Cheers, New Year’s !


New Year celebrations take place around the globe, even cultures that have their official New Years on different dates (e.g. Muslim, Jewish, Chinese) celebrate December 31st in some fashion. Some countries make elaborate feasts of national dishes which are eaten close to midnight. Others focus more on the social side of things, often involving the consumption of plenty of alcohol.

There are many different New Year traditions accompanied by fireworks to chase out the old and bring in the new. The ringing of bells, clocks and drumming are other ways that some cultures drive away the shadows of the year that has past to make way for that which is yet to come.

In Germany we melt small bits of lead on a spoon which is then dropped into cold water.  The resulting shape symbolises what the New Year has in store for us. In olden days, unmarried women would use this to see a glimpse of their future husband.

Since drinking is a big part of most celebrations here are a few herbal drink recipes you might like to include in your festivities.

Mulled Wine
3 cups of dry red wine
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of brandy
1/2 cup of water
2 thinly sliced oranges
1 thinly sliced lemon
2 small lightly crushed cinnamon sticks
9 whole cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
Place everything into a large saucepan and simmer gently over a low heat. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved.  Strain and serve while warm.

I make a white wine version I adapted from a medieval recipe flavoured with honey, lemon, mace, cinnamon, cloves, white peppercorns and bay.  It’s a little lighter, warms the cockles without going straight to the head.

Coriander & Lime Punch
4 tablespoons of fresh coriander leaves
2 stalks celery
1 lime peeled
2 medium green apples, cored
1 cup cranberry juice (or my tropical friends might like to use pomegranate juice)
Ice cubes
Put coriander, apples, celery and lime through a juicer.  Combine with cranberry juice & ice in a large jug. I think this one could benefit from a measure or two of vodka.

Basil, Tabasco & Tomato Juice
Small handful of basil leaves
2 inch length of cucumber, roughly chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 red bell pepper/capsicum, deseeded and roughly chopped
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
a few drops of Tabasco sauce, to taste
Put everything except Tabasco sauce into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the mixture.
Serve over ice, spiced with Tabasco to taste. Of course this too can be turned into an alcoholic drink, not unlike a Bloody Mary.

For the coming year I wish you all that you need, much of what you want and everything your speacialness deserves.

Happy New Year my herbal friends!

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