By Terese Allen, Organic Valley Food Editor
“Organic food” and “holiday spirit” are two terms that are loaded with meaning. Sad to say, though, both phrases have lost some of their depth and complexity in recent times. Many people now think of “organic” as a somewhat stiff, official word, one that refers only to crops grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, hormones or genetically modified organisms. This is all good, of course, and yet traditionally speaking, “organic” also carries a deep sense of interrelation, of connection, and authenticity.
So, too, with “holiday spirit,” which in today’s commercially focused culture all too often connotes frenzied shopping, overeating, over-imbibing and stress. In its truer meaning, the holiday season signifies, to quote W. J. Ronald Tucker, “fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home.”
It seems to me that the full significance of both terms come together when we make time-honored or special foods during the mid-winter holidays. I believe that sweet, tasting special-occasion baked goods in particular have a way of connecting us to past generations, and to each other. Prepared with organic ingredients and shared an open heart, they become a nurturing gift for family or friends, as well as future generations.
This month we have heaps of holiday-worthy baking recipes to share with you--tortes, tarts, cookies and pastries, all featuring the delicious goodness of organic eggs and dairy. Several of them come from Organic Valley farm families and other cooks who understand the full meaning of organic and live the holiday spirit all year long.
Happy holiday baking to you and yours.
Sugar-Dipped Currant Almond Cookies – A delicate and markedly delicious “sandwich” cookie that has the added benefit of being very forgiving to the cook.
Cranberry Cream Tart – Luscious layers of crust, cranberries, cream cheese and whipped cream…aren’t you glad the holidays are here?
Spiced Eggnog Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust- Flavors of eggnog, gingerbread and spices cheer on the season in this delicious cheesecake.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Raisin Cookies – Yet one more delicious item from Beverley Thurber (this lady knows how to bake!), this not your everyday oatmeal cookie. Big, thick and crammed with chunky chocolate, they’re worthy of a celebration.
Cranberry Nut Bread – A family favorite from Maureen Knapp, an Organic Valley dairy farmer from New York State.
Chesnitsa (Serbian Christmas Bread)- Contributed by writer Vesna Vuynovich Kovach, this traditional bread contains a coin key hidden inside the pastry. Whoever finds it will prosper in the year ahead.
Lucia Buns - December 13 is the feast of St. Lucia, who was said to have brought food to starving Swedes during a time of famine. Today, to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas festivities, Swedish-Americans serve these fancy-shaped saffron rolls known as Lucia Buns.