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THE HOME COOK : Do Not Eat Until Christmas

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These are recipes to prepare ahead--just before the final rush of holiday cooking and gift-wrapping.

The Spiced Walnuts are good with pre-dinner drinks, and if you’re serving sweet potatoes, yams or carrots, chop a few of the walnuts and sprinkle them on top. They are also delicious added next to each piece of pumpkin pie.

Beet Marmalade (even for those who normally resist beets) is surprisingly wonderful--the natural sweetness of beets blends with the snap of ginger and is very good with turkey. Port Jelly is an old-fashioned accompaniment to turkey that adds a pleasing sparkle to the bird. The great thing about these condiments is that they are easy to make in small quantity and can be preserved by refrigeration, which saves one from the open-kettle canning method when “putting up” dozens of jars.

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This Beet Marmalade will keep for a month.

BEET MARMALADE

4 medium to large beets, cooked and peeled

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 large lemon

2 tablespoons chopped ginger root

Place beets in food processor and process until coarsely chopped, or mash beets by hand. Transfer to heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir in sugar.

Combine lemon and ginger in food processor and process until finely chopped, or chop by hand. Add lemon and ginger to beet mixture and stir to blend. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until marmalade has thickened somewhat, about 2 minutes. (Don’t overcook--remember that marmalade will get even thicker as it cools.) Pour hot marmalade into clean jars, cover and, when cool, put in refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups.

Each 1-tablespoon serving contains about:

39 calories; 3 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; .06 gram fiber; 0% calories from fat.

SPICED WALNUTS

2 1/2 cups walnut halves (or large pieces)

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla, optional

Spread walnuts in 1 layer on baking sheet. Roast at 350 degrees until nuts become slightly toasted or lightly browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Watch carefully--nuts scorch easily.) Remove from oven and let cool.

Combine sugar, water, cinnamon and salt in heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook without stirring to soft ball stage (236 degrees on candy thermometer) or until bubbles become smaller and more compact, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and add walnuts. Stir mixture slowly and gently until creamy. Turn onto buttered platter and separate walnuts. Allow to cool and serve, or store in airtight container. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

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Each 1/4-cup serving contains about:

270 calories; 239 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 19 grams fat; 25 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 1.38 grams fiber; 62% calories from fat.

This recipe makes an extra half-cup of jelly. I put it in a small dish and serve it with supper.

PORT JELLY

2 cups Port

3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 ounces liquid pectin

4 fresh rosemary sprigs

Combine Port, sugar, lemon juice, rosemary and salt in saucepan and bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Immediately stir in pectin and strain jelly into large measuring cup or bowl with pouring lip. Pour into 4 (1-cup) jelly glasses (there will be 1/2 cup left over). Place sprig of fresh rosemary on top of jelly when set. Makes 4 1/2 cups.

Each 1-tablespoon serving contains about:

47 calories; 17 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0 grams fiber; 0% calories from fat.

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