For those of us who enjoy attending over hosting this holiday season, finding the right way to express appreciation to gracious hosts can be a bit of a challenge, especially if the semi-traditional bottle of wine seems a bit outdated. We propose a local alternative that shares a bit of our home to those who’ve invited us into theirs: pack a local grazing board for your hosts! It’s got snacks, a built in beautiful wooden display board gift, and a lot of all the “I thought about you” that makes for a really great gift.
Here are some tips from Local Foods Program Manager Kelly Lay for a great CU grazing board this holiday season:
- Use a variety of sweet and savory, fresh and rich, simple and complex flavors. Mixing and matching is half the fun and diversity makes everything better.
- Place a few “anchor points” like small cups with jams, sauces, pickles, and more. Create a few arches and lines using more rigid ingredients or those you want to use the most of like meats, cheese, crackers, baguette slices, or veggies. Fill in with your more unique options, those you have a little less of or that don’t like to stay in place like nuts, bright colored round veggies, sweets, cubed cheese or specialty meats. Finish by tucking in highlights like fresh herbs or edible flowers (and little labels!)
- Some of our classic grazing board favorites:
- Deli options from Triple S Farms like salami, pastrami, summer sausage
- Baguettes & crackers from Central Illinois Bakehouse
- Sweet treats and meats from Martinelli’s Deli (they have several upcoming classes on grazing or charcutier boards!)
- Edible flowers from Delight Flower Farm
- Fresh carrots from Diamond’s Homestead
- Beautiful winter radish, salad turnips, and kale from Sola Gratia Farm
- Vegan focaccia (and other beautiful baked goodies) from Feel Good Flour
- Pickled mushrooms from Flyway Family Farms
- Flavor infused honey from Second Nature Honey
- ALL things Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery – seriously, they’ve got soooo many options and they’ll even make the whole board for you if you order ahead of time!
- Need more ideas? Ask a farmer at the CU Winter Farmers Market or chat with the great local food folks over at Common Ground Food Cooperative!