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Stonington cook Cheryl Wixson incorporates coconut flakes, sesame and sunflower seeds, vanilla and various spices into her gluten-free granola.

Every year after the Thanksgiving holiday, instead of joining the hustle and bustle of crowds at the shopping malls, I like to spend quality time in the kitchen. Cooking and sharing food with others gives me great joy, and a purpose in life. So the gifts I like to give; a spiced nut mix or specialty wild blueberry jam, sinfully sweet confections, or pan of yeast rolls, also are the ones I like to receive.

When my children were young, creating gifts from our home “factory” was a family affair. We’d select a project or recipe, make a list, shop for ingredients, and gather the tools and supplies. Then with the sounds of Mariah Carey serenading us with Christmas carols, we’d whip out batches of decorated cheese balls, hand-cut cookie dog bones or buttermilk-spiced coffee cakes.

Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes questions and comments at cw@cherylwixsonkitchen.

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