All is calm, all is bright, thanks to world's best nog

HAPPY EATER

December 23, 1992|By ROB KASPER

Christmas approaches, nerves fray, moods swing.

On Sunday evening you traipse to the grocery store to buy the ingredients needed for the annual making of the chocolate mousse. You are pleased that you forced yourself to go to the grocery store. It is another task you can cross off the job list.

But not quite. When you find the rack that is supposed to hold the needed bars of chocolate, it is bare.

You go to the store's "customer service" counter in hopes of liberating the needed ingredient. The woman working the counter tells you what you already know, that the rack is empty.

She says the kind of chocolate you seek will be on the shelf after midnight. That is when the restocking crews will free the chocolate from storage.

You smile tightly, fighting the urge to pound the counter and make the following points:

"Why is the store always surprised that people buy extra amounts of baking chocolate in December? Christmas comes every year. So does Hanukkah. People bake.

"Memo to mogul in charge of chocolate planning: Put extra chocolate bars on the shelf and people will buy them.

"And another thing. What kind of 'service' is a customer service counter providing if it can't deliver chocolate sitting in the back of the store into the hands of customers standing out front?

"Finally, it doesn't do much good at 6 o'clock at night to tell a customer that the chocolate will be there at midnight. By midnight, the customer will be gone. Perhaps never to return."

You don't say any of this. You want to, but in your head you hear your mother's voice chiding you, saying, "Peace on earth, good will toward men. Even in the grocery store."

And so you shrug at the service counter person and go off in search of the whipping cream.

The next day things get better. You have 15 Christmas cookies for lunch. You are one of five judges for an office cookie contest held at an advertising agency, W. B. Doner & Co.

When you agreed to do this weeks ago, you thought it would be a favor for a friend. But after eating the biscotti, the chocolate chips, the butter cookies and the bourbon balls, your blood sugar and your spirits lift.

This was a favor you did for yourself.

That night you go caroling in your neighborhood. The parents sing "Jingle Bells" and all the traditional lyrics. The kids sing "Batman smells" and other "forbidden" lyrics.

You return to a neighbor's house for a buffet supper, more carols and the crowd pleaser: the lighting of the candles on the Christmas tree. The power of the flame is the only force that can make the kids sit still.

The next night, you eat a hurried supper and escort the family -- scrubbed, starched and not altogether jolly -- to see "A Christmas Carol."

And, finally, your duties done, you retreat to your eggnog. You sip the nog, stare at the Christmas tree and fall fast asleep.

It is a tradition. At least at your house, where you have been making the World's Greatest Eggnog for as long as you have been awake.

Every ingredient in this nog -- bourbon, sugar, cream, raw egg yolks -- is on the enemies list of dietitians.

You tell yourself the recipe could be fooled with. You could

substitute pasteurized eggs for raw egg yolks. And you could slip in faux cream for the whipping cream, and sweetener for the sugar. You could even put in carrot juice instead of bourbon. But it wouldn't be eggnog.

4( And to you it wouldn't be Christmas.

World's Greatest Eggnog

Makes 12 cups.

2 cups bourbon

1 1/8 cups sugar

6 egg yolks, beaten

4 cups whipping cream

Blend bourbon and sugar in large mixing bowl. Let sit overnight, if you can wait.

Beat egg yolks until they are dull yellow, then add them to bourbon-sugar mixture. Cover and let sit in refrigerator two hours, if you can wait.

Whip cream, add to bourbon mixture. Nog starts off very creamy, becomes soupy the longer it survives.

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