Top 10 Gardening Bloggers

Steel Life Founder and Designer, Shannon Lester, has been recognized as one of the TOP 10 Gardening Bloggers of 2016 by Toolversed.  Shannon’s garden blog, Blooming Desert’s Daily Dirt, reflects her personal experiences as a product and landscape designer in Central Oregon.



Nasturtium Margarita

Since our nasturtiums are in full bloom, I took the opportunity to put together another Garden to Glass recipe over the weekend.  Easy, delicious and a colorful presentation!

To make your own, run a slice of lime around your glass and dip in coarse sea salt, fill with ice and set aside.  Fill cocktail shaker with ice.  Pour 1 ounce nasturtium simple syrup (see below), 2 ounces silver tequila, 1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice and 1 ounce fresh orange juice into a cocktail shaker and shake for 30 seconds or more.  Strain into your salt-rimmed glass and garnish with fresh nasturtium flowers.  Makes 2 drinks.  (Planting nasturtiums are also a great way to keep aphids out of your garden!)

Nasturtium Simple Syrup:  Bring 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a boil in saucepan. Constantly stir until sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove saucepan from heat, add 10-12 pre-washed nasturtium blossoms and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain liquid when cool and discard wilted flowers.  Simple Syrup can be stored in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Oregon Rosemary Fizz

Although our garden has yet to overflow, we won’t let that stop us from kicking off this season’s Garden to Glass series. Instead we turned to the surrounding juniper trees for inspiration, and sourced local gin, honey, and fresh herbs for this delightful Oregon Rosemary FizzGinFizzTo make your own, muddle three one-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary, juice of half a lemon, and a teaspoon of honey (which also helps with allergies this time of year. Filter muddled juices into a lowball or copper mug and fill with ice. Add 1-1/2 oz. of gin and top with club soda. Summer can’t come fast enough.

Basil Grapefruit Martinis

We took this cocktail on our annual Independence Day camping trip with friends. It was so easy to keep the ingredients separate in a cooler until cocktail hour, when we eagerly whipped up this garden-fresh drink for a quick cool-down. g2g3For a party-sized batch, you will need three cups of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice (from about six grapefruits), three cups of basil-infused simple syrup, 750-ml. of your favorite gin or vodka, club soda and ice.

To make a Basil Grapefruit Martini: combine equal parts grapefruit juice, basil syrup, and gin/vodka over ice. Top with soda, relax, and celebrate!

Watermelon Margaritas

We love this particularly Garden to Glass cocktail because it’s so simple to throw together after a day on the water, perhaps even using watermelon leftover from a picnic lunch…
20140607_170850To make Watermelon Margaritas: In a blender, purée 3-1/2 cups cubed watermelon, 3/4 cup white tequila, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, and one tablespoon Triple Sec. Serve over ice in sugar-rimmed glasses, garnished with a lime. Salud!

Oregon Strawberry Mojitos

Nothing better than a fresh strawberry cocktail to celebrate the coming of summer! Oregon’s climate offers the perfect growing environment for plump, red, succulent strawberries, one of the state’s oldest and most beloved crops. Along with simple syrup infused with mint from a friend’s hydroponic garden, this recipe makes for a rich & fruity, yet still refreshingly verdant, take on the classic mojito.

To make Strawberry Purée: blend one lb. of fresh strawberries, two tsp. of fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup warm water, and a couple of tablespoons of sugar (to taste, depending on the sweetness of the berries) until smooth. Strain to remove any large pieces/excess froth.

blog3To make a pitcher of Oregon Strawberry Mojitos: combine three cups of Strawberry Purée, one cup of vodka (we used Crater Lake from Oregon), and one cup of mint-infused simple syrup. Serve in individual glasses with ice cubes, a splash of club soda and a squeeze of lime.

For an equally delicious mock-tail, simply omit the vodka and add extra soda. Cheers, either way!