I wanted to taste gin, lime juice and tonic water a few weeks ago. But there was a big problem. I am not supposed to be indulging in such cocktails…oh, baby! The next step was finding out how I could taste those same flavors and, in the meantime, squash that craving for good. Enter my attempt at a gin & tonic…without the gin!
Hello, new year. It is time to set things round right. I am over the holidays. It was an amazing time of indulging in fabulous food and other shenanigans. I think it will take me the entire year to recover! The first step? How about making a batch of spicy ginger tea. When a cup of comfort is what you need, this tea is a great go-to. As the ginger root and water simmered I tossed in a half stick of cinnamon.
Smashed cardamom pods are an essential ingredient to chai tea.
Whole peppercorns, sliced ginger, a star anise pod, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and black tea.
Bring this to a boil and gently simmer for a bit. Add loose tea, and milk then steep.
Strain the tea through a fine mesh strainer right into your favorite mug. Add a sweetener of your choice – I added maple syrup – to celebrate fall. If you are feeling extra chilled by the crisp fall air…add a touch of bourbon. After all, the calendar does indicate that it is officially fall.
This tea was fragrant, flavorful and so simple to make. I used almond milk which I felt added a slightly nutty touch to the spicy tea. And the touch of bourbon? It is a hearty nightcap for a cold winter night!
Note: After making this over and over I have updated the original below!
- 3 C. water
- 4 thin slices of fresh ginger root
- 6 cardamom pods, smashed with the back of a spoon
- a few peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken
- 1 star anise pod
- 2 bags of tea, I used black english breakfast
- 1/3 C. milk
- sweeten with maple syrup, if feeling dubious up to this point
- splash of half and half, if feeling decadent
- splash of bourbon, if feeling daring
- In a small pan add water, ginger slices, cardamom pods, star anise, peppercorns, and a cinnamon stick. Bring this to a boil, then simmer until fragrant, for about 20 minutes. This will be reduced to about 2 cups. Add the tea bags and milk and gently steep for another 5 minutes. Strain this mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a mug. Sweeten with a sweetener of your choice - I used maple syrup. If you wish add a touch of bourbon for a little pep.
I had some ripe tomatoes to use the other day. I knew I could do something traditional like sauce or salsa. But I wanted to do something simple, without a lot of fuss or lots of dirty dishes to clean up after.
Enter my mini food processor, one large tomato, and a variety of spices and fresh squeezed citrus…
Pulse until well blended.
This method of using fresh tomatoes will produce a very pulpy tomato drink. I call it goodness in every sip. I will list the ingredients and approximations of the amounts I used. Note: This gets SUPER spicy on day 2.
Spicy Sunday Brunch Cocktail:
1 large tomato, cubed
1 T. of fresh horseradish
1/2 T. worcestershire sauce
dash of celery salt
dash of hot sauce, to your liking
squeeze of lime and lemon juice
fresh cracked pepper
Pulse all ingredients together in a mini food processor until well blended. Pour over ice in a highball glass. Add a splash of vodka if you are feeling so inclined. Cheers!
“Ernest once told me that the word paradise was a Persian word that meant “walled garden.” I knew then that he understood how necessary the promises we made to each other were to our happiness. You couldn’t have real freedom unless you knew where the walls were and tended them. We could lean on the walls because they existed; they existed because we leaned on them.”
The Paris Wife: A Novel, Paula McLain
I recently finished reading this beautiful novel about the romance between Hadley and Ernest Hemingway. I was swept up and carried away in the beginning of this book, as Hadley spun me through her tale of love. There were moments of beauty and moments of sadness. Above all, there were two strong willed people who were determined to find out what true love was….through it all.
As I read through this novel, I wondered what love felt like to Hadley. To love a writer as Hadley loved Hemingway. Here I am both in love and newly married- to a writer. I do not know how our story will end but I am savoring every second along the way. Learning to take time to savor, to appreciate and to adjust along the way. I suppose I was doing this beforehand too…as I was singing “Single Ladies” and having a dance party while making single lady pancakes. Now, I am swept away from the kitchen by Sweet Z to dance to Phil Collins. I savor these moments and memories.
For special events, both big and small, cocktails are just fun! I have been mixing up and experimenting with cocktails this summer. I told myself I could get away with it…for blog research, or wedding ideas or..well, must I keep inventing reasons to make cocktails?
I present to you a tale of two cocktails. Each are different yet bring their own style and flavor to the table.
I grew up picking blueberries every summer with my family. It only seemed natural that one cocktail at our wedding incorporated blueberries. Sweet Z and I have continued that tradition of picking wild blueberries each summer. The cocktail pictured above used a blueberry lavender simple syrup, vodka, seltzer and a squeeze of lime juice. The cocktail was nice, but to our tastes, a little too floral. Round 2 brought a blueberry ginger simple syrup to the table along with the other ingredients.
Success! I had made 3 quarts of this cocktail ahead of time. When ready to serve, pour over a glass with ice and top with seltzer and add a lime for garnish! Easy!
Cincy BFF was happy! The blue color of blueberries was a theme throughout the wedding!
The second cocktail idea came from the idea of incorporating something familiar to Sweet Z from his childhood. Sweet tea came to mind.
Why not infuse sweet tea with orange, mint and…
Bourbon! I know, I have a weakness for bourbon. Real talk. Remember the bourbon themed party I had? Again I made 3 quarts of this – the only serving suggestion I have is to serve over a glass filled with ice, add some orange and mint for garnish! This recipe comes from Joy the Baker…also a lover of bourbon! I did not change a thing. I also made Joy’s chewy molasses chocolate chip cookies – simply because I wanted to give my guests something more, that I made with my own two hands, in my new kitchen. This was important to me.
Cheers friends…thanks for reading!!!