A Trio of Warm Milks to Curl up With – Winter is Here!

Three Hot MilksWe are ‘hunkered down’ here in northern Alberta. Winds are howling, snow is blowing, roads are treacherous and school buses were cancelled yesterday.  The white stuff is piling high. I’m thinking longingly back to last year when we hardly had any snow until after Christmas, but I do admit it is lovely and white and post-card-pretty when I am safely inside and bundled in a warm sweater with my hands cradling a steaming cup of something hot.

Not quite so when I have to navigate the roads.winter roads

Buses running

The snowplows came through. Buses are running today.

Luckily, I didn’t have to do that today, or yesterday either, when we had our no-school day (loud cheers in this household). So I stayed home and cooked and baked and made piles of messy dishes, while the world got whiter and whiter outside.

Our first snowfall came and and melted again, allowing us a tiny bit more gorgeous fall weather and pumpkins on the vine. But . . . it’s back.

I think winter is here to stay this time.

And that makes me think of winter days in my childhood. I had two German Omas. Both made us grandchildren feel loved and special. One was white-haired and jolly and watched soap operas and knitted slippers and made us fresh buns and played Chinese Checkers with us. The other spoke no English and wore a kerchief and layers of wool dresses and kept goats and read her bible and made wonderful homemade noodles. She also scrubbed our dirty bare feet vigourously with a scrub brush every night before bed (while we shrieked and squealed) and then made us a big mug of hot milk with honey and butter in it to make us sleepy before crawling under the fluffy mounds of feather blankets in her beds.

This winter weather makes me think of those nights, and all the nights I made hot milk for my children before they went to bed. (Even my big teenage baby still sometimes requests it.) Sure, the traditional hot chocolate with fluffy marshmallows is good, but for me, nothing beats ‘Honig Milch’ (honey milk), like my Oma used to make it. I remember the sweet warm milk with the big blob of golden butter slowly melting into a glowing puddle on the top of it, and how we tried to make the deliciousness last right to the bottom of the cup.

Hot milk was a nightly ritual when the weather outside was frightful – and the fire inside was delightful. When there’s no place to go, let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! (Forgive me, this snow is bringing out the holiday songs!)

Honig Milch is one of those simple, comforting pleasures. (And in my mind, is best sipped while wearing flannel pajamas and slippers.)

Somewhere during the years, we added ‘molasses milk’ to our kids’ warm milk choices. I’ve always loved the flavour of molasses, and maybe that is also a throwback to my childhood. That same goat-keeping Oma always had a huge metal drum of blackstrap molasses in her barn, with a tap on the bottom of it, which she used to pour over the chopped grain she fed her animals. We children would sneak into the barn and turn the tap on ever-so-slightly, so that a fine drizzle of dark molasses oozed out of it. Then we’d hold our hands and forearms underneath, moving them around until we were covered in a lacy web of sticky black sweetness, which we’d lick off in guilty pleasure, contorting ourselves to reach it all with our tongues (and not always getting it out from the crooks of our elbows or between our fingers before we’d run off to slide and roll around in the hayloft, collecting loose bits of hay to the sticky patches). I’m sure Oma knew what we were up to.

When our kids were little and I found out how nutritious molasses was (no wonder Oma’s goats were so healthy), we started drinking it in warm milk, and they loved a big comforting  cup of it before bed. (It’s full of iron and calcium.) I crave a hot mug of molasses milk when it’s cold outside, too.

And then, just for fun, my nieces introduced ‘turtle milk’ to my kids (thanks Oschean and Ayla). I’m not sure how the name relates to the milk, but it was fun and yummy and it completed the trifecta of warm milk recipes in constant rotation in our household.

So, in honour of rosy cheeks and chilly fingers coming in from the cold, here are three steamy milks to warm you to your toes. If you’re looking for something past the traditional marshmallows and powdered hot chocolate mix, give one of these a go.

(And I can’t imagine a little dollop of rum in any of them would hurt, either – in the interests of promoting sleep, of course, and for the adult kids in the household only!)

three hot milks

honey milk, turtle milk, and molasses milk

 Honey Milk (Honig Milch)

  • 1 mug of milk
  • 1 spoonful of honey
  • 1 small spoonful of butter

Heat the milk in a small saucepan on the stove just until bubbles start to appear around the edges and it is nice and hot when you quickly dip your little finger into it.

Pour into a mug and add honey to taste. Plop a small blob of golden butter on top and watch it slowly melt. Feel the love.

Molasses Milk

  • 1 mug of milk
  • 1 spoonful of molasses

Heat the milk in a small saucepan on the stove just until bubbles start to appear around the edges and it is nice and hot when you quickly dip your little finger into it.

Pour into a mug. Add the molasses and stir.

Inhale the sweet steam and enjoy the warm milk.

Kitchen Frau Note: If you are not used to the flavour of molasses, I would start with a very small amount at first, perhaps a half a teaspoon, stir and taste, then add more molasses if you wish. You want it a nice caramel colour when it is mixed, not dark like hot chocolate. There are 3 grades of molasses: fancy, cooking and blackstrap – with fancy molasses being the lightest and sweetest, and blackstrap being the most robust and least sweet. I personally like the mid-grade cooking molasses. Blackstrap has a bit of a bitter aftertaste (which is not unpleasant). For children, make this mild the first few times they drink it, then make it stronger as they get used to it. More is not better here, however a small amount of molasses in the milk is delicious.

 

 Turtle Milk

  • 1 mug of milk
  • a few drops pure vanilla extract
  • 1 spoonful brown sugar

Heat the milk in a small saucepan on the stove just until bubbles start to appear around the edges and it is nice and hot when you quickly dip your little finger into it.

Pour into a mug. Add vanilla and brown sugar to taste. Stir and wrap your hands around the mug. Sip slowly. Mmmmm.

 

Guten Appetit!

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