Broken Hearts, Crushed Mint, and Other Things (Or Cowboy Hoof Cocktails)

I had a mini breakthrough on my recent heartbreak. I was able to put some of the experience — and my buried feelings about it — into words. Granted, they’re words forever hidden in a journal, but they represent progress for me nonetheless.

(I’m super remedial when it comes to my heart.)

There’s a chance I’ll mine those words at some point for more inspiration, but for now I’m grateful I was able to do something, however small, with my feelings.

In other news, I came across an intriguing cocktail recipe today and thought I’d give it a try.

It’s called the Cowboy Hoof.

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I channel my inner cowboy at times.

#whenintexas

That’s why the name caught my eye.

As if the name weren’t enough, the ingredients sent me over the edge: mint AND gin?

Yes, please.

I’ve been known to sip Sapphire like it’s the sweet nectar of life, and I eat fresh mint garnish instead of the desserts it adorns, so this cocktail spoke to my soul and stuff.

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The drink is MUCH prettier than my pic.

(I’m probably more remedial about photography than I am about my feelings.)

ANYWAY, ignore the basic pic, and just make yourself one.

Cowboy Hoof
12 mint leaves, plus one to garnish
2 tsp simple syrup
3 ounces of gin

Muddle the mint and simple syrup. Add ice and gin. Shake in a cocktail shaker. Pour cocktail through a strainer. Add mint to garnish.

Sip.

Smile.

Repeat.

Oh, and just in case you want to hear the song that ultimately unlocked my feelings, it’s a Bearson remix of James Bay’s Let it Go. The juxtaposition of the chipper, yet haunting beats with the painful lyrics perfectly summarize my feelings. I’m trying to shake it off and move on while simultaneously attempting to acknowledge that it hurt.

 

Moscow Mules and Mind Erasers (Or It’s Inauguration Day)

Today is Inauguration day. While it would be perfectly understandable for me to cry in my closet while drinking Moscow Mules, I’ve decided to do four loads of laundry instead. America may be on fire, but I WILL have clean sheets and undies, dammit.

I briefly contemplated taking down my Christmas twinkle lights, and fully wallowing in misery today, but I decided it was better to keep a little happiness in my home, all things considered.

Speaking of happiness, it was my friend Tim’s birthday on Wednesday.

This is Tim:

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He hates Christmas carols and steals my hats.

But I love him anyway.

Since it was his birthday I decided to make him a present.

Wanna see?

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OK, maybe “made” is a strong word.

All I did was bash some Heath bars with a rolling pin and mix them into a carton of coffee ice cream, but you would have thought I had handed over the keys to a Maybach by his reaction.

See, Haagen Daas discontinued his favorite ice cream flavor: Coffee with Heath Bar, so I made him his own batch. (I did work at Dairy Queen in high school, after all.)

He kept hugging me. A lot.

He also liked his card.

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He likes Sierra Nevada and verbal abuse.

So I customized his card, accordingly.

He also likes Zippies.

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He’s not the only one.

Some wonderful soul at the Saloon invented them. Or something.

They’re basically mind erasers with Chambord instead of Kahlua.

If you need a few to forget what just happened in Washington, the recipe is below.

Zippie

1/2 oz of Chambord
3 oz Vodka
Splash of soda

Pour Chambord in the bottom of a tumbler. Add vodka. Top off with a splash of soda water. Insert two short straws and suck down the sweetness.

You won’t be sorry.

Or maybe you will, but at least you won’t really remember… and for the next four years that won’t be such a bad thing.

Frose is From Jesus (Or Wine Slurpees)

I know I was JUST talking about fall and Halloween decorations, but it’s 86 again and that sort of calls for frozen rose.

Jesus’ first recorded miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding and my first miracle involves a $5 bottle of rose*, 8 oz of strawberries, and my immersion blender.

It’s basically a wine slurpee, and it’s amazing. The link to the recipe is here.

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You need frose in your life. 

Trust me.

*I used Trader Joe’s La Ferme Julian which actually isn’t terrible by itself — especially for a $5 bottle of rose — but it’s even better when you add lemon juice and strawberry simple syrup.

 

Oh, Canada! (Or How to Make a Bacon Old Fashioned)

While Americans are getting ready to celebrate our independence on Thursday by launching explosives into the sky and burning the tips of our fingers off with sparklers, our neighbors to the north are already celebrating their independence today. July 1 is Canada Day, and as such I’d like to take a moment to recognize all of the wonderful things the neighbors to the north have given me like maple syrup, malt bread, and Carly Rae Jepson.

Actually, it also gave me my mother and her fabulous family, as well the opportunity to make an ill-advised Fendi purchase at the Duty Free in Windsor while legally intoxicated at 19 years of age.

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#drunkendutyfreepurchase #ididdumbstuffincollege #toomanyloonies #istillwearit #rationalizationsrule

In addition to marveling that I’m still wearing that watch five fifteen years later, I’ve also been reflecting on the many differences between my homeland and that of my mum today.

Without getting too bogged down in philosophy or ideology, I think it’s sort of like this: America is like the older sister who had to break in her strict English parents so that her little sister had it easier when her time came to rebel. We had to sneak out of our bedroom late at night to see a boy throw a temper tantrum in the Boston Harbor over the tax on tea so our parents were prepared when our younger sister nicely, politely, with her hands folded asked, “May I please be excused from the table?” 100 years later.

At the risk of sounding like an American a$$hole, I’d like to say…

You’re welcome, Canada.

I really love you. I do. So today I honour you by putting an unnecessary “u” in that word, and by pouring the maple syrup my grandmother purchased in Ottawa into my bacon-infused bourbon to make a bacon old fashioned.

Bacon Old Fashioned from Dogs Dishes and Decor

Behold, there’s bacon in my bourbon.

If you want to make your own, you can find the recipe here. In a vain attempt to make it a little healthier and slightly more Paleo-friendly, you could cut back a bit on the maple syrup and use reduced sodium bacon. Or you could say, “Screw it. I’m just going to put all kinds of unhealthy stuff in my body right now for fun. And not stressing about it will be better for me than any attempt to make it healthy.” #sothere

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sip my unhealthy concoction, crank up the Call Me Maybe, and scour the internet for a malt bread recipe, ‘cuz you just can’t find that junk here and it’s made of amazing. I’d pay Fendi-level Loonies for it….

Oh, and just in case bourbon’s not your bag and you’re looking for another way to get your maple syrup on, check out this recipe for flourless maple cookies on Things My Belly Likes. They’re gluten free and #iwanttomakethem.

It’s Dark and Stormy Up in Here (Or At Least in My Glass)

Sorry for the freak out on Friday. Whoa, that was unpleasant. (Thank you all for the encouragement. Sincerely. It really means a lot!)

Anyway, I’m fixin’ to tell you about the elephants soon, but first? We should talk about my love of Fever Tree Ginger Beer.

I adore ginger. Adore. It. I could almost live on it – particularly the pickled kind. I have been known to fight my friend Melissa for the last shred of pickled ginger on a sushi plate. We are obsessed. Like have to order extra obsessed.

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This is Melissa and me with our Long Lost Danielle in the middle. We need Danielle back in LA, like immediately.

So anyway, the other night I ordered a marvelous meat sandwich from the deli up the street and mixed myself a Dark and Stormy with some Fever Tree for a divine pairing that was sort of like au jus and rum nirvana. (For real.)

If you’re not familiar with Dark and Stormies, you should be. They’re a feisty, fabulous, little rum cocktail with a good gingery bite. I think the key to making the perfect Dark and Stormy is using the right ginger beer. Bars often make them with Bundaberg’s and that’s a’ight, but not tremendous. The drink is vastly superior when it’s made with Fever Tree. Trust me.

Fever Tree is amazing, and it even has bits of ginger floating in the bottle. (Heaven!)

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Check out this bottle of feisty goodness!

Technically, the recipe looks something like this:

Dark and Stormy

2 oz dark rum
8 oz ginger beer
lime wedge

But mostly I just pour it all in my glass haphazardly, add some fresh squeezed lime juice, and then sip it with a huge grin on my face.

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Gingery rummy goodness in a glass. Pirates would be proud of me.

Fever Tree can be tricky to find, but you can buy it here.

Now I’m off to the Thai Town Rotary Club Meeting to discuss a fire station fundraiser. I don’t know how I get myself into these things*….

 *Actually I do. Here’s how: last spring, my gorgeous British friend rather sweetly and not so subtly informed an entire fire station that I was a good cook and I’d be happy to make them pasta with spicy Italian sausage. This was overheard by the Rotary Club President, blah, blah, blah, etc., you get it. Suzie was trying to set me up with 14 firemen and now I’m planning a fundraiser. Or something. 

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Suzie is sexy with legs that do not end. She and I exceed at causing trouble together.

Bloody Mary’s in the Land of Badgers (Or How to Make the Best Bloody Mary)

My senior year of college, my roommate, Becky, and I went to Madison for the Michigan vs.Wisconsin football game. I made many more trips to Madison after that one, but having Becky by my side for that wild weekend is one of my favorite college memories.

Barry White tunes, tasty Bloody Mary’s, late night burritos, and beating the Badgers were basically the highlights of the trip. To this day, I can’t listen to What Am I Going to Do With You – or drink a Bloody Mary – without thinking of the fall of 1999.

The Bloody Mary at State Street Brats is particularly fabulous, and it was a staple that weekend. They garnish the cocktail with a dill pickle, and as a result I am convinced a pickle is a prerequisite for a Bloody Mary.

My love of pickles is well documented, by the way. Becky will tell you. I used to roam the halls of our sorority looking for someone who wanted to order a sub sandwich just so I could have a pickle delivered to Pi Phi. She’ll also tell you lots of other things about living with me – like how I used to make her dance to the Beastie Boys in our bathrobes, how we’d read each other’s course packs aloud so we didn’t have to do our own reading, or how I’d use a pile of clothing on the floor as a pillow during all nighters so I wouldn’t fall asleep.

She could also tell you other things that are not fit to print. This is a family kind of blog.

Or something.

Let’s just let this poor boy sleep in blissful ignorance. He doesn’t need to know I used to dance on furniture. K?

So, anyway, back to Bloody Mary’s.

I experimented with some recipes I found on the Absolut site, and riffed a bit based on what I had in the house. I came up with this version I like. You can find more Bloody Mary recipes here.

Bloody Mary
Makes one small drink

4.5 oz vodka
4.5 oz V-8
1 dash of ketchup
2 dashes of soy sauce
2 dashes of Worcestershire
2-3 dashes of salsa picante
1 dash of olive juice
2 dashes of pickle juice
1 pinch of black pepper
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1 olive, finely diced
1 jalapeno slice, finely diced

Dill pickle for garnish

Place all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and shake. Pour the contents into a glass and garnish with a dill pickle.

The ratios are approximate and can be adjusted for personal taste. I add more pickle juice because I’m obsessed with pickles (see above). The ketchup sounds redundant since you’re adding V-8, but it’s not. It adds a hint of sweetness that nicely compliments the spicy and sour elements.

What is your favorite Bloody Mary recipe?

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Let’s Hear it For New York (Or How to Make a Manhattan)

It’s hard not to think about where you were on September 11, 2001. I had just moved across the country for grad school 22 days earlier, and I was only half awake when I heard the caller on a morning radio show say, “When the second plane hit the tower…”.

I had close friends in Manhattan that day, and I won’t pretend to understand the magnitude of the loss or terror they experienced. I didn’t lose anyone dear to me. I only lost a sense of security, a sense that my country was too powerful to be vulnerable. Yet, still it haunts me.

In the days and months that followed, I will admit I questioned what I was doing so far away from my family. Today I find myself reflecting on that same question and thinking about my friends in New York. Thinking about the time I have spent in that city, and the experiences I’ve had there.

Here I am at a cafe somewhere between midtown and the east village on my 30th birthday. Let’s pretend I just turned 30 this year, K?

I find myself at a crossroads of sorts today. My career has been a wild ride, complete with some truly unexpected turns, and my relationship with Los Angeles has been a tumultuous one at times.

So tonight while I reflect on the past and look ahead to an uncertain future, I will do it while sipping a Manhattan. It seems only right.

If you find yourself in an Empire State of Mind, here are two variations on the Manhattan recipe.

This is a “Perfect” Manhattan, and I’m not saying because I’m an amazing bartender or anything. I’m saying it because that’s what you call the drink when you have equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

Perfect Manhattan

2 oz whiskey
½ oz sweet vermouth
½ oz dry vermouth
dash of Angostura bitters
orange zest, to garnish

Stir alcohol with ice before straining into a chilled martini glass. Add the garnish and serve. (I must admit I sometimes skip the orange zest because I don’t always have oranges in the house.)

This version? With the cherry? It’s the sweet kind.

Sweet Manhattan

1 ½ oz whiskey
¾ oz sweet vermouth
dash of orange bitters
maraschino cherry, to garnish

Stir alcohol with ice before straining into a chilled martini glass. Add the garnish and serve.

Tonight, I’m going with the Perfect Manhattan, and I just might crank up Sinatra’s New York, New York while I’m making it.

There’s Booze in my Bon Bon! (Or How to Make Spiked Cherry Bon Bons)

This is my friend Tony.

Here we are on Thanksgiving. Giving thanks.

Tony is from Tennessee. And Tony makes moonshine. No, really.

See? Real legit moonshine.

He has a company called Ole Smoky, and they have been featured at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen and all kinds of other fabulous places. Even though Tony couldn’t come to my birthday party this year, he sent some of his amazing moonshine cherries in his place. (Almost as awesome as having Tony at my party. Almost.)

The cherries are great by themselves and in cocktails, but I was looking at them this week and thought, “I must put these in chocolate.” So that’s sort of the genesis of my spiked cherry bon bons. (I also look at Slurpees and think, “Vodka!”, but that’s just me.)

If you don’t have access to Ole Smoky, you can soak maraschino cherries in vodka for 24 hours and use those. I tried both versions and I have to say the moonshine cherry variety was a little more subtle than its vodka soaked friend. I’m not just saying that because I love Tony. (For real.)

So anyway, if you want to make your own spiked cherry bon bons, here’s how you do it.

Spiked Cherry Bon Bons

Serving Size, 12 bon bons
(measurements are approximate)

12 moonshine cherries
12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
4 C vanilla ice cream
4 tsp shortening

Scoop ice cream with an ice cream scoop. Place a moonshine cherry in the center.

It’s essential to use a pig scooper to remind yourself not to eat all of the bon bons in one sitting.

Fold the ice cream around the cherry, forming a ball with your hands. Place immediately in the freezer. Repeat with remaining cherries.

After the ice cream has sufficiently frozen, melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler adding shortening, as necessary, to thin the mixture until it is suitable for dipping and pouring.

Dip the ice cream balls into the chocolate. If you find that the chocolate is not adhering uniformly, you can drizzle a little more chocolate on those areas later.

Immediately return the bon bon to the freezer and allow the chocolate to harden completely before serving. Repeat with remaining ice cream balls.

This boozy bon bon is all kinds of amazing. Truth.

This would probably work best with a firm ice cream (especially a homemade vanilla like this one).

I used a rather cheap generic vanilla and found that it melted faster than I would have liked. It still tasted amazing, though.

Now, crank up George Jones’ White Lightning, and go out and get you some moonshine. Now. Here’s a list of the places where you can pick some up.

Prince Harry, Pina Coladas, and Other Observations on Vegas. (Or I’m Looking for the Perfect Pina Colada)

Note to self: I need hurricane glasses. Pina Coladas just don’t look right when served in the wrong glassware.

You have probably already heard, but just in case you haven’t, Prince Harry’s blurry bum and bits are prominently featured on TMZ today. I mean, he was in Vegas, so it’s kind of, “Whatever. Leave the poor prince alone!” But it is the royal bum, so it’s breaking news. Or something.

(By the way, if you want to see the blurry pics of the prince, who apparently isn’t all that good at playing pool, here’s the link, but maybe don’t click on it if you’re at work.)

You’re welcome.

So, yeah, that’s all very different than my last trip to the strip. The last time I went to Vegas I had a large pina colada outside of Paris after a day at the pool and then promptly fell asleep snuggling with the dogs while watching TV.

The only available “glassware” for serving Pina Coladas outside of Paris were either this balloon situation or a large plastic Eiffel Tower that hung from my neck. I considered this the lesser of two aesthetic evils.

Clearly, I didn’t do Vegas right. I didn’t step on any burning cigarettes or broken glass while carrying my shoes across the strip at 7 am, I didn’t drop $400 on food in two days, and I didn’t play strip pool with a prince.

I mean, it should hardly even count as a trip to Vegas if about six girls aren’t washing their filthy feet in the spa tub at the same time and at least one person doesn’t play poker until dawn with an off season athlete. (And, no, that is absolutely not a euphemism.) But this was not that kind of trip. Not the kind that leads to dirty feet or royal debauchery, anyway.

After vacillating for weeks about meeting up with friends who were in town for a hockey tournament, I made a game day decision — like booked my room at 10 am and jumped in the car with the dogs at 11 am kind of game day decision. Obviously, I would never bring them for a wild weekend, but this was just a chill, catch up with friends by the pool kind of trip. Totally the kind for dogs. I should probably do a post on bringing dogs to Vegas because there are challenges, but it can be done, and I have the pictures to prove it.

Albus discovers that everything is super sized in Vegas. Even the cats.

Apparently, Albus has caught the scent of margaritas, quesadillas, and sin. This photo was taken moments before he tried to enter Margaritaville of his own volition.

So anyway, all of this TMZ talk of Vegas was really making me want a pina colada and some vintage booty music tonight, so I cranked up some bad 90s jams like Yolanda, Tootsee Roll, and Fatboy and pulled out the blender.

I mixed up a batch of pina coladas, and I have to admit it wasn’t life changing. I mean, it was pretty good and it wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as the crappy made from a mix kind, but I think I wanted more pineapple punch. Next time I’ll probably use fresh pineapple instead of the canned version in juice. I may even freeze the pineapple before mixing it and cut down on the ice so the drink will have a little more sweet pineappley pizzazz.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: 68% of the TMZ audience? Now thinks Prince Harry is awesome.

(And, yes, I had to vote to find that out. I might have even voted twice. Don’t judge me. After all, I did hear about the royal debacle from NPR in the first place.)

Pina Colada

2/3 C light rum
2/3 C pineapple
2/3 C cream of coconut
3 C crushed ice

Add the rum, pineapple and cream of coconut and blend thoroughly. Add the crushed ice and blend completely.

To achieve a more uniform slushy consistency, I put the cocktail in my ice cream maker and let it do its magic for about ten minutes. That made it an awesome consistency.

If you have any other suggestions to improve upon the pina colada recipe, please hook me up. I need to find my perfect Prince Charming Pina Colada.

Beat the Heat with a Little Help from Ann Arbor (Or How to Make Dominick’s Constant Buzz)

My Mason jar full of Constant Buzz offers a taste of college — only now I have a palm tree backdrop — and a much lower tolerance for alcohol.

11 years ago today, my dad and I rolled into LA after a harrowing cross country trip that involved a three day delay in Ann Arbor (something about trailer hitch?), a tire blow out in Oklahoma City repaired by a guy bearing a striking resemblance to Jerry Garcia, and me crying in a Dairy Queen in Texas. (Don’t ask.)

It’s hard to believe it has been 11 years. In some ways I’m the same kid who once camped out on a futon in Westwood. In others, I hardly know her.

In honor of the college town (and the life) I left behind, it seems fitting that today I am posting the recipe for Dominick’s Constant Buzz.

See, Dominick’s is an Ann Arbor institution — kinda like Zingerman’s — only nothing like it at all. Zingerman’s is a high-end deli famous for its amazing bread and a Reuben that will change your life. Dominick’s is clear on the other side of campus (not far from the Big House) and is synonymous with day drinking. Sure, they serve food, but it’s not the reason anyone heads to Dominick’s. (I mean, what college kid can’t make their own quesadilla?)

Most people go to sit at the picnic tables on the patio and sip strong drinks from Mason jars while watching drunk B-school boys push each other into the fountain. I’m not sure what that’s all about, but it’s probably some sort of mating ritual — like when deer go all crazy and try to kill each other with their horns.

Imagine these deer are two business school boys named Ryan, and you sort of get the picture. Photo Courtesy of Informed Farmers.

Dominick’s is only open March through November, which absolutely adds to its allure. Those long, cold, football-less months are agonizing, and the reopening of Dominick’s every spring means platform sandals and patio seating are back — and the countdown to college football has officially started.

The sangria and the mystery concoction called Constant Buzz are the cocktail catalysts that kick start epic evenings for many Ann Arbor coeds. (They also explain why packs of future stock brokers set fire to their furniture on nearby Hill Street sidewalks. Incidentally, this penchant for drunken destruction by future Wall Street kids may also explain the state of the US economy….)

At this point in your Constant Buzz consumption, setting fire to your own furniture might actually sound like fun. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

So, anyway…

I loved Dominick’s, and 11 years ago, I held my going away party there.

Since I’m sort of homesick, and I’m getting all amped up for football season, I was motivated to make myself a batch of Constant Buzz this weekend. Plus it has been so crazy hot in Hollywood lately that I don’t want to do anything except float in my pool and sip on something cool.

Bear in mind, I haven’t had the drink in a while, so this is a rough approximation based on (an urban legend of the ingredients) and memory. If anyone has tweaks – or the inside scoop on the real recipe, hook a Wolverine up.

Bottoms Up!

Constant Buzz

1 C fresh strawberries
2 T sugar
1 T fresh squeezed lime juice
1 C frozen pineapple
1.5 oz tequila
1.5 oz vodka
1.5 oz white rum
1.5 oz gin
1 oz triple sec
1 C crushed ice, optional

Puree the strawberries in the blender. Add sugar and lime juice and allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Add the alcohol and frozen pineapple and puree the mixture. You can make it ahead of time and return it to the freezer if you wish. The alcohol will prevent it from freezing and will yield a nice, slushy consistency. I generally go this route and skip the cup of crushed ice, but it’s totally your call. If you do add the crushed ice, make sure you mix it thoroughly.

OK, that’s it for me for now.

I’m off to watch that traitor Ryan Mallett air it out on Monday Night football. Just remember, Mallett, you’re the back up to a REAL Michigan man….

(But really, no hard feelings, Mallett, I would have transferred as well. The Rodriguez era was awful for us all.)