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In my search for New Year’s recipes, I decided to try a Wassail-a drink dating back to 13th century England, which was taken at yuletide and meant to toast the health of apple trees and ensure a good harvest in the coming year.

There are about as many Wassail recipes as there are people. Some use juice, some use alcohol, some use cloves and cinnamon and other winter spices, some are heated, others are served cold-so there’s no wrong way to make it.

I chose this recipe because it’s versatile. Most of the New Year’s gatherings I attend include children-so this is alcohol free but a splash of brandy or sherry can be added to the glass of any adult who wants to partake.

The colorful and fruit Wassail, sans alcohol

The colorful and fruit Wassail, sans alcohol

This recipe comes from Mrs. Wilson’s Cook Book, published in 1920, during the prohibition period in America. (It’s got an interesting subtitle: Numerous New Recipes Based on Present Economic Conditions.) Mrs. Mary Wilson was Instructor of Cooking for the U.S. Navy before opening a cooking school in Philadelphia.

It makes enough for 16 servings, so double it if you are having a larger crowd.

• 1 gallon apple cider
• 3 bananas, cut into thin slices
• 3 oranges, peeled and cut into small pieces
• 1 6 ounces bottle maraschino cherries
• Baked apples-one for each person attending
• ice

Colorful! Have spoons handy so guests can eat the fruit after they've finished the cider.

Colorful! Have spoons handy so guests can eat the fruit after they’ve finished the cider.

Pour cider into large punch bowl. Add ice, bananas, and oranges. Drain juice from maraschino cherries into bowl and cut cherries into small pieces before adding them to the punch.

My baked apples

My baked apples

Put in one baked apple for each guest-the apples are to be taken out and eaten on plates by guests toward the end of their visit. To easily bake apples, core them and put into a microwave-friendly container. Cover tightly with heavy plastic wrap and microwave about five minutes on high.

Cheers and have a great New Year!

Cheers and have a great New Year!

Enjoy and have a great 2013!!!