Board Update: Holiday Shopping at Your Co-op

 Laurene Sorensen, Board Member

Laurene Sorensen, Board Member

The Moscow Food Co-op has gifts for everyone on your list! 

A Co-op membership is lovely for someone who’s just moved here.

Gift cards, wine, and beer are the defaults: fine presents, but not especially intimate ones unless you employ some creativity.

Context is important. Although I’d love to receive a jar of Schmidt’s deodorant, you might see it as a judgment on your hygiene. Soap is innocuous—a cousin to scented candles—but shampoo might cause a rift. (Hint: Orchard Farm’s coal soap smells delicious, and is only available at the holidays.)

And presentation is, well, everything when you’re talking about presents. When I lived in Boston, I had to work late one December 24th, and by the time I was free, most of the stores were closed. Only the local grocery was open, so I bought a bunch of stinky cheese, (not stinky) chocolate, fancy teas, and a couple of kitchen implements that I wrapped up nicely. Christmas alchemy transformed them into elegant gifts. So even if it’s the last minute, remember: You can do this. Don’t turn up empty-handed.


So why not wrap up--

  • A mixed case of wine, with a different bottle to suit each month’s harvest and tradition.

  • Something to roast (duck, beef, chicken) and “all the fixings”: veggies, dessert, and a perfectly paired beverage.

  • A special mug for a young person. The MIIR Co-op logo mugs have a cover, which prevents many spills. Teach a kid about insulation by serving hot cocoa in their mug today and ice water tomorrow.

  • A colorful calendar or planner. Even if you keep your appointments on your smartphone, a paper calendar can help you track accomplishments, log time, or keep your work and personal lives separate. (The cat just asked me for nine calendars. I said no.)

  • Reusable drinking straws and lunch containers make great gifts for both kids and adults alike.

  • A 7-year ballpoint pen and a Decomposition Book—perfect for notetaking or doodling.

  • A piece each of Emmenthaler and Gruyere cheeses and a baguette (for fondue).

  • A ChicoBags water bag sling.

  • Cocktail fixings: Fevertree tonic water and fresh lime for G&Ts, or coconut cream and pineapple juice for piña coladas, a Christmas morning tradition of mine.

  • A kit for making cheese or sauerkraut.

  • A case of organic canned tomatoes or pasta sauce and another case of imported pasta. The Co-op has lots of beautiful varieties to choose from.

  • An entire spectrum of chocolate bars, arranged in order of cacao content.

  • Liberty Lotion. (It really works.)

  • Bulk goods in beautiful repurposed containers.

  • Homemade vinaigrette (extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard) in beautiful repurposed containers.

I’d like to hear about your creative Co-op presents. Write to me at And have a holly jolly December!

Buddha's Hand Citron - Yes! You should eat this thing.

 Unlike lemons, Buddha's hand's pith is not bitter, and so can be used raw or cooked in baked goods, salads, alcoholic infusions, and preserves!

Unlike lemons, Buddha's hand's pith is not bitter, and so can be used raw or cooked in baked goods, salads, alcoholic infusions, and preserves!

Buddha’s Hand, likely originating in India more than 2,000 years ago, is considered a religious offering in Buddhist temples. The fruit acts as a symbol for happiness, longevity and good fortune, and is typically given as a New Year's gift.


Buddha's Hand is a citron, an ancestor of lemons and oranges, and is made of only sweet rind: no fruit, no pulp, no seeds, and no juice. It peaks in the winter months, and lucky for the Palouse, is available at the Moscow Food Co-op right now!

Here are a few ways to use this unusual and aromatic fruit:

  1. Eat it raw: The fruit works the same as anything you'd use lemon rind for: Thin slices or zested Buddha's hand are great for use atop salads or in vinaigrette, or to garnish dishes with an additional fragrant flavor.

  2. Candy it: Buddha's hand lacks the bitter rind flavor of oranges and lemons, and is perfect for use in fruitcakes or unique cocktails. The candied citron pieces can be stored in a jar at room temperature for a few weeks, but can be refrigerated for up to six months. One 8 oz. fresh citron will yield about one cup of candied pieces. Follow this recipe by David Lebovitz to learn more!

  3. Refresh your home: The Buddha's fruit is extremely fragrant. Slice pieces off to impart a lemony, fresh scent in different rooms. A few swipes with a Microplane or cheese grater will release a potent perfume.

  4. Make a liqueur: Buddhacello? Buddha's Hand is an ultra-aromatic alternative to the traditional Italian lemon infusion. We found this recipe from Theresa Blackburn that includes a recipe for Buddha's hand liqueur and an aromatic simple syrup recipe for use in subsequent cocktails!

Vegan Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole

Brighten up your meal with this sweet potato side, accented with tart cranberries.


  • 3 large sweet potatoes (3 pounds)

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

  • 1 15 ounce can coconut milk, full fat

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons shredded coconut

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil


  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Place the whole sweet potatoes on a sheet pan and bake until tender, about 30 minutes, then let cool. Strip off the skins and cut potatoes crosswise, into thick slices, placing them in a 9x13 pan. In a medium bowl, stir the coconut milk, maple syrup (if using), cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt, then pour over the sweet potatoes.

  2. In a medium bowl, stir the almonds, coconut and coconut oil, then sprinkle over the sweet potatoes. Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown. Serve warm.

Serving Suggestion

This not-quite traditional side dish is a natural accompaniment for roast turkey, pork or chicken, or savory meat alternatives like braised tempeh. It also holds up well on a buffet table and is easy to bring along to a holiday potluck.

Nutritional Information

250 calories, 14 g. fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 220 mg. sodium, 27 g. carbohydrate, 6 g. fiber, 4 g. protein

Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles


These chocolate indulgences are surprisingly easy to make. Perfect for the holidays or any special occasion.


  • 2 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (about 12 ounces)

  • 1 cup toasted almonds, ground

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

  • 1 cup (6-ounce package) semisweet chocolate chips, melted

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur

  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped


  1. In a medium bowl, combine crushed vanilla wafers, ground almonds, cinnamon, and powdered sugar.

  2. With a rubber spatula, mix in melted chocolate, pumpkin, and coffee liqueur. Let stand 10 minutes to firm up.

  3. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls, place on a wax paper-lined plate, and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

  4. Garnish with chopped toasted almonds just before serving.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 47, Fat: 16 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 16 mg, Carbohydrate: 7 g, Dietary Fiber: 0 g, Protein: 1 g

Creamy Caramelized Onion and Squash Soup with Croutons


This deeply flavored, creamy squash soup with sweet caramelized onions makes a delicious start to fall or winter meals.



  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 4 large onions, chopped

  • 2 pounds hubbard or kabocha squash, roasted (about 2 1/2 cups)

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 cup whole milk, or more if needed

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne


  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup dry toasted pumpkin seeds


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread cubes, about 4 thick slices

  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt



  1. Halve, seed and roast the squash on a sheet pan in a 400° F oven. When the squash is tender when pierced with a paring knife, cool on a rack and then scoop out the squash to measure 2.5 cups. In a large pot, melt the butter and start sautéing the onions over medium high heat, then reduce to medium low and stir every five minutes for at least an hour. You can put the heat on very low and cook it for two hours, for an even deeper flavor. When the onions are meltingly soft and golden, add the mashed squash and stir, then transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor or blender, or use an immersion blender. Puree, adding stock as needed to make a smooth puree. Add the milk, salt, paprika and cayenne and process to mix. Transfer back to the pot and heat gently over medium low heat, stirring.

  2. Serve one-cup servings in wide bowls, garnish each with 1/4 cup yogurt, a couple of heaping tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, and 1/4 cup croutons.


  1. For croutons: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Pile the bread cubes on a sheet pan with a rim and drizzle with melted butter or oil, add salt and toss to coat. Toast for 20-30 minutes, until the croutons are crisp. Let cool on rack and store in an airtight container.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 395, Fat: 16 g, Cholesterol: 26 mg, Sodium: 721 mg, Carbohydrate: 51 g, Dietary Fiber: 8 g, Protein: 6 g