Tag Archives: preserving

meyer lemon bourbon fizzes | a change of scenery

April has been quite the month for us, to put it lightly. Since our move out to the western slope of Colorado to the tiny town of Paonia a few weeks back, I’ve traded my dress suits for Carhartt overalls, I haven’t given wearing makeup a second thought, I go to bed before 11:00 on most evenings, and I’m learning how to drive a tractor.

Crazy, right?

Our nightly conversations involve discussions on pruning styles, vineyard trellising ideas, irrigation challenges, soil amendments, the right tractor attachment for weeding, and the next step for renovating our 1950s farmhouse. It’s definitely a fixer-upper, but it has charming potential. Some people might say it’s dated and basic, while I say it’s “rustic chic” and just begging for a breath of fresh air!

It’s hard to think that March 9th was my last night as a sommelier and manager at Shanahan’s back in the city. I know I have alluded to change over the past few months here on the blog, but I hadn’t gone into much detail. Now that I am finished with my job, it’s a little easier to do. For those of you who don’t know, Steve and I took a daring leap of faith and decided to follow our dreams of owning and operating a vineyard and eventual winery.

We had always thought we’d wind up in either California or Oregon, and we had always thought it was about ten years down the road. Well, when the timing is right, and the place is a perfect fit, you sometimes have to take the risk, close your eyes, jump out, and make the dream happen.

And that’s just what we did.

We asked two of our closest friends and fellow wine industry professionals to join us on this crazy adventure, and we have all been pruning just over 20 acres of grapevines over the past few weeks, in addition to acclimating to “roommate life” in a small farmhouse. Optimally, we would’ve started on the daunting task of clipping back the vines in March, but Steve and I were still finishing up our jobs there at the restaurant. I’ll share more about the move, our new place, and our plans for the future in another post. For now, I’ll share this simple cocktail I’ve been making with the remaining Meyer lemons that keep trickling into my kitchen.

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absinthe orange + chamomile gin fizzes | spring has sprung

I’m looking outside on the back porch right now, and our large, wooden dining table is completely covered with flowering annuals and vegetable starts. That’s this afternoon’s project before work: planting the spring garden. Steve and I have been so consumed with other plans and happenings, both inside and outside of work, that we have not had the time to get the garden going. It’s the latest we’ve ever planted, I think.

We finally hired a new AGM at the restaurant, which is such a load off our backs. All of us were willing to work extra hard, so that we could take the time to ensure we found just the perfect person. It seems we did just that. In the midst of a few 50-hour work weeks, Steve has also managed to tear down our old fence and build a new one, one that incorporates some of the old pieces with the new. At least our backyard is prepped for all of the plants we’ll be tucking into the soil later on.

orange, absinthe, chamomile gin fizzes | holly & flora orange, absinthe, chamomile gin fizzes | holly & flora Continue reading

spicy quick-pickled spring radishes

I think that this very moment is the best setting ever to write a blog post. For that matter, to do anything! It is pouring rain outside. Not the pitter-patter peaceful kind, but the full-on, fiddler on the roof, batten down the hatches, tap-dancing until dawn kind of rain! I say, bring it!

As many of you know, I spend a few of my evenings working as a sommelier at a restaurant. The place happens to have a most splendid patio. If you have ever worked within the service or hospitality industry, you know that “patio season” is more or less a nightmare. You are constantly scrolling through your weather app feeds and performing audacious rain dances to skirt the afternoon showers, in order to keep your guests satisfied. It is quite the ordeal. I am an anomaly within this field, however: I am secretly jumping for joy inside, when it rains. It means my garden is getting drenched, and it means that I don’t have to tote the hose around our yard and water by hand the next day. Hooray for summer storms that deliver!

We just picked {and pickled!} the last of our spring French Breakfast radishes. We planted them by seed and in succession in early April and have harvested four rounds of radishes. This last go-round was a little spicy and a tad pithy, which can happen when harvesting late in the season, but they were perfect for pickling. Pickling covers a multitude of sins, but it can also bring out the best in vegetables.

Have you pickled before? It seems daunting and suggests the need for fancy equipment. Not necessarily so. Enter quick pickling, or as I lovingly name it, quickling. I touched on this subject last year, when I had a surplus amount of cucumbers. Almost anything can be quickled, and radishes do quite well with this method.

My attention was grabbed about a month ago by Cookie + Kate’s recipe for pickling spring radishes. So simple and fast. I added a few finishing touches of my own, and I have been pickling my radishes ever since. This particular recipe yielded one half-pint of pickled radishes, or about 1 1/2 cups.


spicy quick-pickled spring radishes


  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced {about 12 radishes or 1 cup, sliced}
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Champagne vinegar {or white or apple cider}
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • about 10 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • a few pieces of dill leaves
  • 1 small garlic clove
  1. Scrub your radishes and slice them thinly. If you are brave and skilled, you can use a mandolin. You can also use a very sharp knife to slice paper-thin pieces of this pink root vegetable.
  2. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the water, vinegar, agave nectar, and sea salt to a boil, dissolving the sea salt.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the sliced radishes into a clean Mason jar and pour the pickling liquid over top.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill leaves, and garlic clove to the jar.
  6. Cover with lid and let cool.
  7. Once the jar’s contents have cooled, place the jar in the refrigerator. I removed my garlic clove at this point. I learned my lesson another time, when I let the garlic clove hang out in the jar for about a week. The radishes took on too intense of a garlic note. Just a touch is enough!
  8. Enjoy!

I have been sprinkling these pink treats on my summer green salads, tossing them on black bean tacos, and using them in relishes. Quickling is one way to use up your excess produce and prolong its enjoyment throughout the season. Use quick-pickled radishes within a month, noting that they taste best within about two weeks of the pickling date. Did you grow radishes this season? Are you pickling anything weird from your garden? The weirdest things I have pickled to date are yellow summer squash slices. I actually loooooved them atop burritos, alongside tacos, and graced over summer tortilla soup. I am not growing them this summer, but a friend of mine is. That’s where gardening friends come into play – tradesies!

Have a great week ahead and enjoy the goodness at hand. It is beautiful, delicious, and fleeting. Savor it, while it is here, and preserver it for later. Goodbye, radish season; it was fun!

pickled spring strawberries + a refreshing gin cocktail

I am just emerging from an unintentional five-day-in-a-row staycation, and I can say I officially feel relaxed. Scratch that. I feel more invigorated. It was a slow week at work, so my current schedule reflected it {sadly, my next paycheck will reflect this quieter week, as well}. I find it challenging to stop and slow down and do nothing. These past few days, however, have been influential in getting me to do more of the “slowing down” stuff.

Slowing down and appreciating everything else that is happening, when I habitually bustle around, forget to breathe, and struggle with sleep. I feel like I successfully hit the “reset” button and am ready to get back to my schedule with a different and healthier perspective. On my first couple of days off, I found myself running into another room with an idea, getting distracted, forgetting why I came into the room in the first place, and looping back, only to greet the floor and sigh. Even cry. A lot. I felt like one of those wind-up dolls that smile and nod and circle and then collapse.

I am sitting here at my computer, listening to Foster the People’s latest album, sipping a glass of rosé {one that Steve wanted to save and declared as “hands-off” – oops!}, and trying to focus on the important things. What are those things to me? Taking the time to daily observe my garden’s progress, leaving my phone behind, refusing the urge to Instagram every moment, crafting a handwritten card instead of sending a choppy text, letting go of the should-haves and could-haves, and simply sitting still and noticing my thoughts and their patterns. I am really going to try and continue this intention, for the next few weeks are going to fly by, and I want to capture them and make them mine.

pickled strawberries with tarragonI just received the final confirmation for my trip to Burgundy, France, today, and I am beyond excited. I don’t even know what to expect. I will be leaving in less than two weeks and will be touring my absolute favorite wine region of France and visiting some of its most historic and heralded vineyard sites. I will miss Steve’s birthday, which is the 20th, but he is actually traveling to California for another wine-centric trip. I think I am excused from not being there for his celebration!

In the midst of all of my studying of Burgundy’s regions, making last-minute travel arrangements, poring over my lean bank statement, and fitting in my writing for the Kitchn, these past few days have been a blessing. I am actually happy that I took the time to do nothing, to stare up at the clouds, and to tinker around in my garden and kitchen, the places where I feel most at home.

freshly cut strawberries with tarragon, salt, pepperThe strawberries here have been spectacular; are you enjoying them, as well? I knew exactly what to do with the copious amounts of strawberries I picked up at the grocery the other day. I had been thumbing through Marisa McClellan‘s latest book, Preserving by the Pint, and noticed a recipe for pickled strawberries. I am always drawn to the weird and off-the-beaten-path type of recipes. Why didn’t I just make jam? Nope. I had to experiment with preserving strawberries in vinegar. And it worked out beautifully.

preserving by the pint, by marisa mcclellanI received this book from an inspirational friend in the food blogging community, Kristy Gardner, author of the site, She Eats. I had been eying Marisa’s book for quite a while, and I had even purchased a copy for a friend. I was elated, when I found out I had won Kristy’s giveaway on her blog. The book couldn’t arrive quickly enough! Once it hit my mailbox, I turned to page 47 and put my perfectly ripe strawberries to work.

strawberries, ready to slice


Quick Pickled Strawberries


This is Marisa’s recipe, here with her permission:

  • 1 dry quart strawberries {about 1 1/2 pounds or 680 grams}
  • 3/4 cup or 180 ml Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely milled sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs tarragon

After washing the strawberries, I removed the stems and leaves and cut the berries into halves. I quartered the larger berries. In a medium saucepan, I combined the vinegar, along with 1/3 cup of water, the sugar, salt, and cracked pepper. I set the saucepan over high heat and brought the mixture to a boil.

In a sterilized one-quart Mason jar, I added the tarragon sprigs. Fortunately, I could clip a couple of sprigs from the garden. I dropped in the sliced strawberries. Once the brine had boiled, I poured it into the jar and over the strawberries. Once the strawberry pickles had cooled, I placed a lid on the jar and stored it in the refrigerator, letting them rest and integrate overnight.

Marisa suggests incorporating the pickled strawberries into a salad or serving the berries in a glass of sparkling water. I will definitely make those options, but I was a little thirsty for something stronger that day, and gin was well within my reach.

sliced organic strawberries


Gin + Strawberry Shrub


  • 1 1/2 ounces St. George Terroir gin
  • 3/4 ounce mint simple syrup
  • 1 pickled strawberry {or 2, if you are daring!}
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • splash of soda water {optional}

In a shaker tin, muddle the strawberry. Add ice {about 4 or 5 cubes}, gin, mint simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake like crazy. Pour into a glass and garnish with a sprig of mint or strawberry slice. Finish with a little soda water, if you need a tamer and less vinegar-y cocktail. I prefer the refreshing punch of a vinegar cocktail, myself.

gin + pickled strawberries + mint simple syrup + freshly squeezed lime juice

mint in the garden

making mint simple syrupTo make the mint simple syrup, simply combine equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan {I usually make a batch of 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar}. Bring to a boil and let the sugar granules dissolve. Remove from heat and add about 4 mint sprigs. Steep until cool and strain, discarding the herbs. pickled strawberries and the finished gin cocktailI am definitely not alone on the vinegar-inspired cocktail kick. The Times published a great piece a couple of years ago on the rise in the use of vinegar in cocktails. In fact, I enjoyed my first vinegar drink, when I visited Portland last summer. I dined at the famed Pok Pok restaurant and enjoyed a tamarind drinking vinegar. It was simply pickled tamarind and soda – refreshing, vibrant, and different. I didn’t even miss the alcohol. I suggest tossing a pickled strawberry into a glass of soda water and adding the lime juice and mint simple syrup. Spring perfection!

Want to make your own drinking vinegar? Here is an excellent tutorial on making drinking vinegars or shrubs via the Kitchn, written by Emily Ho of Roots & Marvel.

Closing with some photos from the week. Have a great week ahead! I am adding a link at the bottom of this post, so that I can be included on Bloglovin’, making it even easier to follow my posts. And let me know if you are making any pickled or preserved garden goods {whoa, alliteration!}, yourselves!

Cheers,

Jayme

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green tomato relish

Gardening is definitely not a picture-perfect hobby.  There are many days spent dealing with powdery mildew, battling against bugs, anguishing over produce stolen by squirrels, and contemplating how on earth I can’t just grow a consistent tomato crop.  This year, we have been blessed with a classic Indian summer in Colorado, where the shades of yellow and orange have lingered well into the month of November.  In fact, I am still growing French breakfast radishes and arugula outside right now!  I finally put most of the garden to rest about a week and a half ago, harvesting hot peppers, spinach, Swiss chard, copious amounts of herbs, and some delicate, green tomatoes.  Ahhh, green tomatoes.  What to do with them?  Last year, I tried frying them, yielding excellent results.  This year, I canned them and made green tomato relish.  It turned those tart, green tomatoes into a spreadable, herbaceous, sweet-and-savory condiment, which I will enjoy well into the cooler months.

My grandmother used to “put up” and preserve, but unfortunately, we never connected on this subject, when she was alive.  As a little girl, I didn’t have the questions for her that I have right now.  In her absence, I simply wing it or consult these books:  Food in Jars, Small-Batch Preserving, or Canning for a New Generation.  When she didn’t can her greenies, she purchased Ritter’s Green Tomato Relish, which is, sadly, no longer available.  I tried developing a very similar recipe, using the pre-frost green tomatoes from my garden, and the results were beyond satisfying.

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