Rum Apple Tart

As a child we would frequently drive way out in the countryside on Sunday afternoons to visit family.  My aunt and uncle owned an apple orchard, and as soon as the car pulled into their long dirt driveway my brother and I would run out into the trees, without even so much as a “Hello!” to my aunt who was waiting at the front door.  I used to love to skip between the rows of trees, imagining I was Dorothy on the yellow brick road – and there was always a dog around to play the part of Toto. Continue reading “Rum Apple Tart”

Banana Bread Hot Buttered Rum

We’ve spent the last few days in the picturesque little town of Dillon, which is quaintly nestled between the larger ski resorts high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.  It isn’t itself a ski town, though, its claim to fame is the sapphire lake on the shores of which it is built.  Lake Dillon is absolutely beautiful, filling the deep valley between two snow-covered mountain peaks.  The town is built on the north side of the lake with many little houses, log cabins and a few hotels actually lying below the dam in the arms of the mountainside.  As we drove across Continue reading “Banana Bread Hot Buttered Rum”

White Christmas

Today, I sat down to finalize the Christmas menu before going to the market.  “Simplicity” is the name of the game this year, so the menu looks something like this:  The star of the dinner table will be a very traditional American baked ham with a maple glaze and spiced orchard fruits like apples and pears.  The ham will be accompanied by a few of my French favorites like potato gratin with hickory-smoked gruyere, Brussels sprouts lardons (Ina Garten’s recipe, and my kids’ favourite way to eat them!) and, of course, crispy sourdough bread.  For dessert, I will make the Bûche de Noël from my last blog post. Continue reading “White Christmas”

Bûche de Noël

I always return to traditions during the month of December.  Throughout the rest of the year traditions have a reputation for being  “stuffy” or “old-fashioned,” but at Christmas time, when the world seems to be moving at record pace, and not necessarily in the direction we want it to, there’s nothing more comforting than falling back into the old and familiar.  Pulling out the old cookie cutters and sorting through the recipe box for those cookies we bake only once or twice a year; dusting off the boxes of decorations, digging through sheets of tissue paper to find the ornaments we packed away so carefully last year.  It’s almost like a long over-due visit with dear old friends.  (And when the dog accidentally knocks one of those ornaments off the tree, like she did today, and it shatters on the floor there are always tears as I sweep up the pieces.) Continue reading “Bûche de Noël”

Clementine Bourbon Sour

Whiskey is winter’s drink.   Of course, when it comes to the six base spirits (rum, tequila, vodka, gin, brandy and whiskey) there really aren’t any seasonal rules to follow.  But if there were, they might look something like this: light spirits like vodka or tequila, which are best mixed with fresh fruit and juices and served ice-cold, were made for the summertime.  They’re easy and free, flitting along with the cocktail trends that change year after year.  Similarly, the spicy sweetness of rum seems most appropriate when autumn arrives.  It’s rich and versatile and I use it just as frequently in my cakes and cookies as I do in cocktails.  However, whisky is different and that’s what makes it “winter’s drink.”  It is a timeless rule-breaker in an arrogant and cavalier sort of way.  It neither flirts with trends nor lends itself well to baking.  In other words, whisky doesn’t give a shit.   Continue reading “Clementine Bourbon Sour”

An Après-Ski Boozy Hot Cocoa Bar

In Colorado skiing is not just a sport, it’s life, and people approach it with a zeal akin to that of a religious institution.  Here in the city, ski shops line the streets and you’d be hard pressed to find a car that doesn’t have a ski rack on the roof or a bumper sticker that says something like, “White powder is my drug of choice.”  Starting around September, the meteorologists begin their daily weather forecasts with a report of the snow accumulations at the popular ski resorts, and everyone waits with baited breath for Continue reading “An Après-Ski Boozy Hot Cocoa Bar”

A French-Inspired Fall Feast

We live just on the edge of a forested wetland comprised of several little lakes and ponds that extend out from the main river like leaves from a branch.  I like to start my day there in that quiet oasis, walking among the trees and along the shores of the lakes.  For me it’s a form of “Forest Bathing” which, if you’re not familiar with traditional Japanese medicine, is a therapy based on the principle that the beneficial organic compounds released by the trees and vegetation are absorbed into our bodies when we walk through the forest.  The benefits of literally “taking in the forest” include Continue reading “A French-Inspired Fall Feast”

Beef Stroganoff with Brown-Buttered Noodles

A few days ago I heard a local meteorologist describing the future forecast as “Sweater Weather,” and I thought how nice it is that we’ve started describing the weather by what’s appropriate to wear.  But he was right!  Yesterday was, by far, the coldest day of the season.  I knew the temperature was going to drop because the normally calm afternoon winds took a turn and started swirling about harshly from the north, sending dried leaves and tumble weeds flying in all directions.  Our house happens to face north and, as much as I love its odd, old quirks, it’s very drafty.  In winter, the wind whistles and moans on the eaves above the front door and the cold air always manages to find its way inside, probably using the same hidden cracks and holes that the spiders and crickets use to find shelter from the rain. Continue reading “Beef Stroganoff with Brown-Buttered Noodles”

Dijon & Tarragon Lamb Chops

Life seems to be busier than usual…or maybe it’s just me?  I guess every season has it’s crazy days, but I honestly can’t believe that Halloween is tomorrow.  How did that happen?  I keep going back to my calendar to check if it’s true, because if it is then that means we’re diving head-first into the holiday season in just a few days and I’m simply not ready!  But that’s why I have recipes like this lamb with roasted root vegetables, which I made last week (or was it the week before?) See what it mean?  In any case, this meal will probably show up on the dinner table again next week, and then three or four times more before Christmas because Continue reading “Dijon & Tarragon Lamb Chops”

Rum Apple Cider Punch

Everyone has a rum story.  Mine starts back when I was 18… but perhaps it’s not the best way to introduce a rum cocktail…?  You don’t mind, do you?  I married my first husband on the day after I graduated from high school.  His name was Isaac and he was barely 20.  I wish I could say we were high school sweethearts, but no, we met in a smoky pool hall.  Of course, in the US you can’t legally drink until you’re 21.  The irony of being allowed to make a such a life-changing decision without being able to think on it with a drink!  We did what any responsible 18 and 20 year olds would do; we decided to spend our honeymoon in a place where we could legally have a drink to celebrate – island hopping through the Caribbean. Continue reading “Rum Apple Cider Punch”