Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The C-word is coming

The C-word is coming.  No, not that "C" word, another one: Christmas.

Christmas is, at the time I wrote this, just 80 days away.  Walk into any major retailer - Costco, Lowe's, Target - and the truth is unavoidable.

Because of how bills work out, I have just two paychecks that have any hope for leftover funds in the next 80 days.  My parents' and Kaelen's birthdays each fall in that time span.  My cousin is getting married on New Year's Eve and my brother's birthday is mere days into the New Year.  Money is tight.

As much as I hate to admit it, I'm thinking about holidays and gifts.  Mostly I'm trying to figure out how to manage it all on a margin-less budget.  Gene starts a new, full-time job in December (hooray for two incomes for the first time since we've been parents!).  Financially, however, that won't affect our situation much until after the holiday.  Luckily I've squirreled away a few toys for Kaelen's birthday and financial expectations are - I hope - relatively low for adult gift-giving.  I've got a trunk full of luscious yarn and, provided I get on with making things, will knit some really gorgeous gifts for loved ones.  Kaelen is going to get a pair of slippers.

If you're starting to think about holiday gifts, now is the time to make those liquors.   

Last month I started some slivovitz.  It's a deep garnet color now.  I haven't tasted any, though my boss had some of his own (he was inspired by my post about plums from him!).  He said it's pretty damn good.

Every year I think about making an orange liqueur, and every year it's too late by the time I remember around Thanksgiving.  Orange liqueur takes at least 2 months to infuse the alcohol.  Other flavored liquors can take longer depending upon the recipe you're using and the flavor you want to achieve. 

Have you seen what a bottle of Grand Marnier costs?  Yeah, it's delicious and amazing, but bottles of booze starting around $30 are out of our reach.  I made my batch of orange liqueur for about $15.  I already had the brandy from my slivovitz and had only to buy the oranges.

ORANGE LIQUEUR (aka Grand Marnier)
From food.com
Zests of 6 oranges
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups of brandy (cognac is also fine)

1. Pour boiling water over the oranges to remove the wax.  If you're using organic oranges, this is not necessary (but do wash them well).  Remove zest.

2. Mix zest, sugar, and alcohol.

3. Store in a glass bottle in a cool, dark place.  Shake whenever you think about it, or once every couple of weeks.  I'm using the original bottle the brandy came in.  As the orange zest ferments, it may cause the cork to pop off the bottle (this happens every time I had a vanilla pod to my bottle of vanilla vodka).  It's fine and not an indication that anything is wrong.

4. The orange liquor will be ready in roughly 2 months.  Strain out the solids using a fine mesh sieve first, then a coffee filter.  It will keep indefinitely.

What would do you do with Grand Marnier?  I love it in hot cocoa.  It's better than Ambien for me.

On second thought, I might not give any away after all.

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