Not to add to the din, but I feel like I’ve seen a ton of smoothie recipes popping up in the food blog universe. Despite the typically chilly weather outside, I’d wager a guess that January is the number-one month for smoothies, juice cleanses, and salad-eating.
And even I have this conflict. The desire both for thick, warm soups that shut out the cold of January but also for light, fresh meals that taste like the spring and summer to come.
Plus, Santa brought me an immersion blender for Christmas, and what better way to break it in than by crushing the heck out of some frozen raspberries?
This is a little smoothie. I can never get through a full-size smoothie, so this recipe is for about a half-pint. You can easily double it if you are full-size smoothie drinker.
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Let me begin by saying that I realize the title of this post doesn’t make sense. Colorado is home to neither capes nor cod. I know.
I also know that I cooked this meal in North Carolina and cooked this meal using East Coast cod.
In addition, I have no idea what chowder from Cape Cod actual tastes like. No idea what the recipe is. So despite the fact that both my mom and grandma have been making “Cape Cod Chowder” (as is written in my grandma’s hand on a splattered recipe card) to ward off the chill of January in Colorado for my entire life, I couldn’t really call it that for fear of the wrath of proper Cape Cod residents with their own opinions on what is or is not Cape Cod Chowder.
It’s rather dizzying.
But I adore this soup. I look forward, each winter, to the stick-to-your-bones warmth provided by this hearty meal composed of relatively simple ingredients.
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On January 1st of last year, I began meticulously tracking my food purchases, both for groceries and for dining out, to see how much of my money was going toward locally-produced & sustainably-grown food. It was a daunting task. I logged every receipt, made notes of my cash use at farmers markets and on nights out, and even calculated the market value of the produce grown in my garden plots. Though I originally planned a monthly post documenting my progress, life did what it does and I ended up grouping together the months in roughly seasonal quarters. Now, having tracked for a year, I wanted to take a look back at my spending to see how I did.
But first: a brief moment to discuss my September-December expenses (since, you know, that just ended).
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I’ve always strongly associated oranges with summer. Their summery orange glow, bright flavors, and balmy geographic origins have all contributed to this perception. And yet I also remember that my dad always brought home the best grapefruits, even in thoroughly NOT balmy Colorado, in January and February. Occasionally, we’d receive boxes of citrus as Christmas gifts, and I even recall the local chapter of FFA selling them to neighbors as a fundraiser in the weeks preceding the holidays.
Citrus is cultivated year-round in many of the southern-most states of our continent, but it really shines in the winter. Not surprisingly, when I was driving back to North Carolina from a late-November trip to Florida with the fam, I simply couldn’t resist stopping at a roadside stand for a bag of this fruit so far outside my normal local fare.
I probably could have just eaten or juiced each and every one of these golden orbs, but I’ve been curious for some time about marmalades. I don’t remember growing up with marmalade in the house, though my mom confirms that she loved it when she was a child. Our spreadables tended to be homemade from the berries and stone fruits my grandma and grandpa grew in their garden, so perhaps that accounts for the marmalade vacuum of my youth. I’ve heard from some that marmalade is an acquired taste, that it’s a bitter product not suited for those who prefer sweet jams. I wanted to give it a shot, but wasn’t sure how I would feel about a bitter final product. I ran across this recipe, a blend of oranges and cranberries, and thought that it might be just the transitional product between sweet and bitter I was looking for.
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The New Year always offers such a nice, fresh start. A blank slate. New calendars, a few months with no plane tickets to buy, no approaching major holidays (or holiday parties). But I don’t exactly believe in New Years Resolutions. You can probably guess why. I don’t think I’ve ever made one that really worked. Often, my goals and resolutions are tied heavily to a season, a school year, a semester, or a show. But at this point in the year, I do like setting a few little goals for myself. Some specific, some general, some philosophical, some pragmatic.
At the risk of over-sharing, here’s a list of some little wants, needs, goals, and plans I have for the coming year.
- Cultivate a garden worthy of hobbits.
- Go outside every day (commuting and errands don’t count, no cheating).
- Explore salads.
- Don’t let the groundhog scarf up all the baby plants in the garden this year.
- Don’t freak out if the groundhog scarfs up all the baby plants in the garden this year.
- Join a CSA.
- Floss, dang it.
- Complete my watch-all-the-Disney-animated-features-in-chronological-order-of-release project (next up: Lady and the Tramp.)
- Learn to cook Swiss chard. Also, eggplant.
- Get. A. Passport.
- Give generously.
- Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in October or BUST!
- Throw a Harry Potter theme party.
- Visit my sister.
- Write more.
- Read more.
- Laugh till I turn a little purple more.
- Call my grandmas more.
- Send fifty surprise letters.
- Don’t wish away any months, weeks, days, or hours. Each is rare if not unique.
That’s probably not all. But it feels like a start. Some things to look forward to.
What’s on your mind for 2013?
Durangoans are particularly proud of our beautiful state around the holidays. While many people send seasons greeting cards adorned with wintery vistas, evergreen trees weighed down with glistening mounds of snow, and woodland animals making their way silently through the drifts, those of us who spend Christmas in Colorado usually have the great fortune of watching those holiday cards come to life around us. This year, the first major snow of the season hit my hometown just a few days before I came home, and a gentle snowfall on Christmas Eve really sealed the deal for a white Christmas.
Having resided primarily in non-mountainous locations outside of Colorado for the better part of the last decade, I start getting really antsy for snow right around Thanksgiving but rarely actually see any until I’m flying over the Rockies a few weeks later on my way home for the holidays. For my holiday party (I swear, I’m almost done posting recipes from that dang party) in early December, I wanted to pay some small homage to the spectacular winter beauty of my home state, and I also was lacking a chocolate-y dish on my menu.
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As we move into the final days before Christmas, I imagine that your holiday baking agendas are already full. That’s cool. Mine certainly was for my holiday party. Every year, I like to make a mix of old, traditional Horvath holiday favorites and new recipes. One of my favorites from this season are these possibly-overly-cutesy-but-outrageously-delicious vanilla Christmas tree cupcakes.
The reallybeautiful thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t have to happen at Christmas AT ALL. It’s simply a vanilla cupcake with whipped cream icing, and therefore is appropriate in all scenarios in the universe. What, you say, another vanilla cupcake? Doesn’t the world have enough of those?
And these vanilla cupcakes are a step above any I’ve had before. They are the softest, fluffiest, smoothest, vanilla-y-est cupcakes, and the clouds of simple whipped cream atop them offer just the right touch. What makes these cupcakes better than anything else? A secret ingredient: whipped cream, folded into the batter ITSELF, in addition to the icing that will finish these little bites of heaven.
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Last Sunday, I threw a big ol’ festive holiday party. You may not be entirely surprised to learn that parties at my house tend to be more about the food than anything else. I decorate, sure, and put on some appropriately celebratory Pandora tunes, but mostly a party offers me a moderately justifiable excuse to try out as many recipes for fancy-pants finger food, seasonal desserts, and standard snacky favorites as I can possibly cram into the 2-3 days prior to the first guest knocking on the door. One might suspect that I throw parties primarily for my own curiosity (and, of course, my little food blog) and invite over friends merely to vacuum up the copious amounts of food I typically prepare. (Of course, dear friends, this is not the case, but when one is awake and cooking at 6am the morning of a party, one must question one’s motives.)
And there is no better time of year for party food. Whether it’s an office bash or a neighborhood block party or simply a gathering of friends and family, you can never go wrong with a table filled with edible holiday splendor. Many of the posts in the coming weeks will focus on party-ready treats that make worthy contributions to any festive spread. And what classic shall we feature today? The cheeseball!
This isn’t just a cheeseball. This is THREE cheeseballs. Better still: this is three cheesePRESENTS. We’re taking an already-classic holiday favorite and raising it to the tenth Christmas power. Plus, this way you don’t have to choose between your favorite cheeseball flavors… you can make them ALL!
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I have a post ready for you today. It’s about Christmas parties and cheese and marathon-holiday-cooking.
But I feel frivolous sharing. A little guilty, actually. My heart breaks for the families and friendships torn apart by yesterday’s horrifying shooting in Connecticut. It breaks for the pain that all of us feel as we hug our loved ones closer and mark one more place off the list where we thought we could feel safe.
So I’m not posting today. Recipes can wait until tomorrow. It may seem a token symbol, waiting just one day before jumping back in with a chipper and festive post, but it feels important to take a moment of silence. A moment to grieve for the victims and their families and their friends and their communities.
My thoughts are with you.