First Snow.

Today this is what I woke up to.

The first real snow of the season! Yesterday evening was full of that uncomfortable wind; the menacing kind that has you running to the car and leaves you cold to the core even after the heat has been going for a while. I have lived in Chicago for nearly 6 years now and I just don’t know that winters will ever become easier. I have sun, heat and sand in my bones. Someday, but for now this beginning of winter will be embraced with a new set of scarf and gloves, some seasonal comfort food and several warm winter cocktail tests.Waking up, the still air this morning had a rather welcome peace to its chill. This ‘christmas-card’ scene and knowing I have a weekend ahead planned of family, shopping and cookie-baking is oddly calming.

Picking my cousin up from the airport, we arrive to my parents house and the oven is filled with bright pink peppermint meringue. The counter is covered in bags of flour, sugars – brown and white, molasses, vanilla, a big bowl of homemade hot chocolate mix, bits of crushed peppermint and decorations. Later on will be the gingerbread and salted caramel bars, but for now my sister has mixed up some of these refreshing Mango-Mint Margaritas…

Mango-Mint Margaritas

Mint Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 or 4 sprigs fresh mint

Preparation:

Combine sugar, water and mint sprigs in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain the mint and chill, covered, in a refrigerator until ready to use.

Mango-Mint Margarita
(makes 2 drinks)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen mango (cut into chunks)
1/2 cup silver tequila
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 Tablespoons Mint Simple Syrup
1-2 Tablespoons Cointreau
2 cups ice cubes or crushed ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and bend until smooth.

Adapted from recipe on http://www.merrygourmet.com

I realize I am contradicting my earlier statement on making warm winter cocktails by suggesting to make fruit frozen drinks while there is snow on the ground…but these margaritas are laced with a good bit of mint and thereby, somehow, evoke this season. Plus, these cocktails are quite delicious.

As was this salad with applewood bacon, shallot vinaigrette and wilted spinach topped with a poached egg; efforts of my cousin and brother.

In fact, today I did little by way of cooking aside from help chop some parsley, garnish margaritas with mint and observe. Well, I ate and complimented the chefs and bartender, so I suppose a little ego-boosting all in the name of good food and drink counts for something. Sugar, poached eggs and people who make me laugh…not a bad way to spend the first snow fall.

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