Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cranberry Sauced

As my loyal Light Greenies (I think there are about 20 of you now!) know, "mixology," or the art of creating cocktails, is a hobby of mine. This hobby gets a workout every Wednesday night when my friends get together for "Glee-tini Night." We laugh, we drink 'tinis, and we debate the relative merits of Puck and Finn.

Last week, I created a cranberry martini to celebrate our last big Glee-tini Night before everyone headed off for the holiday. As they say on Top Chef, I wanted to mimic the "flavor profile" of cranberry sauce -- but not the kind that comes in a can. My mom always made fresh cranberry sauce each Thankgiving, a sweet-tart taste explosion that makes the canned version curl up and cry in a corner. Those flavors include cranberries, of course, along with orange zest and sugar.

I also wanted to green my cocktail. Many flavored vodkas and cocktail mixes are chock-full of fun things like high-fructose corn syrup and and the ubiquitous "natural and artificial flavors." While no one can claim that a martini is healthy, it can be made healthier for the planet if you infuse your own vodka with organic goodies. Here's how to do it:

To make Orange-infused Vodka:

4 tsp. organic sugar
4 oz. H2O
1 organic orange
10 oz. vodka

Step 1: Mix the sugar and water in a microwaveable container. Microwave on high for about 1 min, or until the sugar is dissolved.

Step 2: Wash your orange well (you can use white vinegar to kill the H1N1 that might have migrated from some kid's hand to your orange while it was happily nesting with the other oranges in the grocery store). Cut the orange into pieces and leave on the peel! -- that's what's going to give it that zesty, orangey goodness.

Step 3: Mix your sugar water, orange pieces, and vodka in one container. Mash up the oranges with a spoon if you want. Then stick the whole thing in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

Step 4: Strain it all and put the orange vodka in the freezer.

That's it. You're going to use that orange vodka to make your

Cranberry-Sauced Martini.

2 parts orange vodka
1/2-1 part pure cranberry juice (NOT cranberry juice cocktail)
dash orange bitters
organic sugar
curl of orange peel

Step 1: Rim martini glass with sugar. To do this shake the sugar out onto a plate. Dip the rim of the glass in water or a squeeze of lemon juice. Then swirl the glass in the sugar. Click here for a pic of how to do this.

Step 2: In your ice-filled cocktail shaker (or plastic tumbler or bar glass) mix the vodka, cranberry juice, and bitters. Shake, shake, shake ... well, you know the rest.

Step 3: Strain into your prepared martini glass. Garnish with the orange peel.

Step 4: Toast to something you are thankful for.

I am thankful for you, Light Greenies -- all 20 of you. I am thankful for my amazing nephew H., and the wonderful nieces and nephews that I am not related to by blood, but by love. I am thankful for my amazing mom and dad, my fabulous sister and her great husband, and the family of friends that I have here in Houston and in the PacNW (you pronounce that PackNoo).

I am thankful for the existence of French fries and pie. I am thankful for Joss Whedon. I am thankful for stories. And I am thankful for the proliferation of dance shows. So with that, I leave you a Thanksgiving gift ...

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