You don’t need a Farmer’s Almanac to know that wintry weather is on its way – or already here. What better time to warm the cockles of your heart – and your chilly hands – by enjoying a nice mug of something hot and good. Or good and hot, if you prefer.
Carrying a thermos with something warm inside tastes soooo good when spending time outdoors. But don’t count on that piping brew to ward off hypothermia (potentially fatal low body temperature) because it won’t raise your core body temperature very much.
Still, as long as the liquid doesn’t contain too much alcohol, it is probably contributing to the body’s overall hydration and that’s a good thing. Frigid conditions pull water out of your body so it’s important to keep drinking liquids. Alcohol, of course, is a dehydrant – it removes water from the system which is the opposite of what you need to survive.
For some people, hot tea is their first choice for a cold-weather picker-upperer. Others prefer coffee to taste. Still others like to spike their imbibements with the harder stuff.
It’s no surprise that scientific studies have concluded that people drink more of the things they like. So, no matter how your taste lies, feel free to try out the following favorite recipes.
I know it’s time for the holidays when grocery stores stock eggnog. Did you know that any beverage made with beaten eggs is a nog? It’s easy to gently heat a cup of the store-bought beverage in a microwave on a low setting (power level 3) and embellish it with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Or you can try your hand at making it yourself.
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups of milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of ground cinnamon (for topping)
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and creamy.
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, milk, nutmeg, and salt. Stir often until the mixture barely simmers.
- 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.
- Once most of the hot milk has been added to the eggs, pour the mixture back into the saucepan on the stove.
- 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.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the eggnog into a pitcher or other container and cover it with plastic wrap.
- 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.
- Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and fresh whipped cream, if desired.
- Store homemade eggnog in the fridge for up to one week.
Alcohol is optional and better added after the nog is heated. Start by beating egg yolks with sugar until light and fluffy to make a base. Then, slowly whisk in hot milk steeped in cloves and cinnamon (which tempers the eggs and prevents them from curdling – turning lumpy and gross). To finish, warm and stir the eggnog on the stovetop to thicken it into a custardy consistency.
This drink is an all-time classic – in England. I read about hot toddies in British novels and couldn’t wait to try one when I got old enough. When I did, the experience was not what I had expected. See what you think about this natural remedy for the aches and pains that go along with the common cold.
- 1½ ounce brown liquor (brandy, whiskey or rum)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- 8 ounce (1 cup) hot water
- Lemon wedge, cinnamon stick and star anise, for garnish (optional)
- Combined the first four ingredients into the bottom of a warmed mug. If desired, garnish with the lemon, cinnamon stick or star anise.
It turns out that scientists have determined that the ingredients in a hot toddy do just what your over-the-counter Nyquil does: ease congestion and make you drowsy so you can sleep. The alcohol content of the whiskey fights off infection, the growth of harmful microorganisms, and is a potent decongestant as it dilates the blood vessels so mucus can drain more readily.
A warm mug of hot wine is standard festive fare in chilly parts of Europe, flavored with citrus and spices. The drink is very much like heated sangria – so what’s not to like? Some people can’t imagine the holiday season without their mulled wine. Families pass on cherished recipes from generation to generation but for those new to the delights of steaming alcoholic vapors, this basic how-to will walk you through the preparation.
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 star anise
- 4 oranges, peeled, for garnish
- Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.
- Alternatively, heat the ingredients in a slow cooker at a lower setting to release the flavors more gently, preserving maximum potency.
Mulled wine has been a Christmas tradition since the second century and is attributed to the Romans. Research has linked drinking moderate amounts of heated spiced wine with reducing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, the common cold and retarding aging while boosting the brain.