I did something wild, guys – I juiced an entire 12 lb watermelon in my blender.
In my tiny kitchen.
It was mayhem but I lived to tell the tale and the Watermelon Basil Coolers that were borne of that sticky afternoon were worth every drop.
Firstly, cutting a watermelon is messy business; they are obviously juicy and made mostly of water, but given the minuscule amount of counter space and patience that I have, I’m not sure what I was thinking. No sooner had I quartered it, I realized how much watermelon and flesh, and ultimately juice, I was dealing with. I cubed it up and blended 4 batches of deep pink, pulpy juice. As it whizzed around in the blender I helped myself to the remains and cleaned all the pink from the rinds and thought about how sticky the kitchen was. But how amazing is this: that one watermelon yielded almost 4 litres of juice!
This begs the question: what does one do with nearly a gallon of fresh watermelon juice?
If you’re me, you add vodka. So that’s exactly what I did. (more…)
When I was very small, we lived in the country. We had 10 acres of land with a few creatures of field and coop all nestled in a shallow river valley. The summers were hot, the winters were cold. Autumn smelled like bonfires. But the Spring was golden with butter cups and chamomile. There was one particularly flowery hillside that connected the lower pasture to the upper pasture. That short slope of grass, once nibbled by horses, later abandoned and left to grow wild, would grow quietly as the brown winter grasses were replaced by tender bright green ones and then, as if overnight, it would be a blanket of yellow. Shiny and petite, the buttercups would carpet the hill and beneath and between them would be the sweet smelling yellow buds of the chamomile. I would spend hours there in the sunshine, bees buzzing about, picking chamomile buds to bring back to the kitchen for tea.
Chamomile tea is said to promote relaxation and give the drinker a sense of calm. There is nothing more calming than warm spring sunshine on your face, sitting in a field of chamomile, believe me. Nowadays my chamomile fix comes in a bag, dried and fragrant. Once dried chamomile is not as honey-sweet or as brilliantly yellow as fresh, but it still steeps into a golden cup of relaxation.
As much a I love chamomile hot, perhaps with honey, possibly lemon, I think it really comes into its own when steeped, cooled and mixed with gin. Sounds weird? If you are a gin drinker you’ll understand the part that is played by plants, herbs and other aromatics in the making of gin. That’s what gives it its distinctive flavour. Strong chamomile tea, slightly sweetened plays perfectly with the gin and makes for a unique and refreshing cocktail as the weather warms up.
Chamomile Gin Fizz
1 Tbsp (heaped) chamomile buds, steeped in ½ C boiling water for 5 minutes
½ tsp honey
4 oz of your favourite gin, divided
ice in chilled glasses
2 wedges of lemon
Steep the chamomile in the boiling water. Discard flowers. Stir in honey and dissolve while the liquid is still hot. Allow mixture to cool completely.
Fill 2 tall “collins” glasses with ice and chill.
Once the chamomile tea is sweetened and cooled, divide between the glasses. Add 2 oz gin to each. Top up with club soda. Garnish with lemon wedge.
“At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet. ”
“One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is love.”
“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”
– David Henry Thoreau
Whether you raise a glass to your loved one this February 14th, or raise a glass to yourself, take a moment to consider the love you have around you and all the love you have to give.
Have a very Happy Valentine’s Day, whatever you do, whomever you’re with!
‘Honey, Bee Mine’ French 75 Cocktail
This playful twist on the classic French 75 counts on honey in its simple syrup and a drop of rosewater. Light, feminine, luxurious and romantic, this cocktail will surely set the mood.
¼ C fresh Meyer lemon juice (regular lemons will do if you can’t find the sweeter, milder Meyers)
¼ C honey simple syrup – instructions below
½ C gin
Champagne or sparkling wine, well chilled
1 drop rose water – optional
paper-thin lemon slices for garnish
To make the honey simple syrup, bring to the boil: 1 cup of water and 1 cup of honey. Allow to cook 2 minutes to ensure honey is fully dissolved into the water. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Chill champagne flutes or coupes.
In a large cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the honey syrup, lemon juice, gin and rosewater (if using). Shake well. Strain into chilled glasses and top-up with chilled Champagne (or sparkling wine). Garnish with floating lemon slices. Cheers!
An odd thing happened yesterday: I was home alone with nothing in particular that I had to do. No people, no plans, no restrictions. Sure, I could have done some laundry or spent some hot humid hours weeding the garden, but a solo day with no distractions and the possibility of total relaxation is too glittery a gem to squander on chores. So what did I do? I worked on a quilt I am making for my friend Meghan’s baby girl who we will get to meet in November when she finally gets around to being born. I also made some plans/preliminary designs for a quilt for my niece Lizzy with some gorgeous fabric I bought on etsy at this little shop. I puttered, I pottered, I lazed and I wrote. I also worked on a couple of recipes, one of which I will share here. For the other you’ll have to wait until mid-week.
So… not only was I home alone with my thoughts, it was one of the hottest days so far this summer. By mid morning I had the curtains closed to hold out the blazing sun, the fan cranked and I was keeping cool in the studio, which faces north and never gets sunny. As I put away the sewing machine I remembered the little zip-top bag of lavender blossoms and the case of sparkling lemon mineral water in the pantry. Not only was I mentally half way to highball heaven, I had all the fixings at my fingertips for what I am calling a Lavender Lemonade Fizz.
I promise you, it couldn’t be simpler. A quick, sweet syrup steeped with the blue-grey lavender buds, poured over ice with lemonade (and gin if you’re feeling in the mood). Dead easy. Good for what ails you. Delicious. Good for scorching summer afternoons (alone or with friends).
Lavender Lemonade Fizz
1 part Lavender Syrup
1 part your favourite gin (optional)
8 parts sparkling lemonade
Pour lavender syrup and gin into the bottom of a highball glass. Fill with ice, top up with lemonade.
Or just make a pitcher full. They’ll be quickly consumed, don’t worry.
1 C water
1 C sugar
1/2 C lavender blossoms*
Heat water, sugar and lavender blossoms over medium high heat until the mixture reaches a gentle boil. Boil 1 minute. Turn off heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Strain through fine strainer into a clean container that can be tightly sealed.
*When buying food grade lavender I opted for ‘organic super’. The organic made sense since flowers are so often heavily doctored with pesticides and the “super” seemed to be about the colour. The regular organic lavender was a much more grey/brown colour and didn’t have the same beautiful grey/blue. I wanted the colour to come through in the syrup so I opted for the “super” and I’m glad I did, as the colour of the syrup turned out very nicely.