Christmas Blessings


Christmas blessings were in abundance at Café Martin this year. With a table set for 24 and lots of incredible edibles, including baked ham, roasted potatoes, and grilled fresh pineapple spears, no one went hungry.





My favorite goodie arrived during Happy Hour as a friend Toni Sanko arrived with Bacon Bites! (Bacon wins my heart and tastebuds every time!)




Another hit was the sauce for the ham. I had based my recipe on the one my Mom always made for baked ham since the 1950’s.

Mom’s Super Simple Raisin Sauce for Baked Ham
As an adult I still make this but with triple the Worcestershire and none of the sugar. I also do not use a double boiler; simply prepare in a pan over low heat.

1 c seedless raisins
1 c sugar
½ c apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
8-oz jar grape jelly
Pinch salt
Heat together slowly in top of a double boiler, stirring several times.

For our 2023 Christmas dinner, I wanted to zest up the ham’s topping.  So I created the following variation on Mom’s classic. Super Simple Spiced Cranberry Raisin Chutney was a big hit and a new family favorite!

Super Simple Spiced Cranberry Raisin Chutney
This is a sweet and zesty combination that pleases lots of palettes. If the tart tang of cranberries is not to your liking, simply reduce the amounts used.

1 c seedless raisins
½ c apple cider vinegar
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
1 tsp dried orange peel granules
2 T Worcestershire sauce
8-oz grape jelly
7-oz jar Biltmore Cranberry, Fig & Merlot Jam
2 c fresh or frozen cranberries, cooked in ¼ c water & mashed
1 c fresh or frozen cranberries, halved

Combine in a saucepan over low heat, stirring now and then until the halved cranberries have cooked to the “smashable” stage. Serve warm or at room temperature. (This also freezes beautifully.)

KISS Variation: For a sauce, rather than compote, stir in 1-1½ c cranberry juice. While we served it with baked ham, it would be equally yummy with pork chops, ribs, or poultry.

KISS Note: The Biltmore Cranberry, Fig & Merlot Jam is available online, along with a couple of their other jams that would also work well in this recipe, like Roasted Onion Fig Jam and their Rogue Pear Cranberry Pinot Noir Jam. But any favorite of yours could be good also, from plum or blueberry to cherry preserves.

About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 20+ books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist, dedicated foodie, and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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