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Smoking Bishop from “A Christmas Carol”

Twice a month I head up the road to a 1920’s mansion where I meet with several writers (many 25 years my senior). For two hours we laugh and ramble. Brief critiques soon devolve into spirited discussions about the good old days (most of which were well before my time). Writing exercises, often based on bizarre photos from the 1890’s, are read aloud. These displays of wit and absurdity often leave me in tears. Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Seuss, and Chretiens de Troyes get equal billing, but not by all members. In an era of masterminds and conferences, this little Writer’s Group does not provide a leg up nor much in the way of pretense. At least one third of the attendees dismiss Facebook and have no idea what a tweet is. We’re a motley crew bound only by our love of the written word. And we’re not entirely productive. But goodness, it’s fun. We just had our annual holiday party, which required I bring something hot, boozy, and – for extra credit – bookish.  I’m making a vegetable lasagna but that …

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Coronation Chicken Finger Sandwiches

Let’s be real. Any chance I get to play dress up with my daughter, I take. Like last week, when we wore fancy hats and had a British tea party, complete with coronation chicken and coronation egg salad sandwiches.  Coronation chicken was invented in 1952, for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. She was twenty-five years old. Her coronation was the first one to ever be televised, and she dressed for the occasion. Her amazing gown was embroidered with symbols of the commonwealth, including food, flowers, and more. Elizabeth’s coronation gown was commissioned from Norman Hartnell and embroidered on her instructions with the floral emblems of the Commonwealth countries: English Tudor rose; Scots thistle; Welsh leek; Irish shamrock; Australian wattle; Canadian maple leaf; New Zealand silver fern; South African protea; lotus flowers for India and Ceylon; and Pakistan’s wheat, cotton, and jute. (Wikipedia) Fact: no tea party is complete, if the queen isn’t in attendance. If not in person, then at least in spirit. The royal wave adds just the right flair. Even when served as dainty “finger” sandwiches, coronation chicken salad is big, bold, and curried. You’ll find it worthy of any …

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Mini Beef Rouladen

Serves 2-4 Welcome to Germany! Mustard, pickles, onions, bacon, and the beefiest beef you can find – all tucked into a luscious gravy and served with red cabbage [Recipe] and potatoes. First, a few tips. Rouladen should be made with wide strips of tough beef -the kind that benefits from slow cooking. Typically this is round steak, but my supermarket only had chuck roast. The meat should be about 4″ wide and very long and thin. Have your butcher cut it for you. If you think of the meat like a brick, they should be cutting strips from the widest part of the brick. They’ll only be able to do it if they have a slicer. Our butcher didn’t have a slicer, so they couldn’t cut wide slices – they had to cut from the skinny side. No problem – we just made mini rouladen. When you get it home pound it as thin as you can. Only simmer the rouladen until the beef is tender. You might want to make one or two extra …

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Mulled Wine | Gløgg

Makes 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) Bottoms up! The orange peel brightens up this warm holiday drink, while cinnamon gives it familiar festive flavor. NOTE: If you’re making this for a potluck, just keep it warm in a crock pot! Ingredients: 1 cup water 3 slices fresh ginger the peel of one orange 3 cardamom pods 5 cloves 2-4 cinnamon sticks 1 bottle red wine (750 ml) 1/2 bottle port (375 ml) 1/4 cup sugar Garnish, for each glass: Raisins (to taste) Almonds, skinned (to taste) Method: Put on some holiday music or… even better… take a moment to dance around the tree, just like the Danish (wow, they actually use real candles on their tree – so beautiful and … daring!). When you’re sufficiently filled with cheer, coat the bottom of a pot with spices and the orange peel. Mr. Picky says “When in doubt, add more cinnamon.” Splash in the water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes to let the spices release their flavor into the water. Then, let the sugar …

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Red Wine Potatoes | Potatoes “Afelia”

While Afelia commonly refers to a pork dish, the term can also refer to any number of ingredients stewed/roasted in red wine and sprinkled with coriander seeds. Yum! In Cyprus, the most popular variants include mushrooms, potatoes, and artichoke hearts (all of which are vegan). Most recipes add a sprinkling of coriander seeds at the end of cooking (ground or cracked is best). Serves 4 Slowly roasted in olive oil and red wine, these potatoes are so rich you won’t need butter. A typical recipe from Cyprus and Greece. Ingredients: 2 pounds fingerling potatoes (or any small potato) 1/2 cup red wine 1/2 cup olive oil salt pepper ground coriander seeds, to taste Method: Put on some music from Cyprus. Then, preheat the oven to 375F Meanwhile, rinse and slit the potatoes (about 4 slits per potato – this allows the wine and oil to seep in and flavor them) Douse with olive oil. Don’t be shy. Some recipes I saw from Cyprus and Greece actually cover these with oil. Wow. Splash on the red wine …

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Celebration Drink | Bambus

Makes 1 serving Bambus is a creative way to help make poor wine pass. Simply sweeten with equal parts cola and wine. This clever technique is popular in Croatia, as well as many neighboring countries. Ingredients: 1 part cola 1 part “cheap” wine Method: Get a bottle of “cheap” wine. I was looking for Two Buck Chuck, but the liquor store I went to apparently doesn’t sell booze that “cheap,” so I was stuck paying $5 for this Cabernet Sauvignon. The cola was a bit easier to find … Pour together into a glass. We used a wine glass since they are prettier and, plus, there’s still a great deal of wine in this drink! Give it a taste and see… does it make that “cheap” wine taste better? Hmm. What does Mr. Picky think? Here, have a glass. You can play this game, too! Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe Bambus is a creative way to help make poor wine pass. Simply sweeten with equal parts cola and wine. This …

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