When I was a kid in Michigan, a nice, fresh snowfall was an excuse to bundle up, go outside and make angels in the snow. Build snow forts. Stage snowball fights.
Now that I'm an adult, I have put away childish things. Now freezing weather is an excuse to scurry back inside and make hot, mulled wine. And lots of other heartwarming hot drinks.
I turn my AC to the heat cycle, sit down with a good Kindle and -- since I live in Florida and have no fireplace -- I put on a DVD of a crackling fireplace fire (go to Amazon.com and type in "DVD of crackling fireplace fire").
It's one of the few benefits of growing older.
"Mulled" means wine that is heated and laced with sugar, spice and sometimes citrus. Any big, powerful, $10 wine -- red or white -- will do.
Hot Mulled Wine
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 lemon, sliced
5 whole cloves
5 sticks cinnamon
2 bottles wine
Bring water to a boil, add sugar, lemon, cloves and cinnamon; stir to dissolve sugar. Add wine, simmer 10 minutes. Strain. Makes 12 servings.
Per serving: 238 calories (0 percent from fat), no fat, no cholesterol, 0.2g protein, 38g carbohydrates, 0.4g fiber, 6mg sodium.
Drinking melted butter seems counterintuitive, but it does slide down easily. In the old days, people used to put all the ingredients in a glass and heat with a glowing fireplace poker. These days you use a microwave.
Hot Buttered Rum
1 pat butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 ounces dark rum
Put butter, brown sugar and spices in a glass. Pour in rum and hot water. Stir. Makes 1 serving.
Per serving: 240 calories (14 percent from fat), 3.8g fat (2.4g saturated, 1g monounsaturated), 10mg cholesterol, 0.1g protein, 3.8g carbohydrates, 0.6g fiber, 29mg sodium.
This is not your grandchild's cocoa.
Spiked Hot Chocolate
2/3 cup half-and-half, divided.
1 teaspoon arrowroot
1 teaspoon sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces rum, scotch, brandy, schnapps or vanilla vodka.
Put 2 tablespoons of the half-and-half in a small bowl, add arrowroot, stir until smooth. In a pan, bring the rest of the half-and-half to a simmer. Stir in the sugar.
Whisk in the arrowroot mixture and stir until slightly thickened. Add the chopped chocolate, stir until smooth.
Add liquor. Top with whipped cream and sprig of mint. Makes 1 serving.
Per serving: 780 calories (56 percent from fat), 55g fat (32.6g saturated, 5.3g monounsaturated), 59mg cholesterol, 14g protein, 51g carbohydrates, 9g fiber, 66mg sodium.
This is Scandinavia's version of mulled wine. It traditionally features almonds and raisins. It also has a little extra kick of brandy. They need it that close to the Arctic Circle.
2 bottles red wine
2 cinnamon sticks
20 cardamom seeds
1 pound blanched almonds
1 pound golden raisins
1 pound sugar
1/4 cup brandy
Bring wine to a boil, add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom seeds. Simmer 10 minutes, remove spices. Add almonds and raisins, simmer 10 minutes more. Add sugar and brandy, stir. Serve hot. Makes 12 servings.
Per serving: 598 calories (28 percent from fat), 19.3g fat (1.5g saturated, 12.2g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 9.6g protein, 78.6g carbohydrates, 5.4g fiber, 20mg sodium.