It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving has arrived. This last weekend, Eric and I hosted our annual Friendsgiving feast. It’s a tradition that I cherish… to have some of our closest friends gather around the table, eating, drinking, laughing… it warms my heart.
Every year, as we sit down to eat, I ask everyone to say what they are thankful for (something my parents have us do each year at our family dinner). However, this year we completely forgot to do this. If I had remembered, this is what I would have said:
I’m so happy to have all of you around our table tonight. This has been a year of transitions… not just for me, but for all of us. Some have transitioned to new jobs. Some have moved apartments. Some have started new relationships. These changes are not always easy… and they can often be frightening. But I’m so thankful for our friendship and the love and support we all have for one another. We may not always be able to see each other as much as we’d like… but we are still a unit. Even if it’s just the idea of knowing that you’re in my life. That is all I need to keep going.
Thank you, dear readers, for continuing on this journey with me. Know that your presence keeps me going. I hope all of you have a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
It started last year: as Eric and I spent hour after hour on the couch under blankets, indulging in Downton Abbey marathons, we learned about the joys of hot toddies. Being somewhat frugal individuals (with certain things, at least) and having a relatively high tolerance for chilly temps, we decided that instead of warming ourselves with our central heating system, we’d instead sip on bourbon laced libations. A good plan, don’t you think?
A pot of tea would last us an evening… refilling in between episodes, dousing our mugs with bourbon, spoonfuls of honey and a squeeze of lemon. Even as the snow lined our sidewalks and icicles formed from the tops of buildings, being there with our toddies, curled up next to my husband and dog, made me forget about all of that.
Needless to say, we’re pretty happy to welcome the return of hot toddy season. And when I was recently asked by the fine folks at Harry and David to partner with them for a blog post featuring this recipe by Chef Eric Greenspan for a Hot Apple Toddy using their succulent Honey Crisp Apples (which was created for their Seasonal Chef Program, featuring seasonally inspired recipes that showcase Harry & David’s fruit)… well, there was no way I was going to refuse. Despite my love for hot toddies, though, I must admit that I was a bit skeptical at first… only 2 ounces of apple juice in each cup? That didn’t seem like a whole lot (especially compared to the portions we work with in our house). Then I saw that there was a hearty dose of Laird’s Applejack liquor… and I knew this would hit the spot.
For those who haven’t had a hot toddy before, just beware that it will make you a little drowsy. One will certainly relax you… two, and you’ll be sleeping like a baby.
May 2009. It’s a month before our wedding and I’m struggling to figure out what to serve to our vegan guests. The current menu is full of decadent carnivorous dishes: lobster and clams, bacon wrapped scallops and miniature crab cakes. A platter of grilled veggies for our vegan friends feels like a cop out… so I gather every resource I have (cookbooks, magazines, blogs) and scour each for ideas. After hours of searching, I come up empty.
Desperate, I send an e-mail to a blogger whose site I’ve been reading for a while. Her recipes have always been delightful and I think, “Heck, maybe she has some ideas”. Within an hour, a response flutters into my mailbox… and it’s loaded with suggestions. We go back and forth a bit, and, soon, she has guided me to a recipe for bulgar salad stuffed peppers (which, ultimately, gets raves from our guests). If I hadn’t felt a bond to her already, this sure solidified things.
I’m not sure if Deb remembers this interaction (I have no doubt that she gets a number of inquiries each day), but it’s one that I will never forget. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person in July at the Big Summer Potluck and we got to have some nice little chats over the course of the weekend.
Like most home cooks, I’ve been anticipating the release of her book for quite some time (how long has it been? It feels like she announced it eons ago). Well folks… The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is finally here and it is just as magnificent as you would expect from something created by Deb. As soon as it arrived the other night, I marked the pages of every recipe I want to make (ok… maybe not every, because my copy would be full of Post It notes). I am a sucker for rugelach, so I can’t wait to dig into her Chocolate Raspberry Rugelach. And the Vermouth Mussels with Oven Fries is totally calling my name. I know Eric won’t mind if I spend the next few months cooking all of these. Right, Eric?
Since I have no patience, I immediately got to work and whipped up these leek fritters. They’re served with a garlic and lemon sour cream sauce that is just magical. After I took pictures, I promptly devoured them (making me feel slightly guilty). They were wonderful and I’m planning on adding them to my Thanksgiving menu.
Ok… so, now that I’ve gone on and on, here’s some fun news: The publishers of the book have very generously provided a copy for me to giveaway! Yup! That’s right! You could have your very own copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (you can also purchase it, of course, though I know it’s always fun to win things). Oh, and since I’ll hopefully be seeing Deb when she comes to Boston, I will try to get it signed too.
Unlike most giveaways I do here, I’m going to open this up to everyone (not just US/Canadian residents)! Woo hoo!
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Official Rules: This is a worldwide giveaway. No purchase necessary. Giveaway will end on November 16th 2012 at 12:00 pm EST. One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random using random.org. The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be selected.