Finally, after two years of renovations, the Summer House, an 18th-century Colonial on her Bedford farm, was complete. The interior sparkled with golden wreaths and ornaments. And the music room, home to a new Steinway & Sons grand piano, was the centerpiece for this gathering of family and friends who love to sing.
Upon arrival, each guest was given a songbook, and soon the house filled with the exuberant voices of friends happy to be gathered around the piano on a crisp winter day. Between songs, the buffet beckoned with its own renditions of holiday classics: oysters on the half shell topped with shimmering mignonette gelee, crudites, teacups of winter-squash soup, pork potpies, and stuffed cabbages.
Another table offered Martha's signature eggnog, rich with cream and laced with rum, bourbon, and Cognac. There were dazzling cookies, a whipped-cream cake filled with mincemeat, and Christmas trees made of stacked white-chocolate stars.
"We sang, we ate, we sang some more, we ate some more," Martha says. "And then we took walks." Bundling up, the guests strolled through a dusting of fresh white snow, a pitch-perfect end to a fine, festive day.
Related: 27 Easy Party Food Ideas You Can Make in a Pinch
Martha's Classic Eggnog
6 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup superfine sugar
2 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup bourbon, preferably Maker's Mark
1/4 cup dark rum, preferably Mount Gay
1/4 cup Cognac, preferably Remy Martin Grand Cru
Freshly grated nutmeg, for sprinkling
The egg yolks and whites in this recipe are not cooked. This dish should not be prepared for pregnant women, the elderly, or anyone whose health is compromised.
1. Beat yolks in a very large bowl until thick and pale. Slowly beat in sugar. Whisk in milk and 2 cups cream. Mix in bourbon, rum, and Cognac. Cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
2. Just before serving, beat whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into eggnog. Whisk remaining 1 cup cream until stiff peaks form, and fold into eggnog. (Alternatively, you can fold half the whipped cream into eggnog, and top with remaining half.) Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Related: These Pretty (and Delicious!) Holiday Cookie Recipes Are Perfect for Gifting
Martha's Christmas Songbook
Nothing says Christmas like caroling. To make the songbook that Martha hands out to guests at her holiday parties, download and print one of our files.
The booklet is available in 8 1/2-by-11-inch or 11-by-17-inch versions; select one based on your printer's capability. You may wish to print a single songbook and take it to a copy center to have multiples made.
You can print the cover onto card stock in your choice of color and embellish the title with gold foil if desired, or simply print the cover on standard paper. Bind the sheets with ribbon.
The file is set up for you to print it on both sides of the paper. Pages will not print in sequential order, but they will be in the correct order once they are stacked and folded. If you plan to use the gold-foil treatment for the lettering on the cover, follow the directions in "Gilded Lettering How-To" below before proceeding to step 2. (Note: You will need a laser printer.)Materials
1. Using a laser or ink-jet printer, print the cover page (first page of file: blank on left, title on right) onto card stock.
2. Using a ruler and a bone folder, score the sheet down the center, and then fold the sheet in half.
3. Print the second page of the file (eggnog recipe on left, title page on right). Using the same sheet of paper, print the third page of the file (contents on left, page 16 on right) on the opposite side, manually feeding sheet back into the printer. (Note: Depending on your printer, you may need to flip the sheet over.) Place sheet on a work surface with the second side face-up. Repeat, printing one page of file at a time and feeding the sheet back into printer to print the next page of the file. As each sheet is completed, place the second side face-up.
4. Using ruler and bone folder, score each sheet down the center, and then fold in half. Slip the folded sheet that you printed last into the folded sheet that you printed before it. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Check the page numbers to confirm the pages are in order. Place stack inside cover sheet.
5. Open the songbook. Using a 1/8-inch screw hole punch, cut out the 2 guide holes in the center of the songbook. (You can substitute a 1/8-inch standard hole punch, cutting holes as far from top and bottom edges of songbook as hole punch will allow.) Starting inside the songbook, thread a ribbon through the holes and tie it along the outside of the songbook. Trim the ends if desired. (We used a length of 1/4-inch-wide ribbon about 20 inches long; use a longer ribbon if you prefer a more decorative bow.)
6. Using a laser or ink-jet printer, print the cover page onto card stock.
7. Print the remaining pages, one at a time. To make double-sided pages, print the first page, and then print the next page on the opposite side of the sheet, manually feeding sheet back into the printer. (Note: Depending on your printer, you may need to flip the sheet over.) Repeat with remaining pages. Stack pages in order, from front cover to recipe; check the page numbers to confirm the pages are in order. Add a blank page of card stock at the end for the back cover.
8. Using a 1/8-inch hole punch, cut out the 2 guide holes along the side of the songbook's cover, cutting through entire stack of pages. Thread ribbon through the holes from back cover to front, and tie. Trim the ends if desired. (We used a length of 1/4-inch-wide ribbon about 20 inches long; use a longer ribbon if you prefer a more decorative bow.)
9. To create the gilded lettering, first print the cover as directed above. This project requires a laser printer (the foil clings only to toner, not ink). For the best results, make sure your printer has plenty of toner. Cut a square of gold foil large enough to cover the title. Using adhesive squares (included with the gold foil), attach each corner of foil to the cover over title.
10. Pass the cover through the printer again. (Print a blank document, manually feeding the cover into the printer.) Wait 30 seconds, and then peel off foil.
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