David and I talk a lot in hypotheticals. What if this happened? What if we decided to do this? If we could do anything, this is what we'd do.
Sometimes I feel a little idiotic when I think about how dreamy we can be. But, in reality, I wouldn't have it any other way. Knowing what our wildest dreams are, and openly admitting them to one another, gives us the courage go for them, no matter what they are. (Enter Indie Spaces, a hilarious big dog, a crazy birthday trip to New Orleans; this list goes on.)
For years it's been a secret dream of mine to write a cocktail recipe book. I've been living out that dream in a small way with occasional Cocktail Hour series posts. But, really, cocktail blog posts are not my dream. A book is.
So a few months ago David and I were having one of our "wildest dream" chats when I said something about really wanting to write a cocktail recipe book; one centered around fresh, accessible ingredients, and serving a small crowd. To which David replied, "Well, why don't you?"
Yea! Why don't I?!
So, we started planning, and have been for the past several weeks. We're not testing any recipes yet, just gathering thoughts and inspiration; letting this thing grow organically in our heads before putting it on paper.
On one hand, this could fizzle out in a few weeks and I'll officially be over the idea. But, on the other hand we could move ahead with our plan, with a book ready for print next fall. Our plan is to self-publish. Either way, I won't regret chasing my wildest dreams. Not in the least.
What are your wildest dreams? If you could do anything, what would you do?
A couple of weeks ago David and I made some peach-infused bourbon. It all has to do with our desire to have the best-stocked bar in town, and to always drink well. We love a good craft cocktail, and have really enjoyed the process of making as many components of our summer drinks as we can.
Along with our peach-infusing, we've also been making syrups with homegrown and/or locally sourced herbs, peppers, and berries. They're making my usual gin-and-tonics into extra fun parties in my mouth. So far we've made 8 or so syrups, including jalapeño, thyme, and blackberry.
So, when it came to using our peach-infused bourbon, I decided I wanted to make the perfect summer tea. But I'll be honest: even though I was born and raised in the fairly-deep south, I don't think I've made a pitcher of southern tea in over 10 years. Sure, I steep a cup of hot tea every day, multiple times a day, but never a pitcher of sweet tea, and never without my grandmother or mother standing over my shoulder directing my every move.
I don't make for a good southern girl.
So, it was to the surprise and entertainment of a friend of ours when I asked him to bring over a couple of tea bags, and then - upon his arrival - asked him what the hell I was supposed to do with them. Because I had no idea.
We tried round one of our summer tea, and it needed a bit of love.
A few days later David and I set out to perfect our summer tea, this time brewing the tea really strong (David did it, I still have yet to make a pitcher of tea), and this time we didn't sweeten it. Not yet.
Because I was sure it needed some mint syrup.
2 cups water
2 cups raw sugar (or regular sugar or honey)
1 cup packed mint leaves
Splash of vodka (optional)
Bring water and sugar to a boil. Reduce to simmer.
Simmer until mixture reaches desired consistency (we like for ours to drip a little more slowly off the spoon than plain water would).
Turn off stove and toss in mint leaves, letting sit for 15-20 minutes.
Sift out mint leaves and pour syrup into a clean bottle, and keep in the refrigerator. Will keep up to a month.
Toss in a splash of vodka and it will keep up to 6 months.
After making and chilling some strong tea, we got serious about our perfect summer tea, and it happened. It's really perfect.
Pairing the peach and mint was just what it needed, and let me tell you how dangerous this mixture is, because it's stout, and it will fool you. It will fool you hard.
The peach gives it that thrilling taste of summer, while the mint is perfectly refreshing, and because we didn't sweeten the tea, but threw in a dash of the syrup instead, it doesn't finish with the icky sugar loogies that are why I don't bother with iced sweet tea.
It will make you melt into summer, like an ice cube on asphalt.
And with this tea, I solemnly swear to never bother with learning to make traditional southern iced tea. As long as I have David, summer peaches, and a bottle of bourbon, this is the only tea I'll ever ice.
Peach-Infused Bourbon Tea with Mint
4 - 1oz shots of peach-infused bourbon, divided
2 - 1/2oz shots of mint syrup, divided (recipe above)
strong-brewed unsweetened tea
lemon, for garnish
In each glass, fill halfway with ice and pour over 2 shots each of peach-infused bourbon.
Add 1/2 shot each of mint syrup.
Top with a splash of tea.
Garnish with a pretty lemon slice.
Stir, drink, and lounge.
I have 2 confessions to make. First, David and I (and most of our closest friends) like to drink. Not the lushy kind of always getting shit-faced kind of "we like to drink," but the let's spend days infusing bourbon to make the ultimate southern tea kind of "we like to drink." We're high-class drunks.
No, really, we're not even drunks, we just enjoy a good craft cocktail. A lot. There's something about seasons, and flavors, and mixology that gets David and I really excited.
Since we live in a town that hasn't learned how to drink yet, we've taken it upon ourselves to create the perfect cocktails. Our little city only got draft beer legalized about 5 years ago. It'll be a while before we learn what "infused," "craft," and "yummy" means. I recently ordered a simple gin and tonic and the bartender didn't know the difference between tonic and club soda. Long way to go.
My second confession is that I have a very serious dream of writing a craft cocktail recipe book. There, Universe. I said it.
For the past few weeks David and I have been doing all kinds of things to build up our home bar to what we hope will soon be the most well-stocked and diverse bar in the Shoals. We've been making syrups, researching making bitters, and infusing liquors. And then mixing things and testing. Our favorite part.
Last week our task was to make some locally-grown peach-infused bourbon. It was way fun.
Alone, this bourbon is good. I can honestly think of few things more southern than bourbon and peaches. A little peach bourbon on the rocks is pretty quintessentially southern. Maybe New Southern, but southern nonetheless.
Next week I'll post a recipe for our ultimate southern tea. (Tea! Tea may actually be more southern than bourbon and peaches.) Made with the peach-infused bourbon and homemade mint syrup. Oh lordy.
3 cups bourbon
3 ripe peaches
Dice peaches into small-ish chunks. Put them into a sealable container.
Pour in bourbon.
Let sit in a cool place for 3 days.
Strain mixture, being sure not to mash peaches. (You can save and eat/use peaches if you'd like.) Pour strained bourbon back into container.
Infused bourbon will keep up to 1 month.
Photos taken by David and me.
Since moving into our cute little house two months ago, we've remembered how much we love to entertain.
Before moving to the mountains we had dinner parties almost every weekend, with really great food, big laughs, and lots (and lots) of wine.
Now that we're out of the mountains, and in digs that are fab for entertaining, specifically our really great backyard, we're back in the spirit of entertaining. As much as possible.
One of the things we've been looking forward to the absolute most has been having a Smash Party, or, more poetically named, a Smash Bash.
And so, as soon as it got warm enough to have a Smash Bash we put one on the books. Which is exactly what we did this past Friday.
We invited some of our closest, and in some cases newest, friends to our Bash. And, looking around, I realized most of them came to us, or at least flourished with us, through Indie Spaces. The Space (as I usually call it) has become a catalyst that has brought us together with some of the most fantastic people. Fantastic, smart, driven, and really effing awesome people.
And each of our little events, whether they be centered around Indie Spaces, or personal gatherings like the Smash Bash, are all collaborations. They're all joint ventures that end in the most fantastic products.
The Smash Smorgasbord
I knew I wanted our guests to create their own smashes. I laid out a tray of fruits and homegrown herbs, asked some of the guests to bring bottles of liquors, and finished it off with simple syrup and agave nectar. We got some of that good crunchy ice from Sonic. You know the kind.
A Fine Dinner
Dinner parties are best when the food is exceptional, and though I like to think I'm a pretty fine cook, there's nothing I love more than handing over the cooking to an actual chef. Which is exactly what I did.
Our friend/neighbor/indie Arron is a fantastic foodmaker/brewer/vintner (and in the process of opening a brewery), and as soon as I mentioned wanting to throw a Smash Bash he immediately offered to make the grub, along with our woodworker friend Ben who has spent quite a bit of time in the kitchens. Our friend Heather from Bohemian Bop also brought a couple of appetizers.
On the menu for our Smash Bash:
Garden Dip (we call it crack, because you can't stop eating it)
Grilled Marinated Pork Chops with Apple-Jalapeño Compote
Grilled Corn with Parsley-Garlic Compound Butter (which we also call crack)
Sweet Potato Biscuits
For dessert, we had more smashes.
We set the table up in our back yard, put on the food, and had at it. The weather was perfect, the food was exceptional, and the bar has been set high. I'm pretty sure it was the best dinner party in all of dinner party history. Our Indie Smash Bash was a success.
All hale the Smash Bash.
So, I have a little problem. An addiction. To green smoothies.
David bought me a juicer two Christmases ago, and we've been pretty avid juicers ever since. They're so yummy and refreshing and kinda super rock my world.
For the past two months we've really gotten into juicing again, juicing daily. We're having a juice every day for breakfast, and sometimes I'll have any leftovers for lunch. So yummy.
Our favorite juice is kale, beet, apple, carrot, just in case you're wondering. No secret formula, just throw it all in there.
Then, about 3 weeks ago, I decided to give the green smoothie thing a try. The problem was that juicing makes me huuuungry. Hungrier than usual. David, too. But, with David's metabolism, he can stand to eat a couple extra snacks a day. Me: not so much.
So, I made a smoothie. I took a couple of different ideas for my first smoothie from around the web, and right off made a smoothie I'm pretty much having an affair with multiple times a week. It's ok; David's fine with it.
Since adding smoothies to my diet I feel like I've become a whole new person. I honestly crave the things. And my body is loving it.
(Weird story: A couple of weeks ago I woke up on a Saturday morning feeling a bit hungover, and instead of going straight to the phone to order a greasy pizza, which is what my mind and/or body usually craves, all I wanted was a smoothie. A big, fat, green smoothie. Fixed me right up.)
now that we're smoothie-eating maniacs:
Our skin is looking amazing.
I was one of those bitch-teenagers who had wonderful skin. I know, everyone hated me. BUT, I got payback, because when I turned 25 my skin exploded. The past year and a half have been torture, but, finally, my skin is clearing. I'm sure juicing contributed, but adding smoothies has finalized it. Clear skin, again!
AND, those little wrinklies under my eyes are smoothing out. David's noticing changes, too. Yay, proper nutrients and hydration!
My joints. My happy joints.
When I was 15 I was told I was getting arthritis. When I was 15. I've always had an odd amount of joint pain. Rarely enough to really inhibit me, but almost always enough that I notice it. Not now. My bad knees are happier, my lower back isn't bothering me, and I'm smiling. Big.
Super healthy. Not even allergies.
I have been a really lucky mom in that Cute Kid never gets sick. She's a little over 5 and we've only ever had to take her to the doctor once outside of regular checkups. She was a bitty baby with an ear infection. Not once since. However, she does get allergies when the seasons change. As do I.
But, this spring, even with it's insane amount of pollen, neither of us had even a moment of allergy issues. We're good to go.
So, yea, we're smoothie junkies now. A bunch of freakin' hippies. Hanging out in downward dog and talking about dirt, and stuff. It's fun.
Raw cacao nibs
Ground flax seed
1 T Coconut oil
Handful of blueberries
1/2 cup greek yogurt
Warning: I don't really measure out anything.
Fill your blender with spinach. Don't really pack it, just fill it up. Pour in coconut water until it's at about a 1/3 mark. Blend.
Add a handful of coconut flakes, a bit of cacao nibs, and some ground flax. Add the coconut oil. Blend.
Add the berries. Blend.
Add banana, avocado, and greek yogurt. Blend.
Eat it. I like to put it in a bowl and eat with a spoon. Yum.
Makes 3-ish servings.