Food: Getting into the holiday spirit with a favorite recipe
I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of Christmas. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy the day off, and the reason for the season, but truthfully I think things have, over the years, gotten out of hand.
Take, for example, when I went grocery shopping last week and noticed Christmas candy on the shelves and in the dairy aisle, eggnog was making an appearance. When I saw this, I bristled. “Halloween hardly over and Christmas stuff out already,” I said under my breath indignantly. “This is too much.”
Of course, I wasn’t born with an aversion to Christmas. As a kid I loved this holiday. I can, however, pinpoint exactly the time in my life when this dislike surfaced and it was when I was working as a florist many years ago. My boss back then was a Christmas fanatic and a perfectionist to boot.
I used to watch her with incredible astonishment drill into a live Christmas tree and insert a branch because there was a “hole.” I can’t even begin to enumerate the thousands of red and green bows I made during this season every year and the overdone decorations that were strung on every inch of the store. Lights blinked; mechanical Santas shook and swayed; Christmas music spilled out of stuffed toys and wind-up figurines; and one year we had an entire herd of Rudolphs, their red noses blinking fervently all through the night. And I won’t go into how I really feel about pointsettas and the total and unrelenting dread I felt about taking all that stuff down.
So by the time I got home after my shopping trip, I was really worked up. And things went from bad to worse when I flicked on the TV while putting my food away and an ad came on for a Christmas music CD. Cupboard doors slammed in rhythm to “Jingle Bells” and the refrigerator door was ripped open time and again to the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” By the time I was done, I needed a rest.
It was then that I realized that if I didn’t change my attitude I was going to end up psychologically damaged and probably mentally unstable. And so I devised a plan. Mainly, I realized if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
One of my favorite holiday concoctions is an eggnog mix that used to come out a few days after Thanksgiving. (No surprise-it’s out now.) It is a frozen mixture that has a foamy consistency and is used to make Tom and Jerrys, a traditional holiday cocktail. It is a favorite of mine. There have been many cold days I have come home from work and made myself this soothing drink, reveling in its creamy, warm consistency. I have dreamed about them while sitting on a frozen lake ice fishing; while shoveling my deck; while waiting for the power to turn back on after an ice storm and at any time the temperature is raw and the wild blows like a demon.
So a few days later, I went back to the grocery store and I bought a container of Tom and Jerry mix; I purchased some eggnog too, along with a bag of Christmas candy, including a box of candy canes. I noticed that the nuts and tangerines were out in the produce aisle and also loaded up on those. Then that night, I rummaged around and found a Christmas mug and made myself the first Tom and Jerry of the year. The mug says “spirit” in the side and I figured, while I will never totally embrace Christmas stuff out in early November, I will find the “spirit” (in every way) to sip on one of my favorite drinks
This week I included another favorite recipe of mine. It’s for a hot buttered rum mix. I used to make a batch of this shortly before Christmas and freeze it in smaller containers and then parcel it out to friends and family. But this year I’m not going to wait for the holiday season, whenever that is these days. I’m going to make a batch this weekend and give it out now so everyone can get in the “spirit” just like I’m doing. Purely of course, for mental health reasons.
Hot Buttered Rum Batter
1 lb. butter
1 lb. brown sugar
1 lb. confectioner’s sugar
1 quart vanilla ice cream
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Blend in the sugars. Remove from heat and whisk in the ice cream and spices. Pour mixture into a plastic container, seal and freeze. In a coffee mug measure 1 Tbs. mixture and 1 fluid oz. of rum, then fill cup with boiling water. Stir and sprinkle with nutmeg.