'Old fogey' is fine name for maker of eggnog

December 03, 1997|By ROB KASPER

Doing things the "same old way" at this time of year is valued, at least by some of us. Those of us who treasure the old ways might call ourselves "traditionalists." Others refer to us as "fogeys."

The first time I was called a fogey by one of my kids, I was offended. But now, rather than fight the characterization of being someone who is behind the times, I embrace it. If the world is divided between "cool" people who are "with-it" and "fogeys" who are "out-of-it," I am much more comfortable in the second group.

For example, when it comes to holiday music, I prefer to listen to the modulated tones of Bing Crosby rather than to the louder musical offerings of Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs. I made this discovery the other night while driving my youngest son home from a birthday party for Cary, one of his 13-year-old buddies. When my kid got in the car Bing was warbling "Mele Kalikimaka" on the car sound system. But as soon as Bing finished the final notes of this 1960s Christmas melody, the kid ejected the CD and began working the car radio, searching for his favorite sounds of the season, the rap music of Puff Daddy.

I regard Bing's "Mele Kalikimaka" as a classic. The kid thinks it is "fogey music." I am not going to change the kid's mind about Bing. But he is not not going to change my listening habits.

I feel the same way about my holiday eggnog as I do about my holiday music. It may be scorned as old-fashioned, out-of-date, or even unhealthy, but this fogey eggnog is part of my holiday tradition.

In the 20 years or so that I have been making this eggnog at Christmas, I have seen its ingredients -- egg yolks, sugar, cream and bourbon -- wander in and out of public favor.

Back in the days when cholesterol was regarded as the source of all evil, eggs were virtually outlawed. Since then the emphasis among healthy eaters has switched to watching total dietary fat, and eggs have rebounded in popularity.

Now, the American Heart Association recommends that adults who don't have elevated cholesterol limit their egg intake to four a week. Moreover, eggs are also praised as a source of protein and vitamin D. One recent study even hinted that eggs and other sources of vitamin D could help people suffering with painful knee arthritis. Fogeys took note.

The egg yolks in my recipe, however, are uncooked, which means they have a slight chance of carrying salmonella. This means that in the eyes of health officials the nog is still a forbidden elixir. (Those worried about the risk of salmonella could substitute pasteurized eggs, but I am uncertain what effect this switch has on flavor.)

Sugar and cream have taken their knocks as well. Both have been accused of making us fatter, a charge that in the case of this eggnog probably still sticks. But the claim that sugar leads to hyperactivity is certainly not the case here. After downing one cup of this nog, you become extremely inactive. About the only thing you want to do is to take a nap.

Bourbon has never been widely regarded as a health food, but it too has bounced in and out of fashion. Once scorned by marketing types as a lowly "brown good" that only appealed to old folks, bourbon has had an image makeover. Now expensive, single-barrel bourbons are touted as a beverage of "cool" and "with-it" adults.

Even though my eggnog calls for bourbon, it remains firmly in the fogey camp. Instead of using these "with-it" single-barrel bourbons, my nog uses the cheap stuff. Mixing fine bourbon with sugar, cream and egg yolks would, I think, be a waste of good bourbon.

So here it is, my annual offering, the recipe for my fogey eggnog. I would be hard-pressed to come up with any benign effects this nog has on the body. But it tastes wonderful. It is a holiday tradition. And it soothes the soul. And maybe, after two cups, Puff Daddy will begin to sound like Bing Crosby.

Rob Kasper's Eggnog

Makes 8 to 10 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. Beat egg yolks until they turn dark yellow. Add to bourbon mixture. Mix well. Cover and let sit in refrigerator at least 2 hours. Whip cream, add to bourbon mixture. Nog starts off very creamy, becomes soupy the longer it survives.

Pub Date: 12/03/97

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