Category Archives: Drinky-Drinky

A Blushing Pinko

We’ve been drawing a rather steady harvest of a handful of raspberries a day from our wee raspberry canes in the backyard. It’s been pretty remarkable, actually, how these scraggly plants — which we thought we killed in the car on the drive home from the co-op, by the way — have been churning out the berries. They were producing from late August through November last year, and here they are warming up again. Today’s haul was pretty light, though — only nine berries. So what to do with them? How about muddling them into a Moscow Mule?

I made this by muddling the three berries in the bottom of the glass, then cutting a whole lime into sixths, squeezing it into the glass, and dropping all the pieces in. After a brisk stir to combine the fruits, I topped with ice, poured in two ounces of vodka, and filled the glass with ginger beer.

These are ridiculously flavorful raspberries, so just the three contributed a huge amount of sweetness to the drink, and, as I was armed with some Chambord to add some color if it was needed, it turns out they gave just the perfect tint to it. After a really humid day in the garden, these were crisp, fruity, and magnificently refreshing.

And really, after watching six seasons of MacGyver in rapid succession on DVD and laughing about how much our dad complained about the lefty, “commie pinko” politics of MacGyver back in the day, what better to call a rose-tinted Moscow Mule than a “Blushing Pinko”?

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A Stanley Cup Quaff

I got into my cocktail recipe books just after the end of the strawberry season last year, so it’s been about 11 1/2 months that I’ve been looking forward to making the strawberry mule featured in one of my favorite of the books. Tonight, with a handful of just-overripe strawberries left from the week’s haul, I decided the time had finally come. Of course, when I opened the book up, I discovered I didn’t have a number of the ingredients listed. Whoops! The berries weren’t going to wait, so I had to do something with them tonight, and with a lot of input from Pookie, I came up with a modified version of the recipe. In honor of the final game of the Pens/Wings Stanley Cup Final, I decided to call it a Strawberry Franzen.

Muddle 4-5 strawberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add 2 oz. of vodka, 1/2 oz of Cointreau (I also made one with Chambord, but we agreed the Cointreau was better), and a dash of simple syrup. Shake, and pour into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer, and garnish with a berry.

This is super-sweet and a bit syrupy, but delightfully snappy from the ginger, and laced with the awesomeness of our farm berries. Pookie’s assessment was that it tastes like an Italian soda. It drinks like one, too! Yum!

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Disappointment, Non-Slushie Style

It’s hot and a bit sticky and finally summery here at Maple Hoo, and on a languid afternoon laced with overtones of “Is it hot enough to turn on the AC yet?”, I decided to make a cocktail. Already a bit spacey (what I needed the cocktail for, I don’t know), I started absently flipping through a recipe book and alit on a drink of perfectly stark simplicity. I announced to Pookie and Boomer, “I’m making daiquiris.”

They both lit up. “Sweet!” Boomer enthused. “Yes yes yes!” Pookie Doug Dorseyed. I was stunned. Why were they so excited for a drink that’s just light rum, lime juice and simple syrup? My drowsy brain ruminated for a moment, then realized what the problem was.

“I’m not making frozen daiquiris,” I clarified.

This was met with silence. Crushed, disappointed silence.

Shake together 2 ounces of light rum, 1 ounce of lime juice and 1/2 ounce of simple syrup. Strain into an ice-filled wine glass and garnish with a lime wedge. Tell the people you’re making these for that they can suck it up, and if they want frozen daiquiris, they can make them themselves. Enjoy.

(These are super-refreshing and delicious, even though they’re just boring old liquid.)

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A Cocktail While Cooking

I had a bunch of prep to do this evening, what with making dinner for tonight and prepping for our big pulled-pork taco BBQ tomorrow. When I got up from my “lazy Saturday” nap, I thought a glass of wine would be nice to nurse while I was puttering around the kitchen, but then I gave it a second thought and opted for a Negroni instead. I’ve never actually had a Negroni, but for some reason I figured it would hit the spot.

My recipe called for one ounce each of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, shaken with ice, then poured over ice and served with an orange slice. The recipe also stipulated that the glass could be topped off with club soda, but I didn’t have any.

The ice ended up cutting this nicely, and as it sat, it mellowed and the flavors all mingled, and it was really quite nice. Boomer is great to have around, because when she goes on liquor runs she always ends up impulse-buying some fancy type of something we never drink. Recently she came home with some swanky Scottish gin, and I used it in this. I’ve never consciously drunk gin before, and let me tell you, after sampling the Tanqueray I had in the pantry and this Scottish stuff, I’m thinking I should start quaffing martinis. The fancy gin is delish. And paired up with the bitterness of the Campari and the sticky sweetness of the vermouth? Just delightful.

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A Fruity Brew

Every week or ten days, Boomer heads into town to pick up a couple of growlers of beer from Triumph Brewery in Princeton. This week she brought home a framboise that completely blew our minds. This was so insanely delicious — it was crisp and sweet and a little tart. It was also a gentle touch, not overly cloying or heavy. And the color! Oh, the color!

We drank this on cheese night, the night when we eat a platter of our Cheese of the Month selections from Artisanal. One of the cheeses in this month’s platter was a smoked bleu cheese that was good enough to marry. Between that and the beer, life was almost impossibly good.

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Pretending To Be Cooler Bloggers Than We Are

We’ve lately developed an addiction to garden and food blogs written by people who are a zillion times cooler and more talented than we are. One such blog is White On Rice Couple, which features incredible stories, recipes, and pictures. While perusing their garden posts, we came across the recipe for the So Cal Sunrise Cocktail, which I just had to try. I didn’t have any blood oranges on hand, so I used regular oranges, but other than that, I didn’t make any changes.

I mixed these up for us after a few hours of toiling in the garden — please note the sprig of lilac from our one scraggly lilac tree. We didn’t even realize we had any lilacs until a couple of weeks ago, when Pookie spotted them in the middle of a deer tick-infested brushy corner of our backyard. Boomer really earned her cocktail by venturing in there to cut those blossoms for us. Anyway, the drink is outrageously good. It’s really sweet, but not at all cloying, and very fresh with a lot of citrusy zing. I’m thinking of making up a thermos of them to sip at work tomorrow.

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Mai Day! Or: Wintry Food’s Last Gasp

Tra la! It’s May! Finally! The best month of the year! (Okay, that’s a lie. October is the best month of the year, but if you remove “the start of the hockey season” from the equation, May wins in a squeaker because it’s got my birthday.) To celebrate this auspicious event, Mother Nature has given us several days of cold weather, gray skies, and a promise of rain that has yet to be delivered on. So when I was grocery shopping for this week, I felt like it was late September, and actually looked at a mother shopping with her ten-year-old-ish daughter and found myself thinking, “I bet that kid is totally bummed about having had to go back to school.” Because of this autumnal feel in the air, I ended up planning on making a pork roast for dinner this week.

Meanwhile, Boomer went on a beer run to Triumph Brewery in Princeton; she returned home with the Viennese Lager we’re having a love affair with lately as well as a growler of Maibock, Triumph’s celebration of the new month. So tonight we had what I hope is our last wintry roasted meal with a celebratory May beer on the side.

The pork was done per one of Cook’s Illustrated’s recipes. I browned the boneless pork loin on all sides with a little salt and pepper in a bit of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Meanwhile, I cut two large fennel bulbs and two pounds of carrots into one-inch pieces and tossed them with three tablespoons each of butter and honey, plus some salt and fresh ground black pepper, in the bottom of a large roasting pan. I set the V rack over the carrots and fennel, nestled the pork into the rack, and let it go for 45 minutes in a 300-degree (F) oven. When it was done in the oven, I set the pork to rest under a foil tent and then returned the pan with the fennel and carrots to the oven, cranked the heat up to 500, and let them roast for another 15 minutes. Then the jus was put together in the pan I’d browned the pork in earlier. I sauteed a finely-chopped onion (the recipe calls for shallot, but I forgot to buy it) in the oil in the pan until it was soft, then added two cups of chicken stock, two bay leaves, two fresh thyme sprigs and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. After simmering it down for 15 minutes, I squeezed in the juice from half a lemon, and we were good to go. Because Pookie’s only just starting her efforts to learn to like carrots, I also roasted some potatoes just with olive oil, salt and pepper.

This is a reliably tasty meal, and the carrots and fennel are just ridiculously delicious. But as I’m getting crazy antsy for the Farm season to start (especially the strawberries), I’d kind of rather I was being inspired to grill something filled with fresh veggies and herbs and sunshine and awesomeness. Fortunately, the beer was very Springy and festive. It was just the twist this dinner needed.

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A Crisp Foray Into Pitcher Drinks

Today we inadvertently ended up doing a hell of a lot more yardwork than we meant to, and when we finally finished up with the building the compost bin, the staking and deer-fencing five apple trees, the transplanting the pepper seedlings, the cataloging the blooms around the grounds, and the watering the garden, we were in dire need of a crisp, refreshing drink. Thank goodness, then, that I’d already planned for some Limoncello Collins. This is a drink from one of the Food + Wine cocktail books I got for my last birthday, and it is constructed as follows:

Combine 8 oz. Limoncello, 6 oz. gin, and 4 oz. fresh lemon juice in a pitcher. Refrigerate for at least two hours to let the flavors combine. Line four (or, um, in our case today… three) collins glasses with paper-thin slices of lemons pressed to the sides, then fill the glasses with ice. Divide the limoncello mixture between the glasses, and top with club soda.

This is super tasty. It’s fizzy and sharp and crisp and tart and a little bit sweet. And it was a delightful capper to a day of hard work out in the fields.

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A Regionally Appropriate Sip

Well, it might still be a bit brisk outside, but it’s all sunny and summery and chockablock with playoffy hockey inside, so we needed a summery drink today. Flipping through one of my Food & Wine “Best of [Whatever Year]” cocktail booklets, I found something called a Schuykill Punch, from a restaurant in Philadelphia. Hey! We’re not far from the Schuykill! That’s, like, a cocktail meant for us! The recipe calls for 1 1/2 oz of spiced rum (it specifies Sailor Jerry’s, our new favorite alcoholstuff), 1/2 oz of Cointreau, 2 1/2 oz of orange juice, 2 1/2 oz of pineapple juice, and 1/4 oz of grenadine. Everything gets shaken together over ice, then is served over ice.

I, um, didn’t have all that stuff. Namely: I was lacking the orange juice. But I did have a few tangerines, which I juiced, and then evened out the amount with some lemon juice. The end result?

schuykillpunchsmall.jpg

It’s a lovely color, is super-fruity, and the juices really punch up the vanilla of the spiced rum. As we each sampled a sip of the first one I made, Pookie just snatched the glass and trotted off, saying something about how it tastes how Hawaiian Punch was supposed to taste. We were never really juice drinkers as kids, and what I’m discovering later here in life is that those juices were all just missing alcohol.

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