Archive for category Beverages
O.K., which of you stuffed my ears with marshmallows and forced me to swallow a cheese grater? I know one of you is the culprit because there’s no other explanation for why I feel this way.
Unless I’m sick. But we don’t want to consider that possibility. Sickness is not an option when you have a million things to do while accompanied by an overactive toddler intent on performing a new death-defying stunt every 45 seconds (e.g., somersault off fireplace onto end table followed by double layout onto couch).
I’ve been making this Hot Chocolate Cake for years but only recently noticed the ambiguous title. Then, I also noticed that all possible meanings are borne out. How fun!
This week has been all about our holiday party. There was:
- The party planning,
- The unexpected game,
- The fantastic menu idea from Tasha DeSerio published in Fine Cooking magazine,
- My reviews of three of DeSerio’s recipes (see my reviews of: Popcorn with Sweet Butter and Sea Salt, Bittersweet Chocolate Bark with Marcona Almonds, Apple, Fennel and Cheddar Cheese Straws),
- Three of my own recipes inspired by DeSerio’s menu (White Chocolate Bark with Blueberries, Pine Nuts and a Zest of Lemon, Salted Pineapple Pecan Angel Slice, Rosemary-Orange-Lemon-Curd Slice).
Have I convinced you that this elegant menu would be perfect for your New Year’s Eve party? If not, today I’ll fill you in on the extra little items that rounded out the menu and had our friends ooo-ing and ahhh-ing while begging for the recipes.
The Sparkling Wines We Served, The Brilliant Idea of a Friend, Groovy Strawberries
The sparkling wines we served:
You can find the sparkling wine recommendations made by Tasha DeSerio for her Sweets and Sparklers menu near the bottom of this linked page.
We decided to make use of our local wine store, Roget’s Fine Wine and Beer, and chose the following four from their sparkling wine selection:
Nothing is as fun as planning a party.
One October evening, my hubbie and I relaxed in the hot tub while indulging in conversation about what to serve at this year’s holiday party. Whether it was due to the bottle of wine we’d also indulged in or to having a darned busy autumn to deal with or to the fact that talk is cheaper than follow-through, I don’t know, but we dried off and promptly forgot all about the party.
It might have remained a mere chat in the tub if it hadn’t been for the copy of Fine Cooking Magazine that arrived in November. Tasha DeSerio‘s Sweets and Sparklers found us back in steamy water drooling, dreaming and discussing while drinking a bottle of bubbly suggested in the article.
DeSerio’s party plan is brilliant! It’s a feast of sweets with dollops of unexpected savoriness in every bite. These flavors ying and yang with clear simplicity as they play with the acidity and the fruitiness of the accompanying fizz.
And, it’s freakin’ fun.
One night last week my mom posted on Facebook that she and my dad were cozily waiting out the blizzard that was blowing through Manitoba. I woke the next morning imagining snow on the ground. I looked out the window at lush palm trees with a bright blue backdrop and felt lost. I plastered a smile on my face and went upstairs to get my toddler ready for the day. I asked, “What do you want to do today?” He said, “Go to the park, Mommy!” And why not? It is *sigh* 82 degrees out there after all.
Swings, slides, sand (lots of digging) and a couple of hours later, J and I were walking home from the park singing our ABCs. From behind a hedge I heard, “Who’s doing such nice singing?” J pointed and shouted (very very loudly), “Wook Mommy! A wady!” There was a woman in her yard gardening. She chuckled, “A boy with such a nice voice deserves an orange. Come around back and I’ll give you one.” J ran to her and began happily plucking oranges from her tree (never mind that we have about a million on our own trees at home). She then asked J, “Do you like lemonade?” He nodded his head vigorously. “If I give your Mommy some lemons, will she make you some?” We both nodded our heads vigorously.
As we watched her picking round bumpy lemons from her tree I thought, “I wish we had a lemon tree…oh wait, we do have one…but its lemons are small and seedy and taste bitter and …OH MY GOD…they definitely don’t smell like this…would it be weird to bite through the peel and eat the whole thing here in her yard? What if I just stand here holding it up to my nose while breathing deeply?”
After many thank yous we headed home for lunch. Once there J insisted that he didn’t want any lemonade. After all, if life gives you oranges shouldn’t your mom make you orange juice? (How he’s not sick of the stuff by now, I don’t understand). I, on the other hand, had been given lemons and when life gives me lemons I make Citron Pressé.
I made this apple cider for our first Canadian Thanksgiving in the US as well as for our first American Thanksgiving. Read the stories here.
As our Thanksgiving dinner guests arrive, we head out to the backyard for pre-dinner snacks and numbingly spiced hot apple cider. The cider stays warm in a crock-pot set on low, thus freeing up the stove. Place a ladle on a plate next to the pot and lay mugs out around it. Guests can serve themselves, giving you time to chat and do any last minute cooking. (If your crock- pot is already in use keeping a side dish warm, pour the cider into a carafe).
There is no alcohol in this cider so it can be served to everyone. Kids like it, especially if you add the extra brown sugar at the end of the recipe. Last year, a little eight-year-old M exclaimed, “This is just like apple juice but warm and…ummm…better!”
For those guests who like a drink that makes them feel a tad friendlier, we place a bottle of spiced rum, a bottle of brandy and a bottle of whiskey behind the crock pot and let people know that they can pour a splash of something-something into their mug before ladling in the cider.
We moved from Canada to Florida nearly two years ago. Last year around this time I wrote the piece found below. The phrase “It IS Thanksgiving Here” is in response to an episode of the podcast Cast On. Cast On is meant to be listened to while knitting (or crocheting or spinning). But this particular episode, called ‘Thanksgiving Special: A Snow Day,’ is not related to the fiber arts. It is instead about a particular day in the life of the show’s host, Brenda Dayne. She’s an American woman living in Wales who has not celebrated Thanksgiving in years. The reason is, as she says, “It’s not Thanksgiving here and Thanksgiving is not something that can be faked.” With nobody else celebrating, it doesn’t really feel like a holiday, until one day when it suddenly does. It’s a lovely broadcast. I think of it often.
I have a Girls Night In with a few friends once a month. When our nights first started we wanted to meet regularly and not have the frequency of our get-togethers decrease into nothingness slowly over time (this has been the fate of so many groups that I’ve been in, especially book clubs. Thankfully this is not a book club so we have that on our side). We got to the heart of the issue: Why do people who have fun together stop getting together? The answer: It becomes too much work with the host running around the house tidying and madly trying to figure out what to serve (oh, and that answers the book club question – there’s the added pressure of actually reading the book!). To simplify things all of our girls’ nights follow these four rules:
The hostess does not prepare any food for the guests.
The hostess provides the following, nothing more, nothing less:
- 1 bag of tortilla chips
- 1 bowl of salsa
- 1 dessert purchased at the local grocery store
The guests do the BYOB thing.
We sit outside unless the weather is truly awful (this is supposed to minimize the house-cleaning. Although, the homes of my gal-pals are always spotless when I arrive. Likewise, I fear that I would run around like a maniac, Windex and roll of paper towels in hand, even if Rule #4 was, “Guests agree to wear blindfolds for entire evening.”
OCD cleaning impulses aside, we had managed to meet fairly regularly for quite some time…until…
I was shopping for my tortilla chips, salsa and grocery-store dessert when I spotted pomegranates: Plump. Round. Scarlet. Perfect. Ohhhhh…I thought of exotic vacations…I thought of Christmas…I thought of Champagne…I thought, “Should I buy some Cava?” Mmmm….I thought you’d never ask!
Once home I extracted the seeds from the fruit (why don’t chefs warn, “Wear an apron and cover entire kitchen in newspaper,” BEFORE they advise, “Whack the pomegranate hard with a wooden spoon to dislodge the seeds?” *sigh*) and fed a third of them to my toddler for a snack. Another third were placed in the fridge to get cold. The final third went into a fine mesh sieve over a bowl where I mashed the juice out of them using the back of a wooden spoon. The small bowl of juice went beside the seeds in the fridge to chill out.