Cleaning out the fridge.

It’s Sunday night and I’m cleaning out my fridge.  I have a peach that is  wrinkled and shriveled. I have a half eaten grapefruit from breakfast. Some raspberries that will probably be moldy tomorrow. All safely edible but not glamourous. I have some shady sparkling red wine I got “talked’ into by a wine rep.   Mad men is on tonight. I will want a cocktail in my hand while waiting for Don to find happiness. We are addicted to this show.  I crack up everytime my husband looks at me with a  straight face and says. “Tonight Don will be happy right?”   A Vodka tonic is a bit much for a Sunday night. Sangria it will be.

1 Bottle of barefoot bubbly summer red wine.

1 can le croix orange

1 shriveled peach

1/2 grapefruit sections peeled

1/2 pint of raspberries.

2 shots cherry vodka

2 shots of Cointreau or other orange liquor

2 shots of raspberry shrub. ( I am freezing the rest of this into ice cubes)

Muddle your fruit in the vodka and Cointreau.

barefoot wine

 

Add wine, La croix and shrub. Add Ice.  Pour and serve.

If you don’t have the shrub you will need to add lemons. This was really sweet before the acid of the shrub.

Next post will be basics for stocking your bar.

 

What to do with the shrub.

Here is the “shrub”

In Colonial times, if you needed a refreshing beverage you would add some of this type of concoction to your water. Think of it as old school Mio water.  Water use to be unfiltered from the well.  I am sure the 2 cups of vinegar really “freshened ” things up. Now days  our tastes run much sweeter, except for those who like kombucha. UGH!  Remember I doctored the recipe in the last post because the original was so bitter.

This week we will have Three ways to use this shrub. People keep asking me for an non-alcoholic  beverage. This first use will be for you.

The cooler shrub.

.7up shrub

One shot of raspberry shrub

One can of 7up  ( I use diet)

Pour over ice. Stir. Serve.

Second way,

Martini style.

shrub martini

One shot Shrub

One shot Cherry vodka

Two shots 7 up

a few mint leaves.

Place all of the above into a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake. Shake. Shake. Pour into iced glass.

Third way,

Raspberry Margarita.

Raspberry Margarita

This is a bit of a cheat. I used Trader Joe’s  Margarita mix with tequila in it.

One shot of shrub

Glass full of margaritas.

Pour shrub over chopped ice. Pour Margarita Mix over. Garnish,

My spouse really loved the margarita version.

Being married to Drinkswithdana does have it’s benefits.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

Safe or Shrubs?

“What you would do if you did not have fear?”

This saying always intrigues me.  In my forties fear  means risk.   I have worked very hard to have a stable safe happy home.  I have not only seen the consequences of life but I have lived them. Enough things have happened that I live in “fear”. Fear that my happy little world could be jeopardized. When you are in your forties, you know someone who has battled cancer, lost a parent, sadly even lost a child. You may have had a spouse lose a job. You have felt pain and hardships. Longer and more intense than our younger days. There is much more at stake now. All of these things keep us from putting ourselves out there more. We aren’t taking risks. We see the potholes before they even form. We talk ourselves out of the bumpier road.  Does it make us more safe? Or are we just safe? Are we missing out from not trying new things? Are we breathing the same stale air in our bubble?

If we don’t open ourselves up to new experiences, will we ever have a breath of fresh air?  I am guilty. I am the first to judge a situation. I see the potholes. I see all the reasons why something could go wrong.  But I am mindfully trying to squash that voice. I am taking risks. They are small. I taught myself a type of photoshop because I was too lazy to iron a tablecloth for a photo in this blog.  It would have been much faster to iron, but I am stepping out of my box. I am making myself less safe by allowing myself to possibly fail.

So this weeks infusion is an old recipe from the 1800’s.  A dear friend of mine send me this great book suggestion.                                    How’s your Drink by Eric Felten.     It is the history of cocktails and has some really interesting recipes. This recipe I prejudged.  (Vinegar YUCK)  But I made it anyway.

1 cup Water

1 cup  Sugar

2 pints of raspberries or blueberries.

Combine in pot on stove top. Cook 10 mins. Mash up berries as you cook.

2 cups white vinegar, ( see how I put that later so you wouldn’t prejudge )

Add vinegar. Bring to a boil.  Strain and put in sealed container. Keep in refrigerator. The colonials added all the vinegar so it would stay good without the refrigerator,

Strain out theseeds
Strain out the seeds.

Honestly this shrub was horrible.  I don’t let horrible or mistakes stop me so I made a new improved  recipe.

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 pint of raspberries

5 Black peppercorns

2 tbsp red wine vinegar.

Bring the the first 5 ingredients to a boil. Add vinegar cook for 10 more mins. Cool strain and keep in refrigerator.

Raspberry shrub

Put yourself out there. Drive a different route, vary your normal routine. Brush your teeth with your opposite hand. Doesn’t have to be earth shattering, just mix it up. And if it’s horrible, try something else.

Friday we use this in our drinks.

 

 

 

 

Grapefruit Basil Bliss

 

It’s recipie day.  Are you excited to use the basil vodka in your fridge?

Grapefruit Basil Bliss

 

grapefruitbliss

1.5 shots Basil Vodka infusion. ( I tend to pour strong.  It’s good with  just 1 shot.)

4 sections of peeled grapefruit.

1 can of Fresca.

Crushed ice.

Peeled grapefruit sections
Peeled grapefruit sections

Place peeled grapefruit sections into glass. Pour basil vodka over fruit. Muddle. Cover  with crushed ice. Top off with Fresca..

Straw and extra piece of basil optional..

Enjoy

 

Vodka Infused Basil/ Surprised by the sweetness

IMG_2173[1]

One half cup Vodka.  6 large  clean Basil Leaves.  Let soak for 2 days minimum. 4 days Max. Give it a taste after the first day. Just a fingertip taste.  You will be surprised by the sweetness.

 

I have been thinking a lot about happiness lately.   Why?? I have been unusually happy for the past year.

For decades I searched and hunted for happiness. Looked to other people for my fix . I would make deals. Once I  do this and this, then I will be happy.    I was  wrapped up in  the idea of happiness. I was so busy trying to make it happen. Too stressed  by it all to feel anything but the disappointment of not being “happy”.

Strange thing was I was so busy trying to be happy, I didn’t realize that it was right there the whole time. Happiness comes down to the  “now.” It is inside of this specific moment. You just need to look. The five minute snuggle in the morning.  Hearing your child’s day was “fine”( Kid is in middle school . Fine is a huge descriptor. ) After weeks of trying, getting the step right in my Zumba class. The routine of a Sunday night, family curled up  watching  Mythbusters, eating chinese food. Fighting over the last crab rangoon. These are the moments of my happiness. They are not big moments. Not like the first step or first words. These are the little moments that will be my fondest memories.

Slow down and take time to look at the beauty that surrounds you. Take a deep breath and listen to the giggles of your kids , goofy things done by your spouse and pets.  We get caught up in all of the noise of the world. The tweets, the emails, the immediate influx of so much data.  Everything is BIG BIG BIG. We forget to  really look. We forget to  really listen. I mindfully decided to value the time I have. To value the people I am with in that moment. To stop worrying about where I should be. What I should be doing and just breathe in the moment.  Be in the here and now. I was strangely surprised by the sweetness of the moments around me.  I choose to savor the moments. Relish all the little things. So yes, I am simply happy.

Enjoy your happiness. Wherever  you may find it.

Plant your basil this week .  Grab a pot of mint as well.   Your world is full of smiles.

 

 

Stormy Weather the drink.

Someone left a box of blueberry tea at my house.

blueberry tea

Who?? I have my guesses but I have been trying to pawn a cup or two off to anyone who  comes to  visit my home. There are still 10 tea bags. If you live close by I will gladly give you one. Heck the first 10 people to comment I will send you your very own tea bag. Todays blog is a peek behind the curtain, letting you see the madness behind the method.

Everytime I open the cabinet  I see these teabags. A normal person would just throw them away. Not me, I was determined  to find a way to use them.  I made myself a cup. It’s good but I am not feeling warm tea. I stick it in the fridge and walk away.  Look in the fridge later to find a snack for the kid.  I see the tea is still sitting there waiting. I pour a shot of tea out into a glass and think Oranges. So I add a shot of blue curacao to it.  Hmm. Better. But not done.  It needed a little spice. Ginger would be too powerful.  My herbs in the pots are too little to start cutting.  hmm. What to add? What to add?

GIN!!!! I am not a huge fan of gin. I find the juniper can be very overwhelming but I think let’s give it a try.   Balanced taste but  oofta pretty strong. I need a mixer.  I open the fridge and I have a orange bottle of flavored water.  I pour some in , give it a taste. HUH!!!  It’s peach flavored. not what I expected but actually pretty good. I have a peach in my fridge. I will steal a slice and feed the kid the rest.

Now I have to test it. I call my neighbor over  make one for her.  I have her try it as a martini and as a tall.  Leave the picture perfect martini in the fridge for hubby. They both have very different palates and not huge gin fans so  they are my guinea pigs. Thumbs up!!  We have a drink.

Now the Recipe.   It seems so simple once you write it down without all the backstory.

Stormy Weather.

Stormy weather Martini

Stormy weather Martini

1 Blueberry  flavored Tea bag.

1 Cup of boiling water.

1 shot of blue curacao.

1 shot of gin

2 shots of peach  flavored sparkling water.

Blueberries and a slice of peach.

Add 1 cup of boiling water and  blueberry tea bag. Let steep 2 mins.   let sit in fridge or freezer until cold. Add  1 shot of tea 1 shot of Gin. Slowly pour 1 shot of blue curacao into glass. It will sink to the bottom. Pour in 2 shots of  cold peach flavored water.   Garnish with fruit.

 

If you want to make this a tall drink and not a martini, Add  seltzer water  or Orange Le croix and lots of crushed ice.

IMG_2171[1]

I would pair this with  goat cheese on cucumbers or a stilton and crackers.   I’ll try for appetizer photos next week.

Enjoy.

 

 

Stormy Weather Gardening.

 

No I didn’t take the above picture. I found it on a Canadian Science blog.  I do more than just make drinks  🙂    Sadly, I was not able to find the photographer to give credit.

This week has been the week of super storms. I have been lucky enough to just have plain ol’ thunder and lighting and a little hail. My thoughts and best wishes go out to all of the people who have suffered and luckily survived the storms.

It is pretty dreary here when I look out my window. Grey skies, muggy dampness. I really want to crawl into bed and watch shows on Hulu. But no,  I think if I go to the plant nursery I can talk to all the  people who work there.  (Of course this is the moment the Hail starts)  I decide to quickly assemble dinner.

Rainboots on . Check.   Off I go.

My main reason for growing herbs is that I like to have interesting fresh things around when I create my drinks.  I love being able to wander out my door and cut a few stalks and muddle them or soak them in a liquor to get the flavors out. So if you want to follow and plant along I hope this to be an guide.  It will make it easier to make my drinks if you have the same basics growing around as well.

I didn’t find all the plants I was looking for.  I am still on the hunt for a lemongrass and a lemon verbena. I learned at the nursery that this spring  the plants are a month behind where they normally are. So there is still plenty of time for you to get your herbs in the dirt.

I like to plant on rainy days. I figure the cooler weather keeps the plants from going through shock and I don’t have to water for a few days.   Here are the new additions  to my pots.

English thyme
English thyme

Thyme. I  normally use this on  roast chicken and in stews but I have great hopes for it in cocktails this summer.

Sweet Basil and Spicy Basil
Sweet Basil and Spicy Basil

I also picked up 2 types of Basil. The sweet basil is great for pesto and fresh mozzarella and tomatoes.  The Spicy  Basil isn’t spicy but a more intense basil flavor.  It has a woodier stem,  I think it will be hardier outside. I haven’t grown it before  so I am curious to see what my preference will be. Side note: See how the Sage in the picture is coming back? The stems are purple and green leaves are forming.. YEA!!

Sweet mint and spearmint.
Sweet mint and spearmint.

The spearmint is sweeter and sharper than the sweet mint. We will have to  experiment to see how much of a difference  there is when we make a drink.  Soon as the rain stops. I need to spray paint my pots again. They were a plain brown and that was too boring so one can of silver  spray paint later. Ta da  beauty.. This pot has sat outside  for 2 years. The paint lasts awhile.

Get your hands dirty planting!! Great things will grow.

keep an eye out for Stormy weather the drink!!

 

 

 

 

Spring in your step

Spring is here. The daffodils are blooming. My tulips are fighting their way out of the damp dark earth.  I  am turning my face into the sun any chance I can get.   Spring is the time I start my garden. I have a tiny little patch of dirt next to the driveway and 4 planter pots. I kiss my manicure goodbye and dig dig dig.

I go to Home Depot to buy most of my plants. I grow my herbs in pots. I plant Sage, Rosemary and Basil in one.

This is Rosemary and sage. The sage is from last year. It looks dead but will be green and beautiful in 2 weeks.
This is Rosemary and sage. The sage is from last year. It looks dead but will be green and beautiful in 2 weeks.

I put Mint in a second pot. You can never have enough mint. Especially for summertime cocktails. I have tried other varieties of mint, such as; Chocolate mint, Grapefruit mint Peppermint. I haven’t found them to add any extra excitement to the drinks.

This is sweet mint. It will fill the pot come back every year

This is sweet mint. It will fill the pot come back every year

Lavender. This is going to be my summer to see if I like lavender in my cocktails. I keep seeing drinks on pinterest so my curiosity is peaked.  If I hate it, I will make panty drawer sachets for everyone. 🙂

IMG_2135[1]

Lavender.

This weeks drink started out as a sangria with Apples and Pears. My kid ate the pear. I am too lazy to go to the store for one pear. It also has a moscato wine. I didn’t have a bottle of that in my wine drawer so I am making  an Orange ginger sangria. Life is always evolving. Don’t stress just go with the flow and mix it up.

Orange ginger Sangria

Orange Ginger Sangria
Orange Ginger Sangria

1 bottle of riesling wine.

1/3 cup of ginger infused vodka ( see below for recipe)

1/4 cup triple sec.

1 thinly sliced orange

1  thinly sliced  granny smith apple ( or whatever you have)

1 can of diet or reg ginger ale.

Mix first 5 ingredients into a pitcher. let sit for  an hour or two.  ( more doesn’t hurt but overnight gives you mushy apples)

Add can of ginger ale  to the pitcher right before serving. Serve over ice.

Ginger Vodka
Peel  one chunk of ginger the size of your thumb. Slice it thin. Soak in 1/3 c of plain vodka over night. Strain.

Update:  For reason I had  a 2/3rd cup of this left over. I poured it over shrimp and used it as a marinade..  Then popped the shrimp on the grill.  Amazing marriage of flavors. YUM!!

 

Black and Blue

Black and Blue

It’s only been one year since the cowardly teens bombed the Boston Marathon.  I remember my horror watching the news unfold. I lived in Boston three  years ago and worked right off Boylston street.  That street was my old stomping ground.   I watched the hunt. I felt the fears of those who lived in that area.

I was so proud to see all the victory stories. Those great service men who brought milk to the families with kids.    For all of the pain I felt, I felt pride in the people who made it better.   I ended up going back to Boston  a week  after the attack. I saw the closed streets. I saw a man in a suit stand on the curb with tears running down his face.  I had a very heavy heart for the people of Boston. Yet, I felt the spirit of the people I had met when I was there.

I am not one to dwell on the bad things that happen in life. I believe you need to learn from the experience. I also feel that there is  inner strength to be discovered in difficult times.  When I got off the airport I saw all the buses with the message  Boston Strong  across the banner.  A stranger on the T asked me where I was the week  before. I told him I was in Chicago getting ready to  go coach a Girls on the Run meeting.   I told him how challenging it was to explain such a thing to my daughter.   He said he was lucky he didn’t know anyone injured , but it took him hours to get home out of the city. I was still in shock. How did this happen to a place I considered home? The outrage of my old stomping grounds being defiled.   But yet, I was blessed enough to be on my way for a job interview in the city I had come to consider home.

When I lived in Boston I lived right on the marathon route between the 23rd and the 24th mile.  The first year, I walked down to Beacon street  to watch the Runners,  I  was unsure and it was a new environment. I had a 4 yr old in tow.  I met my neighbor who lived above me. He was a russian emigre who had watched this race from the same spot for the past 28 years. He was so proud to be so close to this great American tradition.  He and I and my daughter stood together with the hundreds of other folks and watched the wheelchairs, then the runners.  I didn’t comprehend what 26+ miles really entailed.  The commitment to training your body and your mind.

I watched from the same spot over the next couple of years.  I had the opportunity to see the  situation  from anothers perspective. This time  I had a  born and bred texan with me.  I  learned to set up chairs. Had  a morning cocktail with the rest of the crowd. I think we had hot grilled cheese and gin and tonics. (  The texans idea of Miller lite did not seem to fit. )  Imagine a polite not too raucous tailgate party, that was the  mood  for the crowd at our mile marker spot. I was so proud to show this part of Boston to a Texan. I loved my corner. I loved the people. I could never imagine that something catastrophic could happen 3 miles down.

A mom in Em’s old class had the most amazing story about her husband and her child missing the bombing by a few minutes.

http://graceywatson.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/guest-post-a-boston-marathon-memoir-by-my-daughter/

 

How does all of this apply to Black and Blue?

Black and Blue is one of my favorite beers.  After the bombing I felt Black and Blue. I couldn’t wrap my head around how it all could have happened.   When I went back the week after, my favorite bar was still closed from the blast. The Pour House on Boylston  was  and is my favorite bar. I would have one on one’s with my staff there. We would walk across the street from our store.  I would buy a round for us and a side of chicken wings. The thai peanut were my favorite.  The Pour House is a very colorful place. The dwellers there are either in business casual preppies or tattooed and pierced leather wearing folk. Loud music and a  roll of paper towels on the table kind of place.  I learned so much from every person I met there.  For many of them it was their first Black and Blue.  I raise my glass to them and to the citizens of Boston.  The horrors of last year have left many Black and Blue , but the bruises and hurt will fade.


 

Black and Blue

 

1 Glass

1spoon

1 Guinness

1 Blue Moon.

Pour Blue moon into glass. A quick pour. You want a little bit of a head on this part of the beer. Take a spoon turn so rounded side it up pour Guinness slowly on top of spoon and over beer. A nice layer will occur.

Enjoy.

 

Lime shortage.. How will we survive?

images             I am worried.

This is the year of the dreaded lime shortage.  This will put a cramp in my margarita consumption.  I can’t imagine putting a lemon in a Corona. What is a gal to do?

One of my most memorable stories involving limes was a  work trip to Hawaii in the late 90’s.   I was young ,on a budget and staying a few extra days. I knew I couldn’t afford to have the amount of cocktails a twenty something year old would need. I decided the easiest drink to bring with me was the Fresca splash.  I packed a 12 pack of fresca, a bottle of tequila and 6 limes. Again this was 1990 something and you could bring these things in a carry on.  I threw a few post event cocktails party in my room. Price of admission, something to contribute. Either a snack or some other type of mixer.  It was a really big bottle of tequila.

My attorney says I need to put this disclaimer in case of this blog getting popular and some government agency tries to fine me $50,000 for bringing in unclaimed produce.    ” I cannot clearly remember that there were actually limes.”

So let’s for the sake of arguments say there was a bottle of maraschino cherries.

Hey look at that!!!    One lime associated memory, the fear of being fined and look I solved  our lime crisis for at least one drink..

 


photo (5)

What you need.

1 can of Fresca.

1-2 shots of tequila  ( don’t skimp on the quality it will bite you later)

One lime

A jar of maraschino cherries.

Use a tall glass filled with ice. Pour your tequila over the ice.  Squeeze your quarter lime over it. Toss the piece of lime  Maraschino cherry  into the glass. Pour a little extra of the juice into the glass. Top off with Fresca.  Stir with a stirrer or I found a Twizzler ( red liquorice)  and stirred with that and left in for garnish. You can also cut the ends off and drink use the liquorice as a straw.

Necessity is the mother of all inventions. I will continue to monitor the status of limes. I am thinking of inventing a fresh strawberry lemon margarita type drink tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it turned  out.

 

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