When you hear “winter”, do you think “harsh, cold, and dark”? Let me, together with Nigel Slater, persuade you, it can be more than that.
Last year I discovered the delicious book written by Slater “The winter chronicles”. It starts in November and narrates you through the whole winter, making winter lovers love this time even more and turning winter skeptics into more appreciative. The book is full of stories, recipes and explained traditions. Slater also mentions ridiculously expensive candles which is entertaining to think that there are people who spend over 200 euro on a single candle. But it does smell of wood, so who knows, maybe it is worth it?
The book helps you prepare for Christmas, make a list just in time and reminds you to go hunting for Christmas presents earlier than a week before the Christmas Eve. Talking about that, it also makes a great holiday gift as it is written in absolutely beautiful language.
Back to our unfairly judged season, in the greyness and coldness we tend to forget there is softness to the winter too. This is the only time of the year when we fully appreciate the thick jumpers, wooly socks and hats, the steamy bowl of soup, and the light of the candle. Roasted chestnuts, fat leeks, parsnips and an abundance of pumpkins deliciously accompany sweet air of autumn that turned direction crisp.
We can feel and smell all that even though the cold reduces our ability to detect smells. Our odour receptors apparently protect themselves and bury themselves deeper in the nose, so we get a bit less receptive. Maybe they just can’t be bothered to do all the extra work and just want to snuggle in bed? I am pretty sure we want the same. It is in winter when we appreciate how much our home means to us.
Winter is also this time of the year when “What can I get you to drink” question is just bursting with delicious opportunities. The alcohol level rises as the temperature dips. I love this moment when guests come to our home and get a glass of warm beverage while their glasses are still foggy and all steamed up.
Welcoming drink should not only be about other people. We should welcome ourselves home too, especially in the months when the fresh air makes our cheeks all red. We deserve a moment of peace and quiet before the commotion of evening starts. Pour yourself a drink, curl up on the sofa, enjoy.
I don’t know your stand on sweet white wine. Personally, I don’t like it. I can fancy a small glass of sweet red wine from time to time, with my after dinner piece of cheese or really dense chocolate cake. But here, in this recipe, the sweet wine is crucial. And I understand if you are skeptical. Both Punsch and Glühwine are very over-advertised and sometimes terribly destroyed by Christmas markets. Give this one a chance. It triggers very enthusiastic reactions even among Punsch-skeptics. I made solid dozen or so liters of it last holiday season and it never disappointed.
- 1 bottle of sweet, white wine
- 1 glass of apple juice
- Juice squeezed out of 2 oranges (bio! We will be using the peel)
- a twig of rosemary
- a handful of cranberries, fresh or dried
- 2 apples
- couple of dried apricots
- 1-2 anise stars
- couple of green cardamom seeds, lightly crushed
- couple of cloves
- a stick of cinnamon (I run out, used about a teaspoon of milled one)
- 1 glass of white rum
- Cut the apples in quarters, remove the seeds, put in the big pot
- Add all the ingredients, apart from rum, to the pot
- Put on medium heat and keep till it gets very warm, but make sure you do not let it boil. Taste and if you find it too bitter, add some honey. All depends on the sweetness of the oranges, apples, and wine so let your own tongue decide.