Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Autumn in the Kitchen

More than any other time of year, Fall conjures up thoughts of comfort food. Recipes that tempt us with their rich, spicy flavors and warmth that drives away the chill are what satisfy us the most. Over the next several days, I plan to share some of the recipes that are "must haves" in our household. It doesn't seem like Autumn without them.
Today I'd like to share three beverage recipes.

TLC in a Mug (Sugar Free version in parenthesis)

1/2 c. instant tea w/lemon (6T diet tea w/lemon)
2 c. Tang (2 packages SF tang or crystal lite)
1/2 c. sugar (1/2 c Splenda or equivalent)
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves

Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container (If you think you can spare a LnL, that would work!). To make TLC, heat 8 oz water and add 2 t. drink mix (or to taste). I recommend heat and mixing in a container slightly larger than a mug because it can foam a little when you add the powder (esp the SF version).
On a personal note, I began making this recipe in college. It's great when you are feeling a little off, like I am today. Think of it as homemade Theraflu. When I was teaching preschool, there were days when you could tell that one of the children just wanted to be at home. I'd make a cup of this for them, and it always seemed to perk them up a bit. There isn't anything magic about it, but they seemed to think so. It might help that cloves act as a natural analgesic.

Wassail Bowl

1 t. whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks
1/2 t. whole allspice
1 oz. crystallized gigner
3 3/4 c. sugar
6 1/4 c. water
5 c. orange juice
3 1/8 c. lemon juice
3 1/8 quart cider

Place spices in a culinary bag (a large tea ball works too). Bring water and sugar to a boil in a large pot. Add spice bag and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 1 hour. Remove spices and add juices. Bring to a boil. Serve. Keeps well and can be frozen.
This Wassail bowl is simply a great recipe for spiced cider. And it's not just for Christmas anymore!

Blackberry Fizz

3 quarts fresh or frozen blackberries
4 c. water
3 c. sugar
1 T. whole cloves
1 T. whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
Lemon-lime, white soda or ginger ale.
(canning equipment optional)

A warning first. This beverage is a little extra work, and a little expensive to make. It is also going to look like you butchered a turkey in your kitchen. And I shouldn't have to tell you that blackberry juice stains. That being said, it is completely worth it, so you might as well double the recipe.
Crush the blackberries in a large kettle. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 10 minutes. Strain through a jelly bag, reserving juice and discarding pulp. Add water if necessary to equal 2 quarts; pour into a large kettle. (wouldn't it be nice if somebody sold bottled blackberry juice?) Slowly stir in sugar until dissolved. Place spices in a culinary bag (or large tea ball) and add to juice. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil; remove spice bag and discard. Pour hot into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps and process for 15 minutes in a water bath canner. Alternately, cool completely and freeze in pint containers. To serve, mix 1 part concentrate with 2 parts soda.
While this is a cold drink, I think it would taste just as good hot. Only I've never figured out how to heat it without the soda loosing it's fizz.
If you make this, I'd love to hear your reactions. It's quite surprising.


  1. Those are wonderful recipes! I have tried the first one years ago, and had totally forgotten about it (loved it, btw). I kinda wish there was a healthier version of Tang to be had, but oh well. :-)

  2. Nice Stuff..! I also wish him good luck to defend his gold medal. I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.
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