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Alive November 2016

Giving Thanks MARKET FRESH I PEGGY DOHERTY FALLON The holiday season kicks into high gear this month, commencing with a very special meal on Thursday, November 24. There are no greeting cards to mail or gifts to buy—we simply gather together for a higher purpose. That’s what makes this day an American favorite. Whether hosting your own extravaganza or simply providing a potluck dish, Thanksgiving preparations generally abide by the “old school rule” to showcase California’s bounty. This is no time to go hunting in the frozen foods aisle of your supermarket to grab an icy bag of some ho-hum product manufactured in parts unknown. Memories are not made from frozen pumpkin pie. We are better than that. To get the freshest and the best from neighboring counties, shopping at the Danville farmers’ market this month makes more sense than ever. It is also the most meaningful way to show gratitude to the people who grow the food we eat throughout the year. The farmers’ market is about as low-tech as it gets, yet you are sure to find the best selection of must-haves for your holiday feast. As you explore your Inner Pilgrim, there are no massive carts to maneuver through crowded aisles. No empty shelves to aggravate you. No fluorescent lights to blind your eyes. And best of all, no Muzak to rattle your nerves. There is a gamut of just-picked greens, and local olive oil for salads; sweet potatoes to bake; russet and Yukon Gold potatoes to mash; onions, celery, and artisan breads for homemade stuffing; Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green beans, acorn squash, and plenty of other seasonal veggies for stellar side dishes; and freshly harvested walnuts and almonds to add crunch to everything from appetizers to desserts. For a touch of natural sweetness, look for local honey, plump raisins, and California dried apricots and cherries. All right there, in the crisp November air. For those with dessert on the mind there’s a plethora of sugar pumpkins, as well as rosy pomegranates, fiery orange persimmons, creamy pears, and a rainbow of newly picked apples. For the aspiring home decorator (or very thoughtful guest), there is a staggering variety of Indian corn and gourds, along with locally-grown flowers, plants, and wreaths—fresh as can be, and often priced at a fraction of what you would pay elsewhere. With all there is to do this time of year, advance prep is a must. I always like to keep some sort of nuts on hand to serve along with drinks, or to package in cellophane bags as a thoughtful gift for holiday hosts. Recipes for herbed, candied, or spiced nuts abound, but this one is my current favorite. (And judging from the number of times I've been asked for the recipe, others seem to like them, too.) A L I V E E A S 36 T B A Y n o v e m b e r 2 0 1 6 These can be made well in advance, and—as an added bonus—smell wonderful as they bake. The key here is to use fresh nuts—not some limp or rancid ones that have been languishing on a shelf for years. At the farmers’ market, rest assured you will buy only the latest snapping-fresh crop from California. Spiced Praline Walnuts 2 large egg whites, at room temperature 2 tablespoons water 1 pound California walnut halves and pieces (about 4 cups) 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar 1/2 cup granulated sugar* 1 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Alive November 2016
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