Season of Light

So, here we are. The darkest time of the year, here in the Northern part of the world. Days are short, and nights are long and cold. It’s a time for tucking in, for hearth and home, and for rest and renewal.

But, it’s also a time for revelry.

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I have always found it comforting how most of the world’s cultures and religions celebrate the light right now, at the darkest point of the year. It’s like we’ve all agreed (at least, for a little while), to thumb our noses at the dark. We fill our lives with this light, these new beginnings, this time for love and friendship, and rallying together in joy.

And what better way to demonstrate that than by potentially starting your house on fire?

Really, folks. This one’s a showstopper. We’re giving you old school, Chuck Dickens inspired, here-they-come-a-caroling, Wassail style, Mulled Wine. This is the original live fire drill. Multicolored flames leaping from your stovetop and into the mugs of your waiting friends and families. Go. For. It.

One minor word of caution, though. You’re playing with fire, and melted sugar. Please, be careful. Let the beverage be memorable, not your trip to the ER.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah, Good Yule, Peace to you on Mawlid al-Nabi, Joyous Kwanzaa. May the Budda’s blessing be upon you on Loy Krathong. May each of you find light in the darkness, regardless of your name for the source. May you find peace, and may you know joy!

Mulled Wine

Course Drinks
Servings 4 cups

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bottle Red wine (drinkable, but save the fancy stuff for another time)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup white rum (silver grade will do just fine)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove
  • 1 orange
  • 1 apple
  • 8 - 10 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamonstick per cup (for garnish)

Instructions
 

  • Pour wine into a medium sized pot. Cut the fruit into slices and add to the wine, along with the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Begin to warm the wine over low heat.
  • In a second pan combine your sugar, rum, ground cinnamon, and ground clove. Bring it to a simmer, but be careful! As the rum heats and dissolves the sugar, it also becomes extremely flammable. For this recipe, that is precisely the idea.
  • So, here’s the tricky part. Once the sugar is dissolved, light it on fire. Really. Either use a long lighter or match (like you’d use at the fireplace), a bamboo skewer, or a strand of spaghetti (yes, it burns) and carefully light the rum. The small mushroom cloud/flaming ball of doom is the correct result.
  • Now, carefully pour said doomball of rum into your wine. Stir the rum into the wine, and as you do the flames should begin to die down. Not only is this a great bit of theater, it also caramelizes the sugar, adding a much more complex and richer flavor than simply dumping sugar into wine.
  • Serve in earthenware goblets, heavy mugs, etc. adding a slice of each fruit and a cinnamon stick to the vessel. WARNING! If any guests go back for thirds, consider snagging their car keys. Most of the rum should have burned off in the fire, but that’s most, not all. This one can sneak up on you!

Notes

PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!!
There’s plenty of places to play with this one. Experiment with some cranberries in addition to the apples and oranges. Up the acidity with lemon. Maybe try adding some whole peppercorns, or perhaps even some dried hot peppers. As ever, please use this and every recipe as your springboard, not your landing pad. Then, tell me what you have done!

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