Monthly Archives: December 2011

December 31st 2011

Lucky Foods for the New Year

In Spain, folks eat 12 grapes for each strike of the clock at midnight. This started back in 1909 when there was a grape surplus. One of those traditions that just sort of stuck. The idea is to have all the grapes for each month swallowed before the final stroke of the clock.

Beans, peas, and lentils are a symbol of money (prosperity) for various places around the world. Their small seed like appearance resembles coins that plump when cooked. In Italy, it’s customary to eat cotechino con lenticchie or sausages and green lentils, just after midnight

Enjoying roasted pig is a custom for Cuba, Spain, Hungary, Portugal and Austria. Pigs represent progress as the animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving.

Foods considered unlucky include lobster and chicken- lobster because it moves backwards, thus the idea of set backs and chickens because they scratch backwards, thus the idea of dwelling on the past.

Of course it’s all superstition but it’s fun! Enjoy a tasty feast of lucky foods and Happy New Year!


December 23rd 2011

At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.
– Thomas Tusser “The Farmer’s Daily Diet”

December 21st 2011

Christmas Food Facts

In early England, Christmas dinner consisted of a pig head prepared with mustard

Christmas pudding was originally a porridge. Throughout the years, more ingredients was added.

Eating mince pies in Britain dates back to the 16th century. It is believed that if one eats a mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas will bring about 12 happy months in the year.

Each year, it is estimated that 400,000 people become ill after eating tainted leftover Christmas food.


December 20th 2011

Why do we get oranges in our stockings? Legend has it that St. Nicholas heard of three daughters who had been unable to marry because they had no dowries. So he tossed three bags of coins down the chimney that happened to land in their drying stockings. The bags of gold turned into balls of gold and now today, this story is symbolized with oranges.

December 3rd 2011

What kind of chef recommends healthy holiday eating? The kind that wants you back to his restaurant in the New Year!

Avoid the calories! Yes, hot chocolate, eggnog and spiked punches are tasty but they are full of calories that you really don’t need at this happy, yet stressful time of the year. Stress can contribute to weight gain!

If you need some healthy drink options please check out my related post here!

Healthy Holiday Drinks

Put the eggnog down and avoid that hot chocolate. Let’s stay healthy with delicious options!


What You Need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 pears, chopped into bite-size pieces, divided
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1 lemon, halved and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

What To Do:

  1. Combine water, sugar, ginger and 1 pear in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Strain out the solids and return the mixture to the pan.
  2. Add the remaining pears, cider, lemon and allspice and heat over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes.
  3. Add cranberries and vanilla and reduce the heat to medium-low (the liquid should be simmering, not boiling). Let simmer for 10 minutes more. Serve in heat-safe mugs.


What You Need:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 orange, cut into slices
  • 1 1/2 cups dry gin – Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater or Tangueray suggested (OPTIONAL)
  • 1 cup chilled Ginger Ale
  • 4 mint springs

What To do:

  1. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; pour off all but one cup of syrup, reserving any extra for another use including other holiday cocktail recipes.
  2. Heat the syrup to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Add the cranberries and simmer for 2-3 minutes until they just begin to burst. Remove from heat and let cool in syrup.
  3. Place 2 Tablespoons drained cranberries and 6 Tablespoons cranberry syrup in a large pitcher; add the lemon wedges and orange slices.
  4. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, vigorously mash the fruit.
  5. Stir in gin and let steep for at least 5 minutes.
  6. Strain into a medium pitcher.
  7. Fill 4 glasses with crushed ice and 1/4 cup ginger ale.
  8. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and then pour half the cranberry mixture into the shaker and shake vigorously for 10 seconds, strain liquid into two glasses. Repeat.
  9. Mound additional ice on top of each glass and garnish with 3 candied cranberries and a mint sprig.

December 2nd 2011

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