Cocktail Advent 20: Almond Eggnog


I debated including this one, but decided to after all. First, because I didn’t have a true eggnog (I keep typing eggnot, which is probably telling) and, perhaps, still don’t. Second, because it’s good to let the non-dairy milks have a chance. Third, if you’re feeling a little overdone from the rest of this month’s cocktail suggestions, this might create a tiny oasis of dubious healthfulness.

Today’s recipe also contains absolutely no alcohol, so if you wanted this to be your breakfast for a last round of Christmas shopping, it’s a much better option than the high-octane options previously presented!

Image via USANA Health Sciences

Image via USANA Health Sciences

Almond Eggnog
(serves one…two if you feel like sharing, but you won’t)

  • 1 cup vanilla-flavored unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons French Vanilla Nutrimeal
  • 1 tablespoon 100 percent pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup ice

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately. And enjoy staying healthy this season!

The meal replacement shake ingredient provides protein and fiber, and I would imagine your preferred version of it would be fine. (Nutrimeal, for what it’s worth, has several High-FODMAP ingredients so I won’t be giving it a try.) Leaving it out is a possibility, but probably would make the smoothie feel a bit thin.

***This recipe was submitted by a representative of USANA Health Sciences. I am not affiliated with the company nor was I compensated for this post, not even with review samples. As always, we encourage responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunken monkeys, please!***

MCC: Lemon Hart

Lemon Hart metaloaf

Lemon Hart

This month’s recipe comes to us from (the translated) The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old & New World (relatively speaking, of course), and dates back to 1669.

To Prepare a Lemon-Hart

Take minced veal just like for meatballs, add to it nutmeg, pepper and salt as well as peels of a fresh lemon cut into small pieces, for each pond of meat an egg yolk, a crushed rusk and mix it all together, shape it in the form of a large meatball or in the form of a heart, stew it with a little water. When done take off the fat, add Verjuice, butter, and peels of a salted lemon which has been boiled together, then dish up; a sauce is poured over made from Verjuice beaten with egg yolks.

Medieval Vocabulary 102

pond = approx. 430 grams which is, roughly, 15.16 oz–close enough to a pound that we’re going to call it even
rusk = the heel end of a loaf of bread, toasted
Verjuice = a tart condiment from unripe grapes, we substitute apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar (though it can be ordered online)
salted lemon = a type of preserved lemon; I have a quickie version of this that I’ll put below, but you can find preserved lemons at some specialty stores, too.

Basically we’re making a meatloaf, here, with ground veal if at all possible. If you can’t get or prefer not to use veal for whatever reason, very lean beef–the best quality you can afford–will be fine. You can also use venison (hart is another name for deer, after all), though it may be a little drier. The thing to notice with this recipe is that they made meatloaf much the way we would: mix up the meat with seasonings, an egg and some breadcrumbs and “bake”. Instead of ketchup or tomato sauce on top, it uses a tart egg sauce and also comes with it’s own gravy* thanks to the liquid added during and just after cooking.

Ingredients, to serve 6-8

2 lbs ground veal
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 egg yolks
2 heels of bread, toasted and crumbled, or more as needed
1 cup warm water
For the gravy 

1 Tbsp apple cider or wine vinegar
2.5 Tbsp butter
the minced skin of one salted lemon


For the topping

2 tsp apple cider or wine vinegar
3 egg yolks

This manuscript describes a sort of basic stove one could fashion in the mid 1600s so while we might make this meatloaf in the oven, an alternative is to cook it on the stove over a low heat (hence the water added to the cooking vessel, making this more of a braised loaf). I’ve little doubt such loafs were made in a pot over flame (as minced meats won’t very well stay on a spit unless otherwise contained) as a large meatball for many years before we had modern stoves and ovens. If you have a Dutch oven or other vessel that can be used in both the oven and on the stove-top, you could split the difference and bake it in the oven per your usual meatloaf and then finish it on the stove.


the ingredients for the lemon hart Combine the ground meat, seasonings, eggs and coarse bread crumbs. Shape into a large ball or decorative heart-shape and place in the bottom of a Dutch oven or roasting pan. Add 1 cup warm water to the bottom of the pot or pan and place over medium heat on the stove, covered, or in a 350°F oven for 1 hour or until the center of the load has reached 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
the cooked lemon hart, before deglazing or saucing Remove the lid and skim off any fat that may have accumulated in the pan. Add the apple cider or wine vinegar, butter and salted lemon zest and bring to a boil. (This is akin to modern chefs de-glazing a pan to make a rich gravy from the caramelized bits on the bottom.)
the sauced lemon hart Whisk together the topping ingredients (apple cider or wine vinegar and egg yolks) and pour over the loaf while still warm. (Between the heat of the load and the acid in the vinegar, the egg yolks will be cooked enough for safety. If you’re still concerned, you can whisk the topping over steaming water (a double boiler) until warm and the egg yolk coats the back of a spoon.)
Lemon Hart metaloaf Carefully transfer the Lemon Hart to a serving dish (I used 2 large spatulas and had a person standing by with the plate to quickly slip it under) and the gravy to a bowl. Let rest a few minutes before slicing and serving.

In the past I’ve baked this but decided to give the stove-top method a try this go ’round. On my electric stove I had to keep the heat down medium-low to prevent the liquid from boiling furiously and, even then, it took barely an hour to reach the right temperature.

Served with roasted new potatoes it made an excellent supper–the lemon is obviously there but not so overpowering as to make it unpleasant. You do want to make sure you only use the lemon zest and avoid the pith of the salted lemons–the preserving softens it a lot, making it much easier to remove.

Lemon Hart and Roasted New Potatoes

Meat and Potatoes Supper

*Because I let it go a smidgen too long, the gravy was non-existent, but the Lemon Hart was still moist and tasty so it wasn’t a great loss.

The next recipe for the Medieval Cooking Challenge will go out this weekend: sign up to get in on the scoop!


Quick Salted Lemons

There are several recipes out there for salted lemon preserves that are a common condiment in Middle Eastern food but they take several weeks to prepare. When I first did this recipe I didn’t have that kind of time so here’s what I came up with, instead.

Lemons, scrubbed clean of any waxes or residue
Kosher Salt

In a baking dish just larger than the lemon(s) you want to “preserve”, pour in a layer of Kosher salt, arrange the lemon(s) on top and pour more salt around them. Cover and bake in a 250F oven for 2 hours. Remove and let cool.

Pack the lemon(s) and salt in a fridge-safe container with a tight lid and they’ll keep for months.

Or, if you’re really in a hurry, split each lemon in quarters, lengthwise, but don’t cut all the way through one end. Sprinkle salt into the cut lemons, place in a microwavable container with additional salt, microwave for 2 minutes and then let cool. Store 1 night in the fridge, shaking or turning the container at least once, before using.

the Medicine Cabinet in Your Kitchen

64 Arts

And I’m not talking about cold and headache pills kept in the cabinet above the toaster–I’m not the only one who grew up that way, right?

No, today I want to share with you some simple home remedies that you can find in your kitchen. Of course, the standard caveats apply:

  • If you’re allergic to something, don’t use it. Corollary: If you experience any allergy-like symptoms, discontinue use, pop a Benadryl for mild symptoms and call the doctor asap for anything breathing-related or otherwise severe!
  • If you’re on prescription medications, check with your prescribing doctor or pharmacist before adding a natural remedy to the mix (natural remedies can often interact with or invalidate prescription meds).
  • If symptoms persist see a doctor.
  • I am not a doctor, just a girl who (due to a laundry-list of personal health idiosyncrasies) wants to decrease the amount of non-essential pharmaceuticals in her system.

Have I covered my ass enough, now?

Good for More Than Just Studding a Ham

I’d often read that clove was a natural topical analgesic (pain reliever) but it never really clicked until one Sunday dinner with a friend’s family. Mrs. P had made a gorgeous glazed ham and you know the the crust is the best part. Well, after one piece my tongue started to go numb. Viola! A little too much clove on a ham yields numbing sensations. This is why clove oil (available in some pharmacies) or even the ground cloves in your spice cabinet can be applied to your gums to help alleviate your next toothache. Just make a little paste with cloves and water and place it around the achy area.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have a faint pie-spice taste in my mouth than that nasty orajel flavor I grew up with!

When the Motion of the Ocean is too Much to Bear

Thankfully, I don’t suffer from motion sickness on a regular basis, nor do I get sea sick. Growing up in Louisiana, both families had river camps and I always thought it was great fun to go out on a boat.The first two cruise ships I was on? No problems. But by my third cruise I’d developed more persistent tummy troubles in general and our ship was experiencing some propulsion issues that created a little more rocking. I came prepared with my trust ginger pills and, after the first day, all was right with the world.

We’ve probably all been given ginger ale when we were kids with an upset stomach, right? There’s a reason for that. Ginger has a wonderfully calming effect on roiling tummies and can help with digestion in general. For the cruise I bought ginger pills at the local health food store (powdered ginger in capsules) but I’ve also had good results eating bit of Australian chewy ginger licorice and even candied ginger slices. You do want to watch out on the sugary options, though: too much sugar can make a bad situation worse (it draws extra water into your gi tract to deal with the sugar and can throw things out of balance).

The Go With the Flow Trio

In my 20s I suffered through numerous bladder infections for which we were never quite sure of the cause(s). On top of that, I was also getting bronchitis a couple times a year, and the antibiotic load frequently took it’s toll on the good bacteria in my body causing yeast infections. It was a vicious cycle. And really uncomfortable.

Since then I’ve discovered my own little cocktail of all-natural products to help keep the girlie bits happy and healthy. It’s not exactly a secret, chances are you’ve heard of this before, but I’m going to tell you anyway because I’ve learned to no longer assume folks know what I consider to be common information: cranberry juice, yogurt and baking soda mixed with water are your new best friends.

Not all together, of course!

The cranberry juice needs to be as close to natural as possible. If you don’t like the taste you can use the blends but it’s best if you use the brands available in the organic or natural section of the grocery as they won’t have as many sugars (sugars are bad news for these kinds of issues–they feed the bad bacteria!) or artificial ingredients. Drinking cranberry juice regularly keeps your urinary tract happy.

Oh, and about those blends? My girlfriend’s doctor told her any blend was find EXCEPT Cran-Grape–one half makes you go, the other makes you stop and you’re body won’t know what to do. Just something to keep in mind!

Yogurt is teeming with those active cultures that make yogurt, yogurt and they do wonderful things like build up the good bacteria in our bodies that antibiotics can strip away. Again, the idea is to go as natural as possible and avoid overly sugary versions or ones with excess chemical enhancement. My favorite, these days, is naturally fat-free Greek yogurt with fruit and honey.

Back when I’d get those infections often the doctor would give me a pain killer along with the antibiotic. I wasn’t really fond of the technicolor side-effects these things brought on and hated yet another pill to swallow for the duration. Instead, I read that mixing baking soda in water will act as a natural pain reliever to get you over the hump if you feel a little uncomfortable in the nether regions. Thankfully I’ve only had to use this once in the last 6 years but it does work!

But Wait–There’s More!

Nagging cough? Dissolve 1 tablespoon of honey into 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and drink to quiet that tickle. Yes, it’s strong-tasting, but it’s still better than the artificial stuff on the drugstore shelf!

Nutmeg is a natural anti-inflammatory and can be taken in pill form just like the ginger–look in your local health foods store for this one.

An infusion of basil in hot water (you can even used dried basil for this! 1/4 cup water per 2 teaspoons basil and steeped for 10 minutes) helps reduce gas and bloating. 1 cup, twice a day for no more than 8 days in a row followed by a 2 week break. Just don’t lay on the basil if you’re pregnant.

What’s stocked in your kitchen medicine cabinet?

50 Shots of America–Connecticut


Our fifth state, the Constitution State (so-named because they had the very first one), ratified the big Constitution on January 9, 1788, and gets it’s name from the Mohegan word for “place of long tidal river.”

As I researched the state I got the impression that they really aren’t into the wild and wacky, up there (even if they are home to the country’s oldest amusement park, Lake Compounce ). Lots of industry, economics (thanks, again, to favorable tax conditions for certain types of businesses; namely hedge funds in Greenwich), and lots and lots of schools from private day and boarding schools to numerous colleges including the uber-ivy league Yale University, home of the first football game (American football, of course).

Scads of famous folks came out of the Provision State: Noah Webster (he of the Dictionary), Eli Whitney, PT Barnum (and, therefore, the Circus as we know it), Harriet Beecher Stowe, the beautiful Katherine Hepburn and America’s first traitor: Benedict Arnold. The “Land of Steady Habits” apparently counted inventions among a habit to pursue, as this state was the birthplace of the Hamburger (1895), the Polaroid camera (1934), the helicopter (1939) and the color television (1948), just to name a few. In fact, 2 years before the Wright Brothers made Kitty Hawk famous, Gustav Whitehead was making aviation history in Bridgeport.

But where does that leave us for the cocktail? Don’t worry, I managed to work something out with what I was given. You see, Connecticut is also known as the Nutmeg state. Not because they produce nutmeg or trade in it or anything, no. The story goes that some peddlers would whittle knobs of wood into a nutmeg shape (which is easy to see how that could happen, it being a brown seed and all) and sell them to unsuspecting customers. That’s one of 3 theories I read for the name but none are 100% certain. Still, it’s interesting enough to make it drink worthy!

the Yankee 78

1 oz Milk
.5 oz Brandy
.5 oz Nutmeg syrup*

Combine all ingredients over ice in a small cocktail shaker and shake until nice and cold. Strain into a pretty cordial glass for maximum effect. You can add a very light dusting of freshly grated nutmeg to the top of the milk foam but, I assure you, it’s not necessary.

As mentioned, the shaken milk produces a great, foamy head that contrasts nicely with the off-white to mocha color of the rest of the drink speckled with bits of nutmeg. (The color depends on how dark your sugar syrup ends up.) As there is a considerable dairy industry in Connecticut and milk punches and brandies always strike me as incredibly Colonial, this seemed the perfect vehicle for the nutmeg flavor without it overpowering the drink.

I made the test drinks with fat free milk because that’s what I drink but I think using 2% would add a nice layer of richness to the drink–if I were making these for a group, I certainly would.

The drink is named after two other bits of information I discovered about the state. One, that the state song is Yankee Doodle and it’s residents are sometimes considered the first Yankees. Two, that there are only 78 hours out of every week that you can purchase beer and liquor from stores (restaurants and bars are allowed broader hours), and less than that to purchase wine if I read the statutes correctly! Stores can only sell alcohol between 8 am and 9 pm Monday through Saturday, not on Sunday and not on certain holidays. If, for instance, Independence Day falls on a Sunday (a dry holiday on a dry day) then the following Monday becomes dry, too!

I guess we’re spoiled down here with our wine and beer in 24-hour supermarkets and late-night liquor stores!

*To make Nutmeg Syrup

.5 c white sugar
1.5 Tbsp ground nutmeg
.5 c water

Combine in a saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves. You may have to guess a bit because the nutmeg has a tendency to float on the top and obscure the view. Avoid breathing in the fumes as the mixture cooks, that nutmeg can be quite potent! Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain through several layers of cheesecloth (layers given a quarter turn each to trap as much of the ground spice as possible) once. Some nutmeg will pass through the straining but you’ll catch most of it.

The leftover syrup (this barely makes a cup after straining) can be stored in an airtight contained in the fridge for quite some time. Obviously an excellent addition to eggnog, this syrup would go well in Tiki-style drinks and practically anything that called for rum! For an even richer taste, make it with brown sugar instead of white.