Kentucky cocktail, cake optional

wpid-kentucky-mule_01.jpg.jpegwpid-buttermilk-cake-slice_02.jpg.jpegLast post’s Buttermilk Cake was a sweet tribute to my late Great-aunt Helen. And as we do with all of these sweet tributes, it’s time to find an adult beverage pairing.

Because I’ve been enjoying classic Moscow Mules (a.k.a. Vodka Bucks) lately, I considered suggesting that this vodka-lime cocktail accompany the cake. But somehow the flavors of the cake and cocktail didn’t seem to mesh.

My thoughts next turned to bourbon, as they often do, and I remembered a Mule variation I also enjoy: The Kentucky Mule.wpid-kentucky-mule.jpg.jpegSadly, none of my cocktail cookbooks carried this recipe, so I googled and found this beauty. Three ingredients were mixed and I soon had a Kentucky Mule in hand.

Some recipes I’d found also contained mint, hinting at another bourbon favorite–the Mint Julep. But I stuck with the simplicity of bourbon, ginger beer, lime juice and was richly rewarded. More tart than sweet, it could have used an extra pour of ginger beer, but overall it was refreshing and lovely.

Opportunity to pair it with the cake was missed as the cake didn’t last long enough to meet the Mule. The Kentucky Mule doesn’t need a cake partner, though, and I’ll happily toast food for fun readers with a glass. Thanks for being here!wpid-bourbon-mule.jpg.jpeg

going grey(hound)

wpid-salty-dog_01.jpg.jpegWelcome to another session of Cocktail U, where we ponder adult-beverage basics and find sippers to match recipes from Great-aunt Helen’s recipe box. Today we ask ourselves, “what to drink with DIY BBQ chicken?”wpid-20150407_175147.jpgWhat indeed? A Greyhound–my husband’s go-to cocktail–seemed a good match. Basically a Screwdriver with grapefruit juice replacing the orange, Greyhounds are tart enough to be interesting while sweet and boozy enough to make you want to empty your glass.

My husband happened upon this cocktail classic when we needed to move through a crate of grapefruit purchased from a school fundraiser. While a half-grapefuit, drizzled with honey and sometimes broiled, is good for breakfast, there is also something fun about squeezing these monster citrus fruits for their tasty juice. Even better is mixing the freshly squeezed grapefruit juice with spirits. (Tequila and vodka are especially good pairings.) wpid-greyhound.jpgHence, the Greyhound. According to Amanda Hallay’s Vintage Cocktails,, mixing this beverage is as simple aswpid-20150421_185840.jpgWith the tartness of grapefruit, it’s possible you’d want to stir in agave syrup or honey. I liked it as-is, though, and further dressed it up by rimming the glass with salt. Technically, then, we’re looking at a Salty Dog, but no matter what you call it, it’s a refreshing cocktail and partners well with barbecued chicken.wpid-salty-dog.jpg.jpeg

sherry stirred, not shaken

wpid-20150324_161524.jpgAfter an unintended break, food for fun is ready to climb back on the Cocktail U train in search of the perfect cocktail for last post’s Cheese Soufflé. This seemed a tricky pairing. While wine and cheese go together like, well, wine and cheese, I can’t think of many mixed drinks I’d want to sip alongside a mixture of cheese, eggs, and bread. So I asked this question: What would Great-aunt Helen do?

And the answer is that she would drink sherry. Though I was too young to join her in a glass of this fortified wine, I remember seeing her sip sherry from a small, pretty stemmed glass. It means the world to me that I now have one of her original glasses and can sip sherry from it, just as she did back in the day.

Sherry by itself, though, does not a cocktail make. To my trusty collection of cocktail books I turned, where I found what sounded to be a lovely sherry-based drink in The Savoy Cocktail Book.wpid-20150324_160152.jpg

Ordered from Amazon after reading about it on another Word Press blog, Savoy is old-school. Originally published in 1930, this book celebrates the famed London Savoy Hotel bar. Without so much as an index, it was challenging to search, but because the drinks are alphabetized, I turned to S for sherry and found this little gem:wpid-20150324_160219.jpgI mixed a Sherry Cocktail to the best of my ability (Who’s to say exactly how much sherry is “1 Glass”?) and enjoyed the results.wpid-20150324_161447.jpgPretty as can be, strained into Great-aunt Helen’s classy vintage sherry glass, this amber-colored drink was bracing. Only slightly sweet, it was meant for sipping, and would make a nice foil for a rich and creamy cheesy soufflé.wpid-20150324_161549.jpgThough it’s becoming vogue again, sherry is often thought of as a drink best suited for old ladies. There may be some truth to this as Helen was one of those older ladies–at least when I knew her. But I’ve always enjoyed sherry as well (and I’m not OLD), especially the sweeter “cream” style. That it mixes well into a cocktail is a lovely bonus.wpid-20150324_161538.jpgA Sherry Cocktail toast, then, in memory of Great-aunt Helen. And a toast to you as well: Thank you for stopping over. Next week we’ll find another recipe in Helen’s collection that needs making.

milk with a punch

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Last week we enjoyed oatmeal muffins à la Great-aunt Helen’s recipe box and the promise was made to next find an appropriate beverage to accompany.Now to borrow an advertising slogan: Got Milk?Muffins and milk make good partners, but because we’re … Continue reading

the drinks of Door County

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Life was sweet last week when food for fun took a quick trip to Door County, Wisconsin. Next on our list are the beverages enjoyed on my recent foodie vacay. Quick recap: A friend invited me to join her for … Continue reading

cocktail dreams, mojito moments

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Why do we blog? I can’t answer for everyone, but I know I’m here–at least in part–to indulge in fantasy. Though I try to (mostly) write about real life, I read your blogs for vicarious reasons. Thanks to your posts, … Continue reading

going to the dark side and the tour

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So. Welcome to another week here at food for fun. Please help yourself to a chilled, creamy beverage while I explain what we’re up to today. This week kicks off a bit differently than others as I’m responding to a … Continue reading

gate-crashing a Sicilian cocktail party

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Liz: Well, hello. Welcome to a Special Travel Edition here at food for fun. I hope you brought your passport, as we’re going International today. First, you’ll want to meet my friend Saucy of Saucy Gander. She puts my simple … Continue reading

soy brownies and rum?

Spring break is so over. A week of r& r at the in-laws–complete with far more DIY marshmallows consumed than recommended–was lovely, but this week it’s back to that real world and all its ensuing insanity. Cue the crazy.

Which put me at the intersection of Nothing Prepared and No New Ideas when time came to write this week’s post. So I’ll fall back on a now time-honored tradition of repeating myself, visiting my work elsewhere in the blogsphere.

Another month, another post at Minnesota Soyfoods Real Story Blog: Brownies anyone? (no worries–neither tofu nor actual soybeans were used)

We also play a game here at food for fun called “Find a Cocktail Recipe.” Enter part deux of this post…

Immediately upon opening the liquor cabinet, out fell a small paperback volume I don’t remember seeing before.

vintage 1940

vintage 1970

Famous Rum Drinks of the Virgin Islands is all of 32 pages and was penned by a Ms Dea Murray as a collection of drinks from “famous hotels, restaurants & bars.” Drowning in red, brown, gold, and harvest orange glory, it could only be a garage sale find. Yet its appearance rang no bells.

That said, it fell out of my liquor cabinet–reason enough to thumb through. Bluebeard’s Wench called for blue curaco, which is not on my shelf. Same story Hurricane Buster. Old Fashioned Voodoo would be mine if only I had guava juice. Swashbuckler called for Champagne and Coco Loco requires the purchase of coconut cream. Clearly I need a better pantry for this book.

wpid-mntsdcardPhoto-Editor2014-03-19-20.32.06.jpg.jpgFortunately, Rum Swizzle met me where I was at. Out came the rum, sweet vermouth, lemon, bitters, and fresh nutmeg. Though not a big fan of rum, I like what it stands for: warm sand and sun, island breezes, tropical tunes.

The resulting sipper was bracingly tart and could’ve stood a bit more sweet, but it won me over by being both assertive and classy. A newly purchased thrift-store cocktail glass made the project even more fun.

sS what if it's only 33°F outside? I have rum in my cocktail.

So what if it’s only 33°F outside? I have rum in my cocktail.

Our winter may not be over quite yet, but the mercury climbs slowly and surely a tropical rum cocktail can help push things in the right direction. So here’s to seeing the backside of winter. Here’s to garage sale finds–remembered or no. And here’s to the busy-ness of life. May it all be great fun as often as it can. Cheers!

2 oatmeal cookies–one traditional, one not so much

A fellow WordPress blogger set a lofty goal for herself in committing to read 52 books in 2014. An avid reader as well, I pledged to join her. While I read a fair amount of food-related fare (culinary mysteries are faves), I enjoy genres of all sorts.

Take my most recent read: Before Green Gables. The prequel to the series of Anne and her adventures on Prince Edward Island, it covers the span from just before her birth to her arrival on PEI. It’s a tale that speaks to the spirit of the underdog as well as how hard life was in earlier centuries.

Though there was no direct food connection, Anne’s story made me crave cookies. Molasses, oatmeal, and other old-school favorites were mentioned in its pages. I wanted a plate of old-school, from-scratch, homemade cookies. Oatmeal seemed the thing and despite a disdain for raisins in baked goods (which I’ve learned many of you wholeheartedly share), I had to have me some oatmeal raisin cookies.

yes, they have raisins, but they're so good!

yes, they have raisins, but they’re tasty!

The recipe came from Susan G. Purdy’s The Family Baker. I followed directions for the extra-chewy version, soaking the raisins in beaten eggs and vanilla for an hour before stirring into the batter. Note that this version replaces 1/2 cup butter with an equal amount of shortening, though coconut oil works if shortening isn’t happening in your kitchen. These are lovely cookies, chewy and sweet. Pair them with a glass of milk and call it breakfast.

And the other oatmeal cookie? This one was found in Bartender’s Black Book, purchased ten or so years ago as my first foray into cocktails. I remember well the winter weekend my husband and I were snowbound with a sick baby. We watched movies to pass the time, but my recently purchased spiral-bound bar guide called to me and I flipped through, imagining the cocktails I could create if only I had the booze.

The following weekend we were still snowbound and baby was still sick. Tired of winter, tired of sick, it was time to make my cocktail dream reality. After making notes of recipes I wanted to try along with spirits to buy, I ventured out the few blocks to a local liquor store and came home with ingredients for an Oatmeal Cookie.

oatmeal cookie squared

an oatmeal cookie served with oatmeal cookies

In the spirit of cocktail evolution, I more recently dressed this drink up after Attempts at Domesticity posted this marvelous concoction on deLizious facebook. A cap of marshmallow fluff and brief spin in the microwave made for a steamy and sweet cookie cocktail. No surprise that it pairs perfectly with treats that Anne (with an “e”) would most certainly have enjoyed.

before heating

before heating

30 seconds later

30 seconds later

what a way to drink!

what a glorious drink!

Extra-Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Add raisins; stir to coat. Let soak 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.

In mixing bowl, beat together butter, shortening, and granulated and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add soaked raisin mixture; beat to blend. Slowly beat in flour mixture just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in oats.

Drop batter inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 12 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets 1 minute; transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Oatmeal Cookie Cocktail

  • 2 ounces half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish cream liqueur
  • 1 1/2 ounces butterscotch schnapps
  • 1 ounce Jägermeister
  • 1 ounce cinnamon schnapps
  • Large spoonful marshmallow fluff

In microwave-safe drinking glass or mug, stir together all ingredients except marshmallow fluff. Top with fluff, spooning to seal rim of glass. Microwave, watching carefully, 30 seconds or until warm and fluff is puffed but hasn’t yet overflowed.

eggnog blog (plus granola bars, too)

While eggnog is held in higher regard than say…fruitcake, it’s still not always respected. It’s old-school. It’s quaint. It’s the kind of party drink Clark Griswold enjoys.

Then again, all things “old-school” seem to be enjoying new-found popularity. (Can you say “retro”?) Old-fashioned cocktails are making a comeback and I’m betting eggnog is poised to do the same.

This train of thought led me to my most recent Blog of Funny Names post. Would you please hop over to read about funny eggnog names (bonus comic included)? Then return for a recipe and a snack!

***

Researching the BoFN post made me thirsty for eggnog, though I wanted to try my hand at DIY instead of buying store-bought. An Alton Brown recipe (Anyone else an AB fan? I love this man.) came to mind, so I googled and hit the kitchen.

Brown offers uncooked and cooked versions of this holiday punch. Knowing full well that consuming raw eggs is not recommend, I went with uncooked anyway, mainly to save time. (Pasteurized eggs are an option, though the whites won’t whip as fully.) Without whole milk, I subbed in soymilk and also used rum instead of bourbon. As well, I cut the recipe down to make only one serving.

Though I expected the eggnog to turn out nicely, I had no idea it would be amazing. After just five minutes of prep time, this eggnog poured up light, fluffy, cool, creamy, and refreshing. I would have downed the entire serving (and it was a big mug) in one swallow if I hadn’t had a meeting to run off to. (Though you’d better believe I stored it in the fridge for later consumption.)

freshly grated nutmeg is so worth the effort

freshly grated nutmeg is so worth the effort

The cooked version would have been thicker, I’d imagine, but still creamy and decadent in its own way. What matters most here is how unbelievably easy it is to whip up your own batch of eggnog. Even without the booze, this is a lovely holiday beverage: Think of it as (melted) ice cream for winter.

With a mug of eggnog at the ready, we’ll need a snack. Preferably something healthy to balance out the cream and sugar. How about granola bars?

A few weeks back, food for fun offered a granola bar recipe. Soon after, Shanna of Curls and Carrots surprised me by sharing her AMAZING granola bars and crediting me with helping to inspire her recipe. These granola bars looked better than what I’d made and I looked forward to making a batch.

No surprise–Shanna’s Favorite Granola Bars were phenomenal. With room for all sorts of improv, they can be made repeatedly without ever being the same: I used dried apricots in place of some of the dried cherries and almonds instead of pecans. I also chopped up chocolate bars instead of hunting down chocolate buttons. Shanna had also mentioned trying cinnamon along with the other spices, which sounds lovely to me.

packed with goodness

packed with goodness

Now that we have our food and drink plated and ready to go, I offer you a warming winter beverage and a deliciously healthy snack.

DIY granola bars and eggnog. Cheers!

DIY granola bars and eggnog. Cheers!

cocktails, sci-fi snow day edition

While it may be sunny and possibly even warm where you are, it snowed lots today here in Minnesota and the temps are set to go near-zero F before the week is out. What’s a food blogger to do? Baking seemed the natural way to warm up, but as you can see from this post’s title, that’s not how things went down.

Instead, I turned to two cocktails that have been on my to-do list for a while. The first came about when I was introduced to all things Dr. Who by my most excellent blogger friend, amb. (You’ve seen her here before.) I knew nothing, so asked her simple questions such as “what is a tardis?” and “what is a sonic screwdriver?” And while I’m now well-versed on the blue box that is the tardis, I’m still a bit unclear on sonic screwdriver. (Amb saying, “A sonic screwdriver is like … a magic wand. But science-y,” helped only a bit.) To me, a sonic screwdriver sounds like a cocktail waiting to happen.

Stumbling on this post, then, was Kismet. Inspiration kicked into high gear and I could almost taste that cosmic concoction. Today’s snow meant canceling an engagement across town, so I used the time instead to mix my Whovian adult beverage. Three parts orange juice joined one part candy corn vodka to create this day-glo cocktail.

Whovian Sonic Screwdriver, anyone?

Whovian Sonic Screwdriver, anyone?

The super-sweet vodka demanded a bit of salt for balance, so I rimmed the glass with salt. (True, rimming a glass with salt is more a margarita thing, but I’d bet Dr. Who is good with me mixing things up a bit.)

I imagine this beverage as a sort of cosmic super juice that would allow Dr. Who–in whatever form he takes–to vanquish alien enemies everywhere. The bad guy wouldn’t stand a chance.

Stranded at home with one cocktail creation down, I decided to tackle an igloo drink I joked about making when commenting over at Blog of Funny Names. I don’t remember specific circumstances, but somehow it stuck that I had challenged myself to create another adult beverage with the only parameter (besides having to taste good, of course) being that it fit the description of “igloo.”

A google search found one recipe with gin and vodka, which sounded lovely. It contained a lime though, not tracking with a winter theme, so I subbed in a peeled and sectioned clementine. Honey added sweet and I muddled it all and tasted. Whoa. It screamed for a nonalcoholic dilution and I considered the possibilities: Ice? Tonic? Soda? Glancing out the kitchen window, at heavily falling snow, gave my brain a start. A conversation I’d had months earlier with a colleague came back to me: She’d jokingly challenged me to create and “adult snow cone.” Now was my chance!

I stepped outside (brrrrr) and filled a glass with freshly fallen snow. (Freshly fallen is key here–didn’t want already-marked snow. Though I’ve heard arguments that even “clean” snow isn’t clean after falling through an atmosphere rich in pollutants. Eh…I pushed that thought aside and forged ahead.)

snow

waiting for snow cone status

I then strained my clementine-steeped spirits over the snow and watched it quickly melt down. A sip told me I had a potent and bracing winter refresher. It seemed an apt Igloo.

The Igloo

The Igloo

Dedicated to the BoFN co-founder who gave me the idea, this second cocktail wraps up the first of many snow days ahead. Wishing you all warm and toasty thoughts, no matter the weather.

Arto’s Igloo

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 clementine, peeled and separated into sections
  • Freshly fallen snow or finely crushed ice

In tall glass, combine gin, vodka, and honey; stir to blend. Add clementine; muddle well. Fill a short glass with snow or ice. Strain gin mixture over snow.

crabapple hooch

My neighborhood isn’t tight in the way some are. No block parties and outside of the casual, “hi, how’s it going,” folks tend to stick to their own business. That said, there are a few neighbors we’ve connected with and built relationships with. And it is to them that I dedicate this post.

treesTwo years ago, I was invited by neighbors across the street to help myself to the beautiful and rosy red crabapples hanging from their tree.

Never one to turn down free food, I filled a large bucket and considered my options. This being so long ago, I don’t remember exactly why I thought “liqueur,” but I did and after a quick google search, I had my recipe.

apples picked

apples picked

quartered and cored

quartered and cored

My husband and I settled in to watch a movie that night and I started in on the crabapple prep. Had I known that coring these tiny little apples would take upwards of six hours, I would have started much earlier.

mixed with sugar and vodka

mixed with sugar and vodka

Eventually, though, I was ready to mix the quartered crabapples with vodka and sugar. And when I climbed into bed at 2 a.m., I was comforted in knowing that my crabapple vodka would be ready for unveiling in 16 short days.

a bit cloudy at first--sugar crystals will dissolve in a few weeks and the resulting liqueur will be ruby red and crystal clear

a bit cloudy at first

16 days later

16 days later

high-tech filtration system

high-tech filtration system

isn't it lovely?

isn’t it lovely?

They didn’t disappoint. What a lovely batch of liqueur: brilliant red, sweet but tart, almost syrupy. I treasured my supply and whittled it down ever so slowly.

For botanical reasons of which I know not, this crabapple tree bears fruit every other year. Last year, then, offered no harvest. But this year I hit the jackpot and was invited again by our neighbors to pick.

This go-round, I’m tackling the project in smaller segments–no more all-nighters for me–and am once again comforted and thrilled to have crabapple hooch “brewing” to sip, savor, and share.

on the tree

on the tree

Many thanks to neighbors who are willing to share their harvest. I also raise a glass of this lovely spirit to Jessica, a neighbor and friend who is relatively new to the street and, sadly, soon to leave. We’ve shared a few toasts over the years, and I thank you for your friendship. You will be missed!

cheers to Jessica :-)

cheers to Jessica 🙂