A few weeks ago, Jill heard this wonderful NPR interview with Julia Reed, Southern food writer and contributor to Garden & Gun magazine; not only does Ms. Reed have the most fabulous voice (hers is not an accent you often hear on public radio!), she’s also witty, well-read, and someone I would love to have over for dinner.

nutmeg logs | Blue Jean Gourmet

In the segment, Reed shares a recipe for the World’s Greatest Eggnog, as called by the Memphis grandmother with whom the recipe originates.  I halved the recipe and served it a few nights ago when friends came over to help us decorate our tree; the eggnog was a universal hit, but it is not for the faint of heart.

Though the eggnog could have easily counted as dessert all by itself, I served ours with a tray of nutmeg logs, the signature Christmas treat of my friend Ari’s family.  Having been gifted with bags of these delicious and distinctive cookies before, I asked if I could share the family recipe and, luckily, Ari’s sweet granny agreed.  The recipe below is transcribed from her handwritten notes.

Whatever you have planned for the coming days, I hope you are able to spend time with people who make your heart light.  Happy holidays from our family to yours!

diwali 2013


This recipe yields approximately 36 cookies, which will keep well stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or so.

Sift together & set aside:

3 cups flour
1 tsp nutmeg


1 cup butter

-gradually add ¾ cup sugar, cream well

Blend in:

1 unbeaten egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp rum or rum flavoring

Add the dry ingredients gradually & mix thoroughly.

Shape pieces of dough on lightly floured surface into long rolls 1/2 in. in diameter. Cut into 3″ lengths; place on ungreased baking sheets.  (Note: I lined mine with parchment, out of habit.)  Bake in moderate oven (350°) for 12-15 minutes until light golden-brown. Cool before frosting.

for the frosting:


3 T butter
with ½ tsp vanilla & 1 tsp rum flavoring
Blend in:

2 cups sifted powdered sugar, beat well.
-Add 2 cups more powdered sugar alternating with 2 or 3 T cream or milk

Spread frosting on tops + sides of cookies & sprinkle with grated nutmeg.

nutmeg logs | Blue Jean Gourmet



I have been blessed to know Elaine Lupovitch & Kirk O’Neal as colleagues for the last seven years, and have been thrilled to watch over the last year as their side business (how they make time for a side business I do NOT know), Garden Dreams Houston, has flourished.  Their jellies, jams, marmalades, sauces, and salsas are truly fantastic, and Shiv looks forward to picking up new treats–and trying samples–whenever we visit Kirk & Elaine at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market.  I also regularly pick up their goods to gift as gifts or take to out-of-town friends; it all gets rave reviews, always.

Today we’re lucky enough to have Elaine guest posting here, sharing a recipe AND generously offering a giveaway of four wonderful treats.  Enjoy! –Nishta 

 elaine & kirk

Garden Dreams Houston welcomes the holiday season with citrus, and spice, and everything nice! We’re brewing up some of our favorites with gifting in mind.  No matter the season, we remain committed to using locally sourced ingredients in our handmade small batched jams, jellies, and marmalades created with lots of love, care, and artistry. Our holiday menu includes: Cranopeno Jam, Carrot Cake Jam, Drunken Tomato Jam, Hoot N Holler Jalapeno Jelly, Habanero Gold Jelly, Triple Berry With Agave Fruit Spread, Texas Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Kumquat Marmalade, Mayhaw Jelly and Hibiscus Flower Jelly.

We are so grateful for the local growers, who provide us with such an amazing array of garden year round, and we are grateful, too, for the support our Houston customers have given us and to the local growers, who provide us with such an amazing array of fruits and vegetables throughout the seasons. Preserving foods is a great way to capture the goodness of season and enjoy it all year long. Our award winning jam, Peaches N Dream, is a great example of this delicious goodness; there’s nothing like a summer Texas peach, and our recipe tries to capture them in all of their glory.  We are honored to be a Good Food Award Finalist for this product!  We’ll be traveling to the award ceremony in San Francisco in January to see if Peaches N Dream is among the winners.

In the meantime, we’d like to offer a holiday gift basket giveaway for Blue Jean Gourmet readers to enjoy.  The basket features four of our best-selling products:

Cranopeno Jelly, which is wonderful layered over your favorite soft cheese, served with crackers, or use as a glaze for a pork loin or beef roast.  See the recipe below to make your own at home!

(ingredients: fresh cranberries, jalapeno peppers, organic sugar, lemon juice, unfiltered apple cider vinegar)

Down the Hatch Salsa, perfect with your favorite corn chips or tortillas

(ingredients: charred hatch, Serrano, and jalapeno peppers, roasted white onion and garlic, tomatoes, red wine vinegar, salt)

Drunken Tomato Jam, a versatile condiment—add to a grilled cheese sandwich, spoon over grilled fish, or use a tablespoon as a salad dressing starter!

(ingredients: sweet tomatoes, very little organic sugar, fresh ginger, jalapenos, and cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, Jack Daniels, and organic apple cider and red wine vinegars)

Satsuma Marmalade, a dreamy companion for buttered biscuits, scones, or toast, would also make wonderful thumbprint cookies for the holidays!

(ingredients: slow cooked Satsumas, organic sugar, and lemon juice)


To qualify for the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling us which jam or jelly flavor is your favorite!  Giveaway will close at noon CST on Friday, December13.  The winner will be contacted by email to provide a mailing address or arrange pickup (if local).  



Recipe courtesy Elaine Lupovitch & Kirk O’Neal


1 lb. fresh cranberries

1 cup jalapenos

5 ½ cups unrefined organic sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 ½ cup organic unfilitered apple cider vinegar

2 packages Certo (liquid pectin)

Sterilize eight 8 oz jelly jars, lids and rings.

Prep the jalapenos by taking out the seeds. In a food processor, grind the peppers and berries. Then put them in a large pot with all ingredients except pectin. Bring the mixture to a boil, cook for 2-3 minutes, then add pectin and boil 1 more minute.

Ladle into jelly jars, leaving 1/4 inch clearance. Water bath process 10 minutes.  (Refer to jar manufacturer hot water canning instructions.)



Something about this time of year–the early evening darkness, the cold weather–makes me even more voraciously hungry for reading time than I normally am.

Harvard Classics

Books are also one of my favorite holiday gifts, both to give and receive, with the tantalizing prospect of a bit of time off hopefully allowing all of us to sit in a comfortable chair with a good book.  If you’re on the lookout for some suggested reads, you might check out my reading lists, recently updated to reflect some favorite new reads & divided into categories: young adult (ages 13-15), younger adult (ages 10-12), book club favorites, classics, contemporary fiction, and contemporary nonfiction.

As with food, my eyes are always bigger than my appetite when it comes to books; I love adding to my “to-read” pile.  What books have you read this year, new or old, that you recommend?

Last but not least, I’ve had several inquiries from folks asking how they might acquire a signed copy of my book, The Pomegranate King.  I’m happy to announce that you can now do just that!  Click here for more information or to place an order; I’d be honored to be one of the holiday presents you give yourself, a friend, or a loved one.