Aren’t you starting to think about next year already? I know I am. In the last flush of holiday hustle, there are so many decisions to make. I’ve been intrigued by the notion of decision-fatigue. Even President Obama understands the power of eliminating decision-fatigue. I think I read that he wears only one or two suits, completely eliminating wasted energy on unimportant decisions. Having some constraints actually can be freeing since it turns out, our brains seem to have a finite ability to make decisions. Even unimportant ones seem to detract from our ability to make later decisions. This applies to critical and non-critical things. It applies to will-power and food decisions. If you’re starting to think about resolutions, it’s an interesting thing to consider. While I love diversity in food, I’ve found that having the breakfast routine really helps me start the day on a positive note and that leads to better food choices throughout the day.

But before we get to resolutions, let’s finish up our holiday decisions, shall we?

Should we bake more cookies? What should we put on the menu for Christmas dinner – duck? Seafood? Turkey? Is it too late to do a year-in-review TinyLetter? (TinyLetters are shorter and more personal than a newsletter, sign up here and let me know what you think.) What’s the best gift I could give myself or my favorite person?

My goal is always to make your life more delicious, more grounded, more informed, and more fun. So here we go, I’m reducing your decision fatigue right here and now:

1. Cookies: While some of us have been requested to “stop baking cookies” by those watching their figures. I think cookies are such a simple joy. I say yes! Bake one more batch. You can help moderate your sweet tooth in a couple of ways. Most all cookie doughs freeze well. This means you can bake a small batch and roll the rest in parchment and wrap well for future slice-and-bake treats. I have a log of peanut butter cookie dough in the freezer now. Okay, most of a log of peanut butter cookie dough…

Cookie Platter

2. Christmas menu: Unlike Thanksgiving which tends to be traditional, with favorites requested again and again; Christmas dinner around here seems to be the time for a little flexibility. This year I think we’ll do a seafood risotto Christmas Eve and a roast duck Christmas day. Or maybe a turkey breast. I’ve got that killer cranberry-raspberry sauce from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry and those crackly, sparkling cranberries are begging to be made again.duck_sugared_cranberries

3. TinyLetter: We do love to re-connect with loved ones this time of year. Newsy updates, photo cards, and year-end emails and “listicles”. If it seems too much to create your newsletter from scratch, check out TinyLetter. I got great feedback on my first one sent just before Thanksgiving. (Included two recipes for apple cake, too. If you missed it let me know, I’ll be happy to re-send.) I’ve got a special one coming out soon. BOLO: TinyLetter.

4. Killer gift ideas: Okay. I know some of you might still be hunting for the perfect gift. Only three days left to Christmas – how did that happen?  I love to give and get experience gifts. Who needs more stuff?

  • For Cooks: How about private cooking lesson in your own kitchen with a skilled and patient cook at your side? Learn to make food you love with Kitchen Confidence. Email me to set a time for a free consult call. What have you been dying to learn?
  • For the Bivalve Curious: A night out with a special meal, delicious wines, charming company sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? Even better, how about a lobster dinner with the “snob-free” Boston Wine School preceded by an everything you always wanted to know about oysters but were afraid to ask class with me? Come join me for this fun tasting adventure, see what wines you prefer with your oysters, discover a few surprises, impress your friends with your new-found oyster lore. What better way to kick off the new year: well-fed, well-lubricated and full of new tastes and ideas. Also, did I mention? OYSTERS. Guests get Oyster Century Club membership and a special gift in addition to dinner and the oyster class. Jonathon’s classes sell out and seating is limited so click today!

Oyster_Knife

Print Friendly
Share

{ 0 comments }

This is one of our holiday favorites, albeit it newer tradition. This year, I had a bottle of Basque still cider that I wasn’t fond enough of to drink, it was so yeasty and apple-y I couldn’t toss it. What to do? Cranberries, of course! The added benefit: at the end of the process you have lovely spiced apple simple syrup that goes so well with Mescal. It would be fantastic with a hot rum or Bourbon drink, too. So really, you end up with TWO terrific products. Now, if you’re not familiar with apple ciders I urge you to get to a good wine shop and ask for an intro. There are so many lovely ciders out there now, many made with heirloom apples. They’re great with pork chops (in brine or a pan sauce) and they are fantastic with cranberries.

Crackly Sparkling Cranberries

For this recipe, start with whole fresh cranberries. If you have frozen whole cranberries it should work, but I’ve not yet tried it so I can’t guarantee it. Begin this recipe a day ahead as the cranberries will get an overnight rest in their syrup. The active time for this recipe is minimal but you’ll want to include resting/drying time and start the day before you plan to serve these.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Whole fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups Granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (most of one bottle) apple cider
  • Raw or brown sugar (here I used turbinado)
  • a few cloves, a star anise, (a cinnamon stick would probably be great, too.)

Directions

  1. Line a half sheet pan with waxed paper.
  2. Place sugar, spices, and cider in sauce pan, heat and stir to dissolve sugar.
  3. When sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Rinse cranberries, pick out stems.
  5. Syrup should still be pretty warm but not scalding. Dump the cranberries into a container that will go into the fridge overnight. Pour hot syrup over the cranberries.
  6. Rest overnight in the fridge (the cranberries not you, you’ve got other things to do.)

Next day:

  1. Remove cranberries strain from syrup (and save that syrup!)
  2. Place turbinado sugar on a dinner plate. Take cranberries about a cup at a time and roll around in sugar, then place on prepared sheet pan.
  3. Rolling cranberries in small batches prevents too much dripping and caking of the sugar. Should you get lots of lumps in it, just remove the lumps into the simple syrup.
  4. When all your cranberries have their first coating of sugar, move the tray to a cool, dry spot to rest and dry completely. Should take a few hours.
  5. For the second toss in sugar, you can simply re-roll. I find a light brushing of the simple syrup helps the second coating adhere better.
  6. Let dry completely.

Crackly Sparkling Cranberries

crackly, sparkly cranberries

Spiced Apple Simple Syrup

spiced Basque apple cider syrup

duck_sugared_cranberries

sparkling cranberries and a roast duck



Gather platter cranberry

sparkling cranberries, small chestnut apples and kale surround the Thanksgiving platter

Print Friendly
Share

{ 1 comment }

30 Days of Vitamix – Say hello to Red!

December 14, 2014

I like red for so many reasons. It’s lucky. It’s life. It can pull me out of blue. It’s the color of World AIDS Day, the color of Women’s Heart Health. And it’s just plain sexeh. Meet Red There’s my early Xmas/Birthday present: a Pro Series Vitamix in Candy Apple Red. I’m calling her “Red.” […]

Print Friendly
1 comment Read the full article →

Foodservice East | Guest Column: Ten Points of Liability & Ten Best Practices

December 5, 2014

15 Million Americans have food allergies and we crave a great dining experience just as much as our non-allergic friends and families do. Restaurants that “get it” and offer us a relaxing and safe dining experience will be rewarded with repeat business. Restaurant staff in all positions – front of the house, back of the […]

Print Friendly
0 comments Read the full article →

Mescal and Apple – a Match Made in Heaven

November 26, 2014

With gratitude to Misty Kalkofen (goddess of mescal) for the inspiration. Mansana de Mañana 1  oz Basque Apple Cider simple syrup 1 1/4 oz Mescal 1/2 oz lime juice (half a lime) 1 cardamom pod, pinch of cinnamon Muddled cardamom in shaker. Add ice, remaining ingredients. Shake well. Strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with […]

Print Friendly
1 comment Read the full article →

No Soggy Bottoms! One Perfect Pumpkin Pie with Meringue Topping for Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014

Who doesn’t love pie? I do, and I have had to learn to make them at home since the advent of my dairy allergy. Impossible to eat one out. Pie without butter? Is it any good? Yes. Yes it is. This recipe represents the best of three different recipes and many years of hosting, preparing, […]

Print Friendly
0 comments Read the full article →

GivingThanks Daily – Today’s tips and recipes for a stress-free Thanksgiving

November 24, 2014

I’ve just put my pie dough in the fridge. Made crackers for pre dinner nibbles. (Pretzel crisps from Ivy Manning’s great Cracker’s and Dips book, a gift for anyone with food allergies who cannot find salty, crunchy snacks in the grocery store.) I’ll do some other things tonight and work on tomorrow’s post and last shopping […]

Print Friendly
0 comments Read the full article →

I heart spreadsheets. For Thanksgiving? You Bet!

November 21, 2014

Structure binds anxiety. Sage words from my past life as a corporate trainer.   Your Grocery List I love a spreadsheet for this sort of planning. I actually have two. One is the daily to do items. On it the left most column is the menu, the days between today and Thursday across the top. […]

Print Friendly
1 comment Read the full article →

Colossal Roundup of Thanksgiving Recipes – Including our Black Pepper- Fennel Seed Biscuits

November 20, 2014

Good friends Denise and Lenny AKA ChezUs.com have compiled a gorgeous round up of dishes from across the country. They’ve culled the blogs and compiled a mammoth list of terrific links to recipes for every component of your Givingthanks meal. If you’re looking for a little inspiration grab a mug of tea and click away! […]

Print Friendly
1 comment Read the full article →

Thanksgiving 2014 – This Year’s Theme: Relax. Recipes, Tips, Ideas to Help you Enjoy GivingThanks

November 20, 2014

GivingThanks Many people are in full countdown mode and the onslaught of Thanksgiving  is approaching hurricane force: posts, tweets, recipes, emails, newsletters. I want to encourage you to calm down, take a deep breath and if any of this helps, I’m happy. This name reversal popped into my head as I was thinking about people worrying […]

Print Friendly
0 comments Read the full article →