Embrace The Winter!Saturday, January 11
The New Year has arrived and with it comes our resolve to change for the better. Given the difficult winter we have already endured some of us, myself included, might have resolved to look for a warmer climate.
Trolling the various social media platforms we are almost constantly reminded by our armchair weatherman who we loosely call friends of just how bad it is. It’s the social media version of the guy who starts most of his conversations with, “Cold enough for ya?” The truth is, though, for most of us the idea of uprooting our family, leaving our friends, our jobs, our home behind is just not that feasible. Maybe it’s time we look at our situation differently and embrace winter for what it is.
With us being faced with near six months of winter-like weather a year, why not embrace it? When you stop to think about it there are countless great festivals and events already around the city helping us to do just that. From the various ski hills and skating rinks in and around the city, to the couple of outdoor patios, and the seemingly countless outdoor events and festivals that take place every winter, maybe I’m a little late to the party!
Regardless, with events like Ice on Whyte, All is Bright (perhaps Edmonton’s newest winter festival on 124 Street) and Christmas on the Square just to name a few, there are many options to choose from.
Shortly before Christmas I was invited to participate as a judge at one of Edmonton’s newest events focused on our winter culture. Winter City Edmonton hosted the first annual Signature Drink Contest. It was an opportunity for Edmonton amateur mixologists to conjure up their favorite winter concoction, and boy did they not disappoint.
Alongside the likes of some of Edmonton’s most talented mixologists, TV personalities and the Mayor himself, we painstakingly made our way through a dozen delicious blends to select the cream of the crop. There were two categories, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. In the non-alcoholic category there were several great selections, but the real highlight for me was the homemade ginger beer prepared by the students of Jasper Place. The drink was infused with rosemary and featured ingredients that were grown right at the school.
In the alcoholic category there was a very diverse mix of cocktails, but when the votes were tallied the winner was the Birkie Break, a coffee inspired drink prepared by CBC and the great people at Transcend Coffee.
If you’d like to prepare of any of these delicious winter cocktails to help you beat the winter blues or you want to learn more about all things happening in Edmonton this winter head to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WinterCityEdmonton.
So this year, instead of ranting and complaining about the brutal cold and mountains of snow as I shovel my driveway, I am going to resolve to embrace our Edmonton winters and try to make the most of them. Well, that’s what I’ll do until I can afford a nice shack on Maui, replacing the snow shovel and ice scraper for scuba gear and sandals!
Here is a delicious and soul-warming hot chocolate recipe that has a little hint of Mexico in it, reminding you of what you’re missing, but also helping you make it through those cold winter nights!
Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 8-10 cups
6 cupshomogenized milk
1 cupsemisweet chocolate chips
1 cupheavy cream
¼ tsp.cayenne pepper
1 tsp.vanilla bean paste
4 oz.espresso vodka
1 cupwhipped cream
cinnamon for garnish
•Place the water, cocoa and sugar in a microwave proof container and stir together
•Heat the mixture together for 45-60 seconds, to create a chocolate syrup
•In a pot, heat the milk, chocolate chips, cream and add the syrup mixture
•Once simmering add the spices and vanilla bean paste, stir to combine and remove from the heat
•The cayenne should provide a nice mild kick, feel free to add a little extra if you choose, but keep in mind that the spice will continue to come out as it sits, so don’t overdo it
•Strain the hot chocolate to remove the cloves and then begin to assemble the Spiked Hot Chocolate
•In each glass pour ½ oz. each espresso vodka and Kahlua, then add 8 oz. hot chocolate
•Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon
Oh, and by the way, for those of you resolving to lose weight this New Year I might pass on this one!