Drinks

Ciderhouse Whiskey

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DSC_1446Alright, here is the first of the recipes and of course I start with booze!  This recipe I found on Saveur’s website.  I thought it sounded amazing and it was!  How can you go wrong with bourbon and cider?  I make a similar version that involves bourbon, cider, and sparkling wine — very festive.  Anyhoo, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. cider syrup
  • strip of lemon zest
  • ice

Combine bourbon and cider syrup over ice and stir.  Twist the lemon zest to release the lemon oil and drop into the drink.  Stir again and serve!

I think that drink is way to much for Mr. Jack O' Turtle.  Or maybe he's a frog.  I don't know
I think that drink is way to much for Mr. Jack O’ Turtle. Or maybe he’s a frog. I don’t know

Notes — Cider syrup is essentially some cider that has been really boiled down.  I started out with about 6 – 7 cups of cider and boiled it down to about a cup or a cup and a half.  It maybe filled the syrup dispenser shown in the pics to about 80%.  According to the recipe, you’ll need to boil it down gently for about 2 hours; mine took about 3. . . The bourbon that I used is from the Grand Traverse Distillery in Traverse City.  I had gone up there for a vacation just before the summer tourist season started.  I was absolutely floored by it!  This was one of the places that I had definitely wanted to visit while up north and I was not disappointed.  They only make some small batches and they only had a few bottles left when I was there.  Luckily I had picked up a bottle for me and one as a gift.  What’s nice is that they do their very best to use locally produced grains to make their spirits.  I believe that everything is Michigan made, except for the bourbon — I think they need to get the barley from out-of-state.  If I remember correctly, it is 70% corn, 20% rye, and 10% barley.  I was familiar with their high quality vodkas and now they are working on making a gin and rum as well.  I can’t wait to go back and see what else they’ve got and luckily they are building a tasting room in Novi, MI so I won’t have to drive up to Traverse City to get myself a taste!. . .

My handwriting is terrible.  But I do love my chalkboard pantry in the kitchen.
My handwriting is terrible. But I do love my chalkboard pantry in the kitchen.

Pumpkin Carving 2013

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Hey everybody!  Happy Halloween!  I just had my annual Pumpkin Carving this past weekend.  Sure it was cold and it did rain a little bit, but I think everyone had fun.  We even did it up a little bit and put some bales of hay around the fire pit so folks could carve and still stay warm.  And we did have a fire extinguisher on hand because having a bunch of dry straw next to an open flame isn’t exactly the safest thing to do.

How autumny!
How autumnal!

Folks brought some stuff to share like a nice rice salad and a yummy warm spinach dip.  We provided the pumpkins and made a big batch of chili.  I baked a whole bunch of stuff as well:

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

I haven't made these extra festive yet with my Halloween accoutrements
I haven’t made these extra festive yet with my Halloween accoutrements

Pepita Lavender Brittle

I love this stuff!
I love this stuff!

Savory Pumpkin Rugelach

Savory and sweet!
Savory and sweet!

Ciderhouse Whiskey (Saveur)

I am clearly not talented at making acceptable lemon twists.
I am clearly not talented at making acceptable lemon twists.

I also made a Harvest Spread, but that was from a mix (I know).  I’ll get the recipes up as soon as I can.  Well, maybe not the Brittle recipe because I have done a Lavender Pepita Croquant before and the recipe is very similar.  On a weird side note, apparently I am the country’s leading expert on Pepita Croquant.  I did a Google search to do some research and there I was — I took up the top three spots.  Weird and unexpected, but still kewl.  Anyhoo, keep an eye out for the recipes and be safe during the holiday!

Friday Foodie Funnies, ep. 5

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Hey y’all!  I’ve had a weird week, and not in a good way.  I had a weird interview followed by back-to-back days of unrelated volleyball injuries.  Huzzah!  Well, watching this video made me feel better.  It is fall and if you remember my post from a couple of weeks back, it is time for Pumpkin-Spice everything!  This video shows how some people might feel about that.  And yes, I did post this on Facebook yesterday, but I liked it so much I wanted to share it here.

 

Spotlight on local coffeehouses

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Here’s one of those “lost posts” that I had mentioned before.  This was originally scheduled to go out last year so it may be a little bit dated.  But it’s still applicable since students are coming back into town and the coffee shops are going to be even more packed.  Anyhoo, these are a couple of my favorites.

Just a quick post here.  The site Serious Eats just did a spotlight a few weeks ago on where you can get some good coffee here in Michigan.  And two out of the four selected just happen to be in town!  I happen to love both of these places for two completely different reasons.

So let’s start out with one of my favorite hang outs — the Ugly Mug in Ypsilanti, MI.  This place holds a special place in my heart because it was the first coffee house that I found when I first moved to the area that didn’t begin with a “Star” and end with a “Bucks”.  But besides that fact, they brew a damn good cup of coffee.  It’s a down-home, down-to-earth kinda place where they happen to roast beans on site — huzzah!  It’s just a couple of blocks from Eastern Michigan University and is loved by locals and visitors alike.  What’s great is that they also host a series of different events, ranging from workshops, to art shows, to tastings, to poetry readings.  And if you are having some problems with your own home brewing equipment, staff will be more than willing to help you out as best as they can.  Be sure to visit their Flickr account on their Links menu and check them out on Twitter.

It’s the Ugly Mug!
He helped make the coffee.
I usually get the Almond Joy

The other local coffeehouse found in the fabulous Nickels Arcade landmark is Ann Arbor’s Comet Coffee.  This place is relatively new, being around for a couple of years, and it has a completely different feel from the Ugly Mug.  It has a modern, sparse feel which is set up in a small store front in the Arcade.  What makes this place unique are the methods that they use to make their coffee.  Each cup is brewed individually at specific temperatures, and what you get is one of the best cups of coffee around.  The coffee isn’t brewed, but “pulled” through a porcelain cones into individual cups.  Since everything is done on a individual basis, there is no risk of having a cup of coffee that has been sitting in a carafe for a few hours.  Plus, following this method helps preserve some of the more subtle notes and flavors in each cup.  And being literally across the street from the University of Michigan helps foster a strong following among students and faculty.  But non-students, and even Spartans (Go State!) love this place 🙂

Yay! Comet Coffee!
Japanese Iced Coffee — so good!

Now if you include Astro Coffee in Detroit, three out of the four coffeehouses featured are here in SE Michigan.  Kudos to us!  So if you’re ever in town, be sure to visit these local gems and get yourself a cup.  And get yourself a t-shirt.  And tell them I sent ya!  And (as always) don’t forget to visit and like my Facebook pages for Daisy Cakes and Jereme’s Kitchen.  Shameless self-promotion endures!

Notes — Since I first wrote this, I actually have gone to Astro Coffee in Corktown, Detroit.  Amazing cup of coffee!  And the pics of Comet Coffee I picked up from their Facebook page.  I did double-check and get permission, but that was about a year ago so they probably don’t remember.  At least I asked first!

Watermelon Punch

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It’s August and Summer is in full swing here in Michigan.  Actually, with the weather we’ve been having here the past few weeks, it feels like Fall.  Not that I mind the cooler temperatures; I’m just hope the mild summer is not going to translate into a brutal winter.  But enough about that — nothing says summer quite like a nice boozy watermelon punch.

DSC_1426
Ready for summer!

I did just have my summer shindig recently and made this again.  I usually have 4 big get-togethers each year when I invite my close friends (actually I consider these guys to be family) and treat them to some free food and booze.  Sure this explanation is a little simplistic, but y’all don’t need to get into my big bag of crazy when it comes to planning and prep.  I actually don’t remember what else I made, other than stuff on the grill.  But I did remember this!  Making this concoction this time seemed a lot easier, but last time I was face down in my backyard all afternoon so who knows what my recollection can actually count for.  And, of course, I could not find my old recipe no matter how much I looked around for it.  So this is a whole new deal.

Here's a better shot to get a feel of the size of the watermelon.  Just a "regular" size I guess
Here’s a better shot to get a feel of the size of the watermelon. Just a “regular” size I guess

Now I really like this recipe.  I didn’t think it was overly sweet and you could still pick up on all the ingredients.  And if you are like me, you may just have a couple of portions of mint syrup just hanging out in the freezer for emergencies.

Yummy!  It's difficult to see, but this glass has my name etched into it!  Thanks to the in-laws for the gift!
Yummy! It’s difficult to see, but this glass has my name etched into it! Thanks to the in-laws for the gift!

I did hollow out the watermelon and use it as a serving utensil, which is completely optional.  I like the presentation.  If you were interested in serving it this way but don’t know where to get a spigot like this, you could check out your local brewer’s supply shop.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 watermelon (medium-sized, I guess.  Use the pictures as a reference)
  • 1/2 – 1 c. vodka
  • 1 c. cachaça
  • 1 1/2 c. rum (I used a dark 8-year-old rum)
  • 4 oz. Midori
  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 2 c. mint syrup

1.  Take your watermelon and see if it’s able to stand on its end.  If not, just cut off a small slice to level it off, making sure not to expose any of the inner flesh.

2.  Cut off the top couple of inches of the watermelon to expose some of the red flesh inside (wow that sounds a little macabre).  Using an ice cream scoop, start scooping out the fruit (berry?) and place it in a food processor.  Pulse it in batches until smooth and run the purée through a fine sieve set over a large bowl.

3.  In a large pitcher or jug, combine the vodka, cachaça, rum, Midori, lime juice, and mint syrup.  Stir to blend.

4.  Add the strained watermelon juice and stir to combine.  You can refrigerate this overnight, just be sure to mix it before hand.

5.  Pour yourself a little happy.  Add some ice if you like!

Here's the impaled watermelon!
Here’s the impaled watermelon!

Notes — you may want to run the watermelon through a very fine sieve.  you could just line a sieve with some paper towel, but that sounds like a long process. . .  if you cut off too much on the bottom to level the watermelon, it’s not the end of the world.  just be sure not to hollow out the watermelon too much or you will have a boozy, leaky mess on your hands. . . also, be careful not to take out too much of the pulp (is that the right term?).  if you are overzealous with your scraping, the hollowed out shell might crack and there’s another boozy, leaky mess. . .

What a great day to repeal Prohibition!. . . and have a Ginger Lime Martini

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On this day (April 10th) way back in 1933, the great state of Michigan became the first state in the union to repeal prohibition — huzzah!  Yup, Michigan became the first state to ratify the 21st amendment, which overturned the 18th amendment — that’s the one that made booze illegal.  In your face Wisconsin!!!  They were the second state to do it, but there’s still a little bad blood over here for them trying to call themselves the “Mitten State” a few months back.  At least both travel boards worked together to use the controversy to help a good cause.

But I digress. . . back to the end of prohibition.  Historians estimate that about 75% of alcohol consumed in the States during prohibition came through Detroit.  Right across the border, Ontario went dry but Canada didn’t ban the manufacture of alcohol for export.  Put that all together, and you can see how Michigan became Booze Central for the country.

Ginger Lime Martini yumminess

I, for one, love the end of prohibition.  If you’re a regular reader, it should come to no surprise.  But here is how I intend to celebrate — with a Ginger Lime Martini!  Sure it’s 10 o’clock in the morning, but what else am I going to do today?

This is taken from Eve Aronoff’s book which was part of my blogiversary give-away (I did pick the winner BTW).  Consider this a preview for those who didn’t win the book.  Maybe you’ll see it a bookstore near you; hopefully you’ll pick it up!  Now I absolutely love these, and I may have had more than my fair share at that wedding reception I was talking about a couple of posts ago 🙂  I just can’t say stop when there’s ginger and lime involved. . . and vodka, don’t forget the vodka.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 t. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 T, plus 1 t simple syrup
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 T chopped crystallized ginger

1.  Combine the lime juice and the ginger and let sit for at least an hour.

2.  In a cocktail shaker combine lime juice, ginger, simple syrup, and vodka with ice and shake vigorously.

3.  Pour into a martini glass and garnish with the crystallized ginger (I was fresh out so I didn’t add that last bit)

Thought I'd try to get some of the garden in the picture. Pics don't always work out the well I planned. At least the foot of the glass looks clean here 🙂

Notes — The color may be a little off from what y’all get.  The vodka that I use has some Bison Grass in it and the grass gives it a greenish hue.

Pisco what now?

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It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m sick again.  So I’m here on the sofa drinking tea and watching Martha Stewart.  And for whatever reason I start thinking to myself, “Waterlily, we certainly have a lot of Pisco.”  Now what else can you do with Pisco that isn’t a Pisco Sour?  If you don’t know, Pisco is essentially a brandy made from grapes that is particular to Chile and Peru.  Kinda like champagne, there is debate about what can be called pisco, depending on the origin of the grapes.  According to Chilean law, for a spirit to be called pisco, it must be made from muscat grapes from particular regions of Chile (regions 3 and 4 to be exact).  Anything else will not be recognized as pisco.  Of course, don’t tell that to any Peruvians since there is an actual town called Pisco, which is the origin of the brandy.

After a trip through the kitchen, I came up with some rhubarb syrup, pisco, cognac, rum, and lime juice.  What I can up with is kinda like a Sidecar.  And since it’s Valentine’s Day, I christen this drink the Rhisco Kiss.  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 oz. Pisco
  • 2 oz. Rhubarb syrup
  • 1 oz. brandy
  • 1 oz. rum
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • ice

Line the rim of a martini glass with some sugar.  Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker to combine.  Strain into the glass and drink up!

Rhubarb syrup
I just like to colors of the drink and the rhubarb syrup

Notes — I get a lot of my booze know-how from drinking experience and from the program Three Sheets.  It aired on the Mojo network a few years ago, and after that network went belly up, it made the rounds on several other channels.  I lost track of it after that, but what I liked about the show was that you got a chance to actually learn about different cultures, traditions, and the booze that they drink.  I’ve seen a couple of newer versions of the program, but they focus more on drinking than on culture.  I haven’t been as enamored about those shows as I am with Three Sheets.  If you get a chance check them out.  It’s on Hulu and YouTube and the like.  I’ll post a video of the Chilean show on my Facebook page, so go visit me there and like my page.  I’m up to five likes now!

Rhisco Kiss