Members of the Central California Region of JASNA and a few guests gathered at the home of committee member DeAuna Marks for a party celebrating Austen, a year of JASNA, and each others’ warm company.
The bountiful table was spread with delectables from feta and cranberry pinwheels and tea sandwiches to birthday cupcakes and spice cake. The mulled wine was the most popular drink (see below for recipe), although champagne with a splash of pomegranate grenache topped off the festivities as we toasted to Jane Austen and all she has contributed to our lives.
Committee member Erin Connor devised a few Austen-themed party games for our diversion and Heather Parish, Rebecca Strong, and Erin also donated Austen-themed door prizes won by Bill Lulay, Lisa Jones, Brooke Aiello, Kate Henschel, and Hillari DuSchane.
We discussed everything from our favorite Austen characters to the production of “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” that just ran at Fresno State. A merry time was had by all and we hope to see everyone again for our events in 2019!
Many thanks, once again, to DeAuna Marks and her family for opening their home to us, to the committee for making this year full of fun events, and to every person who has attended a JASNA Central California event this year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Austenmas to you all!
Mulled wine is one of those simple, old-fashioned treats that is easy to put together for a holiday evening, makes the house smell good and makes you feel warm and pleasant all at once. Simple to adjust to suit your own tastes, below is the basic outline for a simple option for one bottle in a small saucepan.
- 1 bottle basic red wine of your choice. We used an inexpensive red table wine from Trader Joe’s since it is going to be mixed with other things.
- 1/3 cup of brandy
- 2 tbs mulling spices. We used The Spice Hunter Mulling Spices found at BevMo, but you can make your own (see below). You can just sprinkle them in the brew if you don’t mind the spices floating in your cup. Otherwise, consider using a large loose leaf tea strainer.
- 1/3 cup of sugar. You can also use brown sugar or honey, however you prefer.
- 3-4 apple slices and 3-4 orange slices
- 1 cinnamon stick
Mix all of the above together in saucepan, stir occasionally, and heat over medium heat until barely simmering. Lower to low heat and continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Drink carefully as it may be quite hot! As the mixture boils down while you’re imbibing, it will concentrate somewhat at which point you can feel free to put in more wine and more brandy as needed. Also add more fruit and sweetening as needed if drinking all day.
Alcohol: To keep from burning off the alcohol potency, keep just below a boiling point and then lower the temp.
Cutting the alcohol: Some folks use apple cider to cut the potency of mulled wine. If you wish to do so, start with one cup of cider for one bottle of wine and work from there until you’ve got your proportions how you want them. This will make your brew sweeter, however, so hold off on adding any sugar/honey until you’ve tasted it with the cider.
Other secondary alcohol options for your brew: Some folks use vermouth instead of brandy as it is often sweeter. Bourbon is also popular while cointreau, Grand Marnier or curaçao are also fun options for bringing out the citrus in the brew. Frankly, you can use any liqueur you like or you can leave it out altogether.
Fruits: Citrus is the most common fruit option for mulled wine and orange is the most accessible. Like sangria, the more fruit you use, the more the juices infiltrate the brew and bring something special to it. Use fall/winter fruits like oranges, clementines, limes, lemons, apples, or pears. And use lots of them for an all-day brew!
Mulling Spices: The basics of mulling spices are chipped versions of spices you commonly find in other holiday treats. You can mix your own with cinnamon chips or cinnamon sticks, dried orange rinds, whole allspice, whole cloves, and (if you have it) dousing a little cinnamon oil and orange oil into the mix. Star anise and cardamom are also popular. You can buy mulling spices online at Amazon HERE or Target HERE or from any of these online retailers.