Christmas treats, Day 1
December 12, 2016
Wherein we go to the liquor store and three groceries and STILL don’t get everything.
But, woof, we’re tired.
The score today: A half-gallon, plus one cup, of eggnog; eight dozen meringue cookies (with another eight dozen to go tomorrow); a gallon of fiery pickle slices. We are prepared to make pub cheese, crackers, bacon jam and Chex mix, but we’ve got to make another grocery run — actually, two — before we finally can make the pickled bologna and eggs. Then we’ll have to look back at the list and see what else we are planning on making.
Got a late start at it today, after sleeping in a bit after not being able to go to sleep until sometime after midnight, when I gave up and took a sleeping pill. I fixed myself breakfast, got the dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, and updated my treat-making shopping list before I set out what I knew would be at least three stores.
Stop 1, the liquor store. I went to the good-wine-and-craft-beer liquor store, because I wanted Green Flash Double Stout for the pub cheese, as well as to have some on hand against the next time I wanted carbonnades a la flamande. Plus, I needed Everclear for the ‘nog, as well as some of my standard Bota Box plonk for sipping of an evening.
First: sumbitches Did Not Have my Green Flash. Don’t carry it any more, they say. WFT? How in the hell do they expect me to cook the best beef-and-onion stew in five counties? This will not Stand, I tell you; it Will Not Stand. I may have to change Good Liquor Stores, which I guess will mean yet one more thing for which I have to Go To Memphis. Dammit. So I settled on some kind of dark Scots cream stout, and will hope that that serves. Joe’s Liquor, you are on my Memphis radar next trip.
At least they had my Bota box, albeit three bucks more than I generally get it at the Cheap Liquor Store where beer selection is heavily Bud-centric and Negra Modelo passes for a craft brew. Sigh.
Then I got to the checkout and asked the young man, who must have been all of 21 and a day, if they had Everclear. He looked at me askance. I wish I had stared him down; the truth is I felt compelled to explain that I needed it for eggnog-making. He shook his head. “Can’t do that stuff. That’s brutal,” he said. I swear, I’m gonna start Grannies For Everclear for those of us who venture into this arena.
They did not have Everclear. They had Gemclear, which about the same stuff, which is to say, 180-proof grain alcohol. Bless his heart, he first reached for a 750-ml bottle. “Lord, honey, I don’t need THAT much! You got a pint?”
We will not speak of how long it’s been since I bought a pint of anything at the liquor store. Likely about the same as the last time I bought Everclear.
Anyway. I got a pint, which I discovered when I commenced to eggnog-making, is NOT a pint. For if it were a pint, there would be two cups in it. Which I discovered there are not when I set about making eggnog, which is quite simple, to-wit:
First, one beats five egg yolks. I used six, actually 12, for the first batch, because, well, that’s how eggs come. One separates the eggs (more on whites, later, or, given the length issue, maybe in a separate post), putting the eggs in the bowl of one’s stand mixer, whereupon one sets them to beating. (Note: I made a double recipe, but am giving you the single one. You can do the math just like I did. I’ve already converted most of the metrics for you.) I started out with the paddle beater, but quickly switched to the whisk. One beats said egg yolks with a tablespoon of vanilla sugar.
Now, I did not have vanilla sugar, as I did not have a vanilla bean, so I used a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of good vanilla extract. While that commenced its required five minutes of beating, I mixed 125 ml of Gemclear — about half a cup — with 250 grams of sugar. I did not measure what 250 grams of sugar, but I’m sure the interwebs will tell you somewhere how much it is; it looked like some more than a cup. That got added to the egg yolks and beaten for another five minutes. Then I added a cup of cream and a half-cup of whole milk and beat all that up. Done, and done.
Back to the Gemclear for a moment. When I used the cup in the first double batch, it was quite easy to tell that was the major portion of the bottle. A look at the label told me a “pint” was 350 ml, which, well, Would Not Do for two double batches of the stuff, as I had projected. Oh, well.
When I made a double batch of this and jarred it, it made a tad less than a quart and a half (using 12 eggs instead of the required 10. The recipe came from Germany, and you know those metric folks. Eggs are good). So I determined I’d make another batch, which I did, which filled up that quart and made an additional cup. So I put two quart jars in the fridge out back, and one cup with plastic over it in the fridge in here. I’ll sample from that next week; allegedly it takes several days to mellow.
Math will tell you that a cup and a half of 180-proof grain alcohol, spread over 9 cups of eggnog, yields 60-proof nog. Most commercially-bottled stuff runs about 20 to 30 proof. This will be some POTENT eggnog, y’all.
I expect I’ll make at least one more batch, to which I can add that cup I have, or maybe a batch-and-a-half, which will enable me to entertain the kid at the liquor store again. And I have to find some pretty bottles in which to gift it.
With labels that say, “Don’t you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em drink much of this at a time. It’s some powerful stuff!”