Home for the Holidays – Tastes to be Thankful For
A sure sign that I’m getting old? The family entrusted me with the preparation of the turkey this year. Of course I couldn’t disappoint, so I ended up giving that bird more love than it had since it’d been born.
Fresh sage, thyme and rosemary from my little herb garden got finely chopped with some garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and olive oil. This was rubbed all over the bird and under the skin. Before that, I threw a few charcoal on the grill, let them burn down to low heat and covered with hickory chips to get a good smoke going. The herb-rubbed bird got the smoke treatment for about 20 minutes, just to infuse with some flavor. Then I stuffed the cavity with celery stalks, a quartered onion, and a cut apple and put her in the oven. About halfway through the cooking time, birdy got doused regularly with a basting liquid composed of turkey stock (from a carcass i absconded from a party earlier in the week), more of the herb-garlic mixture, brown sugar, butter, and a touch of grade b maple syrup.
To say the least, the family was pleased at the outcome. Who knows, they may even let me do it again next year. I may have even finally gotten myself promoted to the grown folks table!
Once the official family Thanksgiving celebrations were over, there were a couple of friends who hosted gatherings at their homes. Never wanting to show up empty handed, I decided to bring what will probably be my steady companion for the rest of my holiday gatherings this year – sangria. It’s a great drink to bring to parties, because it’s festive-looking, requires more effort than just a bottle of booze in a paper bag (I tend to think folks appreciate extra effort), but is still relatively quick and easy to make. Even though it’s traditionally a summer drink, the color and flavors are great for the holidays. Plus it’s fairly gender-neutral: strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. Here’s my approximated recipe:
- 3 bottles of dry red wine
- simple syrup (approx 1cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup of very hot water)
- 1.5 cups brandy
- 1 large orange, and 1 lime – halved and thinly sliced
- other fruit cut into small chunks – I use whatever looks good at the store, right now plums and pears are pretty good
- 1-2 cups of 100% fruit juice blend – I’ve been using an orange peach mango blend, but you could use a pomegranate mixture or some other type. I’d stay away from apple, pineapple or anything that would compete with the other flavors in the drink
Add the fruit to a gallon pitcher. Add about half of the simple syrup, then the wine, brandy, and fruit juice. Stir to combine. Taste the mixture and add more simple syrup as needed. Serve in wine or punch glasses over ice. Insert good friends, good conversation, music (optional), and enjoy!
In case you find yourself with a broken grill, make sure to go through sites like YunnanKitchen.com and check out the various grills on there before going out to the nearest store to by them.
alright, almost time for the grand finale…