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git boozy!

Recipe: wassail

I’m in California now, wrestling with the suckiness of what hotels claim to be “wireless” connections… my ass. I can’t transfer any of the photos I shot today (yet). But I need to get this post off because I’m blogging each day for NaBloWriMo! Luckily, I planned ahead and have a recipe ready.

[Edit: With the help of my remarkable guy, we have photo-age! Thanks, Jeremy!!]

at denver international

puffy clouds between colorado and california

My visit with Grandma is a bit of a special one, I mean more than usual, because my mom and aunt are here too! Sort of a three generation girls’ weekend, so to speak. We are celebrating Grandma’s 87th birthday because she is teh cool.

the three most important women in my life today

For dinner, we went to Pan Tao. I had always been there for dim sum in the past, but my mom had the salt-pepper fried pork ribs on the brain! When we walked in, they led us to a standard table for four. My mom exclaimed in Chinese, “Oh, this table won’t be big enough for all the dishes we’re going to order!” I laughed – just HOW much was she planning to order?! We convinced her that it wasn’t humanly possible for us to finish whatever number of plates we required to cover the table – in the end we ordered 4 dishes that were phenomenally good. We still packed up leftovers.

salt-pepper fried pork ribs

seafood and tofu clay pot

pea sprouts

dry cooked e-mien

I’ll get I got those pics up eventually (damn you, weak and crappy hotel wireless!) but for and now you must suffer my recipe for the evening. I didn’t bother bringing my external flash, so I had to use the internal flash. I am messing around with it to improve the quality… I may have found a neat solution! More on that later.

making use of delightful citrus

simple syrup: sugar, cinnamon, and lemon

I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia where typical summer jobs for my friends included fife and drum corps, dressing up in period clothing (i.e. dreadfully hot colonial garb), or serving fries and/or ice cream in Colonial Williamsburg to thousands of tourons. I didn’t dig on the whole colonial scene. Part of being a local is acquiring massive disdain for the tourists meandering through your town. What I came to love (only after leaving for college) were some of the terrific foods that were tied to both tradition and region. Southern Virginia has an interesting intersection of Southern, Colonial, British, and just plain White Trash.

if possible, i like fresh squozen lemon and orange juice

syrup is ready and smells quite heady

One of my favorite discoveries was wassail. My dad made this out of the Williamsburg Cookbook one chilly evening (really, it wasn’t chilly by Colorado standards, but I’m sure half of Virginia thought they were going to die of the cold). I loved it for the fruity, heady flavor – or so I thought. I think I was hammered because it doesn’t take much alcohol to knock a fifth grader on her ass.

i love my automatic juicer

cheap and boozy red wine – woohoo!

You can use canned or frozen juices if you like, but fresh orange and lemon juices taste better to me. I know some folks say you should only use a wine in cooking that you are willing to drink. I tend to go for the cheaper reds (a cab will do) like Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) because you alter the wine so much in this preparation that it wouldn’t really be decent to do it to a bottle of fine wine that cost a small fortune.

pouring the orange juice

i buy small cans of pineapple juice because i hate to waste the big cans

I really do love this hot, spiced wine punch despite being a total lightweight when it comes to alcohol. I make it every year to be sure that I love it. Yup. I love it. It is the perfect party drink for winter and I like to serve it to guests when entertaining. If I drink enough of it, I might even don a colonial style dress with the cute little doilie-esque hat thing and run around singing (screaming) carols to (at) my neighbors! Not really… I mean, not the dress thing – the singing is a very real possibility along with some most excellent cussing because I do that when I get liquored up. Good times!

adding syrup to the heated booziness

wassail! (means “be healthy”, not “let’s get plastered”)

[print recipe]
The Williamsburg Cookbook

1 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
3 lemon slices
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
6 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup dry sherry
2 lemons, sliced

Boil the sugar, cinnamon sticks, and 3 lemon slices in 1/2 cup of water for 5 minutes and strain. Discard the cinnamon sticks and lemon slices. Heat, but do not boil the remaining ingredients. Combine with the syrup, garnish with the lemon slices, and serve hot.

22 nibbles at “git boozy!”

  1. Mrs Ergül says:

    Wow! I totally enjoyed reading this post. I giggled as I read along! This is like a combo of so many different flavours. Interesting! Enjoy in Cali!

  2. jennywenny says:

    How wonderful to get everyone together like that! I’ll be doing similar soon, my aunt is celebrating her 60th in the UK next weekend and my mum and other aunt and cousins etc will be there, great fun. No hope of me being organised enough to download anything, let alone beautiful pictures like yours! I do like the idea of the wassail though, that might just stop me freezing to death in the uk!

  3. peabody says:

    Love and joy come to you…. Now I will be singing that all night.
    Mmmm, salt and pepper ribs…I have only had salt and pepper squid. Looks good. Real good.
    Hope you have a fabulous time.

  4. Rosa says:

    Great! A wonderful get together! Your spicy Wassail looks really good!



  5. zoe / puku says:

    lol. screaming carols at your neighbours. you sound like an awesome drunk. this wassail looks like the business, but obviously not suitable for christmas in Australia.. though today we are having a bit of a temperamental-Sydney cold snap… do you think it will help with thesis writing?

    love the pic of your womenfolk, but the 3rd gen/Jen is missing.. anyway it looks like you had a Feast!

  6. Sally says:

    THe picture of your Grandma, Mom and Aunt is gorgeous!

    your Grandma seems like the sweetest person in the world….. Enjoy your time in CA!

  7. maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) says:

    I was talking about wassail the other day because are planning a Christmas/ Thanksgiving/ Holiday party. Last time I it all the spices etc were off–drinking it was like getting drunk off medicine. Really cruel. So I have bookmarked this, so I can do it better this time..

  8. Fiona says:

    And the weirdness continues. I grew up in Charleston. That’s (if you’re keeping track): colonial and full of what we call touristas. One perfected an up-down glance of disdain by about 12 years old.

    In other news, wassail was part of a very old Christmas tradition of misrule in which social hierarchies were inverted. You can read all about it in Stephen Nissenbaum’s The Battle for Christmas. Don’t read it, though, if you aren’t prepared to have all your innocent notions shattered by us mean old historians. Good book.

    Salt and pepper ribs. OMG.

  9. Bridget says:

    Hmm, interesting. That looks good.

    I’ll about Two Buck Chuck for things like this. I think it’s a pretty decent wine, so it’s perfect when you just want something cheap and drinkable, and you don’t need anything fancy.

  10. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy says:

    Wassail? I feel a song coming on….. Seriously, I wait all year for the two weeks it is cool enough to actually make and drink it here. ;)

    And, may I say that all 3 generations of the women in your family are very beautiful!

    Oh, and I know just how you feel about tourists!

  11. Amy says:

    I make Wassail, too! It makes me fall asleep. My recipe is very similar, except no pineapple here. I just use a blended cranberry drink in a big jug–cran-apple, or something. Mix with the boozy wine and spicy syrup, and we keep it in the crock pot.

    Dang, I do love that stuff, but it makes me fall asleep FAST.

  12. Mollie says:

    I love wassail! I haven’t made it in ages, but it’s going on the agenda for our fall party in a few weeks!

    I also adore the portrait of your favorite women. That is a very cool thing. Your grandma is indeed the cool! And those salt-pepper fried pork ribs look so good that I started to drool, just a little bit… nom nom nom….

  13. Courtney says:

    I have never seen fried salt and pepper ribs. I love salt and pepper shrimp and squid.I will search high and low for the. The drink looks yummy too.

  14. Louise says:

    did I read that right? your grandma is 87 years old? she looks really good! i wish i can look that good when i’m 87.

  15. Steph says:

    The Chinese food photos made me drool!

  16. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Awesome photo of your important people :) That salt and pepper pork looks and sounds utterly delicious. It’s actually cold enough today for a great big vat of Wassail to be monumentally appealing, even though it’s supposed to be Spring. Maybe it would help me write my essay better… ;)

  17. cindy says:

    A bigger table indeed! That mom is a funny one. Your grandma looks great. How old??!!

    I can practically smell that wassail.

  18. NotHannah says:

    Interesting…I might have to try this for Thanksgiving. We make something called wassail, too, although ours is just fruit juices and cider with spices. This might be more…lively for the after-dinner Trivial Pursuit marathon. Thanks!!

  19. Patricia Scarpin says:

    Those are beautiful ladies. I love to see how connected you are to your family, Jen. That is so important.

  20. jenyu says:

    Mrs E – thanks hon!

    Jennywenny – oh, awesome. That should be a great time. Wassail will keep you warm and tipsy, that is for sure.

    Peabody – I’d never had the ribs until this trip. They were awesome! Thanks :)

    Rosa – thanks, sweetie.

    Zoe – I am a lot of fun drunk. I don’t do it often though – ha ha ha. I hate not remembering what I said or did… It could make for very interesting thesis writing. I probably should have done that when writing my dissertation :) If 3rd gen Jen was in the pic, there wouldn’t be a pic ;)

    Sally – they’re lovely women, all three of them. My grandma is amazing. Everyone loves her :) xxoo

    Maybelle’s mom – oh, I hope you like this version! Good luck :)

    Fiona – ha ha, it’s true (the glance of disdain). Locals are such brats, but I loved being one! Oooh, thanks for the background on the wassail!

    Bridget – It’s really awesome, isn’t it? Except it’s $3 outside of CA, but heck, that’s a good deal for a decent red :)

    Susan – honey, you need to get your fix of cold weather. Just tell me when you’re coming to visit!

    Amy – ah, but hopefully it doesn’t make you fall asleep before saying something really embarrassing and entertaining your friends with some choice expressions :)

    Mollie – now that I can see the photo better on my big computer, I see it’s really shaky. I hate lugging tripod and flash when I travel. I’ll have to replace it with a better one :) Hope you have a fun fall partay!!

    Courtney – mmmmmm – they were delish!

    Louise – I know, she looks amazing for 87.

    Steph – hee hee.

    Laura – ooooh! I hope your essay went so fast that you don’t remember :)

    Cindy – 87, babe. Can you believe it? Good genes, if I can make it to 40 ;)

    NotHannah – boozie is an interesting twist on it. I hope you give it a try!

    Patricia – thanks dear!

  21. 8 New Year's Party Punches | Macheesmo says:

    […] Wassail – The phrase means “Be Healthy” which is always a good New Year’s resolution.  The recipe has some steps, but the result is an awesome spiced wine punch.  It’d be great for a cold December 31st night. (@ use real butter) […]

  22. Dana says:

    I’m making this right now in my CrocPot. My sister in Santa Cruz, CA says nothing sounds grosser to her at the moment than “wine punch” but I’m living in New South Wales, Australia for now and it’s chilly and we’re celebrating Christmas in July tonight! Hope this turns out well. Thanks for sharing!

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