Cherry Liqueur

Cherry Liquor

I am writing this with a big smile on my face – I am relaxed and happy – and looking forward to my husband joining us on this adventure.  Oh, and did I mention how VERY THANKFUL I am to my incredible team who is allowing me to have this break?  I swear two weeks in, and I am already a new person.

As you can tell, I haven’t been blogging, but that is because there is so much to do and see here!  Also – if you have followed my blog for quite some time, you know that I don’t love cooking in other people’s kitchens.  Even though we are here for a long time, the kitchen is not mine, and I the supplies are limited.  Another big factor is the heat…it is very hot here, and we do not have air conditioning.  So I am trying to be very careful about not using the stove or oven very much.  We have been eating very simple dinners of bread, charcuterie and cheese – and a nice salad.  I must say, it has been a welcome change.

Before I left though, the cherries were in full bloom at our house.  As with every year, we are always trying to figure out new ways to use them – last year’s cherry butter was a huge hit, but I just didn’t have the time to do any jamming before I left.  Sad as that may sound… This year I have to give the credit to my husband – he came up with the idea to make cherry liqueur, and I thought it was brilliant!  He even found the recipe on Serous Eats, and then I took over.  Fortunately I was able to have a little taster the night before I left – and OMG this stuff is amazing!!  So easy to make, and look at the color – it is screaming cherries.  It is sweet and absolutely delicious. My husband has been enjoying it while we are enjoying our own delicacies – but he promised to save me a bottle so we could experiment with cocktails when I am home.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups Bing cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken

Preparation

Put the pitted cherries at the bottom of a sealable glass jar and muddle them with a wooden spoon or muddler to release some juice. Drain the juice into a separate container and set aside. Then add the brandy, vodka, and cinnamon stick to the muddled cherries. Seal and shake the jar. Let steep for one week at room temperature away from direct sun, shaking every few days.

Combine the reserved cherry juice, sugar, and water in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. Once the syrup is cooled, add it to the steeping jar, seal, and shake. Then let it steep for an additional 2 to 5 days. Strain through fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth into glass jar or bottle. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cherry Liqueur

Cucumber Pimm’s Cup

Pimm's Cup

I cannot believe that it has been a year since I wrote about the “100 days of May” – and here we are, right back at it.  I am in the middle of a marathon of sorts – the marathon to get to the end of the year.  Only two more weeks to go…will I actually make it?  Only time will tell.

My husband and I are still obsessed over cocktails – it is a phase we have been going through for a while now.  For me, it is a lot like cooking.  I love finding different flavor combinations that go really well together.  Unfortunately it is not something we do often enough – but it certainly is fun.  My girls have also gotten into the spirit of things, and whenever I made up a new cocktail for us – I try to make a non-alcoholic mock tail version for them – they love it.

When my husband was growing up, his mother was what we call a “Super Mom” – she stayed home, was very involved with their activities, and loved to host all the neighborhood kids and moms.  Years ago we were at a restaurant and we saw Pimm’s Cup on the menu – and it reminded him of his mother.  She was quite the tennis player when he was young – and I guess Pimm’s Cup was a drink she served her friends after playing tennis.  I have been looking for an excuse to make the drink ever since.  When I saw it in Cooking Light the other month, I was so excited to put it in the recipe pile.  Of course a drink like this is screaming for a hot and sunny day – which we don’t get very often in sunny Seattle – but I just couldn’t wait.  I made it the other weekend for Book Club, during a sun break – and I thought it was delicious.  It is not a strong drink, but nice and thirst quenching.  The recipe below also lends itself very nicely to making a non-alcoholic version – just omit the Pimm’s Cup, and you will have a wonderful drink that everyone can enjoy.

So – as we approach Junuary in Seattle – I hope that the rest of the country is gearing up for summer.  And, if you are stuck in the “100 days of May,” don’t fret – school will be out soon, and then comes a whole bunch of new races.  During a marathon it is important to replenish – it’s the only way to finish strong…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups prepared lemonade
  • 1  large cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 cup Pimm’s No. 1, chilled
  • 1 cup ginger ale, chilled
  • 6  cucumber spears (optional)
  • Mint leaves (optional)

Preparation

Combine prepared lemonade and cucumber slices in a large pitcher. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Add Pimm’s and ginger ale to pitcher. Pour 1 cup mixture into each of 6 ice-filled glasses. Garnish with cucumber spears and mint leaves, if desired.

Serves 6

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cucumber Pimm’s Cup

Meyer Lemon-Infused Vodka

Well, the results are in, and I came in second in the Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest!  I was hoping for first, although when I found out exactly what that meant, I have to say I am just a little relieved that I came in second.  I found out last Thursday that the winner would go on television with their creation, and hand out samples to the audience – that meant 80 mini cheesecakes that I would have to make.  My weekend was already booked baking for an auction, so I must say I was a little stressed about the whole thing.  As much as I like to win, that really would have set me over the edge.  Now my team will have enough Girl Scout Cookies to snack on to last a year – and I plan on giving half to a local shelter!!  48 boxes is a lot of Girl Scout Cookies.  Thanks everyone who voted – there is always next year!

My pantry…it is my favorite room in the house.  When we decided to build a house almost 9 years ago, I remember talking to the architect about the kitchen and the fact that I needed to have a pantry.  I wasn’t sure at that point why I needed one so badly, I just did.  When my kids were young, it was like a play room for them, they would close the door and play with everything inside.  It provided hours of entertainment.  Now that they are older, I am starting to fill the pantry with all sorts of fun stuff – especially glass jars.  I bought these Weck Jars recently, and I am in love.  They are beautiful, functional, and makes me want to fill them with beautiful and colorful things.  My kids don’t eat a lot of candy, which is why we always have a lot lying around from birthday parties, Halloween, and baking.  Once I ran out of candy, my mind went to infusions.  I had a bunch of Meyer lemons in the refrigerator that I wasn’t sure what to do with, and it hit me.  Meyer Lemon-Infused Vodka – perfect for cocktails.  I found a recipe from the Martha Stewart website, and in less than 15 minutes the infusion began.  I still have another week or so before I can test it out, but it looks wonderful, and in a few days, the vodka has already begun to take on a nice yellow color.

You can find these jars online – they are selling them everywhere these days.  So, I just have to ask – what’s in your pantry?

Ingredients

  • 1 750 mL good quality vodka
  • 4-5 Meyer lemons

Directions

Peel Meyer lemons using vegetable peeler.  Add vodka.  Let steep for at least 2 weeks.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Meyer Lemon-Infused Vodka

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