My throat started itching today. Just a little, but enough for me to notice and think "Whoa, there, let's nip this in the bud before it turns into something else." I've been trying to take note of how I am feeling physically this week, as things are very (very) busy in our lives and my body has a tendency to go-go-go-STOP when I let things like sleep and exercise slide. Which I have, so itchy throat mystery solved.
I've taken a leaf out of my friend Bryan's book and made a batch of wassail to keep in the fridge and heat up when I need a quick boost. (Hi, confused Jewish friends! You probably don't know what wassail is, but apparently there is a Christmas carol about it? And it is a festive drink that people used to have on hand to serve to Christmas carolers? Yeah, I didn't know that either. I also kept spelling it like "wassel" since I'm pretty sure that's how it is pronounced, and now that I've looked it up, I can't help but say "wasSAIL" in my head as I am writing this. Today has been quite the cultural education.) My version is made with apple cider heated with orange and lemon slices and spiked with cinnamon, cloves, and fresh ginger. It is mulled cider's bright and citrusy cousin, and it is working wonderfully to cut through all the fuss going on inside of my nose and throat.
Is this recipe traditional? I honestly have no* idea. But it is delicious, so hopefully that will speak for itself.
Makes 4 cups
This recipe scales wonderfully, so make as much or as little as you like. Store leftover wassail in the fridge and enjoy cold or warmed.
4 cups apple cider (the best you can find)
2 cinnamon sticks, plus more for serving
3 whole cloves
1 orange (Valencia or navel), thinly sliced
1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced
5 slices fresh ginger, each slice about the size and thickness of a nickel
Combine the cider and the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Heat for 5-10 minutes, until the wassail barely comes to a simmer. Strain the warm wassail into teacups or mugs, and serve with cinnamon sticks on the side.
Note: you can hold the wassail in a slow-cooker or over a low flame at a low heat, but keep in mind that the flavors will be stronger the longer the wassail is heated (which you might prefer), and the citrus will eventually begin to disintegrate.
*Well I just did some research, so now I have some idea. And apparently the traditional version has a lot of booze. So no, it is not traditional, but it is better** for whatever ails you. **Arguably.