December 22, 2009

That's Not So Bad Afterall

One of the memories that sticks out from Christmas of my childhood, is my mom making the egg nog every year. She would get out the big cut crystal punch bowl she received as a wedding gift and whip and beat and stir until it was filled with the most scrumptious looking concoction. Looking so lovely, I knew for certain it would be delicious, and I would eagerly accept the beautiful little glass reserved for the occasion with grateful anticipation. One taste, and the only word I could use to describe the fruit of her labor was, "DISGUSTING!"

Mother made her egg nog in the good old fashioned way. With lots of rum or whiskey or bourbon or whatever it is they added to the stuff. Every year, I fell for the same thing. Looking forward to this wonderful treat and finding out it tasted no better than the Christmas before.

And so, I grew up thinking that was what egg nog was all about. Once, I had my own home I was resolved to shield my children from such torture and the stuff never entered into my Kitchen, home or holiday tradition. Until Aedan was a baby, that is.

My brother, Frank, was still living with us then. He came home one Thanksgiving with a jug of this stuff touting how wonderful it was. He poured it into the same little punch cups my mother had used and sprinkled it with nutmeg. "Here, try this," he said. I am very open minded when it comes to trying new things and you would be hard pressed to find much that I will not taste at least once, so my brother was surprised when I said, "No, thank you."

"It is really good, Kat," he urged. And for several minutes he went on about the virtues of the glop in the jug refusing to give up until I had sampled his gift. "I have had egg nog before and I don't care for it." And on and on we went. I know it is difficult for you to imagine that we could go on at all... but I swear we did.

Finally, he broke me down and I did take a taste. And I was surprised. It really was quite tasty. We brought many more jugs home that year and even found recipes for the extras such as blueberry and egg nog french toast.

Every Thanksgiving after that, egg nog was added to our shopping list and, from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day, no stop at the market was complete without adding a bottle to the buggy. As those who have been reading my blog for any length of time know, I am a real stickler for healthy eating, ridding our lives of chemicals, growing our own food and preparing it from scratch. I rarely if ever buy processed foods and truly believe that eating real food instead of food from the grocery stores that are laden with additives and chemicals is not only healthier but tastier.

This year, I got to thinking on it and thought if that junk from the store filled with high fructose corn syrup is that good imagine how much better a big punch bowl full of delicious home made egg nog would taste. Now, my husband always says he loves my passion. That is his really nice way of saying I am obsessive and go over the top but he married me anyway because he also loves my spaghetti and meatballs. I can admit the truth, though. I am obsessive. For example, each year I buy seven rolls of wrapping, one for each child, in coordinating colors and designs. What can I say? I love the continuity of it.

So, when it came to egg nog, I started on the internet reading a boat load of recipes. Some the old-fashioned-risk-your-life-with-salmonella-no cook versions and some the cook-and-stir-until-your-arm-falls-off kind. Designed by food specialists in universities all over the country to cook it enough to prevent any risk of illness while not scrambling the all important eggs. I do not recommend trying these recipes unless you have at least a family as big as mine to take turns stirring or unless you have invited over a number of unsuspecting guests that you can draft for the chore.

I am a very indecisive person. You didn't know that did you? Furthermore, I like to really try things for myself and know that I have the right one and the best one. Which boils down to this. I printed out a boat load of recipes.

Then I drafted Allen and Kaitlin to join me at the market and help fill a buggy with gallon upon gallon of organic milk, cream, sugar and other ingredients that seldom enter my home. The bill was astronomical, especially when I considered the fact that there was no nutrition in that cart and nothing to make a meal.

My next stop, was dad's friend, who raises the organic chickens, that I buy my eggs from. Seven dozen of the finest eggs available, ought to be enough, don't you think? Living in this part of the country and feeding a family of nine a vegetarian diet, is quite expensive. Many years ago, we added a second refrigerator to our laundry room to store produce so I could buy in bulk from a coop run by our friends. By the time I got the eggs, milk and other ingredients for my little experiment, that fridge looked more like we were running a dairy. There was no room left for other groceries. Every time someone went into that fridge they would say, "Do you know there are four gallons of milk in the refrigerator? This is particularly amusing if you realize the number of our family members that are allergic to either eggs or milk and some even both.

After all was said and done... well, actually it isn't because I have one more recipe to try... but I think we have already found a winner so as far as I am concerned all is said and done... it was worth the little bit of effort it took. The difference in taste was impressive. To make it simpler, we have rated each recipe with the Wachter stars. One star for each person who liked that recipe. The highest number of stars is 9 and the least possible being 0. We also each got one vote for our favorite of the batches.

You will see the rating following the recipe name and and notes or adjustments just before the recipe ingredients.

I chose this first recipe to start with because it claimed to be easy. And it really was. Super simple. It was an adequate recipe for the simplicity of the whole deal. Far superior to the store bought stuff and had we not tried any other it would have been excellent. The others were so much better that it got bumped to fourth place, for that reason only.

Easy Eggnog
*********
favorite: 2

6 eggs
3 cups milk
8 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground

In a large bowl, beat the eggs using an electric beater (I used my kitchen aid) By turn, add milk & sugar. Continue beating until mixture thickens slightly. Add in the vanilla essence & ground nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled (at least 3 hours).

Chocolate Eggnog
********
favorite: 2

I added the Kahlua during the cooking because it cooked long enough to cook off the alcohol. In place of the rum I used double strong decaf coffee to make up the difference in liquid. This one took a long time to cook. We all took turns stirring for the 45 minutes or so. I was running out the door to an appointment and forgot to add the cream before cooking. It was delicious without it but if I made it again, I would add it.

8 eggs
3 cups chocolate milk
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 cup Kahlua liqueur (or delicious, freshly brewed strong coffee)
1 cup dark rum
1/2 cup brown sugar
¾ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
¾ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
pinch cinnamon, ground (as garnish)
pinch chocolate, grated (as garnish)

In a large saucepan over a medium heat, pour the milk and chocolate milk. Heat the milks, but DO NOT BOIL. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and brown sugar until they are well combined and of a reasonably thick consistency. When the milk mixture is hot (but not boiling!), add approximately half of it to the bowl containing the beaten eggs and brown sugar. Whisk well. Pour all of the egg, sugar & milk mixture back into the large saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Slowly and gently, add in the Kahlua liqueur/ coffee, and then the cream. Stir continuously until the mixture has thickened enough to be able to coat the back of a spoon. Remember not to ever allow the mixture to boil. Remove the eggnog from the low heat. Stir in the dark rum, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled (at least 3 hours). To serve, ladle the eggnog into individual glasses, and garnish with a little grated chocolate or ground cinnamon.

Coconut Eggnog
******* 1/2
favorite: 1

This next recipe was in no way disgusting, but I thought I would like it best of all, because I am a big fan of coconut. It was by no means as good as I expected, but worth a try if you are a fan of coconut.

8 egg yolks
4 cups coconut milk or cream
6 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Into a large saucepan, pour the coconut milk/ cream and add the white sugar.
Heat BUT DO NOT BOIL over a medium heat. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the vanilla essence. Into the bowl, pour approximately half the coconut milk & sugar mixture. Whisk briskly. Add the remainder of the coconut milk & sugar mixture. Pour the combined mixture back into your large saucepan. Cook over a low heat BUT DO NOT BOIL, ensuring that you continuously stir. Continue stirring until the eggnog thickens slightly - enough to be able to coat the back of a spoon. Pour & strain the eggnog back into punch bowl. Allow the eggnog to sit and cool until it becomes room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight. Just prior to serving, combine the ground nutmeg & ground cinnamon on a small dish, and sprinkle a little of the mixture on top of each served glassful of your delicious coconut eggnog!

Diamond Eggnog
*********
favorite: 5

Now this one was the piece de resistance. This was made with the more traditional method my mom used, of beating the life out of the yolks and folding in stiff egg whites at the end. If I heard it once, I heard twenty times how delicious this was. Everyone came back for seconds and there were a lot of "shucks" going around when the punch bowl was empty. It was by far my personal favorite. The original recipe called for rum, which I just left out all together. I made the recipe in my kitchen aid and even then it truly did take 10 minutes to get the egg yolks to the right consistency in the first step. It wasn't a problem in anyway, just wanted to be sure you know to give it enough time for the yolks to really get light and thick.

4 + ½ cups milk
4 eggs, separated
1 (125g/ 5 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
¼ teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon, ground

Using a mixer, beat the egg yolks in a large bowl for 5 - 10 minutes; they need to be thick and resemble the colour of butter. A little bit at a time, add in the milk, condensed milk, sugar and vanilla essence. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Slowly fold the egg whites into the rest of the mixture. Chill thoroughly. Serve in cups and garnish with ground nutmeg or cinnamon.
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3 comments :

  1. Wow, Kat! I love your passion! :)

    I love anything coconut and now I think I will have to try that. Our family makes a version very similar to the last one. It is a once a year thing and I love it!

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  2. I admire your perseverance; but I still don't like eggnog. :)

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  3. Something I have never tried. We got the cow and chooks {chickens}; could give it a go.

    Btw, I research the same why you do. Download a plethora of recipies just to make sure I haven't missed the best one and try the all. By the end of the 'experiment', everyone is over whatever it was I started trying.

    sighs To make it simple is to easy for me.

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