Holiday Wassail (Non-Alcoholic)

Wassail is often made with ale or brandy, but this non-alcoholic version can be shared with the whole family!  Huzzah!

8 cups (64 oz.) apple cider
1/3 cup honey
1 cup cranberries
1 orange, sliced
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 teaspoons whole allspice

Place the apple cider into a large saucepan or stock pot.  Dissolve the honey in the apple cider over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low or transfer to a slow-cooker.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 1 to 4 hours.  Strain out cranberries, oranges, and spices.  Serve warm.


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Fire Cider

I recently attended a class on stocking your apothecary with all sorts of herbal delights for winter wellness.  Although not covered in this particular class, I was reminded of one of my favorites that I typically purchase whenever I start feeling sick: fire cider.  This year, I decided to make my own.

There are many different folk recipes for fire cider, which is basically an infused vinegar.  The ingredients usually include powerful cold and flu fighting herbs like onion, garlic, and ginger, along with some type of spicy pepper.  Besides warding off common winter illnesses, fire cider can also be used as a digestive aid and general health tonic.  Feel free to play with your own recipe and incorporate it into salad dressings, mayonnaise, bloody marys, or be a badass and drink it straight.

What you’ll need:

  • Glass, pint-sized mason jar
  • Parchment paper
  • Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 1 dried chili pepper
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 of an onion
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 to 3″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2″ piece fresh turmeric, peeled
  • 1/2 of a whole lemon (i.e., peel and seeds included)
  • Dash of dried cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Place the chili pepper, rosemary, and thyme into the jar.  Place the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and lemon into a food processor and pulse until well chopped.  Spoon the chopped mixture into the jar.  Add a dash of cayenne and the honey.  Fill the jar with apple cider vinegar, covering all of the other ingredients and leaving about a 1/4 inch of headspace.

Place the jar’s lid onto a piece of parchment paper and trace the circle with a pair of opened scissors.  Trim the circle to fit inside the lid.

Hold the parchment paper disk inside of the lid as you secure it down onto the jar with the accompanying ring.  (The parchment paper prevents the fire cider from touching the aluminum lid.)

Store the fire cider in a cool, dark place and shake gently once per day for a month.

After a month, strain the pulp from the cider with a cheesecloth.  Discard or use for another purpose (like in stir-fry or hash).  Give the cider a taste and add more honey, if desired.


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Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are my favorite treat to make for Beltane!  Best shared with someone you love, of course. 😉

* 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
* 1 cup white sugar
* 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
* 2 eggs
* 1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the white and brown sugars, until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa powder, flour, and baking soda; then incorporate into the butter mixture.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop rounded spoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between dollops.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Allow the cookies to set on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


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