Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Whiskey Wednesday

Howdy, partner!  It's Derby Week!

Several weeks ago I shared my preference for watching horses instead of riding them. :)  I get giddy this time of year. The first Saturday of May means Kentucky Derby time!

This year I'll be traveling on Derby Day and will have to watch the race from the comfort of my hotel room.  Being Derby Week means you are free to partake, er, practice test mint juleps before the big event.

The mint julep is a simple cocktail--crushed ice, mint simple syrup, and BOURBON.

I tweaked my mint simple syrup recipe and the results are delightful!
  • 2-4 cups chopped mint (feel free to use stems and all)
  • 1 1/2-2 cups turbinado sugar e.g. Sugar in the Raw brand (turbinado is light brown in color and will impart a nice color. At least I think the brown of the mint simple syrup looks well suited for the bourbon)
  • 1 cup water
Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly to melt the sugar.  Do not boil.  That's another recipe ;). When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from cooktop.  Add chopped mint.  Allow the mint syrup to cool.  Once cooled, strain the syrup into a jar--a mason jar, or any ol' screw top jar--being sure to keep the mint OUT of the jar.  Discard the "cooked" mint. The simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.  

Now step back and have a good look at your wondrous creation! But not too long, we've got a mint julep to make!

Mint julep cocktail:

1/2 oz Mint Simple Syrup
2 oz Bourbon
Fresh Mint Leaves
Crushed Ice
Optional: Cocktail straw and mint as garnish 

Add a few mint leaves and mint simple syrup to a chilled mint julep cup, crushing the mint leaves to impart more flavor (feel free to use a lowball or old-fashioned glass).  Pack cup with crushed ice.  Pour bourbon over ice.  Insert straw and give the cocktail a stir.  Add mint sprig for garnish. Now enjoy your Kentucky creation!
mint julep

BTW, Derby is a family affair for us.  My daughter, who lives up "north", will be hosting her own Derby party again this year.  I have it on good authority that she has already baked her pecan tassies.  She'll be prepping her toasted pecans and toasted ham and turkey sliders next.  Bookmark her website, Olive & Clark, find out what else she's cooking up for The Kentucky Derby.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fearless Friday-Traveling Alone

When you're a parent, you rarely get time away with your partner.  Alone "mommy time" happens once in a blue moon.  Well, it's my blue moon time!

I'm traveling to the big city of Chicago this weekend all by myself.  My older daughter lives there so it's not as if I will be ALONE the entire weekend (plus she's cat sitting so I'll have three cats to keep me company during the day).

I'm in charge of getting from O'hare Airport to my daughter's office then to her apartment ALL BY MYSELF.

Ummm, can you keep a secret?  I'm just a wee bit skeered.  A fifty year old woman shouldn't be nervous about hailing her own cab but I am.

This weekend will be a good test of my gumption.

How will you test yourself this weekend??

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wine Wednesday

Oh.My.Gosh!  All these years I've been drinking wine all wrong! Learn from my mistake, people.

Recently I attended a Riedel Comparative Glass Seminar.  This fascinating seminar was presented by none other than Mr. Riedel (pronounced REE-dul) himself--a 10th generation glass maker.  His family-owned company, Riedel,The Wine Glass Company, revolutionized wine glasses and drinking wine in early 1960's when they introduced the very first line of wine glasses created in different sizes and shapes.

Bet y'all are thinking, "What's this gal talking about? Who needs different wine glasses for different wines? My red solo cup works just fine."  I say throw that big o' red solo cup away...on second thought, don't throw it away, save it for fall football tailgate season. But go get yourself some Riedel wine glasses. You can thank me later.

During our evening with Mr. Riedel, we sampled three red wines--Pinot Noir, Old Vine Syrah, and a Cabernet.  Below are the three different glasses which perfectly match each wine.

Syrah wine glass, pictured above far left; Pinot Noir, center; Cabernet, pictured far right

Pinot noir is one of my favorite varietal of wines. I was beyond eager to begin our comparative tasting with a pinot.  First, Mr Riedel had us sample ice cold water from each glass.  Next we poured Pinot into each glass (after emptying the water :) ).

Pinot noir from the pinot glass--HEAVEN; Pinot noir from a syrah or cab glass...tastes like swill! Blech!!

Second go round was the Syrah.  Now, I'm not really a big old vine syrah lover.  Let's just say when I sampled the syrah from the pinot and cab glasses, I LITERALLY thought I might die...or make a complete idiot of myself gagging in front of the crowd.

Finally, the tasting of the Cabernet.  In cooler months, I do enjoy a good cab.  After sampling cab out of a Riedel Cabernet wine glass, I might just make cabernet more than just a winter wine:)

Prior to the Riedel Comparative Glass Seminar I didn't give much thought to which vessel to enjoy my wine from.  Now, I'll definitely make sure to have the specific glass for a particular wine.  Yes, it really made that big a difference in my wine drinking enjoyment.

As an added bonus to the seminar, we were surprised with a Riedel Coca-Cola glass from which we sample ice-cold Coca-Cola.  No ice to water the real Coke down.  Y'all it was pure Southern Heaven!
How cute is the Riedel Coca-Cola glass?
Off to finish my Coca-Cola before Wine Time!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Fearless Friday--Horseback Riding

It's Friday and I'm talking horses today.  Sure, I'm pretty fond of those ponies that run around the track while I'm cheering for my favorites to win (sorry, I never claimed to be a card-carrying PETA member). But that's for another post.  I mean, Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby are a few weeks away!

Today I'm talking about really riding horses.  Yes, me, the girl who grew up on a farm; whose daddy had a best friend who was a rodeo cowboy; the same girl who dated a guy in high school that bronc-busted.  Yeah, said farm girl had her own horse...

And today I'm scared of horses! Why?  Because that dern horse my daddy gave me ran away with me!! One minute I'm in the barn in Patches' saddle (laugh now--real creative name for a Pinto horse but I was only four or five years old).  The next minute that dern horse starts galloping out of the barn and down the dirt road.

The story gets more traumatic!  I lose grip on one of the reins.  Then the other.  No stopping Patches now!  And believe me when I say, yanking at and out mane hairs WON'T stop a horse.  Lord, that horse was fast when he wanted to be.  Apparently, this was the day he wanted to be :(

We've now left the dirt road and are headed across a field.  I can barely stay in the saddle much less keep my eyes focused on where Patches is going.  OH! MY! GOSH! He was headed straight for the levee! **Remember I'm only four or five years old!

Y'all know what's on the other side of a levee? WATER!  In that split second, I made a decision that forever changed the course of my life (Ok, maybe that's a little OVERLY dramatic :)  ).  I decided to jump off the damn horse, landing only inches away from a big rock (ok, maybe there wasn't a rock but it makes the story more interesting, right?).

As I'm laid out in the field ascertaining if I have all my body parts and they're functioning properly, I hear screaming and yelling.  Here comes my momma running through the field to save the day and get me home safely.  I'm not sure where Patches ended up.  I'm pretty sure I never got on that horse again.

Many decades have passed since the "Runaway Patches" episode. I've tried several times to get over my fear of horses.  I've even taken a trail ride on Seabrook Island.  And, guess what, the horse I was given decided to stop in the middle of the ride, take a bite of grass, only to realize we had to "hurry" to catch up with the rest of the horses and riders.  Ack! Horse fear reignited!

This summer I will conquer my horse fear!

Seabrook Island has a great Equestrian Center.  Seabrook is one of the few places on the East Coast which offers beach rides.  They now offer "walking beach rides" that seem right up my alley.  Additionally, advanced beach rides are offered for those riders who have three or more years of riding experience (I will not be doing the advanced beach ride).

Beginner Trail Rides are a great way to see some scenic views of Seabrook Island.  For the youngest riders, kiddos up to eight years old, pony rides are available (hmmm, I wonder if I could pass as an eight year old?)

To view Seabrook Island Equestrian Center's riding schedules and pricing, click here.

If horseback riding is not your thing, just stop by the Equestrian Center and say "hello" to the horses.
I'm off to dust off my cowboy boots!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wine Wednesday-Wish List

Wednesday already??  This week has flown by...and I've yet to mark anything off my to-do list.  Oh well!  Guess that makes this "Whine" Wednesday:)

Does anyone else keep a list of wines they'd like to try, wineries to visit, etc.? Somehow my list continues to grow.  Hmmm, another list I'm not marking things off of.

This Wine Wednesday I'm sharing two items from my wine list.  ONE will get marked off this year! I promise!

Last fall the mister and I stayed downtown at the Grand Bohemian Hotel shortly after it opened.  My oh my!  From the Grand Bohemian Art Gallery to the 50 eclectic rooms to Eleve, the rooftop bar, this Charleston boutique hotel is spectacular (and conveniently located at the corner of Wentworth and Meeting Streets).  Perhaps the most intriguing amenity (at least to me) is the Grand Bohemian's wine blending classes.

Grand Bohemian's wine blending class will happen for me in 2016! (If you mark it in bold, you are committed to making it happen)

The classes are held Wednesdays-Sundays at 4 pm and 6:30 pm.  The cost is $100/person excluding tax and gratuity.  For that $100 you get a little wine education, slurps of wine, some nibbles, and a bottle of your very own wine creation!  If you plan well in advance, you can design a wine label at home and Grand Bohemian will put it on your bottle.  How fun is that!

**Grand Bohemian Hotel is part of Marriot.  If you're a Marriot Rewards member you can earn points on each stay; use points for a stay (currently 45, 000 Marriot points); or use points and cash for rooms.  Special rates are offered if you have AAA, AARP, or military memberships.

Another item on my wine list is: Get my hands of more Violin Wine. (There I go "bolding" again)

Violin Wines was started in Oregon by my beach bestie's son, Will.  Knowing my love of pinot noirs, BB (beach bestie) brought me a bottle last summer.  She was a little secretive when presenting the bottle.  Perhaps she didn't want others to see what she had given me;)  Actually, she wanted to show and tell the label.

See when you cover up the V and the I of the label, what remains is O L I N.  What does "OLIN" mean, you ask?  Olin just happens to be the BB's grandson-Will's son.  Isn't that just the sweetest thing ever?  Now you see why I have to get more Violin wine...and it's a pretty outstanding wine:)

Please follow Violin Wine on Facebook or on Violin Wine's website if you want to find out when and where the next case of wine can be found.
Violin Wine's Profile Photo


Friday, April 8, 2016

Georgia on my mind

I'm taking a break from Fearless Friday because y'all know what time it is, right?? First week of April must mean it's Masters Week!

I've got a little Georgia on my mind. Azaleas, Green jackets, Bulldogs.  Ok, that one slipped in there. My baby girl is a student at UGA...GO DAWGS!

BTW, UGA is well represented this year at the Masters Tournament. Bubba Watson, Harris English, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, and Patrick Reed all played golf at UGA. Go Dawgs! Did I say that already?

Now let's talk Masters.  Augusta National and The Masters are on my bucket list! Every year I put my name in the ticket lottery.  Every year I get a "we're sorry, you weren't selected" email. Boo!  If anyone is listening, er, reading and has connections all I really want is to attend a practice round... or two. A girl can dream, right? ;)

For 2016 I'll be watching The Masters Tournament from the comfort of my home.  Of course in true Southern fashion, I'm making a party out of it.

  • Cocktail-The Azalea (1 part lime or lemon juice, 1 part pineapple juice, 2-3 parts gin depending on how strong you like 'em, a splash of grenadine)
  • Savory-Pimento cheese
  • Sweet-Peach galette

The Azalea is the official cocktail of The Masters. No run of the mill grenadine will do. You must make your own! Trust me, it's easy and tastes way better than the crap you buy at the store.  Visit The Kitchn for an delish grenadine recipe.

Palmetto Cheese with JalapeƱos will be the star!  Think sourdough bread, pimento cheese, Wright Brand bacon (there's really NONE better!) all toasted up to yummy goodness! 

I'm riffing Simply Recipe's peach galette recipe using the shortcut of a ready-made pie crust.  The peaches are pure South Carolina! Did you know South Carolina produces more peaches than Georgia?

My shaker hand has been busy! And we do try to keep things classy around here--cocktails served in fine Waterford crystal.  FORE!  

Friday, April 1, 2016

Fearless Friday-Learning a new party trick

Who says you're too old to learn something new?  Not me!

I recently decided it was time for me to learn a new party trick.  I mean, how many times can I do the "tying cherry stems" trick ?  Time to up my skills and game.  And if  my new trick required buying a new gizmo or gadget, all the better.

Swashbuckling pirates with their puffy shirts, three-cornered hats, and swords have always intrigued me. Well, I took a serious interest in Johnny Depp's pirate persona:). Captain Jack Sparrow is always doing crazy tricks with his sword.  I needed a sword! And I needed a trick for my sword!

SABRAGE!  The trick, um "technique" for opening a champagne bottle with a saber.  What's not to like? Saber? Yes! Champagne? Most definitely! I'm in!

I must say, I was a little fearful before opening my first bottle of champs. Although I'd  watched YouTube videos and studied up, I was still a little skeered ( remember-Southern for scared).

With saber in hand (I ordered an inexpensive one from Amazon), the first champagne sabering went off without a hitch.  The second, not so good.  The bottle neck broke and cut my thumb as gravity took over :(. Good news, not much champs was lost :)

More studying and practice of sabrage and now thanks to the mister we have some fine film footage on my new improved party trick.  Roll that footage...

Here are tips that I follow:

  • Wear safety glasses (sunglasses can be used; they make you look cool). Leather gloves can be used for hand protection.
  • Look for champagne bottles that have seams down the side (French champagne bottle most certainly do; California champ brands Chandon and Korbel do also)
  • Take a chilled bottle of champagne and remove all the foil from the top and neck of the bottle.
  • Place the neck of the bottle upside down in ice water (I use a 50/50 mix) for 7 minutes.  Do NOT go more than 10 minutes as this makes the neck too cold and weak (lesson learned on my second bottle).
  • Remove bottle from ice water.
  • Loosen the cage (wire thingy) and bend it up so it is out of the way.  I do not remove the cage completely as a safety precaution.  Alton Brown does (Watch Mr Brown's sabering Youtube video here).
  • Place thumb in the punt (bottom) of the bottle while holding the bottle at a 35 degree angle.
  • Point the corked bottle AWAY for anyone or anything that could be damaged.
  • Using the blunt (back) side of saber, aim for the sweet spot--where the side seam of the bottle meets the neck seam.
  • Take a few practice glides.
  • The final swipe and the neck, cork, and cage should come of cleanly.

Enjoy the weekend friends! I'm off to enjoy some champs!

Legal disclaimer-I am not a professional at sabrage.  If you attempt to saber a champagne bottle, do so at your own risk.