XYZ and so forth

Okay, barflies! I’m going to wrap up this little trip through the Alphahol in one fell swoop of a post for a couple of reasons.

a) we’re at the “difficult” letters, and
b) I wanna talk about the Zombie before Halloween instead of 2 weeks after.

So indulge me: 3 cocktails in rapid fire!

XYZ Cocktail

1.5 oz Rum of your choice
3/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Lemon juice

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Whew! This one is strong–of course, it’s mostly booze. If you like a softer drink, try this with caution, and because there is so little to work with substituting a generic Triple Sec for the Cointreau is going to result in a sub par Xperience.

Your Favorite Aunt

1 oz Gin
1 oz Brandy
1 oz Sweet vermouth
1/2 oz Lemon juice
1/2 oz Simple syrup

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Discovered this one while trying out sweet vermouth recipes and it’s actually quite tasty. It is, again, high on the alcohol and short of mixers but it’s a good sipping drink.

And, finally…

The Zombie

1 oz White rum
1 oz Amber rum
1 oz Dark rum
3/4 oz Lime juice
3/4 oz Pineapple juice
1/2 oz Apricot brandy
1/2 oz Papaya juice
1/2 oz Simple syrup
1/2 151-proof Rum

Combine all but the 151 in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake vigorously–as if you were running from a zombie–then pour into a very tall glass (don’t strain). Float the 151 on top of the drink and garnish elaborately–a spring of mine, lime wheels and cherry all dusted with confectioners sugar; orange and pineapple slices or some other tropical fruit. Serve with a straw–sipping from the top will give you a mouthful of the 151 and not much else, not the desired result.

A bit complex but the taste is worth it. If you have trouble finding papaya juice, puree or nectar (as I did) juicing your own isn’t as difficult as it seems. Sure, it’s not like a citrus fruit that’s juice is easily available, but if you don’t have an electric juicer, here’s how I got it done.

Juicing a Papaya

  1. Slice the papaya in half, lengthwise, and remove the black seeds and any light-colored membranes.
  2. Slice each half into quarters to make it easier to separate the pink flesh from the skin and lighter rind.
  3. Cut up the long slices and place in a decent-sized bowl with high sides.
  4. Crush the fruit with a muddler, pestle or wooden spoon until no longer solid.
  5. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a smaller bowl, working the mash gently with a spoon to get the maximum juice out.

Now, I got about an ounce of juice from a quarter of an 8-inch papaya and it was a bit pulpy so, as I sipped the resulting drink, did get a bit separated but it didn’t make the drink at all unpleasant to imbibe. I’ve read that you can also substitute orange juice but I think I’d go with mango juice (something generally easier to locate) before going with the more mundane OJ.

Of course, this year’s Pumpkin Party is going to be a brunch, so I think I’ll leave the Zombies off the guest list. Instead, for those who wish to imbibe, I’ll be serving Bloody Marys, Mi-moan-sas, and Boo-linis. Have a good holiday, folks, stay safe and drink responsibly.

Introducing “What to Feed Your Raiding Party” a Comic Book Cookbook

Intrigued? I certainly hope so! I’ve got a new project on the horizon and, frankly, it could use your help.

Kickstarter.com (in case you’re not familiar with it) is a site that allows creators of various sorts to propose a project, set a fundraising goal and accept the pledges of backers for a certain period of time to, hopefully, fund the project so that it can become a reality. If the fund goal isn’t reached, no one pays a thing, but if the fund goal IS reached, the pledges are collected (via Amazon Payments) and transferred to the creator who can begin (or continue) work on their project.Kickstarter is BIG into rewards, so each pledge level comes with some sort of thank-you involved.

What to Feed Your Raiding Party is accepting pledges for the next 2 months. What it is, is half comic book, half cookbook, written with a definite slant towards gamers, geeks and lovers of our particular type of pop-culture. My goal is to raise enough funds to cover a print run of 250 as well as the time and materials involved in creating the 150-page book (50-75 recipes and 60 or so pages of comics). There are more details over on the project page, including a complete list of rewards that span private project updates to copies of the book to getting a recipe named after you to original art and more.

Obviously, backers willing to pledge any amount are needed but if you can’t do that, consider passing around the link to your friends, posting it on any forums that gamers and geeks hang out on and talk up the project as much as possible–that’s just about as important as money as the more people find out about this project the more chance I have of reaching my goal, being able to start work on the project, get it printed (that’s the big thing!) and have it available for folks to use.

Feedback is always welcome & I hope you like this concept as much as I do! Also, while you’re at Kickstarter, check out some of the very awesome projects over there that you might be interested in being a part of.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/randomactscomics/what-to-feed-your-raiding-party-a-comic-book-cook-0

Apple Dumplings

I’ve been thinking a lot about apples, lately, and with the weather cooling off, the cinnamon brooms showing up in the supermarkets and the idea that the holidays are right around the corner, I think of Mom making Apple Dumplings. This is her recipe, updated a little by me. They are especially good on cool Fall and Winter nights and actually travel fairly well for pot-lucks.

Apple Dumplings
serves 4*

1 sheet Puff Pastry Dough, thawed
4 medium apples, peeled and cored*
Cinnamon
Brown Sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
Dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries or blueberries all would go well)
1 beaten egg
White sugar

Roll out the puff pastry dough just a little bit to curb some of it’s puff tendencies (we want the flaky flavor, not necessarily the poofiness) and cut into quarters. [* If you are using very small apples you can actually get 6 dumplings out of one sheet.] Place an apple in the center of each sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon. Spoon some of the brown sugar (how much you use it up to you) into the hollows of the apples, top with a piece of butter and then the dried fruit.

Bring the corners of the puff pastry square up and around the top of the apple, pinching the corners together. Don’t worry too much about sealing up all the edges, it’s actually quite pretty to leave the little openings that the folded sides create. Place in a buttered baking dish and brush with the beaten egg mixed with a little water. Sprinkle with the white sugar and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or until the apples are tender, covering with foil if the pastry begins to brown too fast.

Serve warm with ice cream, freshly whipped cream or just plain heavy cream drizzled over them.

A Tale of Two Sours

Whisk(e)y Sours, that is–we’re up to ‘w’ in our travel through the Alphahol and that means delving into the oak barrels and coming up with what exactly?

I may have mentioned before that I’m not a big whisk(e)y fan. Until very recently I couldn’t stand the stuff and wouldn’t drink anything made with it thanks to an unfortunate encounter at a wine and spirits tasting. The bourbon I was served burned my throat, robbed me of breath and made my eyes water–it probably didn’t help that I’d been drinking a lot of sweet wines prior, but the port I tried afterwards smoothed things over between me and the wine guy. At any rate, I’ve come to respect well-made whisk(e)ys.

To ‘e’ or not to ‘e’, what’s in a spelling?

Ever wonder what the difference between whisky and whiskey is? At first I thought it was just an American versus European style thing but that’s not it because Irish varieties are spelled with the ‘e’ but Scotch without. True, most people who mean Scotch just say Scotch, but it’s still whisky so it counts. In North America, Tennessee, Kentucky and the other USA varieties add the ‘e’ while Canadian whisky does not. Other than who uses it and who doesn’t, there’s really not much more to it.

So What’s the Real Difference?

Whiskey is pretty much any grain spirit that’s aged in oak for as much time as needed to develop the flavors or scents necessary to be a pleasant drink. The type of grain makes a big difference in the finished product, also how it’s treated. Scotch is traditionally prized in the Single Malt category, made only with malted barley whereas Bourbon uses primarily corn and, in the case of Sour Mash, reserves a portion of the previous fermentation to add to the next batch in a method that reminds me, in turns, of sourdough starter and the Amish Friendship Bread that gets passed around from time to time.

(This, of course, is gross over-simplification. I’m just trying to distill it into a highlight reel for the sake of an overview.)

Mixing With It

So, probably the most common Whiskey drink most folks think of is the Whiskey Sour which, as I understand it, is generally made with Bourbon. Well, here’s the thing: you can make a Sour out of pretty much any base liquor so I decided to make a Scotch Sour and a Bourbon Sour and see how they compared.

Whiskey Sour

1.5 oz Whisk(e)y
1 oz Simple syrup
3/4 oz Lemon juice (as fresh as possible)

Combine over ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass and garnish with an orange slice and a cherry (also known as a flag).

Both the Bourbon and Scotch sours were made in exactly the same way and here’s how, for me, they compared. Visually, the Bourbon Sour is darker than the Scotch Sour–no worries about labeling the glasses for this test. The Bourbon also has a stronger smell (I used Jim Bean Kentucky Sour Mash Bourbon) and, as one would expect, a stronger flavor. More insistent. The Scotch Sour (made with Glenfiddich Single Malt 12 Year) was lighter in color and smoother in flavor, it took both the sweet and the sour in stride and retained it’s crisp pear notes (seriously, before last month I would have NEVER thought to think pears when I thought Scotch).

Obviously I preferred the Glenfiddich Sour, it’s much more palatable. I think I’ll keep the Sour Mash for the Bourbon Chicken.

Kitchen Tips

Every now and then you find a good way to do things or luck upon a new trick in the kitchen. These aren’t exactly new to me, but they might be new to you.

  • Something too spicy or strong-flavored? Try adding some dairy to temper the over-bearing quality. Mayo is a good foil for a meatball or barbecue sandwich that comes on a bit too strong, cheese can temper a too-spicy soup and milk, cream or butter will dent some other harsh flavors you could encounter in a meal.
  • When you’ve salted all you’re willing to salt but the dish still needs a little something, try adding a splash of lemon or lime juice instead of salt or similar flavorings. The citric acid wakes up other flavors without added sodium.
  • If you have a recipe that calls for buttermilk and you’re fresh out, add up to a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of regular milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes for a quick substitution.
  • Another recipe swap: using applesauce in place of oil can make most quick-breads and cake mixes moister without sacrificing flavor–plus it cuts down the fat and those little snack-cup sizes are perfect for your average boxed mix.
  • To make cutting a bell pepper into even strips or julienne easier, lay the pepper on it’s side and cut around the top edge, going through the skin but not the middle. Twist off this top and most of the seeds come with it. Slice off the bottom end, turn the pepper upright (it should be like an open tube, now), cut through one side and open the pepper out flat. Use a paring knife to remove any extra ribs that may be attached and then slice the pepper into perfectly even strips perfect for salads or stir fries.
  • When your knife is dull and you can’t sharpen it right away, cutting through the flesh of a fruit or vegetable is easier than cutting through the skin–turn them “inside out” when possible and you’ll have an easier time of things until you can get to a whetstone or professional sharpener.
  • Wrapping baking potatoes in foil before their baked or even right after, especially if they are moist when wrapped, “steams” the potatoes and gives them an unappealing, waxy texture instead of the fluffy one you expect. It’s best to allow an hour for them to bake, au natural and not pierced, in the oven but if you are in a time-crunch, microwaving them inside an oven mitt (all natural fibers, please, and no metal!) will more closely approximate the longer baking.
  • Always make sure meat is perfectly dry before placing into a pan for browning. Moisture impedes caramelization and you won’t get the results you’re after.
  • Always add vanilla to your pancake batter–even if using a mix, a splash of vanilla will improve the overall flavor of the flapjacks.
  • When doubling a recipe, don’t automatically double the salt or other spices called for. Start with a single quantity and build up.
  • Ground white pepper is easier to digest than black thanks to the outer layer of the peppercorn having been removed. It’s also hotter–there’s no “chaff” to blunt the flavor so use less if you’re substituting!

And one from Todd: To make a quickie grilled cheese sandwich, place a slice of cheese between two loaves of bread and place in the toaster oven (or regular over). No oil or butter and no dirty pan to clean up.

Vermouth

So, this past week I actually completed the coursework and tests for my BAC: BarSmarts Advanced Certification and, having assured my mother than no, I am not planning to become a bartender (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I gotta admit: I learned some stuff!

Granted, I enrolled in the course for precisely that reason. When I started this Friday blog feature I thought I had a pretty decent grasp of the basics, only to find out how much I had absolutely no clue I didn’t know. And I still have quite a ways to go, but the BarSmarts Wired course started to fill in the gaping chasms in the cocktail portion of my brain (hmm… wonder what part that would be, actually, lol) and the empty spots on my home bar. The lists of even classic drinks that I still have to try as well as the bottles that must be added to my collection now that I know of their existence is long, very long.

One such nugget of information that truly surprised me was the existence and use of Sweet Vermouth. If vermouth rings a bell it’s probably in the context of the notions many have about just how little of it should be included in a Dry Martini (anywhere from a capful to rinse the ice to a nod in the bottle’s general direction). I will say here that I do not like the Dry Martini, I do not like it, Jenn I am. I do not like it with the vodka, I do not like it with the gin. I do not like them shaken nor stirred nor dirty with an olive served. I do not like the Dry Martini.

BUT! Did you know that in it’s original (late 1800s) form, not only was a martini composed of equal parts gin and vermouth it was made, of all things, with SWEET Vermouth. With a dash of orange bitters as well.

Original Martini

2 oz Gin
2 oz Sweet vermouth
dash of Orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Rather than clear, this martini is actually a color somewhere between red and iced tea, the flavor is far more mellow and palatable (to me, at least) than those nasty ol’ Dry Martinis I’ve had in the past and this is totally thanks to the Vermouth.

Being a fortified wine, if you ever taste Vermouth straight (which is not something I’d tried before now) you can definitely detect the grape base beneath the varied aromatics. Strangely enough, the Sweet Vermouth reminded me of a beef stew sort of warmth and cozy feeling–a good example of the elusive umami (that fifth flavor or taste you may have heard of). Aside from the soup reminder, it’s also reminiscent of a tawny port which probably makes more sense than my first impression. Generally I sway towards the ruby and cherry ports, but the Vermouth was certainly tasty on it’s own and I can see why it was originally conceived as an aperitif.

More experiments with this new-to-me flavor-toy are forthcoming, I can assure you. After tracking down some Campari I plan to try out several other classic Sweet Vermouth cocktails, as well as play with the novel idea presented that sherries or ports could, in fact, be substituted for the vermouth in cocktails.

A side note: amusingly enough, as I composed this post, Pandora graced me with a track to fit the mood, as it were: Tanita Tikaram’s “Twist In My Sobriety

Picking Pumpkins

Tis the season, no? Pumpkin patches are springing up in grocery stores, church yards, street corners and even honest-to-goodness farms so that everyone can pick the number one pumpkin for carving. But what about pumpkins for cooking? Is it worth it to make your own versus using canned? Only you can decide that, but if you’re wanting to try making a pumpkin pie (or anything else) from the ground up, here’s some tips to get you through it.

When picking a pumpkin to carve, most people look for big ones with smooth skin (unless you’re going for a special jack-o-lantern effect), even shape and enough stem to make a good handle. But for baking, the stem is about the only thing in common–a generous stem prevents the pumpkin from spoiling. Overall, though, bigger isn’t often better, as the larger pumpkins tend to have less flavor and more water compared to the more compact pie pumpkins you’ll find in the produce section.

Treat a pumpkin like you would any whole squash. If it’s compact enough you can pierce it a few times and pop it in the microwave, whole, like you would an acorn squash. About 5 minutes on high should be enough for a the smaller pie pumpkins, going up from there. Or you can cut it into halves or quarters, scoop out the stringy bits and seeds and bake them, cut side down, for an hour at 350 F. You can also boil the pieces until tender.

Scoop the flesh away from the skin and then mash or puree it to break up any fibers and make it easier to blend into your recipe of choice. Most pumpkins will yield about a cup of flesh per pound of pre-cooked pumpkin.

Don’t toss those seeds! Clean them well and then roast them on an oiled cookie sheet at 325 F  for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. You can salt them, sugar them or toss them with a variety of herbs and spices for a healthy, crunchy treat.

Umbrella Drinks

So much for the cold snap! While it may be snowing in parts of the US, in Florida it was triple digits and the only way to make that sort of heat bearable is with something cold and slushy. Enter the frozen beverages most often served with a cute little umbrella perched on top.

I don’t think it’s out of line to claim that the Pina Colada is the most often thought-of drink that comes with one of those petite parasols and, when we were getting ready for our cruise (yes, I’m totally milking that trip for every ounce of happiness and material possible) I read about a drink called the Miami Vice: half Pina Colada, half Strawberry Daiquiri. Yum!

Now, most folks would just pull out the rum and the pre-made mixes to go with the ice and the blender, but fresh is almost always better so here’s a version of each that will put you in a tropical mood no matter what your climate:

Pina Colada for 1

4 oz Pineapple juice
2 oz coconut cream
1/2 c pineapple chunks
2 Tbsp shredded or grated coconut
1 oz Pineapple rum
1 oz Dark rum
1 oz cream or half-and-half
2 c ice

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Strawberry Frozen Daiquiri for 1

1 c Strawberries, hulled and halved if fresh
1 oz White rum
1 oz Dark rum
2 c ice

Combine and blend until smooth.

Now, a few notes. Coconut cream is not the same as coconut milk, you may have to search for the cream. If you use just the coconut milk that you’d normally cook with the drink will be lacking in a bit of flavor and smoothness but it can be done (using coconut rum might help the flavor aspect). If strawberries are out of season, use frozen, or if they just don’t have a full flavor, adding a shot of strawberry pucker–yes, really–can help the overall flavor and it’s still better than using a mix.

To make the Miami Vice, pour the Pina Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri simultaneously into a tall glass. Garnish with a pineapple chunk on one side, a strawberry on the other, and–of course–a cute little umbrella, if you have one handy.

Naan Pizza & Tomato-less Sauce

naan_1It’s been 3 1/2 years since I’ve had any sort of tomato-based sauce*. Do you know how many foods contain tomato sauce, paste or both? It’s been a long 42 months.

The why of this has to do with an unfortunate hiccup in my health and there’s many other things I’ve had to eliminate (caffeine, for one) or cut way back on over the years but concentrated tomatoey goodness has been one of the things I’ve missed the most. Over time I’ve gotten to the point where I can tolerate a slice or two of fresh tomato on a salad or sandwich (once a week or so) without illness but it’s not the same.  I’ve wondered for a while if there was a way I could “fake” a red sauce for spaghetti, pizza, etc. but never tried it until a few weeks ago with a red bell pepper sauce that has improved my personal food landscape many times over.

Since that first foray over whole wheat spaghetti, we’ve used it on stuffed (green) bell peppers, a delicious lasagna and, now, pizza with wonderful results. It doesn’t taste exactly like tomato sauce, but with careful seasoning there’s usually only a taste or two per meal where the switch is readily apparent.

Red Pepper Sauce

5 red bell peppers, diced, or 2 jars roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
4 green onions, sliced
3 cloves (or more) garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp paprika
1/2-3/4 c Chicken stock
Olive oil, salt and pepper

Saute the onions and garlic in oil until the whites of the onions are translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the peppers are tender: 20 minutes or more if using fresh peppers, 10 or so if using canned–gives it time to absorb the other flavors. Add salt and pepper to taste along with any other spices you want. Puree everything smooth (a stick blender makes this so much easier) and then re-season if necessary.

That’s the basic sauce recipe. The jarred peppers are a good substitute for when fresh are either unavailable or cost-prohibitive, plus they cut down your cooking time. What spices you add will depend on what you’re using the sauce on. For Italian, add the usual oregano, thyme, basil and whatever else you like.

You can stretch the sauce by using more stock–we like ours thick for most things, but if you like a thinner sauce  go up to a cup and a quarter of stock and this recipe will make about a quart of sauce (depends on how much water is in the peppers, too), thicker it might be closer to a pint. It freezes wonderfully, so you can definitely make up a big batch when peppers are plentiful (you can also use some yellows in there, too, it just makes the sauce a little more orange) and put it away for later.

We’d been planning to try it out as a pizza sauce but hadn’t gotten around to it when we had the following conversation, Thursday night:

Todd: I got some extra roasted red peppers if we wanted to make more of that sauce.

Jenn: Ooh, yeah, we haven’t tried it on pizza yet. Maybe we could do that this weekend?

Todd: (looking at his place which included grilled naan) I wonder if you could make naan-pizza.

Jenn: Why not? Mmm, Indian spices in the sauce–what toppings would we use?

Todd: Lamb?

So, Saturday we headed out for provisions: more naan, lamb, and some goat cheese. The end result was an amazing pizza that was way more filling that we thought it would be.

Naan Pizza
Serves 4

1 cup Red Pepper Sauce seasoned with cumin, coriander, garam masala, and a touch of mint and cinnamon
1 pkg Naan (2 pieces per package)
Olive oil
3/4 lb lamb, ground or cut into small chunks
Flour for dusting
1/2 lb sugar snap peas, chopped
1/2 c diced red onion
Minced garlic
Salt and pepper
4 oz cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 oz crumbed goat cheese

Preheat your over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a backing sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Lay out the naan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and some granulated garlic, if you like. Divide the Red Pepper Sauce evenly between the two naan and top with some more minced garlic.

Season the lamb with salt and pepper and, if using whole meat instead of ground, dredge it lightly in flour. I happened to have some Pani Puri (semolina flour) left over from an Andalusian feast I did a while back so I used that, but any flour should do. Saute in olive oil until browned, then add peas and onion and cook until the lamb is done. Divide this mixture between the two naan. Divide the two cheeses evenly among the pizzas.

Bake the pizzas about 15 minutes or until the cheese has started to melt and brown on the tips. Goat and cream cheeses don’t really melt the way mozzarella does, so you have to trust the browning rather than the smoothing out that you usually get on a pizza.

naan_2We served it with a bit of prepared Tabbouleh on some mixed lettuces. You can, of course, try other meats or just a combination of veggies on this and it would be equally good. I think that adding a bit of yogurt to the pepper sauce would make a wonderful curry sauce, too, with just a bit more seasoning.

*That is to say, without becoming ill–unfortunately I’ve been reminded the hard way of just how many things contain enough tomato paste or sauce to cause a reaction.

The Toddy

I’ve had my head buried in alcohol history and lore, lately, and in the most recent reading, the Toddy came up. With the beginnings of a nip in the air (okay, so it’s our annual Fall cool snap that will disappear soon, but let a girl dream) the Toddy sounded like an excellent subject to tackle instead of whatever else I’d been thinking of for ‘t’.

Toddies are an old, old, old drink and, in their original form, were nothing more than water and liquor, with maybe some sugar added. They’re not much different now, with the addition of some sort of spice and maybe a bit of lemon to round things out.

I read a lot as a child and when you tend to read old books, that take place centuries prior and maybe in other countries, it’s easy to develop some fanciful notions about toddies and, especially, their healing properties as they were often given to characters who’d come town with a cold or had gotten caught in a terrible storm while on their horse. So, several years ago, when coming down with yet another case of something or other, I decided to try a Toddy to see if it would help. Of course, I didn’t have brandy in the house, but I could have sworn I’d read about someone using Bourbon, and I had that, so I brewed some tea (tea used to be considered a spice, by the way), adding a cinnamon stick, a lemon slice, some honey and a shot of bourbon to it.

It wasn’t exactly what I’d thought it would be.

Whether it was the harshness of the Bourbon (which I generally keep around for cooking with, not drinking) or the bitterness of the tea–or both–the drink needed a lot of sweetening before it was palatable and it just wasn’t the pleasant, soothing experience I had hoped for.

This go round, wiser and with a better-stocked bar, I skipped the tea, used brandy (okay, I used a brandy-based liqueur–Tuaca–that I knew I liked) and used simple syrup for my sweet. I also just used a lemon twist instead of a lemon slice, and I think it makes a difference.

Tuaca Toddy

1.5 oz Tuaca liqueur (an Italian brandy-based liqueur with hints of vanilla and citrus)
.5 oz Simple syrup
1 Lemon peel, 2″ long
dash of Cloves
2.5 oz Hot water

In a mug or other handled glass (this is warm, remember?) combine the Tuaca (or the brandy of your choice)  and syrup. Twist the lemon peel (try not to get too much pith when you shave it away from the fruit) to release the oils and drop it in, followed by a sprinkling of ground cloves (you could use nutmeg, if you prefer, or even cinnamon but I’d stick to a little and not use the stick–it can be too strong). Top the drink off with the very hot (not quite boiling) water, stir it around a bit and drink when the temperature is level enough not to scald your tongue.

Even though this is a favorite home remedy for colds and chills in many areas, keep in mind that alcohol can dehydrate you so you should supplement it with plenty of plain water if you choose to try this at home.

* * *

And speaking of health, a gentle reminder that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I’m still raising funds for my local Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign. “Support the tWINs” (the team I’m on) through my support link and get a special print. More details at the link, and thank you.