Make it Monday – 2 Holiday Beverage Traditions
The Wassailing celebrations generally take place on the Twelfth Night, 5th January, however the more traditional still insist in celebrating it on ‘Old Twelvey’, or the 17th January, the correct date; that is before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar messed things up in 1752.
There are two distinct variations of wassailing. One involves groups of merrymakers going from one house to another, wassail bowl in hand, singing traditional songs and generally spreading fun and good wishes. The other form of wassailing is generally practiced in the countryside, particularly in fruit growing regions, where it is the trees that are blessed.
Recipe - Hot Wassail
A hot cup of homemade Wassail is one of my favorite holiday drinks. It's a delicious hot cider drink that combines the flavors of orange and apple with cinnamon and spices.
• ▢ 2 apples
• ▢ 8 cups apple cider
• ▢ 2 cups orange juice
• ▢ 1/3 cup lemon juice
• ▢ 4 cinnamon sticks
• ▢ 15 whole cloves ,or ½ tsp ground cloves
• ▢ 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• ▢ 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• ▢ 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar , optional
1. Poke the whole cloves into the apples on all sides.
2. Add all of the ingredients, including the apples, to a large pot over medium low heat.
3. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.
4. Remove the apples and whole cloves. Ladle into mugs and enjoy!
A Brief History of Eggnog
Eggnog really makes you wonder: How did humans first think chugging a spiced and spiked egg-yolk-and-milk mixture was a good idea? It’s a bit like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast: “Now that I’m grown, I eat five dozen eggs, so I’m roughly the size of a barge!” Yet despite its “love it or hate it” fame, eggnog has charmed drinkers for nearly a millennium.
While culinary historians debate its exact lineage, most agree eggnog originated from the early medieval Britain “posset,” a hot, milky, ale-like drink. By the 13th century, monks were known to drink a posset with eggs and figs. Milk, eggs, and sherry were foods of the wealthy, so eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health.
Eggnog became tied to the holidays when the drink hopped the pond in the 1700s. American colonies were full of farms—and chickens and cows—and cheaper rum, a soon-signature ingredient. Mexico adopted the very eggnog varietal “rompope,” and Puerto Rico enjoys the “coquito,” which adds coconut milk. The English name’s etymology however remains a mystery. Some say “nog” comes from “noggin,” meaning a wooden cup, or “grog,” a strong beer. By the late 18th century, the combined term “eggnog” stuck.
Eggnog purists argue that those who don’t like the Yuletide drink have simply never tasted the real thing. Sugar-laced supermarket versions can’t hold a candle to the homemade goodness, especially since the US Food and Drug Administration permits that the drink can be made from as little as 1% egg yolk. That often borders on “milknog” or egg flavoring.
Our founders would have had none of that. George Washington even penned his own famous heavy-on-the-alcohol eggnog recipe. Only one problem: he forgot to record the exact number of eggs. Cooks in his era estimated a dozen would do:
One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.
So as you enjoy your holiday cheer, please drink responsibly. Not just for the alcohol, but also for the calories: eggnog can pack in upwards of 400 big ones per cup.
Recipe - Homemade Eggnog
The BEST Homemade Egg Nog recipe! Thick and creamy with the perfect mild flavor and hint of nutmeg. You'll never buy store-bought eggnog again!
• ▢ 6 large egg yolks
• ▢ 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• ▢ 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• ▢ 2 cups milk
• ▢ 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• ▢ pinch of salt
• ▢ 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ▢ ground cinnamon , for topping
1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and creamy.
2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, milk, nutmeg and salt. Stir often until mixture reaches a bare simmer.
3. Add a big spoonful of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. Repeat, adding a big spoonful at a time, to temper the eggs.
4. Once most of the hot milk has been added to the eggs, pour the mixture back into the saucepan on the stove.
5. Whisk constantly for just a few minutes, until the mixture is just slightly thickened (or until it reaches about 160 degrees F on a thermometer). It will thicken more as it cools.
6. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
7. Pour the eggnog into a pitcher or other container and cover with plastic wrap.
8. Refrigerate until chilled. It will thicken as it cools. If you want a thinner, completely smooth consistency, you can add the entire mixture to a blender with 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk and blend until smooth.
9. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and fresh whipped cream, if desired.
10. Store homemade eggnog in the fridge for up to one week.
If you would like to add alcohol to your eggnog, choose a drink with a high alcohol concentration to help counterbalance the sweetness of the eggnog. Common choices of alcohol to add to eggnog include brandy, rum, bourbon or whisky.
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- Carole Zellers