Nostalgic Gift from the Heart for “Front-Line Workers” aka “Christmas Wreath Bread”

My mother was a wonderful baker. Every Christmas holiday, the aroma of fresh baked bread filled the air as she made gifts for the “front-line workers” in our lives. When I was young, the “front-line workers” included the rural postal carrier, Mr. Heatwole, who delivered mail in his own car, the school bus driver and various teachers in our schools. As a young child, I always wondered why our mother would want to give a gift to the postal man. However, Mr. Heatwole was an important service employee; he daily drove his Rural Route #1 for 30 years. I was fascinated that he drove while sitting in the middle of his front seat so that he could pass the mail to the boxes on the passenger side of his car. (I always wanted to try that.) Mr. Heatwole smiled which he got the loaf of bread. I guess it is those “Gifts from the Heart” that make things worth it. The “front-line workers” have changed over the years, but the idea of showing appreciation for their unpublicized work is still the same. So, let’s make “Christmas Wreath Bread.”

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Oven-Fried Cauliflower Bites with Ranch Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower happens to be one of my most favorite vegetables. Of course, I have many “most favorite vegetables.” But cauliflower has a unique flavor and, when properly prepared, it loses all of the obnoxious sulfur tones. It is a vegetable which grows on you — the more you eat it the more you like it. I learned to like cauliflower when fried cauliflower was served on the cafeteria lime at the hospital where I worked at in Flint, Michigan. That was in the heydays of the auto unions and Flint was the ultimate “auto town.” Autumn and winter are the seasons for cauliflower when you can pick up some really nice ones. I decided to see if I could make an oven-fried variation of the fried cauliflower bites that I used to like so much using this really nice cauliflower which I purchased recently.

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Louisiana Crawfish Pie

Crawfish is a Louisiana novelty; in season in the spring. Traditionally, this fresh-water crustacean is boiled in a large pot with plenty of spices added. Then peel the tails, eat the meat and enjoy. There are other ways to prepare the crawfish meat; one of my favorites is crawfish pie–shown here in an individual phyllo shell.

Crawfish pie - 3 - IMG_3151

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