The Wassail Gingerkuchen
“May I escort you, Mistress?” He led her into the Reading Room alight with glowing candles and whispered, “Don’t they look real? The only bad news is the man you hired to play St. Nicholas came down with the flu.
“What will I do?” Alarmed, Liberty fumbled in the brocade pouch at her waist for her cell phone. “We can’t do this without St. Nicholas.”
“You will have your St. Nicholas, madam.” Gregory stepped close to her side and smiled down at her. “I have experience.” He gently placed her arm on his. His St. Nicholas outfit was no rented Santa costume. The smooth velvet of his red jacket caressed her bare arm. The ruffled shirt, tight black pants, and high black boots complemented his masculine form perfectly.
Before Liberty could speak, Lily announced, “Wassail time.”
Aldwyn, in a dinner jacket, entered carrying a steaming silver punch bowl, followed by Emma and Rebecca holding platters piled high with spicy, fragrant gingerkuchen.
Liberty whispered to Gregory, “Is it safe for you here?”
“Perfectly safe. This is a magic night.”
Outside the window, a flash of lights illuminated the huge outdoor tree and they heard the loud “Ah” as the people of Shipsfeather gasped in pleasure.
The strains of “Greensleeves” floated from the Local History Room. Liberty didn’t remember hiring a quartet.
Within moments the library doors were thrown open and guests paraded in. Gregory served wassail and Liberty passed out warm gingerkuchen, greeting smiling Shipsfeather residents and their visitors. Many of Liberty’s regular library patrons passed by. Gregory embraced members of old Shipsfeather families. An elderly gentleman called him. Chronus and a woman with a British accent curtsied and addressed him as Sir Gregory. Replying to foreign visitors in their own languages, Gregory was the perfect host. He looked handsome, courtly, and comfortable in ruffled shirt and velvet jacket and each guest lit up at his attention.
And the Recipe
St. Nicholas Wassail
From The Shapeshifters’ Library celebration in “Released”
4 cups apple juice or cider
2 cups cranberry juice
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 t. ground ginger
½ t. grated nutmeg
½ t. cardamom
3 sticks cinnamon
Fresh orange slices for garnish
Combine ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Then turn to low for 2-8 hours.
(In a hurry? Heat in just to boiling in a saucepan, then pour into a slow cooker to keep warm.)
Oranges on top make a pretty addition.
What I love about this recipe is you can vary it to suit your taste in juices and spices (or what you have on hand). With our without alcohol (some revelers) add dry sherry or Madeira), a cup with fill you with warm holiday cheer.
Barnes & Noble
Read the blog post "Researching St.Nicholas Eve"
for my personal remembrances of the celebration
And the St. Nicholas excerpt from "Released"