It would be difficult to imagine the South’s celebrations through the years without a Punch Bowl…either Silver or Cut Glass- there was always some sort of Punch for Weddings, Afternoon Teas, Retirement Parties, Dances, Anniversaries, Graduations and even Kindergarteners were celebrated with Punch. Summer’s Fancy Ice Rings, blocks of Creamy Sherbet and Floating Citrus Slices gave way to Winter’s Hot Spiced Tea, Holiday Eggnog and Spirited Punch- highly spirited if you know what I mean. Winter Punch was always a hit. Along with Punch Bowls, Silver Urns for Coffee and antique Silver Tea Sets stood proudly on sideboards or buffet tables ready for any and all occasions. When someone was asked to serve…yes it was an honor, however, the most delicate of all serving- was ladling the punch! Oh my, I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard- ‘Ok, I’ll help serve, just don’t ask me to ladle the punch!‘ Ladling the Punch meant-
- Not getting a drop of punch on the starched white tablecloth,
- Wielding a big silver ladle over delicate punch cups,
- Lining up the cups as quickly as possible.
- No one wants to be in a long punch line!
Just try to keep that sticky punch from dripping on a fancy dress, a whole party could be ruined with punch stains! Dry cleaners were surely horrified when asked to remove stains from silk, chiffon, lace or velvet. Of course anyone who was the proud owner of a Punch Bowl was invited to every party- a surefire ticket to any occasion of importance. Now, times are changing… a dear lady exclaimed to me,
‘Ah have two large silver punch bowls that belonged to mah motha’ and grandmotha’ and not one of mah children wants them!’
I suggested she donate them to a church- you never know! Occasionally, you still see a punch bowl at Weddings or Tea Parties, even the rare Eggnog Party at Christmastime. And while we might not drag out a punch bowl at home, we do still love icy or warm punch depending on the season.
When a chill fills the air and a light dusting of frost nips the garden’s Turnip Greens, Cabbages and Collards- Fall and Winter have arrived. Even the air smells different as the sap runs down. Pine Cones have fallen, bright Rose Hips, Nandina and Holly Berries are showing off as we Southerners, who complain most of the year about the heat and humidity– when the weather begins to cool off, we shiver and sniffle and turn indoors for warmth. We put out Blankets and Throws, drag out our Slippers and Pajamas, pull out Scarves- wool, fur and silk. We make big pots of Soup and Chili- with what else? Cornbread! And we want our houses to smell festive. Warm Winter mugs of Hot Chocolate, fragrant Coffee and hot lemony Tea help chase away the chill. For me, nothing makes a house smell Inviting like the warm spices of the holidays- Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg and Ginger in the oven baking or simmering on the stove. One of my favorites is Warm Winter Punch… not highly spirited, though I guess you could improvise. This one is so easy I’m almost ashamed to write it down.
Camellia’s Warm Winter Punch
- You will need-
- Bottled or Canned Pineapple Juice- approximately 6 cups
- Bottled Cranberry Juice approximately 6 cups
- 5-6 Whole Cloves
- 2-3 Cinnamon Sticks
In a large Dutch Oven, combine Pineapple Juice and Cranberry Juice. Toss in 5-6 whole cloves and 2-3 cinnamon sticks. On medium low heat, bring juices and spices to a simmer- do not boil. Ladle up Warm Winter Punch in your favorite mug and enjoy all winter long. It’s hard to believe just four ingredients can do so much- the house smell glorious, it’s warm and satisfying without being overly sweet and festive enough for a Christmas Party, yet makes everyday seem like a Holiday! You don’t even have to drag out the Punch Bowl!
Love y’all, Camellia
*photographs are obviously mine.