Archive for March 2014

Book Review: An Everlasting Meal - Cooking with Economy and Grace

The last couple of months I've felt as if I'd lost control over dinner.  Meal plans were made and then broken. Lists were written and items purchased, but most perished. Intentions were set...

Well you get the idea. After reading about Tracy's approach to prepping for the week and her recommendation for "An Everlasting Meal - Cooking with Economy and Grace" by Tamar Adler, I immediately placed an order.

"An Everlasting Meal" is a collection of essays about cooking and taking the time to truly relish each meal. Relishing each meal so much that you stretch that meal into the next. Tamar reminds you to pause in your busy day and simply enjoy your meal. She has a way with words that has me craving a simple pot of beans drizzled with olive oil and a hearty slice of bread.
"There are times when I can't bear to think about cooking. Food is what I love, and how I communicate love, and how I calm myself. But sometimes, without knowing why, it is drained of all that." 
After reading that paragraph, I couldn't help but feel more connected to the author. This book was exactly what I needed to rekindle my love with the process of cooking. I recommend it for anyone wanting to rethink their approach to cooking.

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The Man Cave, AKA the Bourbon Bunker

Since moving into our apartment, we have struggled with finding the best use for our second bedroom. It is not quite big enough for a true guest room, so we had a desk in there for a while to use as a home office. Needless to say we still set up shop at the dining table.

I finally decided that Keith deserved one room that was just for him. My original goal was to have a room where he could spend time with a good book and a dram. Well, the new plan has only half worked. The room came together as I had envisioned. However, rather than a place to cozy up with a book, it's become a very stylish storage room for the bourbon.

Organizing the bunker became all the more crucial when I learned about the new bottles from Smooth Ambler that would need a home. I'm coming to terms with the fact that all three book cases will soon house nothing but bourbon. Thankfully, I have time to strategize about a new home for our library.

Wine cellars are so last year. Bourbon bunkers are all the rage these days. Wait, no? Just my house?

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Friday Cocktails: Sage & Pear Highball

Remember a while back, when I introduced you to the bourbon highball. At the time, I explained how it's my drink of choice following a long day. It required little - bourbon and ginger ale. Two beverage selections that I always have on hand.

After seeing a couple of cocktail combinations  pop up that involved sage and pears, I started thinking that it might be time to tweak and improve a good ol' standby. What if we muddled a few sage leaves and added a new complex sweetness from pear nectar? Yeah, it'll make your tastebuds sing.

Sage & Pear Highball

3-4 fresh sage leaves, more if they're on the smaller side
2 oz pear nectar
4 oz. bourbon
ginger ale

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the sage leaves. Then add ice, the pear nectar and bourbon. Shake well. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top off with ginger ale. Garnish with a sage leave.


p.s. You could also substitute a quarter of a pear, sliced. If you do, muddle them with the sage and then follow the next steps.

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Sammy Update

Sammy has been home from Radio Cat for about two weeks now and is no longer considered radio active. Longest two weeks! Who knew not being able to cuddle with this little purr baby would be so stressful? She's definitely like any sick kiddo who wants to do nothing but snuggle up with her mama when she doesn't feel well. 

Unfortunately, we won't know if everything was a complete success for at least two and half months. However, she hasn't experienced any of the big warning signs like lack of appetite, lethargy, etc. that would have us on high alert. In about two weeks, we head in for our first follow up appointment to learn where her T4 levels are. Fingers crossed that they are moving downward and her kidneys are functioning as they should. 

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New Additions to the Bourbon Bunker, Smooth Ambler

The still at Old Scout.
Back in December, I was lucky enough to travel to Maxwellton, West Virginia to visit the Smooth Ambler distillery. The purpose of the trip was to select a barrel or two (we actually picked three) and establish a relationship with the proprietors, John and John. The Johns were incredibly generous with their time--they spent several hours taking us through their rick houses and explaining their approach to the business. Best of all, they let us taste as many barrels of whiskey as we wanted.

One of their two rick houses.
Smooth Ambler has taken a unique approach to the business. They are distilling their own juice, but everything (with the exception of the Yearling) bottled so far is from the LDI distillery (now MPGI) in Indiana. They are completely forthright with the source of their juice, which is refreshing in an industry not known for its honesty. Their oldest juice produced in house is nearing four years old and the exciting news is that it is a wheated bourbon! They plan to release it when it's ready--they've done an adequate job establishing solid lines of revenue, so there is no need to rush it to market.

The rick house holding the juice
distilled on-site.
 As I said, the Johns let us taste at least 15 samples--it could have been more--of the sourced bourbon and rye of various ages. I'm not a huge fan of LDI's rye, but if you've not had their bourbon, get yourself some Old Scout, because it is damn good. We ended up choosing three barrels: one seven year old, one eight year old and one ten year old. Smooth Ambler will bottle at barrel proof, which is a nice touch. The Johns were really fun to work with--at one point we were sort of lukewarm on a couple of samples so one of the Johns ran out and got several more for us to taste.

The bourbons are schedule to arrive this month and I can't wait to post tasting notes. All three of our picks were complete winners, but I'm most excited about the eight year old as it was my favorite of the line up.

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