By Sheridan Lane, director, culinary programs and operations, Lincoln Land Community College
“Home for the Holidays” takes on a whole new meaning as we close the book on the year we will not soon forget. 2020 – the year we were all implored to stay at home!
Staying home for Christmas during this season of COVID-19 will certainly alter the normal holiday traditions for many as we limit the size of social gatherings, wear masks and stay socially distant. Like no other year, certainly in my memory, will so many Christmas song lyrics have such a significant relevance. If you are fortunate enough to be singing the Perry Como tune, “There is No Christmas Like a Home Christmas” or the 1954 song, “Home for the Holidays,” then you are reveling in this opportunity to simply stay at home for the holidays. Yet many others’ sentiments may be a bit different this year. Perhaps some folks will sadly share the perspective of the Bing Crosby number, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” which laments not being able to be home to see family and friends for the holidays but still embraces the memories of holidays past. Then there are even others that I am sure would like to be anywhere but home this holiday season.
We are an even split in our household as we quite literally move homes this holiday. Ben and I have spent the better part of the last year doing a major remodel on the house my grandparents built back in 1978. While I cannot hardly wait (I quite literally could smell the cookies baking in the oven while I was there working the other day) to finish the final touches and spread out a bit in our new home, I know that my 14-year-old stepdaughter is not overjoyed at leaving her own childhood home even if it does mean she has a bigger bedroom with a walk-in closet and her own bathroom (seems like it would be every teenage girl’s dream, right?)
Then there is yet another perspective – my extended family may experience feelings that are somewhat bittersweet as they see, for the first time, the dramatically altered version of the home to which they have so many fond memories. While I am certain that everyone in my little family scenario will eventually adjust and be fine, I can’t help but think that this mixed bag of emotions rings ever so true for our world at large. If we have learned anything in 2020, accounting for one another’s frame of reference certainly chimes loudly. That being said, may we grant each other the grace to embrace with love, compassion and if necessary, care-frontation (not confrontation) the diverse points of view that make us human.
From glogg to glühwein, or from vin brulee to wassail or even vin chaud, and whether you add bourbon, rum, brandy, cognac, aquviet or sherry, I hope your holiday is full of lots of different spices and any kind of red wine warmed to raise your spirits from the inside out! Check out my perspective on mulled wine – because some like it sweeter than others, I make a mulled syrup that is extra strong so that it can be added in whatever amount guests see fit.
1/4th cup mulling spices
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks Mulled Wine
Strips of rind from 1 medium sized orange
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups red wine ( I use a cheaper red wine to make the syrup and a better wine later when mixing the mulled wine.)
Simmer the above ingredients on medium low for about 45 minutes. (Add an additional cup of wine if syrup becomes to thick or is reduced too much.) Not only will your house smell great but you will have prepared a syrup to be added to additional red wine and any liquor of choice. Strain the spices from your syrup and set aside. This can certainly be made in advance.
When ready to serve, I make my mulled wine with the following combination:
1 ounce mulled syrup
4 ounces of dry red wine
1 ounce Remy Martain VSOP
Warm the wine without boiling. Add the syrup and stir in the Remy. Enjoy!