18 September 2010

Confessions of a Northern Transplant

It was almost 90 degrees Fahrenheit today...in the middle of September...when I'm supposed to be unpacking my hoodies and drinking hot beverages in the crisp, slightly chill air.

Instead, I'm trying to stay cool by running the air conditioner and the ceiling fan at the same time (being pregnant has turned me into a walking furnace).

I don't know if I'll ever get used to the weather here in the south. While there are many positives to living here (loads of barbecue, friendly people, "Red State", etc.) I don't count the weather as one of them. Some of you may say, "You won't be saying that when winter comes!" Oh yes, I will. See, I actually don't mind winter. Some of my fondest memories are of the various blizzards I have weathered during my childhood and adolescence. There's nothing like curling up in front of the window with a gratuitously large mug of coffee and watching each snowflake make its balletic descent into obscurity. I was lucky last year to experience one of the snowiest winters this area has seen in a long while. It made leaving the north a bit easier.

As much as I love snow, however, autumn has always occupied a special place in my heart (hence why it was chosen as the preferred season for our wedding last year). And I suppose my internal clock has yet to reset itself, because I've already switched over into "Fall Mode"...a tad early for this climate, methinks.

For example, I desperately want to mull some cider. "You want to do what to that cider?" I want to mull it. No, I do not want to ruminate on it, although I have found myself in a very contemplative state whilst sipping apple cider. I want to mull it in the following sense:
To heat, sweeten, and flavor with spices for drinking, as ale or wine.
 Mulled, or spiced, cider is a favorite of mine. As a matter of fact, just this evening I purchased a bottle of home fragrance oil from Bath & Body Works in that very scent. It typifies autumn to me (probably because my mom makes a massive batch of it every Thanksgiving)...and it's damn good!

So last week, when the weather was beginning to look like it could be cooling off, I became a little overzealous and made my own mulling spices, fully intending to mull the gallon of cider I purchased back when I made my apple pie (also in a fit of zeal). I will share the recipe for the spices with you and hopefully you live in a climate that will allow you to actually use them without having to run the air conditioner full blast. I found this particular recipe on Love to Know:

Basic Mulling Spices

Makes 1 1/2 cups

6 cinnamon sticks
1 small whole nutmeg
1/2 cup whole cloves
1/2 cup whole allspice
Grated peel of one whole orange

Put the cinnamon and nutmeg in a zippered storage bag and chip into medium sized pieces with a hammer or the flat side of a meat tenderizer. Place in a storage container (in my case, another plastic bag) with the cloves, allspice and orange peel.

To use, place two tablespoons full of the spice in a square of cheesecloth, tie with twine, and add to four cups of cider (or wine). Sweeten to taste (I used about 1/2 cup of sugar for four cups). Simmer for three or more hours and serve hot. This works best in a crock pot, but you can do it on the stove, just make sure not to boil it.

This mix smells heavenly! Whenever I walk by the cupboard where it is kept I stop and inhale deeply. Ahh, fall...

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