This post marks Day 6 of Miss Ginsu's 2007 Advent Calendar. To click into other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.
The other day I received a scrap of a note from a friend. He wrapped it up succinctly: "I will see you soon, I hope. HOT MULLED APPLE CIDER FTW!!!"
And I have to agree. On a cold, wet, blustery day, is there an aroma more homey and welcoming than simmering spiced cider on the stove? "Come on in," it says, "Sit down and take off your galoshes. You'll soon warm up and everything will be fine."
A Minneapolis friend of mine used to organize December caroling rounds. In childhood, she'd done time in a children's oncology ward and wanted to be able to bring a little joy (or maybe just comedy, in our case) to the kids there.
We'd divide into multiple cars to make the rounds from the children's hospital to the homes of key family and friends. Strangely, everywhere we went, someone forced hot cups of cider into our chilly fingers. It was as if the entire Twin Cities area just happened to be simmering spices on their stovetops. "Come on in! You must be freezing! Here, have some hot cider!"
Sticky with juice, giddy on fructose, we'd try to stay on key and remember the order of the verses. Yeah, we were even loopy enough to go for that high section in O Holy Night. On multiple occasions. Crazy kids...
Should you not already happen to have a family recipe for Hot Mulled Cider, I'm including mine, below. Or just ring up anyone in Minnesota. I think the state must be sending out cider kits inside their annual tax packets.
Hot Mulled Apple Cider (FTW!!!)
1 half-gallon jug apple cider
1 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks
3 allspice berries
2 star anise
1 orange, thinly sliced
cheesecloth & kitchen twine or a strainer
Either tie spices into a cheesecloth bundle before you make the cider or know that you'll need to pour the finished product through a strainer before serving.
Add spices, cider and orange slices to an medium-sized saucepan and simmer until a convivial aroma fills your kitchen.
Remove spice bundle and orange peels or pour through a strainer into cups. Serve with a cinnamon stick.
Warning: this recipe may attract carolers.