Holy cow is it cold here. My dogs’ are having trouble with the deep freeze we’re in right now. I actually had to carry the little pup inside because she couldn’t walk after ten minutes in the snow. She needs boots.
I regularly count my blessings and found myself having a rather profound moment of gratitude yesterday. I’m grateful I have a warm home. My dogs with their uncomfortably-cold little feet can get their business done then come inside where it’s warm. They can have a sympathy cookie while I warm myself with a cup of tea. A lot of animals are in dire straits in cold weather like this. You can help, and all it takes is a mouse click here. Open the tabs on site and find many other ways to help the rainforest, veterans, the hungry, and more through clicks or purchases. It couldn’t be easier, it takes less than half a minute to click-contribute to all the charities there.
I don’t want to load my new laptop with duplicate pictures or documents from my mountain of files. That’s what I did to this poor machine. So I’m winnowing the wheat from the chaff, you might say and stumbled across more than a few oldies but goodies in the process. The following recycled post originally aired during the Hot Winter Nights Blog Hop last November. I was introducing my ghost story Dreamscape at the time and getting a tad Dickensian. Enjoy!
Written in homage to Agatha Christie, Dreamscape is a haunting, a murder, a thriller, a mystery, and a love story that transcends time. Above all, this sensual tale is a reader’s Easter egg hunt in the truest sense. Not everything is as it appears. Peppered throughout are little clues suggesting a story running behind the scenes. Finding them isn’t necessary to the telling of the tale, just one of the fun twists I like to insert into my writing. Can you find them all before the story ends? But more importantly, can a ghost find love among the living?
Get ready to curl up on the sofa under a quilt or one of those silly sleeved blankets. Grab a hot toddy and a copy of Dreamscape and lose yourself in a very unusual love story.
Oooh… warm quilt, good book, hot toddy. Sounds good to me!
How often do we crave a hot drink on a cold winter’s night? Hot cocoa topped with whipped cream sounds good. I’m even fine with coffee. Teetotalers have herb tea and insomniacs go for warmed milk, but nothing warms the belly so much as a hot toddy. Warm alcoholic beverages like toddies, rum punch, flips, and hot buttered rum trace their origins to Europe where liquors, wines, and ciders were mulled with cloves, nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon and enjoyed hot to take the chill off the ol’ bones.
Just as toddies are synonymous with cold nights, A Christmas Carol is synonymous with the holiday season, and wouldn’t you know, Charles Dickens enjoyed a good cup of rum punch too. As an author, I find it interesting that he often referenced hot drinks to add an honest human touch to his characters’ lives. In his story David Copperfield, David has this to say about his friend Wilkins Micawber:
I informed Mr. Micawber that I relied upon him for a bowl of punch, and led him to the lemons. His recent despondency, not to say despair, was gone in a moment. I never saw a man so thoroughly enjoy himself amid the fragrance of lemon-peel and sugar, the odour of burning rum, and the steam of boiling water, as Mr. Micawber did that afternoon. It was wonderful to see his face shining at us out of a thin cloud of these delicate fumes, as he stirred, and mixed, and tasted, and looked as if he were making, instead of punch, a fortune for his family down to the latest posterity.
In A Christmas Carol after Ebenezer Scrooge finds his heart among his spirit-led flashbacks and flash forwards, he shows up at Bob Cratchit’s home and says:
“A merry Christmas, Bob! Said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken…I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!…”
Smoking what?? A little research on my part discovered people enjoyed a whole range of clerical drinks back in Dickens’ day, and Smoking Bishop was among them. I have no idea why they named their drinks as they did, but I suppose it’s not much different than our Harvey Wallbangers or Black Russians. Apparently, the range of clerical drinks goes high to low down the church hierarchy like this – Pope is burgundy, Cardinal is rye, Archbishop is claret, and Bishop is port. I never did find out if there’s a Deacon’s drink.
I stumbled upon a book written by Charles Dickens’ great-grandson entitled Drinking with Dickens, and in it found a traditional recipe for the Smoking Bishop:
- Take six Seville oranges and bake them in a moderate oven until pale brown. If you cannot procure any bitter Seville oranges, use four regular oranges and one large grapefruit.
- Prick each of the oranges with five whole cloves, put them into a warmed ceramic or glass vessel with one-quarter pound of sugar and a bottle of red wine, cover the vessel, and leave it in a warm place for 24 hours.
- Take the oranges out of the mixture, cut in half and squeeze the juice, then pour the juice back into the wine.
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan through a sieve, add a bottle of port, heat (without boiling), and serve in warmed glasses.
- Drink the mixture, and keep Christmas well!
Meh…that’s just not tempting me. Further web scouring turned up some tastier historical alternatives:
Hot Buttered Rum or Hot Toddy Batter
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 oz unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg or mace
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to two months. This mixture can also be frozen for up to one year before using. Makes eight servings.
Preparing your Hot Buttered Rum
- 2 Tbsp refrigerated hot buttered rum batter
- 6 oz boiling water
- 1 1/2 oz dark rum
- 1 Tbsp light cream (optional)
- nutmeg for garnish
In a mug suitable for a hot beverage, combine hot buttered rum batter with boiling water, stirring well until dissolved. Add in rum and cream. Optional: Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Serves one. Yum.
Or you can do it up without the rum!
Non-Alcoholic Hot Buttered Rum
- 2 Tbsp refrigerated hot buttered rum batter
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 1/3 cup vanilla ice cream
- whipped cream (optional)
- nutmeg for garnish
In a mug suitable for a hot beverage, combine hot buttered rum batter with boiling water, stirring until well dissolved. Stir in ice-cream and mix until incorporated. Optional: Top with whipped cream and garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Serves one and sounds delicious.
Love Waits in Unexpected Places – Scorching Samplings of Unusual Love Stories
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The sampler is free!
It’s nice to hear people appreciate ephemera like my husband and I do. We’re building a vintage holiday postcard scrapbook one card at a time. If you’re here for the first time, I’ve been posting one or two each day and plan to keep it up from now until January.
First a holiday potato wearing a hat (scroll down) and now pranks on Santa? This is how you get lumps of coal in your stocking!
author Cindy Spencer Pape’s blog day.
RB4U is participating in author Nikki Barrett’s READER APPRECIATION GIVEAWAY — Lots of prizes. Enter today!
Our December contest has approximately 30 prizes for one winner, including a $75 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. I’m adding a free book from my backlist to the loot. Read the pages and find the dancing Santas.
I’ve stumbled across more deliciousness in my documents folder. I think I’ll make this for our holiday party. It’s really scrumptious. Enjoy! 🙂
1 pound white baking chocolate
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 t. Pure Almond Extract
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1. Fully line an 8-inch square pan with foil and spray with no stick cooking spray.
2. Melt chocolate over a pan of hot water or use a double boiler. With an electric mixer and in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until well blended. Add melted chocolate and extracts. Mix well. Fold in chopped pistachios.
3. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Garnish with additional pistachios, if desired.
4. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm. Carefully remove foil and cut into 25 (1 1/2-inch) squares. Store in refrigerator.
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