07 January 2010

On the Need for Holidays

The other day while doing some research on Christmastide I found a vague reference to the Presentation of Jesus as Candlemas. The more I dug on Candlemas the more I liked about it. The holiday had all of the trappings to entice me: obscurity, long held traditions long since passed, and an official name. For a side note: the choirmaster at SCABC informed that the Chandeleur Islands (barrier islands in Louisiana) were found insert year here _____ on Candlemas.

So I introduced the day to the congregation on Sunday morning and then invited some friends over that afternoon for "Candlemas Cocktails." Why cocktails? On Saturday at the Hollygrove Farm Market I found a basket of "bitter oranges" a product I have been searching for two years for. Why bitter oranges? They are an essential ingredient for a pot of "smoking bishop." Bitter oranges + obscure religious holiday + a need to be with people = Candlemas Cocktails.

Smoking Bishop:
Bake the oranges (low temp, depends on your oven)

After they turn a pale brown remove from the oven and place, stud generously with cloves, and place in a warmed earthenware bowl. Add a bottle of cheap red wine (the recipe calls for Portuguese wine, which I could find easily in RI but not in NOLA, for this batch I used whatever red wine was in the bota box) and a 1/4 cup of sugar. Cover and let rest for overnight and some of the day.

As the party approaches squeeze out the juice from the oranges and discard. (Be sure to remove the cloves if any by-chance sneak into the wine). Pour the contents into a non-reactive pan that you use on the stove top. Bring to a nice warm temperature (do not bring to a boil), then add a bottle of port wine and a 1/2 pint of water (a small glassful should do). Continue to warm, ladle into mugs, and enjoy.

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