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WINTER REFRESHERS: FROM EGGNOG TO WASSAIL - A BEVY OF FINE BEVERAGES

SHARE WINTER REFRESHERS: FROM EGGNOG TO WASSAIL - A BEVY OF FINE BEVERAGES

Christmas just wouldn't seem like Christmas without lights and trees, stockings and Santas, children and presents.

And the season wouldn't be as merry without cookies and candy, peppermint and gingerbread, fruitcake and wassail or eggnog.Like Dick and Jane or Tom and Jerry, some things automatically come in pairs - Christmas treats and special beverages, for example.

Eggnog pairs up with a variety of holiday sweets to preserve the traditions of the Christmas season.

Eggnog was originally prescribed as a tonic for illness, and a recipe for it was included in the "Invalid and Medicinal Preparation," chapter of American Practical Cookery Book, 1859.

Advice for eggnog-makers today is somewhat altered but is still based on health concerns.

New recipes for the holiday specialty contain reduced amounts of egg or may eliminate whole eggs entirely and use egg substitutes to cut cholesterol in the drink.

To prevent the possibility of salmonella distress in raw eggs, cook the egg mixture to at least 160 degrees, either in the microwave or on the stove top. Refrigerate heated eggnog immediately and in small quantities to allow quick cooling.

Commercial eggnogs or eggnog made with egg substitutes have already been pasteurized.

If eggnog isn't the holiday drink you'd choose, maybe wassail would substitute.

Wassail is a drink with a British heritage. In Old English, the word wassail means "to be in good health." Thus, sharing the wassail bowl became a wish for the new year, a greeting of good will.

Greeting a frosty sleigh rider or a shivering group of carolers with a mug of hot chocolate is another generous holiday gesture.

The Christmas season just wouldn't be as cheery without a traditional holiday beverage to warm the heart . . . and the toes.