Below is a recipe for a wassail drink to warm your insides on a cold winter's night. I made it, took the pictures, and blogged about it last year, so I’m being lazy and posting again. Well, not entirely lazy. Practical, too. I’m the only person in the house who’ll drink this wassail – my husband’s allergic to pineapple and my daughter doesn’t like fruit drinks. I don’t think the cat or dog want it either. Consequently, if I make it, I’ll drink it all. Every last drop. Frankly, although I could probably use the anti-oxidants, I sure don’t need the calories. So I’m cyber-partaking today, and also talking about the giveaway I'm participating in along with a bunch of other Harlequin/Mills and Boon Historical authors.
Since I'm so cyber-challenged, I couldn't put links under all these covers, but suffice it to say that each of 22 authors has chosen a day to give away a prize, and that there's a grand prize of a Kindle at the end. You can enter once at each author's site, and the more often you enter, the better your chance of winning the Kindle. My special day is December 7th! I'll be asking visitors to go to my website and read an excerpt and answer a question for a chance to win a gift certificate. Other authors might make you hunt for a hidden ornament or post a blog comment. It's fun!
Today's featured author is Jeannie Lin. Her debut novel, Butterfly Swords, is fabulous! To visit her site and enter her contest, go here.
Now for the wassail. The word wassail comes from an old English toast meaning "be in good health." There are two kinds of wassailing. One is going door to door singing wassail songs (some of which are well-known carols) and getting rewarded with a cup of wassail and maybe a few tasty treats. This is where the leaves of green come in -- boughs of greenery over the doors and as decorations within the house. In traditional wassailing, the wassailers make a procession from room to room, banging pots and pans to cleanse the house of any evil left over from the past year.
The other kind of wassailing is singing to apple trees on Twelfth Night to ensure a good harvest. Wassailers go from orchard to orchard to wish the trees well with songs and a toast. Even the trees get to sample the cider made from their apples, to encourage them to produce plenty of fruit in the coming year. Again, there's lots of noise, with pots, pans, and (because we're outdoors) guns, to drive evil spirits away from the trees.
Here's a very simple wassail recipe. Quantities are approximate.
1 gallon apple juice or cider
1/2 gallon pineapple juice
Juice of four oranges
2-4 cinnamon sticks
Honey to sweeten the brew if you have a very sweet tooth
2 more oranges, prepared according to the directions below
More cinnamon sticks, to use as straws (kids love this)
Mix the first five ingredients in a large saucepan and warm slowly over low heat until good and hot (but not boiling). Cut the top, bottom, and most of the rind off the remaining oranges, ending up with a roughly hexagonal shape. (In my case, a catastrophe.) Squeeze the oranges very gently over the pot to extract some of the juice, then slice them. Just before serving, float the slices in the wassail as decoration. My sloppy slices didn't qualify as decorative in any sense of the word, but the wassail tasted lovely. If you don't mind a little bitterness from the rind, you might try using thin slices of orange with the rind on. It's much tidier and prettier that way.