up any large pieces that have formed.
Makes 1 pound of spiced nuts