Tag Archives: summer

about figgin’ thyme | a rum cocktail with fig + thyme and how to make allspice dram

I’m a firm believer that when something is meant to happen, it will happen in its own sweet time, at just the right time. There is a reason the saying, “It is what it is,” is so simple, yet so pertinent. We do what we can, with the tools we’ve been given, with the understanding we presently have. The rest works itself out.

I’d like to force certain things to happen, though. Like when you’ve worked really hard on a project, and you want that recognition or that promotion. Sometimes, however, the timing just isn’t where you’d like it to be. {Insert wasted energy, emotions, and countless hours here.}

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora

I have a handful of letters I need to respond to, but they sit on my desk, haphazardly tossed in a pile, waiting for the “perfect” time to craft. Maybe I haven’t spoken with one of the letter-writers, and I feel the need to formally write an intense, full-on disclosure and catch-up of my life’s happenings. Perhaps I’ve been in a funk and feel the need to “be in a better place” in order to write back a cheerful friend. A few moments this evening reminded me that there is no time better than the present to start something.

Work at the restaurant has, thankfully, been a little slow this past week, and I was gifted the past two days off. I had a self-imposed, detailed to-do list beckoning me, but I really felt the need to slow down. I baked a peach crumble. I came up with a few cocktails. I did my nails. I drew a bath and picked out a magazine from a stack of periodicals I’d been meaning to read for quite a while.

I randomly grabbed the very first issue of Kinfolk I’d purchased. It was also the first almost-$20 independent magazine I’d purchased. This particular issue, volume seven, published in 2013, was all about ice cream and entertaining. Sometimes, I buy magazines, and they sit on my desk or tabletop for years without my opening them. I figure that what goes around comes around and that the timing will be right, when I decide to crack the spine and flip through the pages. This time proved my assumptions correct. The timing was perfect.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora

I opened to page 102 and read Killeen Hanson‘s words on being neighborly, checking in, and writing to friends and family. She recounts the many times her mother and father have written her over the years: notes on postcards, letters sneaked in junk mail envelopes, folders filled with local newspaper clippings. I’m also a beloved fan of the handwritten letter. Somehow, it supersedes the digital type in a text or email. It takes more time, art, effort. Maybe we, as a culture, have casually and conveniently forgotten this art, since it demands much more of us in our fast-paced, instantly gratified, real-time lifestyles.


“We’ve all received that out-of-the-blue note from a friend; the joy and comfort that these little check-ins bring us is incredible considering the simplicity and scale of the act. It doesn’t take much time or effort to jot down a thinking-of-you note to a friend that will change their day.”

Killeen Hanson, Kinfolk, Volume Seven, “How to be Neighborly: Checking In”


I’m vowing this Labor Day weekend to write letters to those friends, pen pals, colleagues, and family members I’ve been thinking about for weeks, months, even years. That article was so timely and relevant. There is no better time than now to say how you feel and brighten someone’s day with your own handwriting and words and doodles.

  • To my mom, I’m finally sending you the edited CDs of your past singing performances.
  • To Derrick, whom I’ve never met in real life but feel so intricately connected with, look for a recap from the past two years.
  • To Sandy, I’ve finally got a few treats for you. I must confess that I ate the first two batches of cookies I baked for you.
  • And to Gina, look out for a little “hello” in your mailbox this week! Your pen pal is finally following through.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora

Another item I happened upon today was a batch of homemade allspice dram I made back in the spring. I can’t believe I hadn’t even tasted the finished product! I pursed my lips, squinted my eyes, and shook my head. I needed to do something about this situation.

So, what exactly IS allspice dram?

Allspice dram is a liqueur made from allspice berries with a little cinnamon. It marries perfectly with many Tiki cocktails and is a superb match with pears. I am in the midst of making a fig shrub, so I had an extra handfuls of figs. I correctly assumed that the flavors of figs, cinnamon, and allspice would go along quite nicely. This little cocktail brings the flavors of summer and the notes of fall together. It almost feels like Indian summer in a glass.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora


about figgin’ thyme | a rum cocktail with fig + thyme


  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the figs with the thyme simple syrup.
  2. Fill the tin with ice.
  3. Add the light rum, apricot liqueur, allspice dram, and lemon juice.
  4. Shake well and double strain into coupe glasses. Optionally, double strain into cocktail glasses filled with ice and top with a splash of seltzer.
  5. Garnish with a sprig of freshly cut thyme.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora


thyme simple syrup


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3-4 sprigs freshly cut thyme
  1. Using a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar, measure out your desired portion. The recipe above yielded enough for about eight cocktails.
  2. In a saucepan, over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the sprigs of thyme and let the mixture steep for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Strain off the solids and let the syrup mixture cool.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora

For the allspice dram, I took Marcia Simmons’ lead over at Serious Eats. She proved that making your own allspice dram is just as delicious as the real deal. I have actually had a difficult time finding my favorite rendition, St. Elizabeth’s, so an adaptation on her simple recipe was a lifesaver.

An excerpt from the Death & Co. cocktail book, elaborating on both St. Elizabeth's allspice dram and Rothman & Winter's delicious apricot liqueur. This book is a must-have in any home bar. Definitely one of my favorite purchases of the year.

An excerpt from the Death & Co. cocktail book, elaborating on both St. Elizabeth’s allspice dram and Rothman & Winter’s delicious apricot liqueur. This book is a must-have in any home bar. Definitely one of my favorite purchases of the year.


 allspice dram


  • 1 cup light rum {I went with Downslope, again}
  • 1/4 cup whole allspice
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. In a mortar and pestle, crush the whole allspice berries.
  2. Place the crushed allspice in a mason jar and top with the rum.
  3. Shake the jar daily, over the course of four days. On the fourth day, break the cinnamon stick into a few pieces, and add them to the mixture.
  4. Continue steeping for 12 days total. On the twelfth day, strain the mixture through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer. Take the time to make a second pass through a coffee filter for better clarity.
  5. In a saucepan, heat the water and sugar, stirring, until the granules have dissolved. Add the sugar-water to the allspice mixture, shake, and let the flavors integrate for a few days.

The flavor of homemade allspice dram is best, when it’s used within 3-4 months. Even though I forgot about the batch I made back in March, the flavors are still hanging on pretty well. Lots of cozy, baking spice-like notes with a strong liquor backbone.

fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora fig + thyme cocktail | how to make allspice dram | holly & flora

Cheers to a wonderfully relaxing Labor Day weekend!

Do you write letters at all? Do you think it is an art worth saving, and, if so, how do you plan on promoting and cultivating its future?

Enjoy those last days of summer, and seriously, disregard anyone who’s telling you it’s over. It’s not. Not until the 23rd. So, why rush it? It will happen, when it happens. Despite a few friends, who are already ordering their PSLs {ahem, Aimee and Nicole!}, I am resisting the urge and am still making popsicles and iced tea. The timing’s just right.

Big hugs,

Jayme

cucumber + melon + white grape sangria

Doesn’t summer seem to be just flying by? Even though fall is soon approaching, I am not giving up this season without a fight. Right about now is when farmers’ markets and gardens start to really pump out the produce, so I am trying my best to capitalize on the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables. At the moment, most of the tomatoes in my garden are plump and green, but give them a few more hot, toasty days, and I will be making and canning tomato sauce on a weekly basis.

I have definitely been enjoying my fair share of rosé and white wine this summer, but sometimes I simply want to sip on something different. Enter the classic, refreshing wine cocktail, sangria. Most traditional sangria recipes call for wine, an additional spirit or two, maybe a little citrus juice, and a bunch of fresh fruit tossed in for a colorful infusion. Ever since I got my new slow juicer, however, I have been experimenting with incorporating fresh juices in almost everything – even in my sangria. This particular sangria recipe is a unique, herbaceous, mash-up of cucumber, white grapes, and melon. It’s just about as garden-to-glass as it gets!

I love sangria, but so many times, the fruit gets mushy, as it infuses. I don’t even end up eating it because of the texture. By juicing the fruit in sangria, you get the freshest flavor without the unwanted consistency. I use a Hurom HG Elite Slow Juicer. It’s one of those kitchen splurges that you won’t regret. What makes it so special? It is a heavy-duty, slow-masticating juicer that cold-presses every last drop of juice from foods, preserving the inherent nutritional integrity. And we all need a little healthy kick, once we add in the wine and booze, right!? I still add freshly cut fruit, but I toss it into the sangria, only when I am ready to serve it.

Wine is the base of sangria, so choose a wine that you wouldn’t mind sipping on by itself. You can make sangria with either red or white wine as a base. This particular recipe calls for a white wine base, and I chose Pinot Grigio, since its citrus and tropical notes pair well with the fresh cucumber and honeydew. Select a dry, un-oaked, style of white wine, with crisp acidity, like a Pinot Grigio, Albariño, or something different, like Vinho Verde.

I am also pretty choosy about the spirits that I use for my cocktails. There are plenty of flavored vodkas out there on the market, but there are only a few that I consider an option. Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka is, most importantly, an organic option. It is made “with respect from seed to glass”, and the care and intention behind this product is evident – crisp, summer cucumber with a clean, light finish. This was a perfect addition to this sangria.


cucumber + melon + white grape sangria


  • 1 bottle of Pinot Grigio
  • 4 ounces Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka
  • 2 ounces St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 6 ounces white grape juice {about a half-pound of grapes}
  • 6 ounces honeydew or Galia melon juice {a little less than half a melon}
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • soda water
  • cucumber + mint ice cubes {see recipe below}
  • mint leaves, frozen grapes, or cucumber slices for garnish

Give yourself a day ahead to make and freeze your fruit cubes. You can juice the fruits and vegetables in advance, as well. That way, the juice has time to chill in the fridge.

  1. Juice the melon, cucumber, and lemon, following your juicer’s manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Combine the juices and add the Pinot Grigio, cucumber vodka, and elderflower liqueur, mixing well.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Pour into glasses, garnished with cucumber + mint ice cubes.
  5. Top with a splash of soda water and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, frozen grapes, or cucumber slices.
  6. Sit on your back porch, patio, or park and enjoy!

cubes


cucumber + mint ice cubes


  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 8 ounces filtered water
  1. Juice the cucumber and the mint leaves, skimming any foam off the top of the juiced mixture. This yields about 8 ounces.
  2. Combine 8 ounces filtered water with the cucumber and mint juice.
  3. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until solid.
  4. Add the cucumber + mint cubes to your sangria {these cubes are pretty intense, so toss in a couple per glass, and fill the rest of the glass with some plain ice cubes}. The cucumber flavor will slowly infuse the sangria, as the cubes melt.

This recipe yields one ice cube tray’s worth of liquid, so plan accordingly.

What if you don’t own a juicer? Don’t fret. You can still create a fresh juice sangria, using a blender. I used my Vitamix for years before owning a juicer and simply strained my blended fruits and veggies through a chinois or sieve for clarity. Williams-Sonoma has a wide spectrum of styles to choose from – cold-press juicers like mine and whole food juicers, along with the high-speed variety.

Cheers to stretching out these last days of summer! I refuse to even think about pumpkins, ghosts, or turkeys, even though the decorations are already up in the stores. I must admit that I did cave and buy a pumpkin candle at Pier One the other afternoon. I couldn’t resist. I’ll just save it for later. And let me know if you have a great recipe for sangria, or if you decide to make this particular green version!

XO and happy summering!

summer berry crumble bake {vegan and gluten-free}

Like most of you out there, I have been hitting the local farms and markets, as often as I can here lately. I tend to bring home so much fruit or produce that I don’t have enough time to deal with it all. It is just so fresh vibrant and super tasty right now; it’s hard to resist. I was immediately inspired by a recent post by another Denverite, Ashlae, of Oh, Ladycakes. She made the most beautiful summer fruit pecan crisp, and I knew it was meant specifically for me {that’s so true!} and my ridiculous stockpile of summer fruit, waiting in the depths of my refrigerator.

I am seriously ready to pump some more life into my, well, life, and this blog. If you are a new reader, you may see some delicious posts or a colorful photo, but you have also probably noticed I have been a little out of sorts, down, and scattered, as well. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but I feel like a marionette many of my days. Like someone else is pulling the strings and calling the shots, but I can’t respond or talk back because I am just a doll on a string. I am in desperate need of balance.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my garden, I like my job as a sommelier, I love taking the time to cook a thought-out meal, and I even find gratification in staging shots, photographing, and documenting all of these things. I just miss being able to sit still and reflect, to devote 100% of my attention to a friend over coffee, and to feel like I have permission to escape up into the mountains and detach for a few hours…or days.

I find great peace simply chopping fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Sometimes, I really enjoy following a simple recipe and getting lost in the preparation, not trying to compose a creative concoction or interpretation. This is the kind of recipe that you can get lost doing. You gather, wash, chop, assemble, bake, and enjoy. I’d love for someone to actually make this for me tonight, but instead, I will write about the time I enjoyed it this past week.

I present to you my vegan berry crumble bake, inspired by Oh, Ladycakes’ summer fruit pecan crisp. It’s easy and oh-so-rewarding. And it is completely versatile, since you can substitute any fruits that are in season, when you happen across this post! Be sure to grab a can of full-fat coconut milk to make some extra coconut whipped cream for the garnish.


summer berry crumble cake


  • 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 20 or so cherries, pitted {optionally sliced in half}
  • 1/2 pint blackberries
  • 1/8 cup raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk or almond milk
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you are anti-oven because of the summer heat, you can totally make this dessert in the grill. Just monitor the temperature and place the baking tin on a stone or baking sheet.
  2. Wash and slice your fruit and set aside in a medium bowl.
  3. Toss the fruit together with the sugar and vanilla and set aside to incorporate.
  4. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the coconut oil with the coconut milk, just until the mixture is warm.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, almond flour, cinnamon, and sea salt.
  6. Stir in half of the coconut oil mixture into the flour mixture, using a fork to integrate. Add the remaining half of the coconut oil mixture, until the texture looks like coarse crumbs.
  7. Stir in the oats and nuts of your choice. I had almonds on hand, but pecans would be perfection.
  8. Evenly divide the fruit mixture into baking tins. You can use a 9 by 5″ loaf pan or use a mini-loaf pan, like I did. Top the fruit mixture with the crumble mixture.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until the crumble is nice and toasty brown.
  10. Let cool for 30 minutes, before serving.
  11. Serve with coconut whipped cream!

The boyfriend and I couldn’t finish these berry crumbles in one sitting, so we scooped out the dessert into small, ceramic bowls and heated them up, when we were ready for more. Topping the crumbles with coconut whipped cream is a perfect match, but when we ran out, So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream was a great stand-in.

Signing off with some photos from the mid-July backyard garden. Things are moving along quite quickly, almost too quickly. In about two weeks, we will have more tomatoes than we know what to do with. Time to prep all of the jars down in the basement, so we can do some canning!

And let me know if you have any tried-and-true organizational or anti-stress techniques. I will take notes and put them into practice! Cheers to a more uplifting post over the next couple of days. I am working on the up-and-up!

XO

 

garden-inspired sugar scrubs {DIY}

Well, this week has definitely been a lesson in learning to not take myself so seriously, to stop the jealousy and comparison cycle, to organize effectively, and to simply slow down. Pretty heavy, huh? My Friday morning began just as I had wanted – with a great workout, a fulfilling breakfast, and a published blog post. Ahhh. Somehow, however, I lost track of time and realized that I was running late for work. I threw an outfit together, assembled a “lunch” of granola and yogurt, and frantically dried my hair.

Clayton, my ride and another one of the sommeliers at work, sent me a text that he was outside, waiting outside in his car. I needed an extra arm that morning for my stack of necessary work items. I precariously held my yogurt container, black dress jacket, makeup bag, earrings, and handbag, and I slumped down in the front seat. It was a hot one, too. Sweat had already started dripping down my face, as I settled in for the five-minute ride to work. I wiped my brow, took a deep breath, and decidedly declared that the rest of my day take a turn for the better.

My internal dialog kind of went like this: “Sigh. Off to work. But things are good. I think I’ll make it today. I’ve got this. Good grief, it’s hot. Are the cats fed? I need more concealer. I haven’t called my dad in a few weeks. Did I forget to turn the stove off? I like this song. Wait. What is that liquid oozing down my thighs?!!” I flinched and saw that my yogurt container wasn’t sealed properly, so white, sour-smelling liquid was dripping down the front of my jacket and into my lap. Eff. Em. Ell. Clayton asked if I wanted to turn around and grab another suit, but I just {crazily?} laughed and said I’d deal. We were late, anyway. After that incident, I mean, what else could go wrong?

So far this week, I’d already miscalculated a bill and overdrawn my bank account, overlooked an important writing deadline, spilled coconut oil inside my purse {who does that?}, flipped out on my boss, and sassed the neighbors at midnight for stealing “my” parking spot. I am in need of a few days off, and thankfully I have a break until Wednesday. It is like I’ve been directly channeling the antics and mania of Mr. Furious from Mystery Men, and I am beyond ready for a makeover.

I ended up surviving Friday, even though the outdoor summer concert at work was rained out, I took a bad fall in the kitchen, and I didn’t get to sleep until 5:30 Saturday morning. One of these days, I’ll have to post an hour-by-hour account of what it is like planning an event for well over a thousand people, praying for the rain to dodge us, over-booking the dining room {despite the weather concerns}, and dealing with high-profile guests, who expect a free drink because of the out-of-my-control rain issues. All of this, while I am wearing yogurt-laden pants and sporting frizzy, wet curls and mismatched socks. With a quick, slight tilt of my head, a bright smile/smirk, and a flit of my lashes. It is a wonder I don’t drink more than I do.

DSC_0047

Steve and I recently took a week-long visit to lake Burton, in north Georgia, for a family reunion. The humidity worked wonders for my skin. While I can’t take the nourishing moisture back home to Denver, I can make a good substitute. Enter sugar scrubs. I am not talking about the $20-a-jar possibilities at the store. I am all about the simple ingredient, good-for-you versions that you craft on your own, for multiple dollars less. Annnnnnd because cute little mason jars!


energizing citrus + vanilla sugar scrub


Fragrant lavender growing along our driveway. The bees are loving it, and I am trying to capture its aroma in every possible manner!


relaxing lavender sugar scrub


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups almond oil
  • 1/8 cup lavender buds, dried or fresh
  • lavender essential oil

I am sending out a super thanks to my amazing aunt, who basically lectured me and led me through a guided meditation over the phone, well over an hour this afternoon. I am feeling a little more centered. I am trying to let go of any jealousy or comparison to other writers, somms, artists, or photographers; those feelings and actions only rob me of my creative energy and positivity. They are destructive and depleting. I don’t like who I become, when I lose my sense of gratitude and focus. I become stagnant with my creativity and take a nosedive into depression and lethargy. It is a destructive cycle, and I am on my own course.

I can at least now laugh at the yogurt incident. I know I need to take more time to plan ahead, schedule out my day, and not take myself too seriously. Until I become more proficient with these skills, I will indulge in sugar scrubs and long baths and good rosé. Those are good lessons to adopt, as well, right? I hope that you have a restful and rejuvenating weekend and that you find the humor in the rough and edgy spots. And let me know if you’ve had one of those yogurt-in-your-lap moments lately. How did or didn’t you effectively deal?

Cheers!

summer cherry bourbon smashes {2 ways}

Yep, here I go again! Posting more about summer cherries {with at least two more cherry posts in draft form!}. I cannot get enough of them right now. In fact, the boyfriend and I headed out to Berry Patch Farms in Brighton, Colorado, to pick our own pie cherries. I had never picked cherries before. It proved a little time-consuming, but we had so much fun! I even ended up befriending a chicken, temporarily losing my debit card, and coming across some snap peas along the way.

I have also been researching how to perfect my lattice crust technique for a possible cherry pie and dreaming up ideas on how to make adorable, miniature cherry pies in jars. Too bad work and gardening and laundry get in the way. Those cherries will have to wait until tomorrow. Until then, I am sneaking little handfuls of those sweet, red spheres and tossing them into glorious summer bourbon cocktails. Bourbon is not just for the cooler months. I’ll prove it.

A little less than a month ago, the season’s first cherries started to trickle in. They weren’t grown locally and tasted a tad sour, but I just couldn’t wait for Colorado cherries. So, I grabbed a couple pints and set out to make some brandied cherries. The process was messy but ever-so-delicious. As I mentioned before, when you decide to pit cherries, grab a friend, pop a bottle of wine, turn on some music, and cover yourself in a towel. Gloves help, too. I actually remembered those this past pitting adventure, thankfully. For once, I planned ahead and actually followed through!

I have come across some resourceful ways to preserve summer cherries, but sometimes it is tricky to find creative means to incorporate them later on. Enter the brandied cherries. I have used the cherries in small tarts, in bourbon smashes, and as a garnish in Manhattans. I even ventured out and used them in a glaze for a pork tenderloin. I am suddenly contemplating a boozy cherry popsicle right about now.


brandied cherry bourbon smash


  •  2 ounces bourbon {I used Tin Cup}
  • 4 brandied cherries {see my recipe}
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar or 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • dash orange bitters {I used Miracle Mile}

Toss the brandied cherries, raw sugar, and lemon juice in a double old-fashioned glass and muddle well. Add ice, pour in the bourbon, and give a shake of bitters. I like to pour the cocktail into a shaker tin and pour it back into the glass to incorporate the cherries. A good stir will also work.

What if you don’t have any brandied cherries on hand? No worries. Just use the fresh cherries you have and make this adaptation. I made another version of bourbon smashes last summer, when we were remodeling our kitchen. Whenever I make this cocktail, I am reminded of that crazy time, when our house was full of boxes, and we had to do our cooking, dish-washing, and dining on our back porch. So, a good cherry bourbon smash makes me feel grateful!


fresh cherry bourbon smash


  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce Cardamaro {or amaretto, for a twist}
  • 4 fresh cherries
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar or 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • dash orange bitters

What are you doing with summer cherries, while they are in season? Later this week, I’ll be posting that cherry pie I mentioned, as well as some cherry coconut milk popsicles that were amazing.

Cheers to a great weekend!