Fig and Fennel Flower Shrub


I am still waiting for shrubs to be the “in” thing – but I feel like it is getting close.  Once a week the farmer’s market comes to the campus where I work – I swear that is the day when everything comes alive.  There is definitely something to be said for little white tents and crowds everywhere.  There is a vibrancy that exists, you can feel it in the air.

Although there are a lot of great vendors that come, the one I like the most is the jam and shrub vendor.  Their products are excellent, and wish I could buy a different variety each week – but then I remind myself how easy it is to make them myself…both the jam and the shrubs.  I have had to slow down on the jam making this year – work is creeping into my weekend time, but there are no excuses when it comes to shrubs.  They are seriously so simple and easy – and store beautifully in the refrigerator.

The other week I got some figs in my market basket along with fennel flowers.  There are always so many ways to use up the figs, but it was the fennel flowers that I wanted to make the most of – so there I went experimenting – with shrubs this time.  I am in love with this variety – it definitely makes the most delicious cocktails. And look at that color – who wouldn’t want to drink something that is that beautiful?  Who cares if others haven’t picked up on this craze, shrubs are definitely “in” at my house.


  • 2 cups chopped figs
  • chopped fennel flowers
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar


Place all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Cook on medium heat until the sugar dissolved, and the fruit starts to break down.  Simmer for 10 minutes, then strain with cheese cloth into a container.  Store in the refrigerator for a few months.

Use the fig and fennel shrub in a cocktail with gin, vermouth and lemon, or just serve with sparking water for a refreshing summer drink.

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Monkey 47 Martini

Monkey 47 Martini 1

Traveling is such a gift – getting to explore new areas, having new experiences, but most of all – eating and drinking the local specialties. A few years ago when I was in Paris, I noticed this beautiful bottle of Gin. Ok, so I must admit, I am a sucker for the labels. If a bottle has a nice label, it must taste good – right? Now, I know that is not always true, but since I know absolutely nothing about wine (except that French wines – in France – are my favorite), that is usually how I choose which bottle to buy. Ok, I diverge…so back to this Gin. It just looked interesting, and I had never seen it before – so I asked the bartended about it. He told me it was made in Germany, and then went on to rave about all the botanicals that it was made from. I asked him if I could smell it (not sure if that was completely appropriate, but went for it anyway), and he said yes. He was right, this Gin smelled incredible. The price was a little high for my taste though, so I decided to defer tasting the Gin to another time..

I never forgot about that Gin, but was waiting for the right time to indulge. I looked for it in the US, but they don’t export it yet, so I knew that I had to wait until I was back in Europe. So this summer I was on a quest to try this Gin – but I couldn’t see spending the money on getting it at a restaurant or bar – cocktails in Paris are incredibly high – so I decided I was going to buy a bottle instead. It couldn’t be bad, and if it was, I would figure out a way to make it palatable. I found a liquor store that carried the Gin, and purchased it along with my favorite French vermouth (Dolin). I then waited for the right occasion – Bastille Day – to make myself a martini.

You would think that with all these years of anticipation that I would be let down, but no – quite the opposite. It was better than I could have ever imagined. I was in love. It was the best martini I had ever had. It was wonderfully smooth, flavorful, and if you are not a Gin drinker – you would be after tasting this. Who knew that a German Gin could steel my heart away like this?  That’s what travelling is all about…


  • 2 oz. Monkey 47 Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
  • Lemon Twist


Mix together the gin and vermouth in a glass with ice – stir for about 30 seconds or until very cold.  Strain into a martini glass, and serve with a twist of lemon.

Makes 1 cocktail.

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Monkey 47 Martini 4

Celery Tonic

Celery Tonic 2

As I am writing this today, I am listening to my family agonize about what is going on with the Seahawks.  I am not much of a football fan, but I am a big Seattle fan, and anything that will make the city happy, I am in favor of.  My older daughter, who does happen to love the game is upstairs doing homework (she is a little superstitious), while my younger daughter has been lured downstairs to watch the game with her father.  They are going nuts right about now…

New Year’s is always a great time to try out new drinks, and I am finally getting around the post the fan favorite.  I remember seeing this cocktail in Bon Appetit and thinking that it looked very interesting – but I didn’t like that it was not green.  I knew if I was going to make this, I needed a really good muddler – to really extract out all of that delicious celery juice.  Fortunately for me the folks at Artic Chill had sent me a muddler to review months ago – and I was really hoping it would come through for me.

This muddler made it so easy to make this drink – and so easy to ensure that there was plenty of green celery juice for this drink.  This will now be my muddler of choice – it sure beats the end of the wooden spoon that I used to use. Ok, excuse me while I go downstairs to see how this ends…hopefully I will be making another round of these tonight to celebrate.


  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces gin (substitute for tonic water if non-alcoholic)
  • Lemon twist (for serving)


Muddle celery with sugar and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker, 1 minute. Add gin, fill shaker with ice, and shake until outside of shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a lemon twist.

Servings: Makes 1

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Susina Sour

Susina Sour

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone was able to ring in the new year with wonderful food and friends.  We had a terrific evening, which started with some appetizers and cocktails at our house, then we made our way down the street where the kids were – and had a delicious prime rib dinner.  It was definitely a special evening.

So – I have been thinking all week about what my new year’s resolution will be this year.  I remember my post from last year (which coincidentally I ended up making last night, and they were amazingly good, again!) where I said that 2013 was the year to simplify – so, as we do at work, it is only fitting for me to evaluate how I did, and decide what my goal will be this year.  Hmmm…I wouldn’t exactly say that I knocked it out of the park.  I tried really hard though, so I am going to give myself a *star* for trying, but no, I can’t really say that I simplified my life too much.  Now the question is, do I try again this year?  Or do I go for something completely different.  I think I am going to with something new – although I will keep the simplifying any way I can.  This year’s focus I think needs to be about energy.  Compared to others, I have boundless amounts of energy, but I know I can be even more productive (without adding to my life – see *simplify*) if I just try to get a little more sleep every night.  That is going to be my resolution this year – more sleep = more energy.  Let’s see how I do…

Last night we came up with 5 festive holiday cocktails to celebrate New Year’s – and I must say – this was definitely my favorite.  I read about it in Bon Appetit – and it just so happens to be from a bar in Portland, Oregon called Nostrana – our neighboring state.  Portland has really become a cocktail haven – the bars there are supposed to be amazing with their craft cocktails – I have only been there once, but I need to go back to do some serious research.  Ok, back to this cocktail.  I loved everything about this – it wasn’t too sweet, with lots of flavor – and the sprig of rosemary with the cherry on the end was just awesome.  Unfortunately I don’t have a good non-alcoholic version of this one – but what I will say is if you don’t drink alcohol – a sparkling apple cider is the best way to go on New Year’s.  You really can’t get any better than that.

I hope 2014 is a great year for everyone, with lots of delicious food, family and friends – and most of all….energy.


Honey simple syrup

  • 1/4 cup clover honey


  • 3 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 oz. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 3 oz. slivovitz or other plum brandy
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 4 maraschino cherries
  • 4 small sprigs rosemary


Honey simple syrup

Dissolve honey in ⅓ cup hot water. Chill syrup until cold.

DO AHEAD: Honey syrup can be made 1 month ahead. Cover and keep chilled.


For each cocktail, combine ¾ oz. honey syrup, ¾ oz. lemon juice, ¾ oz. Grand Marnier, ¾ oz. slivovitz, and ½ oz. gin in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds. Strain into a Martini or coupe glass and garnish with a cherry skewered on a rosemary sprig.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Susina Sour

New York Sour

New York Sour 2

What a day – let me tell you.  There were ups, and there were downs – I went from tired and cranky (on Thursday night), to completely stressed out, to elated, to livid.  I’m sorry, but I have to rant – this is my blog, and I have to get this off my chest.  I’m not even sure a drink will help at this point.

This morning, my older daughter played in the semi-finals for girls little league.  This is the furthest their team has ever gotten in the playoffs, and we (the parents) could not be more proud of them.  Unfortunately this morning my daughter was a magnet for the ball, and got hit all three times she was up at bat.  The good news is she got on base all three times, and one of those times she scored a run.  This was a tough team, with an even tougher coach, that was watching (and commenting) on every little thing – including telling the umpire that he should tell my daughter to move out-of-the-way of the pitches – like she enjoys getting hit in the side of the ribs by the ball???  The thud was painful to listen to.  They had a really tough battle, but they made it through – and came down from a 5 run deficit to win by 1 run.  It was amazing – they were so happy they were jumping up in down in a big huddle – it was one of the proudest moments I have experienced as a parent.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to head down to the neighborhood field to watch the boys championship game, as she had some friends who were playing.  As we were approaching the field, we couldn’t believe all the cars on the street.  My daughter said, “Boy, someone is having a big party!”  That someone was the boys championship game.  There were hundreds of people there – they were selling hot dogs and cotton candy, they had huge speakers to announce all the payers, and 4 umpires in the field.  It was amazing.  She looked at me and said, “Are we going to get all this stuff too?”  Well, the plan was for them to play the championship game at Husky Stadium (at University of Washington), but we learned today that due to some construction, they would not be able to play there.  The girls were so looking forward to that, but the excitement of winning took precedent.

We found out tonight that we will be playing at the field down the street from us – not a special field, just an old regular field – and the game starts at 2:30pm on Monday.  WHAT????  ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  Don’t they know that school is not out for the summer yet?  And that school doesn’t get out until 3:30pm?????  What about the parents that have to leave work in order to get to the game, and the meetings they have to reschedule???  Let alone the fact that none of their friends, neighbors, or other fans will be able to make that time work.  THIS IS CRAZY!!!  The sheer lack of disrespect for the girls is outrageous.  What are we in the dark ages?  My daughter was crushed to find out that she would need to be picked up 2 hours early from her field trip on Monday to make it to the game.  I am going to need to leave work at noon, just to drive 45 minutes to get her from the field trip, and then another 45 minutes to the field.  And if we run into traffic, forget it.

Needless to say – not even this delicious drink I found in Bon Appetit will help at this point.  But, please – go ahead and make one for yourself – and say a little toast to the Red Hot Chile Peppers.  They deserve so much better…I just hope that someday girls will be given the respect they deserve on the field – at least we can always dream.


  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce  fruity red wine (such as Shiraz or Malbec)


Combine 2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey, 1 ounce fresh lemon juice,  and  1 ounce simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill  with ice, cover, and shake until outside of shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds.  Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Gently pour 1/2 ounce  fruity red wine over the back of a spoon  held just above the drink’s surface so wine floats on top.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  New York Sour