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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Holiday Cheer

The journal entry I posted the other day about ‘freshness’ reminded me how profoundly grateful I am to have such an abundance of good fresh food so close at hand. But it also got me thinking about the little things that aren’t within easy reach.

Zahava chimed in with her ‘miss list’ (just in case friends and family need a hint as to what to pack for their next trip to Israel):

Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa powder
Real Vanilla Extract
Powdered or dried sage
Real chili powder
Unsweetened baker’s chocolate

However, while doing my regular online reading, I realized that there is a seasonal treat that used to magically appeared in American dairy cases a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving that I've been subconsciously missing here:

Eggnog! 

Yes, that's right... besides being a sentimental sap for Xmas music and holiday displays along 5th Avenue, I become a hopeless eggnog addict around this time of year.

Soooo... off I went to my favorite food site - Epicurious - to find out how to make the stuff.

For those of you who haven’t discovered this culinary treasure trove, please go bookmark the site immediately… I’ll wait.

Epicurious is the mother lode of food, drink and recipe advice. Anyone who still has tattered old editions of Gourmet Magazine from 1972 laying around just because they have pages folded over to mark recipes they've been meaning to try for the past 32 years (Shmiel) ... can now throw all those old magazines away!

Epicurious has a searchable database of nearly every recipe that has ever appeared in nearly every food / homemaking magazine. You can search by recipe name or by any of the ingredients. In fact, if you’re stuck for an idea as to what to make for dinner, it even has a search function where you can enter in all the ingredients you have to work with and it will give you a list of every possible recipe that you can create from your limited larder!

I went to look up Eggnog, and quickly found everything from Eggnog French Toast (with cranberry-apple compote) to Eggnog Crème Brulee to Tiramisu Eggnog Trifle! Naturally, there was also a selection of eggnog recipes that varied according to regional tastes.

There is even a yummy sounding recipe for making a bourbon-based spice mixture for spiking eggnog (appropriately called Kentucky Eggnog Spike). Did I mention that I love this site!

Anyway, I may have to substitute Splenda for sugar (Atkins and all), but can anyone guess what I'll be consuming in copious quantities this evening (and for the next week or two)?  Anyone???

221_2

Posted by David Bogner on December 22, 2004 | Permalink

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OOOOOOH! YES! I'd forgotten how much I enjoy this goyish nachas! With a sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg!

On a different vein....why limit ourselves to missing food items? InStyle Magazine and Self Magazine are sorely missed mindless entertainment.... (and YES! I know you CAN get them here, but I just can't bring myself to pay the equivalent of $9 an issue! SIGH).

Posted by: zahava | Dec 22, 2004 1:26:44 PM

Powdered or dried sage... you have sage growing wild on every hillside here (Marva).

Chili powder -- I challenge you to a blindfolded taste test of 'real' chili powder and your standard supermarket 'hot paprika' here in Israel.

Posted by: Aryeh | Dec 22, 2004 1:38:38 PM

Aryeh... Of course there's wild sage... the key word being WILD. If you want to take the time to dry the stuff and grind it up, I'll take all you've got! :-)

As to that taste test, you don't want to be betting real cash money on a foolish thing like that. Both Zahava and I have been making chile a long time and either of us would take that bet in a second!

Posted by: David | Dec 22, 2004 2:15:20 PM

As a note to those who may not be familiar with the origin of the term Epicurious, the term comes from an ancient Greek philosopher who held the view that the most important thing in life was the pursuit of pleasure. This was so antithetical to Judaism that the word for heretic, Apikorus, is derived from Epicurious. Just a fun fact.

And yes, I do get many of recipes from epicurious.com ;)

Posted by: Mike | Dec 22, 2004 2:24:47 PM

so...do you spike your nog - or have it straight up?
We do so enjoy a little 'nip' added to ours whilst singing around the tree. (actually, the singing is a direct result of the 'nip')

Posted by: lisa | Dec 22, 2004 2:54:35 PM

Ah yes. There was nothing like going somewhere with David, and while ordering your orindary coffee, or buying a coke from 7/11, having him downing a big gulp of...Eggnog. i almost forgot how sick I would get at the sight of it.
Really, guys, for "goyishe nachas" couldn't we stick to bacon and eggs, real pizza, diner food, and Perry Como?

Posted by: jordan | Dec 22, 2004 3:21:12 PM

I can't wait to come for Shabbos! Loof and eggnogg! Yum!

Posted by: Sarah | Dec 22, 2004 3:36:31 PM

Mike... Thanks for the background. For a second there I thought you were going to suggest a boycott of the site because of their name choice. Glad I we dodged that bullet! :-)

Lisa... I like it both ways, but the real question is what I spike my eggnog with. Some folks use Rum... others choose Brandy. I'm firmly in the Bourbon camp, but I have to say that the 'Kentucky Eggnog Spike' recipe I linked to (which combines all three plus vanilla and other seasonings) sounds like a winner!

Jordan... Goyishe Nachas ('gentile pleasures' for you non-Yiddish speakers) is exactly what it is, and why I miss it so much. Growing up in New England one can't help but absorb an appreciation for the finer aspects of WASP culture. With the exception of Perry Como, you can find kosher substitutes for all the other things on your list! Speaking of lists, you need to e-mail me a list of attendees for this year's Xmas morning breakfast and where it's going to be held so I can phone in my regrets.

Sarah... I'm happy to provide both, but I need to make it clear to my broad readership that we will wait the appropriate amount of time between courses. :-)

Posted by: David | Dec 22, 2004 4:22:53 PM

Loof cans toasting on a covered flame
Jack frost nipping at your chest
Silly zmirot sung by the kids
And everyone dressed in their Shabbat best

As you've guessed, some eggnog and some
Chicken liver help to make Shabbat delish.
Just keep in mind if you're climbing a tree
Make sure you're no fish.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Dec 22, 2004 4:41:55 PM

When I was in NY, I had an eggnog latte at Starbucks. YUM.

Posted by: Allison | Dec 22, 2004 11:14:36 PM

Doctor Bean... Put the eggnog down and step away from the bar. Good, now please recite the alphabet backwards. :-)

Allison... I prefer not to mix my pleasures... coffee and eggnog sound fantastic in theory, but I felt like too much of the coffee flavor gets lost behind the eggnog (Zahava can tell you I already add too much cream and sweetener for her taste). Also, I'll bet $tarbuck$ doesn't put a big splash of Bourbon in their eggnog like I just put in mine! :-)

Posted by: David | Dec 22, 2004 11:21:16 PM

The eggnog latte isn't bad, but I like the pumpkin spice latte better. Starbucks' toffee nut latte is best of all, though. And I'm not even a Starbucks fan.

I've not yet had any eggnog this year. I think I shall have to rectify that soon.

David, those recipes sound soooo good.

Posted by: Carol | Dec 23, 2004 2:08:49 AM

yeah, i tossed the old magazines a computer and a water heater ago (they were stored next to it when it expired very messily)another food website that I would recomend is that of Cooks Illustrated.Unfortunately it aint a freebee but it helps toward a definitive method of preparing almost anything. Their methods and procedures adapted to any other recipe is usually a BIG improvement.Though it can't match Epicurious for a "What should I make for Shabbat" session. Also,regarding Chili Powder,it is a blend of spices, predominantly paprika i think, hence Aryehs challenge has at least some validity.As far as Epicurious/apikorus I remember a fellow student in my Yeshiva days with stereo speakers called Epicure, caused a quiet ruckus among those who knew Greek "Shorashim".BTW Xmas breakfast hasn't been the same since your aliyah.

Posted by: shmiel | Dec 23, 2004 3:30:26 AM

No offence, David...but I am getting together seasons greetings here, and while looking for some decent quotes and wordings to attach, I found this:

"There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime. Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them." ~P.J. O'Rourke

I can't deny the smirk turning into a grin. Good I've had my coffee.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Dec 23, 2004 2:32:04 PM

Carol... IF you make any of them, let me know how they come out (I have to get my carbs vicariously these days).

Shmiel... I'll try and call in this year if someone will e-mail me a number! Have a piece of herring for me.

Mademoiselle a. ... Not cottage cheese, heavy cream! Oh and the other obvious flaw is calling men mature! :-)

Posted by: David | Dec 23, 2004 8:46:32 PM

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