A Nice Problem

August 1st, 2013 · 13 Comments · Drinks, Entertaining

I live in the suburbs — land of the two-car garage, of strip malls, and of people walking around saying things like “Here take this bushel of cucumbers! They are overtaking my backyard and I don’t know what to do with them!” (This kind of complaint, of course, is filed right alongside the one about that Spicy Shrimp dish that comes together so fast that I don’t have time to enjoy a glass of wine while I make it, i.e. a very nice problem.) Well, here’s what I say to that. You could peel and slice up those cucumbers real thin, mix them with seasoned rice wine vinegar, a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and tons of dill, which we’ve been doing a lot of lately. Or you could puree those suckers in a blender, strain the pulp and drink up the bounty. Cucumber juice is August-y and crazy refreshing on its own, but this cocktail, created for DALS by the Blue Hill Stone Barns Beverage Team (I’m so glad they don’t call themselves “mixologists”) is currently my favorite solution to the cucumber overload issue. It’s light, summery, easy going down (uh, maybe a little too easy)…and would you look at that beautiful color? That in itself is worth the price of admission. Problem solved.

Cucalytus Punch
Makes one drink.

2 ounces dry gin (we use Greylock)
2 ounces cucumber juice (made my blending peeled, seeded cucumbers with a little water, then strained; it works out to about 1 medium size cucumber per cocktail)
1/2 ounces eucalyptus ginger syrup (I just made plain ginger syrup which they said was fine)
1/2 0unces lime juice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake, and serve over ice with a thin slice of cucumber as a garnish.

Thanks BHSB Beverage Team!

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What Your Drink Says About You

April 22nd, 2011 · 33 Comments · Drinks, Posts by Andy

During the day, you’re a minivan-driving, soccer game-refereeing, steak pre-cutting, hair-detangling, Wiggles-listening, Wubzy-watching, spit-up-wearing, school lunch-preparing, diaper genie-cursing, mac-and-cheese-making shell of your former self. After the kids go to bed, though, when it’s time to relax on the couch with a box of Mallomars, and watch some 30 Rock on DVR…who are you, exactly? Sometimes it’s hard to remember. Herewith, a brief attempt to parse it out, based on your chosen mode of self-medication.

Can of inexpensive, retro-y beer (such as PBR, Schaefer, Bud, etc.)
How to make it: Hit up any 7-11 outside of the wealthy enclaves of the Northeast, and hand over four bucks for six col’beers. Or go to any bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where facial hair and APC jeans are in abundance.
What it says about you (unironic version): I can pound this s@!t fer days, son!
What it says about you (ironic version): Yes, actually, I am the bassist in LCD Soundsystem.
Crunk Factor: Low and slow.

Gin and Tonic
How to make it: 1 part gin, 2 parts tonic water (if you feel like splurging, this stuff — which you can find at Whole Foods — is real good). Garnish with a wedge of lime (no lemon!). Serve in tall glass, over plenty of ice.
What it says about you: I am civilized. Also somewhat risk averse, politically moderate, and did I tell you I went to college in New Haven?
Crunk factor: Moderate to high.

The Vodka Soda
How to make it: 2 oz vodka, topped with soda water. Garnish with wedge of lime. Serve in tall glass over ice.
What it says about you: Whoa, check this out: I think I’ve found a way to get drunk without really having to taste the alcohol.
Crunk factor: Sneaky high. (more…)

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I Love You, ___________.

February 14th, 2011 · 41 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Domestic Affairs, Drinks, Posts by Andy

Mad Lib Valentines from Jenny and Andy.

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I’m Thirsty!

November 22nd, 2010 · 4 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Drinks, Entertaining, Thanksgiving

Sometimes it feels like all I accomplish in a single day is quenching my childrens’ thirst. Is it like this in your house? Is it a national emergency when you forget a freshly filled Sigg bottle for the hour-long road trip? Do you find yourself filling and refilling sippy cups and drinking glasses and thermoses all day long to the earsplitting chorus of Mom! I’m Thirsty!? Unless it’s mealtime, at which point I always forget (always!) to set out the drinks or have one of the kids do it for us until the moment I collapse my tired body into a dinner table chair. My friend Lori, with whom I worked on the Real Simple Dinner Doula story, said that the single best piece of advice I ever gave her about family dinner was to get the kids’ drinks on the table before doing any cooking. The task was just annoying and afterthought-y enough to set the wrong tone for the meal she worked so hard to get on the table. I will take this so-stupid-it’s-smart tip one step further: When you are entertaining, fill the water glasses and sippy cups before the first doorbell ringing. Then you won’t have to root around matching lids to cups for the 2-year-old at the very moment the sauce is treading the fine line between deglazing and disappearing.

Speaking of thirsty guests. I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a few wine suggestions for the grown-ups. These come from Andy, who doesn’t claim to know much about wine, but enjoys drinking it*. Probably best to go with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a hardier Rose — if you are serving traditional Thanksgiving fare. Prices are approximate and based mostly on current prices at wine.com and our local wine store.

Chardonnay
Louis Jadot ($15); La Crema ($19), Norton Ridge ($20), Simi ($22); Talley ($25-$30), Neyers ($25-$30); Off-the-Chain Options: Ramey ($40+), Kistler ($50+)

Pinot Noir
Castle Rock ($12), Norton Ridge ($19), Veranda ($15-$20); Bouchaine ($25-$30);
Off-the-Chain Option: Schoolhouse ($65+), Paul Hobbs ($75+)

Rose
Muga ($15-$20), Tavel Chateau De Trinquevedel ($18-20)

Illustration is by Jessica Zadnik, who also drew the cool pix for the cookbook, and the DALS’ official Picky Eater Taxonomy.

*Andy actually does know a lot about wine. He logged into this post when I wasn’t looking and added that sentence thinking I might not notice.

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The 1080

August 29th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Drinks, Rituals

I’ve made it clear how much I love my 6:00 cocktail. But since most of you have only known me for six months or so, I’m not sure I’ve made it clear enough how much I love my summer vacation cocktail. It’s been tempting to relax the 6:00 rule on the Dark & Stormy since I’ve been relaxing the rules on pretty much everything else this vacation (“Of course I’ll load your Pez dispenser for the second time in 15 minutes!”*) but so far, I’ve been pretty good about it. (I keep hearing my father-in-law’s theory on the 6:00 start time: “It’s important to me that I exercise some restraint.”)

It makes me think back nine years ago when I was vacationing in the very same week in the very same house and too afraid to relax the rules on drinking while pregnant even for one night. It was August and peaches were as sweet and perfect as they are right now so as soon as the sun went over the Yardarm, Andy would mix up a pitcher of my very own virgin cocktail: apricot or mango nectar, lime juice, club soda, strawberries and a handful of fresh sliced peaches (measurements pretty much to taste). We called the drink “The 1080,” named after the house number where we stay, and it was so good that whenever the peaches are good enough (even when I’m not pregnant) I mix one up and raise a glass to my third grader (how is it possible that she is in third grade?). Then I pour the Goslings.

*It’s a little embarrassing how many examples I had to choose from for this parenthetical. Runner-up: No folding the girls clothes: Each of them has one drawer and all their shorts, Ts, sundresses, swimsuits, and underwear get tossed into them right from the laundry basket.

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The Blame Game

August 16th, 2010 · 30 Comments · Domestic Affairs, Drinks, Posts by Andy, Rituals

Dear Andy,

You know how grateful I am for all you do for the family. How grateful I am for your mastery of the grill, for your patience and stamina at playtime (how did I miss both of those qualities on Parenting Skills Hand-out Day?), for your unfailingly impeccable musical taste. (I fully recognize that if it weren’t for you, our children would likely be on a steady listening diet of Billy Joel and Edie Brickell.) But. But. But. But. Would you please look in that recycling bin up there? That was last week’s tally of alcohol intake and though you know how much I believe in equality in this marriage, I feel it’s necessary to place the blame for my now non-negotiable 6:00 cocktail squarely on you and your long line of alcohol enthusiasts. As you know, I come from a long line of Westchester Jews, from a house where there was always an Entenmann’s cake in the snack drawer and a lone, unopened bottle of Creme de Menthe in the liquor cabinet. And yet, since we’ve had kids, since I’ve been working on various demanding jobs and assignments, I now find myself looking at the clock every two minutes from 5:30 leading up to 6:00, or, as your father would say, leading up to that blessed moment when “the sun goes over the yardarm.” I used to be such a nice Jewish girl and now I find myself keeping a mental tally of our wine supply as though it’s as basic a staple as milk or peanut butter. I find myself getting the Bombay Sapphire out at 5:56, the highball glass out at 5:57, the ice cubes stacked up at 5:58, the lime sliced at 5:59 and then waiting, waiting, waiting that interminable 60 seconds until I can mix in my fizzy tonic and start to sip. I find myself thinking things like I could never have another baby because it would mean giving up nine months of Yardarms. So anyway, thanks a lot. And thank your Syrah-drinking Mom, your vodka-tonic drinking Dad, and your Old Fashioned-drinking Grandma (may she rest in peace) for me, too.   Love, Jenny

Dear Jenny,

You’re scaring me. Looking at the clock every two minutes? Waiting, waiting, waiting? As basic as milk? You can blame me for leading you to water, but come on: you can’t blame me for your thirst. Anyway, thank you for the kind words on the parenting front, and while my mastery of the grill is highly debatable, I’ll return the compliments a million fold: were it not for you, I would, in addition to being a much less fulfilled and happy person, probably still be eating penne with Ragu Robusto every night in front of the Yankees game after the kids went to bed.

I would also probably not be addicted to dessert.

When I was growing up, the son of an Italian mom, dessert was something you had on special occasions. On somebody’s birthday, we’d have a Duncan Hines cake. In the summer, when the peaches were running wild, we’d have a cobbler on Saturday night. During the holidays, we’d make a huge batch of Christmas cookies, and we’d frost them as a family. But most nights, we’d have nothing. Or, at the most, some fruit. You know, like normal people. And then I met you. For you – and for the Rosenstrach clan at large, no offense beloved in-laws – dessert is just a given, a natural extension of dinner. And lunch. And snacks, too. You eat something non-sweet, you follow it with a dessert. I’m not talking here about an Oreo or two, or an occasional bowl of ice cream. I’m talking about the heavy artillery. Chocolate truffle cakes. Chocolate mousse cakes. Chocolate candy bars. Dove ice cream bars. Babka. Sticky buns. Chocolate croissants. Mallomars. Chocolate covered raisins…and peanuts…and almonds. The truly insidious thing about all this stuff, for a non-dessert guy like me, is that it tastes really really good. God, does it taste good. So, over the years, as you wore me down, I started to indulge a little, then a little more, and next thing I knew, I started needing – not craving; needing — a dessert after every meal. When I finish dinner these days, I head straight for the pantry (with the kids right behind me) for my fix, and do you realize what I see when I open it up? Seriously, have you looked lately? A bar of 72% dark chocolate. And a bar of Swiss milk chocolate, since Abby likes milk chocolate so much better. Oh, and a ONE POUND bar of dark chocolate with almonds from Trader Joe’s. And a box of chocolate mints. And some chewy oatmeal raisin cookies, Phoebe’s favorite. And do you know what the worst part is? I bought all of it! The only person I can blame is myself, which is always a terrible place to be.

Do you see what you’ve done to me?

Love, Andy

P.S. It’s not Crème de Menthe in your dad’s “liquor cabinet,” by the way. It’s Tia Maria, which tastes like coffee, and if you carbon-dated that bottle, I think you’d find it’s older than Mexico itself.

P.P.S. That recycling bin photo was doctored.

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Daddy Needs a Drink*

June 25th, 2010 · 18 Comments · Drinks, Posts by Andy, Rituals

 

Now that the swampy, soupy weather has officially arrived, it’s time to share a few heartfelt words about something near and dear to our hearts: the evening drink. When we got married, someone gave us one of those full-on Pottery Barn cocktail kits, the ones that come with the ten-gallon martini glasses and silver-plated shaker, stirrer, strainer, tongs, and beveled serving tray. Twelve years later, it’s still in the box. In the basement. Under piles of baby clothes and bank receipts we have yet to shred. That’s not because we don’t drink; with a 6-year-old and a 8-year-old underfoot, there’s nothing—and this is going to sound bad, but really: nuh-thing—we enjoy more than a taste of medicine at the end of a long day. The truth is, we’ve never busted it out because we’re not fans of the fussy drink. We don’t believe in cocktail hardware, and we don’t believe that having people over for dinner should include said people being forced to sit in your kitchen for twenty minutes, watching you craft a cocktail from fresh-squeezed kaffir limes, muddled mint leaves, and turbinado sugar. As you probably know from reading this blog, we tend to follow a pretty straight-up philosophy on food, a philosophy that also happens to apply cocktails: few ingredients, good ingredients, simple preparation.

Which brings us to the Dark and Stormy.

Having not grown up with a yacht, a family compound on the Vineyard, or a Roman numeral after my name, I had no idea this drink even existed for the first thirty-three years of my life. And can I tell you how I now mourn for those years? The Dark and Stormy is everything a cocktail should be: damned tasty, of course, but also fizzy, cold, summery, citrusy, and very, very easy to make. (more…)

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