A Holiday Toast, with Wassail
Happy Christmas Eve, friends! Can you believe it’s already here?! I know one little 4 year-old that’s enormously excited about what will occur this evening. So much so, in fact, that we presently have zero presents under the tree. He just can’t handle the waiting. I get it. All that wrapped up temptation. Better to just hold out and see nothing. But, man, I can’t wait to see his face in the morning! It’s entirely likely that I’ll cry, because I’m a complete and total sponge when it comes to other people’s emotional states.
What I want to share with you, though, before you, like me, move on with your merriment and gift-wrapping and fellowship and conviviality, is a little bit of holiday cheer. Our dear friends Rich and Jen Orris are golden. They have supported my career and been such solid, trusted friends and confidants since we met nearly 4 years ago. Not only do we share interests and pursuits and seriously goofy senses of humor, we’re now working on a project together.
With their ace help, Jen and Rich via their cheekily-titled business “What the Farm” created the first of what we aspire to be monthly “Small Measure” videos. Each will introduce a simple DIY project to do at home, based around food or crafting or homemaking/homesteading. Since it’s the holidays, a time when libations and laughter abound, our debut video is about making wassail.
The recipe comes from my book Quench, and was graciously provided by local Folklore expert Byron Ballard. I’m offering the recipe here for you, for creating your own holiday cheer this season. Thank you to Byron for the recipe, and massive thanks to Rich and Jen for, well, just being their wonderful selves (not to mention allowing me to use their home and property for the shoot!). From our home to yours, sincerest wishes for the happiest of holidays!
Wassail (excerpted from Quench: Handcrafted Beverages to Satisfy Every Taste & Occasion, Roost Books, 2014).
At once a wish for good health, a hot beverage, and a traditional British ceremony that blesses apple trees for a fruitful harvest the following year, wassail covers many bases. This recipe comes from Byron Ballard, a writer, scholar, and expert on nature-based traditions and folklore. Don’t forget to wassail your trees, per her suggestion, by offering them the very first cup!
Makes: 10-11 cups.
You Will Need
-½ gallon fresh apple cider
-1 cup orange juice
-1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
-½ cup honey
-6-8 cinnamon sticks
-Whole cloves (a handful)
-Several chunks of fresh ginger
-Rum, to taste
Combine all of the ingredients except for the rum in a deep pot or Dutch oven. Whisk gently to combine.
Simmer the mixture over the lowest setting at least 3 hours, stirring periodically.
When you feel the flavors have all come together to your liking, remove the pot from the heat. If desired, stir in rum in an amount to your inclination and taste preference.