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?

Share links!

Carbs Fix Everything (Or How to Make Simple Fruit Cobbler)

Red, White, and Blue Berry Cobbler for the New Miss America

Yesterday afternoon I was convinced I’d discovered a level of despair that went beyond Billy Ocean’s ability to heal. I tried Loverboy. Caribbean Queen. AND When the Going Gets Tough. But still I moped. Beyond Billy Ocean? What’s beyond Billy Ocean?

Barry White?

Nope. He didn’t help either. Somehow I was immune to his bass and all of those happy strings. It was unprecendented. Prince’s Batdance almost fixed the situation, but not quite. Still I moped. Then I ate a few fists full of truffle popcorn and a bunch of fruit leather. And I was fine. It turns out my murderous sulking was just low blood sugar.

My friend Melissa will tell you about my low blood sugar-induced dark side. On outings to Fred Segal I could go from the cheerleader in the dressing room to a crabby, miserable monster who hated her thighs, her elbows, and the lighting in the store within minutes. She’d send me off to suck down a lemonade from the cafe and soon the monstrous, gray world would be back in Technicolor. I’d still hate my thighs, but maybe a little less.

So, anyway, after I was cured by the healing power of carbohydrates, I set about finding the right red, white, and blue confection to make for my friend, Suzie. See, Suzie is becoming an American this week, and I want to make a proper patriotic-looking dessert to commerate the occasion. She is one of my first LA friends, and I’m attending her oath ceremony at the courthouse downtown.

After serious deliberation, I ultimately decided to go with an old family recipe for fruit cobbler. It’s simple, it’s delicious, and it works with any combination of fruit. I selected strawberries and blueberries to give it a red, white, and blue flair. The recipe is below.

Enjoy!

Fruit Cobbler

1 stick of unsalted butter
1 C flour
2 tsp baking power
1 C sugar
pinch of salt (a little less than 1/8 tsp)
1 C whole milk
3 C fresh fruit

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix together flour, baking power, sugar, and salt. Add milk and stir until blended. Melt the butter in a 9″ square pan. Pour the batter over the butter. Arrange fruit over the top.

At this stage the cobbler will just look like a muddled mess.

Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Here I am downtown with the new Miss America. And her Cobbler.

I Dedicate This to Bumpa (Or I am Grateful to Receive the One Lovely Blog Award)

I am one of those terrible people who sometimes checks her phone while hiking. It should be a sin when one is among trees to consult a miniature computer, but sometimes it beckons from the pocket of one’s purse and it must be consulted so that the racket will stop.

Yesterday it was beastly hot by LA standards and it was actually even a bit humid. It was almost humid enough to make me happy, but not really. See, when you live in the desert and it wreaks all kinds of havoc on your dry hair and skin you, too, will wish for moisture in the air. And those of you who are enduring 107 degree heat with 99% humidity, I would feel sympathy for you except that your mortgages are less than my rent and the men in your state wear baseball caps instead of fedoras.

So anyway, I was having this weird hike in Griffith Park, keeping to the shady parts so my dogs didn’t die of heatstroke and whatnot. There were these two old Asian ladies singing songs at a picnic table for no apparent reason, Albus was trying to pounce on tiny lizards, Woodley was straggling behind sniffing for squirrels and other prey, and there was basically all kinds of chaos everywhere. Meanwhile, my phone was making the mail sound.

I checked it and, lo, it brought glad tidings of a blogging award! There I was among the majestic trees feeling all humbled and proud to learn that I had received the One Lovely Blog Award. Seriously, thank you Kenley of Beyond the Green Door! You are like my young Fairy Blog Mother with the Awards! I adore you!

Now I am supposed to tell you seven things about myself and nominate other bloggers. Since I am terrible at following rules I haven’t personally made up, I am going to start by telling you eight things about myself.

So here it goes:

1) I would die without music.

Here I am DJing in diapers and basically being fat.

My momma raised me on Motown. Marvin GayeAretha, and the Four Tops were the soundtracks of my childhood.

Here we are with her older sister being fabulous hippie types in the grass.

Her little sister contributed a bit of Barry White, Miles Davis, and Arthur Prysock to my musical education.

My mom’s little sister introduced me to great music and gave me my first Cuisinart.

And her baby brother rounded it out by covering Patsy Cline and the blues.

My uncle’s dog, Decca, was named after Patsy Cline’s recording label. Patsy and Decca were amazing.

All of us can trace our love of music and our brown eyes back to the Patron Saint Everything Tremendous, my Bumpa, Harold Lawrence Russell. (I couldn’t say Grandpa when I was little, and the Bumpa bit just stuck.) He taught us to love darts, dancing, and the better things in life, like cocktail hour. He is my hero, and both of my dogs are basically named after him.

Woodley Russell and Professor Albus Lawrence sit nicely for biscuits in Coldwater Canyon Park.

2) Speaking of which, I have always loved dogs.

Here I am in Athens, Georgia with my cousin, Abbott. He would later sail to St. Croix on a tiny sailboat with our Bumpa because his mommy and daddy were moving there to study coral reefs at the NOAA Hydrolab.

3) I worked in the writers’ office of LOST for seasons 3 and 4, and Carlton Cuse is hands down my favorite boss ever. He is funny, smart, talented, and a true mentor in every sense of the word. (I’m super excited about his new show, Bates Motel, on A&E. You should be too. You should also read his article about college sports here.)

My old LOST office in Bungalow 23. Note: we were NOT in Honolulu. The writers’ office was on the Disney lot neighboring “What About Brian?” instead of the beach.

I wore my NOAA Hydrolab shirt into the office during the writing of the Hydra Station episodes because it seemed like the right thing to do.

Hurricane Hugo destroyed my uncle’s lab in 1989. This shirt is a collectors’ item now or something, but I wear it to bed.

4) I psychotically LOVE football.

I am a Green Bay Packers fan because my dad grew up in a super remote part of Michigan that is actually connected to Wisconsin.

Here the Kohon cousins are keeping it classy in a fine establishment called The Rusty Saw Blade Bar. What else?

My true love is college football, though, and the Wolverines are my second religion, you know, after the Presbyterian part.

Only my friend Melissa wears a cashmere Hermes hat to the Big House. I love Melissa.

5) I quit being premed when I had about six credits left and decided to get my MFA in film producing from USC instead.

Because THIS:

is more fun than THIS:

6) There is a road called Kohon Road in Michigan. It’s not one of those coincidences — it’s actually named after my dad’s parents. It’s very weird putting your own name into the GPS. Truth.

Here I am on the side of a highway posing with a sign. It’s not weird… honest.

7) I love absolutely everything about trees.

Sitting in them.

There may be some truly questionable parenting at work here… because this limb? It’s nowhere near the ground. (Just kidding mom and dad.)

Planting them.

Bumpa planted a tree for each of his grandchildren at our cottage. This is my blue spruce as a baby — and also me as a baby.

Decorating them.

Here’s my Bumpa bringing me a Christmas tree.

Hauling them.

Here I am being an amazing helper. I exceed at helping Bumpa.

30 years later, still hauling…

And burning them.

We could sit by a fire absolutely for hours. It’s one of the few things that actually made us sit still.

We lost him in October of 2010, and nothing will ever be the same again. Ever.

I stenciled trees on my hallway wall in remembrance of him.

My birch trees are the first thing I see when I come home.

8) I spoke on behalf of the family at his funeral, and I still don’t know how I did it without crying what with Danny Boy being played in the church and all.

A year later we gathered to plant trees and scatter my Bumpa’s ashes at the cottage. We popped the bubbly and toasted the man who made all of our lives happier, richer, and so much more fun by being by our sides.

I would like to dedicate the One Lovely Blog award to him because I would not have returned to writing if it were not for his courage, his faith, and the legacy his integrity left behind, but that’s a long story for another time.

So now, I’m supposed to nominate 15 other blogs, and it’s not that I don’t want to follow the rules, but I want to be truly heartfelt today. I’m still new to blogging and I’m slowly amassing a list of blogs I love. These are the four blogs I adore right now, and I want you to read them. They speak to my soul and stuff.

But before you do that, you should listen to In the Mood by Glenn Miller because it’s a happy kind of song, it was my Bumpa’s favorite, and it’s good for dancing in your living room during cocktail hour. Even if your only dance partner is your dogs.

Peppermint Bliss. I discovered Bailey’s blog because her home was featured in a Design Sponge tour, and it was quite possibly the most amazing home tour I have ever seen. Never have I pinned more photos from a single spread. Ever. Her playful, colorful, yet sophisticated style epitomizes the aesthetic I aspire to create for myself. Plus she’s really funny, she’s a talented designer, and she has a Cocker Spaniel. You must check out her blog. She has a fresh voice, which is more rare than you might think in the blog space.

Living Luxe for Less Bucks. Sarah is hysterically funny. You will laugh at her anecdotes about ugly undies and awkward body waxing incidents, but you’ll also learn lots of money saving tips on her blog. She has not let her kidney transplant limit her life or dim her spirit. You should know about her. She’s truly one of a kind. Her courage, individuality, and beautiful spirit come through in her writing.

LindO Designs. Angela is a gifted architect and artist. She transforms furniture, knows how to install her own chandeliers, and she’s doing all of this while running a business and running after a miniature Michigan football player in waiting. (No, really.) In addition to her furniture business, she also has a prop company. She’s presently doing fabulous things involving Dr. Seuss for her prop company. I mean, who doesn’t love Truffula Trees?

Dirty Centaur Pictures. John is beyond funny. Last year, he and his writing partner wrote a web series that I produced for a compact car company that will remain nameless for a whole host of reasons. It was absolutely the most fun I have ever had at any job ever. You need to know about John because we all need more laughter in our lives.