Oh, that's right, you don't know. I've probably been having Thanksgiving at my house the last 15 years or more for my entire family, sometimes over 20 people and I've cooked THE WHOLE THING!!! The reason? Well, actually, I can barely stand anyone but myself in the kitchen so cooking it all myself eliminated anyone getting in my way and kept my screaming at a minimum, but the other reason was everyone had to travel, so I figured this would sort of be my gift to them. The biggest reason though is that I wanted to make family memories and hopefully, memories that would last a lifetime and be passed on to the younger family members. Each year they expected certain dishes and certain dishes they generally always got. Of course, there was always our after-dinner tradition when we went around the table and told everyone what we were most grateful for that year. They all stayed overnight and the next morning we would have a big breakfast together. It was great!!!
About two or three years ago it was becoming increasingly clear that it was getting harder for the families to make that 3-4 hour trip and the families were becoming more scattered as each year came and went. There were full-grown men and women that were just little kids when I started this tradition. It was time for them to continue the tradition themselves. I'm big on family and the holidays are times when family should be together. I cried a little over it but you know when you know and that's all I can say.
So that brings me back to my Hot Apple Cider. It's really embarrassing when you get caught. You know, when somebody really loves something you've prepared and then you have to fess up and tell them, it just wasn't all that difficult. Oh well, as long as they liked it, I suppose. Anyway I text him back with the ingredients. I always took a gallon of apple cider and added a tablespoon or so of dessert blend. I make my own herbal blends and salt substitutes and this is one of them that I make, but you can substitute store-bought apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice and just about have a similar taste.(not quite Aunt Nina's but it'll do). I put all that in a pan and heated it up. Then I took an orange and peeled a strip just around the center and decorated the orange with cloves studded in designs which is very easy to do. You just stick a toothpick in the orange and that, of course, makes a hole and then you push the whole clove in and make whatever design you want on the orange. I put the orange in the pan with the apple cider along with a couple cinnamon sticks and then I added orange juice til I thought it was "Just Right". Kind of like Goldilocks, huh! Oh that was terrible wasn't it!! Then I take all of that and I put it in a punch bowl if I were using the cider right away or if it was going to sit for awhile I put it in a crock pot. It was sort of embarrassing to tell my nephew that that was all there was to it but hey, "if it works" - - - right?!!