What’s Fresh: January

By: Kelsey Johnson

You don’t need me to tell you it’s cold outside. If you spent any time outdoors – or even indoors if your house is as poorly insulated as mine – you very well felt the effects last week’s “Polar Vortex.” As I’m sure you can imagine, BFBL farmers weren’t out harvesting the fields. That being said, while you might not find bunches of fresh Iowa produce lining supermarket shelves, there are ways to continue to support the local food scene even as the temperatures dip well below zero. That’s why for this month’s “What’s Fresh” we’re focusing on: Hot drinks.

If sitting down next to a fire and catching up on Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones sounds like your cup of tea, we’ve got the perfect recipe to fill your evening with sweet aromas. (Thanks to allspice, of course.)


Chai Tea


  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup milk – of course we recommend milk from Picket Fence Creamery
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black or Assam looseleaf tea, or 2 tea bags if loose tea unavailable.


Using a mortar and pestle, or a spice grinder [or the handle of a heavy kitchen knife and a sturdy cutting board], roughly crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Put these in a saucepan with the water, ginger, and black pepper, and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let spices brew for 3-5 minutes.

Add milk and sugar to saucepan and return to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add tea to milky spice mixture. Cover and steep an additional 3-5 minutes.

Stir chai, then pour through a strainer into a warmed tea pot or individual cups or mugs. Makes 2 or 3 servings.


For those of you looking for something with a bit more bite, we have some more festive suggestions. Before you give the allspice Irish Coffee recipe a go, make sure to grab some Zanzibar beans Iowa Distillery whiskey, and Picket Fence whipping cream to insure the best results possible. The second is Grape Escape’s Mulling Spice recipe, for wine they say tastes like warm apple pie!


Irish CoffeeIrishCoffee[1]


  • Strong hot coffee – we recommend Zanzibar Coffee Adventure
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar, or 2 sugar cubes
  • 1 jigger (1 oz) good Irish whiskey – try this with Iowa Shine whiskey instead for a BFBL twist
  • 2 Tbsp homemade whipped cream, made with our Vanilla Paste and Honey Powder – try using Picket Fence Creamery cream and you’ll taste the difference


Add 1 jigger Irish Whiskey in a coffee cup [a clear glass Irish Coffee mug is pretty to behold, in which you dissolve 1 tsp sugar.  Fill cup to within 1″ of rim with hot coffee. Top with a dollop of homemade whipped cream, sweetened with our honey powder.  Sip the coffee through the cloud of whipped cream. Yum.


Make-Your-Own Mulling Spices Recipe


  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • Small whole nutmeg
  • 1 star anise (Optional)
  • 1/2 cup whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup whole allspice
  • Grated peel of one whole orange
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger


1. Break up the cinnamon, nutmeg, start anise and allspice with a hammer. Mix all ingredients together and store for a week or so in a glass Mason jar. The storage time allows the flavors to blend. 2. When you are ready to use it, place two tablespoons of the spice mix in a small, muslin square and tie the top with twine.  Add the bag to one bottle of wine and warm (do not boil).


Mulled Wine from Grape Escape

  • 1 Bottle of Kimball Creek
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick

Combine ingredients in a crock pot and heat on low. Do not boil. The quickest, easiest, and best mulled wine ever. Tastes like warm apple pie!