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Pumpkin Spice Tea For Thanksgiving

For a cup of tea after Thanksgiving dinner—or any time over the holidays—sip a comforting cup of pumpkin spice tea.

While pumpkin spice tea in general isn’t hard to find, the blend from Tea Forté is top quality and is delicious plain or with milk and sweetener.

Tea Forté’s Pumpkin Spice adds a trio of classic fall spices—cinnamon, ginger, and clove—to organic black tea leaves.

The Tea Forté silken, pyramid-shaped tea bags (photo #2) are the loveliest in the business. Each pyramid tea bag is packaged in an equally elegant pyramid-shaped box (photo #1).

The tea is certified organic, and certified kosher by KOF-K. But they’re not microwaveable—if you want to boil the water in the microwave, do that first and add the tea bag.

While a gift box of 10 pyramids makes a lovely hostess gift, if you are the host you can give individual tea bags as party favors.

Or use them as place settings instead of chocolate turkeys (this only works at a dinner without kids demanding chocolate turkeys).

Head to

The products are also available on Amazon.
> The history of tea.

> The history of tea bags.

> The different types of tea.


Pumpkin Spice Tea Pyramid Tea Bags From Tea Forte
[1] Pumpkin Spice pyramid tea bags, elegantly packaged (both photos © Tea Forté).

Tea Forte Pyramid Tea Bag In White Cup
[2] An impressive finale to Thanksgiving dinner.






Gingerbread History & Recipes For National Gingerbread Day

November 21st is National Gingerbread Day, a time for a bit of gingerbread history and some tasty recipes (below).

Gingerbread cookies are examples of rolled cookies, a.k.a. cutout cookies (there are 11 basic types of cookies).

While they are most often considered cookies for Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s no reason why they can’t be enjoyed year-round, like their “siblings” ginger cookies and gingersnaps.

There are ginger cookies, gingersnaps, and gingerbread.

  • A ginger cookie is a soft, molasses-type cookie that is flavored with ginger and other spices. It is similar in texture to the traditional German Christmas cookie known as Lebkuchen (see the fourth bullet). It is larger than, and otherwise differs from, a gingersnap.
  • A gingersnap is a thin, plain round cookie with a hard, smooth texture like a gingerbread cookie. Like gingerbread, gingersnaps break with a “snap.” Gingersnaps contain a larger amount of ginger, and thus are spicier, than chewier ginger cookies.
  • Gingerbread is a fancier affair, often cut into special shapes (cottages, flowers, hearts, horses, people, trees, etc., along with 3-D constructions such as houses and carousels). They are hand-decorated with icing and candies. Monks made the first gingerbread for holidays and festivals. The tale of Hansel and Gretel, published in 1812 (as part of Grimm’s Fairy Tales), vastly increased the popularity of gingerbread cookies and other treats, such as gingerbread Christmas cards. Gingerbread men and animals became popular Christmas tree ornaments.
  • Lebkuchen, often called German gingerbread, is something a bit different. These spice cookies have nuts in the dough. Most imported Lebkuchen has a relatively low nut content, ranging from zero to 25%. The latter is the bare minimum required by German regulations to be considered Nürnberger Lebkuchen. Artisanal lebkuchen bakeries in Nuremberg opt for at least 40% nuts.

    Crusaders returning from the Holy Land‡ (1095-1291) brought ginger and other spices.

    Prior to the 15th century, “gingerbread” referred to preserved ginger*. At that time, ginger was found to have medicinal qualities† and the dried and ground spice began to be used in cakes and cookies.

    The spice ginger, zingiber in Latin, became gingerbras in Old French, gingerbread in Medieval English, and Ingwer in German. What we call gingerbread cookies are the German spice cookies known as Lebkuchen‡‡.

    Lebkuchen has its roots in the honey cakes (Honigkuchen) baked in ancient Egypt as offerings to the gods. However, the Lebkuchen that emerged in the Middle Ages was created for holidays and festivals by Franconian monks in the 13th century, in the region of Bavaria.

    Nuremberg, the second-largest city in Bavaria (after its capital, Munich) became the center for Lebkuchen production for two reasons. The forests around the city provided a wealth of honey, the sweetener; and the city was located at the crossroads of the ancient spice trade routes [source].

    With the growth of the German guilds (not unlike today’s unions), only Lebkuchen Guild members could bake gingerbread [for sale], except during Christmas, when anyone could bake it.

    The Medieval German Lebkuchen Guild transformed gingerbread into a highly-decorated art, crafting fancy shapes, decorated with sugar and gold.

    Gingerbread cookies were (and are) traditionally made in shapes—flowers, hearts, trees, and so forth. They vary by size and can be iced and decorated. But they weren’t making gingerbread men!

    The honor for that invention probably goes to Queen Elizabeth I—or more precisely, an unnamed palace baker who toiled during her reign (1558 to 1603). Her Majesty bestowed “portrait” gingerbread cookies upon important court visitors, decorated in their likenesses.

    The tale of Hansel and Gretel, published in 1812 (as part of Grimm’s Fairy Tales—you can read them here), vastly increased the popularity of gingerbread cookies and other treats, such as gingerbread houses, and gingerbread Christmas cards. Gingerbread men and animals became popular Christmas tree ornaments.

    Today, you can make everything from gingerbread bar cookies to gingerbread whoopie pies to cookies that look like tiny gingerbread houses (photo #5), and entire gingerbread villages.
    > The history of gingerbread.

    > The history of the gingerbread house.

    > The history of cookies.

    > A glossary of delicious cookies.

    > The history of ginger.

  • Chocolate Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies
  • Gingerbread Cake
  • Gingerbread Cookie Dip & Spread
  • Gingerbread Cupcakes
  • Gingerbread Bars With Cream Cheese Icing
  • Gingerbread Bundt Cake
  • Gingerbread Latte
  • Gingerbread Lemon Cinnamon Bars
  • Gingerbread Leprechaun Cookies
  • Gingerbread Men In A Sleigh
  • Gingerbread Mustard
  • Gingerbread Muffins
  • Gingerbread Rim Cookies For Cups & Mugs
  • Gingerbread Skeletons For Halloween
  • Gingerbread Whoopie Pies With Lemon Cream Filling
  • Ginger Cookies (Lebkuchen)
  • Ginger Snaps
  • Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
  • Gingerbread Waffles
  • Mini Gingerbread Eggnog Cheesecakes
  • Valentine Gingerbread Men

    Gingerbread Cake With Gingerbread Cookies
    [1] Mash-up: Gingerbread cookies + gingerbread cake = gingerbread house (photo © Bruna Branco | Unsplash).

    A Simple Gingerbread House
    [2] A simple but elegant gingerbread house, with only royal icing. The gumdrops and other candies are to dazzle kids (photo © Ian | Stock Xchange).

    Gingerbread Cookies - People
    [3] Queen Elizabeth I was first to introduce the concept of gingerbread men, having them decorated to look like her favorite courtiers (photo © Aleksandra Tanasiienko | Unsplash).

    Different Gingerbread Shapes
    [4] Beyond gingerbread men: Christmas trees, mini-houses, reindeer, plus bells, candy canes, Christmas cards, gift boxes, horses, polar bears, stars, sweaters, whatever you fancy (photo © Lydia Matzal | Unsplash).

    Gingerbread Rim Cookies
    [5] Gingerbread rim cookies. Here’s the recipe (photo © Solutions | Blair).

    Gingerbread Cookies Decorated Like Skeletons
    [6] It’s not just for the holidays. Decorate gingerbread people with skeletons, Valentine hearts, leprechaun outfits, bathing suits, anything (photo © Grandma’s Molasses | Facebook).

    *Preserved ginger is the root peeled, cooked, preserved in sugar syrup, and then chopped and used in desserts. The sugar syrup, which absorbs ginger flavor, can be used separately.

    †Among other things, the volatile oils in ginger, gingerols, and shogaols, help with digestion, gas, and cramping; relieve nausea; help to reduce inflammation and fever; help prevent blood clots; make ginger a natural decongestant and antihistamine and may also help lower LDL cholesterol. But that’s no reason to eat lots of cookies!

    ‡In addition, Europeans discovered sugar and coffee in the Middle East, which were then largely foreign commodities, along with rice and varieties of fruits (among other foodstuffs). They also brought back cotton cloth for clothing and sheets, mattresses, glass mirrors, wheelbarrows, and writing paper,all of which helped to improve the standard of living in Europe. Algebra and many other forms of modern math were carried home by the Crusaders, along with the game of chess [source].

    ‡‡There are different types of Lebkuchen. Here’s more about them.





    Special For Thanksgiving: Pecan Pie & Pecan Pie Pizza!

    Pecan Pie Pizza
    [1] The pecan pie pizza and, in the upper left corner, the pecan pie (both photos © American Pecan Council).

    Pecan Pie Pizza
    [2] Close-up on the pecan pizza—so much more nutritious than pepperoni!.


    When we were offered the opportunity to sample a Pecan Pie Pizza…well, of course!

    Introducing the first-ever Pecan PIZZA Pie (at least, it’s the first to our knowledge.

    A savory holiday treat from the American Pecan Promotion Board and Tony Boloney’s, “not your grandpa’s pizza joint,” on the Jersey Shore (and three more New Jersey locations).

    Tony Baloney’s, in New Jersey, is known for out-of-the-box creations (which they ship nationally).

    Here, it re-imagines a pizza with pecans instead of pepperoni, and spicy balsamic glaze instead of fresh arugula or basil.

  • A savory buttermilk pizza crust, a thick bourbon-infused tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fennel-dusted pepperoni-flavored pecan halves are topped with a spicy balsamic Pecan Pie glaze.
  • The glaze, which is added when the pie comes out of the oven, is sweet and spicy, and so good we’d buy a bottle of it—if it were available for separate sale.
  • The crust is specially crimped, in a very attractive way we’ve never seen before. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea.
  • It adds some pecan fun before the pecan pie arrives for Thanksgiving dessert.
    This pure food fun is a great option for the night before Thanksgiving when all of the meal prep leads many people to opt for a no-fuss meal.

    This limited-edition mashup is available exclusively on It will be in stock through the Thanksgiving holiday.

    And there’s more: It arrives with an absolutely wonderful pecan pie for dessert.

    We have to give a special shout-out to the dessert pecan pie. It manages to showcase the pecans perfectly, with a center that’s smooth as silk (not sticky) and just sweet enough (not cloying).

    Both pies arrive frozen. The pizza is ready to bake, and the pecan pie needs only to be defrosted.

    Visit for inspiring pecan recipes.

    A true New Jersey original, Tony Boloney’s serves classic pizzas, but also goes boldly into the new frontier: Taco Pizza and Olé Cheesesteak are “new” classics. Not to mention the Ay Dios Mio, Grumpy Gramps, Jewish Cowboy, K-Pop Mic Drop, Pop Leo X, and much more. the Check out the menu.





    Stocking Stuffers: Blue Diamond Almonds In Snickerdoodle & Peppermint Cocoa

    Thank goodness almonds are good for you, because we haven’t been able to stop snacking on Blue Diamond’s “Naughty & Nice Edition” of flavored almonds.

    This holiday season, Blue Diamond Almonds has launched two limited edition holiday flavors, Snickerdoodle and Peppermint Cocoa (photos #1 and #2).

  • Snickerdoodle Almonds deliver the taste of the popular cinnamon sugar cookie. Heavenly!
  • Peppermint Cocoa Almonds have a light chocolatey flavor with a hint of peppermint. Delightful!
    They’re both naughty (a bit sweet) and nice (all of the healthful goodness of almonds).

    They’re a seasonal snack and a great choice for stocking stuffers, too (SRP $3.49 for a 6-ounce can).

    The lids are blank gift tags, so you can fill in the “To” and “From.”

    These almonds, tinged with sugar (but only 5g for 28 nuts), are delicious:

  • With coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or a glass of milk.
  • On an ice cream sundae or other dessert garnish.
  • Snacking from the can: A one-ounce serving is 28 almonds!
  • Even tossed into a green salad or grain bowl.

    Find them at retailers including Kroger, Walmart, and Whole Foods Markets, and on Amazon, through December 2022.

    You may want to buy extras for sweet-yet-nice snacking into 2023 (the shelf life is through June 2025).
    > The history of almonds (mentioned in the Bible!).

    > The history of cocoa and hot chocolate.

    > The history of snickerdoodle cookies.

    > National Almond Day is February 16th. Celebrate with this Toasted Almond, Orange, and Olive Oil Cake recipe.



    Blue Diamond Almonds in holiday flavors: Snickerdoodle and Peppermint Cocoa.
    [1] Blue Diamond’s holiday-flavored almonds are both naughty and nice (photos © Blue Diamond Almonds).

    Blue Diamond Almonds in holiday flavors: Snickerdoodle and Peppermint Cocoa.
    [2] Eat them from the can, or get fancy and use ramekins.

    Can Of Blue Diamond  Peppermint Cocoa Almonds
    [3] The can lids feature write-in gift labels.




    LUXURY GIFT: Hennessy XO Cognac, Perfection For A Cognac Lover

    Bottle Of Hennessy XO Cognac
    [1] Hennessy XO Cognac, extra-old for the Cognac connoisseur (photo © Icon Icon).

    Bottle Of Hennessy XO Cognac
    [2] The Holiday 2022 gift set (photos #2, #4, #5, and #6 © Maison Hennessy).

    Riedel Cognac Glass
    [3] An improvement over the traditional balloon-shaped Cognac glass, Riedel has worked with wine experts to develop these fluted stems in 24% lead crystal. They are formed to capture, condense, and release the unique undertones of Cognac. The elongated bowl leaves less surface area for evaporation, releasing the delicate aromas (photo © VinePair).

    Bottle of Hennessy XO Cognac in a presentation gift box.
    [4] Year-round, Hennessy XO is sold in luxurious boxes made from heavy, embossed paper and cardboard stock (we repurposed ours to hold greeting cards).

    Copper Stills Distilling Hennessy Cognac
    [5] The huge copper stills at Hennessy.

    Hennessy Cognac Barrels Aging In The Cellar
    [6] Hennesy has the largest number of reserve casks of Cognac in the world, more than 350,000 barrels!

    A portrait of Richard Hennessy, founder of Hennessy Cognac
    [7] Richard Hennessy (photo via Wikipedia).


    There’s Cognac, and there’s Cognac. At the top of any Cognac drinker’s wish list is a bottle of Hennessy XO (Extra Old), now available in a holiday gift set (photo #2).

    For the 2022 holiday season, Hennessy X.O is presented in a bold and stylish package, making the outside of the gift as appealing as the beautiful bottle inside.

    This Limited Edition is in a rose-gold copper metallic gift tin. It comes with a matching copper metallic ice stamp, for embossing the Hennessy logo in your ice cubes. (Embossed ice cubes are a swanky restaurant trend.)

    Everything else aside, the flavor of this beautiful amber liquid is a rare treat, deep and powerful. One sip leaves you contemplating the aroma, the nuances on your palate, and the exquisite finish‡.

    Hennessy X.O Cognac is aged in young barrels‡‡ that help to create its luscious roundness. It’s a dream gift for a Cognac lover, perfected over 150 years by the Hennessy family and meant to be enjoyed on special occasions.

    Richly complex, with layers of fruit, spice, and chocolate**, it is a blend of 100 aged eaux-de-vie* from the Grande and Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois regions [source].

    Hennessy X.O is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

    The suggested retail price is $255. It will be at retailers in December.

    > What is Cognac.

    > The different expressions (varieties) of Cognac.

    > The history of Cognac.

    > The history of Maison Hennessy is below.

    > Discover more on the Hennessy website.

    > Why do we capitalize Cognac? Because it’s a proper noun, the name of a city (like Paris or Chicago).

    > National Cognac Day is June 4th.

    Let’s go back to the very beginning of XO Cognac.

    In 1870, founder Richard Hennessy’s grandson Maurice created Hennessy XO for his family and friends. It was a new style of Cognac to be appreciated by connoisseurs: more bold, rich, and complex than his “house” Cognac.

    Yes, Hennessy X.O is the original XO Cognac, Maurice, and his master blender (also known as the cellar master). The style was emulated by other Cognac houses. XO became the “gold standard” by which Cognac houses are typically judged.

    XO, “Extra Old” describes a Cognac made with eaux-de-vie* that have been aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 10 years†. Hennessy XO is made from eaux-de-vie that are 15 and 20 years old (sometimes older, per the selection of the master blender).

    By comparison, the law requires that VS Cognac (Very Special) be aged for a minimum of two years, and VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) be aged for a minimum of four.

    However, most Cognacs are aged longer than the law specifies, depending on the palate of the master blender of each individual producer.

    Most Cognacs are a blend of eaux de vie, the oldest of which can be decades old. (Most houses still have barrels of Cognac dating back to the 19th century sitting in their cellars waiting for fine blending by the cellar master [source].

    Each producer determines the “added age” beyond that required by law.

    VS and VSOP are great “starter Cognacs,” and a VSOP is often the “house Cognac” of many people.

    But they can’t touch the silky smoothness and complexity of XO.

    And by the way, all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac. Brandy can be made anywhere in the world; Cognac is a protected name (PDO) that can only be made in the environs of the city of Cognac.

    Why does a French product like Cognac use English terms like “Very Special” and “Extra Old?” In the early days of Cognac production, the British were the main consumers and also became some of the main producers of Cognac, using techniques they acquired from the distillation of Scotch whisky.

    In the 18th century, an Irish Jacobite officer in the service of King Louis XV of France, Richard Hennessy (1724–1800), retired from the army to begin the next phase of his life.

    He traveled to the Charente (a department in southwestern France) and the town of Cognac, which had developed as a center for the production of wine and brandy. He began training as a merchant.

    In 1765 he founded his own distillery and began distilling and exporting brandies, first to Great Britain and his native Ireland, closely followed by the U.S. His army connections led to the arrival of his Cognac in the French court.

    Hennessy became the world’s leading exporter of brandy in the 1840s, a status it has never lost [source]. By 1860, it produced one out of every four bottles of Cognac sold internationally.

    Hennessy also created several of the conventions now used across the Cognac industry.

  • It was one of the first marques (brands) to sell bottles rather than casks of Cognac.
  • It was the first Cognac house to use star ratings, and the gradings VSOP and XO.
    The VSOP designation was created in 1817 when the Prince Regent (later King George IV) of Great Britain asked Hennessy to create a “very superior old pale” Cognac, a description that had previously been applied to sherries.

    Skipping ahead to the present: In 1971 Hennessy merged with Moët et Chandon, to create Moët Hennessy, followed by the 1987 merger of Moët Hennessy with Louis Vuitton, creating the world’s largest luxury brand conglomerate: Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy, or LVMH.

    Today it is co-owned by LVMH (66%) and Diageo (34%).

    Yet, Maison Hennessy remains a family-run distillery, passed on from generation to generation for 257 years.
    *Eau-de-vie (oh duh VEE) means “water of life”; the plural is eaux de vie. It is a French term for either:

    (1) Brandies made from a fruit other than grapes (e.g. Poire William (pear), Framboise (raspberry), Kirsch (cherry), and Slivovitz (Central and Eastern European plum brandy). Eau de vie distilled from apples is called apple brandy; Calvados is an apple brandy made in the Normandy region of France.

    (2) The term “eau de vie” is also used (confusingly) for young brandy made from grapes, that will become Cognac and Armagnac once it has matured.

    **If you’re a super-taster, you’ll find woody (oaky), spicy, and leather aromas, with spice, toffee, chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit (figs, prunes) on the palate.

    †In 2018, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) increased the minimum XO Cognac age for the youngest eau-de-vie from six to ten years, in an effort to improve the quality of the spirit across all brands [source].

    ‡Finish is wine terminology for aftertaste, the flavors that linger on your palate after the beverage or food has been consumed.

    ‡‡The wood of young barrels delivers more mellowness to the spirit and adds nut-like tones. Barrels that have been re-used many times and no longer have any flavor to give.





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