It was a balmy 1 degree Fahrenheit at 9:00 AM this morning. The 8 inches of snow on the ground from Thursday night’s storm is going nowhere fast. The girls tackled yesterday’s snow day in shifts. Daughter 1 managed to get snow in her boots before Daughter 2 even made it out the door. Daughter 2, in turn, put breadcrumbs out for the birds and then wanted to “taste” the snow, which resulted in a frozen nose and cheeks that required parental intervention.
So we retreated to the kitchen, where we came up with a warming alternative to the oft-requested hot cocoa. Not that we have anything against hot chocolate in our house…except that it has become the first thing Daughter 2 asks for after playing in the snow. And since we’ve already had quite a bit of snow this season – and it’s only January – I’m looking for options that won’t make our little sprouts any stouter than necessary.
One of their favorite hot treats is “tea juice,” their aptly-named concoction of decaffeinated tea and juice that we serve during rainy-day tea parties. But they also don’t need cup after cup of tea, either, decaffeinated or not.
Mulled cider came to mind, but we didn’t have any cider in the house and the streets were still snowed-covered.
But we did have orange juice, and pomegranate juice, and a kitchen full of all sorts of comforting spices and ingredients. With some time to kill – school had been cancelled, after all – I put the girls to work sticking whole cloves into a couple of the clementines still left from the holidays. When I was a kid we made these and then dried them as holiday decorations. Daughter 1 in particular liked this little diversion, really getting in to the aroma of cloves and oranges.
We boiled the clove-studded clementines along with some apple slices, a healthy amount of ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom to make a tisane, which we then strained before adding this spicy concoction to the orange juice and pomegranate juice. The finished beverage fit the bill: warm and warming. A “tea juice” of our own making. Daughter 2 downed several glasses in quick succession. Daughter 1 was more critical – despite liking the aroma of cloves, I don’t think they were, forgive the pun, quite her cup of tea. They may yet become her cup of tisane on the other hand.
Speaking of tisane, I think that’s my new favorite kitchen vocabulary word. A tisane is a hot herbal drink, most often made by simmering medicinal herbs and spices. Not quite a tea, tisanes supposedly help relieve various maladies, like stomach aches, headaches…or in our case, a case of cabin fever.
If you’re over the age of 21 and your cabin fever reaches epidemic levels, you may want to add a spoonful of honey and a shot of bourbon to your glass of hot mulled orange and pomegranate tisane to make a hot toddy of sorts. This drink – minus the alcohol – is also good chilled.
Let me know what you think of this little winter warmer when you try it!
Hot Mulled Orange and Pomegranate Tisane
2 whole clementines or small oranges, washed well, unpeeled
A handful of whole cloves (approximately 20 – 30, but don’t over-do it…cloves can get a bit strong in this)
½ apple, unpeeled, cut into thick slices
1 cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds
4 cups water
2 cups 100% orange juice
1 cup 100% pomegranate juice (like Pom)
Put the kids to work studding the clementines with cloves, 10 – 15 cloves per clementine. In a medium sauce pan, combine the clove-studded clementines, apple slices, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and ginger with the water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to vigorously simmer for 30 minutes, or even longer for a stronger tisane. Turn off heat, allow to cool, and strain the now tea-colored liquid through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the tisane liquid. Discard the solids. Rinse the sauce pan and return the tisane liquid to it. You should have approximately 3 to 3 ½ cups of tisane. Add the orange juice and pomegranate juice and re-heat over medium heat until the tisane is as warm as you’d like it. Serve in mugs.
Serves: 6 – 8
Kid rating: Daughter 2 gives this four-and-a-half stars. Daughter 1 is not as generous.
Parent rating: I love this and give it four-and-a-half stars. Five with honey and bourbon. My husband, though, gives it two stars without the bourbon…but largely because there are so many other teas and beverages he’d go to first. Used as a toddy mix, I think I might get him back up into the four star range. Especially when the thermometer dips again later this week!