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Honeysuckle & Mulberry Spritzer

Last week, when I was out picking honeysuckle, I stumbled upon a section of the trail that was full of berries. Ankle deep in brush and hands full of honeysuckle, I stopped to stare at the small, deep purple berries. At first, I thought “look, blackberries!” This year has been so warm, it seemed logical that blackberries could have arrived. But I wasn’t sure and didn’t much feel like dying from a poisonous berry, so I tweeted a picture of it, hoping the internet would come through.

As always, they did. Within a few minutes someone had replied that they definitely weren’t blackberries, they were mulberries. Which are not only totally harmless, they’re delicious. Needless to say, I stuffed my bag full of them.

As I walked home, appreciating the burst of honeysuckle scent erupting from my bag every few feet and carefully trying not to squish the berries, I thought about how I could combine the two flavors in a recipe. My mind bounced from jam to sorbet, and finally settled on a cocktail. A light, summery, refreshing yet sweet, incredibly local cocktail. One that I dubbed the “Jones Falls Jammer.”

The Jones Falls Jammer, also known as a Honeysuckle & Mulberry Spritzer for those of you with no connection to the Jones Falls River, is honeysuckle simple syrup, muddled mulberries, vodka, club soda, and a squeeze of lemon. It is everything you want in a summer cocktail, perfect for drinking on the porch, a color almost too good to be true.

Also, this week we revealed the tshirt design for the B’Eat More Pie Fest shirts. They’re great, designed by my good friend Brit, and available for pre-order. Go forth and order a shirt! And come to pie fest!

Jones Falls Jammer

honeysuckle simple syrup:

1 cup honeysuckle flowers

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

spritzer:

1/2 cup fresh mulberries (or blackberries)

1 oz vodka

3 oz club soda

Lemon wedge

To make your simple syrup, soak honeysuckle in water overnight. Strain, and combine water, sugar, and cinnamon in a pot. Simmer until sugar dissolves. Cool.

To mix the drink, muddle 10-12 mulberries in the bottom of a glass. Add 1 oz syrup, 1 oz vodka, and club soda. Stir together. Top with a wedge of lemon. Enjoy!

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Honeysuckle Butter

In the nearly 8 years that I’ve lived in Maryland, I like to think I’ve learned a lot about this state. I know how to pick crabs, I know the names of at least two Raven’s players, and I understand that the words “Bel Air” are meant to be pronounced “Blair.” However, this place surprises me on a daily basis. When I went to MICA I didn’t have a car, so when I did leave the city I was always amazed at how green the county was. I was under the impression, driving up I-83, that Baltimore was a large city nestled in the woods. Now, years later I’m a little more mobile, but that feeling that Baltimore is a hidden hamlet hasn’t quite shaken.

Just last year I discovered the full beauty of the trail that hugs the Jones Falls River. I’ve spent a cumulative 6 years living not five blocks from the trailhead, but it wasn’t until I took up running seriously last June that I started to learn its nooks and crannies. One morning last week I hit the trail for a run and was immediately overwhelmed by the smell of honeysuckle. You may recall that I have had a life-long love affair with honeysuckle, and that this particular smell immediately transports me to the woods behind the Five Oaks tennis courts in Durham. I thought to myself, chugging along and spotting honeysuckle bush after honeysuckle bush, that I should make a point later in the week to return and harvest.

Sunday afternoon I grabbed a bag and headed to the trail. I spent the better part of an hour climbing through the bushes, hoping I didn’t get poison ivy, and dropping hundreds of little, fragrant flowers into my bag. While I was there, watching runners and bikers whiz by as I foraged, I felt overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment. There’s something about being smack dab in the middle of a major city completely surrounded by nature, hunting for wild flowers. It was such a wonderful reminder of how powerful small pieces of uncontrolled wild can be. You don’t have to be standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking a waterfall to appreciate this earth, you can find it standing ankle deep in honeysuckle vines in a forgotten part of an almost forgotten city.

Honeysuckle Butter

This butter is truer to its honeysuckle flavor than I could have hoped for. It’s light and just a little bit sweet, with all the delicate honeysuckle flavor you love.

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole honeysuckle flowers

1 tsp cinnamon

In a medium sized bowl or jar, combine flowers and cream. Cover and let soak overnight. Strain the cream and discard the flowers. Add cinnamon.

Pour your cream into a mason jar. It should be filled no more than 3/4 of the way. Nestle yourself into a comfortable position and turn the butter. Rotate the jar, back and forth, flipping it over and over, for approximately 20-30 minutes. The cream will evolve from liquid to solid, getting steadily thicker. When it has clumped together into a thick ball and the solids have separated out, you’re done. Use a metal strainer to extract the excess liquid, and refrigerate. It will firm up as it chills.

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Chocolate Strawberry Chess

Saturday I had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite people on the Internet, Jenny Lawson, aka the bloggess. I started reading Jenny’s blog around the same time I started b&s. I was, you may remember, feeling like a fish out of water. I was depressed, confused, and pretty lonely. A lot of things helped me pull out of it (not least of which was this blog), but reading Jenny’s stories made me laugh, made me feel like part of a community, and made the world seem a little nicer.

When she announced her book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, I immediately preordered it. And when it came I spent hours reading it, laughing to myself, attracting quizzical looks from Dan, grunting in agreement. Her stories about growing up in rural Texas with a crazy family had me in tears, and when she wrote about how it feels to be strange, anxious, depressed, or alone I nodded along, understanding.

As soon as I saw that she was coming to Maryland I called my friend Rachel, shrieking with excitement. I’m not usually one to go all fangirl but I spent the better part of two weeks deciding what I was going to ask her to sign. Saturday we hit the road with our friend Sara and went hear Jenny read from her book and to meet her. And because I love her, and you cook for people you love, I made her a personal pie. And she signed my wine mug, and she was sweet and gracious and incredible and it was amazing.

Sara and Jenny

I opted for my picture with Jenny to be from my Diana F+, but it was horribly overexposed. This is the best I could salvage the image, but I actually don’t mind it at all. Sometimes it’s better to be fuzzy.

Rachel and Jenny

A few months ago the women on one side of my family decided to start a virtual ya-ya book club. This month it was my turn to pick the book, so I chose this one. And while I had to warn them that it is a little profane, I really think they’ll love it. Because in addition to being funny it is accessible and personal. Jenny’s strength is that she is incredibly human. And just damn hilarious.

And congrats to Ashley, who won our giveaway last week! Email me to claim your prize! elena {at } biscuitsandsuch.com

Chocolate Strawberry Chess

This pie is an adaptation of my Chocolate Chess pie. The recipe below makes a full 9″ pie or 3 mini deep dish pies.

Pie Dough:

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup ice water

Filling:

1 cup chocolate chips

1 stick melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

Pint of strawberries

Start with your pie dough.  Sift dry ingredients.  Using your hands, work in shortening.  Cube butter and work it in.  Continue to blend until the consistency is that of course cornmeal.  Stir in the water, a little at a time until your dough forms a ball.  Divide in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Pour hot butter over chocolate chips and stir until fully incorporated.  Whisk together remaining ingredients and add to chocolate.

Remove half of the dough from the fridge.  Roll it out on a floured, non-stick surface (like a sil-pat).  Roll it out so it is 1 foot x 1 foot wide and 1/4″ thick.  Drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie dish.  Press into the pie dish.  Scoop half of the filling into the pie dish.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

While it is baking, use a fork to mash strawberries together. Set one or two aside to top. When the pie has baked for 20 minutes pull it out of the oven and add the strawberries. Gently spoon the remaining filling over the strawberries and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Let cool. Serve as it is, or with cocoa whipped cream.

 

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