Friday, October 30, 2009

A Cocktail For The Cold.

It must be said that forever and forevermore my favorite books shall always be the Harry Potter series. Call me a nerd, call me a dork, I'll not mind one bit. There's nothing as wonderful as getting sucked into another world, especially a magical world where people carry wands and study in a castle. Or, for that matter, drink firewhisky and butterbeer in dingy pubs to warm themselves from the wet and snow.

Which got me thinking about the importance of comforting drinks by the fire as the wintry weather encroaches on our doorsteps and frosts our windows. Hot chocolate will always be a warming staple, especially when spiced with a few drops of peppermint schnapps, but where's the American version of butterbeer and firewhisky?

I scoured Gourmet (RIP) and Bon Appetit for the answer to this question and discovered two very snazzy wintry cocktails that I think just about anybody who is chilly or lives in a cold place (with or without a fireplace) would enjoy. And even though our fireplace is strictly for decorative purposes, we'll cheers each other with a Tom & Jerry or a Ski Lift anyway. That way I can stay warmed and comfortable curled up on the sofa reading HP for the tenth time.


Recently, bartenders seem to have rediscovered tea as a cocktail ingredient. It’s being used to infuse spirits and as the base for cold punches, but it’s still rarely found in hot drinks like this one. Bourbon makes it slightly sweeter than rye does. This quantity will yield 8 to 10 mugs.

In a saucepan combine 2 cups hot, strong green tea, the juice of 3 lemons and 6 oranges, and 1/2 pound granulated sugar. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, add to it 1 fifth bourbon or rye and 2 ounces [orange] curaƧao and heat it to the boiling point but do not boil. Serve immediately.


2-3 tablespoons Tom & Jerry batter (see recipe below)
1/2 ounce of dark rum, such as Myers's
1/2 brandy
4 to 6 ounces hot water
Ground cinnamon

In a small, heavy mug, combine T&J batter, rum and brandy (warmed slightly), and hot water, whisking lightly to produce a light froth. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and serve immediately.

Tom & Jerry Batter

(For about 12 drinks; this recipe can be expanded as necessary)

2 organic, cage-free eggs, separated
1/2 pound powdered sugar
pinch cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 large pinches ground cloves
1 pinch ground cardamom

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until lemon-colored and frothy, then gradually add the powdered sugar, using a little water to moisten if necessary until a smooth paste forms. Whisk the egg whites in a small bowl until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and whisk until firm peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture until combined, then add the spices and adjust for taste. Store, refrigerated, no more than eight hours. Allow to warm slightly before using.

***Also, be sure to check out my friend Tacy's blog, Homemaking Habits, to read an interview on writing that I gave her this week!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Weekend!

Here's hoping that you have a delightful weekend!

Much love to YOU!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Drink This, You'll Live Longer.

This may not come as a big shock to you, especially considering the blase attitude in my last post, but I've not been cooking much lately. And I don't have much of an excuse, either, except that I became engrossed in a novel (Devil in the White City), couldn't set it down, and found that in a wink my husband had already helped himself to a bowl of cereal for dinner. (Don't feel too sorry for him, this Wild Blueberry Flax we buy is insanely delicious.) Sometimes I wonder if he conspires to eat cereal for dinner, either as a favor to me or as a treat to himself. I'm not sure.

Anyway, the point is that I haven't got a recipe for you today. I'm sorry. But what I do have for you may be even better. I hope you will think so. And the information suits up especially nicely with a book, so you really shouldn't be disappointed. Apparently, in some island off the coast of Greece, or wherever, there's a group of people that are quite old and perfectly healthy. Researchers expected to find the usual reason for such a boisterous, energetic community of elderly people, such as regular consumption of olive oil, or red wine, or perhaps even chocolate. Yet instead they discovered none of the above. The secret, they found, to the ageless skin and the hearty bodies was, in fact, that they all read books! No, that isn't true. But you could read a book while you are sipping on your hot cup of life-prolonging green tea, because that is what these people were consuming on a regular basis for their entire lives. (Think two to three cups per day.)

There are so many health benefits to drinking tea, among which are that it has anti-cancer properties, increases metabolic rate, boosts mental alertness, immune system and lowers stress hormone levels. In fact, it seems like there is no good reason why you shouldn't be drinking it all day long. To not do so would be the equivalent of not wearing your seatbelt. I'm going to stick with that metaphor and go ahead and stake the claim that we need to drink green tea. It is the seatbelt for our health.

My plan is to introduce it to my life twice a day. I don't intend on replacing it in the mornings because coffee is one of the reasons I get out of bed, but I am going to sip on it around mid-afternoon, and perhaps again in the evening after dinner. I know it kind of tastes like grass, but a person can get used to anything... right? Who's with me?

P.S. Most people recommend Gyokuro green tea, which can be found on Amazon. Also, brewing instructions HERE.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Whilst Waiting.

It is kind of the awkward time for vegetables. The in-between phase. Nothing new is rolling in and the summer crops are still hanging around. I don't know. It's kind of annoying. It's like getting ready to take a rather exhausting guest to the airport only to find their flight has been delayed and they are staying for another night. Or that haircut you had in college that was too short but took an unusually long time to grow out, so you walked around looking kind of awful. I don't know. Summer's doing that really rude, lingering thing that makes everyone feel uncomfortable.

Which makes it a little bit difficult to get excited about food. In fact, John and I have been so unenthusiastic about food we talked about detoxing. There's one we found where you only drink fruit juice for two days which seems like the sort of thing that would get me back into food, but... meh. The other day I told him we were getting back on the healthy food train (we've slipped a little bit, as of late) and then I made a batch of chocolate chip & oatmeal cookies. I don't know what my problem is.

I think I'm just ready for school. Anyway, enough moaning. Instead of talking about food today I had one idea I wanted to tell you about, which I think is pretty genius. Whilst waiting for the cold to come I have decided to buy a plant a week.

Specifically an herb. You know that for the price of those little packaged sprigs you find at the grocery store you can buy the whole plant. This one is lemon-thyme and it cost a whole $2.50. Anyway the plan is to get a little herb collection going in my kitchen, so that when it is freezing outside and I do feel like cooking, I can pluck a few stems from a friendly little kitchen plant. Yes, I could run out and buy tons of herbs from a greenhouse and set them around all at once, but I like doing it this way. It somehow feels more sincere.

This way, when I get tired of cold and winter, I'll be surrounded by a mini-greenhouse. And I'll not have to send John out in the freezing winter night to get parsley because I'll be snipping it off from my warm, cozy kitchen. Brilliant. I'm preserving a little bit of summer for when the time comes (and it surely will) that I'm moaning and groaning about winter. (You should do it too, we'll feel so prepared together.)

P.S. For those of you who may be disappointed there's no recipe today, click HERE. You know I wouldn't let ya down.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Every Student's Best Friend.

I have some exciting news... I’m going to be a student again. (eee!) The University of Georgia has kindly accepted me as a transfer student, so come January I can head back and get my degree. This is something I’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time (as some of you may already know). I can’t wait. At night I dream of ballpoint pens, Five-Star notebooks and highlighters. The front row seat in each of my classes is being mentally reserved for me come January. DON’T TOUCH IT!

I realized today that - in homage to my new plight as a student - I ought to dedicate something to the glorious world and lifestyle that is college. And what more perfect necessary accoutrement to books, papers and studying could there be than every student's best friend, coffee.

Coincidentally, our coffee machine broke down the other day. It started sputtering and billowing puffs of steam that lingered about the kitchen like faint clouds. We decided it was time to get a French press.

It was a good decision. I love this thing. It takes coffee to a better-tasting, downright inspiring level. All you have to do is wake up, boil water, pour water in grounds, wait four minutes, press and drink. I'm no coffee sommelier, but I swear I can taste all the rich, roasted flavors... although I may need to give credit to Jittery Joe's as well. Anyway, it gives me a happier morning. It makes me like waking up. Armed with this lovely, fresh cup of coffee I think I could ace any exam that is coming my way...

The moral of the story here is to go get a french press. You won't regret it, and they are selling them right now for half price on Amazon. If you love coffee and already know this, then the second moral of the story is that I'm going back to school. Hooray!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Blues, Monday News...

It's a bleary Monday and I've been feeling a little bit under the weather - so I thought I'd take it easy on myself and send out some linkage for you, which is really just a small compilation of articles I've read whilst snuggled up on the couch, that I thought you might enjoy...

Firstly, sad news for all you cooking mag readers. Gourmet, the food magazine beloved by all is being shut down. Bummer. Now's probably a good time to head to your printer and print off recipes from their website and snag their last issue. *sniff* You'll be missed, Gourmet!

Diary of a Foodie logo

The New York Times ran an article yesterday about a young girl who was poisoned by a lethal strand of E.coli from a burger she ate, packaged by Cargill. (In the article they reveal how one patty has beef from at least six different places. ) It's a tragic story, but more than worth reading. Also, it's an outrage when our country can't sell a package of ground beef from the same cow. Article here.

Have a laugh (because I'm guessing I've depressed you a little bit with today's linkage) while reading this article. Honestly, it's unbelievable that the food industry would put a health sticker on a box of Fruit Loops... but they do, and get away with it. Here's to hoping people are smarter than that!

And lastly, find out what it means to be southern, and cook southern food, by the charming Edna Lewis.
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