Thursday, December 22, 2011

"12 Days of Christmas" Day 10, Yuletide Drinks & Winter Solstice

“In the bleak midwinter, Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak midwinter, Long Ago.” ~ Christina Rossetti, A Christmas Carol

Before there were clocks or calendars, man observed the sun and moon, to mark the day with the shortest amount of sunlit hours. This day came to be called Yule, also known as the Winter Solstice. (December 21st) Gathering around the hearth (fireplace) or bonfires was a common ritual. That was the beginning of the Yule Log known today. The Yule Log dates back to the 12th century in Europe, France and Italy as well. The wood for the Yule Log is supposed to be harvested off the owner’s own land, or received as a gift, never purchased. Holly sprigs are thrown in the fire by the guests and family members to carry away troubles from the past year. Some customs believe that the longer the log burned, the more bountiful the coming year would be. Some thick logs would be soaked in water, cider, ale or wine, and allowed to dry. This served as a blessing before lighting and contributed to the log burning more slowly over a prolonged period of time.

Christmas and the Winter Solstice is a great time to have a drink, relax and enjoy the Yule Log burning with family and friends. It’s that time of year when you are most likely to be hosting a party. No party is complete without a festive holiday drink. Holiday themed drinks that range from classics like Egg Nog to Christmas inspired punches, to warm hot chocolate covered with marshmallows are a festive way to celebrate this time of the year. Always have one non-alcoholic punch at your party for your guests who do not drink and for your non-adult children.

As we are entering Day 10, of my “12 Days of Christmas,” I would love to share with you a few recipes for your holiday themed drinks. These classic refreshments can be chilled with ice in a festive glass or warmed in a mug with a cinnamon stick as an added decoration.

Remember that the holiday season should be a time for merriment, so please drink responsibly.

Day 10--Homemade Hot Chocolate (non-alcoholic)
A steamy mug of Hot Chocolate is a welcome treat. The real secret to this drink’s success is a large amount of fluffy whipped cream floating on the top or marshmallows.
Rich and Creamy Hot Chocolate
1- 1/2 cups of milk
1 cup of half & half
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
Whipped Cream

Place the milk, half and half, sugar, and chocolate in a double boiler. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted; continue to heat for another minute, then remove from heat. Add vanilla and blend. For an extra frothy hot chocolate, use a stick blender to whip the mixture, or blend on whip in an electric blender. Yield: 2 servings

Day 10--Two Fun Alcoholic Drinks

Chocolate Snow Bear
Combine 1 oz of Amaretto, 1 oz of Crème de Cacao, 5 oz French vanilla ice cream, 1/4 of an oz of chocolate syrup, and 2 dashes of vanilla extract in a blender on low speed for about 2 minutes and pour into a chilled champagne flute.

Christmas White Russian
You want to fill an 8 oz glass with ice then add 1- 1/2oz of Vodka and 1- 1/2 oz of Kahlua, add 4 oz of chilled Egg Nog, stir it all together and enjoy!

Day 10- Non -Alcoholic Punch

Mrs. Claus’ Holiday Punch
1 gallon fresh apple cider
1/2 gallon of orange juice
20 Whole Cloves
20 Whole Allspice
4 Cinnamon Sticks, broken in half
Orange slices

Combine cider, orange juice, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon sticks in an 8-quart pot.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. To serve, strain punch and float orange slices. Makes 22-24 cups (Created by McCormick, Inc.)
Day 10- A Wassail Hot Punch- (Wine & Sherry)
This beverage is a hot, mulled punch often associated with Yuletide. Historically, the drink was a mulled cider made with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Apples or oranges where often added to the mix. Wassailing is an ancient English custom. The master of the household drank to the health of those present saying , “Wass hael,” which means “be whole” or “be well.”
Wassail Recipe
From The Williamsburg Cookbook

1 cup of sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
3 lemon slices
2 cups of pineapple juice
2 cups of orange juice
6 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup of dry sherry
2 lemons, sliced

Boil the sugar, cinnamon sticks, and 3 lemon slices in 1/2 cup of water for 5 minutes and strain. Discard the cinnamon sticks and lemon slices. Heat but do not boil the remaining ingredients. Combine with the syrup, garnish with the lemon slices, and serve hot. Yield: 20 servings

 Till Next Time…………………..

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