Island Cooking: Making Holiday Items for Friends and Family

Lynne Foster’s photo

One of the joys of the holiday season is spending time in the kitchen lovingly preparing special meals for friends. This year, with no parties to plan or attend, no bazaar to contribute to, and no visitors expected, it seemed especially important to remind the people they remember and love.

I’m a fan of, and every gift I gave was from one of their recipes. In addition to the well-researched and well-tested recipes, they offer beautiful labels that they will email to you upon request for printing.

The directions and alternative suggestions are very clear and helpful, and every recipe I’ve used is sound.

The site is also well designed and foods are easily accessible by category. In addition, the pictures are wonderful and very tempting.

I love, love, love these easy, fake crackers! They are the basis of all gifts for this year. It’s time consuming, so turn on some Christmas jazz and enjoy yourself. I even wear a mid-century plaid bib my sister made for me to put myself in the spirit, whistling as I work.

Let’s start with the crackers.

Lynne Foster’s photo

Rainy version rosemary pecan crushers

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey. I used the last honey from NC Sourwood.
  • 1 cup raisins. I used golden raisins.
  • 1/2 cup lightly chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup beetos (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup sesame
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 4 small loaf pans (6 by 3 inches) with cooking spray or oil in large quantities. Line 2 pans with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour with baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar, and maple syrup (or honey) and stir in a few strokes. Add raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds and rosemary and stir until combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf trays. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and soft to the touch. Let the loaves of bread cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Once cool, freeze for 30-40 minutes. This will make it easier to cut the loaves into thin slices. I left it in the freezer overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Cut partially frozen (or frozen) loaves into thin slices (about 1/8 inch) and place slices in a single layer on prepared trays.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until crispy and golden. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
  7. Makes about 6 dozen potato chips.

They are the perfect base for festive pastries, jellies and cheesecakes. And look at all those healthy ingredients!

When we were kids, Santa Claus always left Clementine in the toe of our Christmas stockings, so it represents a good Christmas morning. Mix it in with fresh cranberries, and you’ve got the Christmas fruit that brings flavor and color to a delicious topping, not just for crackers and cheese, but also ham and turkey. It’s a great alternative to cranberry sauce.

Lynne Foster’s photo

Cranberry Clementine Conserve

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 6 clementines, organic, if possible. I used the little halos and used 10.
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha pepper sauce
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pecans in a small baking pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes or golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. Wash the clementines well. With a grater, flavor 3 (or 5) clementines. Set the peel aside, covered. Cut the clementines in half and, using a manual juicer (or your hands only), squeeze out the juice and reserve the pulp.
  3. Measure the juice and pulp. It should be about 3/4 to 1 cup. If it’s a little or a little, that’s okay. Transfer juice/pulp and rice vinegar to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes until juice has reduced to about half the original volume.
  4. Set aside 1 cup of cranberries. Add remaining cranberries, sugar, raisins, and sriracha to the reduced juice mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce it to a rapid boil. Simmer for 8 minutes then add the reserved cranberries and stir well. Continue cooking until cranberries are softened and mixture begins to thicken (cure will thicken when cool), another 7-10 minutes (for about 15-18 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  5. Add fresh ginger and peel the clementines. Stir until smooth. Cool completely, then add the pecans and stir well. Transfer it to glass jars or other storage containers. (I like Weck’s mini lily jars for this.) Cover and let cool in the refrigerator. Leave it for 20-25 minutes before serving.

This recipe makes 5 cups of caviar. You can use it with cream cheese, goat cheese, brie, or other cheese slices on biscuits.

Why not dress up those cheesecakes to add to the festive mood?

Lynne Foster’s photo

Easy goat cheese appetizer

  • 4 ounces softened goat cheese. I used city goat cheese from Zingermans’.com
  • Finely grated lemon peel from a medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Fresh thyme leaves and sprigs, for garnish
  • Edible flowers for decoration, optional
  • honey for spray optional
  • Raincoast Crushers To Apply
  1. Place a small bowl or bowl with plastic lid. Try to leave as few wrinkles as possible in the plastic wrap. Sit aside.
  2. Combine soft goat cheese, lemon zest, and thyme sprigs in a small bowl and stir well.
  3. Add the prepared goat cheese mixture to the prepared bowl and, using the back of a spoon, scoop the mixture to get rid of any insulating pockets. Pull the excess plastic wrap over the cheese mixture and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (or freeze for 5-10).
  4. Remove from the refrigerator and place the goat cheese mixture on a serving plate. Remove the plastic wrap and decorate as desired with fresh thyme leaves, twigs, and/or edible flowers and petals. Serve with biscuits and a small bowl of honey for drip.

money scrapers

No specific quantities. Use what you think you will use.

  • raw large cashews
  • Madras curry powder or other curry
  • J
  1. Roast raw cashews in a dry skillet on the stove until golden brown and fragrant.
  2. Turn the heat up and add curry powder as per your taste and some. Kosher salt.. judge by smell.
  3. Add a little GI, just enough to make the powder stick to the nuts and return to a low heat to cook the powder and remove the raw taste (as you would with flour). Served with other appetizers and feast drink.

These are just a sampling of the many edible gift ideas, among other great recipes, developed by Chris that she and Scott have done so well at

I recommend checking out this amazing location from Asheville and you will find yourself coming back often.

You get to gift yourselves too! Be very happy!

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