Sips and Bits of Gratitude

Approach the Light‘s Project: Draw with Light theme this week is gratitude. Let me share with you a few things I’ve been grateful for in recent days:
(1) One of my favorite kindred spirits: a brother who shares my infatuation with bubble tea…

…and (2) these roses we admired on our sunny afternoon promenade through the park. I am extremely happy with the Dogwood Park expansion–Cookeville, you know what I mean–such a nice new place to meet and lounge and stroll!

(3) An unexpected evening full of chats and catch-ups–featuring a signature Carly cocktail, the Scurvy Squid–that would be equal parts spiced rum and coconut water (coconut juice) over ice. It’s a perfect summer beverage–light and sweet, but not saccharine. Try it!

I’m grateful for people who are bright, open, and focused on the pleasure of the present moment. Thanks, Carly!

(4) Every morning I am welcomed in my (parents’) kitchen by a fresh, hot pot of coffee that I never have to make. And that cake is this cake–which tastes its best exactly 2 days after baking! (I’m grateful for the glorious phenomenon that is pound cake!)

And there they are, (5) the parents who make the coffee, buy the groceries, eat my experiments, and let me run wild in the kitchen. Thanks, you two!



Sunlight…and a cocktail for it.

Project: Draw with Light

I am taking part in a community photo project hosted by Beth at Approach the Light (she also blogs as This Little Lightling). This week’s theme was sunlight.

I hope to work food into my interpretation of each theme–regardless, I will be posting a photo on my blog for each week’s assignment. Cheers, Beth and Becky!

Now, the origins of this cocktail: my Matt made a celebratory dinner to commemorate the end of my employment at the public library (fond memories, but I gotta move on). He sent me to the porch with two glasses and two small frosty bottles–apparently filled with an herb and sunshine-filled apéritif. Before he came out for a toast, I had to sneak a curious sip.

This pretty, fresh, summery cocktail was created by Matt the mixologist. He used basil, and today I tried it with rosemary–equally herbally wonderful. I suggest you drink it outdoors. You don’t have to make it in cute little bottles…but it’s fun.

Sunset cocktail hour.

Fresh Sunshine Cocktail with Basil or Rosemary

For one cocktail:
1 large basil leaf or 1 sprig rosemary
1 or 2 slivers of lemon peel
(about 1/4″ wide)
1/2 oz. gin
Sauvignon Blanc
(or another grassy white wine) to top off, about 2.5 oz

Stuff the basil leaf (or rosemary sprig) and lemon peel into a bottle. Pour in the gin; seal and shake briskly a few moments. Pour in the wine, seal and shake again, then chill for at least an hour (so the flavors can infuse). Pour in a glass with an ice cube to serve. *If you like your drinks sweet, add a teaspoon or two of simple syrup when you add the wine. **You could also increase this and mix up a batch in a pitcher for a great summer party beverage.


Mulled Wine (in Ginger Sugar-Rimmed Glasses!)

I dedicate this post to Abby. Abby’s great. Abby’s spunky, warm, and smart. Abby and I mulled over many poems together during college English major days. Now Abby wants my mulled wine recipe.

This mulled wine is like the German favorite, Glühwein, which I found during travels has also become quite popular in wintry France (vin chaud). Mulled wine recipes are forgiving and flexible. I’ve made versions of this with cranberry juice and pineapple juice. I’ve used orange and lemon slices. Sometimes I add sherry, sometimes not. And you can adjust the amount of sugar to your tastes (or leave it out altogether!). In it’s simplest form, mulled wine is warm wine with spices. Start there and create a festive beverage you and your friends will crave each winter!

Here’s the recipe for the mulled wine I’m enjoying tonight (in yoga pants, with knitting needles), but it would be equivalently excellent at your upcoming Holiday party (in fancy velvet dresses and ties or tacky festive sweaters!).

In whatever atmosphere you choose to sip it, this winter drink will make you warm and undeniably fuzzy.

Mulled Wine
serves 5-6

6 cups dry red wine
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sherry
8-10 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 orange, sliced thin

Put everything in a large pot, and heat over medium-low heat for 1-2 hours so the flavors can blend. Don’t let the mixture come to a boil. Serve in mugs or heat-proof glasses, perhaps with a piece of orange slice to garnish. *Don’t forget to fish out those little cloves before serving!

Sugar looks lovely on a dark mug too!

For a Ginger Sugar-Rimmed glass or mug, mix 1/4 cup white sugar with 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger in a bowl. With a slice of orange, carefully moisten the rim of your glass, trying to get an even rim. Dip the rim into the bowl of ginger sugar, then shake off the excess. Now, that’s pretty and sparkly and easy, and just a bit sweeter with every sip!