I associate February with culinary yearning. My taste tends toward the fresh fruits and vegetables of summer, not to mention grilled everything. So I’m as through with cold-weather cooking as I am with wind chill and frost warnings. Pears, parsnips, cinnamon, roasts, casseroles, and soups: Step aside. Make room for skirt steak salads with strawberries and mint, tabbouleh with fresh tomatoes, and peach basil margaritas on the deck.
Not yet, says the ice storm threatening to close schools tomorrow.
Consolation: A not-so-simple syrup for winter’s end, to use the last of your cranberries and mulling spices that will have lost their attitude by next Thanksgiving. Combine these in a medium pot:
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of water
- A handful of cranberries (or however many you have left)
- Your unused cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves, etc. (I’m talking on the order of 20ish allspice berries here. Don’t be shy.)
- Any random extra vanilla beans from holiday baking? Throw ’em in.
Bring the potion to a simmer and let it reduce over medium heat until the cranberries have mostly popped, about 10-15 minutes. Strain it into a mason jar. Add it to:
- Your nightly Old-Fashioned
- Your morning coffee (Be careful about combining with cream – lovely if it blends, but it can also curdle.)
- Your pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal
- Your yogurt or ice cream
- Your homemade vinaigrette
Spring is almost here. We can make it.