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archive for beverages

cool as a cucumber

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Recipe: cucumber spritzer

Did any of you stay up to watch the Perseids meteor shower over the weekend? It’s one of my favorite meteor showers each year because it isn’t freezing cold out, there is usually a good show, and the winds are typically gentle in summer. The first night we had clouds overhead that miraculously cleared out by 1 am, so Jeremy and I slept out on our deck while I had the camera running until astronomical twilight around 5 am. I saw several dozens of meteors streaking across the sky despite dozing off for ten minutes here and ten minutes there (Jeremy pretty much slept through the entire thing). The next night, we put two IKEA poang chairs outside on the deck and wrapped ourselves up in flannel quilts and fleece blankets. I’m less likely to fall asleep if I’m not horizontal, but there were considerably fewer meteors. I was still able to see a couple dozen, although the clouds really moved in by 2 am.

perseid and the milky way

another one

long exposure of my camera taking a 30-minute exposure

the milky way (red glow is my town’s center)

star trails (orange glow is clouds, white blur is milky way)

Ahh, sleep-deprivation in summer. It is de rigueur for our summers because of things like the Perseids meteor shower or more likely waking early to beat the sun or thunderstorms on the mountains. There aren’t that many hikes left in our local area that we haven’t done, but the High Lonesome loop was one of them. There were about 5 of the 16.5 miles we hadn’t done before, so it was time. We typically prefer to do the longer hikes in the fall when it cools down and the grasses of the high country turn brilliant golds, rusts, and reds. Except fall is a ridiculously busy time for me and the hike invariably gets shelved. I’m glad we did this one in summer, because it was just so beautiful.

jeremy at the high point

Hiking is always a great way to work up an appetite. What better excuse to meet up with friends for dinner in town? My pal, Ellen of the famed and addictive Helliemae’s Salt Caramels, and her mister joined me and Jeremy for a lovely evening at Frasca last week. It is hands-down my favorite spendy place in Boulder. The food was fantastic, the service impeccable, and the company – perfect.

chris and ellen get the low down on the menu

primi: lasagna (fried eggplant, smoked mozzarella, tomato passato)

So, I’m a bit of a teetotaler. It’s partly because I’m the designated driver and partly because I can’t hold my liquor for squat. I’m okay with that. I usually order an iced tea for the caffeine boost (remember, sleep-deprived all summer long). While Ellen and Chris were fighting traffic to get to the restaurant, Jeremy and I perused the wine list and happened to glance at the cocktails in the back. And there were non-alcoholic cocktails that were about as fancy as any cocktails! I ordered the cucumber-ish cocktail, because cucumber is the perfect quencher for me on a hot day (and it was a hot day spent foraging). Utterly delightful. And you know I had to make this at home.

cukes, lime, mint, sugar

Funny thing is, that morning I was foraging with my pal, Wendy, and we discussed cucumber simple syrup. So the seed was already planted. I had everything I needed at home. These are easy ingredients to get your hands on and I imagine there are many people getting crushed under the weight of their cucumber harvests. To those people I say, “I am jealous.”

make a simple syrup

shred or chop the cucumber

add the cucumber to the hot syrup and steep

**Jump for more butter**

chillin’ my way

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Recipe: strawberry vodka

Our oppressive heat of the last several weeks seems to be abating so that Kaweah can resume her jolly evening walks without overheating. While we adjust to summer temperatures, it’s much harder on the pup. So 80°F might be tolerable for us, but it will have her gasping for air on the baby trails.

kaweah was so very happy to be out after a rain

trail markers in our town

This cooling trend was just in time for the Fourth of July holiday too. It was lovely getting our legs outside and back on the trails. The wildflowers are going nuts in the high country too. For our holiday, we went for an early morning local hike.

big views

little critters (can you spot the pika?)

final ascent

token summit shot on mount audubon (haze is smoke from wildfires in wyoming)

wonderful blue columbines (colorado state flower)

blessed rains on the descent

Fireworks were cancelled in our mountain town for obvious reasons (two words: Colorado wildfires). If you’re hankering for sparklies, you can see fireworks photos from 2011 and 2010. Instead of scoping out a location from which to shoot the fireworks like previous July 4ths, I got to chill out at home and make a simple, but elegant dinner.

pan-seared scallops on fresh vegetables

My beverage of choice is water. I love it. But when I want to offer something special to friends, it’s usually fruity and usually homemade. In summer, the quintessential beverage is lemonade. I like to play with fancy lemonade like lavender lemonade or in this case, a strawberry lemonade. Except this is an adult strawberry lemonade made with homemade strawberry vodka.

get yer hands on some proper strawberries

red to the core

**Jump for more butter**

passion fruit iced tea

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Recipe: passion fruit iced tea

Flowers are EVERYWHERE. At first, I had a few lying around the house after a shoot (they were props). That’s about the only time we have flowers in the house. Our guests typically bring hostess gifts of food or wine, and Jeremy knows I’d rather we spend money on skis or outdoor gear over cut flowers any day. But if flowers are around, I love to study them: their structure, colors, shapes, flesh of the petals and leaves, the pollen, the geometries… Flowers are fascinating to me. And they’re lovely.

pink and yellow

reminds me of cotton candy

bolder colors are more my preference

So I was smiling to myself that I have spring going on in my mountain home, and then I drive into Boulder to see that the pink and white flowering trees are going gangbusters. GANGBUSTERS! That telltale yellow-green haze on the bare branches means we can look forward to trees leafing out in the next few weeks. That makes sense considering the unseasonable warmth, but it doesn’t end there. On a trail run last Friday, I nearly tripped over my own feet when I noticed a pasque flower blooming. It’s the first flower to make an appearance each spring in the mountains, but we typically see them in early May – NOT late March. Here is one from May 2, 2009:


Of course, it’s snowing this morning and I feel like someone has put the world back on the right track. That’s a short-lived burst of joy for me as we are reverting back to warm (hot) and sunny weather within 48 hours. I’m obsessing a bit over how to combat the heat and recalled how I cooled off when I was last on the Big Island of Hawai’i: liliko’i iced tea.

passion fruit pulp, black tea, sugar

make the simple syrup first to give it time to cool

Liliko’i is passion fruit and it is one of my favorite fruits on the planet. My mouth waters just thinking of the tart and fragrant pulp. Now, I’m not talking about making iced tea with Tazo’s passion tea (which I think is disgusting and tastes nothing of passion fruit). No, this liliko’i iced tea is like an Arnold Palmer (my default summer beverage). Rather than half iced tea and half lemonade, it is half iced tea and half passion fruit juice. Yes, and yes again.

measure out your tea


**Jump for more butter**