A Christmastide Celebration


A warm welcome to the Christmas season, our annual Holiday Open House brought good cheer to the nursery on a recent Saturday. Clear skies and perfectly crisp temperatures greeted guests as they enjoyed décor demonstrations, live bluegrass tunes, a marketplace of local artisans, fresh evergreens, and crackling fires. The talented ice sculptors of Fear No Ice stopped by to carve a frozen fire pit, while kids enjoyed natural crafts and holiday tales read by our staff.

The centerpiece of the celebration was the terrain tree, decked out in foraged finds; Creative Director Greg L. hosted a live demonstration as he added a finishing touch with natural adornments. The day concluded with our traditional tree lighting, complete with carolers, cocoa, and mulled wine. Other highlights of the festival included an abundance of seasonal treats, including fresh-baked pies, s'mores around the fire, and delicious entries from our staff soup cook-off. The cook-off champion was Site Operations Manager Erika B., with a hearty soup that's perfect for winter days. Read on for her winning recipe.

Coyote Soup 
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot minced
2 1/2 pounds whole kernel corn
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 gallon chicken stock
1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
1/4 cup molasses
1/4-1/2 cup honey
2 Tablespoons cumin
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons coriander
1 1/2 Tablespoons chipotle chili powder
1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large pan; brown garlic and shallots. Add corn to the pan and cook slowly for 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large stock pot. Add black beans, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Add liquid smoke, molasses, honey and spices, then simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Add chili powder and heavy cream, then simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Puree mixture with a kitchen blender. Add salt and pepper to taste, then garnish with cilantro and scallions before serving.

Erika's notes: Cook at a lower temperature for a sweeter taste. I cooked one batch on the stove at a higher temperature and another batch in a crock pot. The batch on the stove was spicier than the batch in the crock pot, and I combined the two after pureeing. I also added extra crushed tomato and honey to the spicier soup. Adapted from a recipe by chefs Andy Borgmeier & Aram Haroutunian from Celebrations Catering & Events (Hilton Head Island, SC).

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