Tag Archives: st germain

summer dill + snap pea shim | tips on growing dill

This is my favorite time of year. I guess I’ve said that about early September, when the aspens are starting to change, and I’ve definitely made mention that late March is a beautiful time of spring, when the first purple crocuses pop up in my front yard. I should more aptly state that I just really enjoy living in the moment and soaking up whatever specialties each season sends my way.

Right now, the garden is seriously showing off. Case in point, I have dill towering above my head at seven feet tall. Seven feet tall! We even had to construct a containing method, so that it wouldn’t tumble over from its weight on the rest of the garden. No complaints. This just means lots of pickling coming up for us.

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

I’ve also enjoyed muddling and incorporating dill, along with whatever herbs are within reach, into my cocktails. I really aim to make them refreshing, balanced, and not too heavy-handed on the alcohol. Some might argue, “What’s the point of making a cocktail, if you keep it low on the alcohol content?” Well, for one, if it tastes delicious, I want seconds. Maybe even thirds. So, keeping a low proof (read: not getting day drunk) is optimal for me, especially when I’m out working in the yard in the hot sun.

On a recent trip to California, Steve and I stayed in the town of Geyserville. He was taking part in the Alexander Valley Cabernet Academy, where he toured some of the best sites for Cabernet and met some of the most innovative winemakers within the Alexander Valley. I traveled with him, but I went my own direction each day. I made several appointments at some of my favorite wineries, like Benovia and Martinelli, but I also left room to explore.

One of my favorite places I stumbled upon was the most beautiful shop and café, SHED, in the town of Healdsburg, about a ten minute drive south from Geyserville. I could seriously live in this shop, and I actually ended up staying there for a couple of hours. Not only does the shop boast a cocktail bar, complete with shrub cocktails and kombucha on tap, but it also has a proper cheese shop, a gorgeous flower cart, and a sprawling variety of beautiful kitchenware. SHED even offers grain-milling classes, beekeeping courses, and gardening workshops.

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

After meeting up with my friend, Duff, for breakfast at the café, I chose to sit up at the bar and enjoy a “shim” cocktail. A shim is the answer to the quandary I spoke of a few paragraphs back: a “sessionable” cocktail that won’t get you over-intoxicated. When I asked the bartender about the drink, she handed me a copy of Dinah Sanders‘ book, The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level. She’s the original coiner of the term, shim. I thumbed through the pages and knew this book was for me. Since then, I’ve been replicating some of her recipes and dabbling a little on my own low-alcohol libations.

This particular recipe lets sake take the lead role, providing a marvelous texture, bright notes, and a floral component that marries perfectly with the herbaceous additions. I began fiddling around with this cocktail about five weeks ago, when Danguole of 10th Kitchen‘s photo of a spring pea sake cocktail popped up on my Instagram feed. Vegetables and herbs in a cocktail? I’m completely in. I love beet juice with gin and carrot juice with vodka, so sake paired with spring peas sounded intriguing.

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

summer dill + snap pea shim

  • 2 snap pea pods with tendrils for garnish
  • 2 slices cucumber
  • 1 sprig dill with extra for garnish
  • 1 half-inch slice preserved lemon {optional}
  • 1 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 2 1/2 ounces Junmai sake {I used Shimizu-No-Mai “Pure”}
  • 1/2 ounce limoncello {my house-made version, yo}
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • soda water
  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the snap pea pods, cucumber, dill, and preserved lemon, along with the St. Germain.
  2. Add ice, the sake, limoncello, and lemon juice.
  3. Shake well and double strain into a cocktail glass filled with fresh ice.
  4. Add a splash or so of soda and garnish with a pea tendril and a dill blossom.
  5. Go back for seconds without any guilt.

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

“We drink to connect  —  Perhaps that is why cocktails are a product of the modern world. As our ability to escape our present surroundings has grown, we’ve needed a ritual to bring us back.”

—  Dinah Sanders

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

This week, specifically, has been a hectic one. This past Friday was the third of eight concerts that we hold at the restaurant throughout the summer. I have learned to dread Friday nights because of this production. I don’t even take vacations during this two month stretch. It may not sound like much, but the amount of brain power, emotional toll, lack of sleep, and physical labor it takes to produce a party of epic proportions at an already busy, upscale steakhouse is staggering. I’m talking well over 1,000 guests, dancing to 80s cover bands, and slurping down pineapple martinis…smh.

I don’t drink heavily on those nights. I mean, I want to, but I already know I’m going to have a “work hangover” the following morning, so why further compound the issue? Seriously, each Friday night sets me back about two days. All I want to do is sleep come Sunday morning. On any other given night of the week, when I’m working, I’m selling wine, putting together wine pairings, and talking with familiar regulars. A Friday night during the concert series? I could be breaking up a brawl outside on the patio, sweeping up broken glass, covering my mouth while mopping up the remnants of someone’s upset stomach, or throwing out “that guy,” who won’t stop creeping out the ladies.

I definitely earn whatever I’m drinking on Monday afternoon. Lemme tell you…

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

So, now that I’ve painted a picture of what the start of my weekends entails over the summer, I’m sure you’re ready for a drink, yourself. Dinah Sanders’ book of low-alcohol cocktails will keep you engaged and spark your cocktail-concocting creativity. And you won’t curse my name the next morning, if you have a couple of them.

Right now, my sleep schedule is so messed up. As I write, I am also googling ways to use lavender to induce sleep {I’m wide awake at 4:00 AM}. Don’t be surprised if my next blog post includes something sleep-inducing. Regardless, I am still planning on waking at 8:00 to tend to the garden. I’ll pull on my slippers, don my sunnies, and slowly schlep on the flagstone path to water my green children. With squinty eyes and a happy, albeit sleepy, heart, I’ll welcome the heat and beckon the sun. They’ve both been so good to us this year.

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tips for growing dill

  • Site  —  Dill thrives in a spot, protected from strong winds and exposed to full sun. It’s more suitable for outdoor gardening, but it will grow well in containers.
  • Soil  —  Plant dill in rich, well-drained soil.
  • Sun    Dill absolutely loves the sun. I plant mine right in the middle of my garden, and it has grown over seven feet tall. It has also sprung up in a part-shade area of the garden, and although it has only grown to four feet in height, it is still prolific and aromatic.
  • Water    Dill seems to be pretty drought-tolerant; it doesn’t droop when deprived of water for a day or two. Thoroughly water the soil, when it is dry to the touch.
  • Harvesting  —   Clip dill sprigs when needed. Use them unabashedly when quick-pickling or making dill-based cocktails. Dill leaves taste their best, when they are harvested before the plant flowers. Pick them either early in the day or late in the afternoon. If you are harvesting the seeds, cut the seed heads 2-3 weeks after the plant has flowered. Hang the seed heads upside down in a brown, paper bag, in order to catch the seeds. You may also do what we do, and just let the dill flower, go to seed, and shed the seed. We look forward to dill plants sprouting up the following spring. You may either keep them where they sprout or transplant them.
  • Preserving  —  I try to use dill leaves, whenever they are ready. Clip a few sprigs and place them in a glass of water; they will last a few days either on the counter top or in the fridge. You may also layer clippings of dill in a jar of sea salt. Just remove the dill and rinse it, whenever you’re ready to use it. Dill also freezes and dries well. Don’t forget about dill vinegar.

Over the past few weeks, I have been writing a succession of posts on growing and preserving herbs over at the Kitchn. Here are a few links of my favorite posts from the Herb Gardening 101 series, and they are all photographed from my garden:

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & floraCheers to a great rest of the weekend! With tomatoes finally ripening on the vines, herbs spilling over in the flower beds, and eggplants already on the grill, our garden is in full swing. The next two months will be filled with energy and growth and transformation. I’m reveling in this season. And I’m on the lookout for ways to extend my harvest and ways to extend my cocktail-enjoying ability. Bring on the shims, bring on the preserves.

Bring on summer!



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how to make limoncello + 2 limoncello cocktails

Spring is officially a hazy memory here in Denver. The season switched from straight winter to blazing, hot summer in a snap. All of the late spring rain and snow turned the usual, crusty, brown landscape of Colorado into a vibrant splash of bright green. I look back at some of the photos I took in early June, and I can’t believe I didn’t put a filter on them.

When I was flying back home from a recent trip to Napa, I looked down from the window in the plane in pure disbelief that I was, indeed, flying over Denver and not Ireland or some other verdant country. Everything is absolutely gorgeous, and my garden has never looked this good in early July!

I was even off work on the solstice and got to ring in the advent of shorter evenings in my backyard, with a glass of chilled rosé. I’ve been enjoying a lot of chilled rosé here lately. Come to think of it, I’ve been enjoying a lot of chilled everything here lately. Every year, Steve and I find some way to delay getting a swamp cooler for the house. We always seem to have a more pressing expense to consider, and every year, we always shake our heads and regret not making the purchase.

lemon peels in bowl how to make limoncello | holly & flora

I’ve found creative ways to keep my cool. I have grown fond of taking cold showers in the morning. I actually stood in a cooler filled with ice water just yesterday. I even succumbed to the overwhelming urge to strip down to my skivvies and run through the garden sprinkler this afternoon. Thank God for trees and fences to keep it all classy because when heat takes over my brain, I think I lose my sense of appropriateness and my self-control.

Luckily, I’ve gotten very good at seeking out air-conditioned coffee shops, sneaking the rare visit to the movie theater, and finding an excuse to go to the grocery store just to cruise the cool produce department. I am fortunate enough, however, to work at a restaurant, where there is a walk-in freezer on premise. As soon as I exit my {also without AC} car, I make a beeline to the freezer. No hellos. No courtesies. Not until I get my cold-air fix.

I decided to make limoncello back in early March, when I had an abundance of lemons on hand. I followed my obsession with all-things-citrus and made countless cocktails, a batch of preserved lemons {a first for me}, lemon curd, and several marmalade iterations. I figured I’d use the skins of the lemons I was juicing, so logically, I thought about limoncello.

I’d never made the tart, citrus liqueur before. I have had both amazingly delicious limoncello and cloyingly sweet, dull limoncello. I stumbled across a recipe, via the Williams-Sonoma blog, Taste. I followed James Schend’s recipe pretty closely, but I actually forgot about my limoncello down in the basement after week five, accidentally aging it SIX more weeks! Although I don’t know if the extra aging benefited the limoncello, I was not disappointed with my results.

how to make limoncello

  • 20 large, organic lemons
  • 750 mL of vodka
  • 750 mL of Everclear {or other 151-proof alcohol}
  • 4 cups organic cane sugar
  • 3 cups filtered water
  1. Scrub and peel the lemons, using a vegetable peeler. Try your best to avoid including any of the white pith, which adds undesirable bitterness.
  2. Place the peels in a large, clean jar and add both the vodka and the Everclear.
  3. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and store in a cool, dark spot for at least five weeks. I stored mine for 11 weeks. Stir or shake the jar twice a week to integrate the flavor.
  4. After five weeks, remove the lemon peels with a slotted spoon. To test whether or not the limoncello is ready for the next step, take a peel and bend it between your thumb and index finger. If it easily snaps in half, you may proceed to step five; if not, store for at least another week and perform the same test, after the week has passed.
  5. Strain the mixture through a double-layer of cheesecloth into a clean jar.
  6. In a saucepan, heat the sugar and water until dissolved. Remove the sugar mixture from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  7. Add the cooled sugar-water to the limoncello mixture and stir.
  8. Store the sweetened limoncello mixture for another six weeks, so that the flavor intensifies and becomes more cohesive.
  9. When the aging time has passed, strain the final mixture through a double-layer of cheesecloth and store in a clean, glass jar or in cute, decorative jars like these.
  10. Store your containers of limoncello in the same cool, dark place, or keep it refrigerated for “emergencies” and cocktail creating!

how to make limoncello | holly & flora lemon balm | holly & flora how to make limoncello | holly & flora

Making lemony cocktails that mimic the effects of cool, refreshing lemonade is only a natural response to these high-heat, sweltering conditions. I  know I’ll get some flack from my AZ or FL friends for sounding whiny, but the lack of heat tolerance is all relative. We can all benefit from a cool respite.

These two cocktails not only incorporate my new, favorite cocktail component, limoncello, but they are also summery and herbaceous and perfect served over ice. So, don your flops, find a cute hat {or settle for a bandana, like I do}, and prop up next to a shady tree.

summertime in the garden

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin {I used Boodles}
  • 1/2 ounce limoncello
  • 1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 1 sprig lemon balm
  • 2 slices cucumber
  • splash seltzer
  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the mint, lemon balm, and cucumber slices.
  2. Add the gin, limoncello, lemon juice, and elderflower liqueur.
  3. Fill with ice and shake well.
  4. Double strain into a cocktail glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Garnish with even more lemon balm. Slap it first, in order to release the aromatic oils. Trust me; it really works!
  6. For extra color and flavor and fun, freeze mint leaves in ice-cube trays and use them in the cocktail.

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lavender limoncello gin ricky

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin {I used Boodles}
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 ounce DRAM Apothecary pine syrup
  • 1/2 ounce limoncello
  • 2 ounces seltzer
  • lavender sprigs for garnish
  1. In a mixing tin, combine the gin, lemon juice, DRAM pine syrup, and limoncello.
  2. Add ice and shake well.
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass, filled with fresh ice.
  4. Top with seltzer and garnish with a sprig or two of fresh lavender.

What things are you doing to keep your cool? I seriously need some advice. I’m making popsicles like they’re going out of style, and I have had to amp up my running routine just to maintain that lavish habit! 😉

On an exciting note, I’m excited that Steve and I are having our garden featured in our favorite local publication, Nourish Magazine, at the end of this month! We have been putting in the extra hours to make sure the garden looks its best. Here is a sneak-peak into what’s been happening in our garden over the last couple of weeks.



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the june garden

spring peas | holly & flora

Creeping spring peas, along the fence. This is the first year I’ve successfully grown spring peas! We have gotten about two serious harvests, and we’ve picked a few, here and there, off the vines.

spring peas | holly & flora

Spring peas from Botanical Interests. We planted these from seed, directly into the garden soil, and they’re just now starting to slow down their production.

bolting chard | holly & flora

Swiss chard, bolting in the 90-degree weather. I just picked this out-of-line stalk of chard and put it in a smoothie.

spring garden | holly & flora

Each spring, we stage our gardening barrels to showcase different micro-climates. Here, butter crunch lettuce is growing alongside Roma tomatoes. When the tomato matures, the plant supplies a little shade, so that the lettuces can grow well into June.

spring garden | holly & flora

Alliums, or ornamental onions, bloom here during the month of May. Their skeletons decorate our June and July gardens with their spiky, orb-like shapes. If I had these, when I was younger, I would have used them as fairy wands. I do that today…

spring garden | holly & flora

Sweet Woodruff, among the snow-in-summer. We line the garden beds in the backyard with this combination. We have to trim back or transplant the Woodruff because it is so aggressive. Its dainty, white flowers are lightly scented and prolific.

spring garden | holly & flora

This is one of my most favorite color combinations of the month! Hot green, teal, and pale magenta. Love this!!

spring garden | holly & flora

We planted a “side yard garden” this year, outside this little garage, which we affectionately call, “the barn.” The new gardening area is just to the left of the building. I love these “steps” outside the door, lined by creeping thyme.

spring garden | holly & flora

Creeping thyme.

spring garden | holly & flora

We have planted multiple spireas within both our front yard and backyard. They are perennial and produce the most beautiful flowers throughout the summer months.

spring garden | holly & flora

Update on my Meyer lemon tree: here is the same lemon that has been ripening over the last SIX months! Come on, now…

the bard yard | holly & flora

Here is a glimpse of the new “secret garden” or “barn yard.” This was once a fenced-in area, which housed a lot of yard trash and building materials. We have since then cleared it out and are using a lot of the materials for summer yard projects. This area is about 4×20 feet and is now a home to two squashes, five tomatoes, four eggplants, six sweet potatoes, ten peppers, and three basils. Oh, and one catnip, three nasturtiums, one leeks plant, and a shasta daisy. I love this little area! Steve built a matching chain link fence just a weekend ago.

tomatillo | holly & flora


fennel blooms | holly & flora

Fennel blossoms among the lavender blooms.

sorrel in bloom | holly & flora

Wild sorrel in bloom, attracting lady bugs.

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