Ho! Ho! Ho! ‘Tis the season of merriment, mirth and magic. It’s a time for wishing and hoping and believing. It’s a time for children, a time to feel childlike, a time to wish all the world well. It’s a time for holly, jollies, jingle bells, candy canes, mistletoe, cookies, fruitcake, Hot Spiced Cider and Hot Mulled Wine.
Hot Spiced Cider fills the house with a wonderful, spicy aroma. Take a deep breath. You’ll know that it’s Christmas. Good for the senses and good for the soul, this is a warm, spicy drink that the whole family can enjoy. Add a little rum (use your discretion), and it becomes a hot cocktail. Either way, this drink will warm the cockles of your heart.
JEN’S HOT SPICED CIDER
1 gallon apple cider
½ gallon cranberry juice
12 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
1 dash allspice
1 cup sugar
-Combine ingredients and heat. Cool and reheat.
-Best when made the day before. Be careful to remove all cloves before serving.
Mulled Wine is heated and infused with spices and citrus. Originally called hippocras, it was named after the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, and was thought to be medicinal. Mulled Wine was the inspiration in medieval times for the creation of Spanish sangria. This hot drink is the wintertime version of sangria. Called Vin Chaud in France, Gluhwein in Germany and Austria, and Glogg in the Scandinavian countries, this warm, spicy, fragrant wine offers a welcoming treat.
At Christmas, we welcome family and friends to our home with a tray of cookies and a glass of “good cheer.” Hot Cider or Hot Wine would certainly qualify. The following recipe can be doubled for a larger crowd. Cheers!
HOT MULLED WINE
¼ lemon, sliced
½ cup sugar, divided
1 750 ml bottle inexpensive red wine
1 orange, squeezed for its juice
½ orange – studded with ½ Tbls. cloves (about 20)
2 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cardamom
½ tsp. ginger (or a piece of candied ginger)
¼ cup brandy (optional)
-Mix the lemon slices and ¼ cup of sugar in a small saucepan.
-Add a few tablespoons of wine to the pan and stir into the lemon/sugar mixture.
-Allow to boil for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-Stud the ½ orange with the cloves.
-In a large, non-aluminum pot or a crock pot, add the lemon/sugar mixture, wine, orange juice, clove-studded orange, ¼ cup sugar and the spices, but not the brandy.
-Allow to come to a simmer or, if using crock pot, no higher than medium setting.
-Simmer for ½ hour on stove or a few hours in crock pot on medium setting.
-Do not boil.
-Discard cloves and lemon/orange rinds.
-Add brandy, if desired.
-This drink is best made a little beforehand and allowed to sit so the flavors will mingle and blend.
-Note: Cloves can be placed in tea infuser or wrapped in cheesecloth.
-Mixture can be strained.
-Make sure to remove and discard cloves before serving.
-Even if you first make the Hot Wine using a saucepan, a crock pot is handy to keep the drink warm so everyone can help themselves.
I’ve just heard that Rudolph’s proven competence and repeated ability to guide the reindeer and Santa’s sleigh, even under the worst conditions, have earned him an appointment as Santa’s designated driver. So, if your house is Santa’s last stop on Christmas Eve, you can leave him cookies and Hot Cider or Hot Wine this year, as a special treat. You will rest easy knowing that Rudolph with his nose so bright will guide Santa home safely that night.
I wish you a very happy holiday, seasoned abundantly with peace and contentment. May you be blessed with the best gifts of all – those that come from the heart.
Eat well, live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon - WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 2512 Metropolitan Drive, Trevose, PA 19053)