When the Leahy children started growing up, a new tradition began at our extended family’s gathering on Christmas Day: a food exchange. With my Grandpa and Grandma as head of the family, their ten (nine living) children, oodles of grandchildren and now several great-grandchildren, our holiday exchange had become a bit of a madhouse.
We tried a few years of white elephant gifts when there were only a handful left under the age of eighteen, but honestly, there are only so many bath and body gifts you can receive before you want to drown yourself in a tub of lavender scented bubble bath. Thus the food exchange began.
The first year, everyone brought a wrapped food gift, and we picked numbers to determine in which order we chose. The first person picked the first present, then the second person either picked a new present or stole a present and so on. A jar of pickled eggs switched hands so many times, the game almost came to a halt, but everyone was having such a good time that it didn’t matter.
Last year was the first year the Bain’s (my mom’s side) eliminated the regular present exchange, so we suggested the food exchange idea for Christmas Eve as well this year. That means I get to think of two food gifts to make this year, in addition to the food I plan to make for our gatherings.
When it comes to holiday food gifts, I like to think post-Christmas. I love my sweets, but after Christmas, I am so candy caned, chocolated, cookied, and eggnogged out that I could swim in a bowl of salt water. Assuming there are others who feel the same way, I’m trying to think of savory things to make that can be frozen and reheated or have a relatively long shelf life.
Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with so far: homemade chili with cornbread, lasagna, pizza, quiche, pickled vegetables, spicy rosemary cashews, or soft pretzels with mustard.
I know I can hardly consider myself much more than a pretzel-maker-wannabe, but maybe I can pull this off.
What do you think I should make?