Dog days

It’s the dog days of summer. The cats and I are in heaven. Heat. Humidity. Sun. It’s fantastic!

I am so thankful for the pool being open! Swimming outside is a true joy for me and each visit restores my soul.

We’re about one month from empty nest now. Alec goes back to college in Chicago in 2 weeks and Avery has decided on a hockey team in Connecticut. It’s surreal after all of this time together—more than my maternity leave—that soon we will be far apart again. I am glad for the boys to be moving forward and hopeful for their health and safety.

In the meantime I am spoiling them rotten with their favorite foods and trying new ones.

We were honored to try a new local chef’s Mediterranean takeout, Dervish Mazza. Fun tapas style dips and snacks. Winner!

It’s berry season and I found an awesome strawberry shortcake recipe (vegan)! It’s soooooo fantastic!! I use coconut oil for the fat and it really makes for a moist flavorful cake. I ❤️ fresh local strawberries! And can even find great nondairy whipped cream or ice cream.

Speaking of favorites… I don’t know what I love more, fresh local cherry tomatoes (the purple ones especially!) or Door County Wisconsin cherries! I don’t care how much they cost, yes please!

Avocado cucumber soup. Green goop? You betcha! Anything avocado. Thank you Martha, as always, for this winning recipe. It’s like gazpacho but more satisfying. Eating it at the lake helps too. Kayaking amongst the loons is restorative.

In our first happy hour out in public (and his first visit to a cocktail room), Alec and I enjoyed local distillery Dampfwerk. This watermelon/lime gin cocktail “take home” kit was just what we needed for Saturday night patio time. I am going to miss him!!

Peace to you all…

It’s ok! Play with your food

The end of summer is near–Alec returned to college in Chicago this week.

For those of you not from the midwest, a drive through Wisconsin creates the opportunity for comedic experiences. Such as the Mousehouse Cheesehouse that has a giant rat/cheese wheel on it. Interesting enough, this is not the ONLY giant rat/cheese “sculpture” found on the I94 route.

Beer, Cheese, Gifts and Fudge were advertised. None were purchased. This is Wisconsin. They’re serious about cheese. They also sell beer everywhere. I am unclear how fudge got involved except that after beer and cheese obviously one needs fudge to cleanse the palate. We stopped to snap a pic with the rat.

It got me thinking about how much fun we have in our house with food–trying new recipes or restaurants. So this post is a rather haphazard look at some of the experiments from the last few weeks (and hopefully distracts from my lack of actual recipe posts lately 😉).

What happens when you freeze watermelon cubes as mojito “ice”? Delicious drink for the lake

What happens when you puree an entire cucumber for a martini? Great flavor and color, not so great texture 😉

Challenge day: Can you make a breakfast baked good with a half eaten container of yogurt and a random amount of blueberries and no eggs because you haven’t done the grocery shopping at the lake yet? Oh-yes-you-can lemon-blueberry muffins. Could you repeat it because you wrote any of it down or measured? Oh no.

Favorite new food toy: the Jaguar of zoodlers (“leased” from my sister). Alec and I also laughed while doing this, it’s like the old Play-Dough toys.

I need another drink after all of that creativity! But a perfect reminder to stop and smell the roses (jasmine). It goes fast.

Actual recipes forthcoming now that Alec isn’t here to distract me.

Bee’s knees cocktail (vegan)

My favorite job ever was working in Marketing & PR at the Minnesota State Fair during the summers after my sophomore and junior years in college.

I got a lot of exposure to humanity and answered lots of unusual questions. My favorite being: “Is it the real Barney or just some guy in a purple dinosaur suit?” Yes, and yes.

One of the PR issues that I had to address was protestors who were opposed to the beekeeping demonstrations showcased daily. Now, mind you, this was 1994. The challenges of hive collapse and the extinction of many native bees was not as well known as it is today.

The protesters stated that the beekeeping and harvesting of honey was the “enslavement” of the bees. I didn’t quite get it at the time.

Fast forward to now and our vegan diet, which does not include honey. Bees and insects represent the health of world in many ways.

So this modified version of a Bee’s Knees cocktail is made with agave instead of honey. I steeped the agave with lavender from the garden, which is healthier too since it has a lower glycemic index. It makes for a perfect end of day pre-dinner cocktail at the lake.

I am going to admit, however, that I have not fully honored the respect of bee byproducts in my life. I have fallen in love with an artistic technique called encaustic acrylic painting.

I finally bought 2 pieces from a local artist–Jodi Reeb–who specializes in this technique using beeswax heated to 200 degrees mixed with acrylic paint. I simply love it! Layers upon layers so the colors merge and meld. The finished piece has a glean to it and an uneven surface. The landscapes make me feel very content (despite not being vegan). It’s ok to make some exceptions right?

Bee’s knees cocktail (vegan)

  • 1/2c agave, steeped with 3-4 lavender sprigs for at least a day
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Vodka

Steep the agave with lavender for several days on the counter. Shake 3 shots (about 6 tablespoons) with half of the lemon (about 2 tablespoons) and 1/4 cup of the agave in a martini shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass, garnish with lemon slice and lavender flower.

**Recipe makes 2. Decide if you want to share 😉

Spring Fling

Is there anything better than using what you’ve got fresh from the garden? In this case, we are fortunate to have fresh lemons (Warming up in California for Spring Break). 

Can’t wait for summer back in MN…

Spring Fling cocktail

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 tsp simple syrup
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 oz champagne

Shake the vodka, syrup and lemon with ice, strain into chilled martini glass and top with champagne (or sparkling water). Accessorize with herb of choice…mint, rosemary and basil are good choices. Toast sunshine!

  

Local bourbon 

It’s bourbon month for our girls night out and we thought we’d try a new hot spot, Tattersall Distillery, in a converted industrial space in Northeast Minneapolis.

Their bourbon actually starts in Kentucky and is then aged in MN, but close enough! 

This Umeboshi Sour, which features bourbon, sour cherry liquer, simple syrup, lemon, Umeboshi vinegar and black walnut bitters was the highlight of the evening. Smoky yet tart and refreshingly complex.

Their barrel-aged gin and aquavit were quite tasty too. (I was told by the bartender at Spoon & Stable that it’s the topselling aquavit. BTW, add that to your 2016 must try list when in MInneapolis!)

  

Cheers to 2016!

As part of 2016 resolutions, my friend Robin and I are getting together monthly to make the featured drink from my fantastic artistic friend Gina’s Cocktail of the Month booklet (buy it at her Lettergirl Etsy store).

This is a delightful, easy-to-make and easy-sipping celebratory drink. A great excuse to spend time with a friend!

Bee Sting

  • Champagne
  • Honey liqueur
  • Orange bitters

Fill a champagne flute with 2 oz honey liqueur (more or less depending on your sweet tooth), top with champagne and a dash of bitters. Garnish with orange slice.

Cheers!!

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