Rich, Custardy Eggnog Ice Cream: A Christmas Tradition


This sounds like heaven. But I did make homemade pepperoni bread today.

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A big mug of freshly brewed coffee and a couple scoops of eggnog ice cream dressed up with shaved nutmeg: Bring it on, Winter!

This ice cream is divine.

Rich Eggnog Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Heat cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and heat until mixture almost boils, about 5 – 8 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to low, using a heat diffuser if necessary.
  4. Meanwhile, beat yolks and sugar until the mixture is light yellow and smooth.
  5. Add 4 tbsp of hot cream mixture to egg mixture and stir until combined. This will temper the eggs.
  6. Slowly add warmed yolk mixture to warm cream. Stir continuously in order to not cook/curdle eggs.
  7. Cook entire mixture…

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The Beginnings of Solstice


axialtiltThe tilt of the Earth is why we have the Summer and Winter Solstice. In ancient times people had to find a reason for the days becoming longer and shorter. The short days were hardest on ancient people because without gas, electricity, and insulated homes it was hard for them to function. It was cold and dark and scary out there in the long long nights.

The decorated fir tree at Christmas echoes many ancient beliefs, including light and life. They had a solstice evergreen. The name coming from the fact that they didn’t lose their color and die back like other plants and trees. It didn’t wither and die. The evergreen tree signified the continuing presence of burgeoning life in the midst of Winter’s sleep.

In other parts of the world cherry trees or hawthorns are placed in water or in indoor containers to encourage them to bloom mid winter. If a young lady was in the house, its blooming indicated that a good husband would be found for her that year.

The first historical reference of a Christmas tree recorded comes from an anonymous German citizen. Actually, most of the records that have come down to us regarding early Christmas rituals are from Germany. The anonymous gentleman from Germany wrote, “At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlours of Strasbourg and hang thereupon roses cut out of many colored papers. They cut out apples and put candies on the trees.” They used smaller trees than we do now.

The tradition of the mistletoe Bough hasn’t been around as long as the evergreen tree. This time of year three plants naturally bore fruit at the Solstice. They were the Mistletoe with its beautiful white berries; the ivy with its striking green and white leaves; and the holly with its scarlet fruit or berries. The mistletoe was actually a parasite that attached itself to certain trees. It was held sacred by Druids and other Pagans. (Pagan is a term that merely means living in atunement with Mother Earth.) The Druids held nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the tree that bore it, They assumed that tree to be oak and chose groves full of oaks instead of just having one tree. They thought that everything that grew on that tree was in fact, sent from heaven. In the language of the Druids, mistletoe means all-healing. It wasn’t used to collect kisses like it is today. The Druid prienst would climb the tree and with a golden sickle would cut the mistletoe away from the tree.

The Celts also felt mistletoe was sacred. They called it the Silver Branch. The branch was generally cut from an apple tree because Celts felt they were sacred. In 1834, a coffin was discovered from the Bronze Age and when it was opened the skeleton was wrapped in mistletoe. This can lead one to the idea of how sacred it was considered but also that it was a means of crossing over to the Otherworld. It was kept in homes until shortly before the next gathering.

Holly was seen as a male plant, with its bright red berries and sharp prickly leaves, while ivy. clinging and gentler, was perceived as female. Traces still remain of a ritual drama in which the Holly King and the Ivy Queen fought or were fought for by two champions. A fifteenth-century carol, with its recurrent refrain, suggests how this may have developed. Here the ranks are drawn up all too clearly, with ivy described as having black berries, and as being cold, weepy, and accompanied by the owl, the bird of ill omen. Holly is described as being red nosed and cheerful, with merry men who dance and sing, and is accompanied by the nightingale and the lark.

darkness

The Four Noble Trees

O, the holly bears a berry as white as pure silk,

And the Lady bore the Green Man

when the ewes give their milk.

And the Lady bore the Green Man

our first hope for to be,

And the first Prince of the springtime

It was the birch tree.

Birch tree, birch tree.

And the first Prince of the springtime

It was the birch tree.

O, the birch he bears a leaf-o

as green as the moss.

And the Lady bore the Green Man

to dance in the grass,

And the Lady bore the Green Man

that merry we might be.

And the Princess of the Maytime

is the young hawthorn tree,

Hawthorn tree, hawthorn tree

And the Princess of the Maytime

is the young hawthorn tree.

O, the hawthorn bears a prickle

as keen as the sun,

And the Lady bore the Green Man

to die in the corn,

And the Lady bore the Green Man

our harvest for to be,

And the first Queen of the autumn

is the old apple tree,

Apple tree, apple tree.

And the first Queen of the autumn

is the old apple tree.

O, the apple bears a fruit-o, as blood it is red

And the Lady bore the Green Man

our last hope for to be,

And the first King of the winter

He was the holly,

Holly, Holly.

And the first king or the winter

He was the holly.

—Mark Vyvyan-Jones, from the traditional

solsticeyule

The Solstice Tree

The Solstice Tree