“WINTER IS COMING”!  Cold winds are blowing! Yes it is, and it will be here for another four months so better get prepared.

It’s time for warm jumpers, socks, wraps, and all that warm clutter none of us really wants to wear but don’t have much say in the matter. The only choice we have is in making sure that most of these very necessary items are the right cut and style for us, and that we don’t end up looking frumpy or like a penguin on ice…Or we can at least try…

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When I was coming back home on the train last night, wet and freezing, I realised that I couldn’t wrap up any warmer than I already had. The only way to warm up was from the inside out.

My first thought was to get back home, make myself a hot chai tea and run a hot bath, but then on my way home I passed my local Off-Licence and noticed an offer on summer ciders. Obviously they couldn’t shift them otherwise so they were half price. Hmmm… why not make a mug of hot spicy cider? It would be just the thing for a cold November night and within my budget. £2.50 for 2 bottles of vintage cider. Not bad, and most of us have spices and honey at home.

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Here’s the recipe:

1 bottle 50cl of good quality dry cider Cider (you can try berry)

1 or 2 tsp of light Muscovado sugar, or honey as I do

Zest and juice of half an orange

2-3 cloves

1 cinnamon sticks

1 star anise

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

¼ tsp dried grated ginger

1 shot* Calvados or brandy

Heat up your cider in a saucepan (you can do it in the microwave if you are pushed for time but I prefer to do it in a pan). Make sure that you don’t boil it. Add the orange juice, ginger, spices and the sugar or honey.  Stir it, taste it and add more of anything if you want – the quantities I have given are just a guide.

Off the heat, top up with a shot of a brandy or Calvados. (Cooking brandy works well, too! Remember this is an evening on a budget). Strain into a mug, add a slice of orange if you like.

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Now all you need to do is settle yourself into your favourite spot on the sofa – mine is next to a heater – wrap up in afghan blanket and wait for the drink to work its magic. I can guarantee that after five minutes all the stress of the day will go away. If you don’t care what people think about you, and after a long day I usually don’t, switch on your favourite cheesy TV show (True Blood is my fix) and enjoy your evening.

P.S. My local pub, the really charming The Clock House on Barry road, starts serving Mulled Cider in couple of weeks. It’s worth checking in your favourite places if they serve it. It’s a lovely way to spend a Sunday evening.

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*Shot = 25ml or 50ml for the brave



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