Thursday, December 15, 2011

Notes from the Field: A Cozy Christmas

"And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep...."

My favorite part of Christmas is undoubtedly the feelings of nostaglia for home, for holidays past, and for the inevitable desire to be all nuzzled up someplace warm with my favorite people.

And so, I often find the most heavenly bits of the season are not really the fanciful or decadent, but rather what is cozy and just damn good.  Nothing emphasizes this more than the fact that one of my most beloved Christmases ever was celebrated powerless and completely snowed in deep in the Connecticut woods.  Brothers and sisters, cousins and grandparents, we made do all night, singing carols at the piano, doing somersaults by a roaring fire and hand-whipping heavy cream for dessert.  

I present to you the fixings for gettin' cozy.  After all, tis' the season. 

A Cozy Christmas 

Cupcake:  Gingerbread cupcakes topped with cream cheese buttercream and a ginger snap.  The cake is warm and earthy and the cream cheese buttercream is made tart with a pinch of lemon zest. 

Cocktail: Mulled wine.  While the best mulled wine I ever had was in Vienna in 2006, the best "at home" recipe combines a bottle of red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon) with 2 cinnamon sticks, the juice and zest of one orange, 3 whole cloves, 3 star anise, 1/2 cup of sugar, and six whole peppercorns.  Add all ingredients to a pot, simmer at medium heat for 2 minutes, then reduce to low heat for 30 minutes.  Serve in mugs and garnish with cinnamon sticks. 

Sound: The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole.  As a child, we used to put on Nat's classic Christmas album on the record player every year.  This is my favorite.  Always has been, always will be.

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