We knew it was coming, but it’s still a bit of a shock when it finally does.
It’s cold outside!
Not just a little cold . . . extremely cold. Bone-chilling cold. We even had a few snow flurries swirling around yesterday! I know that if you’re reading this from Buffalo, New York or Minnesota, you’re probably scoffing at our 35 degree temperatures in Maryland. But trust me, this is bad! Just last weekend I was still skipping around in sandals sans jacket. And now I’m pulling on my trusty red winter coat and boots.
We really don’t seem to get much in the way of the changing of seasons around here. It always feels like summer bleeds straight into winter. Fall is an explosion of color for a week or two, and then we’re chatting nervously about snowfall. Where are my 60-degree afternoons? My cool, comfortable breezes? It’s not fair.
On the bright side, I have to make some apple cider soon. I still haven’t made that fluffy hot chocolate — my dad tells me helpfully that I’ll just scald the milk — but I have definite plans to do so.
This recipe is no joke (what the heck is an “allspice berry”?!), but I think I could come up with some sort of easy variation. Or just boil some water in the microwave and pour in an instant cider packet. Ha, whichever!
Hot Apple Cider
• 6 cups apple cider
• 1/4 cup real maple syrup
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 6 whole cloves
• 6 whole allspice berries
• 1 orange peel, cut into strips
• 1 lemon peel, cut into strips
1. Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan.
2. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie it up with a length of kitchen string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture.
3. Place the saucepan over moderate heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling.
4. Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving if desired.