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A Cocktail for the Rest of Us: St. Festivus Flip

Festivus Cocktail: St. Festivus Flip

Popularized in the late 1990s thanks to an episode of Seinfeld, the “holiday” known as Festivus is now celebrated in varying degrees of seriousness throughout the world. Conceived by writer Dan O’Keefe as an alternative to the over-commercialization of Christmas, it has somewhat ironically bred quite an industry of its own.

Festivus Cocktail: St. Festivus Flip

The symbol of Festivus is a bare aluminum pole, an icon chosen for its stark contrast to the traditional highly decorated Christmas tree. During the holiday, the pole is displayed unadorned and praised for its “high strength-to-weight ratio.” Among the holiday’s traditions is The Airing of Grievances—a ritual during which each member of the family tells the others all the ways in which they have disappointed them throughout the year—and The Feats of Strength. Traditionally, this is where the head of the household challenges another participant in the celebration to a wresting match. Festivus is said to reach its conclusion once the head of the household is pinned to the floor.

I created this drink to contribute to the surprisingly small number of Festivus-themed cocktails; to be able to offer up something egg nog-ish but a little more quirky to holiday guests this year; and, of course, to make use of one of The Brewer’s Art‘s finest seasonal brews. What does it taste like? A Festivus Miracle, of course!

St. Festivus Flip

3 oz. Brewer’s Art St. Festivus Ale
1 oz. Cruzan Black Strap Rum
1/2 oz. Grade B Maple Syrup
1 Whole Organic Egg
Cranberries and grated nutmeg for garnish

Combine the beer, rum, and maple syrup in a mixing glass. Swirl to decarbonate the beer. Add the whole egg and dry shake for 15 seconds to allow the egg to emulsify. Add ice, shake, and strain into a chilled fizz glass. Grate the nutmeg over the top of the drink and garnish with three cranberries.

DIY Jellied Cranberry Sauce (Ridges Optional)


I grew up in a household of “normal” American cuisine: our mac and cheese was boxed, our casserole was tuna, and our cranberry sauce? Our cranberry sauce had ridges running along the side–the mark of the can it came from. Since traveling out in the world, I have of course since been introduced to homemade, gourmet, and small-batch artisan versions of a lot of foods, but some attachments die hard. And sometimes, well, sometimes on balance boxed is just best.

This brings me around to how I decided that DIY canned cranberry sauce would be my “heart healthy” project for Cathy’s annual Thanksgiving round-up. Granted, cranberry sauce is always going to have a bit of sweetener in it to balance the tartness of the berries, but I figured if I could get the high fructose corn syrup and the plain old regular corn syrup out of the equation, we were still making strides toward a product that did the body a little better if not entirely good.

DIY Jellied Cranberry Sauce: Sliced

For my recipe, I decided to use fruit juice and honey as my sweeteners. Though research had told me that using white sugar would require no additional pectin to get a good set, by using honey, I also needed to add this step. This finished jelly does differ from the commercial version in that you can definitely detect that honey was used. I like this–the sauce isn’t muddled with extra spices or exotic flavorings, but it is just a little more complex. White sugar would likely get you closer to the commercial taste, however, if that’s what you’re going for.

Jellied Cranberry Sauce: Commercial Variety

Jellied Cranberry Sauce: Commercial variety-check that gel!

Since I had already purchased a can of jellied cranberry sauce for comparison’s sake–for a $1, mind you, so add that into your considerations–I also had the bright idea that I would use the can as my mold, thereby silencing any readers or relatives who just could not deal with a cranberry sauce unmarked by rings along the edge. I thought I was being incredibly clever until I found out a couple of minutes ago that Marisa over at Food in Jars totally did that last year. BPA-free to boot.

What I discovered about my DIY cranberry sauce, however, is that while it is firm enough to be sliced and handled, it doesn’t come close to the commercial jelly in the can. Truly, that product has an almost terrifyingly firm yet not chewy in the mouth consistency. I’m not sure how they manage it! I did get my jelly out of the can without incident, but as a frazzled holiday host, make sure to take a deep breath and steady your hands before you cut and plate your sauce in those perfect circular slices–otherwise it could quickly turn into a fool’s game laced with profanities.

DIY Jellied Cranberry Sauce: Process

DIY Jellied Cranberry Sauce (Ridges Optional)

12 ounces whole cranberries, washed and picked over, mushy berries removed
3/4 cup water or juice (I used a tart grape juice I had on hand to good effect. I suspect apple or orange would be nice compliments as well.)
3/4 cup honey
Pectin–I used Pomona’s (2 teaspoons calcium water and 2 teaspoons pectin powder)

Put the juice in a heavy-bottomed soup pot and bring to a boil. Add berries and cook, stirring occasionally, just until most of the berries have popped and begun to soften (about five minutes). Remove from heat.

Using a food mill (recommended) or a sieve and the back of a ladle, mash the softened fruit through the strainer leaving the peels behind. Discard the peels and return the strained fruit to a clean pot. Add the calcium water to the fruit.

Stir the pectin powder into the measured honey, mixing well to evenly combine, then add this mixure to the fruit in the pot. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.

Pour the sauce into the mold of your choice and allow to cool undisturbed until set. Turn out onto the serving dish of your choice just before serving.

Ladies Who Lunch: Spring Fling Potato Salad


It doesn’t seem quite fair to have slipped the freeze of winter as neatly as we have this year. Still, with flowers pushing their way up into the light yet again and the weatherman promising 70° days this week, I’m ignoring the calendar and daydreaming about lazy afternoon picnics like it’s…well, April at the very least.

first flowers

Admittedly, there are flaws in the fantasy. Local produce amounts to little more than the crates of apples and turnips the fields produced last season, though thanks to a little help from our neighbors to the south, the delicate, hinting green of spring is available for import–a telegram that the season is on its way. Taking full advantage, some of those bright, crisp flavors inspired this perfectly packable potato salad, with just a bit of creaminess to keep the chill off until the danger of frost has truly passed.

Spring Fling Potato Salad

For the salad

3 lbs. mixed red and gold waxy Idaho potatoes, cubed
1 1/2 cups green peas, frozen or fresh
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 small cucumbers, seeded and diced
4 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup sliced almonds

For the dressing

3 T white balsamic vinegar
2 T pomegranate molasses
2 tsp. kosher salt
generous handful fresh basil
leaves from a few springs of fresh mint
3/4 cup buttermilk, plus additional as needed
3/4 cup mayonnaise

Boil the cubed potatoes until just fork tender, about ten minutes. Drain and reserve.

While potatoes cook, bring a second pot of water to a boil and blanch peas for one minute, then drain and plunge them into an ice water bath to shock and stop the cooking. Set aside.


To make the dressing, place vinegar, pomegranate molasses, salt, and herbs in the small bowl of a food processor and pulse until leaves are minced. Combine this mixture with the buttermilk and mayonnaise in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until dressing is well mixed. Thin dressing with additional buttermilk as needed.

In a large bowl, place potatoes, peas, cranberries, cucumbers, scallions, and sliced almonds. Toss with enough of the dressing to coat. Chill until ready to serve.

Disclaimer: This recipe was written for the Idaho Potato Commission, and I was financially compensated for its creation. Previously, Wonderland Kitchen’s Take the G Train: Masala Knishes post was part of their February “Potato Lovers Month” promotion. Both of these dishes were honored with an award for “Best Recipe.”