Winter is nearly upon us and the evenings are now long and dark. Each evening I make a ritual of turning on certain lamps, pulling shades and draperies closed, and lighting a candle or two for glow. It has been hard to adopt any sort of evening schedule since it became dark because I mainly long to go to bed at 7:30 and I struggle to stay awake until a decent bedtime hour. If I try to read or watch a movie, I end up dozing off anyway. On this schedule, I wake up any time from 2:00AM onward. Today I am up at 3:00AM. Perfect opportunity to blog! (I will nap later.)
Last evening I made another recipe of Nigel Slater's apricot, orange, and anise drink for winter. The recipe is contained in his book, "The Christmas Chronicles". It's a wonderful, sweet little drink that warms your throat as it smoothly slides down. I have a favorite, pretty glass that I sip from and it's a nice pleasure on a cold winter night. As the dram ages and as you get to the bottom of the jar, the gold liquid becomes thick like nectar. The apricots are also a delight to eat after they've soaked up the brandy. I double the recipe so there is plenty for sharing.
Enough for 20 small glasses
dried apricots - 500g
whole star anise - 4
brandy - 300ml
granulated sugar - 150g
sweet white wine - 300ml
Put the apricots into a stainless steel saucepan. Using a vegetable peeler, slice thin strips of zest from the orange and drop them into the pan. Add the star anise, brandy, and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
into a sterilized jar, spoon the apricots and star anise, then pour in the liquor (breathing it in at this point is highly recommended) and top with the sweet white wine. Seal and place in a cool, dark place for a good fortnight (better still, a month) before pouring the golden liquor into glasses.
Aside from working and hooking, I have two small sewing projects to complete for Christmas. I am also reading too many books at one time. In addition to The Christmas Chronicles, which is easy to pick up and put down at leisure, I am reading "The Seven Storey Mountain" which is an autobiography of Tomas Merton and very good. I am also listening to "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon on Audible. I tried watching the series last year but found it too violent. Now, I find the book too sexy. (This is my official book review, Claire) It's much more intimate than I care to hear and, for me, a distraction from the historical fiction by an author who is otherwise a fantastic storyteller. I'll finish this first book in the series of eight but I doubt I'll continue with the rest. I just don't care for romance novels. I'm also reading "Lectio Devina of the Gospels" each day along with a couple of seasonal meditations for advent. My books migrate around the house with me to different chairs, depending on my mood. All the while, Henri follows me around like a shadow. : )