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Archive for December, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate The Winter Solstice

Today, take some time out of your busy day by celebrating the winter solstice.

For those living north of the Equator, the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year—it has the fewest hours of sunlight. (The vernal [summer] equinox, the longest of the year, has the most hours of sunlight.)

Using the Gregorian* calendar, the December solstice occurs between December 20th and December 23rd. Based on the rotation of Earth, the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun at the winter solstice, and closest to the sun at the vernal equinox.

Since antiquity, man has celebrated the winter solstice with feasting, gifts, visiting, drinking and more of the pleasures that counter the daily hardships of life.

If you don’t have the energy for feasting, enjoy a simple cup of warm cider with a cinnamon stick and an apple wheel. As a spirited option, add an ounce of rum, tequila or vodka.

 

Add a touch of rum to warm apple
cider. Photo courtesy Zaya Rum.

 

With a little extra effort, you can make mulled cider, mulled wine or glögg. Here are the recipes.

*The Gregorian calendar, used in most western countries, has 365 days in a year, 366 days in a leap year.

  

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GIFT OF THE DAY: Cut The Fat With A T-Fal ActiFry

Cut back on fat and still enjoy fried food.
Fries for four require just one tablespoon of
oil. Top of ActiFry not shown. Photo
courtesy T-Fal.

 

If you’d like to give a “group gift” to your family, and your family adores fried foods, we recommend the T-fal ActiFry.

It’s a healthy gift, because it uses a fraction of the oil required to fry in a conventional pot or deep fat fryer. This saves calories and enough money so that the appliance will pay for itself over time.

  • The ActiFry is a low-fat cooker that enables you to fry your favorite dishes while substantially reducing the amount of fat required.
  • It produces cripsy, great tasting fries that have only 3% fat per serving. Just one tablespoon of oil makes two pounds of French fries. That’s 200 times less oil than a traditional three-liter deep fat fryer!
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  • A versatile cooking appliance, ActiFry can be used to make a variety of healthy, low-fat dishes, including chili, risotto, meat and vegetable stir frys and seafood. Each recipe (a book is included) requires from 0 to 2 tablespoons of oil for four servings.
  •  
    Head to your nearest store or order the ActiFry online.

    We tried to switch to baked “fries,” but found them to be no substitute for the real thing. Here, we can have our fries just as we like them, with no guilt. It’s worth buying a special appliance!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Holiday Punch

    A punch bowl is not only a special attraction at holiday festivities; it saves the hosts the effort of pouring 20 separate drinks. Guests can help themselves!

    With the flavors of Campari (a red apéritif made from fruits and herbs) and pink grapefruit, this winter recipe will please from Thanksgiving until spring.

    The recipe was developed as part of a partnership between Belvedere (RED) vodka and (RED), the fundraising campaign that raises money for the Global Fund, the world’s leading financer of programs to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.

    There’s a special edition holiday bottle design of Belvedere (RED) vodka on retailers’ shelves. Fifty percent of profits from its sale will be contributed to the Global Fund.

    ANTIQUE PUNCH, A VODKA HOLIDAY PUNCH

    Ingredients

  • 7 ounces vodka
  • 3 ounces Campari
  • 3 ounces vermouth
  • 5.5 ounces pink grapefruit juice
  • 16 ounces soda water
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    Punch is easy to make, and delights guests. Photo courtesy Belvedere.

  • Garnish: slices of pink grapefruit and orange (get a blood orange if you can), strawberries
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    Preparation
    1. Combine first five ingredients in a punch bowl.
    2. Top with ice, mix and top with the garnishes. (We added the strawberries with leaves on, not part of the original recipe, for a red-and-green garnish accent).
    3. Serve.

    GOT PUNCH (BOWL)?

    There are punch recipes for every season. Treat yourself to an affordable punch bowl and make punch a part of your regular entertaining menu.

    Two glass punch bowls we like are:

  • An elegant, daisy-etched glass punch bowl.
  • A simple but notable modern design.
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    While acrylic punch bowls are inexpensive, we suggest avoiding them: They scratch easily.

      

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    RECIPE: Red Christmas Cocktail

    A Christmas cocktail. Photo courtesy
    Belvedere Vodka.

     

    For a Christmas cocktail with seasonal ingredients, you can’t do better than “Give A Fig,” from Belvedere vodka.*

    GIVE A FIG COCKTAIL RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 2 ounces (50ml) vodka
  • 1 thumbnail of ginger root, crushed
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 3/4 ounce (25ml) fig purée
  • 1/4 ounce (1-1/2 teaspoons, 10ml) lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce (1-1/2 teaspoons, 10ml) vanilla sugar
    (or make your own)
  • Ice cubes
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    Preparation
    1. Whisk sugar into pomegranate juice in a shaker.
    2. Add rest of ingredients and shake with cubed ice.
    3. Double-strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a split fig.

     

    Find more Christmas cocktail recipes.

    *Adapted from a drink created by Aaron Rosa, Purple Bar, Sanderson Hotel.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY & GIFT OF THE DAY: Red Ale For Christmas

    What better says “Christmas” to a beer lover than a brew with crimson color?

    Red ale, or Irish red ale, is, as its name suggests, an ale with a slightly reddish color. The color is intentional, and results from the use of a small amount of roasted barley in the mash.

    If it comes from Ireland, it’s called Irish ale. In the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s called red ale or red beer. Some Americans use the term amber ale, but this typically describes a darker beer—truly amber instead of reddish.

    Serve a red ale at your holiday celebration (add a cucumber wheel for a bit of green; or a lime wedge if your guests prefer to drink from the bottle.

    If you need a holiday gift for a beer drinker, put together a six-pack of different red ale brands (see below).

    How Well Do You Know Your Brews?

    Take a look at our Beer Glossary.

     

    Serve red ale for Christmas. Photo
    courtesy Craft Brewers Association.

     

    The Best Red Ales

    Here are the top 10 red ales as rated by judges in the 2011 U.S. Open Beer Championship.

    1. Pursuit of Hoppiness – Grand Teton Brewing, Idaho
    2. O’Regan’s Revenge Irish Red Ale – Sound Brewery, Washington
    3. Bomber Mountain Amber – Black Tooth Brewing, Wyoming
    4. River Falls Red Ale, Thomas Creek Brewing – South Carolina
    5. Cameron’s Auburn Ale – Cameron’s Brewing, Canada
    6. Celtic Ale – Harpoon Brewery – Massachusetts
    7. Red Mountain Ale – Silverton Brewing, Colorado
    8. Samuel Adams Red Ale – Boston Beer Company, Massachusetts
    9. O’Hara’s Irish Red – Carlow Brewing – Ireland
    10. Kilgubbin Red Ale – Goose Island – Illinois

    Cheers!

      

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