The first holiday party was Sunday, and already I’m exhausted.
It was our neighborhood party, and in addition to being on the Social Committee (but of course), I volunteered to make my roll-out cookies. And as long as I was making one batch, it seemed like no big deal to make two and send one to two kids who are sons of families in my church and are stationed in Afghanistan.
As usual, no good deed goes unpunished. It took me TWO full days to decorate them all – two full days in which I blissfully immersed myself in a world of tiny gold and silver balls, squiggles of icing, and a full color palette of sanding sugars and edible glitter. And I’ve recently discovered a new line of edible metallic glitter – red and gold and copper and brass, so fine that you apply them by dipping an eye shadow brush into the powder and oh so delicately tapping on the brush. It’s a mind-numbing process, but the effect is so beautiful I spent waaay more time than I should have finding extra places where I could dab a little metallic glitter.
I was feeling particularly creative this year, adding designs of red and green stripes to the tiny stockings, embellishing the hats of the snowmen with minuscule flowers, and completely obsessing over the possibilities for my new ornament shapes. My husband knew enough to steer clear of the kitchen island, where I had set up shop, and didn’t even mind that we had pizza two nights in a row. Needless to say, after the party that night, I slept NINE hours. But now that I’m fully rested, I'm thinking maybe I should make some for my sons,... Somebody just shoot me, please.
My other contribution to the neighborhood soirée was a most festive drink that we used to serve at my annual soup party in New Jersey. It was a little more dangerous to serve them in New Jersey, because those parties were catered by yours truly, and the dinner part was, well, often somewhat later than I planned, with the result that a few of the guests got a bit snockered by the time the food showed up. But for the neighborhood party in Texas, the food was mostly catered, and that danger didn’t present itself. So with the caveat that you should not overindulge on an empty stomach, I can heartily recommend these for a holiday gathering. They’re simplicity itself to make, beautiful to serve, and delicious.
Makes 10 drinks
1¼ cup Cointreau (or Grand Marnier or Triple Sec)
1¼ cup cranberry juice cocktail
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
chilled Champagne or other sparkling white wine
Stir together Cointreau, juices, and sugar and chill, covered 2 to 6 hours. Just before serving divide among 10 champagne flutes and top off with Champagne. Garnish with sugar-coated fresh cranberries or fresh raspberries or twists of lemon or lime.
Kitchen Goddess Note: You can make a number of alterations to this without hurting the flavor: substitute pomegranate juice for the cranberry; use regular juice instead of cranberry cocktail; leave out the sugar for a less sweet drink; and substitute the cheaper Triple Sec for the Cointreau (Cointreau being just a high-end Triple Sec). It’s really best when cold, though, so if you’re serving a large group, keep the base ingredients chilled in a pitcher, then top off with champagne in a flute right before serving. I like to greet guests at the door with a tray of them – it gets people in a festive mood from the start.