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Hot Beverages for the Cold Season

Although I'm not crazy about paddling with my heavy wet suit to keep warm and safe in November and December, I do love kayaking in the crisp northern air and pure light of late fall, when everything is so quiet and nature has already gone into slow motion. I put my long neoprene booties on, a pair of leather gloves that I slip into a set of poogies secured to my paddle, and off I go. But even more precious for these special day trips are my two stainless thermos bottles: one to carry steaming vegetable soup and one for a hot beverage. I love mulled cider, chai green tea or Tibetan black smoked tea made with butter, milk and cardamom, coffee spiced with cinnamon, hot white chocolate, and so on. It takes only a few minutes to prepare before I leave home for a day trip, but it is truly the nicest paddling companion.

When I leave for a late fall paddling session, I try to bring along hot drinks that are delicious but also packed with nutrients. I don't mind extra calories in my diet as long as those extra calories are not of the "empty type", like chips or cola. I want good quality fuel. That's why I like to prepare hot beverages with filling ingredients such as milk, soy beverage, good quality chocolate or green tea packed with antioxydants. Completed with some whole grain crackers and a slice of cheddar or a handful of nuts they make a perfect afternoon snack. These beverages really work magic to warm your hands, your taste buds and your soul.

When carrying thermos bottles it is important to warm them up for at least 10 minutes with hot water, so they will easily keep their content piping hot. Choose a bottle with a stainless steel inside liner, because a traditional glass thermos isn't sturdy enough for outdoor trips. Make sure the lid is secure before you put the cap on, to prevent leaks.


Creamy white chocolate hot eggnog (2 portions)

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 oz white chocolate
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp Grand Marnier or Triple sec liqueur (optional)

In a heavy saucepan, bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, add sugar, vanilla and white chocolate, and whisk constantly until chocolate is melted and mixture is well blended. Set aside on the stovetop to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, adding a few tbsp of the hot milk preparation to heat the yolks and prevent lumps. Pour the warm egg yolks in the hot milk mixture and whisk well. Pour in two thermos stainless steel bottles. At the last minute, add the Grand Marnier or Triple sec liqueur in each bottle (optional).

Spicy cider or red wine (2 portions)

  • 3 cups of a good quality cider or red wine
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 thick slices of orange with rinds carefully washed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)

In a non reactive pan, bring cider or wine to a boil. Remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes to an hour. Just before leaving home, bring the mixture back to a boil. Discard spices and orange slices, then pour in 2 thermos bottles.

My own private Chai tea (2 portions)

  • 1 1/2 cup very strong black tea
  • 1 1/2 cup vanilla soy beverage
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp butter

Put all ingredients in a pot, except butter, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Discard spices. Bring back to a boil and add butter. Remove from heat and pour into two thermos bottles.

Maple syrup-choco latte (2 portions)

  • 4 shots of strong espresso coffee
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 oz dark chocolate

Put all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Pour in two thermos bottles. If you want, you can add 2 oz of Italian coffee liqueur in each thermos bottle at the last minute for a sexy twist.

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