Use your noggin |

Use your noggin

“There’s eggnog in the fridge upstairs,” my co-worker Charlie announced one day after he brought in a whole gallon of the stuff. “Help yourself.”

I have never seen our photographer Kara move so fast. She cried, “Get out!” jumped out of her chair and bolted up the stairs to grab herself a mug. I honestly never thought anyone could like the eggy brew so much.

Some people, like Kara, rejoice when eggnog hits the dairy case in late October. The sweet brew reminds people that Christmas is coming, and it kicks off a season of holiday treat consumption.

My mom makes me look like a java neophyte when Starbucks starts making eggnog lattes. She’s been known to drink more than one a day (which can be a very expensive habit). My mom even freezes eggnog so when Starbucks announces the end of holiday drink time, she can bring in her own stash and have a postseason eggnog latte.

Charlie is another nog-head. He even pours the stuff on his cereal.

However, people are as divided on eggnog as the red and blue states are divided on politics. Not everyone is tempted by the thick concoction. Some are turned off by the texture ” “It’s the consistency; ugh,” the night editor commented ” while others are nauseated by the cloying sweetness. There’s also the matter of expanding waistlines; you could eat a whole candy bar and still consume less calories than if you drank a 6-ounce mug of eggnog. Personally, up until a year ago, anyway, I’d take the candy bar.

Yes, I was once an avowed eggnot. The eggy quaff reminded me of a cross between soupy pudding and curdled milk. As far as I was concerned, Santa could have all the eggnog in the fridge when he came to visit.

But last Christmas Eve, my friend Dan clued me in to his secret to eggnog ” alcohol. I should’ve learned in college; everything’s better with alcohol. (Bad dates, boring parties, studying for finals, you name it, a drink can improve it …) Anyway, me and a couple of my friends were gathered at Dan’s apartment for a Christmas dinner for “strays” ” those of us who couldn’t be with family on the holiday. I started out nursing a glass of wine, forcefully avoided the rum-laced eggnog that Dan kept downing. But when the wine ran out, I was cajoled into trying his Yuletide cocktail. A couple (or more) mugs later, and a Christmas party that started out as a quiet gathering of a few friends quickly evaporated into an evening of raucous laughter and off-color versions of board games (R-rated Scrabble, anyone?). It was one of the best Christmas Eve’s I’ve ever had.

Drunken bonding aside, however, I became a fan of eggnog. Now I like it even without the rum. I especially like eggnog in my coffee or used in place of milk in baking recipes. And my dad makes killer eggnog lattes (he had to learn to keep my mom’s Starbucks costs down). Besides, Christmas only comes once a year; you have to splurge a little on the holidays.

And if you don’t like it, you can always just drink the rum.

Gabrielle Devenish is the food editor at the Post Independent. She wants to reassure her mom that no, she has not, nor will she ever, drive home after consuming rum-laced eggnog. Contact her at 945-8515, ext. 535, or

1⁄2 cup eggnog

1⁄4 cup whole milk

Starbucks Espresso Roast coffee

pinch of ground nutmeg

Combine cold eggnog with cold whole milk. Cold nonfat milk or soymilk can be substituted for the whole milk.

Using the steaming wand on your espresso machine, steam the eggnog/milk mixture until the temperature reaches 145 degrees. Set aside.

Eggnog heats and scalds faster than milk, so watch the thermometer closely.

Tamp ground espresso into the filter. Pull a shot of espresso and pour it into the serving mug.

Fill mug with steamed eggnog and milk. Top the drink with foamed eggnog/milk mixture to the rim of the mug. Garnish with a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.

1⁄2 cup eggnog

1 egg

4-5 thick slices bread

powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for dusting

In a small bowl, combine egg and eggnog stirring with fork just until egg breaks up.

Dip sliced bread into egg mixture (challah, french bread, or raisin bread all work just as well as plain white bread). Turn over and allow to sit in egg mixture 2-3 minutes per side.

In skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and saute each slice over medium heat 21⁄2 minutes or until golden brown.

Turn over and cook an additional 11⁄2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with sugar and a pat of butter, or pour over a little maple syrup, if desired.

– Eggnog ” love it or hate it, it’s a holiday tradition that has been around for centuries. An English creation, it descended from a hot British drink called posset, which consists of eggs, milk, and ale or wine. Back in Europe in the 1700s, before the advent of refrigeration, milk and eggs had to be eaten immediately or cooked before they spoiled. These drinks were served in a noggin ” a small, wooden mug (hence the name eggnog), and the warm, alcoholic brew helped people endure the cold winter nights.

The tradition of eggnog at Christmas began in England, where eggnog was the trademark drink of the upper class. Eggnog was considered a social drink and was made in large quantities for holiday parties.

Eggnog eventually made its way to the New World. Captain John Smith reported that Jamestown settlers made eggnog in 1607, and many historians claim it was one of George Washington’s favorite drinks. He even created his own recipes.

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