Green Envy

A vibrant cocktail made with herbal gin, dry vermouth, zucchini juice, and celery bitters. These bright, elegant flavors eek out the last of summer’s bounty with a boozy kick. AND, it’s yet another way to use up that wheelbarrow full of zucchini!

Green Envy Gin, Ransom dry vermouth, celery bitters, zucchini juice, tarragon, and a bigass ice cube

Green Envy
Gin, Ransom dry vermouth, celery bitters, zucchini juice, tarragon, and a bigass ice cube

Green Envy

2.5 oz strained zucchini juice

3-4 dashes celery bitters

1 oz Ransom dry vermouth

2 oz Beehive Jackrabbit Gin

tarragon sprig

To a bar glass, add zucchini juice, bitters, vermouth and gin. Stir well with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over a bigass ice cube. Garnish with a tarragon sprig.

The story behind the drink….

This is NOT the side of the fence she's supposed to inhabit.

This is NOT the side of the fence she’s supposed to inhabit.

Every year I get requests from friends on how to use up zucchini, so this is a general H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) response to add one more recipe to the arsenal, y’all. With a boozy cocktail!

This year’s garden situation has been hit-and-miss. My man The Macallan graciously built garden fence version 9.2 to keep the dogs and chickens out (this’d be an annual endeavor that has been unsuccessful every damn year). Sure enough, we get everything up and thriving, then BAM, come some dark August night I go out to investigate rustling in the tomatoes and find one or both of our chocolate Labradors gleefully gobbling down veggies left and right, waging destruction on the tender fruits in their 80 pound wake.

Zucchinipalooza! Fried, casserole-d, and in dense bread that's more like dessert than bread.

Zucchinipalooza! Fried, casserole-d, and in dense bread that’s more like dessert than bread.

We’ve been able to salvage a few baseball bat zucchini that the canine horde missed in their grazing, and I’ve been doing the usual harvest blitz of convincing my family that one of my favorite vegetables should be theirs, too. Zucchini bread’s always a winner, and who doesn’t love anything stuffed with cheese and then tempura battered and deep fried (that’d go for the zucchini blossoms). They are beyond tired of grilled zucchini already, and gave a “meh” vote to the buttery casserole. Whatevs. I will persevere.

Persevere with booze in my glass, anyway. After squeezing the shredded zucchini to release much of the liquid before it goes into the bread batter, I’m left with a few cups of gorgeous vibrant green juice. Sure, I could be all healthy and put it in a smoothie, but I’d rather toss it in a cocktail. The Macallan and I drank a couple of these sitting in the garden while trying to figure out Fence Version 9.3, and finally decided that we’d give up this season and go for full electric badassery next year. And those dogs’d better get their asses in gear for duck season to redeem themselves or they’re gonna be on my shit list for a while. Who am I kidding? They’re adorable and sweet as can be. It’s a good thing they’re so damn cute. And at least they don’t eat the lettuce.

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Basil Mojito

No mint? No problem! Make your Mojito with basil, instead:

Basil Mojito!  Now does that look refreshing or what?

Basil Mojito!
Now does that look refreshing or what?

Basil Mojito

1 oz. gold rum

1 oz. silver rum

0.5 oz Cointreau or triple sec

juice of 1 lime, plus save hull of ½ lime

5-6 basil leaves

1.5 oz basil simple syrup*

3-4 drops lime bitters

2 oz (about) club soda

 

To a tall glass add lime juice, hulls, and 2-3 basil leaves. Muddle until basil is a bit bruised but not black and in a million pieces. Add all remaining ingredients except club soda. Stir with a long spoon to combine. Fill glass with ice, add club soda to rim of glass. Garnish with basil leaves and more lime wedges.

 

*to make basil simple syrup: to a pint mason jar, add 1 cup sugar, and pour over with just less than 1 cup boiling water. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Add 4-5 large basil leaves, and stir again. Add enough ice cubes to almost fill jar. Let sit at room temperature until cool to touch (about 3-4 hours). Remove basil leaves, seal with lid. Will keep in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

 

The story behind the drink…

Don’t y’all love how much credit “The Grillmaster” gets for charring up a bunch of food? Seriously, and this is with completely gender neutral observation: whoever pulls the stuff off the flames usually gets the credit for the meal, even if another partner in the equation spent most of the day butchering, marinating, making side dishes, and harvesting all that damn zucchini out of the garden. To be fair, in our house my man, The Macallan, and I generally share grill duties 50/50. But when it’s regular old cooking in the kitchen it’s a total 1950s marriage, mostly because I’d like our family to see the occasional vegetable on the plate. Though I love him dearly, the man’s specialties are pasta sauce from a jar, Steakums, and fish sticks with tater tots.

 

My therapist and feminist friends here will have a field day on the analysis of this breakdown, but for the most part it works for The Macallan and I, and it has for years. I really do enjoy cooking (the clean up? Not so much). And I love to grill. But so does he, so when the opportunity to pass the tongs comes along, as it does almost every hot weekend night at our casa, I let him at it. Then I make both of us huge honkin’ Mojitos, and I go cozy up in a comfy chair with a good book and let him take the credit. After all, nothing goes with passive-aggressive martyrdom quite like juicing the hell out of limes and plenty of rum.

 

Sugar House Distilling and Beehive Bitters Company did not pay me to use their products for this story. I just think their shit’s really awesome. I was thrilled as punch the guys at SHD hired me to work on the label copy for their rum and other spirits, hence the lovely signatures from their swashbuckling crew on the bottles. If you’re in Salt Lake City, stop by their distillery, take a tour, and buy a bottle or two. They’re good people. 

 

Charred 3 Pepper Ketchup

Charred 3 Pepper Ketchup

Charred 3 Pepper Ketchup

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Guy/Gal, Yeah?) is a recipe request from my boys’ ski coach, Ben, who I don’t know well enough to bestow a liquor nickname, yet. Gimme time.

As some of y’all know from previous posts, both of my boys downhill ski race for the Brighton Ski Team, and race parents spend an inordinate amount of time during the season freezing our asses off huddled under tents in blustery conditions clutching travel mugs of whiskey-spiked coffee. Our team’s parents are also known on the circuit for some pretty spectacular tailgating spreads. My job? Usually I pitch in with Bloody Marys and the condiment bar [which in text messages often gets misspelled ‘condom,’ much to the hilarity of my girlfriends. ‘Cause we’re still 12 maturity-wise]. Last year I canned up three different kinds of mustard and a couple varieties of ketchup, along with the usual assortment of kickass pickles like okra, carrot, dilly beans, mushrooms, peppers, etc. for Bloody Mary garnishes galore.

Ski racing tailgating at Park City this season. This was a particularly lovely bluebird day; perfect for vodka spritzers.

Ski racing tailgating at Park City this season. This was a particularly lovely bluebird day; perfect for vodka spritzers.

Of all this delightful shit, the crowd favorite is hands-down my charred three pepper ketchup [bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and cracked black pepper], which I’ve very loosely adapted over the years from a recipe I found in a home preserving guide. It’s that perfect combo of spicy-sweet-salty that’s more than a little addictive. We smear it liberally on buffalo burgers, dunk sweet potato fries, and it’s guilty indulgence epitomized alongside crispy potato chips. This recipe makes a lot [like, 10-12 cups], so if you are only looking to put it in jars and refrigerate it for a couple of weeks before it turns, I’d cut the quantities by half or a quarter. If you’ll be canning to make it shelf stable using the boiling-water method, keep to the usual rules of health and safety, please. Because botulism.

My son (in the middle) with his racing coaches at Snowbasin this year.

My son (in the middle) with his racing coaches at Snowbasin this year. I know. They’re all ridiculously adorable.

Charred 3 Pepper Ketchup

4 lbs. tomatoes

6 lbs. red bell peppers [about 24]

10-16 red jalapeño peppers

2 large yellow onions, chopped

3  1/2  c. apple cider vinegar

1 c. molasses

2 lbs. dark brown sugar

1 tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 Tbsp. (or more to taste) fresh cracked black pepper

To prep the tomatoes: Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl or clean sink. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dunk the tomatoes in the water until the skins begin to split; remove from the boiling water into the ice bath until just cool enough to touch. Remove the tomatoes to a colander to drain. Peel, core, and crush the tomatoes and keep them in a large clean bowl. No need to be too tidy, all this shit’s going to all get thrown through the blender anyway.

Peppers on the grill getting all charred up.

Peppers on the grill getting all charred up.

To prep the bell and jalapeno peppers: Set gas or charcoal grill to med-high heat. Char peppers on all sides until skins are just starting to blacken and split. Remove to a very large non-reactive bowl or pot; cover steaming peppers with plastic wrap and set aside for about an hour (or until cooled enough to handle). I wear gloves for this next part—ever gotten jalapeño juice into your fingers and then rubbed it in your eyes or other, ahem, sensitive places?—peel off pepper skins, and remove stems and seeds.

To a very large stockpot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the onions are softening and translucent. Remove from the heat and purée with a stick blender [or if using a blender or food processor, do so in small batches so you don’t get hot goo all over yourself and your kitchen]. Return purée to the heat and simmer over low heat until thickened; about 2 hours. Remove from heat.

For preservation and storage:

Refrigerator: Store in clean bowls or jars. Cool, cover, and use within 3 weeks.

Canning: Use the boiling water method. Ladle into clean, hot jars [4 or 8 oz. jars], leaving ¼ inch headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center new lids on the jars and screw on jar bands until hand tight. Process for 15 minutes [that’s for sea level; add additional time for your elevation. For SLC process for 21 minutes total time]. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the canner for an additional 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside at room temp for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

The MacHattan

Here’s an Irish-American twist on that New York classic, the Manhattan, made in the drier style of a Perfect Manhattan. A Manhattan crossed with a Tipperary Cocktail, y’all. Yum! 

The MacHattan

The MacHattan

The MacHattan Cocktail

To a bar glass with ice chunks add:

1 dash orange bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

1/2 oz. Chartreuse

1/2 oz. sweet vermouth

2 oz. Irish whiskey

Stir, stir, stir with ice using a bar spoon for about 50 revolutions. Strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with a lime zest.

The story behind the drink…

Over the weekend, our family celebrated our 21st annual St. Patrick’s Day Bash. What started out over 20 years ago as a bunch of wild land firefighters and field biologists drinking whiskey in our cabin smack dab  in the middle western Washington’s nowhere has morphed a lot over the years. In the early iterations, guests were free to bring their dogs along for the festivities, as long as they didn’t drink all the Guinness. When we lived in Boston while my hubster was in graduate school, we had crazy late ragers with all kinds of guests; one year we suspect there was an actual leprechaun in attendance. Okay, maybe we stereotyped, however, if you’re a redheaded 5’0″ man with a neck tattoo of a feckin’ shamrock that covers an area from ear to collar, you’re just asking for it. We had one disastrous year of dog/baby overlap, then had to Ix-nay the canines. Y’all won’t be surprised to hear that later the toddlers and primary school aged kiddos proved to be even more shitty guests than the dogs.

From Beehive Distilling's Instagram feed. Love y'all! Everyone's a little Irish at our fest.

From Beehive Distilling’s Instagram feed. Love y’all! Everyone’s a little Irish at our fest.

This year we made it a ‘no kids’ party. Sure, there were fewer guests in attendance overall, but my stress factor was practically cut in half not having to entertain the little bastards. And feedback from our guests was all about the keeping it this way for a while, at least until the kids are old enough to be designated drivers. I didn’t have the space or time to mix MacHattan cocktails for the masses, but our friends cleared out three cases of Guinness, and 7 bottles of Irish whiskey [and no, we don’t serve green beer. We’re grown-ups, and that shit’s disgusting]. Guests knowing about our “only Irish beverages provided” rule brought their own bottles of wine, whiskey, and beer beyond number. We even had our local friends from Beehive Distilling stop by and they nudged a bottle of gin onto the bar. It magically disappeared rather quickly! Y’all are sneaky like that. Here’s my favorite Irish toast to you:

That those who love us love us well. And those that don’t, may God turn their ankles so we may know them by their limping!

Wild Goose Chorizo with tequila and pork

Chorizo made with wild Canada goose, pork, and tequila. Awesome for Taco Tuesdays!

Chorizo made with wild Canada goose, pork, and tequila. Awesome for Taco Tuesdays!

I know, usually I write about what I’m drinking, but this is one of those domestic badassery moments that my friends Cosmopolitan and Pink Lady always request I share with all y’all. I think its the chronic mess and mayhem factor of my life they find so amusing. Here’s to you, girlfriends!

Early morning decoy setup.

Early morning decoy setup.

The week before Christmas our family went on a waterfowl hunt near Ft. Collins, Colorado with badass hunting guide and hilarious human Tad Stout from Good Times Guide Service. My husband hunts with Tad a few times a year, often with clients for “work” [ahem], and our boys have gone along on a handful of hunts. This was my second time in their blind with the guys, but this year was a first for me and for my 10-year-old son to be active shooters. Although the weather didn’t cooperate for optimal goose hunting—only waterfowl hunters and skiers bitch about the weather being too warm and sunny—we still hauled in several geese, a handful of ducks, and during mid-day downtime the boys nailed some fat rabbits.

Making friends in the duck blind. Good dog, Lad!

Making friends in the duck blind. Good dog, Lad!

Yes, friends, you may have caught that little scheduling fact on the first read-through: the week before Christmas. Who in the hell plans a gear-intensive hunting trip with the kids AND dogs along, especially when the family expects the usual holiday hoopla? Well, apparently my husband does. AND, my in-laws were arriving from out of town the morning after we get back, which also happened to be my birthday. In addition to our house looking like fucking Cabelas had exploded out of the laundry room and all over the garage, I still had to finish cleaning up [our guide Tad did the up-front dismembering grunt work, thankyoubabyJesus] and prepping for the freezer the meat from eight geese, five ducks, and four rabbits, plus Tad very generously sent us home with two additional gallon freezer bags full of goose breast meat. But I still had to get it all done, done, done. Over Christmas. Cleaned up the rabbits [they were a mess, since they boys hunted ‘em with shotguns], into the freezer. BAM. Cleaned up the duck meat, went as-is into the freezer. Ka-POW.

Nice haul, guys!

Nice haul, guys!

Started the sausage-making process for my usual parade of goose charcuterie in hog casings: an Italian-style red wine sausage, Andouille with moonshine to pop in the smoker [a story for another day], and a garlic and sage-forward breakfast sausage. Hot Damn. By the time I’d gotten through all of those, I was so damn tired of cleaning out hog casings and sanitizing the stuffer yet another time—during Christmas— I went for my loose goose raw sausage fallback: chorizo.

I love chorizo. It’s the perfect blend of smoke, heat, and meat with just enough fat to keep things a little naughty. Whether first thing in the morning alongside some soft scrambled eggs and flour tortillas, or in place of ground beef or venison in tacos or chili, it’s all good. I’ve seen it sold in uncooked sausage links, in smoked links, and without casings, but it’s actually a pretty simple example of charcuterie to make at home for most cooks with basic equipment. Chorizo has become my go-to staple for the last few pounds of game meat—antelope, goose, whatever—that I’m not quite sure what to with and am in no mood to get out the sausage stuffer and set up the whole curing set-up: I just grind up the game with some pork fat, a heavy hand with the spice, and a splash of tequila, and it all gets portioned up raw and sealed for the freezer in under an hour. Done and done, friends. A little glug of tequila blanco in the chorizo, a big glug with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt for mama’s glass, and everyone’s happy. And we did end up having a very lovely Christmas, in spite of the Cabelas laundry overload and a kitchen full of butchering equipment.

I love this grinder! No more pushing the KitchenAid to its limits.

I love this grinder! No more pushing the KitchenAid to its limits.

This recipe is adapted loosely from the chorizo recipe in Michael Ruhlman & Bryan Polcyn’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. Like with most of the game sausage I make, I add quite a bit of pork shoulder, butt, and backfat for flavor and texture, since wild game is so lean and tends to get dry and crumbly without the added fat. For a gazillion reasons, please consider buying your pork [and hell, beef, lamb, chicken, eggs, whatevs] from a small local producer with responsible animal husbandry practices. I get my pork from Utah Natural Meat. Check ‘ em out; they’re doing delicious work. Any good white [unaged] tequila will do; I used Utah-owned VIDA tequila for this batch [yum for sausage, and for cocktails!].

Wild Goose Chorizo with tequila and pork

[makes about 5 pounds]

2 ½ lbs. goose meat, cleaned and trimmed

1 ½ lbs. pork shoulder

1 lb. pork backfat

1 ½ oz. kosher salt [3 Tbs.]

2 Tbs. ancho chile powder

1 Tbs. smoked paprika

1 Tbs. chipotle chile powder

1 Tbs. finely minced garlic

1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. ground cumin

¼ cup tequila blanco, chilled in freezer

2 ½ Tbs. red wine vinegar, chilled in freezer

Method: cut up all goose meat and pork shoulder into 1” cubes, and pork fat into ½” or smaller dice [this will ensure good even grinding]. Combine meat with all of the remaining ingredients except for tequila and vinegar. Cover and keep chilled until ready to grind [I like to wait at least 24 hrs for flavors to develop].

A little VIDA tequila blanco for the chorizo. A good sized glug goes in Mama's glass, of course!

A little VIDA tequila blanco for the chorizo. A good sized glug goes in Mama’s glass, of course!

Before grinding, set grinder parts and collection bowl in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Grind the entire mixture through the small die of the grinder into a bowl set in ice. Immediately add the chilled tequila and vinegar, and mix thoroughly with the paddle attachment of a stand mixture or put some muscle behind using a sturdy wooden spoon. Keep mixing until the mixture has developed a uniform, sticky appearance [this means all of the fat is well-distributed].

If you want to adjust seasoning, take a pinch of sausage and sauté it in a skillet until cooked through and then taste.

The guys got me one of these fab vacuum sealer dohickies for my birthday. I'm sealing EVERYTHING now. Even if it doesn't need it. Just 'cause it's So. Fun.

The guys got me one of these fab vacuum sealer dohickies for my birthday. I’m sealing EVERYTHING now. Even if it doesn’t need it. Just ’cause it’s So. Fun.

Portion the chorizo into freezer storage bags, remove all air, and freeze or refrigerate immediately.

Disclaimer: Good Times Guide Service, Utah Natural Meat, and VIDA Tequila did not pay me to say these great things about their services and products. I just think they’re wonderful.

A Killer Vesper

A Killer Vesper

A Killer Vesper

Killer Vesper

To a bar glass filled with cracked ice add:

3 oz. gin

1 oz. vodka

0.5 oz. Lillet blanc.

Stir, stir, stir with a bar spoon for a full minute. Strain into a chilled martini or large coupe glass. Some people prefer a champagne flute. Whatever. Garnish with a long zest of ruby red grapefruit peel. Now, go kick some ass like James Bond.

I had an excellent Vesper recently at Provisions, a restaurant that opened a couple of months ago and for which I wrote a piece for my gig at cityhomeCOLLECTIVE. Their barman Giancarlo Farina makes his with a lovely lemon dust. I went for a long sexy twirl of grapefruit zest to bring out the citrusy backbone of the gin, and to punch up the floral notes of the Lillet.

The story behind my drink:

Y’all. I got so much shit done last week: wrote three articles, took and edited photos for two of ‘em, finished butchering and making three kinds of sausage from our recent waterfowl hunt, and removed all lingering remains of Christmas from the household [there are still lights outside—it’s not redneck until after January 31, right?—but that’s The Macallan’s territory of domestic upkeep. Not touching it, or I’ll end up mowing grass and running the sprinkler system this Spring]. Feeling pretty good about kickin’ ass and taking names, for real. Then, my editor at another gig gave the big thumbs down to a shitload of photos I’d done for a story [she loved the story, just not the photos. FML.], and I started feeling all “woe is meeeee,” and my self-esteem plummeted, and y’all know what I’m talking about, right? I was questioning my professional abilities and considered bankrupting myself to buy a truckload of camera equipment and editing software and all kinds of other random-ass tech to get back in the game.

And then my ever-practical hubby pointed out the obvious to me, “You can’t do everything well.” WTF? Of course I can! Damn it, no, and gah! I hate when he’s right. I really can’t. No one can do everything perfectly, at least if they’re being honest with themselves. Truth: I love writing and am usually pretty damn good at nailing a story. I make delicious eats for my family and friends, and can throw together a fan-freaking-tastic cocktail, if I do say so myself. I’m an A+ mom, much of the time, and a supportive friend. And, yeah, I’m a hack photographer for the most part; if the object is sitting still and I control the lighting—like for food or drinks—I’m competent. But I suck at taking photos in the big frame: people, landscapes, interior spaces, the big picture. I just can’t seem to make it click [heh heh]. Now, The Macallan may have been pushing the self-reflection so that we could afford a bigger truck instead of bigger camera lenses [not putting it past him], but he made his point, and I’m back on the “go me!” bandwagon after a couple of hours of mood swings. Yes, this whole manic freak-out bit happened in the space of an afternoon.

Not a Utah pour: full sized Vesper with 3 oz gin, 1 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Lillet, stirred with grapefruit zest garnish.

Not a Utah pour: full sized Vesper with 3 oz gin, 1 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Lillet, stirred with grapefruit zest garnish.

So, I mixed up a full version [that’d be NOT a Utah-regulated 1.5 oz pour] of the Ian Fleming classic, a Vesper, to celebrate the kick-assedness of my week and my little bout of mental health growth. I even mixed it up with booze brands I’ve gotten to know really well after writing about them: Beehive Distilling’s Jack Rabbit Gin, and Sugar House Distilling vodka.* After all James Bond occasionally ran away from a fight he couldn’t win. In the meantime, I’ll work on the photography skills and stick to my budget [of course I bought one new lens. Sheesh, I don’t have that much willpower]. Fewer lenses in my book means more cash for better booze. Screw the bigger truck.

*No, neither of these brands paid me to write about their products. I just really like their stuff.

Filthy Farmgirl – a harvest hot toddy!

The Filthy Farmgirl

The Filthy Farmgirl

I don’t know about y’all, but harvest has been dragging out forever around here, with our first hard frost just coming on just this week. Seems like we usually have snow in Salt Lake valley well before Halloween, so this Autumn has been a warm one. Instead of being able to stagger out the fruit and vegetable canning, then the hunt processing, this year’s harvest hit me all at once. I’ve been butchering the two (two!) mule deer the guys brought in from this year’s hunt, and of course bringing in all the garden veggies before frost. I have loads of tomatoes I still need to sort to ripen, and a bumper crop of tomatillos and green ‘maters I should pickle, fry, and salsa-fy verde style.

Until I get all that done, I’m going to enjoy a nice warm toddy to celebrate fall in all its glory. Hope y’all do, too.

The Filthy Farmgirl

To a heavy 5-6 oz. mug, add:

2 oz. bourbon

1 heaping Tbs.. sorghum or molasses

juice of ½ lemon

a generous pinch of smoked sea salt (I used Durango smoked salt)

a dash of cayenne pepper

Stir with a cinnamon stick until the sorghum is completely combined into the other liquids. Slowly pour in 2 oz. of hot (not boiling) water, and stir again.

 

Enjoy with a good book, and look forward to getting a sustainable manicure in another few weeks – we’ve still got plenty of pickling and sausage-making ahead!