Salads, Vegetarian

A Wild and White Christmas!

Needle Felting at Stephanie’s: Christmas Gathering #1

Well, there. It’s less than two weeks from Christmas, and it’s starting to get crazy. The Cafe is buzzing with parties and shopping lunches (we are, after all, just across the street from Bargain Harley’s) and the kids are wrapping things up at school. We’re also trying to make and buy meaningful gifts for each other, find the perfect tree right on our own land, make new traditions and keep up the old ones. My friends and family and I are trying to keep it “simple”. That’s not easy for a group of women that is driven to make everything by hand, plans about ten gatherings during the month of December and have a collective brood of about twenty kids, give or take (we’re all waiting for a special baby girl right now!). But this year is a little different. This year, we’re putting the hustle and bustle into perspective, trying to be grateful for all we have and sharing that with another family halfway around the world. This year, our thoughts will be with a young father and his two children as he returns home to Liberia from a refugee camp in Ghana that he has called home for nearly twenty years. My sister Meagan and her partner Sean know him from their time spent volunteering at Buduburam and organized the gift of money for travel and accommodations once they arrive. We will all breathe a sigh of relief when they get there.

Thinking of this, everything else drops away and all I feel is unbelievably lucky. It seems a little frivolous to extol the virtues of local food when for so many there is no food at all, yet I truly believe that we can secure our future food security and improve the lives of all of us by making these choices when they are available. Maybe then our economy will improve to the point where we can begin to help and be a model for others. We have so much already. Finding joy and richness in the simple pleasures of good food, locally grown and fairly traded, is a reminder three times a day of how very grateful we should be.
Nova Scotia Wild Rice Salad
Perfect for Christmas buffets and potlucks, this salad feels very special. You can leave out the dressing and stuff your turkey with it!
1 C. Wild Rice (believe it or not, there is a source in Amherst!  Contact Dolphin Village to order)
4 ½ C. Water
1 C. White Rice
1 ½ t. Salt
½ C. each chopped Dates, Raisins, and Dried Cranberries
½ C. each Pecans, Sunflower Seeds, and Almonds, toasted and chopped
1 C. each diced Red Pepper, Celery, and Red Onion
½ C. Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 T. Red Wine Vinegar
1 clove Garlic, minced
¼ C. Honey
Salt and Pepper
Combine the wild rice, water and salt in a heavy medium pot. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add the white rice and simmer another 25 minutes, then shut off the heat and let the rice sit, covered, while you prepare the rest of the salad. In a large bowl, combine the dates, raisins, cranberries, pecans, sunflower seeds, almonds, pepper, celery and red onion. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, then add this dressing to the large bowl. Add the warm rice and stir gently. Taste for salt and serve immediately, or let cool and refrigerate.