Well, guys, the end is nigh…
Just kidding. But the end of 2016 is really nigh, and it is time for my annual reflections on the past year. 2016 was quite the formative period for yours truly: I re-branded my site, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, taught my first food photography class and subsequently a handful of others, did my first cooking demo (thanks to all of you who attended!), and joined forces with three other food babes to form Salt + Sage Collective.
But the year wasn’t all fun and games. As most of you know, this summer I had to separate from my boyfriend so he could attend graduate school in upstate New York, and do the long distance relationship thing again. In the beginning, I was absolutely devastated, unsure what the future would bring. Now that we’ve been in this arrangement for five months, I’ve learned to deal with my present situation and try to see some positivity in it.
As you are reading this, Rene and I are gearing up to travel in Europe for a whopping three weeks. First through Poland, where I’ll be meeting his dozens and dozens of family members. Then through France – Paris and Marseille – where I’ll be eating my weight in jambon-beurre sandwiches, pain au chocolat and confit de canard (follow along on Instagram!). But most importantly, I’ll be taking a break from working, something I literally never do, to just enjoy being alive. When I return in 2017, I’m going to have some big, BIG news to share with you all, which I can’t wait to do.
For now, I want to thank every single one of you who’s followed me along on my journey and supported what I do. Here is a drink I would love to hand you right now with gratitude during the holiday season.
I recently received a sample of these Cape Cod Select Brand cranberries and instantly knew I’d want to make a festive holiday punch that is light, refreshing and reminiscent of the holiday season. This grown-up cocktail starts with a delicious cranberry-orange syrup, which is made by simmering cranberries with orange juice and zest, and then straining out the gorgeous burgundy-colored syrup. The syrup can be made several days in advance in preparation for a holiday party, or in case friends or relatives decide to “drop by” to wish you a merry [insert culturally appropriate winter holiday here]. The syrup is then combined with Lillet (a fortified French aperitif wine) and some bubbly, and garnished with a pretty piece of orange zest. The recipe instructs how to make one cocktail, but you can definitely make a batch of it in a punch bowl. And with that, my friends, I bid you adieu until 2017.
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (I used Cape Cod Select brand)
- Zest of ½ orange
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
- ½ cup filtered water
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 bottle Lillet Blanc
- 1 bottle dry sparkling wine
- Orange zest and wooden toothpicks, to garnish
- To make the cranberry-orange syrup, combine cranberries, orange zest and juice, water and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer mixture for 5-7 minutes, until cranberries burst and start to break down. Using a fork, gently mash the cranberries to further break them down.
- Remove mixture from heat. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, mashing the cranberries to extract all the liquid. Discard cranberry skins. (If preparing the syrup in advance, let it cool at room temperature then store it in an airtight container in the fridge).
- To make one cocktail, place a couple of ice cubes in a tumbler and add 1 ounce of syrup, 2 ounces Lillet and 2 ounces sparkling wine.
- To make the fancy orange garnish, peel off a strip of orange zest using a vegetable peeler, roll it up, and secure it with a toothpick.
Wishing you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays!