This recipe is as much for eggnog as it is for the very fact of winter. Not that winter needs a remedy, exactly, just some added cheer on an extremely regular basis. This is a long, dark, and cold season in which we’re all seeking something deeper – something spiritual perhaps – like enlightenment, salvation, eternal good will toward our fellow humans, or maybe just sweetened cream with the invigorating kick of rum.
And really, who wants to traipse through the easy meadow of summer all year long like a romance film on endless repeat? I like how winter draws us close and holds us there, if even a bit too long or forcefully. It’s in this being pressed together – our family like wildflowers in a heavy book – that I remember the quieter joys of an inside life.
Which is exactly where eggnog comes in. The Joy of Cooking lists it under “Party Drinks,” a perfect classification for something that elevates the ordinary with only the simple tool of a whisk. It’s festive and delicious and the sort of thing that tastes best when daylight is a thin sliver between two slabs of darkness. (It’s completely obsolete come spring). Eggnog is the “Christmas lights” of beverages, warming your home, heart and belly and turning an average night into a small celebration. Raise a glass and toast to that.
Makes approximately 5 cups
1 quart half and half (or 1 pint cream, 1 pint whole milk)
3 whole eggs (if there were ever a time to use pastured, local eggs this is it)
1/4 – 1/3 cup honey or sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice (or nutmeg for traditionalists)
1/2 cup rum (optional, but barely)
Whisk the eggs and the sugar for 5 minutes. If using honey, make sure it’s at room temperature and add to the eggs before you add the cream, which is cold enough to crystallize the honey.
Next, add the half and half and whisk a few more minutes. Add vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. If you’re nice, now’s the time to pour off some non-alcoholic eggnog for the kids. Add rum to the rest, mix well and chill in the fridge. Also lovely in coffee.