Life in the Slow Lane: Eggnog
Nothing really funny has happened on the farm since the pigs became pork. This is very frustrating for me. I mean, the high point of my day has been walking out during my breaks and observing the hi-jinks that always seemed to occur while I'm outside. Sigh.
Not that I have a lot of time to be outside these days. The book I was supposed to have done this week isn't done, mostly because I got caught up in the holidays and I'm suddenly in a state of complete chaos because a serious shift in my life is on its way. It's not something I'm ready to address with the written word..yet.
At any rate, the closest thing to funny that's been happening around here is Peanut. That lamb I hand-raised has turned into a ram, complete with horns--scurs in his case which, thank heavens, snap easily when I put the clippers to them. It started with headbutting men. Peanut has taken on the responsibility of "king of the flock" with all of his heart, despite his somewhat short stature and pudgy shape. I blame his roundness on the fact that he didn't get any colostrum at birth and thus has a compromised gut.
However, because he's small, so far he's been nothing but an annoyance to the guys he's hit. Still, that means I'm back to marshaling sheep when my visitors aren't the sort willing to slap him on the nose for being threatening. Imagine Peanut's surprise when the old cowboy he was backing up to hit suddenly turned on him and whacked him on the nose! Trust me, it was an eye-opening, nose-stinging experience for Mr. Ram-wanna-be. I was grateful.
Maybe because he had been humiliated by his intended victim, Peanut turned on me later that day, something he's done only once before, an event I put up to him testing the waters. Needless to say, I did the same thing and whacked him on the nose with my hand. Startled, he backed up, shook his head and danced as if to say "Hey, you can't hit me! I'm your lamb!" At which point I responded with, "Well, you were going to hit me and I'm your mom. Cut it out!"
So he turned on the goats. A foolish attempt on his part. They all three know they can intimidate him by coming up on their back legs, which makes them almost three times as tall as Peanut. Peanut, being pudgy, isn't good at rearing. He went back to his flock where he played headbutts with his little brothers for a while.
So, with my only funny tale now told, I'll move on to eggnog. Non-alcoholic eggnog has been one of my favorite drinks since I first started making it around ten. It's simple, sweet, and filling. But until this Christmas season I'd never been a fan of adding alcohol to the drink. Probably because it was a childhood favorite and something I'd make for an between-meal snack, the idea of letting it go to my head as it were never occurred. In my life there are only two sorts of alcohol: red wine and stout. Okay, I was drinking gin and tonics for a while, but only because I wanted the blue bottles to build a bottle wall, a project I've now abandoned. Thus, I'm back to two potentially inebriating drinks.
Then, on my holiday visit to Prescott and my grandkids, their dad offered me his eggnog. It had three different liquors in it and had been fermenting for two or three weeks, he told me. Being someone who's always ready to try fermented foods (I've even tried natto, which if you don't know is very stinky Japanese fermented soy something-or-other; once for the experience, I say, and never again no matter how healthy it is), I said yes.
It was delicious and not at all liquor-y. Unfortunately, I had driven to Prescott and wasn't wiling to risk my state of mind for a late drive home. I had to limit my consumption to one glass. Once at home, the eggnog craving begin to take over my life. I fought it with all my might because I no longer do well with pasteurized milk. Raw milk, no problem. Pasteurized, and every joint aches the next day.
Then came the invitation to share Christmas dinner with my friend Laurie and her daughter Lynn. Two days before Christmas, I stopped by the co-op for a squash and somehow ended back by the dairy case. Earlier that day I'd picked up four eggs all at once--an awesome number this year. The girls have really been slacking!
I stared at the half-gallon glass bottle of whole milk from the Straus Dairy in Point Reyes Station in California. Because it's Straus, I knew there'd be cream on the top. The craving for eggnog had me by the throat and wouldn't let go. Just a half-gallon. If I made a quart of eggnog and took it to Laurie's that would leave only a quart of milk. That's only four cups. I could make squash soup, or a cream sauce, or...hot chocolate.
It was more than I could resist. I came home with my squash and my milk. Yesterday, I took my precious eggs and made a quart of nog. Then I packed up the truck with newly frozen turkeys from last week's slaughtering, peach pudding and red cabbage, and made my way to Laurie's.
Guess what! It turns out that Laurie's favorite drink is also eggnog. Whew! That meant there'd only be two cups for me while she drank the other two cups because her daughter Lynn isn't big on the nog. Then Laurie suggested adding alcohol. I asked what the usual was. She said brandy or whiskey. I figured, why not? After all, if it was really awful, I could come home and make more nog with another precious egg. Or two.
The brandy didn't do it for me. That's not to say I didn't drink it, but the taste seemed way out of balance. With our next glass, she added Jameson's whiskey to hers. I asked for a taste, thinking to stick with plain nog if I didn't like it this time.
Much to my surprise, the whiskey was the perfect addition! I think it made the vanilla even more potent. Then Laurie said that adding alcohol meant my body would take up the goodness of the egg and milk even more quickly. That's why alcohol is used for tinctures, she said. Wow, even better, right? Perhaps the next time I make eggnog, I'll get my own whiskey to add.
Probably not. There's too much of my childhood bound up in that sweet mixture for me to turn this into my third choice for an avenue to inebriation.
• 1 cup milk
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar*
• 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
Beat the egg into the milk, whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Drink while sitting in front of the fireplace watching the flames dance. Use leftovers for making French toast.
*Vanilla sugar is a half pound of white sugar into which you've put three or four used vanilla beans. Store the sugar in a closed container. The longer you store it, the stronger the vanilla smell/taste gets.