Week 1. National Fig Week
November 8: Election Day. If you haven’t already voted, today is the day!
November 10: St. Martinmas Eve, the traditional end of harvest, with the Winter Solstice only six weeks away
November 11: Veterans’ Day in the U.S., Remembrance Day in Canada.
Week 2. World Kindness Week
November 13: Indian Pudding Day
November 15: National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. Who knows what lurks at the back of that shelf.
November 20: In England, it’s Stir Up Sunday
Week 3. National Farm-City Week
November 21: Great American Smokeout
November 23: National Eat a Cranberry Day. (Who can stop with just one?)
November 24: Yes, it is—Thanksgiving!
November 26: National Cake Day
Week 4. National Family Week
November 30: John Mason of New York City, patented the Mason jar on November 30 1858, and changed homemakers’ food preservation habits forever.
Fire the Cellar, Captain, There’s excellent Wine in’t, and since it be cold weather, I do love it mull’d.
—John Fletcher, The Loyal Subject, 1618
Mulled wine is a wine that is heated and spiced and so should be your lover sometimes.―
The first recipe for mulled wine–wine heated, sweetened, and flavored–appears in 1769, in The Experienced English Housekeeper, by Elizabeth Raffald. Her mulled wine, unlike modern recipes, is spiced only with nutmeg, includes beaten egg yolks, and is to be served in chocolate cups “with dry toast cut in long narrow pieces.”
The industrious Mistress Raffald began her career as housekeeper in a large country-house, where she met her future husband, the head gardener. She went on to operate a confectioner’s shop, catering business, and a cooking school for young women. She also wrote the most popular cookbook of her day. It appeared in 13 authorized and 20-some pirated editions and was a favorite of Queen Victoria, who copied recipes from it into her diary. When Raffald sold the copyright in 1773, she was paid the equivalent of nearly a quarter of a million dollars. (This remarkable woman also made time to bear and raise 16 children, all girls!)
You might not want egg in your wine and , but mulling spices are wonderful to have in the pantry for those winter evenings when the clan gathers around the fire. This recipe is a favorite of our friend, the fictional China Bayles, who makes it up in large quantities and sells it at her herb shop. In a jar with a pretty lid and ribbon bow, it’s a wonderful gift. The recipe makes three cups, enough to flavor twelve bottles of wine. That’ll probably see you through the holidays, don’t you think? Double the ingredients to make more for gifts.
Thyme & Seasons Mulling Spice
1 cup dried orange peel
1 cup broken cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup whole allspice berries
1/2 cup whole cloves
3 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
Mix all together and store in a closed jar. To use: mix 1/4 cup of spices to a 750-ml. bottle of red wine (good choices: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel). In a nonreactive saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 30 minutes, or heat in your crockpot. Serve in mugs with cinnamon sticks. A spicy bonus: the delightful aroma that will fill your kitchen.
We know you love sweet potatoes, a traditional accompaniment to the holiday turkey. But you don’t have to smother this versatile vegetable in lots of add-on calories to make it taste good. If you’re cooking light, you might want to give these delicious oven-fried sweet potatoes a try. Or how about some luscious sweet potato rolls, made with that extra bit left from dinner? Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene and are a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins E and A—as well as fiber, of course. They’re an ally in the battle against such chronic health issues as heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
November 11–the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour–marked the end of World War I, and is now the day we honor our servicemen and women. For a first-person account of the end of that terrible war, check out this Eyewitness to History site. For a gallery of interesting historic Veterans Day posters, go here.
November 13 is Indian Pudding Day. Here’s what you need to know about this historic dish, which in spite of its name goes back to Renaissance England. The post includes an interesting bit about the Hasty Pudding Club and an authentic recipe. Also on that informative page, a link to a recipe for a Christmas Gingerbread Pudding you might consider for Stir Up Sunday.
Stir-up Sunday? Find out about this traditional British celebration.
National Eat a Cranberry Day. Native Americans applied crushed cranberries to wounds and used them to treat scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. To prevent scurvy, eighteenth-century American whalers and mariners carried a large supply of cranberries on their voyages. More recently, these tart red berries have been shown to prevent urinary tract infections, reduce the risk of kidney stones, and help fight gingivitis. For a peck of great-tasting cranberry recipes, visit the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers page. Our favorite: Cranberry Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the history of Thanksgiving, read this fascinating post by journalist Aimee Levitt: How culinary propaganda from a women’s magazine made Thanksgiving a thing
Find out what Susan is up to these days by visiting her blog, Lifescapes. There’s always something interesting going on in the Texas Hill Country. She posts book reviews, bookish thoughts, and notes on the fast-changing world of books on her “other” blog, BookScapes.