Thursday, November 18, 2010

Here We Come A-Wassailing

A Christmas wreath in Colonial Williamsburg
Everyone should know this old Christmas song;

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you
a happy New Year.

Colonial Williamsburg wrote an article explaining the history behind the curious word, Wassailing. 
 The meaning has changed over time.  It's original use was used as a greeting and evolved into a form of toasting during ritualized drinking. The word wassail came from the Old Norse phrase, ves heil and the Old English phrase was hál which meant, “be in good health” or “be fortunate.”
 Today we associate wassail or wassailing with Christmas. I personally associate it with the movie Little Women because the girls sing it while walking outside in the snow.  I love it. I also think of Colonial Williamsburg when I think of the word or song.  I adore Colonial Williamsburg.

I was looking through my old Southern Living Christmas books from the 80's.  They are filled with classic craft ideas, gift ideas and old recipes.  So fun.  Surprisingly I came across a recipe for Old Fashioned Wassail. It's like a nonalcoholic hot punch. It looks delicious. I plan on making this for Christmas.

Christmas with Southern Living 1986. I own a copy that belonged to my mom but I have seen them sold on ebay.

Old Fashioned Wassail

1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 (3 inch) stick cinnamon
2 quarts apple cider or apple juice
1 quart real no sugar added cranberry juice
1 (46 oz) can pineapple juice
1 (12 oz) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted
1 (6 oz) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar

Tie cloves and cinnamon in a cheesecloth bag. Place spice bag and remaining ingredients into a large soup pot; stir well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove the spice bag. Yields 1 1/2 gallons.

An inn in Colonial Williamsburg

The Magic of Raw Honey

Beautiful Honey
                I love honey.  It not only taste good but it has amazing healing properties.  The key is RAW honey.  Raw honey is perfectly safe (1 year of age and older).  One of the reason's they pasteurize it is so it keeps it's transparent state and to filter out pollen etc.  Over time raw honey naturally crystallizes. The crystallization doesn't affect the honey's taste or healing properties. You can dissolve the crystals by placing the jar in warm water for about 15 minutes.  Do not microwave your raw honey. Cooking the honey will destroy a lot of the healing properties so if you want to use raw honey for treatments or medicinal purposes then keep it away from heat.
If I had land I would so raise my own bees and harvest honey.  I love just thinking about it.  What a wonderful gift it would make.            

Isn't it amazing how honey bees build a honey comb?!?  I remember my Nana telling me that she would chew on the honey comb as a child.  Simple pleasures for sure.  I tried it and it's kinda nice.  It reminds you of gum but not very elastic.  After awhile the comb compacts and the flavor is gone.  This very honey comb can be used to make salves, lotions and candles. 

So we all know honey goes great with hot biscuits but did you know that honey can be used to heal our bodies inside and out?   Raw honey has antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and phytonutrients. 

Honey has been used to heal wounds and burns for centuries. It is naturally antimicrobial and has antiseptic properties that clean wounds and inhibit bacterial growth making it a natural antibiotic for cuts and burns. But remember, it has to be RAW honey. Very important.  There is a huge difference in raw and pasteurized honey in my opinion. The raw honey will promote healing and sooth pain.  

I burnt my fingers twice and both times blisters formed almost immediately. Very painful and ugly.  I quickly held my hand under cold water to stop any "cooking" of my skin and then reached for my jar of raw honey.  I covered the burned area with the raw honey and within seconds the pain vanished! I am SERIOUS. It was amazing. A gift from GOD! I allowed the honey to stay on my skin for awhile and then washed it off.  I was able to use my hand after with very little discomfort.  Of course more serious burns should be seen by a MD or Naturopath. After the doctor has seen it then slather the burn with raw honey for pain relief and fast healing. 

Raw honey has also been used to treat gastric conditions like upset stomach and gastric ulcers.  I developed inflamed intestines which made eating painful. I went on a strict diet for two weeks of nothing but miso soup broth, vegetable broth, fresh juiced carrot, apple, and celery juice, organic apple sauce, and bananas.  In between eating this simple healing diet I drank lots of cooled chamomile tea with a tablespoon of raw honey in order to calm the inflammation in my intestines,
One daily spoonful packs a wonderful punch of nutrients.
 Local Raw honey can aid in allergy relief.  Because local raw honey has tiny bits of pollen from your area in it the pollen is able to triggers your immune system a little at a time causing you to build up a resistance.  In order to reap the benefits you should start taking a couple teaspoons a day for several months prior to the allergy season.  So much healthier than Allegra or Claritin and with more benefits. As with any natural therapy, start off with small amounts to make sure it agrees with you.

I love honey sticks! I remember collecting them at craft fairs and little country stores as a kid.  These would make a great gift paired with a unique tea cup and some organic teas. Sounds like a Christmas present to me.
Time to head to your local farmer's market to pick up some raw honey!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Old Fashioned Cake Doughnuts

Doughnuts are one of those foods that you wish could be healthy! lol. I love fluffy yeast doughnuts but my husband especially likes the old fashioned cake doughnuts. Cold weather started to settle in and I felt nostalgic so I thought I would make an old fashion breakfast pastry one morning..  When do I ever not feel nostalgic?!? That's what I get for being raised with wonderful smells, sounds and traditions.  They make old memories so vivid. 

I chose the cake doughnut recipes from my Better Home and Garden cookbook.

Old Fashioned Cake Doughnuts

3 cups All-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 beaten eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
cooking oil

Combine 2 cups of the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a medium bowl combine milk and melted butter. In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, and vanilla; beat with an electric mixer about 3 minutes or until thick. Alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture to egg mixture, beating after each addition just until combined. Stir in remaining 1 cup of flour. Cover dough; chill for 2 hours.

Chocolate Cake Doughnut Variation

Prepare as above, except omit cinnamon and nutmeg and increase sugar to 1 cup. Reduce the amount of flour that is stirred in at the end to 1/4 cup (for a total of 2 1/4 cups flour) and stir in 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Continue as directed. I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa.  It makes the doughnuts dark and rich.


Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut dough out with doughnut cutter.  Fry doughnuts in deep hot oil (375'F) about 1 minute on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels. You can shake warm doughnuts in a bag with sugar. I made a thick glaze. Put 2 cups of powder sugar in a bowl and add a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and enough milk to make a thick consistency but thin enough to dip the tops of the doughnuts in. Lay out of cooling rack until the glaze stiffens.

I definitely want to make sure I have enough frying oil next time.  I think that my doughnuts could have risen more if the oil was deeper instead of the doughnut touching the bottom of the pan.  They were still moist and yummy though!  I would suggest watching the chocolate ones closely while they fry because they can easily burn since they are dark to begin with.

So easy! Enjoy.