manhattan cocktail
Banana Manhattan

Among the reindeer games played in the last 48 hours was our second annual game of Cocktail Roulette: Steve and I stayed home & mixed new drinks for each other on new year’s eve. We found it to be a remarkably creative activity to be doing as 2012 ended! We explored sweet, bitter, buttery, fresh and tart flavors, and a bright palette of pinks, reds, yellows, warm browns and purples in our martini or collins glasses. Sound, too played a part: as we dug into the surprisingly deep liquor cabinet, the bottles of various shapes and sizes let out a chorus of rings as we moved the bottles around to extract til-now neglected elixirs. Newly and gladly created or discovered cocktails include: the Banana Manhattan, the Versailles Lemonade, and the Rebecca. The Tequila Ghost was not so tasty but at least put on a great dress for the evening.

Other wonders on my last day of the year included re-caulking our tub (halleluja!) a rare trip downtown via the bus (I couldn’t stop grinning during each 8-minute ride. I love public transit), a visit to the newly-remodeled and very sparkly market at Cossetta Alimentari, and a great candlelight evening yoga class with five of my regulars, and one new student.

The fun continued on the first with a party all afternoon; this has become an annual tradition. We cook up a storm, get some good music going, then open the doors & let conversations ensue. It was great to see some 40 or so friendly faces, coming together from our work, family, skiing, running, climbing, college, grade school, neighborhood, and yoga communities. We served up four kinds of homemade sweets including a chocolate whiskey bundt; three savory dips; a cheese-chutney roll; a hunk of Cougar Gold cheese; and two chilis (red- and black-lentil Thai chili, and a 5-grain meat version). My favorite taste from the day was the Muhammara dip. For this take on a middle eastern appetizer, I merged a few different recipes; I’ll share the instructions for my variation below.

Zion National Park
Dipping at Zion

So, 2012 ended up being a darn good year on several fronts. The house got new, efficient windows, and I brightened up the main bathroom with some fresh caulk. We enjoyed several trips, all of which included visits with family and/or old friends – including a really rare whole week with my brother and sister-in-law. I visited some new places: the Methow Valley; the north rim (and associated trails downward) of the Grand Canyon; Zion National Park; Milwaukee; Lexington, Kentucky; and the Yaax Che Botanical Garden. We enjoyed some great theater, live music, and visual art exhibitions in the twin towns. My yoga teaching has grown, both as a business and as an personal journey. Health-wise, I suffered through one minor cold, and now a stress fracture in my foot, but overall I’m blessed with good health and a sufficiently limber, strong body that allows me to enjoy getting outside for the scenery and/or various endurance challenges.

Creatively, I’m still about 30 minutes away from finishing that 7-year knitting project. Similarly, my 2012 plans to move forward with coding skills fell victim to a busy schedule and less-focused mind.

My hopes for 2013 are to keep moving forward, making and marking progress as I go, in my various goal areas (house fixer, business owner, traveler, creator).

A few weeks ago I attended another Yoga Nidra class, during which we were encouraged to choose a sankalpa, or intention. It’s a different way to look at goals and personal change, using positive and powerful words. In the last few weeks of the year, partly due to my foot injury, partly due to fairly normal holiday stresses, I had been feeling very reactionary and ungrounded, despite my general optimistic and fiery, driven nature. My sankalpa for that practice was, “I am steady.” That will work as a good mantra for 2013.

Muhammara

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients

  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and divided
  • 1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (or honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 cups of cut up vegetables, for dipping: radishes, carrots, celery. Or, pita/lentil chips, pretzel rods.

Preparation

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 20 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 20 minutes. Peel peppers, and discard skins.
  3. Place 4 bell pepper halves, 3 tablespoons walnuts, breadcrumbs, and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor, and process until smooth. Add remaining 2 bell pepper halves; pulse until coarsely chopped. Spoon dip into a bowl; stir in juice. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon walnuts. Serve with dipping vehicle of choice.

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