It feels good to be home–on a break from school with no obligation to anyone tomorrow. Soon, we’ll be going home for the holidays. But tonight, Husband & I are sitting next to our first adult-sized Christmas tree enjoying some mulled wine. I even found some ready-to-eat roasted chestnuts. Glory days.
If I had to pick the thing I miss most about France, it would be the holidays. While homes are trimmed with holiday lights, the air is charged with sentiment and festivity the moment you step outside. A cool fog often hung until late in the morning, and on a casual walk through town it was easy to snag a palmful of toasted chestnuts wrapped in a cone of newspaper.
Cafés filled with the scent of vin chaud, simple mulled wine with such robust flavor that it could warm your bones through even after the thickest frost. The smell fills the kitchen with memories of Christmas shopping, snowflakes falling on Mansard roofs and the feeling of our first winter together as husband & wife. Here’s a basic mulled wine, a bit simpler than last years but with more flavor.
- 1 bottle of mellow, light bodied red wine
- 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 5 whole cloves
- 3 cardamom pods
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 3 tablespoons of honey
Warm all ingredients in a large saucepan until stirring the wine wafts up a fragrant, visible steam, included the orange rinds (if they’re untreated–don’t add chemicals to your wine!). (Don’t bring to a boil–keep on a low setting.) Ladle into glasses or teacups, garnishing saucers with gingerbread or orange slices.
Enjoy. I know I am. After lots of hustle & bustle & silver bells & dates with friends, we’re hiding: beginning our Christmas break with time in (and probably some Super Mario 3 on the Wii). It is officially the Holidays at the Betz house. What officially marks the holidays for you?