It's still darn hot here in Colorado so martinis still feel like the perfect summer sip. In our door-to-door organics box last week we got some yummy pears, and since pears pair so well with cardamom, this martini was born!
This one took a little more preparation, since I needed to make a pear puree. Enter the NutriBullet. Love that thing. We got it free from some neighbors who were moving to Spain and wanted to get rid of just about everything. I happily took it off their hands and can honestly say we use it just about every day!
To make the pear puree
Peel and core one pear (I used a ripe Barlett). Roughly chop and drop into your blender. Add about 1/4 cup water and puree. Add one drop of Cardamom essential oil, more to taste.
How do you like your pears? Comment and share below!!
I love a good chai. There is something about the smooth, creamy, spicy, earthy goodness that soothes my soul. I've had many different varieties and brands in my 37 (sigh) years, but I most recently tried Zhena's Coconut Chai. I mean really, chai and coconut? Two of my favorite things brought together! Why didn't I think of that myself??
Since I've been experimenting with tea-tinis, I thought why not try it with this tea. But unfortunately, it didn't pack the spicy punch I was after. The first chai-tea-tini was a bit flat. So, I went back to the Maharani simple syrup I posted about back in February. That cocktail took a different spin, using rum and fresh lime juice. This one uses that same simple syrup, but the end result is utterly different. If you like creamy desserts and after-dinner cocktails that taste like dessert, this one's for you!
To make the syrup
It's time for another tea-based cocktail! If you liked my Earl Grey cocktail, you're gonna love this one.
Spiced orange tea simple syrup
Really, doesn't that just sounds delicious? In our neighborhood there are loads of lilacs blooming. It seems every other house has big bushes of dark purple, violet, or pink-tinged lilacs. The smell wafts through the windows now and then, and I just soak it up because...
we do not have any lilac bushes
I wish we did. Maybe we will at some point. Here we have to go through submitting plans to an HOA in order to make landscaping changes. That's a whole new ballgame for us. In the meantime, I think we will just enjoy everyone else's lilac bushes...and ask our neighbors for blooms to make martinis!
Fortunately, our neighbors and neighborhood in general are very kind and generous folks. So, when I asked on the neighborhood Facebook page if anyone was willing to share, they were. We packed up the kids and took a evening walk to Andrea's house, whom we didn't know before the conception of a lilac lemon martini, but you never know how someone will come into your life, right? She picked a generous handful of blooms and I invited her over for drinks :)
Now, the secret to this martini is all in the Lilac simple syrup. It's really easy to make, it just takes time. The first thing you want to do is deflower your blooms. Lilac flowers are pretty easy to remove, just be mindful to avoid adding in the tiny green stems. They can affect the flavor of your syrup. Once the flowers are ready, use a mesh strainer to rinse them. You never know what critters you've brought along or what else might be on them. Once they are rinsed and ready, start your simple syrup.
Now, a simple syrup really is simple. It's just a one-to-one ratio of sugar to water. I went a little lighter on the sugar on this one, since I don't tend to like a really sweet drink. Instead, I used 1/2 cup sugar to 1 cup water. Bring that to a boil to dissolve your sugar, then add your flowers. Let it boil for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and let the pot sit...
a good 8 hours! This will allow the full flavor of the lilacs to infuse into your simple syrup and give it an amazing scent, flavor and color. Then you want to strain the syrup from the flowers. I'm pretty sure those sugar flowers, which still smelled great, could be used for something. At this moment, they are in the fridge awaiting inspiration!
It looks violet, doesn't it? But in person, it has a greenish tinge to it. You can keep a simple syrup in the fridge for a few weeks in a sealed container, which is why I got these bottles. That way I can try out all kinds of new creations!
At this point, you can add a few drops of Lemon essential oil, or you can wait until you make the martini. Totally optional. The fresh lemon adds the acidity that compliments the simple syrup. The lemon essential oil adds a lemony bitterness from the rind. Here's the recipe:
Cheers to new friends! What floral inspired cocktails have you tried lately?
My little bird has a thing for carrots. They are, I think, her favorite veggie...at least today. Tomorrow it may be bell peppers, but hey, as long as she's got a favorite veggie, a mama can't complain, right! Hmmm, a bell pepper cocktail....
This martini was inspired by my daughter's love of carrots, and my love of ginger. Carrots and ginger are like peas and...oh wait. You get me, they just go so well together. Google carrots and ginger and you get over 21,000,000 results! From roasted carrots with fresh ginger, to carrot cake smoothies, to cold carrot and ginger soups, there are so many options for this pair.
What a gorgeous color, yes? So bright and luscious. It's a perfect blend of sweet, spicy and veggie! Who knew carrots could make such a lovely cocktail? Carrots and ginger also pair extremely well with citrus flavors. I had to choose between wild orange, grapefruit, lemon and tangerine. The first would add too much sweetness to an already sweetened drink. Grapefruit and lemon would add a bitterness, since the oil comes from the rind. Tangerine was the perfect middle ground, not too sweet and no bitterness.
Have you made a veggie inspired cocktail? Tell us all about it! And, if you're interested in the essential oils I use, please e-mail me!
If you don't know, or perhaps you missed my post about whiskey old fashioneds, I'm from Wisconsin. I'm not sure if Wisconsinites drink more whiskey, more whiskey old fashioneds, or maybe we are just uber proud of our supper clubs, mixed drinks and "double bubble".
If you don't know what that last one is, you've never been to Wisconsin! It's our way of saying Happy Hour. I don't know about you, but I rather like double bubble. It's almost happier than happy hour. Basically, instead of a drink special or certain dollar amount off, when you buy one, they bring you two. Now, this probably doesn't happen at every bar in Wisconsin, but you gotta love the ones that do! Makes me a bit sentimental, sniff sniff ;)
As we've widened our selection of whiskey in the house and experimented more with bourbon versus rye, I've come to the conclusion that for the moment, I'm a bourbon gal. I just like the flavor better. It's a bit sweeter than a rye and has a bit less bite. It also mixes really well with lemon and blackberry!
I pulled out my Lemon Essentially Simple Syrup for this one, some Ginger essential oil and a few blackberries. Oh...my...goodness. So good. So pretty, too. I love the deep, magenta color the blackberries give the drink and the contrast of the bright lemon yellow. Makes me happy just looking at it. Definitely a double bubble kind of cocktail!
Does your hometown have any quirky phrases or sayings? Please share!
This week I'm making lots of blends with my Lavender essential oil. A few weeks ago, I made a really lovely Lavender Lemon simple syrup, and I think I've found a perfect recipe for it! This would make a really good brunch bevvie, so I probably should have posted before Easter, but hey, Friday is a good day for champagne, no? Seriously, this is a really fresh, floral, herby, fizzy goodie you'll want to try, and try, and try! It's also really easy to make, since there are so few ingredients. Can't beat that!
If you've ever had a French 75, then you'll feel me on this one. In French it's simply called a Soixante Quinze. If you're not quite sure how to pronounce that, follow the link for a min French lesson! According to wikipedia, "the drink dates to World War I, and an early form was created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris... The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75 field gun."
This is definitely one of those cocktails that packs a punch, but doesn't taste like. So, indulge, enjoy, but slowly because this one can creep up on you! It's really similar to a Tom Collins, but uses champagne instead of sparkling water. If you want to tone done the alcohol content, you could just add the Lavender Lemon simple syrup to champagne. You can also make it completely non-alcoholic and use sparkling soda with simple syrup.
A good French 75 should be served a in flute, not a highball. The shape of the flute helps keep your bubbly stay bubbly longer. Most have a rough bead at the base of the flute. You can see it at the bottom of the flute above. The bead causes bubbles to come together and then quickly rise to the top of the glass. The escaping bubbles capture and deliver lots of flavor and aroma. They are also really gorgeous! (source) It's kind of like a good fire. I could sit and watch it for hours...though I can't say I've ever had a drink last that long!
What's your favorite champagne drink? Give me a shout and let me know!
Most of us think of having a drink as some form of therapy, no? In prepping to write this post, I googled "drinking therapy quotes". I got about 944,000 results in 0.27 seconds. Some of them definitely made me smile, like the one the left. It's so true though, isn't it? There is simply something about a glass of wine (or other libation) and a good friend that makes life feel not so difficult, if only for an hour or so.
Now, I'm not a big drinker, nor do I advocate a bottle over real therapy, but I do enjoy a good drink. And if we can make it therapeutic, well, why the hell not?
One of the essentially simply syrups I made was a lovely blend of Rosemary and Wild Orange. This screamed tequila to me. And, oddly enough, tequila actually has some health benefits. Here are just a few:
1. Stimulate the appetite
2. Aid digestion
2. Break down dietary fat, which can help lower LDL levels, the bad cholesterol
3. Fructans, which tequila is derived from, actually supply probiotics
4. Prebiotic attributes of tequila help make the intestines a more friendly environment for healthy bacteria to thrive (source)
Rosemary and Wild Orange also have their own beneficial, therapeutic properties.
Rosemary has a really high antioxidant value. So what? Well, antioxidants are nutrients that minimize the disruptive power of free radicals. The word “antioxidant” itself means “against oxidation,” and oxidation is the phenomenon that begins the whole problem of free radicals. What's a free radical? They are reactive molecules within our body. The molecule becomes “free” and “radical” when, due to all kinds of potential stressors such as excessive exercise, sunlight, alcohol, radiation, smoking and other toxins, it gets an extra electron. Due to that extra electron, the molecule reacts with the molecules around it, producing other free radicals, which in turn produce even more free radicals.
This surge of free radicals can damage cell bodies, fats, proteins, and other molecular processes. The greater accumulation of free radicals and the fewer antioxidants in your body, the greater your risk may be of developing certain diseases like all types of cancer, diabetes, strokes, arthritis, atherosclerosis, macular degeneration, heart disease, MS, fibromyalgia, and more. Antioxidants combat this by unloading their extra electron molecule to the free radical molecule, preventing its toxicity. The chemical in rosemary primarily responsible for this is carnosol. In addition to being a rich antioxidant, carnosol is also known for its ability to reduce inflammation. Rosemary has also been known to improve memory, soothe digestion and relieve muscle aches and pains. (source) (source)
Wild Orange is most commonly used for digestive and immune support, mood management, as well as skin health. Because it is high in monoterpenes, it is a powerful cleanser and purifying agent, and supports the elimination toxins from the body, while stimulating the lymphatic system. Wild orange’s main constituent, limonene, has powerful anti-cancer activity, suggesting that this oil might be effective as an anti-cancer agent. It is also high in antioxidants, like Rosemary, and is incredibly uplifting to the mind and the body. (source)
I mean really, can we get a better cocktail than this? I think not!
Here's what you need to make a fantastic, therapeutic, Rosemary Wild Orange Margarita.
Try this at home and let me know what you think! I'd also love to hear your ideas for other uses for Rosemary Wild Orange simple syrup.
Anyone else out there a tea drinker? I bet everyone on my English side of the family has their hands up, or rather, their mugs. In England, when you order a cup of tea (or your eggs for that matter) you rarely get asked "what kind?" or "how do you like them?". You just get a cuppa. A steaming mug of English black tea, most likely with some milk on the side.
In the US, on the other hand, when you order eggs, you generally get asked how you like them. You also get asked, "white, wheat, rye, sourdough?" "whole milk, skim, or 2%?" and any other possible option you can image. And if you order tea, you often get to pick from a smorgasbord of choices, flavors, and caffeine levels!
Both methods are good, really. It's nice to have many options and select exactly what you're feeling like at the moment or like the best, but sometimes, it's overwhelming. I kinda like the simplicity of ordering in England and knowing exactly what I'm getting after making one decision. However, if you look at my kitchen, and my tea selection, you'll see I'm more prone to lots of choices ;)
And who knew that tea could make a great cocktail?
Now, before we get into how to make this tea-based cocktail, we need to take a look at Earl Grey tea. Earl Grey has been around for a long time. Since the 1820s, tea flavored with bergamot has been known in England. The initial goal was to imitate the more expensive types of Chinese tea. The Earl Grey blend, or "Earl Grey's Mixture", is assumed to be named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey and British Prime Minister in the 1830s. Earl Grey, as applied to tea, is not a registered trademark. Numerous tea companies produce their own versions of Earl Grey tea, using a wide variety of tea leaves and additives. You might have tried or be familiar with Lady Grey, London Fog, or French Earl Grey, which are made with a traditional black tea blend. But now, as more varieties of tea such as green or rooibos are becoming more popular, Earl Grey blends are being made with these are well. (source)
I have always tended to purchase it, and love this blend by Numi. You know what Ioved about it though? The citrus hint. That amazing oil of bergamot. And as I was looking at my essential oils, my eyes fell upon my bottle of bergamot and I thought, can I make my own Earl Grey with any black tea? The answer to that is yes, but that's not the point of this post.
The point of this post is cocktail hour...
or tea time...
I mentioned in a previous post how I was experimenting with making essentially simple syrups, and this cocktail was the perfect one to pull out my Lavender Lemon simple syrup. These two oils meld so well with the herbal-citrus Earl Grey. So tonight, I brewed myself a cup, pulled out the Tanqueray and my shaker, and got to work! This is a perfect cocktail for a smooth, easy-drinking summer evening. Think of it as adult ice tea, but above and beyond anything from long island!
In a shaker, combine ice cubes, tea, gin simple syrup and one drop bergamot essential oil. Shake to integrate and chill. Pour over fresh ice. Garnish with lemon rind. Sit outside somewhere with good friend and great music and enjoy!
Have you tried a tea-based cocktail? I'd love to hear your recipe! Share a comment!
Do you ever one of those experiences that just makes you melt? Like something so yummy you close your eyes and savor it on your tongue? Or maybe a sunset so spectacular your heart feels like you can't fit any more in it? Or when your child out of the blue says something so sweet and endearing you think, could I be anymore blessed?
Did I get a little syrupy sweet on you there?
That's okay, because this post is all about simple syrup and some DELICIOUSNESS you cannot pass up.
A few weeks ago, when our house was filled with grandparents and they outnumbered our children, they were ever so kind. They offered to take care of our little bird and our stinker belle while we could...
go away for a few days!
If you have littles and you haven't had yet this opportunity, then you understand the preciousness of it. It's like a rare gem, especially if you don't live close to your family, as in our case. Now, our youngest is closing in on 22 months and, in all that time, I had been away for a full day, at best. Needless to say, this was a long time in coming and we weren't going to say no. It was more like HELL YEAH!
We're very fortunate to have some great friends here who invited us to check out Crested Butte. For those of you who've been there, I bet a big smile just came over your face. If you haven't been, please, please visit, google it, get there vicariously, or just get there. It's gorgeous. Breathtaking in fact. The drive there ain't so bad either. We left about 5:30 am and, after driving over an icy, precarious Monrach Pass so slowly we probably pissed off other drivers, and stopping for brunch in Gunnison on the main drag, which is ridiculously adorable, we made it Crested Butte around 11-11:30. Long drive, brilliant sunrise, bitter cold, icy roads, so worth it.
If that doesn't make you itchy to visit, check out the quaint downtown.
Yes, people really do ride their bikes around in the snow. Just like Minneapolis/St. Paul. They pop on fat snow tires (sometimes) and just go on their merry way. And really, everybody is pretty merry. Whether it's the beauty that surrounds them, a day of skiing or snowboarding on the mountains that invigorates them, or the myriad gastronomic choices available to them in this small town, everyone is in a good mood. Can't beat that.
We hadn't been snowboarding since before our little bird was born, so we were a wee bit hesitant of going all day and then waking up unable to move the next. Been there before! Instead, we snowboarded one day, then took a "break" by getting in some cross-country skiing and exploring the downtown. There we were led by our good friend to this little gem.
Montanya Rum is a distillery that also offers free rum tastings, distillery tours, artisan cocktails, appetizers and small plates, bottles of rum, and more. They are small and cozy, which I love, and even have a kids nook upstairs, and a kid specialty called the Snowball, essentially a glass full of whipped cream!
They also have amazing mixed drinks.
Now, normally I'm not a big rum drinker. I prefer whiskey over rum any day. But this drink had me at namaste. It's called a Maharaja and yes, it is fit for a king, or queen in this instance. It's complex, with both a brightness and depth I couldn't believe, but kept rolling over my tongue with closed eyes, basking in all its yumminess. As we enjoyed our drinks and well-earned tapas after a good effort alpine skiing, I kept thinking in my head how I could make this luciousness at home.
I think I figured it out.
And so I bring to you the Maharani, the female equivalent. Ready to feel royal?
Recipe adapted from montanyarum.com
To make the syrup
Dry roast your peppercorns in a small pot until they start to release their aroma. Then add water and sugar to peppercorns. Stir on medium-high heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Transfer to a small bowl or back to your glass measuring cup and let it steep to release the full, smoky flavor of the peppercorns, about 30 minutes. Then, using a strainer, pour your syrup through the catch the peppercorns. It should have a nice golden color.
Once the peppery syrup is cool you can add in your drops of essential oils and a small pinch (less than 1/4 tsp) of fine salt. To get less than a drop of essential oil from the bottle, insert a toothpick into the dropper and swirl the toothpick into your syrup. Stir, transfer to glass container, store in the fridge.
To make your Maharani:
Want to get super fancy? Mix together turbinado sugar, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice or other favorite spice, wet the rim of your glass and swirl. Isn't she pretty? And oh my gosh, she is so freaking tasty it'll knock your socks off.
So, now you've got this amazing essential simple syrup. What else can you do with it? Here are five more ideas for you!
**I also found that you can substitute Stevia for sugar if you are on the sugar-free road. To make sugar-free Maharani syrup boil 2 cups water, add 1/4 cup (20-25 packets), simmer until dissovled and let cool before adding your oils.
I'm going to be launching a line of Essentially Simple Syrups (in sugar-free options, too!) in the next few weeks. As I perfect the syrups, sample drinks, compile recipes, and create labels, I'll add them to my shopping cart above. You'll be able to purchase and have them shipped, along with a recipe card. I'm super excited about this new endeavor and hope you'll enjoy them all!