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Archive for December, 2009

TRENDS: Feeling Charitable? Make A Small Donation!

Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest), provides bags of groceries to the hungry.

While we’ve been eating favorite foods throughout the holiday season, some people don’t even have the basics, and go hungry. Please think of ending the year with a small donation—$5, $10 or more would be great—to this worthwhile endeavor.

Your contribution is especially important NOW, because financial planning firm Ameriprise Financial has made a $100,000 matching grant that will double the value of your gift. That means every $5 you give will help provide 20 bags of groceries!

While it’s a tight time for many of us, for too many desperate families in need, the food provided by Feeding America might be the only food they’ll have on the table. As you sit down to breakfast, lunch, or dinner today, think of those homes that have scant—or no—food.

By the way, December 31st is the biggest “giving” day of the year for Americans, because it’s the last day to make a tax-deductible charitable contribution. According to The New York Times (December 17, 2009), charities raised 22.5 times more money on December 31 than any other average day last year. The entire last week of the year is a great week for giving, with the average gift size being 57% larger than the weekly average during the prior 51 weeks.

 

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Every $5 you donate provides 20 bags
of groceries for truly hungry people.
Image courtesy FeedingAmerica.org.

You’ve got four days to help out 20, 40, or more families with a much-needed bag of groceries. Thanks for considering!

  • Learn more about Feeding America and make a donation!
  • Also check out GoodEarthCares.com. Good Earth plans to give 50% of its after-tax profits from sales of its tea and coffee, through February 28, 2010. You can purchase the products at Whole Foods Markets and other fine retailers. Anyone can vote for the top three charities that will receive the donations. 

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TIP OF THE DAY: Flaming Egg Nog

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Egg nog is more festive in martini
glasses. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
Marketing Board.

We ring in the New Year with Champagne. But before the clock strikes midnight, we dazzle guests with flaming egg nog.

1. Make or buy the nog. If you purchase it, spice it up with 1-1/2 ounces of spiced rum per 4 ounces of nog.

2. Chill and pour into a martini glass if you don’t have traditional glass cups.

3. Grind fresh nutmeg to garnish. (Check out these nutmeg tips.)

4. The key to flaming is using 150-proof rum (different from the spiced rum, or the 80-proof rum most people have in the house). Float half an ounce of this high-proof rum on top of the nog. Ignite the drink in front of the guest, using a long wooden fireplace match. It’s holiday magic!

5. If you don’t want to ignite the drinks, skip Step 4 and serve.

 

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RECIPE: Ginger Joy Cocktail For New Year’s Eve

Looking for a special cocktail for New Year’s Eve?

We love both Grey Goose La Poire pear-flavored vodka and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur. They’ve been combined into one special cocktail with perfect holiday flavors that bring Ginger Joy to good (adult) girls and boys.

Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur is a stunning complement to Grey Goose La Poire, and the gorgeous bottle makes it a terrific gift.

In fact, if you need a gift to bring to a New Year’s Eve party, bring a bottle of each along with this recipe!

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Joy to the world: This Ginger Joy
cocktail is delicious! Photo courtesy
Grey Goose.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Deluxe Hot Chocolate

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It’s a perfect weekend to snuggle up
with homemade hot chocolate. Photo
courtesy Recchiuti Confections.

We love those luxury, super-rich hot chocolates that can cost up to $25 a box—and we gave some of them as holiday gifts.

Here’s the scoop: Some of these top-tier products are simply chopped up bits of fine chocolate. You can make your own for far less money by chopping up a good chocolate bar. Just:

1. Combine 1 ounce (3 tablespoons) of chopped chocolate with 1 ounce of whole milk in mug.
2. Microwave for 30 seconds and whisk thoroughly to blend.
3. Add another 6 ounces of milk, stir, and heat for 60 seconds.

You can use any chocolate: dark, milk or white, including flavored bars (or add a dash of cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, and chili powder for “Aztec” hot chocolate using a plain chocolate bar).

  • You can use chocolate morsels, but the key is, the finer the chocolate, the more delicious the drink.
  • For a richer beverage, don’t use cream: The secret is to add a tablespoon of sweet butter to the milk before you heat it.
  • Don’t try to make luxury hot chocolate with 2% or fat-free milk: The purpose is to enjoy a sumptuous beverage. If you’re cutting back, have a smaller portion—a demitasse cup. Or, use a luxury sugar-free mix with whole milk.

 

Read our reviews of the best diet and regular cocoa and hot chocolate.

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GIFTS: Our Favorite Holiday Gift ~ Landy XO Cognac

Santa was generous and thoughtul. After all, what can you give to a food editor, aside from a trainer who shows up at the office (no time to get to the gym) and a spa cuisine personal chef to offset the far-from-spa calories we consume all day on the job?

Now we have something in common with hip hoppers Snoop Dogg and E-40—they drink the same Landy Cognac we received as a gift. Yes, packaging is part of the impact of this lovely bottle of XO Cognac, with its noble, gold-plated greyhound-topped cork; but the Cognac is equally noteworthy.

The Cognac in our Greyhound Decanter is aged to super-smoothness for 35 years. By comparison, a VSOP is aged for at least 4.5 years, although there’s no limit on how long it can be aged; Landy’s VSOP is aged 12 years. For sure, when the last drop of Cognac is finished, we’ll be repurposing this beautiful decanter.

And the XO Cognac? The nose yields plum, leather, sandalwood and tobacco; on the palate the plummy fruit has accents of spice along with the leather and sandlewood, and a touch of tobacco. The Cognac has the balance and long finish that you’d expect from an X.O. The list price is $119.95, but we found it online for $99.99 at WineGlobe.com (and at highly-inflated prices on some gift sites).

 

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Landy’s Greyhound Decanter, filled with
smooth and luscious 35-year-old cognac.
Photo courtesy Landy Cognac.

The VSOP received a double gold medal at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition for its complex aromatic, palate of soft vanilla, honey, spice and candied fruit flavors and long finish. Landy is considered “affordable luxury”: We found the award-winning VSOP for $39.99 and the VS for $22.99.

We sure hope the economy improves in 2010, or we’ll be refilling our Greyhound Decanter with the VSOP.

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