Our 2014 Feuerzangenbowle Tradition Continues

Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. ~Mary Ellen Chase

Let The Tradition Get Underway

Page 1 - Visiting and Readying The Fixins | Page 2 - Enjoying The Results

Did You Know? - Feuerzangenbowle is a traditional German alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine. It is often part of a Christmas or New Year's Eve tradition. The name translates literally to fire-tongs punch.

A Quick Overview Of A Wonderful Evenins With Friends

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Time To Party

Brian and Jan arrived a bit early to catch up on things

Sharon and Curt are ready to partee

Archie has a million friends

Who says men can't wear great artistic shirts??

Dinner Gets Underway

Did You Know? - Goulash (Hungarian: gulyás) is a soup or stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices. Originating from the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, goulash is also a popular meal in Central Europe, Scandinavia and Southern Europe.

Its origin traces back to the 9th century. The cooked and flavored meat was dried with the help of the sun and packed into bags produced from sheep's stomachs, needing only water to make it into a meal. It is one of the national dishes of Hungary and a symbol of the country.

In Germany, Gulasch is a beef (Rindergulasch), venison (Hirschgulasch), or wild boar (Wildschweingulasch) stew that may include red wine and is usually served with potatoes or dumplings. Gulaschsuppe is the same concept served as a soup, but then usually with bread.

Kerstin and Hans out did themselves... We went through about ten gallons of
beef soup... Perfect for a cold winter night... Also suitable for California

It got quiet all of a sudden

Almost to pretty to eat...
Simply wonderful

Now we have heard of everything

Our vegetarian approves of the aroma

It's magic... The soup disappeared

"We be stuffed"

We are having a load of fun but Hans and Kerstin are hard at work

Our hosts kept busy all evening

The Thedens Secret Ingredient Is Love

Did You Know? - Ingredients: For 10-12 glasses - Takes about 30 minutes

2 oranges (unwaxed and untreated if possible)
2 lemons (unwaxed and untreated if possible)
3 bottles red wine, not a light wine (2 to 3 litres)
2 sticks cinnamon, about 2-3 inches long
5 cloves
1 tsp ground ginger or 1 tsp allspice
½ lb sugar cone (Zuckerhut), a solid piece of sugar, or ½ lb sugar cubes
1 bottle brown rum (at least 54% alcohol otherwise it will not flame, but anything over 60% gives a very high flame)

Wash the oranges and lemons thoroughly, dry and cut into thin slices.

Put red wine, oranges, lemons, cinnamon and cloves into a large pot. Heat slowly until just below boiling point, do not allow to boil.

It is a fun experience to sit around the pot while the sugar melts and drips into the wine, so if you have a fondue heater or something similar, and would like to use the Feuerzangenbowle as a table centre piece, the pot can be removed from the heat at this point and put onto the alternative heating source. Add the ginger or all spice.

Place the sugar loaf or sugar cubes above the red wine mixture (about 1 inch above the surface). In Germany there are special "fire tongs" made for this purpose, however a grate, a plain aluminum cooling rack, fish rack from a barbecue or wire netting can be substituted.

Soak the sugar loaf or sugar cubes with rum and light up the alcohol. The safest way is to put rum into a small metal scoop or large spoon and light it away from the Feuerzangenbowle, then pouring the flaming liquid over the sugar. The sugar will begin to melt into a runny caramel and drip into the mulled wine punch. Make sure that the hot melting sugar can not drip outside the pot, and as the flame dies away add rum gradually to keep the fire burning until all the sugar has melted.

Remove Feuerzangenbowle from heat, stir gently, add a measure of additional rum stir once more and serve.

Remove spices and fruit, the orange or lemon wedges can be added to individual servings, or they can also be put on one side to used sometime later as a dessert with a dash of cream.

Serve your Feuerzangenbowle in heatproof glasses or mugs.

Time To Get Setup For The Lighting Of The Sugar

We need mulled wine... The official "Mull-zoologist" is hard at work

Did You Know? - Mulled wine is a beverage usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices and raisins. It is served hot or warm and may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic. It is a traditional drink during winter, especially around Christmas and Halloween.

"The smile is an essential ingredient"

It cooked all afternoon

We are all awaiting the arrival of the sugar cones

You can get in on-line at German Deli

The bowl is added and now we must lite the candles

Kerstin brings in the cones... Carefully as they break easily

It is indeed a cone... Needs to be examined after all... We
worked all day in the sugar mines to get this!

All wrapped up... Soon Mr. Cone will providing great entertainment

"I will help by opening the sugar cone and putting it on the plank!"

Kathy attempted opening the cone... It came out in pieces

"Don't worry Kathy... It will melt just fine"

This cracked us up!

"It's OK.. I can dig out the pieces"


All the kings horses and
All the kings men
Couldn't put the sugar cone
Back in shape again!

Brian has a friend
Dori tries to warn him

The candles are lit... We are ready to go

Soak The Sugar... Carefully

Did You Know? - Feuerzangenbowle is prepared in a bowl, similar to a fondue set, which usually is suspended over a small burner (rechaud). The bowl is filled with heated dry red wine spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise and orange peel, similar to mulled wine.

The Feuerzange was originally a pair of tongs, but nowadays it is common for a purpose-designed metal grate mounted on top of the bowl to hold the Zuckerhut (sugarloaf or literally "sugar hat"), a sugar cone around seven inches long.

The sugar is soaked with rum and set alight, melting and caramelizing. The rum should have at least 54% alcohol per volume and be at room temperature in order to burn properly. More rum is poured with a ladle until all the sugar has melted and mixed with the wine.

The resulting punch is served in mugs while the burner keeps the bowl warm. For some the ceremony is more important than the drink itself, celebrating the gathering of friends and conveying a notion of Gemütlichkeit.

Mulled wine gets placed in the device...

Hey... I did it!

One-fifty-one rum on its way... Ladle in hand
Fire Extinguisher near by

Glug glug glug... The sugar is now very happy

Soaked to the bone

Kathy's cone is feeling no pain now

Did You Know? - As with all high-alcohol beverages, Bacardi 151 is flammable. Bacardi 151 has multiple warnings on the label of the bottle stating that it should not be ignited or exposed to an open flame.

Bottles are also equipped with a stainless steel flame arrester crimped onto to the neck of the bottle to prevent the rum from igniting, in case a consumer or bartender ignores the warnings and applies the rum to a source of ignition (e.g. a flaming pan or dish, a flambé).

 Despite the warnings against ignition and the flame arrester, consumers have claimed to have been burned by bartenders who ignored the warnings, removed the flame arrester, and exposed the bottle to an open flame.

"This is One-Fifty-One"

Did You Know? - In a spectacular display of a love for rum, the infamous Admiral Nelson who died in the Battle of Trafalgar, had his body preserved in a cask of rum before it was finally laid to rest. Accounts differ as to whether the cask was full or mostly empty at the time, but we do know for sure rum was referred to as 'Nelson's Blood' for a period of time after the incident!

Dori and Roy cannot wait...

Hans soaks the sugar cone with the elixir

Did You Know? - The most expensive rum in the world lacks a specific name but more than makes up for it in price. Bottled in the 1940s by the Jamaican distillers Wray and Nephew, it contains blends that are believed to date as far back as 1915.

The bottle was displayed at Europe's first Rum Festival (RumFest), and there are only four such bottles remaining in the world, which represent the lost tradition of Wray and Nephew. They are valued at a whopping $40,000 a bottle!

"Hans is pouring $40,000/bottle rum..."

It is now soaked in rum

It looks so innocent just sitting there

Kathy's cone is busted... We won't know when the lights go off

"We are ready"

Lights Out... Fire Away...

No marshmellows tonight

The fire department is waiting outside

Flames shoot into the sky...

Applause come from the guests... OK, who yelled "Ole"

Blue flames were magnificent

Did You Know? - This is due to incandescence of very fine soot particles that are produced in the flame. With increasing oxygen supply, less black body-radiating soot is produced due to a more complete combustion and the reaction creates enough energy to excite and ionize gas molecules in the flame, leading to a blue appearance.

Hans added some additional 151 to the sugar...

Hans is a master at this tradition

The sugar begins to melt and drip into the mulled wine

The mulled wine is nice and warm

Fire is lowering... Time for a fill-up

One more little splash....

... maybe I meant big splash

Perfect... Sugar is dripping... Mouths are watering!

"Just one more... Please!"

A warming glow...

Page 1 - Visiting and Readying The Fixins | Page 2 - Enjoying The Results