Category Archives: Drinky-Drinky

Maple Hoo Gets Its Tiki On

The November “Food & Wine” magazine showed up this past Wednesday, and it was one of those rare times when a cooking magazine and I are on the same wavelength; I flipped through it lovingly, stopping on almost every page to exclaim, “This sounds so good!” and then reading a recipe aloud to Boomer. Most of it was Thanksgivingy stuff, of course, but they had a short segment at the beginning about some retro-kitsch tiki bar that made me think less in nebulous “someday I’ll make that for an imaginary huge Thanksgiving dinner we’ll be hosting” terms and more in an “I’m going to make that this weekend” kind of way. Suddenly I couldn’t imagine a Sunday watching football without a Tiki Snack Mix to munch on while sipping my Rhum Swizzle.

Rhum Swizzle

To make the drink, you need:

* 7 large mint leaves
* Crushed ice
* 2 ounces amber rhum agricole
* 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
* 1/2 ounce brown sugar simple syrup
* 1/8 ounce grenadine

1. In a Collins glass, muddle the mint. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix by spinning a swizzle or long bar spoon between your palms while moving it up and down in the drink. Top with crushed ice.

I didn’t have crushed ice, because I didn’t want to clean out my dumb retro-y ice crusher that currently lives in the corner of the dining room on the floor. (It doesn’t work very well, but I bought it years ago because I thought it looked cool. For reasons I don’t understand, I haven’t given it away yet.) I also didn’t have any amber rhum agricole, so I used some cane rum. I suspect any kind of rum would work. And just because I want to brag about how totally Martha Stewarty I am, I happened to have homemade grenadine that I’d whipped up last weekend. The final result with this drink is a fantastically refreshing and delicious quaff. It’s got a nice perky freshness from the mint, but isn’t overwhelmingly so (I am not mint’s biggest fan…), and right alongside that is the tartness of the grapefruit, cut and smoothed by the grenadine and the mellow rum. And everything has a nice molasses vibe tying it together thanks to the brown sugar syrup. If I’d known how good these were going to be, I’d have made sure to have enough grapefruit to mix up about 15 more.

Tiki Mix

When I first read the Tiki Snack Mix recipe, I was all on an “oooh! I want to cook EVERYTHING in this magazine!” kick, so I totally fell in love with the concept. But in the cold, harsh light of day the next morning, I began to have my doubts. By the time Sunday morning rolled around, my commitment to it was wavering. The recipe is:

* 8 thick slices of meaty bacon
* 3 cups salted roasted peanuts
* 4 candied pineapple rings, cut into 1/3-inch triangles
* 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
* 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on a rack set over a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Drain on paper towels and cut into 1/2-inch strips.
2. In a bowl, toss the bacon with the peanuts, pineapple, sesame seeds, soy sauce, honey and cayenne. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once, until the bacon is browned. Season the mix with salt and stir occasionally until cool, then serve.

The candied pineapple was throwing me off. But I soldiered on, figuring at the very worst that I’d be able to write a post about it. I managed to have a slice of bacon overhanging the tray in the oven, so the kitchen was filled with the heady aroma of bacon grease burning on the bottom of the oven where it was dripping, and I succeeded at getting honey all over me while trying to scrape a full tablespoon from the bottom of a large jar, where it had all crystallized (imagine Winnie The Pooh with his arm submerged up to the armpit in a honey pot. Then multiply that by a million), and I didn’t have any plain sesame seeds and had to dip into my “garnishes for baking” supply of black ones. But after everything was mixed together, baked up, and cooled, it turned out to be… AWESOME.

It’s not as sticky as I feared, so we can actually eat it while stitching (very, very carefully, mind you — there’s still soy sauce in there!), and the pineapple is just outrageously scrumptious. In fact, I’d say there isn’t enough of it in here! This is bacony and salty and spicy and a little sweet, and it makes me really, really thirsty for more Rhum Swizzle. In other words, it does its job perfectly.

The only thing I’m missing now (other than enough grapefruits to make 15 more drinks) is little paper umbrellas. And maybe some tiki masks. And some ironic hipsters. But in the grand scheme of things, those are minor complaints.

(Post by Schnookie)

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Vanilla-Basil Gimlet

I recently had some leftover vanilla pods, after scraping the seeds out for baking. The obvious thing to do with them, of course, was to make vanilla syrup, and then use it in cocktails. So I dropped the seeds into some simple syrup while it was still hot, let it steep for a while, then strained it all and put the syrup in the fridge while I perused my cocktail books.

After much leafing listlessly through pages and pages, I found something in the 2007 edition of Food & Wine‘s cocktail book: a basil-lime gimlet.

Basil For Drinks

Basil I’ve got. Limes I’ve got. Vodka I’ve got. And instead of plain syrup, the vanilla syrup was ready to go. Perfect!

The recipe, in my adaptation, calls for 3 basil leaves (plus more for garnish), 1/2 oz. of vanilla syrup (or plain syrup, if you must, but remember! That’ll make just a plain basil-lime gimlet! It won’t be the same at all!), 2 1/2 oz vodka and the juice of one lime.

Basil Muddled

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the basil leaves with the syrup. Then add the vodka, lime juice, and some ice. Shake vigorously, and then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with additional basil leaves, and voila! Smooth, a little sweet, a little tart, delicious, and did I mention smooth?

Basil-Vanilla Gimlet

(Post by Schnookie)

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Restocking The Stash: On The Road With IPB Living, Chapter 2

Day Two of our stash-restocking adventure dawned bright and early, around 11:30 in the morning. Yes, that’s 2:30 in the afternoon back home, but back home can suck it. We hit the ground running, lolling around in our pajamas and stitching for about an hour, then headed out into the blinding desert heat in search of lunch.

Now, we’re staying in a nice little resort hotel right near where we used to live out here, and the thing about resorts in the Phoenix area is that they work very hard to not appear like you’re in the desert. On our way to the car, we took a side exit and found ourselves on what our hotel calls the “Lawn Court”, and what Boomer called the “Croquet Court”.

There was even, on the sidewalk beyond the croquet lawn, a side planting of what seemed to be a lawn made entirely of succulents.

Despite the palm trees and lush grass, though, there are lots of beautiful desert-appropriate plantings on the grounds here, and while we’re too lazy to venture forth to see the entirety of what the place has to offer, we were able to get some requisite cactus pictures in just along the walk out to our car.

We also snapped a picture of an ocotillo, to remember the good old days when we had one in our front yard and used to wrap every spiky branch with Christmas lights during the holidays…

… and because we don’t want to go to jail, we took a mandatory picture of a giant, many-armed saguaro.

Our big plans for today were all food-related. For lunch, we wanted to go to NYPD Pizza, which was our favorite when we used to live here. It’s not easy finding New York-style pizza in the Valley, and going without is no way to live. We miraculously managed to find the restaurant on our first try, and on the way in, we noticed the sky was filled with charming fluffy clouds again. So here’s a picture of one:

There were two things we were most interested in at NYPD. The first was Pookie’s all-time favorite pizza, the Brooklyn Family. That would be sausage, pepperoni, and fresh basil:

It was, as remembered, excellent. The crust is not quite as New York-y as we remembered, being a bit softer than the real deal, but it’s still a scrumptious pizza. And while the Phoenix surrounds are long on good boutique-y sort of pizzas, the simplest kind is still the best.

The other reason we were excited to be eating at NYPD is the beer. You see, during the few years we lived in Scottsdale, our beer of choice was Fat Tire. Since moving away, we’ve found a small, local brewery in Princeton to supply us with all our beer needs, and it’s spoiled us. When we were in Ottawa for the NHL Draft in June, we got draft beers of a brand we won’t mention here and were horrified at how dishwatery it tasted. So we were very concerned that when we got out here for vacation, we’d be crushed to find out that Triumph Brewery had ruined Fat Tire for us, too. Pookie even vowed ahead of time, “I’ll just have to drink 800 beers during the three days to find out.”

Good news, Gentle Reader. While it’s not quite up to Triumph-level snuff, Fat Tire is still a perfectly cromulent beer. Which means Pookie won’t be gagging down the remaining 799 on her docket.

On the way out of lunch, Boomer’s worst driving instincts kicked back into gear, and we circled the parking lot fruitlessly a few times in search of the exit. Which was, as it turns out, exactly where we’d left it when we came in. But don’t tell Boomer that. Anyway, the detour afforded us the chance to gaze in wonderment upon this fine firearms establishment:

Yeah, we’re not in Princeton anymore.

After a quick stop at Best Buy, where we ogled fancy cameras but bought only new headphones for Pookie’s iPod, it was time to spend the day the way we love best: sitting around and stitching. Back at the hotel, we spread out the loot from our first run at the Attic.

There aren’t many new projects in there — just charts waiting to have their supplies pulled tomorrow. They look so eager, don’t they? Well, except for the one’s Boomer’s ugly bought. Those are all appropriately ugly.

And so we spent the remainder of the afternoon in a delightful state of relaxation, stitching, gorging on candy, and listening to music on the iPod speakers that our room came equipped with.

Finally dinnertime rolled around, and we were forced to remember how to stand upright long enough to walk to the car. Our hopes of seeing another rainbow, this time with camera in tow, were dashed, but in its place we got a spectacular sunset.

Now, when we were kids and visited our grandparents out here, one of the most exciting parts of every trip was seeing Camelback mountain. For huge portions of our lives, it was the only mountain we could name. And it’s certainly easier to recognize than, say, K2, which we wouldn’t know if it kicked us in the teeth.

We were so excited by the sunset and driving along next to Camelback that we took a zillion pictures in the car, with no consideration for how they were likely to turn out.

What is there to say about a dinner at the Roaring Fork? This was our favorite restaurant when we lived here, and, beside a few supremely swanky dinners we’ve had at places well outside our regular orbits, remains right up at the top of the list. We had cocktails (an organic agave margarita and a prickly pear mojito), scrumptious appetizers (tempura-battered shrimp for Boomer, tortilla soup for Schnookie, and the famous green chile pork stew for Pookie), staggeringly good entrees (cedar plank salmon with apricot barbecue glaze for Boomer, roasted pork carnitas for Schnookie, buttermilk fried chicken for Pookie), and then barely had any room for our desserts (molten brownie and huckleberry bread pudding). The green chile pork stew is near the very top of our short list of bestest food stuffs on the planet, and it’s been two whole years since we last had it. Horrors!

It was well worth the wait.

Walking out of the Roaring Fork after dinner is never easy, considering how stuffed we always are. Tonight we left with a bag of our leftover desserts, as well as three mysterious gifts from the guy who bussed our table. He’d been very chatty, and we’d struck up pretty much an evening-long conversation with him; before we left he told us there were three boxes in our doggie bag that we had to wait until we were outside to open. When we got back to the hotel, we cracked them open:

What a sweet gesture! It was lilies from the table settings! After opening them, we had to glance around suspiciously, concerned that we were back in the “everyone breaking out in song” type of day we had yesterday. It’s way too late for musical numbers, so if there are any synchronized-swimming muppets hiding in the woodwork, we’d love for them to just wait until tomorrow.

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Filed under Away From Home, Celebratory!, Dining Out, Drinky-Drinky, On The Road, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words, Pins and Needles, Pommerdoodling, Stitching, Worth Selling Your Soul For

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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