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Old Fashioned Eggnog: A holiday staple made from scratch

Linn County Master Gardener

One of my early careers was as a Home Ec teacher. I may have seen some of you, or your parents, when I student taught at Stayton High School in 1968. 

My junior high students in another district were learning really basic skills and nutrition. 

I found some old eggnog handouts in a box of old recipes, still readable after 50 years.  

Back then we were not so aware of salmonella lurking in chicken eggs, so some of the recipes were simply egg, milk and fruit or flavoring whipped together cold. 

My grandparents operated a dairy farm so grandma’s eggnog was made with cream straight from the cow and eggs from the chicken coop. 

Holiday eggnog at the store is delicious, expensive, and lists lots of ingredients we don’t have at home, like guar and carrageenan for thickening. 

Eggnogs vary from hundreds of years of experience around the world: some are full of rich cream, some are made with the eggs separated and whipped egg whites blended into a cooled custard, most adult recipes are “enriched” with alcoholic beverages, and some are made with softened vanilla ice cream for a creamy texture. 

There’s even a dry mix recipe for homemade instant eggnog. 

Recipes abound for eggnog cakes, puddings and gelatin desserts. 

The basic old-fashioned eggnog is made with simple ingredients found in most of our kitchens, assuming you didn’t forget to buy the milk. 

For four cups of nog, you’ll need six eggs, fouth-cup sugar, fourth-teaspoon salt, one quart of milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. 

To cook the eggs into a custard, mix the eggs, sugar, salt together in a saucepan then stir in two cups of the milk. 

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly so it doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the custard thickens enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film (about 160 degrees F to pasteurize the eggs). 

Remove from the heat and stir in two more cups of milk and the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, several hours or overnight. 

Serve garnished with whipped topping and a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg (or pumpkin pie spice). Simple and delicious for holidays.

Fun variations for a fun and nutritious breakfast, or for kids of all ages, can be made by adding one of these to a glass of cold eggnog: two tablespoons of a favorite jam, two tablespoons of honey or one tablespoon molasses.

Or how about a half-cup orange juice and one tablespoon honey, two chopped maraschino cherries and one tablespoon cherry juice or one tablespoon chocolate syrup and one tablespoon peanut butter.

Another good one is one very ripe mashed banana, one tablespoon hot cocoa mix and one teaspoon instant coffee. 

Try eggnog on your breakfast cereal or oatmeal.

Need an instant eggnog mix for the kids or camper? Keep this combination in a tightly covered container: one 3-quart package instant nonfat dry milk powder (about 10 ounces), two 4.5-ounce packages no-bake custard mix, one 8-ounce jar nondairy coffee creamer, and two teaspoons ground nutmeg.  

For each serving stir a half cup of eggnog mix into a mug of hot water. To serve cold, blend one cup water and one cup eggnog mix until smooth. If you use a blender add one cup ice cubes, one at a time, and process until slushy. 

There are more elaborate and involved recipes for those who have lots of time and like to show off for a party. 

However you enjoy eggnog, make it part of a cozy, nutritious winter tradition. 

Personally, I can drink the whole quart. Teach the kids to make their own (and leave your “adult enriched” version alone).

Old-fashioned Egg Nog

6 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 quart milk

1 tsp. vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon

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