Sunday, December 15, 2013

Day 217 - Making Eggnog from Scratch

I have never made eggnog from scratch. Usually I would reserve a new experience of this nature for a “Tasty Tuesday” in during my “I have never...” year, but the timing of a family Christmas gathering this weekend provided me a perfect opportunity to give making the deliciously creamy, alcohol-laced holiday drink a try. I figured doing so would give me an opportunity to learn something new with little time commitment on a day full of travel and festivities, and I knew the gift of a spiked drink would suit many in my family well. As a result, I picked up a nice bottle of bourbon, gathered my supplies, and packed the car for our trip north to the family lake house. With Rachael, Buddy, and Baxter tagging along, I knew the day would be full of fun and relaxation, and a little bit of eggnog would only make it better.

Mixin' it up
Upon arriving at the lake house, I promptly unloaded our car and set to work organizing a workspace for my first attempt at making eggnog. With the rest of the party coming together around me, several of my family members honed in on my actions, curious to see if my attempt at making eggnog would come together. Between conversations and laughs, several of them would peer over an inquisitive look on their faces as my preparations came together. As I fielded a few questions from my niece and my nephews, I took a step back from my finalized workspace and started to plot my course through the process of making eggnog. It was apparent I was flying blind, but I was going to give it my best shot.

Luckily, a relative of mine and an experienced cook, Nancy, was in attendance and was interested in helping me through the process. Like me, Nancy had never attempted to make eggnog before, and her curiosity about the process inspired her to lend a hand as I started into the recipe. As I cracked and separated a series of eggs and mixed the first set of simple ingredients, Nancy helped me avoid some mistakes bound to my inexperience with cooking and provided pointers on technique as I mixed ingredients. The assistance helped me breeze through the first parts of the process, which likely would have taken me much longer and turned out much worse without her help. Eventually, the two of us were teaming up on steps in the recipe and taking turns preparing individual ingredients. As a result, the process was smoother than I could have expected, and we were closing in on a final product much faster than I anticipated.

Over the next 20 minutes, Nancy and I grated fresh nutmeg, mixed egg yolks with sugar and cream, and beat egg whites to a perfect, creamy texture. With a final combination of all the ingredients and the added touch of a dash of cinnamon, we gave the concoction a final mix with the mixer and examined our work. As I removed the bowl from the mixer, the sweet aroma of cream, nutmeg, and cinnamon rose into the air before us. Hooked by the scent, I immediately reached for a nearby ladle to test the texture and consistency of the eggnog. A quick swirl around the bowl caused the velvety liquid to move effortlessly around the bowl. In response to the sight I said the first thing that came to my mind, “Wow, that looks good.” Nancy looked up from the bowl with a smile and gave a quick reply to my remark, “Well, I guess the only way to tell is to try it!”

The taste test

I nodded my head in agreement, which caused Nancy to quickly gather some cups for the two us to sample the mix. With a few scoops of the liquid, we both lifted our glasses to the air and tapped the rims together. “Here goes nothing,” I said as I tipped the glass to my lips and sipped the creamy white mixture. To my surprise, the blend of the ingredients was nearly perfect as the sweet and distinct flavors rolled across my tongue. After adding a bit of bourbon to our glasses, this blend was only enhanced, leaving a delicious, lasting taste in my mouth. Following those first few sips Nancy and I readily agreed we had put together a delightful little eggnog, and with a little chilling we knew the drink would go quickly.

Ready to be served

After placing the bowl of eggnog outside for some time, I returned the steel container to the inside of the house and prepared the eggnog for serving. Within 30 minutes, my family had downed all but the last drops of the drink, which left me feeling satisfied my first attempt at eggnog was a success. Thanks to Nancy’s help, I was able to take on a new experience with the unexpected addition of a little expertise, and the outcome was far greater than I could have ever hoped. Considering that is the case, I could definitely see making eggnog from scratch becoming a part of my holiday traditions. Setting aside a little time to recreate this delicious treat seems a simple task, and I’m sure my family wouldn’t have any complaints if another batch of eggnog and a little bourbon were among my Christmas gifts next year. Of course, that means I'll have to stop myself from drinking it all first...

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