Spice It Up

There is a fine line between tradition and monotony.

There certainly are holiday traditions in our home. We read the edition of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” that I received when I was a wee tyke (I think about 5 or 6) every Christmas Eve. We go shopping for new ornaments-one per child-each Thanksgiving weekend to kick off the season. We make a special coffee cake ONLY on Christmas morning, much to my children’s chagrin. They would have it every weekend if they could. And we also get new pajamas each Christmas Eve….go to bed on that magical night and wake up in brand new duds.

And yes, those are traditions that I will not mess with. I fully comprehend the foundations that they set and the comfort that they give.

Part of me, though, likes to keep things fresh. The same foods every single year at holiday dinners or the same way of doing things sort of makes me want to twitch. That’s just me. While I don’t want to deviate TOO much from tradition ( I would never serve anything but a turkey on Thanksgiving and ham on Easter), I do like to branch off a little bit here and there.

Banana Pumpkin Mousse on Thanksgiving, rather than the traditional pumpkin pie.

A new project to do with the kids during the holidays that teaches them the true spirit of the season.

Moving decorations around so that they do not appear in the same locale in the house every year.

I probably sound like one of those people who changes up their house or is constantly painting and repainting rooms. I’m really not. I appreciate consistency as much as the next person, but in little ways, I like to spice things up where I can. They keep my brain from getting cobwebs.

Sort of like when I drive my kids to school each morning. Just yesterday, my younger daughter said “where are we going?”. “To school, hon (??)” I had taken a different side street to get there, just to change up the routine. Threw her off a tad but kept me from falling asleep at the wheel.

*And yes, I realize that in yesterday’s post, I was badmouthing new flavored candy canes and egg nog. This seems to contradict THIS post, but there is also a fine line between a classic and craziness. Let’s all just be clear on this.

th2So…I said I would offer up a cocktail today. Instead of reaching for the egg nog or a little glass of Bailey’s as you sit by the fire this season, try this drink. It heralds from the book Edible Cocktails, by Natalie Bovis and sounds utterly delightful. The story goes that it’s traditionally a breakfast drink in New Orleans, which seems a little hard core to me, but I’m a coffee and tea gal generally speaking. Maybe the holidays will get the best of me and I’ll start slugging this punch in the morning.

Espresso Brandy Milk Punch

1 oz. fresh espresso
1/2 oz. Basic Simple Syrup
1/2 oz. coffee liqueur
1 oz. half-and-half
1 oz. brandy

Pour  all ingredients into a glass, with or without ice, depending on your mood. This can be served warm or cold. Multiply the ratios to make a pitcher for guests.

Simple Syrup
1 part white granulated sugar
1 part water
Bring both ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, let simmer for a few minutes. Cool and store in a sealable bottle.

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