Holiday Goodies

blackeyedpeasoupNew Year's would not be complete without the traditional foods that celebrate the start of a new year in a somewhat superstitious way. Many cultures eat foods that are symbolic of luck, progress, prosperity, and wealth. Ham and pork are often eaten because pigs root forward with their snouts. Stay away from chicken, because they scratch backward. Legumes double in size when cooked and thus represent prosperity. Lentils look like tiny coins. Leafy greens resemble paper money and symbolize wealth. Even if these food customs seem superstitious, they are rooted in culture, tradition, and history.

In the American South especially, black-eyed peas have a history that is important to remember. The legume has been grown in the South since Colonial times. It was originally domesticated thousands of years ago in Africa and arrived in America on slave ships. Black-eyed peas are a staple in soul food. Typical Southern New Year's foods include such dishes as black-eyed pea cakes and Hoppin' John, which is a combination of peas and rice with smoked pork. Boiled ham hocks and cooked greens, such as collard greens, mustard greens, or kale are also eaten. This simple soup holds true to tradition to include a bit of each symbolic food.

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winter-wonderland-martiniWe just can't resist a festive cocktail to liven up the holidays. Here are three sure to please martinis that will help you deck the halls with traditional flavors of the season.

Winter Wonderland Martini

2 oz. Three Olives Cake Vodka
2 oz. White Chocolate Liqueur
1 oz. White Creme de Cacao
1 oz. Heavy Cream

Combine in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass, sprinkle with coconut flakes and stir. Garnish with a white chocolate wafer (if desired)!



Candy Cane Lane Martini

2.5 oz. Three Olives Cake Vodka
1 oz. White Creme de Menthe
1/2 oz. Peppermint Schnapps
Heavy Cream
Dash of Grenadine

Add grenadine to the bottom of chilled martini glass. Shake remaining ingredients and strain into martini glass to create swirl effect!




Eggnog Cocktail

1 oz. Three Olives Cake Vodka
2.5 oz. Eggnog
3/4 oz. Amaretto

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a martini glass. Top with grated cinnamon or nutmeg and enjoy!


- Recipes courtesy of Three Olives Vodka


cake.wholewheathoneyFall always symbolizes new beginnings; fresh school supplies, cozy scarves, and the celebration of the Jewish New Year.

Traditionally, we eat apples and honey which represent a sweet new year. For the next 10 days I try to incorporate honey into most of what I cook. And lately, I have been turned onto raw honey and I am loving the results.

Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, a honey cake is a wonderful way to end any meal. Drizzle some chocolate glaze over the top and you will have your kids (as well as the spouse), begging for more.

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ImageI enjoy spending hours cooking in the kitchen. Doing the prep work soothes my frazzled nerves. Watching a dish slowly come together as the various ingredients combine their flavors calms me down.

Being in the kitchen is a great escape from a contentious world. Pulling together appetizers, a salad, main dish, and a couple of desserts, gives me a lot of pleasure. Good food promotes good conversation and well-prepared dishes tell our friends that we care about them.

I like to have the meal completed before everyone arrives, but sometimes, like this New Year's Eve, I know I'll still be cooking. The best solution is a colorful cocktail that refreshes and entertains while I'm finishing dinner.

Because there are edible pieces of fruit at the bottom, including a spoon means the cocktail is a drink and an appetizer all in one.

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crop_110839.jpgThe American media warns us at every turn that Christmas is a time of over-indulgence. Women’s magazines sprout articles about how to avoid the buffet table, not to mention an extra ten pounds. Readers flip quickly past that article to the one depicting how to decorate a sugar cookie.

Honestly, that cattle call to temptation has never bothered me all that much. My university’s English department parties tend to offer a lively selection of cheap wine, together with three different kinds of hummus. Besides, I shed calories wrestling a five-foot tree into submission, grading final papers for my Shakespeare students, and fighting my way to Fed Ex to mail late presents.

But this year my husband and I are on sabbatical from our respective universities, so we packed up loads of books, two children and four laptops, and moved to Paris. We have a rangy apartment in the 9th arrondissement, with floors dating to the 1760s, four patisseries within a block or two, and a covered market just over the border in the 10th.

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