Autumn is my absolute favourite time year. I feel like it is a season made to excite our senses. From the crisp fall air, to the crunch of leaves beneath our feet to the tempting lure of everything cozy and pumpkin spice.
I was born on thanksgiving weekend and for me it is an extra special time to reflect on another year and all that I have to be grateful for.
This year with the world grasping to find peace and stability in their new normal I think it is more important than ever to count our blessings and tell the ones we love how much they mean to us (whether by zoom or sharing a bountiful table with them this weekend).
We are keeping it on a smaller scale this year but will still be indulging in our traditional favourites as well as testing out some new recipes. A short while ago Merridale Cidery & Distillery shared a bottle of their Cowichan Spiced Rhumb with us and we knew we had to hang onto it for a special occasion, and what better time than around a cozy fire and table full of food?
Merridale Cidery and Distillery is located in the heart of Cowichan on Vancouver Island, British Columbia where they make farm-crafted Cider, Spirits, and Fortified Ciders. Made from 100% Undiluted Apple Juice that is grown and produced at our Cobble Hill farm.
At Merridale, everything starts in the orchard at the Cobble Hill farm. They like to think of themselves as a delicious destination. A place where you can be introduced to all they do, and you know, kind of fall in love with them. They welcome you to tour, to taste, to eat, to learn, to relax, and above all, to have fun. They invite everyone - Kids and dogs, too!
Merridale is a team of people who are passionate about what they do and how they do it. They focus on traditional methods and practices with some innovation to ensure that they never compromise the end product. They are proud of everything they make and we want their customers to share in their passion and pride. We absolutely love a farm based business and we know you will too.
So with that said we decided to play around with their Cowichan Spiced Rhumb to spike a few of our family traditions around the table this year.
A rhumb line is an imaginary line on the earth's surface used as the standard method of plotting a ship's course on a chart. It is a path with a constant bearing. Their 4 year path to make rum from BC grown products led them to a method using BC honey, fermented, distilled two times in their small batch copper still, and then aged in oak barrels at the farm in Cobble Hill. They kept their bearings through years of challenges to get to this truly Cowichan version of rum. 43% alc.
I decided to add a little jazz to my must have turkey accompaniment, cranberry sauce. While everyone at our table doesn't love the bitter sweet flavours of this traditional sauce I have many found memories and me and my granddad scooping heaping helpings onto our plates throughout our rowdy dinners. He has long since passed but the tradition of making it every year (even if its just for a handful of us) is one I cherish.
So this year, ditch the idea of grabbing a can of this ruby ready goodness and make your own. Its simple, a right of passage and this time were spiking it (pretty sure Grandpa wont mind).
- 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
- ¾ cup orange juice
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- Optional: 2 oz Cowichan Rhumb
- Add the cranberries, juice, sugars, and optional rum to a sauce pan.
- Cook the sauce on medium-high for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced – stirring occasionally. You’ll soon hear the hissing and cracking of the cranberries bursting open – don’t worry, that is exactly what you want.
- Remove from the heat and serve. This Cranberry sauce can be made several days ahead and brought to room temperature or slightly heated before serving.
If you're looking for a sweet way to add a special touch to every place setting you can serve the cranberry sauce in individual ramekins at each guests seat.
While you are prepping the turkey this year throw on your favourite play list and whip up a batch of Apple Cider Punch. It only takes a few moments and your guests will have something crisp to sip on as you welcome them. I am including a simple recipe for you to use that will have you feeling festive in no time.
Apple Cider Punch
- 2 cups sparking apple cider
- 2 cups ginger ale
- 2 cups pineapple juice
- 1 cup spiced rum - We are using Merridale Cowichan Spiced Rum (optional)
- Ice cubes
- Sliced apples, citrus, cinnamon sticks and/or star anise, for garnish (optional)
- In a large pitcher or punch bowl, combine apple cider, ginger ale, pineapple juice, and spiced rum (optional). Stir to combine.
- Add ice and any garnishes.
- Serve immediately.
- To make a single cocktail, combine 2.5 oz. each of apple cider, ginger ale, and pineapple juice and 1.5 oz. spiced rum (optional). Stir in a glass with ice and enjoy.
- This cocktail can easily be made ahead and stored covered in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Cover the pitcher to retain the ginger ale's carbonation. Add ice and garnishes just before serving.