Autumn has always been my favorite season. It’s nature’s time to settle in before winter and I find it brightens all my senses. It’s invigorating to feel the change in the air; hot summer breezes give way to crisp gusts. I welcome the need for cozy sweaters, scarves and boots.
Leaves change from a solid green blanket to a quilt patched together in warm red, orange and yellow hues. After the leaves fell to the ground I would help my parents rake them into piles on our front lawn. Before collecting them into garbage bags, my dad would build up a mountainous pile for me to leap in. Whenever I found a special leaf with beautiful coloring or an interesting shape I would bring it inside. My mom taught me how to lay the leaf under a blank sheet of paper and use a crayon to rub in the impression.
One thing I always looked forward to was taking an afternoon trip with my family to one of Michigan’s many apple orchards. We would walk through the rows of trees spotting the wooden signs labeling each variety. I still go for the tart Macintosh apples. There was something very satisfying about reaching up on my tip toes and picking an apple straight from the tree.
Whenever our bags were full or we became too chilly, we would walk back to the front of the orchard. Some of the best scents combined to hit my nose as one perfect memory: refreshing apples, hot spiced cider, soft cinnamon dusted doughnuts. We would sit at picnic tables enjoying these treats, sometimes having to shield our cups of cider from the bees who also loved the sweet taste.
Inspired by those orchard afternoons, here’s an autumn hot toddy to warm you from the inside out. It’s perfect to share with friends outdoors on a refreshing fall day or to enjoy on your own while cuddled up with a good book.
Apple Cider Hot Toddy
Ingredients-makes 2 drinks
- 2 cups apple cider
- 4 oz. whiskey
- 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 2 ginger tea bags
- ½ lemon
- 4 cinnamon sticks
Heat the apple cider and 2 cinnamon sticks on the stove until it is almost boiling. Lower heat and steep the ginger tea bags for five minutes. Mix in honey (or maple syrup) until it is completely dissolved. Add approximately 2 oz of whiskey to each glass. Squeeze the juice of 1/4 the lemon into each glass, then fill the rest of the glass with apple cider. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and apple slice. Enjoy!