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December, Day 15: Party postmortem, Part II

15.December 2009

On Saturday there was soft golden light, about a dozen lighted candles, the murmur of the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack filling in the occasional pause in conversation, and piles of sweet (and a few savory) treats. A couple dozen close friends crowded into our warm little house and the memory of that sweet evening will keep me toasty for months, I think.

What kept us warm that night was not only the closeness of bodies in the cozy space, but the heat of the stove warming Glühwein and the cool warmth (if that makes any sense) of the lovely St. Cecilia Society Punch.

Those of you who know me well know that I have a long-standing and (in some ways) inexplicable love of Germany and many of the trappings of that strange, wonderful country. I never miss it as much as I do in the weeks leading up to Christmas, when free time is best filled with strolls through the spice and sausage scented air of the Weihnachtsmärkte and mugs of steaming mulled wine warming chilled fingers. Thinking of the markets and longing for that particular kind of combined warmth and cold and knowing that many of my guests would also enjoy cups of that kind of spicy happiness, I made a five liter batch of Glühwein and kept it almost bubbling for the duration of the party. Alas, there’s no hard and fast recipe for the Glühwein, but for five liters, I threw in two oranges sliced in half, about ten whole cloves, about 7 or 8 whole allspice, half a nutmeg, four cinnamon sticks, half of a scraped vanilla pod (leftover from one of my other kitchen enterprises), maybe a half a cup of amaretto, and a pile of sugar (to taste). It was delicious.The St. Cecilia Society Punch, however, comes from Fine Cooking magazine, as so many of my recipes do. This recipe should be a staple in your party-throwing repertoire. Comments from the party include “this punch packs a punch,” “punch was divine” and “wicked awesome punch.” After all, any cocktail that needs to rest overnight before making its debut has to be delicious. Make it for your next function. I served it out of a couple of apothecary jars and chilled it with big chunks of ice with slices of lemons frozen inside, church-lady style. The effect was lovely and the drinks were, as I quoted, divine.

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