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Posts from the ‘Beverages’ Category

A Toast to 2012! (and a happy new year!)


I’m sneaking in one last post of 2012!  There is too much to reflect on here in this moment, but for the next few hours, I am celebrating all of what 2012 had to offer…and truly looking forward to an amazing 2013!

Let’s be honest, this particular evening…there is a good chance you have a drink in your hand and you are surrounded by friends and family.  Of course we will be popping a bottle of bubbly at midnight, but we are starting off the evening with one as well, accompanied by some Homemade Cranberry Vodka!

This process began about a month ago, with no recipe but a lot of internet research and it is very simple.

Housemade Cranberry Infused Vodka

1.  Buy cheap vodka.  (seriously, no need to buy the good stuff…the flavors you’ll infuse it with make up for any harshness straight out of the bottle)

2.  Use the extra bags of cranberries you had leftover from an overly ambitious thanksgiving.

3.  Pick through the cranberries to remove any that are soft or squishy and rinse them well.

4.  Toss them in a ziplock bag and use something heavy to smash them and pop them open.  I didn’t bother making sure that every single one had popped.  I gave it a good couple whacks, shook the bag around and whacked them a few more times.

5.  Using a funnel, or parchment rolled into a cone, put all the smushed cranberries into a clean, washed out, old juice bottle.

6.  Pour vodka in the bottle all the way to the top.  Now stash it away in a cool and dark(ish) location.  Shake the bottle at least once a day for the first week or so and then leave to steep for at least 3 weeks.

7.  Once the vodka has turned a deep red color, strain out all the cranberries and any small pieces…cheesecloth or a coffee filter work very well…and pour into a clean bottles, mason jars, etc.  The vodka should keep very well, especially in the freezer.

Now it’s time for the exciting part!

I haven’t settled on an official title for this drink…perhaps a New Year’s Sunset?  I’m open to thoughts and ideas!

Pour 1 oz. of cranberry vodka into the bottom of a flute.

Add in one dropper full of bitters.  We’re currently using Urban Moonshine Citrus Bitters, which was a gift from my brother’s in-laws a year or so ago.

Next…pop the champagne…which was actually a Cava from Trader Joe’s.  There are plenty of reviews out there…and they all say the same thing…a very good bubbly for the price-point.  In fact, the Carte Noire M. Chevalier Brut was recommended to me by a nice older gentleman in the aisle of TJ’s while searching for a decent bubbly for a party that wouldn’t break the bank.  He told a long story of a blind tasting, where everyone settled on this one as their favorite of the evening and were truly shocked when they revealed the bottle and saw the price of $6 a bottle!

Top with Cava and just a dash of simple syrup to even out the tannins in the cranberries.

Put a little twist of citrus on the rim of the glass and you are ready to start the celebrations!

Christmas Eve we created another festive cocktail with our homemade cranberry vodka.

Cranberry Pimm’s Cup
(for 2 short drinks)

2 oz. housemade cranberry vodka
1 oz. Pimm’s #1 Cup
1 dropper full of Urban Moonshine Citrus Bitters
2-3 oz. of Sprite

Shake over ice and pour into two martini glasses!

Cheers to 2012!

Ready or not…Here comes 2013!

(please celebrate safely!)

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie


For many years there was truly only one smoothie that I could get behind.  Strawberry banana.  Period.  Tropical flavors aren’t really my thing; mentioning a juice-fast in my kitchen may as well be a punishable offense; and (surprise, surprise…) I’m a bit picky when it comes to fruit on my plate or in my glass.  However, I have broadened my smoothie horizons as of late, learning to love a non-berry-banana concoction.

Only 5 ingredients and poof…you have a delicious and filling breakfast.  I start with the banana…just peel and dump it into the blender.  Next, I add a large spoonful of peanut butter.  We happen to use creamy, but since you’re blending, the crunchy kind would work fine.  Next, I pour in a 3-4 tbsp.’s of almond milk and then somewhere between ½ to 1 cup of whole milk.  (I always start with less and add more if it is too thick.)

Top with a handful or scoop of ice, again, you can always add a little more later.  Blend away until it is smooth and creamy.

You want it to be thick without being icy but still thin enough that you can suck it through a straw with no problem!  When making this for two, I start with 2 whole bananas and then guess on the amounts of everything else.  With the temps being so high lately, this is a great cool way to start the morning.

What’s been your favorite smoothie recipe this summer?  What recipes do you use to help beat the heat?

Bastille Day & a Little Liberté


Que faites-vous La Fête National? 

Although we were a day late in celebrations…we imbibed with France in mind.  Enter the Lillet-based Liberté cocktailWe’ve been inspired to purchase some eccentric liquors lately (and by we…I mean, the husband!) and have been mixing many a summer cocktail.  Bastille Day or the day the French stormed the Bastille prison and sparked the French Revolution seemed reason enough to celebrate! Recipe courtesy of The Kitchn.

Lillet is an aperitif wine containing 85% Bordeaux wines and 15% macerated liquors.  It is also considered a tonic wine as it does contain quinine from one of the liquors included in the blend.  It has strong citrus  and floral notes!

Liberté Cocktail (by Nicole Cloutier and Jacqueline Patterson for Lillet, used with permission)
makes one cocktail

3 ounces Lillet Blanc
1 ounce Hendrick’s gin
2 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters (we used Urban Moonshine’s Organic Citrus Bitters)
garnish: orange peel

Stir ingredients together with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of orange peel, twisted over the drink to release its essential oils.  (No oranges on hand, but thank goodness we have a Meyer lemon tree…the peel worked perfectly!)

We served our early summer evening cocktails with smoked salmon and caper spread from our favorite South Pas restaurant and market.

C’est Parfait!

Black IPA and Heirloom Salsa


The month of May makes me think of sitting outdoors, enjoying the lingering light of the still somewhat cool evenings, having a beer and noshing on some chips and salsa.  What better way to do all of this than with a delicious Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale and some homemade chips and heirloom tomato salsa from one of our favorites…Cacao Mexicatessen in Eagle Rock.

The word salsa almost lacks any kind of specificity…it can mean anything.  This is a perfect variation of unadulterated flavors.  Heirloom tomatoes, cilantro, diced onions peppers.  A little heat, but mostly crisp and fresh tastes of summer!

Beer.  I’m partial to IPA.  I like me some hops.  This takes me overboard.  It’s black as night without any hint of chewyness, it’s hoppy and oh so good!  It might just be my favorite beer of the moment.  It has the right match of malt and hops, along with some noticeably different floral notes.

It’s not for the faint of heart…as the alcohol is 8.7%.  An added benefit, we can find it on draught at Lucky’s up the street.

What dishes make your feel like summer has arrived?

We’ve met someone new…Hello Moccamaster!


Dear Krups coffeemaker – we’ve enjoyed a relationship with you for the last few years, but lately, you’ve been disappointing us.  You always did know exactly when to start brewing our morning cup with your timer, but sometimes the coffee just wasn’t right.  It’s not that you weren’t trying.  Sometimes, it might have even been our fault…for not getting the right coffee, or grinding the beans perfectly.  You probably noticed that we weren’t using you as often, and that we frequently slipped out a few minutes early to make sure we had time to fill our travel mug with brew from a shop along the way to work.  It wasn’t really cheating…we just had needs, and you weren’t fulfilling them.  Don’t worry, we’ll still see you occasionally…we’ll stash you away in the garage, maybe invite you to a brunch or a dinner party every so often…or if we have houseguests…we’ll make a space for you on the counter.  But, we’ve found a new love.  The Technivorm Moccamaster with a thermal carafe.  Krups, it’s over.  We’re dating Moccamaster now and there just isn’t room for you both!

“The brewing quality of our coffee makers is beyond dispute and guaranty a first class beverage due to the fact that brewing temperature and water/coffee contact time as well as holding temperature are in accordance with the critical requirements of the European Coffee Brewing Centre and the Specialty Coffee Association of America and Europe.”           – From the Technivorm website

We first learned about the Technivorm from Woody’s Dad – and we were not disappointed with our first brew this morning.  All the good of coffee without any of the bad – no worries about bitterness, harsh or burned flavors.  Just a delicious, perfectly balanced cup of coffee.

The entire contraption can be taken apart piece by piece, and is incredibly simple in design.  We opted for the thermal carafe, as additional heating can change the taste of coffee…and it comes with a completely sealable lid, which means we could take the coffee with us…I don’t know where exactly we’d take it…but it is an option!

The water is heated to between 195º to 205º fahrenheit, and then carried in the metal spray arm to even wet the grinds and slowly soak through them and drip into the carafe.  There is a cover, but you can monkey with the grinds (as Woody is doing) and stir them a bit.  Another feature is the ability to shut off the drip valve and let the grinds soak a bit…so you can also pour a cup with the brew process being complete.

The lid on the carafe also allows you to pour through it.  We doctored up the coffee and enjoyed the best cup we’ve had in quite a while.  I snatched up some locally roasted coffee for the inaugural brew from Jones Coffee Roasters.

And then we sat down to enjoy our mugs!

Beer Review: Stone Vertical Epic


Epic Fail:  Drinking this shortly after purchasing it.  Potential epic win – what it could have tasted like if we had waited until December of 2012.

So the original idea was bottle conditioned ale, 1 batch made per year with each successive batch made 1 year, 1 month, and 1 day after the previous beer.

All of them designed to be enjoyed sometime after December 12, 2012.  This ale is also brewed with Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes as well as Chamomile.

We weren’t sure what to expect…the beer was incredibly floral, very acidic with absolutely no hop…which, to be totally transparent…is frequently what I enjoy in beers.  The hoppier the better!  Woody’s comments included sweet notes, and a bit soft.  It’s hard to imagine that after another two years of bottle conditioning that the beer would sharpen up.

Ultimately, this was not my favorite beer, but I do love me some Stone Brewery though…and I’ll continue to try anything new we see on the shelves and support the little guys!

 

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