Holiday Hacks, Gifty Business, and Recipes
You might have noticed that our staff members have been running around the building, decorating and preparing for the Holidays. Garland, lights and Christmas trees adorn our common areas and recently we’ve changed the outside planters to reflect the season. The weather also seems to be obliging by providing coverings of snow, reminding us that Christmas is fast approaching.
If you are anything like me and a large portion of the world population, you are not ready! Last second shopping to grab gifts, gear and grub seems to be my modus operandi, so please realize that you are not alone in this.
So, what do we do? Don’t panic. Holiday spirit really is in the eye of the beholder. It is simply a matter of perspective. Imagination and creativity can work wonders!
Here are a few ideas:
Draw a tree and get family and friends to sketch out personalized decorations. You can even frame it with twinkling lights to give it a more festive appeal.
Want to get someone something unique? I get a lot of my stocking stuffers from Lee Valley. They have neat stuff at a variety of different prices but the important thing to me, is that I can find things there that my family has never seen.
Not everyone likes a Turkey dinner and there have been a few times when I was just a little too late to get one. So, I started a new tradition of trying out different Christmas dinner recipes every year. Usually, as an alternative to Turkey, people like to roast ham. I like both Turkey and Ham but here is a recipe to try out, in case you want to try something different.
Christmas Cornish Hens
3-5 large carrots, roughly chopped
3-5 stalks celery, roughly chopped
3 large onions, roughly chopped
2 parsnips, rough chopped
2 oranges, cut into wedges
6 Cornish hens (or 1 Cornish hen per guest)
Olive oil, to drizzle
Holiday Dry Rub:
2 tablespoon ground sea salt
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sugar (I prefer cane sugar)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Holiday Dry Rub
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spread the vegetables and orange out evenly in the roasting pans. Place the Cornish hens over the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil. Rub the oil into the hens and sprinkle with the Holiday Dry Rub, remembering to season the cavity. Place some vegetables and an orange wedge in the cavity of the birds or as an alternative you can make stuffing!
Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes or until the juices run clear and they are browned. Let the hens rest 10 minutes before carving.
Note: you can set the oven to broil at the end for a few minutes to crisp the skin.
Total: 1 hr 15 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive: 10 min
Cook: 45 min
Yield: 6 servings
I am a huge fan of Irish Coffee but normally, I wouldn’t consider it a festive holiday beverage; however, I discovered this recipe online and gave it a shot! *pun intended* and it was a huge hit at a friend’s Christmas party.
40 milliliters Irish whiskey (I prefer Jameson)
120 milliliters Coffee (freshly brewed, often make an americano and use it)
20 milliliters Spiced stout syrup*
Orange zested cream
Freshly grated nutmeg (for garnish)
Spiced stout syrup (makes approx. 3 pints)
2 Pints (32oz) Irish stout (Guinness or Murphy’s)
4 Cups Turbinado sugar
1⁄2 cup whole cloves
1⁄2 cup Pimento/allspice
3 Cinnamon sticks
1 Whole orange zest
2 inches ginger, freshly grated
1 Pinch of salt
3 Whole star anise pods
Preheat glass with some warm water and discard.
Add the whiskey, stout syrup, brewed coffee and stir to combine.
Warm a large spoon and gently pour the cream over the back of the spoon and onto the coffee.
Garnish with a light dusting of grated nutmeg and enjoy!
Spiced Stout Syrup:
Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to the simmer, allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
Strain through a fine sieve and cheesecloth and bottle. (Keeps for 2 weeks refrigerated).
Last but not least, you need a dessert. I love traditional Scottish Shortbread. I have been using this recipe to make Christmas cookies since I was a child. Traditional Scottish Shortbread
2 cups butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add 3-3/4 cups flour and mix well. Turn onto a floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes, adding enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Roll to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut (I use cookie cutters) into 3-in. x 1-in. strips. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased (I use parchment paper) baking sheets. Prick with fork. Bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Yield: about 4 dozen.
Happy Holidays! - Douglas Carney, EC1 Superintendent