The Summer of G&T’s

I have a summer goal: learn to make and enjoy a good Gin and Tonic.

Picture this: After a long day at work, with the sun low in the sky (I’m imagining a Colorado sunset, which really is the best), you arrive home to a joyous puppy and the back yard beckoning your to come have  a sit. As you unlock the back door, you look around your yard and realize that the serenity you’ve worked long and hard to create (okay, your mother has also worked long and hard, too) is at risk of going to hell if you don’t get those weeds pulled. What’s a girl to do? You make yourself a nice gin and tonic, put on some yoga pants, and casually sit outside with a trowel in one hand, and a G&T in the other. #summergoals.

But here’s the deal – I am not a gin connoisseur, I’m not entirely sure I even like them (probably haven’t found the right gin), and a quick google search indicates that there is about 500 million ways to make one, each recipe claiming to the best (add club soda to your tonic water, 2oz gin to 3 oz tonic, 2:2 ratio, garnish with a lemon, a lime, a cucumber!). I intend to make this a summer of experimentation, to find a good recipe, find the gin that warms my heart, and maybe I’ll pick up this blogging endeavor again, and bring you guys along for the ride! Oh, and have a stunning garden of course :).

In the name of being scientific, I am going to try to taste as many gins as possible. It turns out that Morgan’s liquor store (yes, the one all the DU kids use their fake IDs at, and they don’t ask for mine anymore. tear.) does not carry a lot of mini bottles of gin, only Tangueray, and Bombay Sapphire. I don’t have it in me to run around looking for mini bottles, so I also committed to a bottle of Hendrick’s, at the recommendation of two friends, one of which who has age on their side, the other, a love of G&Ts. I figured if it’s awful and I hate gin, at least I have something nice to offer guests when they drop by Chez Katie. The drink will certainly be nicer than the $20 jelly plastic Target chaise lounges I offer them as seats.

I am also planning on testing various types of tonic water – Morgan’s isn’t particularly high brow, so tonight we drink Schweppes (diet) Tonic Water (my other summer goals are a bikini body, so trying to cut back on calories where I can). I know there are some others out there like Fever Tree and Q Tonic, so I promise to try those too.

Tonight’s G&T:

  • Ice in glass first
  • 2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
  • 3 oz. Diet Schweppes Tonic Water
  • Garnish – cucumbers (munchers, I didn’t have a real one. And they may be on their last days)

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Result — pretty damn good. Happy I started with the Hendrick’s, I was afraid that if I started with crap gin I wouldn’t want to continue this project.

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Also, shoutout to Erika for the excellent glasses.

 

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Kale fail

I don’t care if people say that kale, similarly to bacon, has been over done. Who cares? They are both delicious – that’s why people use them all the time! Last night I made a really nice kale and squash soup, and this morning was really keen to use the leftover kale. It’s healthy (seriously, I’m pretty sure I can feel the antioxidants chasing cancer away) and I didn’t want to forget about it in the fridge over the course of the next week only to find it in a frightfully brown state.

But what to make? The normal uses of kale drifted through my mind – kale salad, chips, sautéed with garlic… But then my thoughts stopped at the box of shells and cheese that has been taunting me for a couple of weeks. What’s not to like? Cheese? Good. Pasta? Good. Kale? Gooood. And maybe the healthy-ness of the kale could offset the plastic cheese!

Such good intentions. Such an epic fail. The kale clumped together, a ball of green glued with sticky yellow/orange cheese. The taste was reminiscent of those Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale Nacho chips, which, as you may have guessed, aren’t exactly delicious. Not exactly spit them out gross, but not good enough to make the mistake of eating them again.

The bright side? Since the kale didn’t really mix into the mac and cheese, I just pulled it out and had normal shells and cheese for lunch. Haha. Sad.

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Easy fancy light pasta – I just made it up

Tonight I got to make dinner the way I like it. I could have whatever I wanted, no one else was adding their input because they weren’t hungry and having dinner, so I was free to follow my fancy. The only thing was that I wanted it to be somewhat light, and quick. I’m such a sucker for pasta so I decided that would be my base (also, because I already had a box of Conchigliette at home AND I just finished a grueling hour of Physique). I didn’t want to do the traditional tomato sauce and so I found myself trolling Whole Foods (dangerous, I know) in search of treats for my shells.

When I was a kid, and my mom was out of town, my dad would be left to figure out what to make my brother and I for dinner. I’m fairly certain there were a number of disagreements, but I think my dad really hit the jackpot when he figured out that he could make spaghetti, melt a little butter and toss in some capers to top off the dish and my brother and I would go crazy. Who knew adding capers to butter and pasta could have such an effect. And my dad really let us get into the capers – a whole little jar gone, in one night! With that in mind, I went straight to the olive bar where the capers are stashed. What next? Thankfully the produce section is right next to the olive bar, so I pushed my cart around, stopping to pick up ingredients as I thought they’d go well together.

Here’s what I ended up with: A lemon, arugula, a leek, kalamata olives.

Here’s what I ended up using: Arugula and the leek. I ate too many of the olives and decided I was too lazy to cut the rest of them up. I still wouldn’t rule them out. I didn’t use the lemon, mostly for the reason that I didn’t want to have a half open lemon in the fridge. Pure laziness. But I think both would still go well with everything else, so if you are more motivated than myself, I’d say go for it. Also, leeks are one of my favorite vegetables. So underrated.

Put on a pot of water. While waiting for it to boil, cut up some garlic, and slice up the leek. Adjust to your own personal tastes, and the quantity of pasta you are making. Some people might be offended by extreme garlic breath, but you might like it too much to care. Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box. I liked the Conchigliette because the capers hid in the shell and weren’t hard to chase around my bowl. Cook the pasta, drain, and set to the side (you could alternatively do the next steps in a pan while the pasta cooks, but that gets a whole other pan dirty, and I told you, we are lazy). In the same pan, drop in some olive oil, a heart friendly amount. Drop in the leek and garlic, cooking until the leeks are soft, about 4 minutes or so. For some kick add some chili flakes. At the very end, toss in as many capers as you like, DON’T HOLD BACK! Or do, in case you had to buy a jar, and you couldn’t buy in bulk (I’m sorry, but sometimes Whole Foods IS cheaper. Capers. In bulk). Stir around, heating the capers. Toss the mixture into the pasta that had been set aside. I added the arugula at this point, and not in the pan as I didn’t want it to over cook/wilt/get too soggy, but the pasta is still a bit warm so it’s not like a weird pasta/salad combination. If I’d not been so lazy, I’d have added the olives (but perhaps too many strong flavors at this point?) and maybe a bit of the lemon juice. Top with grated parmesan. Voila, dinner in less than 20 minutes.

The first post…

So I’ve been talking about starting a blog about food, and have begun a moderate (okay, minimal) amount of research of what a good blog contains, and hoping that one day I will be plucked from obscurity and a movie will be made about me. Fame aside, I saw a lot of really well-put together, well-written blogs and found myself feeling like I was nowhere near being ready to start blogging. Do I have the writing skills? What would be my edge? What is an SLR camera? Do I even have the right photography skills? To say the least, I was very intimidated.

In the name of research, I picked up 2 food-related magazines tonight at Whole Foods to peruse while I cooked my dad’s Chili recipe. As I flipped through Bon Appetit on the subway home, I was sucked into the world of food, tabbing pages for dishes to make, restaurants to try, and figuring out how I could get myself to the Italian coast as soon as possible. Arriving home super-enthused about the world of food, I scarfed down leftover pizza from Lombardi’s (it’s true, I basically held the two pieces, one in each hand, standing over the sink, and ate them both in about 3 minutes) and started on my dad’s Chili recipe. I love this recipe for many reasons – it reminds me of my childhood, its easy (and cheap) to make, plus it’s delicious. However, in the 5 years I’ve been making it, it still has yet to match the quality of my dad’s. So tonight I decided to write down how I made it, including any commentary along the way, and if it turned out better than the last batch then: success!! It was at this point that I realized that this was part of my own food experience, something I could share on say, a blog, and why should I let a total lack of blogging knowledge stop me?

So voila! Here is my first blog post. Please bear with me as I figure out how this blog thing works, and hopefully this can evolve into something, and not my own rambling stream of consciousness!!!