summer vespers with strawberry, rhubarb & fennel | holly & flora

summertime vespers with strawberry, rhubarb + fennel | loud flavors, loud voices


Because it’s summer. Because the air is heavy with heat and nostalgia.
Because this is what we have to keep remembering, the way our bodies
know the waves, the amphibian inside us unafraid of going under,
of what ripples beneath the surface. Because waiting on the dock
for the signal to jump is like thinking someone else is responsible. Because
there is no one else responsible. Because despite the current,
it is possible to swim against it, or even stand, inverted, balancing
on a slippery mulch of murk and mud, and stay perfectly still.
Because when the world tips from view, we have to do everything we can
to tip it back.

β€” Maya Stein, “The Amphibian Inside Us”


This poem founds its way to my inbox this week. I subscribe to a series, “10-Line Tuesdays“, curated by poet, Maya Stein. Her weekly words always stir something deep within my sub-consciousness, evoking undulating layers of emotions. This week’s beautiful lines struck a chord and prompted me to share my thoughts on the current events that have been filling our feeds, provoking our thoughts, and, for some, motivating us to stand up, speak out, and ask questions.

I don’t have live television here at the house, so I learned about the recent shootings last week and the ensuing reactions, via Twitter. As I scrolled through videos, comments, and photos, tears fell. I stopped my current task of chopping strawberries, prep-work for this very blog post. Everything I was doing that moment seemed trite and forced.

I was speechless. Speechless to the point of lying low on social media for nearly five days. Speechless to the point of taking a four-hour road trip out to the western slope of Colorado, with no radio, no cell reception, no television, no discussion.

Just silence.

summer vespers with strawberry, rhubarb & fennel | holly & florasummer vespers with strawberry, rhubarb & fennel | holly & flora summer vespers with strawberry, rhubarb & fennel | holly & flora

Sometimes, silence is just what we need to contemplate, to sift through our emotions and thoughts and rage. Despite its important role, silence cannot perpetuate change. It’s ultimately ineffective in the long-run, a dead-end street. Once I got back home on Tuesday, I spent the afternoon at a coffee shop, catching up on some reading and emails. Somehow, it’s so much less distracting there. I read through bravely written essays, comments online, and posts from some of my fellow bloggers, who used their platform of influence to speak up. To Em, Lily, and the many others who have opened their hearts this past week, thank you for leading the discussion.

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port-soaked strawberry spritzes | holly & flora #cocktails #spritzes #strawberries

port-soaked strawberry spritzes | symbiosis

I couldn’t get my act together to post a Fourth of July-inspired cocktail recipe for you. I simply didn’t have the forethought to plan out a celebratory and timely, red-white-and-blue cocktail. I did, however, make something seasonally sweet and slightly bitter, albeit slightly patriotic in its presentation. It’s all about that balance.

Let’s first take a moment and talk about booze-soaked fruit. As I type this post, I currently have six different fruity and boozy infusions sitting on my kitchen counter. Ten, if you include the kombucha in its secondary fermentation state. Why the urge to take something already delicious in its current form, especially the seasonal treats we are all soaking up right now, and add even more dimension, complexity, and {the best part} longevity?

Perhaps it’s the aspect of preserving something and extending its life and flavor, akin to taking a current mood and carving it into a permanent memory. A means of capturing life. Booze extends the life of fruits, and, in turn, the fruit imbues its aromas and flavors into something that lets it live a little longer.

Fruit, immortalized. Those clever, little things.

port-soaked strawberry spritzes | holly & flora

Booze and fruit have an efficient, symbiotic relationship together. Even lately, I’ve found myself tossing around questions like, “Do my current actions align with my future goals?” and “How can I use my current life situation to enable me to take the next step?” Just after I woke up this morning, I was scrolling through Twitter and came across a NYT piece on monotasking {thanks, Sherrie!}. I think many of us are seeing that multitasking actually results in less fulfilling work, fewer completed tasks, and more overwhelm and exhaustion.

I can definitely relate.

There was one point yesterday where I actually spun around in circles trying to remember what I was even doing in the basement after leaving my computer screen moments prior. I had about 34 browsers up on my computer, and I was trying to code photos for the website, while brainstorming another recipe, while editing photos from earlier in the day, while Skyping with my sister, while keeping the cat off my desk, while scarfing down a forgotten, slightly stale sandwich, while checking Instagram, while …

… while not getting much actual work done at all.

port-soaked strawberry spritzes | holly & flora #cocktails #spritzes #strawberries port-soaked strawberry spritzes | holly & flora #cocktails #spritzes #strawberries port-soaked strawberry spritzes | holly & flora #cocktails #spritzes #strawberries

I know I’m not alone here, but let’s temporarily get back to those boozy, fruity situations. I’ve been fixated on spritzes, since summer’s arrival. They’re fizzy and generally light, but they also swing toward the bitter side of the flavor spectrum. A classic spritz is Aperol, Prosecco, sparkling water, and an orange slice, served in a wine glass on the rocks. That citrus-y, bright orange, bubbly cocktail wins me over poolside and garden-side every. single. time.

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coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora

coffee liqueur, banana + coconut cream poptails in almond-dusted dark chocolate | #popsicleweek

Duuuuuuude. It is so hot this week here in Denver. While it might not be the best week to photograph popsicles, it is definitely the right week to get down on some refreshing, innovative, exciting, frozen treats on sticks. That is just what is happening across the interwebs, thanks to ineffably creative Billy Green of Wit & Vinegar.

It’s officially #POPSICLEWEEK.

The last day of it, in fact. And I’m coming in hot with something insanely delicious. This is the fourth year of Billy’s roundup of frozen pops, and I couldn’t be more excited to share my favorite recipe-of-the-week, along with about 100 other bloggers. Here’s the entire list of popsicle participants. There are enough recipes to satisfy your summery cravings all season long.

And now for some rich, creamy, boozy {and vegan!} popsicles made with St. George Spirits’ NOLA Coffee Liqueur. They’re filled with blended bananas and full-fat coconut milk and drizzled with my favorite condiment-of-the-moment, dark chocolate magic shell. All of my favorite flavors, together in one frozen bite.coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora coffee, banana + coconut cream poptails with vegan magic shell | #popsicleweek | holly & flora

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honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora

honeydew, shiso + kiwi sake cocktails

Low ABV cocktails. They’re definitely a thing. I’ve even spotted drink lists with entire sections dedicated to highlighting these lower-in-alcohol tipples. My former college self would most likely have scoffed at ordering a cocktail intentionally made with less alcohol, but at this point in my life, I’m more into sessionable, summer sippers – cocktails that don’t knock you on your face after just one.

This is where I’ve loved mixing either wine or vermouth or sake in my cocktails. Each of those components brings unique flavors and textures to a drink, and they are relatively low in alcohol, by volume. This particular cocktail tastes more like a tropical juice drink than a boozy cocktail. There’s just enough gin to add some complexity and a slight kick, but there’s plenty of muddled kiwi and honeydew to keep you hydrated.

Because summer.honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora honeydew + kiwi sake cocktails with shiso drinking vinegar | holly & flora

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lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique

lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique

I just walked inside from a short, sun-dappled walk through the garden. This week, the temperatures have spiked upwards into the mid-nineties. All of a sudden, I’m craving more salads, donning shorts, and seeking shade. Our late-spring lilacs, tulips, and alliums have been replaced with sprawling lemon balm, bright nasturtiums, and flowering salvia. I absolutely love this ebb and flow of the seasonal changes. We’ve also packed every possible place within our yard with tomatoes, herbs, squashes, and eggplants.

It’s finally feeling like summer.

Even though the fragrant, yet fleeting, blossoms of lilacs have most likely faded everywhere by now, you’ll have to pin this particular recipe for lilac syrup to make next year. I recently created a Lilac 75, featuring this purple-hued, lilac syrup, for Eat Boutique, a story-driven recipe site, beautifully dedicated to all-things food-gifting. I met Eat Boutique’s founder, Maggie Battista last October, when I attended The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon. We immediately hit it off and made a day of hitting the city’s hot spots, along with our lovely, mutual friend, Bobbie.

If you’ll recall, I made a version of one of Maggie’s food gift recipes from her cookbook, Food Gift Love, back in December. I adapted her recipe for homemade grenadine and made a celebratory Clover Club cocktail here on the blog. I’m super excited and honored to be sharing even more garden-inspired cocktail recipes over on Eat Boutique in the near future! I’ll definitely keep you posted.

lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique

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