It’s kind of stormy and rainy today here in New England. Once again, as usual the weather forecast couldn’t be any more wrong. Seriously, for those of you thinking about coming to New England, don’t pay attention to a word those people on the news say about the weather. You have to watch the birds here to really know what is going on. They tell you everything you need to know. I would be a Romney, if I had a dime for every time I was expecting a thunderstorm here by the ocean and instead got bright clear skies and singing happy birds and small gusts of light ocean breeze all day. The air is lovely twinged with a little bit of salt from the ocean more prominently so depending how close you actually are.
In New England, we are famous for not just our lobster and sea food, but for our storms as well. In the winter we get huge snow storms such as the blizzard of 78, which even I remember well, seeing as I was born in 1980. It is a genetic memory passed on from parents to children in the womb. We recall how everything shut down and the national guard was called in to do shovel duty. We have not had a snow storm that large since…. However, we are still a snow storm hub. When I was sixteen I once stepped off the front porch on my way to school and found myself stuck in a snow drift up to my chest. It isn’t just snow we get here. Some years back while living in Newburyport, I went swimming in my basement when the Merrimack river rose due to storms, and flooded. Even Steven King, knows all about our weather, he wrote a book called A Perfect Storm, based on what we call A Nor’ Easter, which is a variety of storm that is perfect and all encompassing. No where else in the world has such storm types. They are native to this region. We even had a tornado not all that far from here that destroyed a small town only a couple of years ago.
Given all this weather activity, you would think they would be building our power lines underground…. But well… They don’t. So you can count on it nearly every large thunderstorm…. The power goes out and we are back in the stone age with our very old coastal homes lit up by candles. Our old New England houses shaking, as the wind crashes against the outer walls and roars past. We find ourselves shaking our heads but still enjoying the ambiance of good old fashioned New England coziness that goes with these large storms. Here in New England, it isn’t possible to escape the weather the ocean blows in. So we have learned to live with it. We smile, tape up our windows, and many of us break out the traditional comfort foods for such storms, the board games, and the candles. Then, if we have one, and we happen to, we go out on the front porch that is encased in old glass windows and is lit by candles and we curl up under a large blanket, on a small sofa, and we watch the storm rage while we munch our storm comfort snacks and play our board games.
We are not having a storm today, but the weather is not nice. It is ugly, and I have not had storm comfort eats in a very long time as I have been gone traveling the world. So, I have made one of the most traditional storm food varieties, New England spiced apple cider. It’s a simple drink frequently brought out in the winter for snow storms but also just for cold days which are typical here in New England when the bad weather hits and the storms rage. The ocean brings in cold air to accompany often even just some rain and lightning. I have missed our huge storms being away so long…. I have missed the way we take comfort and the certain all New England style comfort, romance that goes with curling up under a blanket when the lights go out and the candles are lit and everyone is drinking hot cider and snacking on something tasty in the dark ogling the sky show while the wind crashes against the house shaking it to it’s bones….
This is an amazingly simple recipe. There are only three ingredients, apple cider, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. You will need a stove and a pot. Pour the cider into the pot, add two or three of the cloves and about three to four cinnamon sticks. Turn your stove on low to medium and slowly allow your spiced cider to heat up, mix it every so often and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Wait till it is about to boil, and pour into a cup. Garnish it with a cinnamon stick and you are done. This is a great drink not just for storms but just for cold autumn and winter days. It is a fabulous family friendly warm sweet yum festival New England style. If you want something more adult, add some variety of alcohol to your cider when you set it boil. It really is good though family style. Once you have poured your cider into a mug or some variety of cup with a handle, sit back, and drink it slowly and allow yourself to slowly warm inside till you feel happy and cozy.