Warm and Wonderful!

Share the science and social rewards of a soothing winter drink.

By Ellen Booth Church



Warm and Wonderful!

Nothing is more comforting than sipping a steamy hot drink on a cold winter day, whether you're snuggled up watching the snow fall or reading a good book. And when you and your child cook up the drink together, you double the reward by engaging in a wonderful learning experience.

Transforming a cool liquid into a warm one can provide a basic lesson in science. As you create these simple recipes, help her notice the changes a cool liquid goes through as it heats up. Simply using the words liquid and solid is a good place to start. Here are some other questions to consider:

  • What tools do we need to make something hot?
  • What special precautions do we need to take when working with warm liquids?
  • How do the different ingredients (milk, sugar, lemon juice, honey) change when they are heated? Do they look different? Do they smell different?

Picnicking in the Snow
Once you've created a warm winter drink, continue the learning by planning an outdoor winter picnic. Brainstorm with your child about the basic ingredients you will need — not only for drinking and eating, but to keep warm. You will be asking him to use important critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and planning skills. Then pour the drinks into thermal or insulated cups; put on the snowsuits, hats and mittens; and head out in the snow. Your child might even like to create a snow house or fort, ahead of time, as the perfect place to picnic. While sipping in the snow, encourage your child to notice how the steam from his warm drink is similar to the steam of his breath.

The beauty of these recipes is that they don't take long to make, allowing more time for you and your child to sit and sip together. And since you can't gulp down a hot drink too quickly, you are guaranteed a leisurely conversation, whether you choose to set up your tea party indoors or out.


Vanilla Steamers

Think of this as a yummy latte sans café. One recipe serves 4.

What you need:

  • 4 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon, optional

What to do:

  1. Combine milk and sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir frequently until sugar dissolves and milk begins to simmer, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and let stand for 2 minutes.
  3. Whisk vigorously to form a thick layer of foam on top of the milk. Divide into 4 servings, topped with a dollop of the foam.
  4. Sprinkle with a pinch of ground cinnamon if desired.

Pomegranate Chamomile Tea

The antioxidant power of pomegranate, combined with chamomile's calming effect, make this one healthy drink.

What you need:

  • 3 chamomile tea bags
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup pomegranate or cranberry juice

What to do:

  1. Place tea bags in a microwave safe bowl, add water, and heat for 3 minutes on full power in the microwave.
  2. Remove bowl from microwave and allow tea to steep for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove tea bags, stir in pomegranate juice and divide into 4 servings.

Warm Honey Lemonade

With the right tool (a wooden or electric juicer), your child will enjoy seeing just how much juice comes from a lone lemon.

What you need:

  • 1 cup lemon juice (6-8 large lemons)
  • 1 cup orange juice (4 large oranges)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 6 tbsp. honey
  • Thin slices of orange or lemon, optional

What to do:

  1. Juice lemons and oranges and strain out seeds.
  2. Combine juice and water in a microwave safe bowl, and heat in microwave for 3 minutes at full power.
  3. Remove from microwave, stir in honey and divide into 4 servings.
  4. Garnish with lemon or orange slices if desired.

Mulled Apple Cider

Who knew that cider could be improved upon? This winter wonder makes 4 delicious servings!

What you need:

  • 4 cups apple cider (or unfiltered apple juice)
  • 1 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)

What to do:

  1. Combine apple cider, sugar, and spices in a medium sized saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to steep, and to cool slightly, for 15 minutes.
  4. Strain out spices, stir in lemon juice, and serve.

Photo Credit: Jurgen Frank

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