Sipping Snow

How to chill on New Year’s Eve

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Way back before the holidays, when winter first began sliding its icy fingers down our necks, we still had the holidays to look forward to. But now the condoned period of gluttony has all but passed, yet winter has barely gotten started. When we’ve nothing to look forward to but snow is when the emotional work of winter really begins.

Enthusiasts of snow-based sports can pursue them, dressed in layers, while connoisseurs of rich and hearty meals can continue in their ways, justifying the diet as seasonal. But it’s the aforementioned snow that is the real seasonal treat. If you know how to prepare it, your winter will get a lot more interesting. Then, whenever life gives you snow, you can make yellow snow to enjoy.

Lemonade snow, that is. Among other snowy treats, like brown snow. Or red snow.

Sure, most people opt for a steaming cup of tea, or some other hot beverage, to balance the chill of winter. But to eat snow in winter is to face reality head-on and consume it. You become part snow.

When it snows, all one needs to do is walk outside and collect some. It’s like living on a farm, though perhaps insinuating snow to be food is a stretch, because it contains zero calories.

What snow provides is a context for calories to happen, kind of like the children’s story where the hero cooks a pot of water with a rock in it, and calls it Stone Soup. The villagers want to partake in his soup, and the hero welcomes them, asking only that they bring something to add to the pot. Pretty soon, a delicious meal is ready that feeds a whole village.

Booze is in season too, by the way. And a multitude of adult beverages are possible on snow. One could even do an adult version of the Stone Soup story, but with mixed booze snow cones.

One could invite one’s friends to visit, bringing their favorite juices and sweeteners and other flavorings, sweet and tangy flavors, and perhaps bitter and creamy as well.

Like snow and vodka, lemons are in season, as are limes, which I actually prefer, as well as oranges, pomegranate, grapefruit and more.

And we can’t forget the next holiday we have to look forward to. Indeed, chocolate is in season as well. (Preferably chocolate that was not grown by slaves.)

The trick with all of these recipes is to keep the snow as structurally intact as possible. To do so, start with chilled cups to help keep the snow as cold as possible, and work quickly. Add the dry ingredients first, stirring them in, and liquids last, a splash at a time.

The snow should be as fresh, and as clean, as possible.

For yellow snow, sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar into a glass of loosely packed snow. Carefully mix it with a spoon. All of the snow does not need to be thoroughly mixed top-to-bottom. As long as the sugar is evenly mixed in the top third of the glass it will be OK. Then, squeeze a quarter of lemon or lime on top. Mix gingerly some more with the spoon, and begin eating as you do so.

Eating a snow cup is an active activity. You poke it and prod it, like stoking a cold, bright fire. A lemonade snow cup is a completely dazzling way of experiencing two basic flavors: acid and sugar. The flavor is brighter than in your typical lemonade. The acid of the lime seems to be kept at arm’s length from the sugar by the snow, which insulates these opposing flavors from one another like a battery. They finally become connected through your tongue, which tingles with flavored electricity.

For chocolate or mocha snow, start by mixing a teaspoon each of sugar and cocoa powder into a cup of snow. Add a drop of vanilla, and a tablespoon or more of heavy cream. Gently mix in the cream. If chocolate snow is the goal, start eating. For a mocha snow, add a splash of cold or room-temperature coffee. If you end up adding too much coffee and the snow starts melting, add more snow and stir it back to a snowy consistency. It isn’t quite rocket science.

But before we get too focused on Valentine’s Day, there is still the matter of New Year’s Eve to attend to. So I’ll leave you with a recipe for gin and pomegranate snow. It can, of course, be made in a kids’ version. Or vodka cranberry.

Start by chilling some clean, dry glasses in the freezer. When frozen, pack them with snow and return to the freezer. When ready to serve, toss a teaspoon of sugar into a glass and thoroughly mix it in with the snow in the upper reaches of the glass. Then begin working in squirts of lime and splashes of pomegranate juice and gin (or seasonal booze of your choice). Work it around, adjusting as necessary with sweet, sour, booze and snow, until it’s just right. Then get yourself into a comfortable or festive position.

Stir. Sip. Prod. Add snow. Reflect. Cheer, responsibly. Resolve, if you care to. If you need to take a break, pop it in the freezer.

Rinse and repeat until all of the snow is gone.

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