As I’ve been mind surfing through memories to find a holiday culinary experience worth sharing and expanding on, I was brought back to holiday baking, recalling shining moments in the kitchen learning to bake an unruly amount of cookies and squares to store for the season. I remember quality time spent eating our baking.
One time my grandfather and I stashed an entire tin of truffle-wrapped maraschinos and giggled secretly as we ate them.
I recalled fond memories of ice skating on frozen ponds at the family holiday home on cold winter nights until my toes were so cold that they would take half an hour to thaw out. It was bearable because I had a thermos of homemade hot chocolate to warm me up. Holiday snowmobiling on the lake, always concluded with coming home to a hot drink and peppermint shortbread. Little holiday treats such as chocolate covered pretzels and Nanaimo bars could always be found frozen in a tin in the freezer. Our supplies of sweets would last until spring. As a teen my dad and I would spend time together snowboarding. During those adventures we would sip homemade soup packed lovingly in thermos’ by my mother. After charging lines all morning, the smoothness of the warm liquid would coat our stoked insides with a hearty layer of vitamins and minerals keeping us healthy and warming our cheekbones.
Making a puree soup from scratch is so easy!
Take a couple of acorn squashes (they’re inexpensive and have a sweet and mild flavour), cut them in half and deseed them. Coat the exposed flesh in olive oil and a spice rub of cinnamon and black pepper. Roast at 300 F for a couple of hours, until the rind on the outside is soft.
Then sweat some chopped onions, carrots and garlic in a soup pot.
Next, peel the rind off the squash and add the skinless squash to the pot. If you have white wine add a splash of that to the pot, then fill the rest with water. Season the soup with salt, black pepper and cinnamon to taste, and simmer on the stove for an hour. Then, stick an immersion blender in the pot or pour the soup in to your blender and blend until smooth.
Thicken your soup by simmering off some of the water or thin your soup by adding more water and adjusting the seasonings.
Also try this simple recipe for homemade hot chocolate. It’s superior to powdered hot chocolate because this recipe uses real cream and real pure dark chocolate.
Melt six ounces of pure (that means no additives!) semisweet or bittersweet baker’s chocolate over a double boiler, stir in three tablespoons of water, and then divide evenly into the bottom of three coffee mugs. Mix in hot milk and add a dollop of whipped cream to the top.
You may choose to sweeten it a little more, although this is already a sweet drink so you probably won’t need to! Kids love the rich flavour of pure hot chocolate. Adults may choose to add a splash of peppermint schnapps or Chambord (raspberry liqueur) for good taste and additional warmth.
Do yourself a favour this season and pack your own homemade soup for your day on the hill, then take five, or 20, sitting by the fire with your gourmet cup of cocoa.