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Seasonal tastes: gingerbread and wassailing

Seasonal tastes: gingerbread and wassailing

December 6th, 2018 by Aaron Brand in Features

Metro Creative Graphics

From chocolate fudge to hot cocoa, candy canes to sugar cookies coated in sprinkles, tasty treats abound during the Christmas holidays.

Families even have their own special favorites to enjoy at festive occasions. Among those time-honored treats is gingerbread, often in the form of the gingerbread cookie or house.

The Texarkana Museums System's Discovery Place Interactive Museum hosts a gingerbread house session Saturday (2 p.m. to 3 p.m.) where youngsters can play gingerbread architect and make a gingerbread house to eat and, if they wish, take home. Think of it as food project fun for kids.

"They're going to build their own house with graham crackers, sprinkles, frosting, gum drops, jellybeans and mini M&Ms," said Melissa McKinney of Discovery Place. "They will also be able to make their own Christmas tree using an ice cream cone."

The cost is $8 per person or $3 for TMS members. Get tickets via the Discovery Place Interactive Museum page on Facebook.

Similarly, the Ace of Clubs House will host its Wassail Making and Mincepies gathering on Saturday, Dec. 15 (2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.). Make, drink and eat these two traditional treats.

Explaining that wassail has been around since the Saxon times and received mention in "Beowulf," Ace of Clubs curator Zoe Nakashian said, "Wassail is a drink with a very old origin." They'll whip up two versions of this drink that Saturday: one with hard apple cider and another with fruit juices and non-alcoholic cider.

Served hot, wassail has been around from the Middle Ages to Victorian days, whereupon the lord of the manor would invite farm workers over to drink it and sing carols. "It was referred to as wassailing," Nakashian said.

She will teach attendees how to make wassail, and all will do so with the necessary ingredients and then "drink what we make," Nakashian said. They'll cook a quick version but some recipes call for it to simmer all day.

Also on tap are mince pies. "Since we're serving alcohol, I figure we should probably have some food to go with it," Nakashian said. Mince pies also originated in the Middle Ages and originally contained meat. It was a preserving mechanism, complete with spices and alcohol.

By the Victorian era, Nakashian explained, mince pies didn't necessarily contain meat. "Ours will be non-meat," she said. It's a version that includes candied peels, golden raisin, carrots, apples, molasses, sherry, brown sugar and assorted spices.

"You can make the pie and then you could keep it for several months and eat it later," Nakashian said of its preserving powers.

Admission is $20 or $15 for TMS members. Register by the end of Thursday for this event via the Ace of Clubs House page on Facebook.

(More info: TexarkanaMuseums.org or 903-793-4831.)

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