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Pine Nuts: Christmas Cointreau

McAvoy Layne

In full disclosure, I am a terrible cook, no, I am the worst cook in the western hemisphere. When I am left in charge of dinner, guests leave Layne Haven feeling confused and disoriented for several days. However, sometimes I forget how horrible a cook I am, and impulsively invite folks over to Twain Haven for one thing or another, and oh, dinner…

This happened the other evening when I invited half-a-dozen friends over for an unveiling of Julie’s Amazing Magical Twain Quilt, handmade for Mark Twain.

I should mention here that, along with being the world’s worst cook, I am an even worse shopper, so it happened that I purchased, upon first glance, a seven-layer bean-dip party-platter, heated-it-up, sliced-it-up, and served-it-up, as an entrée.



The room got uncomfortably quiet. I heard a sigh, and Julie asked with tears in her eyes, “So…what…exactly…is this?”

I had to admit I didn’t know, and that it was an impulse purchase. Be glad you weren’t here. I don’t know about the others, but it corked-me-up-pretty-tight for three days…



On the flipside of my culinary disasters, I am working up a Christmas Cointreau that might just rescue my reputation. In fact, it is with a spring in my step that I am shopping for the ingredients today…

First you need a bottle of brandy, and it doesn’t matter what brand it is because you are going to improve upon it. Pour that brandy into a large bell jar, add ¾ cup of sugar, and stir vigorously. Now, you need some string to suspend a navel orange above that brandy, and then, snap the jar shut, nice and tight. Place that jar where you can watch that orange sweat for thirty days, and voila! Here’s your Christmas Cointreau! But I caution you, do not, even if your best friend dares you, eat the orange. I did that once, and it might have killed a lesser man.

By the way, do not tackle this task alone. Making Christmas Cointreau requires two people because it takes three hands and sometimes four, to suspend the orange, and then seal the lid of the airtight bell jar. I shall leave a small bottle out for Santa, along with my list of wishes for Christmas…

Dear Santa, I have been good this year if you don’t count culinary, so I thank you in advance for delivering a world filled with love & justice, equality & respect, truth & compassion, oh, and peace. By the way, don’t knock this Christmas Cointreau back in one draught or you might not make it back to the North Pole by sun-up. Warm regards to Mrs. Clause, and of course, Rudolf.

PS: Please leave something for my pet blue jay, Huckleberry. He’s crazy about Beer Nuts if you happen to have any in your bag. Oh, and Huckleberry is fond of North Pole Ale also, should you happen to have a six-pack of that in your bag…

Safe Travels,

McAvoy


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