It's time for the pewter mugs and the wassail feasts. Centuries ago this drink was popular around Christmas time and it still holds true today. It's a cinch to make and those heavenly aromas fill the whole house. Wassail is also a greeting, meaning "Be in good health!" It also hints at riotous festivities and lots of revelling. At any rate, you can make this ahead of time and then just warm it up when needed. For a punch bowl of Wassail, you'll need:

1 gallon                fresh apple cider
2 ea.                   cinnamon sticks
2 pieces                cloves
2 tsp                   allspice
1 tsp                   nutmeg
1 cup                   sugar

Place all the ingredients in a pot and let simmer 30 minutes. Adding rum is optional. Charles Dickens describes hot apples that were bubbling and hissing in a mighty bowl of wassail. This conconction does go extremely well with apples. I like to pour it over some peeled apples pieces and top them with a little brown sugar then bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. You can call them Baked Apples Wassail. May you wassail your way through the rest of the month and be of good health and good cheer! And as always, a creative cook is a good cook.