It’s a season for families to come together and celebrate the holiday spirit. And when everyone from the grandparents on down to little grandchildren are together under one roof, that means it’s time for another big feast!
CT Grown products are a great choice for the family gathering. You’ll also need something to wet your whistle, though, and Connecticut’s farmers have you covered there as well! Check out these options, and raise a glass to CT Grown for the holiday season!
Like many traditional holiday dishes or beverages, eggnog was once considered a luxury due to the priciness of many of its ingredients. Families would splurge on the drink — and other delicious items — and hold toasts to wealth and prosperity in the new year.
Although eggnog is no longer considered a luxury, these toasts have remained — along with the seasonal availability of the beverage, which could conceivably be offered year-round. Eggnog is a thick, sweet drink that mixes milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, and whipped egg whites.
Several Connecticut dairy farms get in on the holiday spirit by producing eggnog at this time of year. You can enjoy it plain, or spike it with alcohol like rum or bourbon.
This is also the only time of year you can test it out in other ways! Try eggnog as a coffee creamer, or use it as a milk substitute in recipes for waffles, pancakes, and cookies.
Spanish for “little coconut,” coquito is also referred to as Puerto Rican Eggnog due to its popularity on the island. As a tropical tradition, many of its ingredients — including coconut milk, coconut cream, and vanilla — aren’t exactly CT Grown.
However, you can still use yolks from locally sourced eggs and mix them with condensed milk (a product invented in Connecticut, incidentally) to make a thick base for this drink. Add in some rum from a Connecticut distillery as well!
Whiskeys and spirits
A growing number of distilleries in Connecticut are giving residents and visitors a local option when it comes to bourbon, gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, and other spirits. These distilleries frequently partner with local farms to infuse their product with flavors like fruit and herbs.
During the holiday season, you can relax with warming drinks like a hot toddy, hot buttered rum (using CT Grown butter, of course), spiked hot chocolate, or a nor’easter — a winter spin on the Moscow Mule that includes maple syrup in the mix.
Some of Connecticut’s 45 farm wineries close their doors for the season when colder temperatures arrive, but many are happy to welcome guests throughout the year. Pull up a seat in the cozy tasting room to enjoy some delicious vintages, and pick up a bottle or two as a gift.
Connecticut farm wines also work well for mulling to create a delicious, warm beverage on a holiday evening. Mulled wine is prepared with ingredients like oranges, honey, and spices for a wonderful evening libation.
Yes, the drink from the Christmas song!
Traditionally held on Twelfth Night, wassailing involves a group of people visiting homes to sing festive tunes and wish the occupants good cheer. The homeowner rewards them with a small gift (a figgy pudding, perhaps) in exchange for the group’s blessings and a drink from the bowl of wassail they carried. In addition to the neighborhood strolls, wassailing ceremonies have also taken place in orchards to bless the trees before the next season.
Although caroling has largely replaced wassailing, the beverage remains a unique holiday offering — and one that can easily use CT Grown ingredients. Wassail is traditionally made with a base of cider, ale, or wine, which is then mulled with spices.
Connecticut’s craft breweries are in operation year-round. But once winter arrives and patrons abandon the beer garden for the toasty taproom, the preferred styles shift to heartier fare.
“Winter warmers” such as porters and stouts typically use darker malts, have a higher alcohol by volume (ABV), and are more filling. In addition, many breweries celebrate the season by creating holiday ales with ingredients like cinnamon, orange peel, and other flavors found in mulled drinks.
You may also find a greater availability of imperial beer options, which have stronger, heartier flavors that may be further enhanced through barrel aging. These beers also have a very high ABV, so be sure to drink responsibly.
This autumn favorite is still available during the holidays, though this is also your last call for the delicious beverage. Apple cider is a dark, sweet beverage produced by compressing apple mash; since it lacks preservatives, it has a shorter shelf life and more seasonal availability compared to apple juice.
Warm up with apple cider on a cold evening by mulling it with honey, maple syrup, or spices. You can also look for some of the hard cider options offered by many orchards, which often have varieties pairing the alcoholic beverage with flavors like honey and ginger.
Milk for Santa
You can’t forget Saint Nick this time of year. Locally produced milk is available from 87 dairy farms in Connecticut, and leaving out a glass of milk for Santa ensures that he’ll get 13 essential nutrients with every serving.
No matter how you recognize the holiday season, feasting is a big part of the occasion. When families come together, the dinner table is the perfect place to celebrate with loved ones over a rich and hearty meal.
Holiday meal traditions go back generations, and fresh CT Grown ingredients can easily be used for many of the customary dishes served at holiday occasions. Here’s a look at why certain foods come to the table each year, with suggested recipes that can be made with a little help from your local farmers and producers.
Many traditional Hanukkah dishes are fried in oil, commemorating the well-known miracle of the menorah burning for eight days even though there was only enough oil for one day. Latkes and sufganiyot are particularly popular during the holiday.
Latkes are commonly prepared with potatoes, but often incorporate cheese as well. This ingredient honors the story of the heroine Judith, who saved her people by feeding an Assyrian general salty cheese and wine, then decapitating him.
Sweet potatoes are readily available at Connecticut winter farmers’ markets and go great with the following latke recipe. You can also pick up some CT Grown jelly or jam for this delicious sufganiyot treat.
Christmas meal traditions vary widely from country to country. Common Christmastime dishes include tamales in Mexico, minced pies in Eastern Europe, and fish in Italy and Scandinavia.
Despite the melding of many cultures in the United States, the big feast on Christmas Eve or Christmas is still largely rooted in English tradition. British celebrations feature a hearty main dish such as a turkey or roast, and Brussels sprouts also became a popular choice due to their hardiness as a winter crop.
For a traditional twist that makes a statement, try the following recipes with CT Grown pork, Brussels sprouts, and maple syrup.
Kwanzaa’s name derives from a Swahili phrase for “first fruits of the harvest,” and the celebration is rooted in the harvest festivals of sub-Saharan Africa.
The holiday incorporates many food-related symbols, including mazao (for harvest crops, represented by fruits/vegetables), and muhindi (for fertility and the future offered by children, represented by one ear of corn for each child in the family). Meals also typically incorporate collard greens, a symbol of fortune, and black-eyed peas, a symbol of good luck.
For the traditional Karamu feast on December 31, try these hearty dishes that use CT Grown foods like winter squash, chicken, garlic, and peppers.