The First Two Days of Christmas

Christmas Day –  dinner for 9.

Locally smoked salmon with creme fraiche tartines (homemade baguette)

Cream of butternut squash & parsnips with truffle oil (butternut squash from guest Wendy ‘s garden. This is Wendy’ second year of gardening only and she – unlike me – had a very nice winter squash harvest. Thanks for sharing, Wendy!)

Green garden salad (mache, lettuces, chicories, chickweed & arugula) with fresh persimmon slices, dry cranberries & toasted pecans. Blackberry vinaigrette.

Roasted leg of Piedmont lamb with garlic, rosemary & ginger. Fennel carrots, mashed potatoes & sautéed oyster mushrooms

Cheese platter (Virginia and other American cheeses), homemade quince paste

A fabulous chocolate torte AND profiteroles made by guest and professional baker Brooke Parkhurst of Triple Oak Bakery (amazingly delicious and gluten-free!)

Dainties, locally roasted coffee and homemade cordials.

Served with Virginia Wines:  Barboursville Brut, RdV Friends & Family 2008, and dessert Chateau O’Brien Virginia Apple Wine.


The First Day of Christmas – walk it off

The Second Day of Christmas  – make limoncello

It’s raining. One of our Christmas indulgences was a huge box of citruses sourced through Local Harvest from Beck Farm/La Vigne Fruits, a biodynamic producer of citrus and other tropical and sub-tropical fruit in California. Since the fruit is not treated with pesticides nor coated with any wax, I am saving the rinds as we consume the fruit to make cordials (we havevery little lemoncello left so it’s time to remedy that) and dry the zest. Also trying to see if I can flavor sugar with rinds. Lots of citrus confections in the next few days!

Homemade Lemon Liqueur/cordial

  • 4 very large organically gown and unwaxed lemons, preferably Meyer lemons
  • 1 quart (1 liter ) vodka
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar

Gently wash the lemons. Peel the zest with as little pith as possible (this is one reason the Meyer lemons are preferable: they have very little bitter pith and they also impart a particularly gorgeous shade of brilliant yellow to the liqueur).

Use the lemons for something else (curd, sorbet etc)

Put zest in a lidded glass jar with the vodka. Close and let age in a dark-ish place  for 1-2 weeks, shaking gently every day (or when you think about it). It’s possible that you will have a satisfying color in less time than that. I have seen recipes calling for only 3 days of steeping. I generally do 10.

Strain the liqueur. Pour it back into the glass container. Save and dry the zests, you can still use them in cooking.

Add the sugar to the alcohol, and stir well to dissolve. Let sit for 3 days, shaking occasionally if there is undissolved sugar left. You can now bottle and consume.

This golden color liqueur is traditionally be consumed iced-cold for aperitif or digestif.



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