Friendsgiving (+ Florida Orange Holiday Cocktail Recipe)

Oh, it’s been awhile since I posted last. We had an unexpected visitor last month. You might have heard of him – Hurricane Matthew? We had a lovely impromptu visit with some of our best friends when we evacuated to Tallahassee, but it’s taken weeks to get back to normal. When you think your house is going to be destroyed and you pack up all your important papers (both of the government issued and the child drawn varieties) as well as heirlooms and favorite things, it takes forever to put everything back.
But our house was spared. We lost a few trees, a fence, and a large dose of our sanity, but we are thankful.
That brings me to the theme of this post: thanksgiving. This year, in light of the hurricane that nearly hit us head on but bobbled east at the last minute, we have  much to be thankful for. It’s easy to grow weary of driving around the massive piles of debris that FEMA has yet to pick up, but this storm could have absolutely devastated my town.

Last year, my second family – the lovely folks in the picture above – came up with the idea of a Thanksgiving meal where we try out the fun, non-traditional Thanksgiving recipes we’ve always wanted to but that family might not appreciate on that most holy of holy traditional food days: Turkey Day. We also wanted to pause and give thanks for the friends God has brought into our lives, friends who have laughed and cried with us, who have seen us at our worst and love us anyway.
We call it Friendsgiving.

This year, our color theme was not the usual Thanksgiving jewel tones and autumn hues; instead, we opted for moss greens, lovely neutrals, and pops of peachy pink.

The ivory pumpkins are our quiet nod to the calendar – even though it’s still close to 80 degrees outside.

We decided to space out the Florida-themed meal over several courses so we could linger and savor the evening together. It was too dark for pictures, and I just wanted to enjoy the evening, so I don’t have food photos in this post. There is, however, a delightful cocktail below. Keep scrolling for the recipe.
We enjoyed our orange cocktails with crostini with sweet potato-bacon succotash for appetizers followed by sweet potato adobo soup with coconut swirls. Both of those recipes will be coming to the blog soon, so keep an eye out.

The salad was hearty and perfect for autumn – spinach and kale with a bacon vinaigrette and roasted turnips.

Our main course was polenta cakes topped with fresh caught local shrimp, cilantro marinated farmers’ market tomatoes, and goat cheese.

To wrap things up, we had a Meyer lemon chess pie with Florida produced vanilla infused sherry. It was a magical evening.

On to the drinks! This recipe comes to us from Field to Feast, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, which features seasonally-inspired recipes from Florida farms and restaurants. Everything I’ve made from it has been fantastic.
You’ll need glasses filled with ice to start with.

Then slice some oranges and limes.

Muddle two slices of orange and two slices of lime with one and a half ounces of vodka.

We used 4 Orange Premium Vodka, in keeping with our locally themed dinner, from Peace River, Florida. It’s made in Florida’s first registered distillery with the citrus molasses of four types of oranges.

Add some simple syrup, shake it up with ice, and pour into a glass with ice. Add a dash of bitters and serve.

It’s good on its own, but it’s best shared with friends.

Yield: 1 drink

The Florida Orange

Ingredients:
2 slices of orange
2 slices of lime
1 tablespoon of simple syrup (equal parts boiling water and sugar, stirred until dissolved)
1 1/2 ounces 4 Orange Premium Vodka
Ice
4 dashes bitters
Lime slice for garnish

Directions:
Muddle the lime and orange with the simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker (or, if you’re extra fancy,

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3 weeks ago