Offer tea, celebrate friendship

When my daughter wants to know if I like someone, she’ll ask me, “Mommy, would you make tea for her?” This is her test to know if I’ve made a friend. If someone that I care about is coming by the house, I will naturally say, “I’ll make us some tea.” My dearest friends know this about me…I’m not just offering tea, I’m celebrating our friendship. It will always be tea…never coffee or lemonade.

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” ― Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

I think I have maybe six tea pots plus my keurig, a copper kettle and a one-touch tea maker. Making tea has always been something I enjoy and I’m not alone… My husband is an iced tea drinker and he makes a pitcher full daily. My children will be content to do their homework with peppermint tea. There’s something ceremonial and comforting about making tea. Tea makes the world a better place.

Here are some enjoyable facts about tea that you might not know…

  • Tea is the most popular drink in the world (after water).
  • Ireland has the highest amount of tea consumption per person…six cups a day. Did I mention that I’m Irish?
  • Most teas…black, green, oolong, and white are naturally caffeinated. They come from the plant Camellia sinensis. Herbal teas are infused by dried herbs, fruits, or flowers like chamomile or echinacea.
  • Adding milk to tea keeps porcelain tea cups from cracking and helps keep teeth white.
  • Loose the tea bag…Tea becomes more flavorful as the leaves expand, which can’t happen when they’re crammed into a small bag. Instead, use an infuser to steep your leaves so they’re able to float around. Then strain before drinking. I love my Breville one-touch tea maker for this reason.
  • If tea is too hot, you can’t taste its subtle nuances…it should be like Goldilocks said, “Just right!
  • The tradition of afternoon tea was begun by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford in the 1840’s as “a way to quell the inevitable hunger pangs between lunch and dinner.”

P.S. Put the kettle on

Eggnog belongs to the winter

If I were the editor of SKI Magazine, I would probably put a picture of a skier being offered a warm glass of eggnog on the cover of the January issue. It’s what I want to drink when my bones feel like they’ve been on the top of the mountain…bumps then bourbon.

Homemade eggnog is fresh tasting and not too sweet…like the kind you get in the grocery store. It’s light and frothy like custard and it warms your bones and soul. I’m all for those warm apres ski cocktails in the winter time. Even if you’re not celebrating a great day on the slopes, you can celebrate that it’s winter because eggnog belongs to the winter…not just the holidays.

That delicious warm boozy milk is rich with frothy goodness. It’s light and yolky…the way custard is.

If you make a big batch, it will thicken up and get velvety…more flavorful as it ages, and it’s good for up for a week.

  • 6 eggs, separated (1 egg per person)
  • 1/3 to 1 cup sugar (make a simple syrup and add a vanilla bean for fun)
  • 3 cups whole milk with 1 cup heavy cream
  • Up to 1 1/2 cups bourbon
  • Nutmeg

Make simple syrup and let it cool slightly. Separate eggs and gradually add bourbon to egg yolks then milk and simple syrup. I like to use my immersion blender. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and add sugar to your liking (or skip this part and save your egg whites for breakfast). Eggnog is most delicious served warm but you can store it in the refrigerator…the longer it sits, the more luscious and thick it becomes. Top with nutmeg.

Eggnog is flexible…you can swap out bourbon for brandy or rum. You might try using maple syrup or honey instead of a simple syrup. Eggnog has restorative powers, it’s the perfect apres ski drink because it puts you back on your feet…with a little buzz.

P.S. Cozy Winter Cocktails

Apples season is here…toast to Johnny Appleseed

It’s apple season…time to decorate for Halloween and sip on cozy apple cocktails. Johnny Appleseed’s birthday is this week! Toast to Johnny with this cozy Apple Autumn Spritz and German Apple Pancake.

I had about ten apples just waiting for me Saturday morning so I used my juicer and was inspired to enjoy apples all day long.

This bubbly apple and Aperol blend will make you want to roast marshmallows and enjoy the fall night air.

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Old-fashioned summertime lemonade & limoncello

Remind me again, is that a lemon or a lime tree,” my husband asked? My parents gave us a beautiful lemon tree in the spring. It’s finally looking like it will be ready to harvest soon. 

I’ve learned that lemon trees are grateful sun worshipers…ours looks like it’s trying to hug the sun. Thankfully, lemon trees are happy in a container and have been protected from our lemon loving dogs. 

Our family loves the refreshing summer flavor of lemons in iced tea, ice cream, muffins and most of all lemonade.

My daughter and I made a batch last week and have savored every sip.
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Summer’s favorite cocktail: Cipriani Bellini

July feels to me like the pinnacle of summer, days well spent dining with friends and restful moments lounging poolside with a book…always with something fruity within reach. Specifically, a cocktail like this one that is as bright and beautiful as it is light and refreshing, a lovely way to bask in the season. 

Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party makes the viewer feel like sipping something fruity and refreshing while dining alfresco. Look at the peachy colors in this Paris cafe overlooking the Seine, the painting captures a happy afternoon among friends. Doesn’t it make you want a Peach Bellini? Create your own European cafe with a few ingredients…it’s the bubbly parts during the day that are the best to just take a sip, and sit back. 

The Peach Bellini is a famous bubbly cocktail that was created by Giuseppe Cipriani from Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. Cipriani named his drink after Giovanni Bellini, his favorite Italian painter, because the peach color of the champagne cocktail matched the color Bellini used in one of his paintings for a saint’s toga. The Peach Bellini has become one of the most famous and popular of all wine cocktails or champagne cocktails. It’s also difficult to make because of the scarcity of pureed peaches.

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Peppermint brownies

Lingering candy canes still remain from the holidays and I can’t find it in me to toss them. A wintry rainy Sunday calls for peppermint brownies. My eleven-year-old gladly volunteered to smash the candy canes as long as she could occasionally sample several pieces. 

Chocolate and mint together are an amazing duo…really one of the most perfect dessert pairings. The freshness of the mint mixes so well with the sweet richness of the chocolate. We used two types of candy canes and two types of chocolate…really it’s about what you have left over from the holidays. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1  1/2 lb of chocolate (we used Hershey’s dark chocolate and left over Hershey’s candy cane kisses)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 candy canes (crushed)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter your favorite brownie pan. 
  • In a double boiler, combine chocolate with the butter. Stir until melted. If you’re eleven-years-old, you’ll want to use your Gryffindor spatula to do this! 
  • Scrape the chocolate into another bowl and let cool slightly. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the chocolate-butter mixture until glossy and thick. 
  • Add flour and salt into the bowl and stir until mixed. 
  • Spread the brownie batter in the prepared baking pan. 
  • Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top and bake for 30 minutes.

The crunchy bits of candy canes and the gooey chocolate can’t be beat! 

P.S.

Roasting and Toasting with S’mores & a Hot Toddy

Pumpkin brulee cheesecake

 

Ebelskivers (Danish Pancakes) perfect for a winter morning

My daughter made me promise, “Mommy, pinky promise that we can make ebelskivers in the morning?” It’s after the holidays, I still have leftover egg nog and it’s 24 degrees outside…the weather couldn’t be better for ebelskivers! I’ve had my ebelskiver pan for a while now and I use them to make these Danish pancakes but it’s also great for meatballs! Ebelskivers have a light, airy batter, and a sweet jam filling goes nicely in the middle. My son prefers Nutella in his. Serve them hot with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar on top. Turning them over can be tricky…try using chopsticks or shish kabob skewers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (about 5 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk (or egg nog if you make them during the holidays)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup jam or Nutella
  • confectioners sugar, for serving

Directions: 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk, vanilla and 2 tablespoons melted butter until combined. Stir in dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
  • In a small bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff but not dry peaks form, about 3 minutes. This is my daughter’s favorite part…who doesn’t love using an electric mixer! Fold egg whites into batter.
  • Put ebelskiver pan over medium high heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon butter to each well of the mold (sometimes I cheat and use Pam for baking), add 1 tablespoon of batter. Top each well with 1 teaspoon of jam or Nutella, then top with another 1 tablespoon batter. Let ebelskivers cook until bottoms are golden, about 4 minutes, then flip and continue to cook until tops are also golden, 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil. Repeat with rest of batter, then serve immediately with powdered sugar on top.

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Cozy winter cocktails

 

We’re in the middle of true winter when we could use a cozy cocktail to warm our insides.  Winter is all about being cozy…I find myself searching for warmth from a fire and a ski sweater but a cocktail may be the best way to help ease the midwinter chill. You can sip on a glass of wine any time, but there’s something particularly pleasurable about a cocktail designed for the colder months.

Hot Toddies and Gloggs have been served for centuries because they warm the body and soothe the soul. My favorite winter cocktails are those that remind me of a great day on the slopes. What better way to end the day than looking at the mountains and watching snowstorm with a steaming Hot Toddy? Another thought would be to start a new tradition of an avant ski drink before it’s time for après with an Irish Coffee…spoon a mountain of freshly whipped cream and zip, zoom, kapow! 

Finally there was the great glacier run, smooth and straight, forever straight if your legs could hold it, your ankles locked, you running so low, leaning into the speed, dropping forever and forever in the silent hiss of the crisp powder. It was better than any flying or anything else, and you built the ability to do it and to have it with the long climbs, carrying the heavy rucksacks. You could not buy it nor take a ticket to the top. It was the end we worked all winter for, and all the winter built to make it possible. ~Ernest Hemingway

These are five winter cocktails that should do the trick…Hemingway would certainly approve of your après ski cocktail! 

Irish Coffee:

  • 1.25 ounce Irish whiskey
  • ounces hot, but not scalded coffee 
  • 5/8 ounce Rich Demerara syrup (combine two parts demerara sugar to one part water and cook until the sugar dissolves; keep until needed)
  • ounce heavy cream, softly whipped

Add the Irish whiskey to a tall, heat-tolerant glass, preferably an Irish Coffee glass. Combine the coffee and 5/8 oz. Demerara syrup separately from the whiskey, then add it to the glass with the whiskey and stir gently. Float the whipped cream over the top and grate a bit of nutmeg over the whipped cream. 

Glogg:

  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 1 & 1/4 cups brandy
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 orange zest strips
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds

In saucepan over medium heat, combine the wine, brandy, cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the sugar and orange zest. Divide the raisins and almonds among 4 warmed cups or goblets. Pour in the spiced wine through a sieve and serve.

Moscow Mule: 

  • part vodka
  • parts ginger beer
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Fill a glass with ice, crushed or cubed.
Fill the glass 1/3 full with vodka.
Top with ginger beer and squeeze in some lime.

Cherry Lime Hot Toddy:

  • a few dried cherries
  • lime zest strip
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ounces whiskey
  • 6 ounces boiling water

In a mug, combine the lime zest, dried cherries, and sugar. Add the whiskey. Pour in the boiling water, and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Sip and enjoy!

Hot Buttered Rum:

  • ounce dark rum 
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Pad of salted butter 
  • 3 cups boiled water
Boil water on the stove.
Place the cloves, rum, and sugar in cup and gently mix; after mixing, place cinnamon stick in concoction. 
Smear butter inside the cup, just above the rum.
Pour the boiled water slowly over the butter and allow it to melt. Cinnamon stick stays in the cup.

Forget the fire and warm yourself up with one of these hot drinks…extra-boozy concoctions guaranteed to keep you warm.

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Champagne chic

I don’t remember my first glass of Champagne but I’ve always love bubbly drinks. My friend Jen and I would drink Clearly Canadian to ring in the New Year when we were in middle school. Ever since then, my drink of choice has always been bubbly. Champagne was and still is linked to celebration, but we should celebrate life every day. Any time is a good time for drinks that sparkle! 

Everything about Champagne feels right…the freshness, the bubbles, and it’s easy to drink at any occasion. Gigi would agree…

The night they invented champagne
It’s plain as it can be
They thought of you and me
The night they invented champagne
They absolutely knew that all we’d want to do
Is fly to the sky on champagne. 

Champagne tends to be in a class of its own. Sparkling wines are the ultimate in chic drinks…like Chanel’s little black dress (or Marie’s pretty pink one). Marlene Dietrich said, “Champagne makes you feel like its Sunday and better days are just around the corner.

Need more reasons to sip, savor and celebrate? Here are ten things you will be thrilled to know about Champagne…

1. Champagne is from a specific region in France (named Champagne) and is considered the pinnacle of sparkling wine. Its production requires extra years of maturation, and the fruit itself is more expensive. Spanish Cavas and Italian Proseccos are refreshing and delicious, but they lack the depth of Champagnes because they are made from lesser quality grapes, produced in tanks rather than bottles, and not aged as long. Champagne is about 90 miles from Paris and it’s so far north that it’s almost too cold to fully ripen the grapes, which explains the finesse and acidic taste of its wine. 

2. There are about 1.000,000 bubbles in a glass of Champagne. 

3. Hold your glass by the stem and not by the bowl because your hands will warm the champagne up too quickly…And, holding the glass by the stem will make you look oh so chic!

4. Vintage matters! The region in France where Champagne is produced has had erratic seasons for the past fifteen years, so there’s a great difference among vintages. 

5. The best vintages are from: 1996, 2002 and 2008.

6. Chill sparkling wine at a temperature between 46 and 54 degrees Fahrenheit but not until you’re ready to drink it. Champagne shouldn’t be stored in the refrigerator because the cork dries out and shrinks so that the carbonation is able to escape, and other smells from the refrigerator can get in. Keep the cork damp to ensure a tight seal by storing Champagne (and all wine) on its side.

7. Enjoy champagne throughout an entire meal! Many people think they should only enjoy Champagne as an aperitif but that it is not the only way to drink it. Pair your Champagne with many flavors…chicken, seafood, vegetable dishes, fruit, cheese, risotto, tacos and my favorite…pizza! It can bring out new flavors you’ve never tasted in these foods!

8. If you married a bartender, like I did, you’ll know that the goal to opening a bottle is to do it quietly and gently, without the pop. This way you keep the bubbles in the wine. Hold the bottle in your hand at an angle with the neck pointed away from you and others. Grasp the cork between thumb and forefinger, then turn the bottle. When you feel the cork start to give, slowly pull it to  one side so the gas releases gradually. 

9. Champagne makes you more beautiful! It detoxifies the skin with antioxidants, and its lightening tartaric acid helps even out the skin tone and for those with oily skin, its antibacterial properties can help with breakouts.

10. Drinking Champagne can prevent dementia and memory loss. A study at the University of Reading determined that drinking one to three glasses of Champagne each week can boost brain health. 

 

Bubbles, bubbles fizzing in our coupes…keep on popping bottles. If you have a bottle of champagne in your refrigerator, don’t wait for a special occasion to enjoy it…open that bottle and the special occasion will come to you. Celebrate life every day! Santé! xx

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Vail: Rites of Spring

Vail Collage2016

Sunshine, google tans, spring back to winter snow, cold après-ski cocktails on or off the mountain…the only thing not to love about spring skiing is the inevitable end of the season.

The clock bells chimed four times, that meant the lifts were closing. My husband said, “Hurry, we can still get on for one more run.” We weren’t out of steam just yet! The four of us hopped on the Eagle Bahn Gondola to end the day on a high note. If the lifts are running, so were we! It felt like we were the only ones on the mountain. It had just snowed like crazy and it was perfect skiing…powder on top of powder! We wanted to hold on to the day and the season just a little longer. It’s amazing how so much fun can take your mind off your sore feet and bruised shins.

Vail, how I love thee! Let me count the ways…

  1. Thousands of groomed terrain means there’s something for everyone whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or expert skier. Vail has the best and largest ski schools on Earth to help you get your kids to be future expert skiers. It’s nice to see your kids make friends with kids from around the world. Vail is the giant of ski resorts because it offers 195 named trails and it’s world-famous for its “Back Bowls” that span around 3,000 acres.
  2. Ice skating is a fun activity for the whole family. My daughter even skated with her American Girl Doll, Maryellen. Vail has both indoor and outdoor rinks. The Arrabelle in Lionshead steals our hearts with the beautiful scenery, outdoor fireplaces and twinkle lights.
  3. Vail is a foodie’s haven. These are our favorites: Up the Creek (a treasure by Gore Creek serving seasonal fresh farm to plate meals and signature cocktails), Campo De Fiori (authentic Italian cuisine with fresh and local ingredients), Mountain Standard (enjoy a rustic and relaxed atmosphere where the primal cooking method is over a wood fire), Swiss Chalet (traditional European cuisine in a casual mountain atmosphere).
  4. Vail is known for its relaxing spas. I think it’s nice to start out the vacation with a visit to the spa. After a plane ride and unpacking a massage makes you think, Yeessss! The vacation has just begun! The Spa at the Arrabelle (voted #19 of the top 270 spas in the world) was the perfect way to relax into the vacation.
  5. There’s more to Vail than winter…try hiking and mountain biking during the non-skiing months. Use the staff like you would for ski school and hire a tour guide to take you around so you don’t need the trail map. You can rent a bike and ride downhill. The bonus is that there’s a gondola bike haul.

Vail is known around the world as one of the most popular destinations for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, fine dining, hot air balloons, spas and more. The relaxing vibe and town of world-class athletes makes Vail the perfect place to vacation. It’s the favorite place for serious athletes, foodies, and spa junkies. Experienced skiers and outdoor enthusiasts will agree that Vail is the best and most varied resort. No matter the season, it’s like nothing on Earth!

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