I wish I had consulted with Lola earlier in the day on this one because she had a really great idea on how to celebrate. It came to her after dinner when I started to make some whipped cream for National Whipped Cream Day and she asked how I was going to use it. After our initial jokes of making a a whipped cream bikini à la Varsity Blues or taking a batch up to the boudoir (insert squeaky mattress noises here), she suggested that we make a whipped cream pie to toss in someone’s face. I liked that idea. It’s kind of a prankster’s dream. I wish she had come up with it earlier in the day because I may have gone around and done some surprise pies on some friends throughout the day. I could have hid in the bushes until my nephew Ben walked by and pied him out of nowhere. I could have pied Becky when she was coming out of Clements. I could have just pied a random someone walking down Water Street. I could have made the news today. “This just in: there is a crazed man loose in the town of Portsmouth who has been randomly surprising innocent people throughout the day with a whipped cream pie to the face. The police are warning the public to stay away as they believe the man to be armed and extremely ticklish.” That would have been a celebration.
Instead, I used the suggestions of my friends Marge and Pearl. That’s really not their names, but it’s what I like to call them. They were the checkout lady and bagger at the supermarket I went to a few days before Christmas. It was a crazy day at the store and I was expecting the worse of humanity to be out in force. I wasn’t far off on my assumptions, but when it came to checkout time, I was pleasantly surprised by the delightful attitude of the ladies totaling up my groceries. Despite having what was likely a dreadful day for them, they were both chatty and kind. Marge, the bagger (at least in my head), saw that I had picked up some chocolate wafer cookies and she told me that her family likes those cookies and will put whipped cream between two cookies for a little treat. I was going to be using them for ice cream sandwiches, but Marge’s idea seemed pretty tasty too. I filed the idea somewhere in my brain under random information. When it came time to enjoy whipped cream today, I realized that I still had some chocolate wafer cookies leftover that were still wrapped up fresh. The cookies were excellent for the ice cream sandwiches, so I figured they would be good for the whipped cream too.
Whipped Cream Day is held on January 5th to honor the creator of Reddi-wip Whipped Cream, Aaron “Bunny” Lapin. That’s the kind in the can where you push the nozzle with your finger and whipped cream shoots out. That’s definitely a fun way to have whipped cream, but for taste, you are always better off making your own and it is very easy to make. You just whip some heavy cream along with some confectionary sugar until you achieve the elusive stiff peaks of beating. The Gigi advice I am always given and will share with you here is to make sure you stick your beater attachments and your bowl in the freezer for some time before you whip the cream. The coldness helps the cream stiffen faster, and this really works. I whipped up a batch in no time at all. One thing that I have learned to do on this quest is to make whipped cream pretty fast and efficiently. Today was no exception.
I then scooped some between two wafer cookies. These were delicious. The cream was sweet and chilled to perfection while the chocolate of the cookies added that crunch and extra sweetness you needed. To be honest, it’s not perfect because the whipped cream squirts out all sides as soon as you bite in, but then you lick around the cookie to get the excess off which is actually kind of tasty. It’s manageable but it’s not the perfect vessel. You might be better off just crumbling the cookies into a bowl and topping with whipped cream. I’ll have to let Marge know. Lola was a fan. She had not had one of the ice cream sandwiches so she was new to the whole chocolate wafer cookie. It was a perfect treat for her too because it was light (at least lighter than some of the other desserts we have been enjoying) and also not a huge portion. I see her having another one in the near future.
Today was also Twelfth Night. I looked to my friends at the Old Framer’s Almanac for more info on this and here is what they said:
In the olden days, the festivities of Christmas lasted twelve days, which was the time supposed to have been taken by the three wise men in their journey to Bethlehem. The final evening (January 5) was called “Twelfth Night” and marked the end of Christmas festivities and, in ancient Celtic tradition, the end of the 12-day winter solstice celebration. On this night, it was customary for the assembled company to toast each other from the wassail bowl. In Old English, wassail means “Be in good health,” but the term came to be applied to the drink itself (usually spiced ale).
I felt that this was something to celebrate too so I dusted off the ol’ wassail bowl and started making a wassail recipe. It was pretty simple. I put some cider on the stove and mixed in some fresh orange and lemon juice along with some warming spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger). Then I let it simmer for over an hour. On occasion, we will put some cider on our stove just to give the house a nice warm smell. This wasn’t too different from that and soon the house was filled with the aroma of warm apples and cinnamon. When it came time to drink it, I realized that we didn’t actually have a wassail bowl, so I compromised and just served it in a giant green mixing bowl. It seemed silly, but also seemed fun, and we wanted to stay true to the traditions of the day. I took the first sip as the tradition calls for the master of the house to drink first. To be clear, Lola and I are not big fans of saying someone is the master of the house unless we are having our Les Misérables night which usually starts off by me stealing a loaf of bread, but someone had to drink first and I was the one who made the wassail, so I took a sip. Before we drank, we gave a little toast to our good health (remember, that’s what wassail means) but we also recited the chorus to “The Wassail Song” as a means of a toast.
“Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year!”
That’s actually a pretty good toast, if you think about it. In any case, I took a sip and then passed the bowl to Lola. Lola was chuckling thinking she was drinking like Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds and it was a funny sight to see. Wassail is actually pretty good. It’s a warm cider drink and if you like that kind of thing, it’s perfect. It would go well with some spiced rum, but that wasn’t in the plans for tonight. I really liked it but I can’t drink too much cider. It’s too sweet or something, this one especially. I felt like I had just made out with a Yankee Candle. But had I just been standing in the cold weather and singing loud and clear on a cold winter’s night, then the wassail would be the perfect drink to warm up with and to toast to our health.
Today’s celebrations were kind of a surprise. I had no plans entering the day and by the end, I thought we had done a pretty good job at making it a holiday. That’s how it goes some time. I also learned about Twelfth Night and wassail which are two things I have always heard about but never really knew what they were. Now I do. That’s where the quest gets fun. So yeah, this was a pretty good day. My only regret was that I didn’t surprise Marge and Pearl with a whipped cream pie. They would have loved that. Oh, well, there’s always next year.
Next Up: National Bean Day – that magical fruit