Monday, July 30, 2012

Vintage cocktails: Palisades Cocktail

Ok, here we go! Tonight we tried the first recipe from the Professional Mixing Guide, the Palisades Cocktail. We chose it because we actually had all of the ingredients on hand, and it used bitters which we got in the mail today. The fact that we live near the palisades of the Hudson Valley was just a happy coincidence!

The recipe is as follows:

2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters, 1/2 dry gin, 1/2 cider. Shake well with cracked ice, strain into cocktail glass.

We used a local hard cider, from Warwick Valley. Just the plain apple stuff (though they told us they'll have a currant cider this week at the farmer's market! I love the seasonal ciders they've recently started; the cherry one was excellent).

Notes: What the hell is a dash, anyway? The Guide insists, rather sanctimoniously, that its instructions should be followed precisely, and that "When it says DASHES, use dashes not drops", however, it fails to actually explain what a dash is. So we just guessed. The first try didn't seem to have enough bitters, but a second try at least gave the drink a noticeable flavor.

Overall: A good, not great drink. As written it was too strong for my taste (Robert wonders if my super smeller status makes me that much more sensitive to stiff drinks), but Robert sipped his way through one. He add more cider to mine, which made it at least acceptable to drink if not actually delicious. Robert reports that as written the recipe produces something similar to straight Calvados, though "not as good".

More vintage cocktails!

I just inherited a small blue book (about 3"x5"). Its titled Professional Mixing Guide and it was published by the Angostura Bitters company in 1947. My copy belonged to my grandmother, and includes a few recipes that she wrote onto the back cover of the book. About half the recipes call for bitters (shocking!), and we didn't have any, so I bought a bottle of them, and tonight we're going to try our first bitters drink.

Unfortunately this book demonstrates how very sparse our liquor cabinet is! I figure we need brandy, vermouth and some type of scotch or whiskey at a minimum to round things out.

I'll be posting when I try a recipe from this book and giving my oh-so-exciting opinion of the drinks. The world needs more vintage cocktails, right?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Baby Watermelons!

I know that, given the prevalence of critters around here, these babies might not ever become adults. But aren't they just the cutest things??

In other garden news, my Isis Candy Shop tomato plants have been hit with what I believe to be fusarium wilt :( I've had to remove two plants so far, and will likely have to pull the remaining one. Sadz.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gluten free pie crust guesses

I've been fiddling with my GF pie crust recipe for months now. I can make a pretty good GF crust, but not one that was so good I was willing to stop trying something new.

Today I made an amazing GF pie crust. Trouble is, I can't entirely remember what I did! Still, I'm writing down what I think I did now, before I forget that too.

1 c GF flour
4 T unsalted butter
2-3T cream cheese
pinch of salt
some sugar
some xanthan gum (1/4-1/2 tsp? Liel had spilled some on the counter and I just swept that into the bowl. I probably shouldn't admit that)

Pre-baked at 350 (on bottom rack) for 30-ish min. Cooled, wrapped in saran and used the next day.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Zucchini reproduction

Or, what the hell is wrong with my zucchinis?

We grew zucchini (among many other things) back in Goleta. There wasn't much too it- you planted some seeds, a plant or two grew, they produced delicious zucchini. But when I finally planted zucchini here in New York last year, the results were highly disappointing. The plant would blossom, produce a baby zucchini, and everything would look awesome. But then the baby zucchini would stop growing, wither, and rot on the vine. I thought maybe it was because we had a damp, cool summer and hoped this year would be better.

And at first it looked like it would be. My oldest zucchini plant was HUGE, much bigger than last year. It had gorgeous enormous flowers, and then baby zucchinis! They looked bigger than last year's, and I relaxed. Everything would be fine.

But everything wasn't fine. The first baby zucchini stopped growing and shriveled up. Panicked I searched the internet again, and this time found suggestions that my plant might not be getting pollinated. This surprised me a bit, because we have bees around here. Big fat black and yellow bees and little golden honey bees (one even stung Liel the other night). Nonetheless I decided to take the internet's advice and help my zucchini plant have sex, since the bees apparently weren't doing so and I was desperate to have the thing actually produce. It takes up a lot of room in my garden, you know?

First thing I had to learn was the difference between male and female flowers. This, it turns out, is ridiculously easy as the females are attached to a small zucchini and the males aren't. They're only open for a little while each morning, but when they are you're supposed to take a paint brush, dip it in the pollen from a male flower and then brush the pollen off into a female flower. Easy. Sadly, I found this information too late to save one of the two zucchinis currently on my plant, but I did save the other! Their flowers only give you a couple of days in which to pollinate them and then they shut down and the zucchini dies. Here's a picture of the one I saved and the one I didn't. There are other baby zucchinis on the plant (as well as on one of my other zucchini plants) but none of them are big enough to be pollinated yet.

The rest of the garden is looking awesome, especially since my gladiolas started blooming.

I've been pollinating the cucumbers too (on the left side of this picture, behind the smaller zucchini plants) and they seem to love it as they're really trying to take over everything!