Chicken Soup for the Presidential Soul

Life is tough. Whether you are running across the country campaigning for president or running city blocks to the nearest coffee shop early in the morning, the moments of modern day living can sometimes leave one in a spinning, dizzying delirium.

As we come to the finish line of February, perhaps a bit weary from all the running – running to keep up with the 2016 presidential election, running to work, running a business or running a very crazy household – it might do your soul well to sit down for a quiet moment to enjoy a hot steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup. Maybe even contemplate a different perspective, such as what life would be like on Mars or back in the days of our Founding Fathers…

Enjoy below: the Winter Citrus Salad for some refreshment, the Homemade Chicken Soup for some comfort, and the Chocolate Peanut Butter chip cookies for some satisfaction.

Winter Citrus Salad

2 navel oranges
1 Cara Cara orange
1 firm apple like Cripps Pink or Pink Lady
1 grapefruit
Red grapes

Slice all of the above into bite size pieces and combine thoroughly. You can make a large bowl and keep it in the refrigerator all week to enjoy the ready-made freshness of it all.

Winter citrus salad recipe

Homemade Chicken Soup

For the chicken stock:
1 Roasting Chicken
3-5 carrots
1 white or yellow onion
3 stalks celery
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Sprig of fresh rosemary

Roast the chicken according to directions. When done remove meat from bones and set aside. Place the chicken carcass into large stock pot and cover with water. Add all of the ingredients above and let simmer all day on low on stovetop. Give it a stir a couple of times throughout the day. At end of the day let it cool, strain and refrigerate until ready to make the soup.

homemade chicken soup recipe

For the Chicken Soup:
Homemade stock (see above)
Chicken meat from roasted chicken
3-5 carrots, sliced in small pieces
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
Fresh parsley, minced
Italian Seasoning
Lemon Juice
4 tbsp. butter
4  tbsp. flour
4 tbsp. Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper
Egg Pasta Noodles

Place the strained chicken stock that was cooked the day before into clean soup pot for a clear broth. Add carrots, onions, chicken meat, salt and pepper, the lemon juice from 1/2 lemon (or more if desired), a couple of sprinkles of Italian seasoning and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare flour/butter paste by combining, in large shallow bowl, the flour and butter and then the sour cream and stirring into a smooth paste. Pour about 1/3 cup of hot broth into the shallow bowl with the paste and using a whisk combine until smooth and creamy and then swirl into the soup. Taste and adjust seasonings as you go. Add about 2 cups of egg pasta noodles and sprinkle parsley on top and let simmer for 10 minutes or so on low and then turn off heat so noodles don’t become overcooked and mushy. Serve steaming hot!

Please note: you can cut the flour/butter paste to 2 tablespoons of each for a mere hint of creamy texture.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

2 cups flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s or favorite Cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 & 1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 & 2/3 cups Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips

Chocolate peanut butter chip cookies recipe

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. In separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa. Gradually add dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Combine thoroughly. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes in 350 degree F oven.

Waiting for a Ship from Spring

The icy cold waters of winter are breaking up, spring is on the near horizon, the final episode of the final season of Downton Abbey has almost aired…and the presidential candidates are steaming ahead to Super Tuesday.

Change is in the air.

2016 presidential campaign

“When the Ship Comes In” by Bob Dylan, 1963, from the album The Times They Are A-Changin’

Oh the time will come up
When the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be breathing.
Like the stillness in the wind
‘Fore the hurricane begins,
The hour when the ship comes in.

Oh the seas will split
And the ship will hit
And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking.
Then the tide will sound
And the wind will pound
And the morning will be breaking.

Oh the fishes will laugh
As they swim out of the path
And the seagulls they’ll be smiling.
And the rocks on the sand
Will proudly stand,
The shout that the ship comes in.

And the words that are used
For to get the ship confused
Will not be understood as they’re spoken.
For the chains of the sea
Will have busted in the night
And will be buried at the bottom of the ocean.

A song will lift
As the mainsail shifts
And the boat drifts on to the shoreline.
And the sun will respect
Every face on the deck,
The hour that the ship comes in.

Then the sands will roll
Out a carpet of gold
For your weary toes to be a-touchin.’
And the ship’s wise men
Will remind you once again
That the whole wide world is watching’.

Oh the foes will rise
With the sleep still in their eyes
And they’ll jerk from their beds and think they’re dreaming’.
But they’ll pinch themselves and squeal
And know that it’s for real,
The hour when the ship comes in.

Then they’ll raise their hands,
Sayin’ we’ll meet all your demands,
But we’ll shout from the bow your days are numbered.
And like Pharaoh’s tribe,
They’ll be drowned in the tide,
And like Goliath, they’ll be conquered.

See also “Turning to Dylan During the Winds of Change” and some thoughts on the 2016 presidential election.

Happy Presidents’ Day!

“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction.  It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people.  Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.” – Ronald Reagan (40th President of the United States of America)

Ronald Reagan quotes on freedom

See also a reflection on the 2016 Presidential race and some thought provoking quotes from Thomas Jefferson

February 15, 2016: A Presidents’ Day To Remember

See also a reflection on the 2016 Presidential race and a powerful quote from Ronald Reagan on the importance of freedom.

The 2016 Presidential Election may very well be a turning point in American history. Many pundits and journalists are opining that it could even usher in a fundamental transformation of the political landscape, the likes of which we have never seen.

As the candidates travel from one state to another, carrying with them their bag of political goods and ideas, they are met by an increasingly disappointed, disenfranchised and even angry people, contributing to an already fiercely charged atmosphere that can be felt across the entire nation.

Thomas Jefferson quotes

In dizzying times like these, it behooves one to pause and reflect on the past to see where we came from, where we have been and where we are now as a people and nation who have been blessed to have been born, raised and now live in what is considered the freest nation in the history of the world.

And so, we at ATG, will be celebrating Presidents’ Day all week by traveling, through books, first to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in search of some inspiration and insight into the rocky road that the 2016 presidential race seems to be traversing.

Enjoy the following taken from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (2002) by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation:

  • “Thomas Jefferson is the one American statesman who is timeless…of all the Founding Fathers, indeed of all the men of the eighteenth century, the most contemporary.”
  • “[Jefferson’s] brilliant formulation and championship of the fundamental doctrines of human freedom and individual liberty are as relevant now as they were in his lifetime.  He proclaimed that freedom ‘is the most sacred cause that ever man was engaged in.’ ‘Without the precious blessing’ of liberty, he said, life has no sense and no dignity.”
  • “No leader in the period of the American Enlightenment was as articulate, as wise, as conscious of the implications and consequences of a free society as was [Jefferson]. Both in his public and his private life he addressed himself continually to problems of permanent and universal interest. What he wrote and what he did – about the nature of society and of government, the relations of man to government, the meaning of republicanism and democracy, the significance of education and of toleration –are as relevant today as during the eighteenth century. Toward the end of his life his opinions on many subjects varied as his experience ripened – but he never wavered in his faith in government of the people by and for themselves, holding that ‘the people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.’  He held that all men are created equal, that they possess certain inalienable rights, and that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. That unwavering trust in the dependability, wisdom, and honesty of the common literate individual is his greatest legacy.”
  • “Of all American statesmen, Jefferson was the most philosophical. One abiding purpose runs through his whole life, one pervasive philosophy dominates it. He insisted that man should be free, and he was persuaded that, once free, mankind would progress toward happiness and virtue. He was enraptured with the vision of mankind free from political tyranny, from the bondage of superstition and of ignorance, from the sins of the past, from poverty, from war. He had an eighteenth-century faith in the perfectibility of man, but it was not merely a visionary faith, it was rooted in the reality of New World experience. For here in the New World mankind had been given a new chance – mankind free from the tyrannies and oppressions, the poverty and ignorance of the Old World.  Here men could live close to nature, cultivate the soil, raise large families, keep what they earned, benefit from learning and from science, escape war, advance – as was said in his first inaugural address – ‘rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye.’”
  • “And as America was to be a model for the world, to prove what man was capable of when free, Jefferson devoted himself passionately to strengthening this nation, expanding its territory, building up its resources, maintaining its security, fostering its culture and its virtue.”
  • “’I have sworn upon the altar of God,’ he said, ‘eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.’”

2016 presidential race

And, in Thomas Jefferson’s own words:

  • “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere.”
  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776)
  • “Every citizen [should] be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and the Romans, and must be that of every free state.”
  • “We are firmly convinced…that with nations, as with individuals, our interests soundly calculated, will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties.”

Turning to Dylan During The Winds of Change

See also some thought provoking quotes from Thomas Jefferson and a powerful quote from Ronald Reagan on the importance of freedom.

One can feel the winds of change and the increasing force with which they are swirling around the 2016 presidential race. With every state primary and every presidential debate, the atmosphere becomes more and more charged and leaves one with the feeling that a revolution is just around the bend.

Bob Dylan The Times They are a-changin'

Indeed, all manner of revolutions are taking place and changing everything – our country, our world and our lives as we have known them.

The revolution of “Black Lives Matter” where one of its spokeswoman said in an interview to a white reporter:

“It is ‘All Lives Matter’ not ‘Black Lives Matter’, that is an insult to us.  You white people are going to have to get used to giving up the privileges that you have long been used to.”

The revolution of micro-aggressions and trigger-warnings, the revolution of atheists looking to blow out the fire of Christian belief and institute atheism as the spirit of the land, the climate change revolution and control of natural resources. The revolution of Islamic jihadists terrorizing the world in pursuit of establishing the Caliphate. The revolution against privacy, capitalism, wealth, the established media. The technological revolution where virtual reality is slowly displacing the “real”, physical world.

How will it all play out?  “The answer”, as Bob Dylan once said, is “blowin’ in the wind.”

But, there is no doubt, as we continue to watch this unprecedented presidential race to the White House unfold that, “the times they are a-changin’.”

The Times They Are A-Changin’
Bob Dylan, 1964

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimming’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Famous Bob Dylan songsCome writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

See also some thought provoking quotes from Thomas Jefferson and a powerful quote from Ronald Reagan on the importance of freedom.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“Love is the energizing elixir of the universe,
the cause and effect of all harmonies,
light’s brilliance and the heat in wine and fire,
it is the aroma of perfumes
and the breath of the Divinity;
it is the Life in all being.”
–Rumi (Persian poet, 1207-1273)

Quotes on love

“The thought manifests as the word,
The word manifests as the deed.
The deed develops into habit.
And the habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care.
And let it spring from love,
born out of concern for all beings.”

Valentines Day quotes

“Love is a treasure, yet nothing to possess.
Love is a way, a way of being in the world.”
–Ingrid Goff-Maidoff (poet)

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged cupid painted blind.”
–Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Try some royal Valentine’s Day recipes and winter cocktails to warm your heart (and cheeks!)

Celebrate Royally with a Creamy, Spicy, Lovely & Sweet Valentine Dinner

Celebrate Valentine’s Day royally with some creamy, spicy, lovely & sweet Valentine’s Day recipes. Enjoy a royal beginning with the cocktails below, followed by dinner and dessert:

Valentine's day dinner recipesRoyal Godiva (taken from Cotton Cocktails by Peaches and Jeffrey Paige, 2013)

1 ounce Smirnoff Vodka
1 ounce Chambord*
1 ounce Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur
Fresh Raspberries, To Garnish

Using a Boston shaker, fill the pint glass with ice, add all ingredients except garnish, and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

*Chambord is made in France from red and black raspberries and has been produced for more than three hundred years.  The Godiva is a milk chocolate liqueur that is delicious on its own, but combining it with the other ingredients makes this a decadent dessert martini.

Passion Fruit Martini (taken from Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Family and Friends by Pippa Middleton, 2012)

In a pitcher, mix together 1/2 cup vodka and 1/4 cup passion fruit juice, together with 1 & 1/2 ounces of pineapple juice and the juice of 1 lime.  To serve, shake hard in a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes, strain and pour into chilled martini glasses.  Serve with a garnish of a few passion fruit seeds.

Moscow Mule (taken from Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Family and Friends by Pippa Middleton, 2012)

In a pitcher, mix together 3/4 cup of vodka and the juice of 1 lime, 2 tablespoons of Turbinado sugar and 4 dashes of Angostura bitters. To serve, pour into 4 tall glasses with a wedge of fresh lime and some slices of fresh ginger. Stir together, add ice cubes and top with ginger ale.

Valentine's day recipes

Easy and Elegant Company Chicken in Mushroom Cream Sauce

6 thinly sliced boneless chicken breasts
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup*
1 & 1/3 cups of whipping cream
Garlic powder
Kosher salt
1 package fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley

Lightly salt chicken breast and place in large glass baking dish.  Sprinkle desired amount of garlic powder over chicken.  Combine mushroom soup and cream thoroughly and pour over chicken and sprinkle with pepper. Place in 350 degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until slightly browned and bubbly.

While chicken is baking, sauté fresh sliced mushrooms in olive oil and butter increasing heat as you go to brown nicely.  It always takes two batches of sautéing in large skillet.  Half way through baking spread sautéed mushrooms on top of chicken being sure to stir some of the mushrooms into the gravy and finish baking. Sprinkle freshly chopped parsley on top before serving.

*Homemade mushroom sauce can be substituted for Campbell’s Mushroom Soup using cream, chicken broth and a flour/butter paste.

Valentine's Day dessert recipes

Spicy Chili-Rice Casserole (taken from Park Avenue Potluck: Recipes from New York’s Savviest Hostesses by Florence Fabricant, 2007)

1 cup long grain rice
Kosher salt
1 cup sour cream
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 & 1/2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup or more of pickled jalapeño peppers, diced
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and stir in the rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low. Cover the pan and cook about 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.  Be sure to give it a stir once or twice. When done, transfer the rice to a bowl, fluff with a fork, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Mix the rice with the sour cream and grated Monterey Jack. Season to taste with salt. Stir in the jalapeño peppers until evenly distributed and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top. Dot with butter and bake in 350 degree F oven for about 25-30 minutes. The mushroom gravy from the chicken dish is yummy with this rice.

Italian Cream Cake

Ingredients for the cake:
Italian Cream Cake Recipe2 scant cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup Bakers Angel Flake Sweetened Coconut (optional)
6 egg whites, room temp.

Instructions for cake:
Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until well-blended. Add egg yokes one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine 2 cups flour and baking soda in separate bowl. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in pecans, coconut (if desired) and vanilla extract. Beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form (do not over beat). Fold egg whites into batter and pour batter into two greased and lightly floured cake pans.  Bake in 350 degree F oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans thoroughly before turning out to ice.

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:
1 tbsp. butter
8 ounces of Cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
1 box of powdered sugar sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions for frosting:
Cream butter and cheese on high speed until fluffy. Add sugar and blend either by hand or on low speed until well blended. Add vanilla and mix well. Spread icing on top and in between layers and around the side and sprinkle finely chopped pecan lightly on top along with sprinkles of pink colored sugar for a touch of Valentine loveliness.

easy Valentine's day cocktails

Three Bowls of “Just Right” Porridge

“The snow started and didn’t stop. Icy winds banged against the window as if they wanted to come inside and warm themselves by the fire. The gale howled, the drifts mounted around the house. Three weather advisories warned us not to leave unless absolutely necessary. Inside, the house was cozy,” writes Ruth Reichl in her new book My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life.

Reichl finds comfort and sustenance in her kitchen, where her everyday cooking and baking is inspired and directed by the natural rhythms of the seasons, the day-to-day elements that we awaken to each morning – sun, rain, sleet, hail, wind and snow – and that the earth needs to rejuvenate, grow and flourish.

Below please find three recipes for oatmeal that offer a cozy comfort and help to sustain one through early morning storms.

Ms. Reichl writes: “So cold. Heavy snow-swollen sky. Butter-toasted oatmeal, rivers of thick cream, brown sugar. Fresh orange juice; such fragrant hope.”

homemade oatmeal recipe

ATG’s “Just Right” Creamy Hot Porridge 

1 cup McCann’s Quick Cooking Irish Oatmeal
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups cold water
1 cup milk
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 heaping tsp. good quality honey
Sprinkles of Cinnamon

Melt butter over medium heat in saucepan. Stir in the cup of oatmeal and swirl around quickly and just enough to coat the grains of oats being careful not to burn. Pour the water and milk in and slowly bring to a boil staying with the oats and stirring almost constantly. Add the salt while stirring. Once it comes to a boil lower heat to low and keep stirring thoroughly to keep from any burning. Stir in the brown sugar and continue to stir until the oatmeal thickens to the point where there is still a bit of liquid left and remove from stove. Stir in the honey and more milk if desired (we like our oatmeal to be just right – not too thick, not too thin), pour in bowls and sprinkle each with cinnamon. Enjoy!

oatmeal porridge recipe

Sunday Morning Oatmeal (taken from Barefoot Contessa At Home by Ina Garten, 2006)

1 & 1/2 cups whole milk, plus extra for serving
1 & 1/2 cups quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
Pure Maple Syrup or brown sugar, for serving

Heat the milk plus 2 cups water in a medium saucepan until it starts to simmer. Add the oatmeal and salt, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Off the heat, stir in the banana, cherries, and raisins. Place the lid on the pot and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Serve hot with maple syrup or brown sugar and extra milk.

Butter-Toasted Apricot Oatmeal (taken from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl, 2015)

1 cup steel-cut oatmeal
1/2 cup dried apricots
1 tsp. salt
Brown sugar

Begin by melting a dollop of unsalted butter in a small pan until it becomes fragrant and slightly golden. Toss in the oats and worry them about until they’re glistening, have turned slightly brown, and are very fragrant; it should take about 5 minutes.

Add 4 cups of water and the salt; turn up the heat and bring to a furious boil. Turn the heat down very low, cover the pot, and cook until most of the water has evaporated; this process should take about half an hour. At the last minute, stir in a handful of chopped dried apricots, heap the oatmeal into warmed bowls, and top with a few crumbles of brown sugar and a generous drizzle of cream.

how to cook oatmeal

See also our recipes for spirit warming drinks.

February: Cold Hands and Warm Hearts

NYC Storm Jonas“Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”
– William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

The storm of a new year and all of January’s hopes, promises and resolutions have now settled into the mid-winter reality of February – a snow flurry of 28 days when daylight lingers just a little longer. Outside the window one can feel the cold frosty silence of winter’s expanse; inside one searches for warmth – a heater, fire, wool sweater or hot steaming cup of liquid to help ease the midwinter chill.

And so, if you have “such a February face” that is full of frost and storm and clouds, try one of the recipes for spirit warming drinks below. They are sure to warm your hands and heart and bring a little Valentine-red to your winter cheeks!

winter cocktail recipes

Espresso Martini (taken from Cotton Cocktails by Peaches and Jeffrey Paige, 2013)

1 shot of Espresso (1 ounce)
1/2 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/2 ounce Stoli Vanil Vodka
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
Winter drink recipes1/2 ounce Kahula
1 Espresso Whole Bean, to Garnish

Brew a shot of espresso and allow to cool. Using a Boston shaker, fill the pint glass with ice, add all ingredients (including the espresso shot) except garnish, and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with espresso beans.

Glogg (taken from Snow Country Cooking by Williams and Sonoma, 1999)

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, each 3/4 inch wide and 2 inches long
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.

Glogg Recipe

Cabin Fever (taken from Cotton Cocktails by Peaches and Jeffrey Paige, 2013)

2 ounces Cabin Fever Maple Whiskey
1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/2 ounce Frangelico liquor
Maple Candies, to garnish

Fill an 8-ounce glass with ice, add all ingredients, and stir with a straw. You can garnish with maple candies on the rim of the glass, if you wish.

Bourbon Port Punch* (taken from Cotton Cocktails by Peaches and Jeffrey Paige, 2013)

Strawberry Mojito2 ounces Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1 ounce Sandeman Ruby Port
1 ounce orange Juice
Maraschino cherry and orange slice, to garnish

Fill an 8-ounce rocks glass with ice, add all ingredients except garnish, and stir with a straw. Garnish with half an orange slice wrapped around a maraschino cherry on a toothpick.

*A cocktail with some of the darker spirits that is more suitable for winter: bourbon to warm you, ruby port that tastes like maple syrup, and a little orange juice to provide that much-needed Vitamin C in the winter months.

Spiced Red Wine (Ypocras)* (taken from Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook by Kristen Miglore, 2015)

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. ground mace or grated nutmeg
1 & 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 & 1/2 tsp. ground grains of paradise (or substitute an equal amount of freshly ground black pepper)
1 bottle fruity red wine, such as Merlot

In a nonreactive bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, mace or nutmeg, cloves, and grains of paradise (or black pepper). Add the wine and stir well. Leave for 10 minutes then stir again to dissolve the sugar fully. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature of 1-2 days.

Strain the wine mixture through a strainer lined with a double layer of cheesecloth into a bowl. A brown deposit will be left on the cheesecloth. Rinse it off and strain the wine at least once more through the cheesecloth to clarify it as well as possible. Store the wine in an airtight container or original bottle, at room temperature. It will keep for up to 1 month.

*Ypocras is a wine that is never cooked (and so retains the alcohol content), infused with spices and sugar and kept at room temperature. An ancient method (from the 1300s) of preserving wine before bottles and corks, it is a cozy mulled wine for snowy ski weekends.

Irish coffee

Keep your hands and heart warm with our three recipes for “just right” oatmeal porridge.

The Magic of a Winter Evening Sky

“Always without formulating the concept, I had based my sense of being in the world partly on an unreasoned conviction that certain areas of the earth’s surface contained more magic than others.”  – From Without Stopping by Paul Bowles (composer and author, 1910-1999)

NYC Reservoir Central Park
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Central Park, New York City; 2016

“For I dipped into the future, far as human eye could see, saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.” – From “Locksley Hall” by Alfred Lord Tennyson (English poet, 1809-1892)

Sunset quotes
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Central Park, New York City; 2016

“The most beautiful gift of nature is that it gives one pleasure to look around and try to comprehend what we see.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Ohio River Sunset
Ohio River, PA; 2016