The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


December 13, 2012

Cheryle Finley: Dig out bowl, punch is back in style

JOPLIN, Mo. — If you are older than 30, you may remember a commercial for Hawaiian Punch drink where the Punchy character would ask someone "how about a nice Hawaiian punch?"

If they said yes, he would hit them. Not exactly an invitation to enjoy a soothing drink, but it was the ultimate "punch" line that sold an abundance of the product, sometimes to those who wanted an excuse to pound on someone else's arm.

Punch was also used as a rite of passage for youngsters on the verge of adulthood who would sneak a flask of their favorite alcoholic beverage into a party and empty the contents into the punch bowl for unsuspecting revelers. I prefer to remember all the parties I attended where a colorful punch bowl was the centerpiece of the table and its contents were served in matching clear glass cups that were perfect for toasting the guest of honor. Every bridal or baby shower would see glass plates with cups nestled in a slot on the side and filled with a delicious concoction. Back when we didn't find out the sex of a baby before the delivery room, a big bottle of Sprite, a quart of ginger ale and a quart of lime sherbet made a light green punch everyone loved, and it was a perfect neutral color for the baby shower. To this day, that is probably my all-time favorite punch.

For a while, punch bowls lost favor, giving way instead to pitchers or specialty drinks served more bartender-style. I'm glad to report that punch bowls are making a comeback. Punch is perfect for those large crowds as well as for a small get-together, and the holidays are the perfect time to reintroduce the punch bowl.

What's easier than buying ready-made punch and pouring it into a punch bowl? Or, mix a batch with a few ingredients and watch everyone want a sample. Don't dilute the punch by using ice cubes. Freeze a batch of punch ahead of time into cubes or in a ring mold or freeze one of the juice ingredients if available. Don't freeze a ring too big for the bowl. Be sure to leave room for ladling the drinks. Chilling the ingredients ahead of time will help keep the ice ring solid longer. Adding sliced fruit makes the punch extra festive, or freeze fruit pieces in your ice cubes or ring. For a slushy punch, freeze the punch ahead of time then remove in time for it to not thaw completely but be easy enough to dip or simply mix it frozen with a carbonated beverage and stir until it turns to slush.

Hopefully, someone in your family has held on to a punch bowl set. So if you've never experienced a party with a punch bowl, you can see for yourself how much fun it can be serving up a colorful drink. Or, if your punch bowl was once a big part of entertaining, maybe you can dig it out and revisit those times you enjoyed displaying it for family and friends.

Today's recipe for cranberry tea is one I have had for many years and one I serve up at least once during the holidays. I call it a punch. Juanita Rose gave me this recipe and I say a big thank you to her each time I mix up a batch. It is good served cold in a punch bowl or warm from a slow cooker, and I've even served it both ways at the same time. Very pretty with orange slices floating on the top. This makes a large amount and it's nice to put in a pretty glass container and give as a gift.

I was so happy to hear from my Nevada friend Dorothy Baker. She's had quite a year with surgery and a fall, but, with her usual good nature, says she's feeling great again. She put in a shout out for Norma's Kitchen in Webb City and South Main in Joplin. Dorothy, you have great taste! She shared her pumpkin whip and sausage dip recipes, and, as with all her recipes, they are bound to become some of my family's favorites. Can't find the sausage crumbles? Fry up a package of sausage, making sure it ends up in small bits.

Want a great dessert that's easy as pie with cinnamon rolls that are better than a crust? Try the slow cooker dessert from my Miami friend Jean Mackey. Great for breakfast or after dinner. I can see myself eating it as dinner. Have a wonderful week and happy eating!


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