Herbaceous

Ok so here’s the deal. Our wedding venue allows us to bring in as much beer and wine as our little hearts could possibly desire, but we are limited to two cocktail choices for our guests. TWO. And they have to be “pre-mixed”.

To some this may be a bit of a dilemma, but to Mike and I, it’s just another excused to pretend we’re mixologists and get sloshed………….you know, for the sake of the wedding. We’re on the hunt for something refreshing and flavorful that embodies the general atmosphere of the venue. The central Californian foothills will be blanketed in golden September sun, a light salty breeze will drift in from the coast, the lemon groves will rustle gently in the background as they soak in the last of the daylight, and a crimson sunset will illuminate the old Spanish barn, filtering in through the gaps in the sideboards as we dance the night away. It will be an absolutely gorgeous, emotional, thrilling day. But what will we be drinking?

Contestant number one: The Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic

 

 

Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic // hourglassandbloom.com

Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic // hourglassandbloom.com

 

 

The Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic enjoys seersucker pants, long afternoons spent toiling in the garden, and being served in a monogrammed pitcher with plenty of crushed ice. CRG&T has a refreshing personality and is adept at maintaining a light, airy conversation about horse breeds of the world or perhaps an article in the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living.

To make your very own Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic, you will first need to whip up a batch of rosemary simple syrup. Don’t be scared. It’s easy.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

5 sprigs fresh rosemary

 

 

Rosemary Simple Syrup // hourglassandbloom.com

Rosemary Simple Syrup // hourglassandbloom.com

Rosemary Simple Syrup // hourglassandbloom.com

 

 

Place the water and sugar in a pot, then heat gently on the stove until boiling. Once the mixture begins to boil, give it a quick stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Now, remove from the heat and throw in the rosemary sprigs. Let the mixture steep for two hours on the kitchen counter. Once it’s cooled, pour into a jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a month! Easy peasy!

 

 

Rosemary Simple Syrup // hourglassandbloom.com

Rosemary Simple Syrup // hourglassandbloom.com

 

 

Okay so now that you’ve cooked up a little herbaceous simple syrup, let’s get back to the cocktail, shall we? Great.

The Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic

Dry Gin

Rosemary simple syrup

Cucumber, peeled and sliced

Tonic water

Crushed ice

Place two or three thin slices of cucumber and one sprig of fresh rosemary in the bottom of a glass and muddle with the back of a spoon. Pour in equal parts gin to tonic, and two tablespoons of rosemary simple syrup. Stir in the crushed ice and serve!

 

 

Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic // hourglassandbloom.com

Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic // hourglassandbloom.com

 

 

Isn’t she lovely?

So I need your help again. I know I know I’m soooooo helpless. It’s just that you guys are so good! Everyone chimed in with such awesome, clever suggestions for a bouquet toss song that I can’t help but coming back to you for more advice….

What would be your cocktail of choice on a balmy September afternoon in an old barn nestled in the central Californian coast? Tell me! I’m getting thirsty already…

 

 

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Lazy Sunday and Peach-Tequila Pies

The girls’ monthly Book Club was planned for today, but sadly had to be re-scheduled. And I actually read the book too, turning the final page only just last night. It was a good one! Have you read Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn? My mother is more the murder-mystery reader; I usually prefer period pieces or grand-yet-thoughtful Hobbit-esque adventures. But this one had it’s grip on me since I turned the first page, then dragged me through a terrifying marriage, split personalities, murder, adultery, deeply personal confessions. I finished the 419 pages in three days, just in time for an afternoon of wine, laughter, and literature with friends (or so I thought). But even if I’m not sharing the afternoon with a few close girls and more than a few platters of gorgeously delicious edibles, doesn’t mean my Sunday was a loss at all. The taste of Gone Girl lingers, and I can’t help but remember one of my favorite messages, right from beginning of the story:

“We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn’t immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. … The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore. I don’t know that we are actually human at this point … It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters. And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls.”

I don’t say it’s my favorite message because I completely agree, I say it because it stems from so much truth. I believe with my whole heart that I have found my soul mate, yet I relate to what the author presents here. It is a difficult time in which to be a genuine person, and therefore harder to find someone who is genuine with themselves, with you, with the world around them. And then for that person  to be a great love of your life… Well, that makes it all the more special, don’t you think?

I digress. Read the book, it’s truly fantastic.

In the heat of this morning, I was of all things baking. Baking in my skivvies (sorry, but it’s true). I had the grand idea in my head that I would make wee little individual, very summery, peach-and-tequila pies for Book Club! Of course, after the second batch of these scrumptious little morsels, Book Club was called off. No matter! Do YOU know someone who doesn’t love themselves a tiny peach pie? Me either. They wouldn’t go to waste.

I diced up some fresh organic peaches, and tossed them in a bowl with a healthy splash of tequila, fresh grated cinnamon, and brown sugar. Rolling out my store-bought pie dough (shhhhhhhhhhh!), I grabbed a margarita glass to stamp out the mini-pies. I dabbed on a light egg-wash, then loaded them in a muffin pan with the peach mix, and topped them with a little circle or lattice of excess crust. Pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes on 400 degrees, and out come the most delicious little pastries! Simple, right?

For PEACH-TEQUILA MINI PIES you will need:

3 pre-made pie crusts (9″)

6 peaches

4-5 tbsp. tequila (gold)

1/2 c. dark brown sugar

1 medium egg

1 cinnamon stick (or about 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon)

Start by dicing your peaches finely (they need to fit into mini pies), and toss them with the tequila and brown sugar. If you are using a whole cinnamon stick, grate it over the peach mix with a microplane; if not, sprinkle your ground cinnamon in. While this marries, go on and roll out your pie dough on a cutting board. Use a water glass that has a diameter greater than the size of one of your muffin tin holes. I used a margarita glass. Now, make sure your muffin pan is coated with a good amount of non-stick spray. Brush a little egg wash on both sides of the dough circles, and gently pat them into the holes of the pan. Fill with your peach mixture, and top with either a little lattice of dough, or a little circle. (For my lattices, I used the leftover dough after cutting the circles, and cut strips with a ravioli roller. You may used your knife, of course). Scoot the pan in your oven for about fifteen minutes at 400 degrees. Keep an eye on them, I feel that ovens greatly differ in the fine art of baking…you may need more or less time in yours. ( Don’t fear, I mean mere minutes difference).

I went ahead and secretly indulged in the prettiest pie before I shared! Popping it on a plate, still-warm from the oven, I headed out to the garden to gobble it up in peace. Little did I know that a certain mister Wyatt would be at my elbow the whole time, begging for even the tiniest morsel of tequila-soaked fruit. This dog is a lush, I tell you.

I couldn’t help but use his enthusiasm to my benefit, and grabbed the camera for a bit of a photoshoot indulgence!

Mid-Summer Zucchini Fritters

What is better than heaps of veggies, eaten al fresco, on a warm summer eve?

Nothing.

Nothing is better than heaps of fresh veggies, eaten al fresco, on a warm summer eve.

Well, maybe add in an enormous glass of chilled wine. And a good book.

Zucchini is fresh as ever right now, and it’s seen stacked in toppling mounds in just about every market around, priced to sell. I like zucchini. But I LOVE zucchini fritters. They are savory yet fresh; light-but-satisfying. The PERFECT (in my mind) summer food. They could only have been made better if I had just sauntered home from a leisurely afternoon spent in salt water and sun.

Sure to cheer even the surliest of veggie-eaters!

AND they’re about 75-100 calories each! (depending on size)

Prepare yourself with:

2 c. zucchini, shredded

1 c. potato, peeled and shredded

2 medium eggs

1 shallot

1/4 c. finely grated cucumber

salt, pepper

garlic

1 c. non-fat greek yogurt

1 lemon

olive oil

Firstly, shred your zucchini and potato, and set aside in a colander to air dry a bit. During this set-aside-period, I season the mix with a good bit of salt.

While the veggies are draining, go ahead and work on your tzatziki! This is MY version of the classic Greek dip, so I’m certainly not claiming it’s TRUE tzatziki. For my dip, plop 1 cup of non-fat greek yogurt in a dish. Add in about a tablespoon or so of olive oil, the zest and juice of half a lemon, shmeared roasted garlic (or garlic powder), grated cucumber, and cracked pepper. Mint would be lovely here, but I have only just bought my wee plant today, and want to give it some time in the garden before harvest.

(At this time, go ahead and heat your oven to 350. This is where you’ll be keeping your fritters warm as you fry away)

Now, back to the veggies! Pile the grated potato/zucchini mix into a dishtowel or cheese-cloth and strain and strain until there’s not much liquid left. The more you strain, the lighter your fritters will be! In a separate bowl, whisk your eggs and shallot, then combine with the veggie mix. You may choose to season the mix, as I did, with perhaps a pinch more salt and pepper. In a frying pan, heat a shallow amount of olive oil on medium to high heat. I recommend frying fewer than 4 fritters at a time, as they are easier to manage that way. Once they’re golden on one side, flip, cook until golden again, then transfer to a paper-towel-padded cookie sheet and pop them in the oven. Layering the cookie sheet with paper towel will absorb the excess oil, so your gorgeous fritters won’t be soggy!

After all fritters are toasty, golden, and ready to go, plate them with a big ol’ dollop of tzatziki and ENJOY!

It was the perfect end of the week, mid-summer dinner. I dusted off the worn wood of my garden furniture, toted out a book, and leisurely spent the evening in the company of my faithful hound, a slow sultry breeze, and the luxury of a hard-bound novel. I can only hope the start to your weekend was delicious as mine. What are your moments of quiet indulgence?