The weekend before Xmas is busy with parties. We had our annual tree-trimming party on Saturday. Oona is home from college and she has a good eye for picking out a good Xmas tree. Saturday morning we set out on foot to our usual Xmas tree spot on Houston St. where the French Canadian guys will deliver the tree to your apartment for ten bucks. Oona was lamenting about how much fun it was when we used to carry the tree home ourselves on foot. We reminisced about the time we brought one of our Toy Fox Terriers with a tiny Santa hat on his head and he was so cute walking next to us while we carried the Xmas tree, that we were not only photographed multiple times but also filmed by a passing video crew.
We carried the tree home this year. I’d forgotten how much fun it is. When people in New York see you schlepping a pine tree, they smile and wish you a Merry Xmas. Random men offer to help you carry it. People sitting in restaurants smile and wave to you from the windows. It’s a jolly trek home when you are carrying a Xmas tree in New York city.
This year’s party featured cocktails made with drinking vinegars or shrubs. Shrubs were popular in colonial America as way to preserve fruit and make a refreshing drink. Oona had concocted some at school and so we decided to make wintery shrubs for our guests.
Beet Balsamic Shrub (recipe from Ashley Marti of Local Haven)
2 cups raw beets, peeled and sliced
½ cup maple syrup (I used sugar)
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Put beets in a quart mason jar and cover with sugar or maple syrup and shake it up to coat the beets. Put into the refrigerator for 24 hours and shake occasionally. After 24 hours, add the two vinegars and shake it up. Put back into the fridge for another 24 hours, shaking occasionally. Then strain the liquid into a clean jar and store in the fridge.
This makes a syrupy drinking vinegar which we then added to seltzer. Make it as strong or as mild as you like. This was especially good with vodka and a slice of lemon.
Cranberry Sage Shrub (adapted from Jerry James Stone’s blog Cooking Stoned)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup Champagne vinegar
2 fresh sage leaves
It is the same steps as the beet shrub, except you should roast the cranberries to soften them up first. Put them on a baking pan and roast them for about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven till they are mushy. Then put them into a quart mason jar, shake with sugar, let sit, add vinegar, shake and sit in the fridge – then you’ve got the wonderful syrupy tart sweet shrub to add to your seltzer and cocktails.
The flavor combinations are endless. Now that we’ve got the hang of it, the experimentation will begin. Happy Holidays, dear readers.
Gotta love that Millie. Merry Christmas to you all.
Merry Christmas dear Linda.
Ileana, another remarkable entry. I like the tone of your words, your fresh subject matter, uber traditional yet more than current, ahead of things always. Aware. Like my dog?
Keep posting! Jim JAMES COOPER ARCHITECTURE 212 West Center Street Medina, New York 917.617.9039 firstname.lastname@example.org https://studiocooper.squarespace.com/
Sent from my iPhone
Jim, so nice to hear from you and thank you for the kind words. Merry Xmas.
I love seeing these photos! The tree trimming party is a longstanding tradition – but I never saw this side of it. I can only recommend this tradition to readers of this blog. It creates a kind of mini-extended holiday family. Some of them are people I only see at the tree trimming party, and yet we we grow closer each year. This year everyone was so glad to see each other the room hummed eagerly for some time, before anyone laid their hand on a decoration.
But perhaps the distraction of fine beverages had something to do with that.
It was hard to decide which shrub was the best, but in the end, I go for the beet shrub. These drinks were so in keeping with the occasion. Don’t think about the vinegar too much, it finds it’s place. Its bite is just right – just as the resinous edge of the aroma fir is crucial to the smell of Christmas. I highly recommend tree trimming parties to all – and I have to thank Ileana for teaching me of this tradition.