This past week, I was lucky enough to spend my vacation (and the waning days of summer) with my 13-year-old niece Hannah for a week long “Baking Camp” at my house in Maine. Although honestly, by the sheer amount of heavy cream we used, it should’ve be called Ice Cream Camp with a side of Baking. As wonderful as it was, I’m kicking myself for not being able to have given my sweets-loving niece this killer S’mores Milkshake (we joke that her Harry Potter book would be called Hannah Potter & The Case of the Missing Marshmallow) (I’m a Ravenclaw, she’s a Hufflepuff) (part of why this week worked out so well is that I’m pretty sure a huge part of me is still 13 myself.) We did make s’mores and we made milk chocolate ice cream and there was ALWAYS an overflow of milk in the fridge. Still, how good does this look for the last few days of summer?
Makes: As many shakes as you need | Print Recipe
Crushed graham crackers
Chocolate ice cream
- Heat coconut oil in a pan and add graham crackers, stirring until toasted.
- In a blender, add scoops of chocolate ice cream and pour in milk until the milkshake is thick and creamy. Pour into a cold glass.
- Top with marshmallows and scorch with a kitchen torch (or put them in an oven-safe pan and try putting them under the broiler until charred) and sprinkle with toasted graham crackers.
She didn’t mean to float away, it just sort of happened.
One minute, they were all together on the dock. The next, she had climbed into the raft. He immediately put the baby on her lap and she closed her hands around the chubby little waist but then the baby started to cry, big wails, and he picked the baby back up. She waited a moment longer and then someone nudged the raft. It bobbed on the cold lake water for a moment and then started to move.
Maybe she should’ve worked hard to paddle. Maybe she should’ve been nervous as the raft moved and bobbed and then didn’t stop moving or bobbing. Before she knew it, she was on her back on the bottom of the small raft, the nape of her neck resting against a tiny pool of cold water. She stared up at the blue sky and closed her eyes, the sun nowhere in sight.
She knew she should be worried about sunscreen, about food, about the sun’s blinding light on her eyes, on how the baby felt watching her float away. She knew she should be worried about many things, all of the things. She should be worried, most of all, for how she would get back across the lake, to the dock, to the house. Instead, she stayed down and closed her eyes. The raft would make it back to shore eventually, she thought. And if it didn’t, she would swim. It felt good, she thought, to decide not to worry.
Last night, I stayed up later than usual but I didn’t mind. We’re having a cookout lunch at the office today and I was getting ready. I shucked corn and tossed the long husks into the trash, stirred things together in a square container with a big spoon, put other crucial things in a bag. I poured thick, black-speckled espresso ice cream from the churner into a second square container and stirred in fat hunks of leftover donuts. I tried not to dwell too much on how tired I felt, this late in the week, or if a spoonful of coffee ice cream would keep me awake. I tried not to worry or wonder if tomorrow would be another hot day. If someone would cry at work. Lately a lot of people have been crying at work. It’s a strange feeling, to want to be deeply happy, to be close to it, right up against it, and be around crying people. It makes you feel a little crazy. I’m hungrier for sun and summer than I thought I’d be.
Have a good weekend, friends. Look for light, wherever you can find it. A raft on a lake, a homemade fruity cocktail, your friend’s new house in the country, coffee and donuts ice cream, naps in air conditioning, farmers market, long runs, deep sleeps. Okay? Okay. Me too.
Makes: Approx. 1 1/2 Gallons | Print Recipe
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 gallon cold water
2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 cups sliced strawberries plus more for garnish
1. Make the simple syrup: combine the 2 cups sugar with the 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and allow to cool.
2. Make the strawberry puree: combine the berries with 2 Tablespoons sugar and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Blend the berries and sugar in a blender or food processor until finely pureed. Press mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.
3. Add a gallon of cold water and the lemon juice to a pitcher. Add the simple syrup and strawberry puree and stir well.
4. Fill glasses with lemonade and ice, garnish with fresh mint sprig and sliced strawberries.
5. Optional cocktail version: add 1.5 oz gin to 1 cup strawberry lemonade and stir well.
Debby was prepared to tell her son, who was six, many many things. Explaining why their Jack-O-Lanterns lay destroyed on the sidewalk was not one of them.
She stood there with him, tongue-tied as Finn stared wide-eyed down at the remnants of his Wolverine pumpkin (which had taken them over two hours to carve, thank you very much Martha Stewart and no, it was not “as simple and festive as the wink in her child’s eye” or whatever the page said when Deb went to print it) which lay shattered, partly on their front porch step and partly on the sidewalk. “Maybe it fell,” she said to Finn when she could finally think. “Maybe someone was walking by and a gust of wind! Came and knocked it over and…” her words trailed off as Finn looked at her dolefully. “Not buying it?”
Her son, who was sweet and hopeful, enough to make every day with him a fresh twist in her heart, frowned. “Someone smashed it,” he guessed and sounded bewildered.
“Come on,” Deb said with a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s go back inside. Forget the mall. I’ll warm up some cider for us. We’ll watch TV, a movie.” Anything but Wolverine she thought, though it seemed to be on whenever she reached for the remote these days.
But Finn didn’t follow her. Instead, he stepped toward the bits of pumpkin and bent down. “Finn, I’ll do it later-” she started to say but stopped. “What’s that?”
He held a card in his hand and turned it over a few times before she finally took it. And then Deb frowned down at it.
The card had a picture of a pumpkin and a sword hovering over it like the pumpkin was a fat, round mantle. And on the other side, it read in fiery script, “Your pumpkin will be avenged!”
Warm Vanilla Cider
6 cups fresh apple cider (perishable)
2 Tablespoons of packed dark-brown sugar
2 Whole nutmeg seeds
1 Vanilla bean (split and scraped)
6 Ounces of (3/4 cup) bourbon, if desired
1 Cup of finely chopped walnuts
3 Tablespoons of honey
Pinch of coarse salt
1. Make the honeyed walnuts:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine walnuts, honey, and salt in a bowl. Toss to coat, and spread in a single layer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake, tossing occasionally, until toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
2. Make the cider:
Combine apple cider, dark-brown sugar, nutmeg seeds, and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Gently simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and add bourbon if desired. Remove and discard solids. Divide among 6 mugs or heatproof glasses, and top each with a dollop of whipped cream and a few honeyed walnuts.
“Just do it! Go!” Jenna nudged Chelsea forward and laughed. From where they stood, outside the gypsy tent, the fairgrounds smelled sickeningly sweet, like cotton candy had melted into the ground all around them. Which it most likely had.
Chelsea ignored her friend and continued to check herself out in the mirror from her purse. Teased, sky-high bangs- check. Royal baby blue eyeshadow and matching eyeliner- check (except a smudge, whoops.) Candy red Lip Smackers- check. Three pieces of Doublemint Gum- check. Her favorite angora sweater dress with shoulder pads and its embroidered pink, sequined tiger on the front- check, check and check (God, she loved that sweater dress.) Chelsea gave herself one more look, winced at the pimple on her chin and finally looked at Jenna. “WHY do you want me to do this, exactly?” She adjusted the gold strap of her purse and dropped the mirror into the side of it. She looked finally at the gypsy tent, where a bored, dark-haired woman was filing her nails over a crystal ball. “So lame.”
“I know right? That’s why it’s funny!” Jenna smacked her gum and gave her a shove. “Come on, let’s do it. Please.”
The “fortune teller” coughed and tossed her nail file over her shoulder as they entered. “Ladies,” she said in a heavy accent, even though Chelsea could’ve sworn the woman worked over at the roller rink on the weekends. “Please, sit. Welcome to your future.”
Chelsea rolled her eyes at Jenna as the woman leaned over and grabbed a deck of cards. “Tarot? Or shall we look into the Crystal Ball?”
“Ball!” Jenna giggled. Chelsea shrugged. She was already tired of the carnival and tired of Jenna and the woman’s tent, which smelled like nail polish remover and moth balls. She wondered what Matt P. was doing right then, if he was still on the Ferris Wheel with Jessica H.
The woman leaned over and her long, dark hair swung over her shoulders. She draped her sleeves over the crystal ball and then lifted them dramatically. Inside the ball, smoke appeared in a little, gentle cloud. Chelsea was impressed, despite herself. She wondered if she had gotten it at the mall. “The future speaks to me. And it speaks to me of you,” the woman said and she pointed at Chelsea, her eyes dark and serious.
“Your future is very clear, the most clear I have ever seen.” The woman narrowed her eyes as she stared into the ball. “I see you, as a grown woman. You live in a city. Not New York, no. Los Angeles, perhaps. Or Miami. Someplace warm. Your hair is long and it is two colors- brown on the top and blonde on the bottom. Yes. It is wavy and long.” That’s stupid, Chelsea thought. And really, really specific. She frowned. “You will wear very tight pants, always, and high heels.” Ew, Chelsea thought. Like a hooker? “Your handbag will be designed by a reality television star but it will be surprisingly well made. You laugh when you tell people. You work in computers.” WHAT? Chelsea thought, and her mouth fell open. “Tweet, tweet. Something with birds. A lot of birds. You send the tweeting birds for celebrities. You are very famous but not famous at all.” The woman took a deep, long breath and the smoke bloomed again. “You are addicted to something called ‘an iced mocha latte.’ You drink one every day, even when it is very cold out. If you do not have one, you become very enraged.”
“That sounds like you,” Jenna said, her own mouth agape.
“You have many friends, hundreds, but no friends, none.” The woman coughed and the smoke cleared. Jenna stared, amazed, and Chelsea scoffed. “Five dollars, please.”
Happy Weekend, noodles!
I’m off to New York tomorrow for a week and then (there is no way to say this without sounding a little ass-hatty) on vacation in Italy (a friend’s getting married!!!) and Prague (friends live there!!!) for 7 glorious days. While I’m away, take care of Nicole, would you? And make lots of fun things and eat lots of fun things and spend time in the sun and laugh a lot and maybe hit up a carnival or two. See you when I get back.
Iced Almond Macadamia Milk Latte
1 Generous cup (150 grams) of blanched almonds
1/2 Cup (50 grams) of macadamia nuts
1/3 Cup (40 grams) of pitted dates
1 Liter of filtered water (fancy)
2 Shots of hot espresso
1. In a large, lidded plastic container, combine almonds, macadamia nuts and dates. Add water to cover and let soak overnight, at room temperature, for at least 12 hours.
2. Process mixture in a blender, at highest speed, for 3 to 4 minutes until finely pureed.
3. Strain the mixture through a nut bag or jelly bag (I did not know what either of those things are so…) or a fine mesh sieve over a bowl with two layers of cheesecloth. Strain mixture. The nut milk should be silky and creamy. Marvel at how much work this is compared to those giant containers of almond milk at the store. Wonder how many almonds are sacrificed for nut milk every day. Cry a little. (Nut milk can keep in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Shake before using.)
4. To make a latte: combine 8 ounces of chilled nut milk, a double shot of espresso and ice in a glass or cocktail shaker. Shake or stir for 30 second, strain into a chilled glass with fresh ice.
The girls looked up and over at Ted, the bartender, who stared down at his phone and shook his head. “What?” M said with a smile. She invoked her mother’s voice, her Queens accent. “Who’s dead.”
Their smiles dropped. They were theater kids, the three of them, and had been since high school. They’d gone to different high schools, the three, but had met in New York and recognized each other instantly. Q instantly looked at her own phone and typed in the words, needing her own confirmation. “Shit. She is.”
“You think I’d make it up.” Ted pushed himself away from the bar and swung backwards, grabbed a bottle of vodka and three glasses. “No way,” she said. “Gin.”
“Who knows? But it feels closer.” She beckoned for her glass with her finger and he put it down, poured her a shot. One for Q and one for himself. M nudged Q. “Pay attention.”
Q looked up, already broken up, in that vague and sudden way you could be broken up about someone you didn’t know in the slightest but knew all the high notes. “Damn. She was cool.” She laughed a little and scrolled through the things she’d already read, the quotes and the barbs. “Shit and crazy.”
“First we toast and then you tell us,” M said and she lifted her glass. But when she opened her mouth, she found she didn’t have the words. She looked at Ted who shook his head again. She looked at Q, who was itching to get back to her phone. “What should we say?”
Q frowned and lifted her own glass. “To New York,” she said. She sounded sure of her words. But then she always did.
We fixed you a drink. You looked like you could use one.
Wait, is that insulting? Is it like remarking to someone that they look tired? (Gee, thanks.) We just meant… you know, maybe it’s hot outside and too cold inside, where you are. Maybe the news of late is making your head hurt and your heart ache. Maybe you’re content and on the porch of your new house (it feels like everyone is buying houses, all of a sudden) and your hand is empty, needs a glass. Maybe it’s the end of the week and you just got paid. I don’t know. Sometimes you just really, really could use a drink. Preferably a drink that’s cold but warm with vanilla, has a sharp and sour and sweet bite. Something like the one we just mixed up for you.
Rhubarb Vanilla Cocktail with Grapefruit
Makes: 1 Cocktail and extra syrup | Print Recipe
For the syrup:
1 LB of rhubarb stalks, cleaned, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
2 Cups of water
1 and 1/2 Cups of sugar
1 Vanilla bean
For the cocktail:
1 Oz of gin
1 Oz of fresh grapefruit juice
Lemon peel (optional)
1. To make the syrup, combine rhubarb, water and sugar in a small saucepan. With a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean down the center and scape out the seeds. Add the seeds and bean to the saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for 15 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and strain liquid, removing solids. Cool syrup.
4. To make the cocktail, combine 1/2 oz. cooled syrup, 1 oz gin and 1 oz grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.
5. Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled glass. Garnish with lemon peel and additional ice if desired.
She unfurled the letter and read. I hope this note finds you well. No. More than that. I hope it finds you sitting in a room, in a chair, with the light falling softly around you. I hope there is stillness there, in that room, within the circle of that light. I hope you look up from the paper and your eyes linger over the dust in the air, the way it sparkles. I hope it is quiet and I hope you are glad that it’s quiet. I hope your heart is still and calm and you wonder where you end and the light begins.
I hope that for you. I hope that even if none of it is true, if the world around you is crashing and loud and full of bodies and sounds and wants and needs that are not your own, that you are surrounded by cymbals and jackhammers, that there is still a piece of you residing in that room, in that chair, surrounded by that light. I hope you feel it, all of it and nothing.
We’re back! Kind of. I’m back, Nicole is still on the road. I dove headfirst back into my life and holy shit, I could use a cold glass of ice cream that’s sinking into beer. Can’t you?
Our friend Jack at The Hop Review helped us pick out the stout for this coffee stout float. We used Vanilla Java Porter by Atwater. Other good options for this, says Jack, are Coffee Bender by Surly Brewing Company or Edmund Fitzgerald by Great Lakes.
Coffee Stout Float
Source: Brooklyn Brew Shop | Makes: 1 Float
1/2 Cup of stout beer (see recommendations above)
1 Cup of your favorite vanilla ice cream
Chocolate syrup, optional
[If you add chocolate syrup] drizzle as much as you’d like into a chilled pint glass.
Pour your beer into the glass; Leave about 1/2 inch of room at the top.
He stood up at the table and swayed just a bit. A few feet away, his closest friends, gathered around the round table, all braced themselves. Cleo even held her breath.
Undaunted, Pot’s glass went up a little higher into the air. His voice was clear and loud; he knew how to make it carry across the room, even without the benefit of a mike. “To Mad and Baxter,” he said with an impish grin. “Four months ago, they were strangers on a bus. A dirty, very dirty bus. And now here we are, in this beautiful room, with all of these beautiful people, sending them off together into the distance. They’re going into the light. Well,” Pot said. “Well, into the light and the dark, I suppose, that’s where they’re going. Because life has both light and dark in it. The important thing is now they’re going to face both together. Which is a beautiful thing.”
“When I met Baxter,” Pot continued, “he didn’t want to play the drums. He didn’t want to do anything, actually. I made him join the band because he was my only friend and I knew the other guys were going to hate me. Which they did, turned out to be true. But Baxter stayed. For a long time, he didn’t do much but he was there. I asked him to stick around and he did. And then our drummer quit and they wanted to get someone else to play, another guy who would also hate me, and Baxter just stood up and walked over to the drums and man, he ripped through them. And he didn’t say a word. And he was our drummer and he made the other guys like me and suddenly we were living this dream that only one of us had ever had. And I’m so glad he stayed.” Pot lifted the glass up and out. “And I’m glad he got the girl.”
It’s Friday, you guys. We made it. Another week in the books. Stamp it, mark it, shut it down. Close your laptops. Silence your phones. Walk away from the papers, whatever they might be. Find some people, real people, your people. Food, drink, fun. We are out of here.
The Lime Nicky
Inspired By: Lottie & Doof and Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery
3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 Cup of water
2 Tablespoons of grated fresh ginger
In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and ginger. Bring to simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Juice the grapefruits and limes into a small pitcher. Strain the ginger syrup into the pitcher and stir well to combine. Add gin. Chill until cold.
Stir again before serving.
“Look, I told you. I’ll get it wrapped up tonight.” Out on the front porch, Precia tapped her nail impatiently on the side of the phone. The front door had opened and there was a woman there, in her fifties, grey hair, terrible wrap dress, staring at her. “I have to go, Rog. I’m at the hotel. Yeah, yeah. I’ll call you back in five minutes.” She stuffed the phone in her pocket and tried for a smile. “Hello. Checking in?”
The “hotel” was really a Victorian home with pink shutters in the dead center of a long, tree-lined street. As soon as Precia had driven up the narrow drive and glimpsed the house, she’d felt a sinking feeling in her stomach. It was a B & B. A damned B & B. She’d pulled into the parking spot in the back and told Roger to hold while she tapped a note in her Reminders: Kill Janie when I get back!! B&B? WTF?
The woman had a long, lean face and serious eyes. She leaned on the door and studied her. “You going to be on that cellular telephone the whole time you’re here?”
Affronted, Precia stared back. “I’m working,” she replied and hefted her rollaway so that it was poised for takeoff, back toward where she came. “I can find another establishment if it bothers you.” She wanted to add that she was allergic to cats but bit her tongue- you can thank my life coach for that, lady.
The woman looked unbothered by the prospect of her guest leaving. She raised an eyebrow. “Just a question. Come on in.” In two quick movements, she hefted open the door, grabbed Precia’s bag and ushered her inside.
“My name is Helen and welcome to the Stafford.” Helen looked out of place in the opulent sitting room. It was comfortable, cozy and filled with glossy antiques; Precia’s eyes fell on a writing desk from the early 1800s, impeccable condition. And there wasn’t a doily to be found, she admitted to herself grudgingly. “Your room is still being cleaned. You’re early, you know.” Precia let that one slide. “Take a seat, make yourself comfortable and I’ll bring you a drink.” The woman turned back on her way out and Precia wondered if she had just remembered to take her guest’s drink order. But no. “No cell service in the house.” She pointed toward the back yard. “There’s a spot in the woods out back, about twenty feet from the main house. You walk down that path, you see a log. You’ll get five bars of cell service right there but that’s it.”
Precia stared at her. “You’re joking.” She sat down on the leather divan, sank into it really, and it sunk in for a moment, just a moment, how tired she was. Oh, she was tired. Tired in her bones.
“No, ma’am.” Helen studied her for another moment. “We’ve got hot baths though. And books. And television, up in your room. We get the Bravo, don’t worry. Business ladies always coming in here, asking if we get the Bravo.” Helen shook her head, bemused. “And good food, my daughter Tracy is an excellent cook. We get warm cookies from the bakery down the road, they pull them out of the oven and little Frankie drives them over on his bicycle, he should be coming around soon, you keep an ear out for the bell on his bike. But no, no phones here. If it’s a deal breaker, there’s a Best Western about sixteen miles north of here. Let me go get that drink while you think on it.” She slipped through a door in the back and was gone, leaving Precia in a room that had gone blessedly quiet and still.
Who needs a drink?
Oh, you do? I thought you might. Here, drink this. It’s a glass of ice cold, Sweet Whiskey Lemonade. Aka Sweet Nector of Life. Aka This Too Shall Pass. Aka Sunshine That Kicks Back.
Take two and call us in the morning. (Later) in the morning.
Sweet Whiskey Lemonade
2 Ounces of triple sec
2 Ounces of whiskey
1 and 1/2 Ounces of fresh lemon juice
2/3 Ounces of lime juice
1 Teaspoon of granulated sugar
1/2 Teaspoon of apricot preserves
3 Ounces of tonic water
1. In a shaker, combine all ingredients except tonic water with ice and shake well.
2. Fill two glasses with ice and strain half of the drink mixture into each glass.
3. Top each glass off with 1 and 1/2 ounces of tonic water. Serve immediately.
“So, okay, what’s this?”
“That? That’s, um…” she picked up the jar and squinted, not because the label was hard to read but because all the noshing had made her vision blurry. “Peanut Cocoa Butter.”
“Oh man. That’s amazing.” Her husband handed her a spoon and they dug in. And it was amazing.
But then Tara blinked and, for the first time in about an hour, really looked around her. She and her husband were sitting cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by crinkly wrappers, open jars and lids, dirty spoons and fallen crisps everywhere. “Oh. Oh no.”
“Huh?” Jim blinked too. His eyes were glazed over and there were crumbs all over his chin. “What?”
“Jim!” Tara looked at the gift basket on the floor. “We ate everything! ALL THE THINGS.”
“Mmmm.” He reached for the jar of peanut cocoa butter again but she smacked his hand. “What?! Oh.” Realization dawned. He nudged the now-empty basket on the floor and wiped the crumbs off his chin. “Oh. Well. I guess we’ll just have to buy your boss something else, huh?”
So many things happening in this post right now!
First, a recipe. It’s officially holiday cocktail party time! And everyone knows that the best winter cocktails come with a dose of warmth- either from piping hot tea and brandy or, in this case, coffee and bourbon. And whipped cream. Clearly.
As an aside, when I first saw this recipe and got to the amaro ingredient, I had to look it up. And when I looked it up, I laughed because amaro is the same as Fernet. And that will make my mom laugh because the only person I know who orders Fernet is my Aunt Anna and according to my mother, only someone with a constitution like my Aunt Anna (with her bone-crushing hugs, her penchant for walking barefoot and collecting rocks and feeding grown men, like my father, until they cry) would order it as a stand-alone drink. Apparently, my Aunt Anna is more hipster and legit than most people I know.
Caffè Di Alpi
1 Teaspoon of honey
3 Ounces of hot brewed coffee (you know what would go great with/in place of hot brewed coffee? Coffee Syrup. Hmmm. Where could we find that, I wonder?)
1 and 1/2 ounces of bourbon
1 Large dollop of Alps Whipped Cream (see below)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1. Put the honey in a warmed mug.
2. Add the hot coffee and the bourbon and stir.
3. Top with Alps Whipped Cream and garnish with the grated nutmeg.
Alps Whipped Cream
1. In a small bowl, beat the heavy cream until thickened.
2. Add amaro and beat until firm.
And now… win free, awesome stuff in our Eat Boutique Giveaway!
Our love for Eat Boutique is well-documented, I think. And if it’s not, it should be. I can’t remember who first directed us to Maggie and her fantastic business but one look at the Breakfast Gift Box and I was good and hooked. “Seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes for food fans.” Filled with “the best small batch foods by boutique food makers.” Did you swoon? Are you swooning?
What if I told you New Englanders that the Eat Boutique Holiday Market is coming on December 9th? And Joy the Baker will be there? And Aran Goyoaga? And I need to stop listing everyone or I may cry a little. I’m very emotional today apparently.
Will you swoon if we give you one of these delightful gift boxes? Because we’re going to do just that. What better way to kick off the gift season than… with gifts!
SKS Winter Giveaway
One (1) Cocktails Gift Box from Eat Boutique:
It’s always cocktail hour when you send this gift box, and it’s always made from scratch. A single bottle of Scrappy’s Bitters is at the ready for any mixed drink. Morris Kitchen’s Ginger, Preserved Lemon or Apple Syrup (our choice) will brighten every cocktail or soda concoction. Dave’s Coffee Syrup is perfect for White Russians (and all sorts of baked goods). Quince & Apple Grenadine is ready for your Shirley Temple. Rim each drink with Didi Davis Foods Citrus Sugar Collection and nibble on Treat Bake Shop Pecans. We even included Haute Papier letter-pressed coasters and a little whisk to make serving and mixing easy.
It’s a perfect addition to your holiday cocktail bar and a stellar gift for the drink-lovers in your life (is there such a thing as regifting if you first won it on a blog?) so enter today!
Dates: November 28 to December 5, 2012 (contest ends 12am EST on the 5th)
How to Enter: Just write a comment on this post and give us a character name we could use in one of our future stories (we could always use more fun character names and when we use it, we’ll let you know!) One comment per person please.
Selecting a Winner: Winner will be selected on Thursday, December 6 using random.org, a random generator. The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond. If the winner doesn’t respond to the winning notification email, another winner will be chosen.
Boring/Horrible Disclaimers: You must be 18+ to enter. We will only be shipping within the continental United States. SKS reserves the right to disallow comment submissions for the following reasons:
- Any rude or obscene comments will not be approved. (But I will laugh at them silently before deleting them.)
- All spam comments will not be approved. (Again, some of these make me laugh. But they will not be approved.)
- No purchase is necessary to enter. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. I’m not even sure what you would purchase to win, honestly. Wait, was someone going to send me money to increase their chances? Maybe I should rethink this disclaimer…
The story today is… Nicole is getting married. On SATURDAY. This Saturday! I know.
We’re shaking things up next week (see what I did there? Milkshakes? Wordplay.) with some informal snaps from the wedding, which is taking place at Nicole’s grandparents’ old barn in Pennsylvania. Where, incidentally, a black bear has been spotted recently, no I am not at all worried about that why do you ask omg A BEAR you guys.
Nicole sent me a picture of said bear and laughed. The words city slicker may have come out of her mouth. And so the differences between us continue to make themselves known.
If I don’t make it back from this wedding, I love you all very much.
Anyway. It’s going to be awesome. I don’t know if you’ve noticed how creative and talented Nicole is but yeah… barn. Wedding. Food. Games. Bears. I promise to take a lot of pictures.
And in the meantime, Nicole’s going to need coffee. A lot of coffee. And because it’s suddenly 90 degrees (!) in Maine (!) and elsewhere, it’s going to come in the form of an icy, frothy coffee chocolate milkshake recipe. Buzzy, chocolatey joy.
Coffee Chocolate Chip Milkshake
Makes 4 Servings | Print Recipe
2 Cups of good coffee ice cream
1 Cup of whole or 2% milk
6 TBsps of hot fudge (more to taste)
1/3 Cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. In a blender combine all ingredients until smooth.
2. Pour into glasses and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings if desired.
Annie turned over in her bed, the blanket clenched in her small hand. She blinked. “Is it midnight?”
Jean smiled. “Not yet,” she whispered. “In a few minutes.” She pressed the back of her hand to Annie’s forehead and frowned, giving it a kiss to be sure. When her little girl struggled to sit up, Jean nudged her back. “You need to rest, Moppet.”
“I want to stay up for the bells.”
“You can.” Jean wrapped the blankets more tightly around her. Annie let out a sigh that turned into a cough. “Here.” Jean reached up and pushed the small window open. The cold air tickled her hand.
With difficult, Annie turned over in the narrow bed, the nightcap pulled down over her ears, the heat of her fever just visible in her pink skin.
Her mother leaned down, singing softly. The time came and both fell silent as the bells rang out in the distance, a serenade over the town, solemn in their call.
“Happy New Year, Mama.”
“Happy New Year, Moppet.”
I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Eve but I love the prospect of a clean slate. I am that supremely annoying person who will ask you what your resolutions are and then follow up on them two months later. “Hello? Did you just hang up on me? Mom?”
I can’t help it, okay? I like change- I think it keeps things interesting. I’m always on the lookout for truly awesome resolutions. Does anyone have any they want to share? My biggest one is that I’m learning another language this year- Italian. We got Rosetta Stone for Christmas (a family gift) and I’m already in the throes of that early lovey dovey stage where it’s all I want to think about or play with. What’s “dreamy sigh” in Italian?
Anyway, just because the holidays are (almost) over, doesn’t mean that festive winter joy has to go by the wayside. Peppermint is a distinct winter/holiday treat and what better way to experience it than in liquid form; cold and sweet and bracing as a cocktail and warm, cozy in cocoa form.
Makes 8 drinks
1 Cup of pomegranate juice
The juice of 1 lime
4 Ounces of vodka
1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract
8 ice cubes
8 mini candy canes
2 TBsps of chopped, fresh mint
1. Combine juices, vodka, peppermint and 1/2 cup water in a shaker with ice.
2. Shake vigorously and strain into 8 shot glasses.
3. Garnish with candy canes and mint.
Homemade White Chocolate Peppermint Cocoa
Makes 16 cups | Via Life and Kitchen
12 Candy Canes
3/4 Cup of white chocolate chips
2 1/2 Cups of nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 Cups of confectioners sugar
1 Cup of unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder
1. Using a food processor, grind the chocolate chips into a fine powder. Pour into a bowl.
2. Grind the candy canes into a fine powder in the food processor.
3. Mix the chocolate chip powder and peppermint powder with the dry milk powder, sugar, and cocoa powder.
1. Mix 1 cup of hot milk with 1/4 cup of the cocoa mix.
2. Stir well.
[Gift Idea for next year: Follow Lindsay’s example and pour the mix into jars, give as holiday/hostess gifts.]
Easy Peppermint Hot Cocoa
Makes 1 Serving | Via Cooks.com
1 Hot cocoa mix packet
1 Candy Cane
Mint Extract (to taste)
1. Prepare hot cocoa per packet’s instructions.
2. Add mint extract to taste.
3. Stir with peppermint stick. Will make you feel delightful.
Martin saw her outside on the sidewalk seconds before she was to blow through the door. He sighed. “Batten down the hatches,” he muttered to Chelsea, who was new and twelve years old and knew nothing.
She blinked. “What?” Chelsea was short and had dull brown hair and eyes to match. Whenever he said anything, she reacted as if he was speaking a different language. Martin sighed again. He missed Heather.
She came in like a tall, blonde tornado, her giant purse flapping against her side. Her sunglasses were askew as she wedged the door open with her hip and she called out her order, as she always did, from the door as she struggled through it. “Mocha Frostie! Large Mocha Frostie! Jenna!” The long line of people waiting to place their orders turned and stared at her blatant disregard for ordering protocol.
Martin bit his lip and waved to the thirty-something lunatic who had been a staple of his morning shift for the past eight months. “Good morning, Jenna,” he said with a smile as he prepared the next drink. And so began their game.
She shuffled forward and drew down her Prada sunglasses, eyed him. “Is it ready?”
“No, Jenna. If you would just get in line, I’m happy to make it for you in a jiff when it’s your turn.” The people on line looked relieved.
“Martin,” she said with a smile that could cut glass, “I’m in a hurry.”
“I know, I’m so sorry. The morning rush and all…”
He ignored her, politely took the next customer.
He made change, smiled widely at the next customer.
“MARTIN. MOCHA FROSTIE.” As if he would respond to her order like that was really his name, like it said Mocha Frostie Sullivan on his birth certificate. He went on with his business.
And so she waited. She stood in line, coat swishing, and tapped her heels on the faux wood floors and sighed and checked her watch, which jangled, and flipped her hair over her shoulder, the blonde strands hitting the man behind her in the mouth, and sighed again. Her purse wriggled, her tiny dog nestled inside and fighting his way out with desperate yips.
When it was finally her turn, Martin smiled sweetly at her as if seeing her for the first time. “Good morning, Jenna. The usual?”
Well, here I am- writing to you from New York. As we speak, my roommate has just walked into the room to collect some laundry and offer me water. (Note- if your roommate is a stranger from Craigslist, do not accept these little niceties as they will probably try to murder you later. But if that roommate is a wonderful woman who gave birth to you many moons ago, by all means! Yes! A water with lemon please! What’s for lunch!)
It’s going well. It’s beautiful here today and we’re going to the Hamptons this afternoon to walk around and stalk Ina Garten (obviously). Though I do miss my Chicago kittens. It’s hard to believe that just a week ago today Nicole, Mike and I were eating these popsicles on the roof of their building. Time, you bitter mistress. (Note- these pops would also be killer as a replacement to your next ice coffee break. You’ll be the envy of your coworkers as you sit at your desk, delicately chomping on a homemade mocha popsicle as they half-heartedly stir their Starbucks brew, which by now is nothing more than coffee-flavored ice cubes.)
Iced Coffee Pops
Ingredients2 cups extra-strong coffee or espresso 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk 1 1/2 TBsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
Mix the coffee with the sweetened condensed milk. Check out www.corpcofe.com/coffee/ for the best selection of premium coffee supplies and equipment. Add tablespoon of cocoa powder and adjust to taste (A note from Adrianna- a spoonful or two is fine, but any more and the popsicles won’t freeze as hard.)
Pour into molds and freeze until solid. We froze ours overnight. To get the Popsicle out of its mold, hold under warm water for a few seconds. Makes about 8 Popsicle. Also, those cheap Popsicle molds with the cups at the bottom are fantastic- they catch the drippier bits.
She’d always been popular.
Even in kindergarten, the other children had wandered over to her first. They borrowed her crayons, petted her soft, blonde curls. When she was in fourth grade, she had invited every single classmate at Woodburn Elementary to her house for her birthday party and every single one came.
In high school, it seemed a given that she be on the cheer squad but she was also on the Math Team, as her father was quick to point out, and Debate. And though it was all three, along with her surprisingly springy grades, that got her into Penn State on a scholarship, it was cheer squad and cheer alone that got her Homecoming Queen and the most signatures in her yearbook. And a ride on the back of Jake Dugan’s motorcycle after prom.
Still. None of that changed the fact that she was now thirty-three and sitting in her Camry down the block from her own house, staring at her own driveway.
Her daughter was twelve. And if Cheryl had sailed through her childhood, her awkward years and her rebellious ones on a silken cloud, it seemed more and more likely that her daughter, her baby, was destined to be dragged through them, like an animal was yanked through the brush.
Cheryl sat in the car, hunched low in the driver’s seat, and chewed on her nail for comfort. Madison had pulled an old card table down to the base of the driveway and, with it, an even older stool. Cheryl had watched, biting her tongue, as her daughter found a recipe on their computer for Sour Cherry Lemonade, dutifully copied down the directions and wandered into the kitchen to pull the listed ingredients from the refrigerator, the cabinets, the pantry by the stairs, a pitcher, cups, and tasting spoons.
When Cheryl caught a peak at the ingredient list, she frowned. “We don’t have enough lemons for this,” she’d said and Maddie shrugged.
She ended up, as she always did, pulled something together that was pretty close to the intended article- a concoction that certainly tasted cherry, tasted lemony and would pass in a pinch. But Cheryl was too busy worrying about the sign her daughter was making, the one that politely informed passerby that her improvised beverage was for sale for $1 per cup, to be impressed by Maddie’s skills in the mixology department.
The words were on the tip of her tongue. Aren’t you a little too old to be playing with a lemonade stand?
But it was exactly the kind of statement her therapist, Maddie’s therapist, had warned her against. Like those comments about how her hair could be shaped around her face better, to tap down the roundness, and maybe there was something they could do about her skin- like that commercial on TV. Or ballet lessons, dance, etiquette- anything to keep her daughter from walking pitchforward, led by her shoulders like she was taking a headstart in a race with no other participants.
Cheryl swallowed and, when her daughter blinked owlishly at her behind her thick glasses, the ones her father insisted she needed, to see, Cheryl, good God, she just pointed to the fancy napkins, her throat as dry as the Grand Canyon, and told her to take them along for her “customers.”
She’d watched her set up from the living room windows, in the safe keeping of the air conditioning, and when that group of boys had wandered by, when they glanced down at Maddie at her table, the laugh they shared under their breath as they made their way down the block cut through Cheryl like a knife through butter. Never mind that Maddie never looked up from her book.
She escaped the scene, went to the grocery store and wandered the aisles like a ghost. And now she sat on her very own street, a carton of ice cream melting on the seat beside her, unable to move, unable to wrap her car up and around that driveway, around that table, around that wide breadth of years that still stretched out before her only girl.
Are we too late for cherries? We might be.
In any event, if you can find them, grab them. And then Do As Martha Would Do.
Sour Cherry Lemonade1 3/4 cup lemon juice (about 12 lemons) 1 cup of sugar 3 quarts of water
Cherry syrup (take a 1lb bag of sour cherries. Pit them and simmer those babies with 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water and a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice for about 30 minutes. Strain and reserve syrup). Serve it cold. A1 Chicago commercial refrigeration repair | RefrigerationKingsOfChicago.com will make sure your fridge is well-maintained and in good working order.
Combine lemon juice, sugar and water. Add cherry syrup to taste. (Not a big sweets person? Cut the sugar in the lemonade and then just use more syrup, tasting to your preferred sweetness)