Fresh Apple Ginger Toddies

When the rain finally stopped, it was time for our first bonfire of the season!

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Since the nights are still chilly, we opted for a batch of bourbon cocktails to keep us all warm throughout the evening. As always, it’s better to make a party-sized pitcher than find yourself stuck in the kitchen toiling over one drink at a time. Enjoy your company, and cocktails, instead.

Here’s our (modified) recipe for Fresh Apple Ginger Toddies:  Bring 64-0z./eight cups apple cider to a boil. Meanwhile, with the edge of a spoon, peel one “finger” of fresh ginger and chop into thin slices. Add to cider and continue to boil for five minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for half an hour. Purée mixture in a blender, strain, and discard pulp. Refrigerate until ready to use. To serve, simply warm the cider in a large pot on low heat, stir in one 375-ml. bottle of bourbon whiskey (e.g. Jim Beam) and one tablespoon full of honey. Pour into coffee mugs and garnish with a slice of lemon and candied ginger.

It was a hit! This recipe is definitely a keeper, and a good reason to start growing ginger indoors all year long.

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Garden Thyme Limoncello

We tend to turn our noses up at thyme in the kitchen, aside from an occasional sprinkle in homemade spaghetti sauce. We usually put it to better use as ground cover in the garden; planted at the border, the Wooly, Creeping Red, and Lemon varieties provide color & fragrance while standing up to heavy foot traffic. Yet, when we returned from the Northwest Flower & Garden Show with a handful (understatement) of Little Prince of Oregon‘s ‘Archer’s Gold,’ we were inspired to add this citrus-scented thyme to our homemade limoncello.

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To make Limoncello, simply peel the zest (sans white pith) of six to eight lemons, add to 750 ml. of your favorite vodka in a glass container, and cover. Store in a cool place for two to five days, then remove and discard peel. Tip: squeeze lemon juice into an ice cube try and freeze for later use.

To make Thyme Simple Syrup, bring equal parts water and sugar (three cups each) to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Pour through a sieve and discard thyme. Add Thyme Simple Syrup to Limoncello in a large glass pitcher. Keep cool until ready to serve, with lemon ice cubes.

 

 

A Pitcher of Pear Martinis

We threw a little post-holiday cocktail party for some of our girlfriends last night. Since we’re tired of apple cider, hot chocolate and holiday eggnog, but still wanted a cold weather cocktail…a pitcher of Fresh Pear + Rosemary Martinis seemed like just the ticket!

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We like to keep cocktail recipes simple, with only three of four ingredients max, and in a pitcher if guests are coming over. Who wants to be a slave to the shaker all night long? Most recipes don’t offer a pitcher recipe, but we encourage you to research and improvise.

Using our favorite Corona herb shears (from the #GardenChat event at the IGC in Chicago last Summer), we clipped off five four-inch sections of rosemary from Little Prince of Oregon Nursery for Rosemary Syrup. It couldn’t be easier to make herb-infused simple syrup, with equal parts water and sugar (about one cup each) and five springs of rosemary. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan. Constantly stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved (about thirty  seconds). Remove the saucepan from heat, add rosemary and let in steep for at least thirty minutes. Discard rosemary.

For the Pear Purée, we used some leftover Royal Riviera pears from a Harry & David’s gift box. Remove the skin and core of three pears, cut them into one-inch pieces and blend with one T. fresh lemon juice, three tablespoons water and three tablespoons sugar. You can with strain the purée through a fine sieve or just skim the top with a spoon, like we did.

To make a pitcher of Fresh Pear + Rosemary Martinis, which serves about four people: Mix the Pear Purée with a half cup Rosemary Syrup and one cup Vodka. We used Grey Goose, and added ice cubes to the pitcher just before serving. We also served a bottle of sparkling water alongside, just in case anyone wanted to add a little fizz to their cocktail. It’s easy to double this recipe for a larger crowd, if necessary, and makes for a perfectly light and refreshing Winter drink to share with friends.