Category Archives: fruits

mint cucumber + smoky jalapeño margaritas | celebrating kristy gardner’s new book, “cooking with cocktails”

Apparently, it is National Margarita Day today, a celebration of all-things-tequila, salt-laced, and citrus-y. I’m also celebrating the book release of one of my favorite food bloggers and friends, Kristy Gardner, of She Eats. Her new book, Cooking with Cocktails, is dedicated to the both the cocktail-imbibing cook and the food-loving beverage connoisseur. Its beautiful pages are filled with 100 boozy recipes, each crafted with wine, beer, or spirits. I’d can safely say that she wrote this book with me in mind.

I have been patiently awaiting the publication of Kristy’s book ever since I helped her test a few recipes for it this past spring. When she asked me to be a part of her virtual book release tour, I didn’t hesitate for a minute. Since the date of my post along the tour fortuitously fell upon National Margarita Day, I knew that I had to share Kristy’s recipe for “Mint Cucumber + Smoky Jalapeño Margaritas” with you.

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dsc_3937For those of you new to Kristy Gardner, I’ll give an introduction. She is a writer, photographer, and self-professed “bourbonator” from Vancouver, British Columbia. Bourbon is her jam. She also does a little acting and owns a branding agency called, Peppercorn Creative. The two of us bonded over the subject of cocktails {our first love} from the start about four years ago, and we regularly send each other lengthy emails and care packages filled with culinary treats {our second love, essentially}.

I trust Kristy’s drink-making skills implicitly. In fact, the very first recipe of Kristy’s that I tried was her version of Bourbon-Soaked Cherries. Since then, I’ve made iterations of my own and put them atop ice cream, stuffed them inside galettes and hand pies, and eaten them straight out of the jar. This particular recipe that I’m sharing with you is the perfect combination of flavors. As much as I love a simple lime-centric margarita, this smoky, savory, and slightly vegetal version might be my new favorite.

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the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up

Last night, I celebrated Halloween just the way I wanted to: quietly and cozily. The stars had aligned, and it was the first of four consecutive days away from the restaurant for me. We have been going through another managerial transition lately, which has entailed a little stress, so all I wished for was peace and quiet. It sounds kind of Grinch-y, but I turned off all the lights in the house, cracked a bottle of Chablis, cozied up down in the basement, lit some incense, and caught up on a couple of movies.

A big batch of brownies would have really topped it all off. Steve could’ve been there, too. We rarely share evenings off together, so those that we do share are cherished. I was super excited when he arrived home early from work last night, after a “painfully boring” holiday shift. The owner closed the restaurant an hour early, since only 80 people came in for dinner on a night that usually draws close to 200 or more guests. We’ll take every moment to hang outside of work together that we can.

Over the past few months, we have been able to sneak away for two days at a time and visit new-to-us parts of Colorado. We’ve gotten up at the crack of dawn, made the four-hour trek over the Continental Divide, and soaked in as many sights as possible, before driving back to Denver to work the next shift at the restaurant. We’ve gotten very good at maximizing our 48-hour mini-vacays, and we have especially fallen in love with the enchanting town of Paonia, a farming and former coal-mining town, which boasts just a little over 1,500 people. Multiple organic farms and wineries dot the bucolic landscape, shadowed by Mount Lamborn and Landsend Peak, within the Gunnison National Forest.

the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & flora

the north fork iced tea | a college classic grows up | holly & floraOur last visit there together a couple weeks ago was beautiful. It’s my favorite time of year to drive up through the mountains. We stayed two nights at Agape Farm and Retreat just outside of Paonia. This bed and breakfast is nestled in the middle of an organic farm with access to a pine forest, an award-winning Pinot Gris vineyard, an heirloom apple orchard, and a vibrant, organic vegetable garden. The hosts, Nancy and her son, Nick, were the most gracious and accommodating. I seriously experienced the most peaceful night’s rest I’d had in years.

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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.

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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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honeydew, shiso + kiwi sake cocktails | low abv is a good thing

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.

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rhubarb + rosé ramos gin fizzes | getting our hands dirty

I’m definitely a strong supporter of getting my hands dirty, both literally and figuratively. Rolling up my sleeves and doing whatever it takes to make it happen: the job, the dream, the dishes, the groundwork, the coffee.

Today is one of those extra dirty days. I scrapped my earlier introduction here because I just have to keep it real. I let the basement flood last night. This actually happened. I was home alone, happy to have an unexpected evening off. I had been catching up in the garden, planting the last of the peppers, and I walked inside the front door. I heard a fluttering sound coming from the vent. I jiggled the lever and figured that something like a piece of paper was lodged in the ducts. No big deal. I had a shower to get after.

rhubarb + rosé ramos gin fizz | initiating the jumprhubarb + rosé ramos gin fizz | initiating the jump

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