Brrrr! Can you feel that cold? One of the best ways to warm up after a day outside is with a mug of mulled wine or cider. And did you know the best way to make it is in the slow cooker as it gently heats the wine keeping the alcohol content while steeping it in the aromatic spices? Imagine coming home from a chilly day out to a cup of this liquid warmth (which also smells wonderful by the way!).
Our recent trip to Thailand dredged up some memories for me. Mr NQN and I visited Phuket before we were married. Our hotel had its own private beach and excitedly we got dressed and climbed onto the longtail boat for the 10 minute ride to the island.
Now I'm not great on water. In fact I'm positively nervous around the stuff. I pretty much think that the moment I step into water, a shark is going swim right over to me and bite my legs off. There's no reason for this lapse in logic but I get pretty petrified of sea creatures, waves and the ocean. So I was utterly unprepared for the longtail boat ride.
Depending on the conditions, longtails can be relatively stress free. But on this day the sides of the longtail felt perilously close to sea level and when they started the motor the water pretty much sprayed me in the face the entire time which I dislike intensely (I don't even put my face under the shower). I spent the next 10 minutes crying my eyes out and wailing except nobody could hear and I think Mr NQN thought that I was laughing or something because they all stared at me absolute shock when the boat reached the shore and I continued wailing.
The people that were sitting in the sun lounges must have wondered what my problem was. Certainly the pareo that I had bought was soaked and sticking to my skin and I more drowned, sobbing rat than anything glamorous. But yet, given the choice, I'd still rather be on that beach right now.
I'm not coping well with winter. And this weekend has been terribly chilly. So allow me to assist in any way I can and for me, that means edibly! Let me share with you one of the best things I can offer to stave off the cold with: mulled wine or cider.
The trick to mulled wine is never to boil it because that way the alcohol boils off (although if you want to make a non alcoholic version by all means boil away). Instead you need to keep it at a gentle simmer. The idea of using a slow cooker to make mulled wine came to me as I was packing it away. A slow cooker could make it easily and you would never have to worry that it would ever reach boiling. Even better you can have this aromatic spiced wine waiting for you when you've been out and want or need some instant warming!
Once you see the recipe you'll realise that you probably have everything that you need in your wine rack and spice cupboard. This makes enough to make 3 generous mugs' worth but by all means double the recipe if you have more people. It goes down a treat and instantly warms you up from the inside.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you do more indoor activities during winter? Do you have an ideal temperature? Mine is 28C/82.4F which sounds anal but...anyway I have a favourite temperature. And would you make a mulled wine or cider?
Mulled Wine or Cider
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours on high or 4 hours on low
- 750ml/26.5 fl oz. bottle of red wine or cider
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 pieces lemon or orange peel
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 5 cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 star anise
- 2 slices ginger
Step 1 - Place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours. Serve hot in a mug and allow body to defrost.