Tuesday, December 23, 2008
December 21, 2008 - Newport, RI, USA
We wanted to spend some time up in Boston while we were in New England. But the weather just wasn't cooperating. Our plans to head up to visit friends on Friday were scuttled by a snow storm that swung into New England, bring with it heavy snows. So instead, we made glögg, a traditional Swedish mulled wine, spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, and studded with golden raisins and blanched almonds (see below for the recipe), and trimmed the Christmas tree.
That night, while shoveling the driveway for the second time in as many hours, I experienced a "perfect moment," as described by the late, great Spalding Gray in his book Swimming to Cambodia. As Sten and I pegged each other with snowballs, my whole awareness focussed on just that instant in time. Nothing from the past and no thoughts about the future intruded on my attention. I was completely in the moment. Laughing with Sten, as we tried to hit the little bit of skin exposed between the top of the other's coat collar and the bottom edge of their hat, there was no place I'd rather have been.
The next day we hit the snow-covered roads, in the old rearwheel drive Volvo wagon. We should have put some weight in the rear; but we didn't, so we fishtailed our way north to Boston. But the scary drive was worth it to spend some time with our friends Jay and John and their baby girl.
The next morning the snow picked up again as we drove back down to Jamestown, RI to have an early Christmas celebration with Sten's father and his fiance. That night, arctic temperatures dipped down to engulf Southern New England, and the roads were covered with black ice. But luckily we'd borrowed Suzy's new 4 wheel drive vehicle, and the going was a lot easier than the trip to and from Boston.
3 whole cardamom seeds
8 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 4-inch strip orange rind (orange part only)
1 1/3 cups water
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 bottle Bordeaux (or substitute Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 bottle port (ruby rather than tawny)
1/2 bottle cognac
sugar to taste
Tie cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon and orange rind in a cheesecloth bag (or in a teaball; we tripled the amount of spices called for in the recipe above). Place in water (in an enameled cast iron pot if you have it) and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add almonds and raisins and simmer 10 minutes longer. Add Bordeaux, port and cognac and bring to a quick boil. Remove from heat immediately. Cool and store, covered, overnight. At serving time, remove spice bag. Heat glögg but do not boil. Add sugar to taste. Serve in heated mugs or glasses, with a few almonds and raisins in each glass.