OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Skip the caffeine and get cozy with a honey-cardamom milk steamer

Honey-Cardamom Steamer (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Honey-Cardamom Steamer (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

I don't know about you, dear reader, but Monday's Style cover story about segmented sleep — sleeping a few hours, waking, being productive and then sleeping a few hours more — made me feel a whole lot better.

It helped me realize I'm not alone in my disjointed sleep.

I've never been an easy sleeper. My mind tends to get really loud at bedtime, making it difficult to fall asleep. And when I do fall asleep quickly, I often find myself wide awake just a few hours later.

Back when my sleep troubles became bothersome (decades ago) someone suggested perhaps I was consuming too much caffeine. I begrudgingly took the suggestion to heart. It helped, a little.

These days I limit myself to one coffee (4 ounces stove-top espresso with 1 cup frothed milk) each morning. But in the winter months, I often crave a warm beverage in the afternoon or evening. Herbal tea usually hits the spot, but sometimes I want something richer with a little sweetness, but not as sweet and rich as hot chocolate.

Lately, I've been making steamers, or in my case frothers, because I'm not actually steaming the milk.

I use a countertop milk warmer/frother that I bought a couple of years ago for $30 (worth every penny), but a handheld frother or even a lidded jar will work. Or just enjoy the warm milk without the added texture of bubbles. It'll still taste good.

This one combines honey, cardamom and vanilla.

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Honey-Cardamom Steamer

  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey, more or less
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup milk

In a coffee mug, stir together the vanilla, honey and cardamom.

If using an electric warmer/frother add milk to unit and heat to desired temperature following the manufacturer's instructions.

If using a hand-held frother, pour the milk into a tall container or measuring cup. Hold the container at an angle and hold the frother just under the surface of the milk. Turn frother on and froth, keeping the frothing mechanism just under the surface of the milk. Once you have the desired amount of foam, heat the milk to the desired temperature in the microwave.

If using a lidded-jar: Fill the jar no more than half-full with milk, screw on the lid and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Remove lid and heat the milk in the microwave to the desired temperature.

Immediately pour hot milk into the mug with the honey mixture. Stir gently. Garnish as desired with more cardamom and honey.

Makes 1 drink.

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