Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wassail, wassail.

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Egad! Did someone pick up my house and move it to the Frozen Tundra? It was 25° this morning in Dallas! Since I was home anyway listening to Christmas music and working (theoretically) on my Christmas cards, I decided to make some wassail.

My mom gave me this recipe many years ago. If I'm making it for a crowd, I use my large silver percolator, but when it's just for my family, I make it in my Dutch oven on the stovetop.

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Wassail

Tie together in cheese cloth:
6 sticks cinnamon
16 whole cloves

Combine:
1 t allspice
¼ c sugar
2 c. cranberry juice cocktail
1 large can frozen apple juice concentrate, diluted (plus an addition can of water)
1 t bitters* (optional)

Simmer 10 minutes then remove spice bag. Serve hot. If made in a 30-cup electric percolator, place spices in basket (use same amount of spices and multiply recipe by four).

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*I have absolutely no idea what the bitters add to this recipe, but I always use them. I think this bottle has lasted me 20 years!

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My favorite kitchen reference, the Food Lover's Companion, has this to say about bitters: "Made from the distillation of aromatic herbs, barks, roots and plants, bitters are a liquid used to flavor cocktails, aperitifs or foods. They are also used as a digestive aid and appetite stimulant. Bitters generally have a high alcohol content and are bitter or bittersweet to the taste. Angostura bitters, called for by name in many recipes, is simply the trade name for a brand of bitters." I think perhaps bitters is similar to vanilla extract, in that it tastes terrible by itself but lends a nice flavor when added to other ingredients.


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I write all of my favorite Christmas recipes in this book. It's quite handy to have them all together in one place

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Cheers!

9 comments:

Scarlett said...

Sounds yummy! And, yes, it definitely felt like a frozen tundra today in Fort Worth, as well!!! :)

JMW said...

Mmm, sounds perfect for a cold winter day! Perhaps I'll try that this weekend. It was 21 degrees when I woke up this morning and it's only getting up to 28 today. That's far too cold for Kentucky in December!

JoAnn said...

I love wassail and think I will try your recipe, which sounds so much less complex than the one I have made in the past, which has a zillion ingredients including wine and ginger ale (!). I make it in a soup pot and let it simmer all afternoon - it makes the house smell so good!

Melissa said...

Oh my, that sounds so lovely on a cold day.

In Idaho, our high temps is 14 degrees today.

Brrrr!

tami said...

The recipe looks good. And I love the idea of a Christmas recipe binder.

I use bitters for sugar cubes to place in a glass of champagne for a champagne cocktail.

This is what we say about bitters at our place. "My! We have been married a long time, we are on our second bottle of bitters, of course not as long as Mr. & Mrs. soandso, they are on their third bottle of bitters!"

Bitters are a marriage measurement tool in the Northwest ;)

bevysblog said...

Love your Holiday Binder... great idea!

Never had wassail, but have grown up with Spode Christmas china. I love it and always find comfort every Christmas when my mother and grandmother bring it out. Ahhh, traditions.

The Hayden Family said...

that post made my mouth water! and i can only imagine how delicious your home smelled while making the wassail! what a terrific way to warm up! thanks for the recipe-i jotted it down and can't wait to use it!

3 Peanuts said...

Sound yummy. i could use some right now. Hey hop in your car and come on down for the party. You can park in my driveway;)

Jenny said...

Sounds really yummy!