By MARY ANN LIENHART CROSS
County Extension Director and Educator, Purdue Extension Elkhart County
A special part of the holiday foods are the beverages.
Beverages, whether hot or cold, can provide lots of color and can be full of food value. Unfortunately, they can also be high in sugar and fat. One of my favorites for fall and winter is hot or mulled cider; it’s great for breakfast or when you come in from the cold. The traditional way to make it is in most cookbooks.
A quick modern version is to simply add some cinnamon candies. To one gallon of apple cider add about one-quarter cup or so. I have experimented and made a cinnamon syrup and then I have this ready any time I need it. I use a two cup measuring cup and I melt them in the microwave, stirring every few minutes. Once the syrup is cooled I place it in a glass jar and then into the refrigerator. This cinnamon syrup is a nice addition to hot cocoa, as well as to flavor fried apples, or as a syrup for waffles or pancakes.
Another holiday tradition is made with equal amounts of cranberry juice, cider or apple juice, and pineapple juice. To this combination add one quarter cup of raisins and an orange peel that has been studded with whole cloves. You can heat the mixture up so the flavors blend together. The glogg can be served cold or warm. The clove flavor will become stronger the longer the studded peel is in the glogg. You can remove the orange peel and raisins or leave them in. If you remove the raisins, they are wonderful with your morning oatmeal, added to pancakes, muffins or just eaten.
I also enjoy eggnog. If you make eggnog, make sure it is safe eggnog. To make safe eggnog, the egg mixture needs to be cooked. Cook the egg mixture in a double boiler or in the microwave until it reaches 160 degrees F as measured by a food thermometer, at this temperature the egg mixture is thick enough that it coats a spoon. Then use pasteurized milk and flavoring and refrigerate.
Another winter beverage that I really like is hot cocoa. Making your own mix has advantages. I know I use a large box of powdered milk. It cost a lot but all those little packages of cocoa mix cost more and there is very little milk in them.
I also use a large powdered creamer and then a container of chocolate milk mix or can of cocoa. Then stir it all together. A slotted spoon is good for this. Then place in containers. Plan to use one third cup of the mix to one cup hot water.
A fun way to heighten the charm of cold beverages is to spruce them up with decorative ice cubes. I like to use fruit juice for the cubes so they don’t dilute the beverages. If using water draw the water from the tap and stir it four or five times during a 10 or 15 minute period to remove the air bubbles so you will have clear cubes.
Fill a freezer tray with water or punch and add a maraschino cherry, a piece of lemon or pineapple and freeze. You can also create attractive ice rings. Select a decorative mold or tubular ring type.