Category Archives: drinks

Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns

fiddlehead fern 4It's Spring! Spring is here! This week was all 70 and 80 degree weather, bright sun, flowers, and sneezes. I'm in heaven. I'm also in San Francisco, but that's beside the point. fiddlehead ferns 5 This week I hosted Book Club, which meant I fed a group of people that I haven't cooked for before but who know I write this blog (not to mention the cookbook), which is a scenario that gives me panic attacks. What if they don't like what I'm serving? What if it's awful? What if I fail? My answer to these questions is to make something I know I do well, so I served up a grits bar and a Bloody Mary bar. And, despite my deepest insecurities, it was a hit. fiddlehead fern fiddlehead fern 3To add a little pizzaz to the Bloody Marys I pickled a batch of fiddlehead ferns, a Spring delicacy on par with ramps and garlic shoots. As my friend Katie described them, they taste like a blend between okra and green beans, the perfect taste of this fleeting season. A season I am whole-heartedly enjoying. fiddlehead ferns 2Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns 1 cup fiddlehead ferns 1 cup apple cider vinegar 1 tbsp sea salt 1 tbsp green peppercorns 1 garlic clove, minced Quick pickles: Blanche the fiddlehead ferns and rinse in cold water. In a non-reactive saucepan, heat all ingredients to a low boil. Simmer 10-12 minutes. Transfer into a jar/covered dish and store, refrigerated, for up to two weeks. Cupboard pickles: ed note: These ratios make 1/2 pint of pickled ferns. Multiply ingredients as needed.  Begin by sterilizing your jar and lid in a pot of hot water. Set aside. Leave the pot of water boiling. In a non reactive sauce pan heat vinegar, water, and salt. Blanche the fiddlehead ferns and rinse in cold water.  In your sterilized jar, combine ferns with remaining ingredient. Pour vinegar and salt into jar, wipe the rim down, place a clean lid on the jar, and screw band on tightly.  Process in your large pot (with rack) for 10 minutes.  Remove from water, give the band another squeeze, and allow to sit.  Once the jars have sealed (you’ll know if you can’t pop the lid up and down), set them in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks.  They will stay for up to a year.

Kale Apple Ginger Smoothie

smoothie 2 I've always said that this blog follows what we eat, week in and week out. And the truth is that lately, this is what I've been eating. It's filling, tasty, and it hits the spot in a way that no other food is hitting the spot right now. So smoothies it is- bring on the kale, ginger, lemon, and apples. smoothie Kale, Apple, Ginger Smoothie 2 apples, sliced and frozen 1 carrot, sliced and frozen 2" ginger root, sliced 1 bunch fresh kale, chopped Juice of 1 lemon 1-2 cups of apple juice, depending on preference and strength of your blender Combine ingredients in a blender and purée, adding apple juice as needed. Serve immediately.

Coffee, Banana, & Chocolate Smoothie

sunshinesmoothie 1 I've been subsisting mostly on smoothies lately, particularly this smoothie. Frozen bananas, almond milk, coffee ice cubes, and a tablespoon of hot chocolate mix. The perfect midday pick me up. Filling enough to count as an afternoon snack (thanks, bananas!), sweet enough to feel like a treat, and with the added bonus of a jolt of caffeine. sunshinesmoothie 3 On afternoons when I'm especially dragging I'll swap half of the almond milk out for half a cup of coffee (or a shot of espresso), which brings this to an entirely new level. Like my preschool students whose parents were saavy enough to convince them that smoothies were ice cream, this feels like I'm treating myself to something truly decadent, but mostly it's just bananas. The best kind of decadence. sunshinesmoothie 2Coffee, Banana, Chocolate Smoothie 6 coffee ice cubes 3 frozen bananas, peeled and sliced 1 cup almond milk 1 tbsp hot chocolate mix Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Serve immediately, chilled. Alternatively, spoon this into a dish and refreeze for a smooth banana ice cream treat.

Bone Broth Bloody Mary

bone broth bloody mary 1 After the Savannah Marathon we went out for lunch at a The Public, and had, for many reasons including the fact that I had just finished running 26.2 miles, one of the best meals ever. I spent the better part of the marathon fantasizing about the hamburger I was going to eat and it absolutely stood up to muster; it was delicious. But the start of the show, truly, was the Bloody Mary. When I ordered it the waiter asked me "you're not a vegetarian, are you?" which is probably the best question I've ever been asked after ordering a cocktail. I knew in that moment that I was going to have a love thing with this Bloody Mary, and I was right.

bone broth bloody mary 3The special ingredient in the Bloody Mary at The Public that makes it so fantastic is not bacon or even bacon infused vodka, it's bone broth. They start their cocktail with a hearty beef stock and it makes all the difference. This Bloody Mary made enough of a mark on me that I decided to try it at home, so after putting together a big pot of bone broth I whipped up a batch of hearty, rich, tangy, filling Bloody Marys. Perfect for brunch. Perfect for the back porch. Perfect for after a marathon. Perfect for after a nap.

bone broth bloody mary 2 Bone Broth Bloody Mary Inspired by one delicious meal at The Public makes 1 pitcher, serves 6 1 can whole peeled tomatoes 5 cloves garlic, peeled 3 tbsp  horseradish 1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce 1 tsp salt 1 tsp celery seed 1 tsp Old Bay 1 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp mustard powder 1 cup bone broth 2 tbsp  Tabasco Juice of 2 lemons 1 1/2 cups vodka 2 cups tomato juice Pickled carrots for garnish In a blender combine tomatoes and juices, garlic, horseradish, Worchestershire, spices, Tabasco, and bone broth. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Combine in a pitcher with lemon juice, vodka, and tomato juice. Stir well. Serve over ice with pickled carrots, okra, or green beans for garnish.

Satsuma Cobbler

satsuma cobbler 1 Generally speaking, Dan and I are beer and wine people. We know very little about what makes a good wine, we know a fair amount about good beer, and (most importantly) we drink what we like. With the exception of the year that Dan was really into Scotch, it's not often that you'll see our bar stocked with more than South American whites, spicy Malbecs, and craft beer. satsuma cobbler 4 One of my favorite activities on Avery Island was our mixology workshop with Kirk Espinotal. Kirk demonstrated three different fun and delicious recipes, including a type of mixed drink that was completely new to me- the cobbler. A cobbler (the cocktail variety) is a liqueur that is shaken with fresh fruit and ice. Simple and delicious. The cobbler we tried at the Marsh House was Chartreuse, citrus, jalapeños, and Tabasco's jalapeño pepper sauce. It was fantastic, something I've been dreaming about since we left the island. satsuma cobbler 3 When we started planning our annual holiday party I knew that I wanted to try to recreate Kirk's masterpiece. I couldn't find yellow Chartreuse in Wilmington so I decided to combine lime, fresh satsuma, and St Germain, which is an elderflower liqueur. The finished drink was lovely- fresh and fruity with touches of citrus and elderflower. The benefit of the cobbler is that it's not too heavy or too boozy, making it a good option for brunch or holiday parties where you want to celebrate without getting too crazy. We'll be absolutely reprising this during the holidays. It may even be the new Christmas Morning Special. satsuma cobbler 2 Satsuma Cobbler makes 2 6 jiggers of St Germain or elderflower liqueur Satsuma or clementine, peeled and sectioned Lime, sliced Champagne or prosecco (optional) Ice Combine liqueur, fruit, and ice in a mixer. Mix vigorously for 30-45 seconds. Strain and split between two glasses with additional lime and satsuma. For a lighter option top each glass with a jigger of champagne.

7/100: New Hanover County Watermelon Kefir

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In the 1840’s a man named John Kwiatkowski immigrated from Poland to the United States, coming through New York City. After settling in and changing his name to John Rosemond (Kwiatkowski meant “man of the flower” in Polish) he hopped on a boat heading to Mexico, ready to fight for his new country in the Mexican- American war. Unfortunately John, along with many other new recruits, suffered from terrible seasickness, and couldn’t hack the long trip. These men were dropped off in the port of Wilmington, where they made a new life. John opened a small business, married a woman named Sarah Pleasants, and eventually moved his family to Hillsborough, where Rosemonds can be found to this day. John had a son named Jerome, who had a wife named Mary Parker and a son named James, who had a wife named Sybil Walker and a son named Kenneth, who had a wife named Barbara Ballenger and a son named James who had a wife named Cathy Waldron and a daughter named Elena, who has recently found herself living right back where it all started, in New Hanover County.

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Before I moved to Wilmington I hadn't spent much time in New Hanover County. When we beached we headed to Morehead City, where the Rosemonds have had a family home since the 1950’s (the Swamp House), and had only visited Wilmington once or twice in high school and college. It is an understatement to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of life and culture that this town is brimming with. Thanks to a thriving film industry (thanks to North Carolina’s tax incentives for film) and a large University, Wilmington draws people from all over the world, all walks of life, who have changed this small port city into a diverse and fascinating place. New Hanover County is located in the Southeastern part of the state, and was formed in 1729. It is one of the original port cities in North Carolina and played a vital role in the development of the state and the colonial USA. It is surrounded by Pender County to the North and Brunswick County to the South.

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I was particularly amazed to find a rich food culture in Wilmington that went far beyond your expected coastal fare. There is a community of people focused on eating and making real food, with an emphasis on whole, local, and responsible eating, things that I am personally commited to and passionate about. Organizations like Feast Down East and Down East Connect help local farmers and community members connect to bring fresh seasonal food into kitchen’s without a middleman. The local co-op Tidal Creek just finished a month long challenge motivating and helping people to eat a month of local food. And one woman, Ryanna Battiste, is helping people change their relationship with food through a small business called GRUB.

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I met Ryanna through many connections all at once, and it became clear after we moved to Wilmington that Ryanna was someone that I needed to know. Over the past year I’ve attended her workshops, partnered with her, and had long, amazing, compelling conversations over a glass of wine about how food can nourish us, and harm us, and how important it is to commit yourself to learning about what it is you’re putting in your body. One of the things that GRUB is doing that I was immediately intrigued by was promoting a fermented probiotic drink called water kefir, something she describes as an “affordable and bio-available way to deliver healthy bacteria” that produces a “fizzy and delicious fermented soda.” Water kefir, like kombucha or yogurt, introduces probiotics into your system that can help with gut health and over all body health. Since she started selling water kefir kits she’s grown a community of over 400 home-brewers all over the country.

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After attending a water kefir demo I brought home a kit (you can also order them online: http://thisisgrub.com/projects/water-kefir/) and immediately started brewing. The kefir is flavored with fruit, and since we started brewing we’ve made everything from lemon ginger to mango to our new favorite, watermelon. The brew is light and fizzy, like a soda, and the watermelon kefir is nothing short of incredible. It’s easy to see why so many people in this community are whipping up batches of their own.

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This summer watermelon  has made up around 80% of my diet, leaving me to wonder what else I can do with it. Smoothies? Absolutely. Watermelon vodka tonics? Naturally. Watermelon, mint, and feta salad? Of course. Watermelon and lime jam? Why not! Nothing says summer to me quite like a cold slice of watermelon, so I ask- what are your favorite ways to use this most delicious of fruit?

watermelon kefir 4 Ed note: After I approached Rye about featuring her in this series, she decided to sponsor B&S through a Water Kefir badge in the sidebar. Thanks for the support, Rye!

Watermelon Kefir makes 1 quart

1/4 cup sugar, cane or brown

3/4 quart filtered water

2 dried figs

1/4 cup kefir culture

1 cup pureed watermelon

In a quart jar combine water, sugar, figs, and the culture. Mix to combine, cap, and store in a dark cabinet for 24-48 hours.

Strain out the grains and discard the figs. Combine the liquid (the kefir after first ferment) and the pureed watermelon in a second jar. Let ferment an additional 24-48 hours. Chill and serve.

Watermelon Lime Jam makes 1 1/2 pints

2 cups pureed watermelon

4 tbsp instant pectin

1/2 cup sugar

Juice of 4 limes

Stir all ingredients together until thoroughly incorporated, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to half pint jars and let sit 30 minutes. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Blueberry Ginger Lemonade

blueberry lemonade 1 Wilmington is known for many things. Its Civil War History, its incredible beaches, its thriving film industry, and its rich collection of fossils. Thanks to a perfect storm of sea level rise, hurricanes, and time treasure hunters flock to Wilmington to search the sand dunes and the sea floor. blueberry lemonade 11 A lot of what is desirable and available are megalodon teeth, giant teeth belonging to prehistoric sharks that lived between 25 million and 1.5 million years ago. The predator megalodons would follow whales to shallow water and attack, shedding hundreds of thousands of teeth in the process (shark teeth break off like our fingernails break off and are constantly regrowing). These then-shallow waters now sit 25+ miles offshore in 90+ feet of water and every hurricane that blows through knocks a bunch of new teeth up for discovery. blueberry lemonade 7 This is all to say that last year the Capt'n (Pappie) acquired some dive site locations for Wilmington megalodon ledges and is taking full advantage of our proximity to these ledges. He'll be doing dives out of Wilmington throughout the summer, which means we'll be seeing a lot more of him this summer than I have since I was 19. Which I'm pretty psyched about. blueberry lemonade 6 blueberry lemonade 8 One Saturday while he and my stepmom were here he offered to do a dinner cruise around Wrightsville Beach on his boat Tortuga, so we invited some friends to join us and headed out for a lovely night on the water. I made fried chicken, shrimp & grits, cole slaw, s'mores bars, and vodka blueberry lemonades. We (my stepmom and I- she is a great sous chef, by the way) also made a beautiful cobb salad but we left it at home. C'est la vie! blueberry lemonade 12 blueberry lemonade 3 We met our friends Angie and Kevin shortly after we moved and we've loved getting to know them. Angie is from Raleigh and we share a lot of favorite childhood memories in places like Jordon Lake and Shackleford Banks and Dan and Kevin share the displaced-Northerners outlook on life in the South, which makes for interesting conversations when we start talking culture. It also helps that Kaylee is obsessed with their dog Mink. blueberry lemonade 9 We putted along, talking food and family and sharing stories. Dad cruised us past the yacht club where his parents lived and worked when he was born, which brought all new meaning to my favorite anecdote of my grandma's. Apparently that summer when she was pregnant with my dad she'd have my grandpa dig a hole for her in the sand so she could tan her back (sunbathing was a favorite pastime of hers), garnering questions from friends about whether or not she was trying to "fry that baby to (her) backbone." If I recall correctly he was born past his due-date, so maybe their questions had merit. blueberry lemonade 10 (I know, the ponytail is epic right now) One of the things that I was most excited about in this move back to North Carolina was getting to spend exponentially more time on the water. And while eventually we'd like to get a boat of our own (we need to get a 4 wheel drive  vehicle first, which will probably only happen once we have kids and officially outgrow our tiny hatchback) I'll be taking full advantage of having Tortuga Charters docking in our neck of the woods. blueberry lemonade 2 Blueberry Lemonade Serves 6 Juice of 12 lemons 1 pint blueberries 2 cups sugar 2 cups water 2" fresh ginger Tonic Vodka Heat sugar, water, and ginger in a saucepan. Simmer until sugar has dissolved. Cool completely. Muddle your blueberries in the bottom of each glass and top with 1oz simple syrup, 1 oz lemon juice, and 2 oz vodka. Mix well. Top off with tonic, adding more or less depending on how strong you'd like it. I made these in mason jars and stuck them (lids on!) in the cooler, which was the most fantastic way ever to bring mixed drinks on the boat. We'll be doing this again when we picnic!

Strawberry Rhubarb Caipirinhas

strawberry caipirinhas 2 Last week I had the great pleasure of seeing my dear friend Julia twice, which was basically a miracle. Almost a decade after we left high school we've been separated by states or continents or oceans, so being close enough to have her down for a weekend or pop up for her birthday party has been an amazing change of pace. strawberry caipirinhas 3 Julia came down to visit for Memorial Day weekend with a friend that she met studying abroad in Brazil so naturally they also came down with a bottle of cachaça, a sugar cane rum that is vital in making the country's national drink, the Caipirinha. Caipirinhas are made with cachaça, lime, and sugar, and have been one of our favorite cocktails to enjoy since a neighbor introduced us to them last year. Julia and Caroline wanted to try a strawberry twist and since I'd just made rhubarb syrup we threw together a version that was sweet, tart and very photogenic. strawberry Caipirinhas 6 strawberry caipirinhas 1We spent most of the day Sunday at the beach, soaking up the sun and the warm weather and the ocean that was almost too cold to get in but just warm enough because we really wanted it. For dinner we made more Caipirinhas, steamed crabs, braised greens, and salt packed a fish, enjoying what I hope will be one of many long summer nights spent with friends in our backyard. strawberry Caipirinhas 7 strawberry Caipirinhas 9 I clearly can't get enough strawberries lately, and when we had some friends over later in the week (and still had rhubarb syrup chilling in the fridge), I decided to pick up another bottle of cachaça and try our hand at making Caipirinhas without the supervision of people who speak Portuguese. It ended up being a very successful experiment (though got a little rocky when I forgot to add the lime juice) which means I have a new favorite cocktail until the strawberries (and cachaça) run out. strawberry caipirinhas 4 Strawberry Rhubarb Caipirinhas (serves 1) rhubarb syrup: 3 stalks fresh rhubarb 1 cup sugar 1 cup water Caiphirinhas: 3 strawberries, hulled and diced 1/2 oz rhubarb syrup 1 oz cachaça Juice of 1/2 lime 1 tsp cane sugar To make your syrup clean and thickly slice your rhubarb. Combine rhubarb, sugar, and water in a sauce pan. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the rhubarb has almost disintegrated. Strain out the rhubarb and chill the syrup. To make your cocktails, muddle strawberries in the bottom of a glass with the sugar. Add in syrup, lime juice, and cachaça. Stir in a few ice cubes and serve.

Southern Gin Cocktail

southern gin cocktail 7 A few weeks ago I was invited to Chapel Hill for the launch of the Our State Magazine April issue, an issue that focuses on food in the great state of North Carolina. The party was at Crook's Corner, the famous Chapel Hill restaurant that is home of one of the best adaptations of Shrimp & Grits around (the recipe that taught me everything I know about loaded grits), and the flagship of Chef Bill Smith's culinary empire. southern gin cocktailThe menu was simple and reflected the food showcased in the issue- benne, deviled eggs, house-cured ham on fresh biscuits, and a cocktail that I thoroughly enjoyed- a gin martini made with Cardinal Gin. Cardinal Gin is distilled in Kings Mountain in small batches and has all the intricate and delicate flavors you hope for with a bottle of nice gin. This is not the gin you blend with a heavily flavored mixer- this is a gin that you sip and let speak for itself. our state magazine southern gin cocktail 2 I'm pretty terrible at cocktail parties, I get anxious and awkward and have to resist the urge to hide in a corner and just watch. This cocktail party was no exception, especially because everyone seemed to know each other and I felt like the odd duck out. But I didn't drive two hours to sit in a corner so I got out there and mingled, and I'm so glad that I did. I met a ton of great people, made some good connections, and got to talk about one of my favorite things- Southern food- with other enthusiasts. southern gin cocktail 3 southern gin cocktail 6 This issue is really fantastic. I always love Our State and the stories that it culls from across the state, but this one spoke especially close to home with stories about Morehead City and small community potlucks. It also gave me some ideas for new places to visit (like Yadkin Valley) and recipes to try (benne!). southern gin cocktail 5 The party was also a huge success in that I got to talk to some of the magazine staff about Tasting North Carolina, an opportunity I'd been hoping to have since I dreamed the project up. It just so happens that they loved the idea of the project and wanted to partner, so for the past few weeks we've been going back and forth with different ideas. Without further ado I'm excited to say that starting in May Our State will be publishing the entire series on their newly formed blog. The recipes will be posted on both Our State and B&S which means, hopefully, more people reading, more people loving, and more people sending me recipes. Next up in the series? A trip to the North Carolina Pickle Festival in Wayne County. southern gin cocktail 4Southern Gin Cocktail Adapted from Crook's Corner 3 jiggers of gin 1 jigger of triple sec Splash of bitters Orange peel for garnish Combine all three liquors in a tumbler with ice. Shake and strain into a glass, garnishing with orange peel.

Smoothies for Breakfast

smoothie 4 On my sister in law Megan's recommendation I downloaded Scott Jurek's Eat and Run for the trip to Orlando. I'm 3/4 of the way through it and frankly, I have mixed feelings. I plan on doing a full review and posting his Minnesota Winter Chili recipe (which is pretty delicious) once I've finished and have had time to process my thoughts, but I did want to share one thing that I've taken from the book so far. And please, feel free to be all, duh Elena, did you need to read a book to tell you that? smoothie 3 In the book Jurek spends a long time picking over his food choices throughout his lifetime- attributing meaning to those choices and determining how each food has helped him in his career as an ultramarathoner. After a trist with the raw diet in the late 90's he started eating a smoothie every day for breakfast and a big salad for lunch. In the past I've gone on smoothie kicks (hello, love of mango smoothies) but when my immersion blender broke I pretty much stopped. But after I got off the plane on Sunday all I could think about was a nice, big, smoothie. So on the drive home I stopped and picked up a blender. smoothie 1 This blender is nothing special, but each morning this week I've put together a smoothie that, compared to my mango smoothies, are complex and full of different vitamins and nutrients. Each one has included one apple, a handful of spinach, a little mango juice, some frozen fruit (either berries, pineapple, or mango), a carrot or two, ice, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. And while this idea is not revolutionary, it has been a nice reminder to me that I can make something delicious, SUPER healthy, and filling in less than ten minutes. smoothie 2