Quick. If you make these cranberries right now they will be ready for your New Year’s Eve cocktails. And trust me. You are going to want them for your cocktails.
These tart little berries are sweetened with a syrup made of raw sugar, rich bourbon and aromatic whole spices. They take only minutes to prepare and they make a good destination for the half bag of cranberries left in the fridge that you can’t find a use for.
This warm winter drink uses local apple cider and white rum to recreate one of our favorite holiday punch, or punsch, drinks we enjoyed at Vienna’s Christmas Markets.
I never could have guessed it would be so hard to find apple cider around here. Apples are plentiful enough in the South Central Valley, but why so few people are turning those apples into delicious cider has surprised me.
Thinking back to my days in Kentucky and Indiana, the second apple season starts, the cider shows up on the shelves. Every store has at least a couple varieties both pasteurized and unpasteurized. It’s a fall and holiday staple in that part of the world.
Here I found one store with one cider and it was pasteurized. Others I’ve found have tried to pass apple juice as cider. Not a chance. I can tell the difference.
I’ve had two things sitting in my kitchen that I’ve been dying to use for almost a year now. Some shallow, 3 1/2-inch wide snowflake baking cups from IKEA and a Lebkuchen spice mix I got at a Christmas Market in Berlin.
The Lebkuchen spices are similar to those in gingerbread here in the States and I’d already made some ginger cookies. Not to mention, cookies weren’t going to help me use those baking cups. So I switched gears and baked up gingerbread cakes. They were perfect for both the cups and spices.
I find that beer temperatures vary by the location. When we lived in Brazil, the beer was so cold that ice was often inside the bottle. In Europe, it’s always been on the warmer side. Cold beer somewhere in between these two was the standard in the States for years. Then came the craft beer boom, and with it, the understanding that some beers are best served at warmer temperatures.
But until we made it Poland, I had never had hot beer.
I love the idea of a cozy room lined with book shelves and a reading nook in the corner next to a roaring fireplace. On those shelves would be everything from classic and modern cookbooks, mystery novels and non-fiction cooking and agriculture resources to coffee table books with stunning photography.
I’ve always loved to read, but I think my real book passion started when my interests grew in cookbooks and photography. The organization of my collection isn’t quite up to par with that cozy room I described, but that doesn’t stop me from adding books to my gift list, both to give and receive.
I’ve come across some lovely cookbooks, fun photography and inspiring stories this year. If you have a bookworm on your gift list, grab a few of these great books and finish up your holiday shopping.
After visiting our first Christmas market in Europe in 2013, I feared this might happen. Then we went again in 2014 and I knew there was no escaping it.
My brain has permanently redefined the holiday season.
Now, if you look up the definition of the holidays in my head, you will find Christmas markets in Vienna, Krakow and also Copenhagen and Berlin.
This is Christmas.
The lights, the jolly attitudes, the crowds, an evening standing in the freezing cold and actually enjoying it, and of course, the food and drink.
Now, nothing says Christmas to me like experiencing one of those markets.
It’s taken me a while to determine why I enjoy holiday baked goods so much more than those made any other time of year. I can whip out a batch of cookies in March, but they don’t seem as special to me as those I make in December.
You’ll be happy to know that I’ve discovered the secrets. There are two.
Spices and booze.
This post continues my series on Thanksgiving Cooking for Two. Be sure to check out the recipes for Beer Basted Turkey and Green Olive Pecan Sourdough Stuffing that go along with this meal.
I never had a Brussel sprout until my 30s. There was no turning up my nose at the dinner table or refusing to clear them off my plate as a child. They simple never made an appearance in our house growing up. At least not that I can remember.
Then a few years ago, when they seemed to hit a peak of popularity on food blogs, I gave them a try. My first thought was how did I overlook this vegetable all these years and my second was why in the world do they have such a bad reputation!
My husband and I often celebrate Thanksgiving by ourselves a few days before we join our families for the big meal. This year I decided to share some recipes for those who might also be doing some Thanksgiving cooking for two. This is the first post in the series. Be sure to check out the side dishes that go with this main course.
I’ll be the first to admit that Thanksgiving isn’t my favorite holiday of the season. It doesn’t make much sense, though. I love fall and pumpkins and I love to cook. Seems like I’d be all over a holiday that has those things well covered.
I can offer no explanation other than my fondness of a winter wonderland, warm cocktails, cookies and cheesy Christmas movies. It simply beats out Thanksgiving every time.
Despite it not being my favorite, I still like to cook and I like to get creative. We typically travel to the homes of our families for Thanksgiving dinners. (Yes, dinners. As in two in one day.) There, the family has traditional covered. But it rarely satisfies my need to try some new and creative.
I’m a fan of seasonal eating. I like asparagus in the spring, berries in the summer and apples in fall. You get the idea.
I always associate seasonal with fresh foods until the holidays come along. When we start creeping up to Thanksgiving and especially when December hits, it’s 100 percent cookie season! Sure I’ll throw some kale and sweet potatoes into my meals for good measure, but cookies and baking take center stage.
Every year it’s a battle between making old favorites or experimenting with new recipes. When you throw an outstanding new cookbook into the mix, the old favorites start to take the back seat.