The Reluctant Blogger

Mulled Wine, Gourmet, December 2002
December 1, 2010, 6:25 pm
Filed under: Drinks, Gourmet, Unbound

My best friend visited for four days over Thanksgiving. We watched bad movies (um, Sex and the City 2? Awful. Actually, worse than awful, if that’s possible), read stacks of books and magazines, talked, talked, and talked some more, and tried not to drive my husband too crazy (fortunately he has his wood shop to retreat to when it gets to be too much).

We tried not to be lushes the entire weekend, particularly after spending Thanksgiving Day with my friend in the wine business, but a cold and rainy afternoon of bad movie watching practically demanded a batch of mulled wine.  This was the first time I’d made this particular recipe, and even after cutting the sugar in half (the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of sugar), the mulled wine was still a bit sweet for my taste.  However, the rest of the recipe was very good.  With a bottle of McKinley Springs Bombing Range Red from my frighteningly well-stocked “cellar”, we were drinking in no time at all – just in time to make an awful movie a little more entertaining.

Mulled Wine
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2002

2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp cardamom  seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
4 whole cloves
1/2 cup sugar (or less)
1 cup water
1 bottle dry red wine
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
2 mandarin oranges, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Heat spices, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved.  Add wine, vanilla bean, orange and lemon slices and heat for five to ten minutes or until heated through, then strain into glasses and enjoy.


Kumquats, cucumber, and gin (or: Cleaning out the produce drawer)
April 29, 2010, 7:48 pm
Filed under: Drinks

I try pretty hard to buy food in season and avoid produce that has travelled halfway around the world. However, I have weaknesses (see, primarily: avocados, green papayas, citrus fruits).  Kumquats are one of those weaknesses.  I am hooked.

A month or so ago (it pains me to think it has really been that long), I bought some kumquats and snacked on them for a week or so before the last handful got buried in their paper bag in the back of my produce drawer.  Tonight, I unearthed those kumquats and half of a cucumber (again, not exactly in season or local) that was fast headed downhill and it just happened to be cocktail hour.  I muddled the kumquats and cucumber, added some ice and gin, shook for a minute, and dumped it all in a glass with some club soda.  I didn’t have high expectations for this combination, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it made for a very good drink.  Not on the same level as the Cranberry Gin & Tonic I made at Thanksgiving, but pretty good nonetheless.  If there’s a next time for this drink (which there probably will be, though likely not until next winter), I might add some mint (though if it’s winter, I probably wouldn’t have mint around), or try the drink with vodka or rum.

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Cranberry Gin & Tonics, Gourmet, Dec. 2006
December 1, 2009, 12:26 am
Filed under: Drinks, Gourmet, Unbound

I had a list of all of the December Gourmet recipes I wanted to make and then life (well, mostly work) intervened and all of a sudden it was the last weekend of the month and I hadn’t picked something.  And it was the weekend after Thanskgiving, so my fridge was full of leftovers and I’d promised myself I wouldn’t buy any more groceries until we made a serious dent in the contents of the fridge.

Luckily, someone on Twitter (love it, but that’s a topic for another post) mentioned cranberry gin & tonics and I had half a bag of cranberries in my fridge.  After a few minutes of searching, I found the recipe at  And wouldn’t you know it, it was a December recipe!

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