Holiday Dishes From A Winter’s Kitchen

Photo Credit: Mette Neilsen

Every year, I’m surprised by the bounty and the vibrancy of our local food. Even in a place with such a short growing season, I’m finding the most amazing assortment of sweet potatoes, chestnuts, cranberries, and micro-greens; we can feast on the array of gorgeous cheeses and artisan crackers breads. So let the temperatures plunge, I’ve hot-mulled local cider, maple-spiked drinks, and apple and cranberry pies to lift our spirits and warm our nights. Here are several of our family’s traditional recipes, light the candles and share some love.


Old Fashioned Maple Sweet Potatoes

Serves 6 to 8

The vast array of local sweet potatoes brings a new range of flavors to this traditional dish. Use a range of varieties, some have a drier flesh, others taste of chestnuts, while still others are brown-sugar sweet. Here they’re roasted, peeled and drizzled with maple butter. Simple and pretty. Simply good.

You can make the entire dish ahead of tie and warm it in the oven before folks arrive. These are wonderful with roast turkey or maple-glaze ham and almost sweet enough for dessert!


3 pounds mixed sweet potatoes (about 6 to 8 medium sweet potatoes)

¼ cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Splash of whiskey, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

Butter for the baking dish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the sweet potatoes, poke lightly with a fork, and roast in the oven until the skins are shriveled and the potatoes are very tender, about forty-five to fifty minutes. Remove and allow to cool enough to handle. Peel and set aside. Lightly butter a medium baking dish.

Reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. In a small saucepan, heat the maple syrup with the butter and stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg. Season with whiskey, salt and pepper to taste. Slice the potatoes an layer, brushing the maple syrup mixture between the layers. Pour any remaining syrup over the potatoes. Bake until the potatoes are glazed and hot, about twenty minutes.


Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 2 to 2-1/2 cups

Spiked with ginger, this tangy sauce is not too sweet. It’s great as a salsa served with chips, terrific swirled into mayonnaise for a sandwich spread, or tossed in with sautéed chicken right before serving. It’s will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator and makes a wonderful gift.


3 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and sorted

2 tablespoons range zest

¼ cup fresh orange juice

¼ cup chopped crystallize ginger, optional

½ cup honey, or to taste


Put all of the ingredients into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and chop fine. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.