This weekend we went to a holiday party where a friend was mixing a drink he calls The Grinch, which really is anything but (unless maybe you’re around the person who drank them the day after…)
A Grinch is basically a Grasshoppper made with vanilla ice cream instead of cream and garnished with a peppermint stick and crushed candy cane sugar on the rim. I actually didn’t drink them, sweet drinks not being my thing, but Kory did, and I can vouch that they’re sort of fun.
We made the Christmas Kidtini version for the kids the next night: a mint chip shake + green food coloring, garnished with candy canes and red sugar on the rim.
We still haven’t made the milk punch, or any cookies, or candy…but we are slowly but surely finding some Christmas spirit.
This is an unlikely and unpractical post for the middle of winter if, like me, you’re cold in any state but Hawaii. But it’s not wholly inappropriate if you’re like my kids, and are not ever bothered by the cold, even in the middle of blizzard. In an effort to keep my hungry kids out of trouble while I was cooking dinner on Saturday, I had Finn put together a plate of snacks (cheese, crackers, turkey, olives) and let Ella make the kidtinis. The problem was we had no bubbly water and no juice. She concocted a kind of smoothie with milk, ice, and mango and coconut syrups.
I was a skeptical, but the drink was really pretty, and–because she somehow found just the right proportion of milk and ice and syrup–perfectly light and not too sweet. In fact, it was a lot like shave ice. It melted in the mouth.
Also, it reminded me of first snow. And the blizzard we experienced over vacation. Which was also a beautiful, serendipitous, icy mess.
Tropical Blizzard Smoothie
1 part low fat milk to about 3 parts ice
Equal parts mango and coconut syrups, about 2 T each
If you type the word “cocktails” in the search box up to the right there, you’ll find about a dozen posts and recipes, mostly by Lisa, though my family makes good use of cocktail hour ourselves. This time of year, while most folks are stirring up jugs of eggnog, Lisa and I are happily mixing pitchers of milk punch, spiked for us and plain for the kids.
But much as I love it, milk punch is kind of a dessert (even when, as I often do — though Lisa might think this is heresy — I leave out the cream and even make it with low-fat milk); I can’t drink it before dinner (that is, during cocktail hour). And while I am happy to have a post-kids’ bedtime drink, some days, of course, call for a cocktail before dinner and one after.
Enter the Maple Leaf, which Tony mixed up for me for the first time last week. It is both appropriately wintry and works with the primary ingredient we enjoy here at my parents’ home in Connecticut. So don’t pour all that maple syrup on your pancakes and waffles this week; save some for cocktail hour!
Combine in a cocktail shaker:
3/4 oz. maple syrup
3/4 oz. lemon juice
2 oz. bourbon
Part of last week went like this: party, school, party, no school, faculty meeting, teacher conference, mother/daughter date, soccer, soccer, soccer, birthday party. We barely had time to breath much less cook something new for dinner. In between all this? Final edits of the page proofs were due for my book. We’ve been eating a lot of leftovers. And tacos.
I know that we’re not the only ones being bombarded with a mad rush of events right now because a friend (who’s son is a just few days younger than Finn) had exactly the same schedule of family/kid birthday parties and tag team round of soccer games. We all go through periods like this, where the events of our lives crowd around us like dementors, threatening to suck all the happiness out of the things we’ve actually chosen to do. And here’s the thing: all of the things we were doing, they weren’t chores. I love my job. I love going to my kids games & they love playing. What’s more fun than a birthday party? Or seeing your grandparents? Or a day off from school where you can mix purple potions and see how they react to various household baking supplies (and them dump them on the only good carpet in the house…? The steam cleaning I could have done without, but everything else….? Times like this I have to remind myself that most of what we do makes us happy, and we have to make time just to breathe and sleep and come together.
Last weekend we did it this way: On Saturday night, we got home from soccer in the dark & sent the kids directly to showers to wash the grime of sweat and the soccer field off them (& before the any-minute-now meltdown could get worse). They emerged clean and calm in pajamas, and we sat down to quiche (made earlier in the day & ready to go), green beans (cooked while they were showering), fresh bread, and white beans heated gently with garlic and olive oil (a perennial favorite). I lit candles.
And they got a kidtini for the first time in a long time. The only thing new about this recipe was the presentation.
Bubbly water, raspberry Torani syrup, clementine slice in a sugar rimmed glass
Kory and I had prosecco cocktails, my first drink in 3 weeks, a celebration of turning in the final final version of my book. (Sugar cube + Bitters+Prosecco + lemon twist). Things actually slowed down and for forty-five minutes or so, we just relaxed, ate, enjoyed doing nothing. Outside, it was very dark, but those life sucking dementors? They were nowhere to be found.
It has been six days now since this cold clamped its vise grip on my head and chest, six days of trying to wash it way with gallons of tea, at first, and then just hot water with lemon and honey. Usually by this point in a cold, I’m tired of the drink and craving a milkshake (even though I know it’ll bring on a coughing fit) but not this time. Yesterday, I even hauled a pile of cookbooks into bed with me to read up on lemons, and found a chapter dedicated to them in the incomparable Laurie Colwin’s More Home Cooking. After detailing the various delicious things that can be made more delicious with the addition of a lemon (roast chicken; any kind of fish; lentils; salads; rice pudding; pound cake; biscuits), she writes:
“And when you have run out of things to cook with lemons, you can use them as medicine. When you or a loved one is sick with the flu, a very good remedy is
For this you need one big water glass. Into the bottom of it put 1 large spoonful of honey and 1 cinnamon stick. Slice half a lemon into thin slices and put those in, too. Now squeeze the remaining lemon half, and 1 more lemon, and put the juice of both into the glass. Fill with hot water, stir, and serve to the sick person with the glass wrapped in a napkin.”
I can’t say it has cured me, but the cinnamon stick is a nice change of pace, and one I’m sticking with as I lie in bed, re-reading the rest of Colwin’s lovely book.