Let It Snow
Although the year is wrapping up, it has come to my attention that the presents are not. In fact, it’s still hard to imagine that Christmas is almost upon us. With the clear, sunny days we’ve been having I’ve been puttering along in a little dream of autumn, scarcely realizing that it’s time to change gears.
So when yesterday I heard that it might snow, I took it as a sign to get into a holiday frame of mind. They’ve since changed the forecast to more sunny skies, but I’m trying to stay Christmasey at heart. The fact that this year it will be just the two of us makes it mysterious, since we’ve never spent the holidays away from family and friends. Shall I decorate the house a bit? Bake a buche de Nöel? Tie a red ribbon around Beppo?
So far I haven’t been homesick, caught up as I am in all that’s new here. But Christmas is nostalgic by nature and I wonder whether it will get to me. I need to find out what French people are cooking in this season, in addition to foie gras, and get into the kitchen. When I tire of cooking I’ll put on my mittens, go out and buy a few gifts, and come home to drink a vin chaud by the fire. Want to have a glass with me?
- 1 bottle red wine, a syrah or beaujolais
- 1/2 cup cassis
- 1/2 cup raw sugar, or a bit more to taste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 3 cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- seeds of 1 pod of cardamom
- peel of 1/2 lemon, yellow part only
- peel of 1/2 orange, orange part only
Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel saucepan and warm gently to a bare simmer. Remove from heat and allow to steep at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Strain and reheat to just below a boil. Serve hot.
You can vary the spices to taste. You can also squeeze the juice of the orange into the wine for a fruitier drink, or substitute cognac or rum for the cassis.