I’m not that good at self-care lately. I’m just being honest. This year has beaten me up, but there hasn’t been time to recuperate. Perhaps I should rephrase that – I haven’t taken the time to recuperate. There is always time for what you deem important.
I came in a little early this evening to share this post and recipe I shot and created earlier this week. Today was exceptionally smoky and hot. Here in Colorado, there are four wildfires burning, two of which are relatively close by. I’ve been working outdoors in 97ºF weather, while wearing an N95 mask to keep my lungs protected. I could have finished weeding two more rows of Riesling, but I opted to take a late-afternoon bath and pour myself a little sip of wine from said Riesling.
It was a priority shift.
I haven’t checked in here in a while, and I could share some war stories from the past few months. I think we call could do that, given the unrest, the tumult, and the uncertainty this year has gifted us. I use that word intentionally – gifted. While the process is is beleaguering, going through periods of unrest, tumult, and uncertainty can be poignant periods of growth, if we are willing to embrace it.
Right now, I’m crying mercy. And choosing to share something beautiful. I hope I can embrace what I need to learn, but I seriously want some reprieve. So, I took that late-afternoon tub bath. I took my medicine.
A couple of weeks ago, I drove over to my dear friend Nicole Carrillo’s house and walked through her flower farm. She guided me through rows of vegetables, intermingled with edible flowers, herbs, and berries. I know what it takes to grow things at a large scale, and despite knowing the work required, I found solace in the cultivated beauty there.
It is also inspiring to visit someone else’s farm. It makes me feel less alone and more connected to the broader scope of farming. Nicole and her husband, AJ, farm 18 acres at Deer Tree Farm out here on the Western Slope of Colorado, just 20 minutes away from my house. They farm intentionally and embrace a philosophy of regenerative agriculture, nurturing that acreage into a prolific, profitable farm, here in our alpine desert climate.
Nicole and I have worked closely together, along with her catering business partner, Mirasol Gomez. Together, they are the Forage Sisters, a duo who create beautiful, farm-to-table events throughout the state of Colorado. Our winery, The Storm Cellar, has collaborated with them on three wine-centric events, and we sell out every time. When you can say that every item at a dinner is sourced under 30 minutes away, except for the salt, pepper, lemon, and oil, that is truly a farm-to-table dinner.
I brought along two of my friends, Keelan and Don, and we all gleefully explored Nicole’s flower farm together, a one-acre plot bursting with life. While Keelan picked and rightfully consumed about four handfuls of raspberries, Nicole and I collected edible flowers for a cocktail I planned on making. Don was just happy to be out of the city and was thrilled to spend time at a farm on his birthday. We all enjoyed visiting new piglets, spying on chickens, soaking up the summer sunshine, and eyeing the ripening peaches.
I used a few of Nicole and AJ’s Suncrest peaches to make the syrup for this cocktail, and I picked a few micro marigolds for its garnish. I wanted to keep the flavor profile for this floral cocktail consistent within its components, so I opted for Caledonia Sprits Barr Hill Gin, a honey-forward gin that matched perfectly with the Koval Chrysanthemum & Honey Liqueur I’d been waiting to crack, since picking up a bottle at Divino Wine & Spirits on a recent trip to Denver.
This aromatic, citrusy cocktail is rich on the palate and finishes dry. It’s honestly my favorite cocktail I’ve made this summer.
THE PEACH BLOSSOM
- 1 3/4 ounces Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill Gin
- 1/4 ounce Koval Chrysanthemum Honey Liqueur
- 3/4 ounce freshly squeeze lemon juice
- 3/4 to 1 ounce peach-cardamom syrup (see recipe below)
- micro marigolds, for garnish
- In a mixing tin, combine the gin, chrysanthemum liqueur, lemon juice, and peach-cardamom syrup.
- Add ice and shake well.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with micro marigolds or other edible flowers.
- This recipe yields one drink.
- This cocktail would be delicious with either vodka or rum.
- Make the cocktail recipe using 3/4 ounce of peach-cardamom syrup. If you prefer a less citrus-forward cocktail, taste and then decide on maybe adding another 1/4 ounce of the syrup for a slightly sweeter style.
- 2 ripe peaches
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2-3 cardamom pods
- Chop the peaches into 1/2″ chunks.
- Using a mortar and pestle, gently grind the cardamom pods, releasing their aroma.
- In a small saucepan, combine the peaches, honey, and muddled cardamom.
- Over low heat, bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring along the way, and remove from heat.
- Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature, letting the cardamom further infuse into the syrup.
- Strain the solids and store the syrup in the fridge.
- You may substitute ground cardamom for the pods – you’ll only need a pinch.
- The syrup will keep for up to two weeks, refrigerated.
I’m excited that the grape harvest is approaching, although it is approaching faster because of our lingering heat wave. We are also battling intense smoke here on the Western Slope, fueled by two nearby wildfires. They are definitely adding to the stress, not because of their proximity, but because of the smoke and how it might affect our upcoming wines. We are simply hoping the fires get contained, and we are keeping our heads down and working hard.
What’s on our plate? We are finishing up weeding the vineyard, applying bird netting to our Pinot Gris, gearing up to bottle four different wines within the next two weeks, and taking time to find a little joy and relaxation at some point in each day.
Sending you love and a virtual hug, since we can’t really enjoy many of the real kind these days. I’m looking forward to a much less stressful future, but I’m also trying to use this time to truly grow. Times like these are where the juices get squeezed, where the dreams take hold, and when the strength we didn’t think we had surges from within.
Keep digging deeper,