By Diane Forrest
Some of your big holidays have their own special menus. New Year's Day has black eyed peas and turnip greens, Easter is ham and tater salad and deviled eggs. The 4th of July is for hamburgers, hot dogs and ribs while Thanksgiving is turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie. Then you have Christmas. Some of the best treats of all are only found during the Christmas season. Friends and neighbors are busy cooking up their special recipe to send to loved ones, there are cakes, pies, cookies and homemade candy everywhere. Some of the things that can only be found at my house during the holidays are fruitcake, party mix (we call it trash) snowball cookies and fudge. But what can you wash it all down with?
My husband loved the start of the holidays because he knew there would be egg nog flowing soon. As soon as he saw the first container in the milk case at the store he would grab some up and then drink it until there was no more left on the shelves. Every year my family would gather around and drink a toast with egg nog out of special glasses that were only used for that toast.
Egg nog is a traditional holiday drink made with milk or cream, sugar and eggs. Alcohol such as rum or brandy may also be added along with a garnishment of cinnamon and nutmeg. It is available in the stores begining around Thanksgiving and lasting til New Year's, but without the alcohol added. There are a few theories to how egg nog actually got its name. One theory is that egg nog was at first called "egg n' grog" which eventually got shortened to "egg nog." Another theory is that its name traces back to the old English word for strong ale, "nog." This theory suggests that the combination of the words "egg" and "nog" refers to any drink that contains both eggs and strong alcohol.
Eggnog is available in your grocery store, however if you like it during the year, you can make it yourself. Below is a recipe from Alton Brown, if you want to make yourself during the year. Whether you buy it or make it yourself, this Christmas Eve, drink a toast to your health, family, friends and all the blessings you have received during the year. Merry Christmas!
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites*
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.
Cook's Note: For cooked eggnog, follow procedure below.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture.