Drinks

179

Grownup Gingery Arnold Palmer (V)

As I’ve been waxing on about lately, I’m very into the post-work cocktails this summer. Whether I’m mixing them myself¬†or hitting up my favorite Montclair bars, they make boring weekday nights infinitely more tolerable.¬†I was recently gifted a bottle of¬†sweet tea vodka¬†and ooooh man it is yummy. Upon receiving said bottle, the first thing I did was sniff it: to my surprise it actually smelled like¬†tea. This was exciting. When I see¬†flavored¬†liquor, it pretty immediately calls to mind those horrifying electric-hued¬†bottles claiming to taste “just like pop-tarts/mint chocolate chip ice cream/marshmallow fluff.” I once had to endure a truly horrifying shot of birthday cake-flavored vodka, which, if you know anything about my penchant for desserts, was insulting on so very many levels. While I know this is not always the case with flavored liquors, I’m often wary. So imagine my joy upon taking that first sip and being greeted by a very real tea taste. Let’s also note the joy that comes with getting a present out of nowhere. Presents are f u n. Even more fun when they are alcohol-oriented. Because that means the gift-giver is immediately entitled to a cocktail.

The first drink I made with the vodka was a simple minty/tea (or should I get cute and say “min-tea”) Moscow mule –which I’ve just learned is also known as a Vodka buck (?????)– because I had ginger beer and lime and a plethora¬†of fresh mint. And a mule mug¬†(I’m hoping to build my collection of these and julep cups once I have a kitchen of my own.) I’m a pretty big fan of the Moscow mule. It’s spicy and tart and bubbly. It also calls to mind this gem, which just makes me giggle. So that was a good place to spend the first few ounces of the vodka. But I knew that the next time I used it I wanted to make up my own drink. Since few things feel more summery to me than a tall glass of lemonade or iced tea, I thought a thought I often think: let’s add alcohol to it. And I’m pretty sure I did alright. Thank you, alcohol. You be the judge, mmk?

But before you do, here’s some stuff that’s been occupying my time on the internet lately:

Alison Roman‘s drink diary on Punch Drink

I think I like tomatoes now that I’ve seen this salad on A Brown Table

Cherry pie and “women’s work” on Paste

The blood and sand cocktail (which tastes like neither blood nor sand) gets even better when blended on Serious Eats

Sprouted Kitchen is killing it as per usual with this roasted banana coconut ice cream helllllllo

French fry toppings of the world (and some pretty sweet graphics) on Lucky Peach

Saveur is taking me back to the retro origins of this blog and also reminding me that I could survive on dips for the rest of my life (also happy 21st birthday, Saveur!)

Porridge and a man bun in one glorious post on What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today yes yes all the yes

Let me eat all 13 of these beautiful vegetable things right this minute, thank you Grub Street for putting them in one handy post

OKAY now let’s have a cocktail!

Palmer (serves 1)

1/2-inch piece fresh ginger
1 shot sweet tea vodka
1 shot elderflower liqueur
1/2 shot fresh lemon juice
lemon peel

Muddle ginger in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with a generous amount of ice. Add vodka, elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice. Shake well (20 seconds should do the trick!) Strain into a coupe/martini glass. Rub the lemon peel around the rim of the glass, then float it on top as garnish. Alternatively: muddle the ginger and add the liquids. Stir well and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass, doing the same with the lemon peel as mentioned earlier.

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Book Review, Drinks

177

Mint Julep [from The Art of American Whiskey] (V)

There’s something about summer that makes cocktail hour come sooner and last longer. You step out of work, walk into a pub, and order a beer at 5:03 and no one thinks anything of it; in fact, you’re not the first one to arrive– not by a long shot. You walk into a bar on a Tuesday night and you have to squeeze in between the hipsters to get a seat. No one looks at you funny for ordering a second watermelon tequila smash. Or a third. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’ve been getting very into making festive post-work cocktails lately, so just stay tuned.

Don’t tell anyone, but I think I like developing cocktail recipes more than food ones. Flavor combinations are more delicate. There is the finest line between a good cocktail and a¬†great¬†cocktail. Sure, I can throw a shot of this and two fingers of that and some muddled fruit in a highball glass and it’ll be pretty darn good. Add a squeeze of lime and maybe it’ll be really good. But a great cocktail needs no embellishment, save for a few herbs or citrus peel. Which brings me to my next point: the mint julep.

No, no, I did not invent the mint julep (duh,) but I am using it as a benchmark for my cocktail developing from now on. It’s so simple, but tastes truly amazing. It seriously makes me want to forget the time in my life when I thought a good cocktail was cheap rum mixed with cream soda. Oooof. Anyway, I’ve been digging¬†bourbon lately. Like, having-a-nightly-glass kind of digging¬†it. And when Noah Rothbaum‘s new book, The Art of American Whiskey¬†arrived at my doorstep a few weeks ago, I knew I was about to dive into a full-on love affair. Whiskey is rad. We all know it. Even if you don’t like the taste of it, you know it’s pretty cool. I’ve met many people who claim to be whiskey aficionados –the amount of times I’ve had to listen to mansplaining about which scotch is superior makes my head hurt– but Noah¬†actually knows his stuff. He travels¬†his way through history chapter by chapter, starting with “The Late 1800s and Early 1900s,” “Prohibition,” and “Life After Temperance;” all the way up to “The Swinging Sixties,” “The Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties, aka the Dark Ages,” and “The New Golden Age” (right now.)¬†He details political and economic implications behind whiskey (and liquor in general) during the various decades, as well as how the drinks fit into the social climate of the times. Each chapter¬†features cocktail recipes from various contributors that were originally developed during the corresponding time period. Along the way, he includes¬†images of label art of the top 100 iconic whiskey bottles– easily my favorite part of the book. The recipes take a bit of a backseat to the historical notes, but that didn’t bother me as much as I thought it was going to after the first chapter. It’s definitely¬†much more of a coffee table book than a standard cookbook, but¬†that shouldn’t dissuade you from picking up a copy. Grab the book, make a cocktail, then enjoy it while you read and work your way towards becoming a¬†whiskey buff.

The mint julep hails from the 1800s, and was originally made with the grape-based brandy cognac. But when cognac stock was depleted from pests attacking European grape crops, bartenders were forced to switch to whiskey and gin. I made¬†a¬†julep with cognac after the real thing and it just doesn’t hold up. Try it yourself and see what you think!

Mint Julep (from The Art of American Whiskey, contributed by Allen Katz; makes 1 cocktail)

8 fresh mint leaves + sprig for garnish
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 1/2 ounces bourbon

Muddle¬†mint, sugar, and a small amount of crushed ice in a julep cup (I don’t have one, but¬†this one¬†is now on my wish¬†list. If you don’t have one either, a highball glass or mason jar work just fine.) Add more crushed ice to fill half the cup, then add the bourbon. Stir until the cup becomes frosty, then add more ice to fill the cup all the way to the top. Garnish with mint and drink with a straw (that crushed ice gets everrrrrrywhere.)

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Drinks

174

Tahini Date Shake (V, GF)

If you didn’t already know, I’m a big tahini fan. It’s basically¬†grownup peanut butter and it just adds something a little more special¬†to recipes that call for nut butters. Now, I’m not quite ready to whip up any tahini and jelly sandwiches, but I’m very into adding spoonfuls of it to cookie dough, dressing, hot chocolate, and smoothies/shakes! Since it’s now officially summer, I think it’s high time to spend any free moments sitting outside and drinking cold drinks. And that often means cool and creamy tahini shakes. Basically a milkshake for breakfast everybody, get excited! I’ve made a pact with myself to take¬†fifteen minutes every morning to drink one of these (or these) and read a few pages of very important literature¬†and not think about anything else. And then those precious minutes are over and it’s back to writing cover letters and freelance article pitches and crying being excited by the challenge of not knowing what’s ahead.

In other news, Emily and I are currently up to our ears in blue¬†frosting and chocolate chili cupcakes because we got a catering gig! And I must admit, getting paid to chop cilantro and whip buttercream and marinate shrimp is not at all a bad thing. In fact, it kinda really rocks. So general announcement, if you ever are in the market for someone else to make your food for you, drop me a line here because we’re a bargain and the food is slammin, if I do say so myself. And now for some links that made me smile:

A breakfast sandwich crawl sounds like my kind of adventure.

Goals

Food52 featured my Minty Orange Gimlet in a cocktail roundup to toast summer hooraaaay~

Co-owner of Tartine Chad Robertson’s ideas for the future: eco-robotic bread baking. ‚ÄúYou can source your grain from a regional economy, you can fresh-mill it, and you can bake 20,000 loaves using robots.‚ÄĚ yes ok.

The other owner of Tartine (incidentally, Robertson’s wife) Liz Prueitt has some pretty fucking fantastic things to say about women who want to work and have a family and not be questioned about how they “do it all.” She does not mention robots.

I can’t stop watching this video idk idk idk.

O’Neill’s rant about red velvet cake on OITNB was probably the funniest thing that’s ever happened on the show.

Someone buy me tickets to the Saveur cookout for my birthday even though my birthday isn’t for five months plz?

ps- Happy Father’s Day to any dads out there! So glad mine was happy to take me back in after graduation (although I have a sneaking suspicion it’s mostly because I make dinner every night…)

Shake (serves 1)

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup date water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pitted deglet noor dates
1/2 frozen banana
ice
1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional, for added energy boost)
1 shot rum or kahlua (also optional, you might not want to have it for breakfast with this addition) 

Soak the dates in hot water for ten minutes and chia seeds in warm water for five. Combine everything in a blender and really let it rip for a while to break up the dates (unless you’re super lucky and own a Vitamix, in which case the whole thing will take about 20 seconds.) Consume solo or with your favorite breakfast cookies (pictured: Laura Wright‘s Ultimate Breakfast Cookies!)


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Drinks

169

Coffee Ice Old Fashioned (V)

So yesterday I had my last classes at Smith. The final ten minutes of my very last class consisted of listening to people read a scene from the short play I’ve been working on this semester. I’ve written a lot of short scenes before, for this course and when I took playwriting I two years ago, but I’ve never done a fuller-length piece. I wanted to actually commit to something this semester. I wanted to make something that wasn’t food or a drawing, because I’ve made a whole lot of those and it’s time to try new things already! I wrote a 37-page play, and apparently it was not bad at all! Spoiler: I’m very self-conscious about my writing. About my place as a person who does any academic work, honestly. I guess I know the source of that problem, and I probably shouldn’t let it get to me, but that’s not a story for the blog- at least not today, anyway. This is a meandering way of commenting on how pleasantly surprised I was to hear people laugh at the lines I wrote to be funny; to hear someone actually refer to one of my characters’ actions from a scene read earlier this semester; to listen to my professor’s encouraging comments about words I wrote for the sole purpose of just making something. It was kind of a beautiful way to finish my work here. #feelings, amirite? Class ended and I left the theatre building (geesh, how many times have I done that this year?) and had one of those weird moments where I stopped and realized that was it. I’m done. Okay, technically, I still have to write five more pages of a paper and finish up a few other things, but really, I’m done. Done with college.¬†I honestly don’t know whether to cry with joy or genuine fear. Mostly it doesn’t feel real at all. So while I’m figuring out how to feel about the fact that I graduate in -count ’em- seventeen days and then find my way back to Jersey, let’s talk about this cocktail I made last night.

If you’ve been a reader of Spices and Spatulas for a while, you’re well aware of the fact that I’m a big fan of coffee. A true caffiend, as I’ve mentioned. While deep down I know that the best way to start the morning is with a big glass of water, I never do it. If I don’t have coffee within the first 15 minutes of being awake, I start to get a little grumpy. If I don’t have more later in the day, I’ll start to get a really terrible headache. Which, honestly, is actually probably really bad and I should work on weaning myself off it a bit. But that day is not today. Today, we will be putting coffee in liquor (again) and everyone will be buzzing out of their skin and it’ll be delicious. PS-¬†I know the brown ice isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but just accept it; it tastes AMAZING. Also, yes, I did I fact use a $1 nip of Jim Beam because I am classy.

Cocktail (serves 1)

3 coffee ice cubes (see below)
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 ounces Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
2 dashes bitters
orange slice

Make the coffee ice cubes:¬†Brew a strong pot of coffee and let it cool to room temperature. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. If you’re really on your cocktail game you should make them in this tray; much prettier than the tiny ice. You’ll only need 3 for this drink, so throw the rest in a freezer bag and to cool iced coffee without it getting watery! (and maybe make yourself a frozen mocha¬†or throw a few into a milkshake.)

Make the cocktail: Put a¬†rocks glass in the freezer.¬†Dissolve the brown sugar in 1 tablespoon water and set aside. Remove the glass from the freezer and place¬†3 coffee ice cubes in the bottom of it. Pour the sugar mixture over the ice, then do the same with the Bourbon/Rye and bitters. Swirl it all together and garnish with an orange slice, adding a little extra squeeze of juice if you so choose. Sip slowly for a mellow but intense buzz, sip fast if you’re tryna get weird. Either way, you just got a bit¬†closer to being¬†this guy.

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Drinks

159

Negroni (V, GF)
+ Food-Themed Valentines

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope you’re¬†all looking forward to spending today with someone¬†you¬†love (Netflix totally counts right?)¬†Regardless of who or what you’re planning to hang with today, it is without a doubt you’ll be in need of a stiff cocktail at some point. So of course, I’m going to share a red drink to stay on theme. It’s a Negroni, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite cocktails. It’s simple and elegant, but packs a punch..it is allll liquor. I love ordering them at different places, as every bartender makes their Negroni¬†a little differently. But I also really am a fan of making this cocktail at home. The 1:1:1 ratio couldn’t be simpler, and the orange peel really knocks it out of the park.

Not to get too sappy, but I am so happy that you all read my blog. You’re my Valentines this year. I wanted to give every reader a Valentine because there are so many amazing food blogs, and any time you spend reading mine instead of the billions of others is so appreciated. I obviously had to find something food related, and in my search I discovered that apparently there are many¬†vintage valentines involving hot dog puns (??) and a lot of food with faces. Pretty cute stuff, guys. Just fyi, I don’t own any of these images, but I do think they’re adorable and I wanted to share them in a handy way so I made little Valentine sheets! Click¬†here¬†and¬†here¬†to see them, print a million, and give them out to everyone you know!

Negroni

1 oz gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
orange peel

Add gin, Campari, and vermouth to a cocktail shaker. Give it a good shake and pour into a martini glass or a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with orange peel. Sip many.

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Drinks

157

Clementine Hot Chocolate (GF)

There’s a real-feel temperature of -9 today in Northampton, and it’s pretty much been like this for a while,¬†which obviously¬†means I have a strong(er than usual) craving for hot chocolate on a regular basis. In the summer months, that craving turns into chocolate ice cream, but for right now, I’m sticking with the cocoa. I’ve started making up different recipes, normal and dairy-free; with and without funky additional flavors, to try to find my favorite. The contenders¬†started out rich and heavy: tahini, Nutella, peanut butter, almond butter, coconut cream. While each pot of these spread-based cocoas came out unbelievably decadent, I really couldn’t handle more than half a mug’s worth before having to take a rest. And coming back to room temperature chocolate is not the dream. So I thought, how about extracts? They kick coffee up a notch for sure. And indeed, peppermint hot chocolate was seasonally appropriate in December, and anise cocoa went really well with sugar cookies, but both fell a little flat in terms of a “Go To Recipe”, y’know? Then I started remembering a million years ago, when I used to find those amazing chocolate oranges in my house’s chocolate drawer- yes, we have one of those, no joke. (Also I had no idea these chocolates were still being made until I found that link and am now struggling not to order all of them). The best thing about chocolate oranges was that both flavors complimented each other perfectly, neither canceling out the other. So I think at that moment, I knew orange was the route to take. But of course, I only had clementines in the house at that point and just couldn’t bring myself go to the grocery store to buy one¬†orange, so I figured what the hell; orange, clementine; potato, potahto, and such.

Sometimes, the kitchen gods smile and and give you a hot chocolate recipe that is satisfying enough for dessert, light enough for a mid-morning snack; completely chocolatey, but still exciting and different. Definitely a recipe I will make for years to come. So, with the snow blowing around¬†here for snowpocalypse2015¬†-the first act of which (last Tuesday) seemed to be a bit of a hoax in Northampton, while¬†today’s blizzard feels much more eerie–¬†I can’t think of a better time to make another cup for myself, pray the power doesn’t go out, and share this recipe.¬†Feel free to make it 100% vegan (or 100% not) according your personal preference!

Hot Chocolate (serves 4)

2 cups 2% milk
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp brown sugar
zest of one clementine (or orange)
4 tbsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
water

In a medium saucepan, heat both milks over medium heat. While milk is heating, whisk together all other ingredients in a small bowl. Add tablespoons of water one at time to chocolate mixture until smooth. Add chocolate to milk and heat!

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Drinks

153

Almond Latté (V, GF)  

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This is the time of year where I find myself back in my hometown¬†for about a month: a stretch of time where¬†living out of a suitcase feels¬†ridiculous, but fully unpacking¬†seems unnecessary. So I’ve settled on a happy medium in which every morning I remove everything from the¬†duffle bag and pile it onto my bed. I wear whatever I need to wear, and promptly forget¬†all about it until midnight, when, too sleepy to care,¬†I shove my clothes back into the duffle and move the cat (who has recently claimed my bed as his throne) aside and pass out in whatever free corner I can find. The whole process repeats itself the following morning. I have only been home for two weeks- there’s still¬†time to unpack! I’ll no doubt be saying this until mid-January. Honestly though, who has time to unpack where there is food¬†to be made? More honestly, I have plenty of time, because quite literally, all I’ve been doing since I got here¬†is making cookies. And challah (stay tuned, those of you who have a desire¬†to learn to make or look at many pictures of Jewish honey egg bread).

My favorite part of being home is hands down my proximity to the espresso machine. For years, all we had was one of those shiny stovetop moka pots. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful and made great coffee. But it also required lots of care concerning boiling hot steam and what is known as the “safety release valve”. In my book, this is pretty much a disaster waiting to happen. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of baking tray burns and paring knife/finger lacerations, but those are business as usual if you spend the vast majority of your time in a kitchen. And they’re nothing a little Neosporin and band-aid can’t fix. Which brings me to my next point: have you ever had a steam burn? There is no escape. No amount of ice or crying or bourbon will fix that kind of pain. That is why I experienced true coffee-flavored, pain-free bliss when this bad boy arrived at our doorstep a while back, and I’ve used it religiously every chance I get ever since. The following latt√© is a truly perfect afternoon jolt, even more so when used as a vessel for dunking leftover Christmas cookies. It also makes a great dessert for caffiends like me.¬†Looking for others? Exhibit A. Exhibit B.

Latté

1 shot espresso
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. honey, agave syrup, or sugar (optional)

Heat the almond milk over the stove, in the microwave, or in a milk frother. While that’s happening, pull the espresso shot. Add¬†almond extract, and sweetener (if using) into a mug. Pour the coffee into the mug, then top with milk. Enjoy!

 

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Drinks

152

Egg(less) Nog (V,GF)

Happy end of Hanukkah and merry Christmas Eve to those who celebrate! I think a rainy twenty fourth of December is a perfect time to share a recipe for a fairly time consuming holiday treat: egg nog! Rather, egg(less) nog, as it is vegan. This is the first time I’ve ever experimented with making my own nut milk, and I can now say with absolute certainty I know why it’s so expensive. There’s waiting overnight involved¬†and the end result does not yield nearly as much as one would think. Therefore, I will no longer feel guilty for shelling out an extra three dollars a carton to have my¬†soaked almonds/cashews/what have you squeezed for me. Now, that’s a statement of privilege if I ever heard one, amirite? Regardless, I’ve recently been reading some pretty scary articles about the ethical implications of milk (which is not news, as you can see from the article dates, but I’m just trying to be more informed). So I’m currently in the process of switching completely over to non-dairy milk, unless I can make it to a farm and watch the milk come from the well-treated cow. Or a world-wide restructuring of the production of milk happens. Y’know, easy and possible things like that. As of right now, I’ve been able to phase out milk in every area except my coffee, where several splashes of 2% make their home on a daily basis. Almond milk is too weak; coconut milk is too rich; most creamers are full of sugar. Complaint complaint complaint. I’m working on it! I’ll figure something out. Still, it was about time I learned to make my own, and when this nog presented itself in the December¬†issue of Bon App√©tit, I knew it was a sign.¬†The original recipe also describes serving the drink with whipped egg whites on top, which I did not do, as I am scared of raw eggs, but feel free to follow the link and try that yourself.

SO, I have listed directions for how to make this drink¬†100% from scratch, and also my suggestions¬†for how to make it a little semi-homemade, because, as I said in my last post, sometimes¬†store bought is fine. I recommend using almond milk -or soy, if you’re into that- because they’re the most common non-dairy milks and therefore the most affordable. Happy holidays!

Nog (from Bon Appétit)

1 c raw cashews

1 c skin-on raw hazelnuts

2 wide strips orange peel

2 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise pods

4 cloves

1 13.5-oz can coconut milk

2 tbsp agave syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 c dark or spiced rum (OR if you’re me, some kind of whiskey) – optional

4 pieces of cheesecloth

Combine cashews and hazelnuts with 4 cups of hot water in a large bowl. Tie the orange peel, cinnamon, anise, and cloves in a piece of cheesecloth, lightly crush spices with a wooden spoon, and place in the nut mixture. Let sit overnight, covering with a lid/plastic wrap after the mixture gets to room temperature.

Remove spice bundle and discard. Blend nut mixture (I had to do mine in two batches) for two minutes. Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Pour nut mixture through sieve and squeeze out as much liquid as possible (this also will be easier if you do it 3-4 times, replacing the cheesecloth each time).

Pour the coconut milk into a separate bowl. Whisk well, until the cream and water are smooth. Add coconut milk to nut milk. Whisk in the agave and vanilla until smooth. Cover and chill for about three hours.

Before serving, whisk up the nog to freshen the froth, then pour into a punch bowl along with your desired liquor. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg!


 

Quick-and-Easy Nog variation (adapted from above)

4 c unsweetened almond milk (I recommend this brand, because they only use less than 2% alternative thickeners- much better than most out there!)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp orange extract

1/4-1/2 tsp anise extract (personal preference)

+ everything listed above (no cheesecloth needed)

Place almond milk, spices, and extracts in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until spices are aromatic. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Follow above instructions starting with the coconut milk.

 

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Breakfasts, Drinks

151

Energizer Smoothie II [veggie edition]
(V, GF)

 

I used to hate to exercise. I’ve always been the person who picked the couch over the treadmill (and with fairly good reason, treadmills kinda suck); I was not a member of any sports teams following the age of nine, after an unfortunate season with the¬†town softball league. Throughout high school and most of college I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the gym: I tried cardio kickboxing, the elliptical machine, the rowing machine, Pilates, “boot camp”, even a treacherous yoga endeavor where I managed to accidentally give myself some kind of semi-serious wrist injury that still hurts four years later. Each of these activities ended somehow: I was¬†bored with staring at red numbers on a screen, it got too cold to walk to the gym, the list goes on.

Something changed this past summer. There was a consistent gnawing in the pit of my stomach. Something that made me feel wobbly and frustrated and disorganized. I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with this feeling and they combat it in various ways. I’ve heard driving can really help, but I while I do technically possess a driver’s license, I’m not what one would call “experienced” behind the wheel. I think the last time I parallel parked was my driving exam; I have yet to drive on a highway outside of rural Vermont. This is a long way of saying that this summer I started running. It was probably one of the best¬†things I’ve done in a while, amid a whole host of unhealthy choices I pretty much consistently make. In all honesty, running is hard.¬†Usually I forget how recently I’ve eaten and start the first ten minutes or so of the run with weird stomach cramps. I definitely broke my toe at one point in July (I honestly don’t know how, I should really wear shoes in my house) and didn’t realize, then ran on it for a while. But other than these tiny issues, running actually feels great. Maybe it’s the wind on my face or the music or the control I feel while speeding (a relative term) down the street.

On Thanksgiving morning¬†I ran an 8K (because apparently runners live in Canada and still use metric?) and I finished the race. It wasn’t about seeing how fast I could go, or to get a big “congratulations!!!” from anyone who heard what I’d done that morning. It was just a thing I did. To see if I could do it. It was exhilarating, and in that moment jumping over the finish line I felt really happy. A huge part of my world kind of crumbled after that day, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about feeling good from a healthy activity. Feeling good from something I do 100% for and with myself, which is actually a tall goddamn order. Can you count more than five things you do for and with yourself that are completely productive? I’m not sure I can. Regardless, every time I finish a run, I kick off my shoes, peel off the six shirts I have to wear to be outside without risking hypothermia -New England in December, anyone?- and make this green smoothie. Whether you’re a runner or a Netflix-watcher or a math major, I guarentee it will make your brain feel good. But¬†if you’re really not into green things, try my first energizer bunny smoothie¬†.

Smoothie (serves 1)

3/4 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or whatever milk you like)

1/4 c pineapple coconut water (I use this)

1 medium frozen banana

1/2 c frozen chopped spinach or 3 spinach ice cubes*

2 tsp date cream, agave syrup, maple syrup, or honey

1/2 tsp ground ginger

If using a normal blender, treat it gently by first blending milk, coconut water, and banana until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and liquify. If you have a Vitamix or Magic Bullet (lucky you) just throw everything in all at once!

* How to make spinach ice cubes: wash a large container of fresh spinach, roughly chop, then place in a blender and liquify. Pour mixture into ice cube trays and freeze completely. Store in a freezer bag pretty much indefinitely.

 

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Drinks

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Minty Orange Gimlet (V, GF)

As I walked to class on Monday night, I realized it was getting dark. Dark.¬†At 7:30 at night. So if going to night class wasn’t depressing enough, it was actually getting kind of cold and windy. Not to mention people were rushing around campus looking stressed because they’d likely spent the weekend at the bar instead of the library finishing that paper due at midnight. School worries aside, and being completely¬†honest, I love fall. It’s my favorite season. Sweaters, pumpkins, crunchy leaves, all that good crap. BUT in order to get there I have to endure the waves of sadness that manifest themselves in setting sun shadows of late September.¬†Does it make sense that I love fall with a passion but can’t stand how the earth gets there? Absolutely not. But that’s the way it goes! And with these precious hours of post-7pm daylight dwindling, so is the time for big frosty cocktails leisurely being sipped in the sun. While I’m as big a fan of mulled cider as the next person, I just can’t shake my true fondness¬†for fresh cocktails.

Spoilers, I did make this drink¬†quite a while ago. On a lazy Sunday I peeled an orange listening to the sounds of grass being mowed through the open window. The syrup boiled and I picked mint from the herb planters in my backyard. As I rinsed the leaves off with the garden hose I heard my little next door neighbors attempts to woo passing cars with 25-cent cups of lemonade. I muddled mint and orange and added gin and then I drank that cocktail¬†on my porch in warm July sun. And then I drank two more and then I fell asleep. Sounds just terrible, doesn’t it? And in case you were wondering, orange simple syrup is pretty much how¬†I imagine rays of summer sunlight would taste if you melted them into a glass. Considering the temperature outside is currently 41 degrees, I could really use the reminder of the cocktail hour that once was. I bet you could too.

 

Gimlet (serves one)

1/2-1 shots orange simple syrup (see recipe below)

1 1/2 shots vodka (or gin)

1/2 shot lime juice

1/4 orange, sliced

mint leaves

seltzer

ice

Make the orange simple syrup and let it cool completely. In the bottom of a glass, muddle sliced orange and mint. In a cocktail shaker combine syrup, lime juice, vodka and ice. Shake well and pour into the glass with muddled orange and mint and fresh ice.

Orange Simple Syrup (from Bon Appetit)

1/2 c cane sugar

Zest from one orange (removed in large strips with vegetable peeler)

Add zest, sugar, and 1/2 c water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let cool; cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Strain syrup into a small jar or bowl. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, tightly covered, for several weeks.

 

 

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