22 May 2010

Cocktails at the Burn Pit -- Doe Run Gin

I promise, I cooked for my company... it is just, well, I know you really care about what we drank. This year, I have been obsessed with all manner of DIY drinking. I have concocted my own root beer, my own tonic and my own gin. My kitchen is beginning to look a bit like the lab at Hogwarts.

My root beer left something to be desired. It was way too molasssasasasy for me and not quite sweet enough. I need to work on a new sugar content quotient. In the meantime, the gin was lovely.

My favorite gin of all time was made in Vermont. It was called "veranda" and it tasted exactly like you were sitting on a veranda. It was light and spicy and divine. The company folded and I was bereft. I still have a tiny bit of Veranda gin tucked away for a final G&T come Armageddon. While I wait for the end... I whipped up my own gin and I must say, I did myself proud.

Here is the recipe.

Doe Run Gin

1 1.75 liter bottle of non-decrepit 80 proof vodka
30 grams juniper berries
15 grams liquorice root
15 grams grains of paradise
15 grams long pepper
10 grams cubeb berries
2 grams orange peel
2 grams cardamom
1 cinnamon stick

Place all the aromatics into a large glass container. I have a large distilling jar, but any glass container will work. Leave in a dark place for 2 to 5 days. Strain* the mixture and bottle.

There are several ways to strain the gin and they all have flaws.

If you use a Brita pitcher, you can strain it like you do water. You need to set aside a special filter as your libation filter. It will work great for the first liter, but after that it begins to clog and the process grinds to a halt. And it is two days before you have water again.

Cheese cloth is an option, but it needs to be at least four-ply.

Coffee filters are another option, but you must strain it a bit at a time.

After some experimentation, I use a foam skimmer, like one uses in preserving, for the first straining to get out all the seeds and peals, then I strain it again through non-bleached coffee filters. That did the trick.

There exists a company called Gray Kangaroo. they produce a liquor filter that is supposed to be top-notch. I have never used it, but it looks like it might be just the thing for those DIY drinkers out there.

Where in the world, you might ask, does one find cubeb peppers, and liquorice root and other herbs and barks to concoct delicious drinks of your own creation? Berkley, of course. I am terribly fond of Lhasa Karnak. They are on line but very low-tek. You e-mail them a list and your credit card gets charged and soon a box arrives at your door. you can buy in small batches, which is advisable until you decide what you want to add to your aromatic blend.

If you cannot decide what to add to your gin, check out this site on home distillation. It provides some of the aromatic combos in our favorite gins. I will leave the rest to your own imagination....finally...

Not that I object, but really, EVERYBODY brings wine to parties... so be different! Next time, BYOG!

20 May 2010

Cocktails at the Burn Pit -- Berry Sangria

Well, it has simply been too rainy to burn anything, pit or not!

Still, what kind of girl would I be if I let a little thing like dampness prevent cocktails!

Drink up.

Berry Sangria

1 bottle red wine
1 cup Pom pomegranate juice
1 cup Pama pomegranate liqueur
2 cups mixed berries: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries

Pour the wine, Pom and Pama into a large pitcher and stir. Add the fruit, gently. Allow the mixture to sit for an hour or two.

15 May 2010

Famous People With Chickens

Lady Diana Cooper

This past week, I have been suffering from dental difficulties and running a fever. On top of that, it has been cold and pouring rain. The other day I pulled in and before I could stop the car, my chickens exploded out of their house to greet me. They stood there in the driving rain getting soaked to the wishbones, but they wanted to see me. (Perhaps it was the fever talking...) still, they came out to greet me in the rain. I loved them for that gesture on such a miserable day.

Townes Van Zandt

Jamie Oliver

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Eleanor Mondale

Prince Charles

The Duchess of Devonshire

Martha Stewart

Dolly Parton (OK, maybe not but...)

Lucian Freud (OK, it's not a chicken...but still)

09 May 2010

Bridge To Somewhere -- The Garden

After the dredging of the run, the old bridge wasn't quite adequate to spam the run. IT was also, always a bit too narrow to drive the lawn mower across.

Problem solved! At 5 feet wide an supported by 8 X 8 inch trusses, you can hold a dance on the bridge, or cocktails in full view of the burn pit.

Forgive us the mess, but we are working to clear up all the extraneous debris and howling winds are not cooperating this weekend.

07 May 2010

Rhapsody in Green

As you know I am a fan of Beverley Nichols. Nichols was a remarkable writer. Among his various and far-reaching books, he often wrote about his gardens. Unfortunately, in Nichols’ mind, he is best known for his garden books. Being a “garden writer” to Nichols, was limiting, but he was just so good at it.

Roy C. Dicks has edited together a collection of Beverley Nichols opinionated, witty selections from his gardening tomes. Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverley Nichols is insightful and funny and a great introduction to Nichols thoughts on gardening. Here is a sampling:

To dig one’s own spade into one’s own earth! Has life anything better to offer than this?

Just as a room without a mirror is dead, so a garden without water is never quite alive.

Begonias are not flowers, they are a state of mind, and a regrettable state into the bargain.

Orchids…are nature’s shameless assertion of the doctrine of art for art’s sake.

There is no way to belittle someone who writes so eloquently, even if it is about gardening.

06 May 2010

Liquorice Gingerbread

Over at Cookbook Of The Day, we featured Cosmic Cuisine and the recipe for Liquorice Gingerbread.

Since I first read the recipe, I was fascinated with what it would be like. I love liquorice, but I am not that fond of gingerbread. Well I was pleased all around. I tweaked the recipe a bit, as I find all that "scant" and "generous " cup directions to be silly. I added a bit more liquorice. I also made a bit of a liquorice glaze for my cake. And finally, I cooked in a Lucinda's Wood Cake Box.

The directions tell you to add all the dry ingredients, then the eggs, then the milk. I did it that way, but it was quite sloppy. In the end, however, the cake was light and delicate with just a hint of liquorice. All in all it was a great cake.

Liquorice Gingerbread

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground liquorice root
pinch salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Grease an 8 inch square cake pan with butter. In a bowl, cream the butter, sugar and molasses. Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt into the bowl and beat well. Add the eggs. Warm the milk, dissolve the bicarbonate in it and add that to the mixture. Beat until it starts to bubble slightly. Pour into the cake pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 F for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave the gingerbread undisturbed for the first 40 minutes in the oven. Take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool in the pan. When cool, turn the gingerbread out and store it in a container and do not eat for 24 hours. Makes one 8 inch square cake.

Liquorice Glaze

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon liquorice powder
1/4 cup milk

Blend together until smooth. Pour over warm cake.

P.S. I did not wait the requisite 24 hours and all was well.

05 May 2010

Etiquette Wednesday -- Elsa Maxwell

Elsa Maxwell was quite the party girl. She not only attended a plethora of parties, but she gave as good as she got. It is no wonder that in the course of her travels, she picked up a thing or two about etiquette. We have shared some of Maxwell's tips in a previous post, but there is still so much to learn.

After amassing all that knowledge, she would write it down in book form so we can all be schooled in the style of the fabulous Elsa Maxwell.

In her introduction, Maxwell states the basic rule of etiquette:

Good manners spring from just one thing – kind impulses.


A gentleman always stands when he is introduced to a man or a woman. A gentleman always stands when a woman enters a room unless he is in a public place and the woman is a stranger.

The act of rising to the feet is one of charming deference, one of the last vestiges of chivalry left in our hurried, modern world.


Never be afraid to say “I don’t know.” None of us, happily, are supposed to be omniscient.

Never interrupt.

Do not top anyone’s story.


Once upon a time, before electricity or gaslight, a dinner party required one candle at least for every person present. Today candles are used only because they make a table festive and flatter the ladies – either reason being quite sufficient to use them.

Once again, it is hard, even in this day and age, to top Elsa as the "Hostess with the Mostess." Here's to kind impulses.

04 May 2010

Doe Run -- A Post Dredging

After recent torrential showers, Doe Run got its post-dredging trial.

It cleared out beautifully. The Run ran, even though the lower forty got a bit flooded.

02 May 2010

Kathleen Elgin

My late friend, Kathleen Elgin, loved the Kentucky Derby. When May rolls around, I always thing of her.

In the 1950's and 60's, Kathleen was a book illustrator in New York.

She illustrated everything from the the heart, to the gods, to the nuns.

I miss her...
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