WRITTEN ON November 23rd, 2010 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Appetizer, Breakfast, Holiday, Pork

I’ve been getting pretty fired up about our first holiday season in our new neighborhood. Starting today, we’ll have a houseful of family for my favorite all-American holiday. Beside the fact that Thanksgiving is a holiday based solely on food, love of country, and giving thanks, it’s also the official start of the holidays. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a rather nostalgic and sentimental person, and remembering what makes holidays special always has me searching my past.

I had a pretty idyllic childhood. Parents who were involved and loving, friends who made me laugh, and a community built around neighborly concern and conservation of a certain way of life.  One neighbor, in particular, stands out above the rest as a personal favorite.

Mrs. Long lived next door to us when I was growing up (in fact, she still lives there. My parents moved after I graduated from college). She was a friend of my grandmother’s, had lived in the same house for over thirty years, and had enjoyed some success as a local Baltimore caterer. She had a wicked sense of humor and blatantly played favorites, which was fine with me because I was her #1. She never called the cops or tattled on us if we had, ah, small get togethers when my parents were out of town (a shout out to my mother’s friend Madonna, who lived up the road and similarly never busted us, but would stand at the bottom of the front steps and discreetly let us know that she was home should we need her).  In the summer, Mrs. Long would dole out scoops of ice cream in sugar cones from her ice cream freezer in the garage. Whenever she had leftover shrimp from a party she’d send a small portion over for my cats, Purr and Zeus, though she always claimed she hated felines.  On Halloween she’d have special bags of goodies set  aside for the neighborhood kids, and at Christmas she had a huge train set that ran underneath her tree, and a table heaped with good food.

These sausages were a particular favorite of mine. They hit all the right holiday flavor notes: citrus, rum, cinnamon, maple, and they make the whole house smell like happiness. Mrs. Long used to serve them in a little crock with toothpicks, as an appetizer. I’ve done that on several occasions, but this year I’m serving them as an easy Thanksgiving breakfast treat. You can make them a day or two in advance and simply heat them up on the stove in the morning while you’re stuffing the bird.  Served along side a simple quick bread, they make a full and easy breakfast what requires little effort from the cook (which is a good thing, considering you’ll be elbow deep in giblets).

Last Christmas we paid a visit to our dear old friend and neighbor. The trains are now a thing of the past, but all of her other familiar holiday decorations were cheerfully hung with care. My delight in finding these sausages among the other treats was simple: in a world that moves more quickly every day, there are moments that make you slow down and remember to enjoy the little things.  That’s what my holiday season is going to be about this year, and I can’t wait for it to get started.

Golden delicious

Maple Rum Sausages (makes 20)
10 fresh breakfast sausage links, cut in half
1/4 cup brown rum (such as Mt. Gay)
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp maple syrup
1 cinnamon stick
Juice of two oranges
Zest of 1 orange
In a medium sized saute pan, brown sausage links well on all sides. Remove from pan, blot with paper towels. In a small sauce pan, pour rum.  Bring to a boil (boiling will remove the alcohol, so these are perfectly safe for kids and non-drinkers). Turn down to a simmer, add remaining ingredients. Add sausage links, simmer about ten minutes until sausages are nicely glazed and cooked through. Can be made two days in advance and reheated in saucepan on stove. Remove cinnamon stick before serving.

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