I raise a glass in honor of the bounty of summer my garden keeps bestowing on me and my 100th follower.
I can’t recall which blogger I was reading lately who said we write these blogs for our readers and our followers. I’ll agree somewhat. I am delighted that 100 people out there follow me in their reader and in their in-boxes. I am honored that people I don’t know take the time to think about what I’ve written and some even then actually make a recipe I’ve talked about. That’s high praise. And I thank you.
On the weekends at the distillery we serve mini cocktails. We make 2 very different, but incredible gins. Gin #3 is bright and crisp. Gin #1 is big and round. This weekend (and next, in case you want stop by) we served a Lavender, Gin #3 & tonic. This drink is quite tasty and perfect for summer since my lavender is in bloom.
There was time, not too long ago that I did not like gin. A few years ago, I was visiting my mutha and step-father. He asked who wanted a martini before dinner. I gleefully chimed in. I took one sip and was immediately horrified. Not only was I expecting vodka, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the mass produced gin in a jug they served me. I just know it was undrinkable. Really, I poured it down the drain.
When we began our gin experiments, I wasn’t the first to rush and try it out. But our distillers sort of sneak stuff in. Taste this. What is it? Just taste it. Oooooh that’s tasty. That’s gin. The gins that are being produced by the microdistilleries are delicate and balanced unlike the commercial gins, which I find harsh or overly perfumed.
Lavender, Gin #3, and Tonic… dedicated to Sybarite Sauvage for being my 100th. (kinda makes me sound like a slut 😉 )
3/4 – 1 oz lavender simple syrup
1 1/2- 2 oz Gin #3
Pour over ice in a rocks glass topped with your favorite tonic.
lavender simple syrup
1 cup lavender (leaves, stems & buds rough cut with scissors)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Bring to a boil and let simmer 5ish minutes, remove from heat and let sit another 5 minutes and strain.
Does what you grow in your garden get used on your plate, in your bath, or around your house? How about all of the above? or not at all?
I’ve been playing with herbs and essential oils for years. I’ve got book shelves lined with all sorts of information. I’ve even got a mad scientist laboratory of oils, waxes, chemicals, and components in my basement. I’ve been told I have the best smelling basement ever. I can’t smell it anymore I’m so accustomed to it all. But when I need to take a relaxing bath or have a mud mask, I trot down the stairs and whip something up.
A few years ago, when I began tightening the budget belt, I thought about how to make the most of what I do spend. I didn’t plant a tree that magically made money, but what I did plant gets used in so many ways around my house. I have herbs that I can cook with or turn into aromatherapy and I have veggies growing for food and because they are pretty. I came up with a workshop series called Pantry Pampering: how to pamper ourselves with what we have on hand. Over the next little bit, I’m going to share some of these with you.
To kick this off, I’m going to start this pantry party as any good party should start, with a cocktail. Thanks to Cocktail Remedy for reminding me to finish the fresh grapefruit juice in the fridge. I’m making his Grapefruit Thyme Cocktail. (without bottling, I’ll save bottling for another day)
You can make your cocktails uniquely yours with interesting flavored simple syrups. When you buy commercial sodas they have so much sugar in them. One way to cut that sugar is by making your own soda. Half an ounce to an ounce of your homemade simple syrup* topped with a little club soda makes a nice simple soda. But add a little vodka or gin to your new soda and you have a fancy cocktail. Your flavors are limited only by your imagination.
I started with fresh thyme from the yard and made my simple syrup a bit stronger than he did. He started with 5 sprigs and I used about 10. I’ve mentioned before I’m into big flavors. I’ve changed the proportions a touch, but this is a nice summertime spritzer.
1.5z Gin Recipe 3
1.5z fresh pink grapefruit juice
1/4z fresh lime juice
1/2z thyme simple syrup (increase if you want)
top with 2z club soda
Another yummy for summertime BBQ’s!
* Simple syrup is generally a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar in which you’ve dissolved the sugar. Boiling the sugar and water combo versus making a room temperature simple syrup is a source of great debate, but I prefer the boiling method. One versus the other is a conversation for another day.
I had several compliments on how nice my garden looked when folks came over for brunch. When I rush out the door in the morning most days I don’t take time to check out the garden. After brunch on Sunday, I finally stopped and enjoyed a little time (or thyme) in my garden. I saw things in bloom I hadn’t noticed earlier. Now that we are having beautiful weather, I love getting home and having so much time to enjoy my yard.
Lily of the Valley
A random bloom in the mint patch
This past Saturday was Rebuilding Together. One Saturday a year, all across the country and across Portland, we are doing home repair for low income elderly and disabled. I’ve told you about my baking endeavors to prepare for this day (more here and here), but what I didn’t tell you about were the countless hours putting together material lists, hounding volunteers, and prodding my carpenter (who has NO electronic forms of communication).
Our homeowner this year was darling! Johnny is a 70 year old firecracker. She made all my headaches and sleepless nights completely worth it! I have no doubt she slept great Saturday night. 24 of us stormed her house at 8am Saturday morning and didn’t leave until 6:15 in the evening. It has taken me 2 days to recover. When I talked to her Monday afternoon she said she had pretty much been in bed since we left. I can believe it.
We built her a wheelchair ramp, painted the living and dining rooms, did a little repair and painting in the kitchen and a lot of yard work. This year’s project, unlike years past, was just the right size and fit for our randy band of do-gooders. Most of us are not skilled, but we can paint and dig and clean with the best of them.
We dedicated this year’s project to our house captain and contractor for the last 3 years, Doug, who died suddenly this spring. Doug was one of the most generous souls you have ever met. He also had the worst sense of what can be done in 2 hours, 8 hours, 2 days or 2 weeks. In years past, his enthusiasm had gotten us HUGE projects that we spent days working on. This year we got done in record time.
This year’s group of volunteers were outstanding in all aspects. Great attitudes and great workers. It was hard not to give your all for Johnny!
I owe a huge bunch of Thank You’s to Sarah at Pacific Pie Co who donated a fabulous lunch for us and to Starbucks who donated coffee to fuel us through the morning. The Director’s Assistant Sarah fielded so many of my silly questions, I’m not sure I would have survived with as much hair as I did without her help. I cannot thank all my friends and co-workers enough for all their help and hard work to make this day the great success it really was!
If you want to see everything, you can go here. (Beware. There are A LOT of pictures, I just uploaded everything I took.)