CREATIVE NEWS, PARTNER LINKS AND JUST REALLY COOL THINGS TO CHECK OUT! MAY 2, 2016

CREATIVE NEWS AND HAPPENINGS FROM AROUND SALEM 

Shell shocked - PEM CONNECTED BLOG

Eliza’s room faces East and overlooks a corner of the garden. In the morning the small bedroom catches and magnifies sunlight spectacularly. The dresser mirror, starched white bed linens and dappled wallpaper all work in concert.

On the fireplace mantle is a collection of seashells, lined up in a row like a small herd of elephants, just as Eliza might have arranged them nearly 200 years ago.

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Sneaky Tequila by KC

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FOREVERXXXIX

I survived my early May events.  Hooray!  Now I am ready to move on, and experiment with something different.

The theme for the rest of the month is peach and pineapple.  I feel that these are great flavors as we go from spring to summer – something light and subtly tropical.

The first drink of the month is the Sneaky Tequila.  I have no idea why it is called “sneaky” – I suspect it is because it is sneakily very alcoholic or that the taste of tequila is sneaky (in that you don’t taste it much).

The original recipe came from here.  A “part” in mixology terms can be whatever you want it to be.  Nine ounces of liquor seemed to be a large quantity for me to consume (I was mixing this up on a Sunday night, after all) so I improvised.  I put 40 mL tequila, 40 mL coconut rum, 10 mL peach schnapps, 30 mL of cranberry juice, and 30 mL of pineapple juice into a cocktail shaker with ice.  (I will note that I got to try out my new Mother’s Day gift, which was a nice Boston shaker – that was fun!)  Shake well and pour into a highball or Collins glass – you may want to add more ice.  Garnish with a cherry, because it’s Mother’s Day.  A hearty slice of pineapple would be nice too, but I didn’t have it on hand.  Oh well, next time.

This is good, light, sweet and refreshing.  I ended up adding quite a bit more than the recommended “splash” of juices, so I could have two without getting sleepy.  I suppose it will be worth recreating with the recommended proportions of alcohol….another day.  For today, it was the perfect ending to an amazing Mother’s Day.

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Spring Celebration Cocktails Pt. I and II by KC

Learn more about FOREVERXXXIX on her blog. 

PART I - HUMMINGBIRD AND RASPBERRY LIMONCELLO PROSECCO COOLER

I am in spring celebration mode, as many of you might be – graduations, Mother’s Day, or just brunch with family and friends. Of course, every celebration calls for a festive beverage. I am in the midst of preparing for my big boy’s First Communion. The whole family will arrive in two weeks and they will hope for (or, perhaps, expect) a drink. This is my inspiration for the month’s experiments.  So far I have tried The Hummingbird and the Limoncello Raspberry Prosecco Cooler.

The Hummingbird is a classic cocktail. Fill a tall Collins glass with ice and add 2 oz of Champagne or dry sparkling wine, 1 ½ oz. St. Germain, and 2 oz. club soda. Stir together. Garnish with a lemon twist if desired.

This is light, the bubbles are fun and celebratory. I LOVE St. Germain but I feel like it is missing something.  I would like to experiment a little more with this one – maybe add in a little lemon or lime juice, or try a rose champagne.  I’ll keep you posted.  Overall, good choice, probably won’t be my final choice for Communion lunch.

Going along with the bubbly theme, next I tried the Limoncello Raspberry Prosecco Cooler. The recipe I have recommends chilling the cocktail glasses…I will be using plastic for this party, so I skipped this step. You will also want to freeze some raspberries before you make this drink. When you are ready to make your drink, put 1 oz of limoncello in your glass and top with Prosecco. Add raspberries and a sprig or two of mint.

This was good. At first sip, I got none of the raspberry taste so I decided to muddle the raspberries in the glass. This definitely gave more of the raspberry flavor but didn’t look as pretty. If you plan to serve this at an event, I recommend trying it beforehand to decide if you want to add more or less limoncello. I might add a little less – I thought the drink was refreshing and light, but maybe a little too lemony. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

PART II - THE SPARKLING LEMON DROP MARTINI

I guess I am becoming a purist in my old age because, like many other “martini” drinks, I feel that the only thing that makes this a martini is the fact that it is served in a martini glass.  So, I may have issues with the name, but I certainly don’t have issues with the drink.  This has to be my favorite so far to serve at the Communion party.

You’ll find the recipe I used by clicking here.  The writer has some fabulous and useful tips for making this amazing drink – 1) Fresh lemon juice, 2) Pinch of sugar (helps to make the drink less tart, but don’t overdo it), 3) Good vodka (I used Absolut Citron – but Grey Goose and Belvedere are as good or better), 4) Don’t skimp on the shaking – she recommends 15 seconds, I generally shake my drinks for 15-30 seconds, 5) Sugar rim (I agree with her, it really adds to the drink).

Start by preparing the rim of your martini glass.  Use rub a lemon wedge around the rim or dip in simple syrup, then dip into sugar to coat.  Put 1.5 oz lemon vodka, 2 oz fresh lemon juice, and a squeeze of liquid stevia (or a pinch of sugar) into a shaker with a handful of ice.  Shake for 15-30 seconds.  Strain into the prepared martini glass.  Top with 2 oz of sparkling water (I had to use club soda).  Garnish with a lemon twist or lemon wedge if desired.

This is just WOW!  It is tart but the stevia (or sugar) really tempers that.  It is not sugary sweet either.  Of course, the stevia/sugar is optional so you may omit it if you prefer.  The sugar on the rim nearly glistens like glitter.  The drink is festive and fun, sophisticated but simple, refreshing and smooth.  This is definitely appropriate for spring or summer…and for serving at any time of the day with brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner or dessert.

In the meantime, I head back to the shaker tonight (thank goodness for kids’ vacation days) for more experimenting.  I forewarn you, I have four more drinks to try over the next seven days.  Cheers!

Easter Cocktails by KC

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In preparation for Easter this coming weekend, I wanted to post the results from my experiments with some Easter themed cocktails.  Honestly, this all started so innocently with a friend passing along a recipe for a Peeptini to me. I quickly realized that this was just the tip of the iceberg and there were OTHER Peeptini and festive cocktail recipes.

So, it only makes sense that I start with the Peeptini.  There are actually more than three recipes for the Peeptini, so I did my best to pick a representative sample of what is out there. The first recipe calls for raspberry vodka, citrus vodka, lemonade, and simple syrup (optional).  I selected yellow lemonade since I had yellow peeps – but you can select pink lemonade.  I like my drinks on the sweeter side, so I may opt to add the simple syrup, but it is not necessary.  This is a great drink to have with dinner – it is refreshing and flavorful, but will not compete with your dinner.

The other Peeptini recipes are dairy based, but quite different from each other.  The first one is a tasty mixture of vodka, creme de cacao, coffee liqueur (Kahlua), hazelnut liqueur (Frangelico), and cream (I used fat-free half-and-half, but you could also try milk or regular half-and-half).  Click here for the recipe. There is the added hassle of blending the ingredients with 3 peeps before shaking with ice and straining into a martini glass.  I’m not sure if this imparts any Peep flavor or color to the drink, but I am certain that it made more dirty dishes to wash.  I am also certain that it was pretty good.  I would classify this as a dessert drink.

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Kid Friendly Easter Treats by KC

by FOREVERXXXIX

My husband and I recently had the Easter basket discussion (which is much like the Christmas discussion in that it involves a rundown of gifts and the financial bottom line).  My family made a big deal out of Easter, my husband’s parents not so much – and this is where our dilemma begins.  But, I actually agree that things can get out of hand pretty easily, especially with three kids.  So, I am focusing on buying less but giving more.

My first project involved making a favorite festive snack.  My mom has made this Christmas Mix annually for well over 20 years.  I don’t make it all that often because it is really dangerous to have around – by dangerous, I mean that it is dangerously good and dangerously easy to overindulge.  You can easily modify it to fit your tastes or the season.  For this Easter Mix, I used 3 cups of Crispix cereal (I like the combo of corn and rice), 3 cups of multi-grain Cheerios, 2 cups of pretzels, 2 cups of cashews, 2 cups of peanuts, m&ms (I used and entire 11.4 oz bag of the pastel colored ones), and approx 18-20 ounces of white chocolate (vanilla) wafers (you can find these in the candy making area of the craft store or, sometimes, in the baking aisle at the grocery store).

Put the white chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl.  Mix the rest of the mix ingredients together in a large bowl.  Cover a large baking sheet (or two) or countertop with waxed paper.  Melt the chocolate wafers, taking care not to overheat them.  Pour the melted chocolate over the cereal mixture and stir until each bit has an even coating.  Pour the chocolate coated mixture onto waxed paper and spread out – work a little quickly to get this done before the chocolate starts to set.  Once the chocolate is set, break into small-ish pieces and store in an airtight container or put into individual bags and tie with colored ribbon.  No need to note shelf life – it won’t last long.

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