I love a super-seasonal cocktail that includes pomegranate, cranberry, cider or something similar—but sometimes I just want a fall drink that’s a little more traditional and not too fussy. This cocktail, called Fields of Gold, is one of my favorites. It’s a variation of a sour, made slightly sweet with the orange and honey. It’s simple and you probably have all the ingredients on hand at any time.
Add a little more lemon or a little less honey syrup to adjust to your liking. I typically go heavy-handed on the bourbon. However you make it, I hope you enjoy it curled up on the couch next to a fire (or under a cozy blanket!). Happy Thanksgiving!
Fields of Gold makes 2 cocktails
4 oz bourbon
4 slices of orange
3 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz honey syrup (combine 1 tbsp honey with 1.5 tsp warm water; stir until honey has thinned)
Place orange slices in a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add ice, bourbon, lemon juice and honey syrup. Shake until very cold. Double strain into two rocks glasses filled with fresh ice. Garnish each with an orange twist.
Barware notes: The glasses were thrifted. Napkins are from cb2. The black juicer and cocktail pick were both old finds at Crate & Barrel.
Thanksgiving is here! Christmas is my favorite holiday (because, duh, CHRISTMAS) but Thanksgiving is definitely my second favorite (because, duh, ALL THE FOOD). I do have a t-giving cocktail up my sleeves—that’s coming! But I came across this cranberry tart from Smitten Kitchen and though Deb’s recipes never need improvement, I knew it could be bumped up just a notch with some bourbon.
I added the good stuff (generously) to the caramel and it turned out so delicious. You can really taste the bourbon (which was the point, tbh), and I think it’s a great addition to the holiday dessert table.
Hope you’ll try it out this week or for one of the many upcoming holiday soirees. Stay tuned for the cocktail!
13 tbsp (1 stick plus 5 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1 tbsp heavy cream
Let the butter come to room temperature. Place the powdered sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the pieces of butter and toss to coat. Using a paddle attachment with a standing mixer, combine the sugar and butter at medium speed, until the sugar is no longer visible. Add the egg yolk and combine until no longer visible.
Scrape down the butter off the sides of the bowl. Add half of the flour, then begin mixing again until the dough is crumbly. Add the remaining flour and then the cream and mix until the dough forms a sticky mass.
Flatten the dough into a thick pancake, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours before preparing to roll out the dough. Lightly butter a 9-inch pastry ring or tartlets, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Once the dough has chilled, cut it in half, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat, until you have 16 equal pieces. Work quickly with the dough so that it remains chilled. Sprinkle your work surface with a thin layer of flour. Knead the pieces of dough together until it forms one new mass and shape it into a flattened ball. Flour a rolling pin and sprinkle flour again on the work surface underneath the dough. Roll out the dough into a circle one-eighth-inch thick.
To easily transfer the dough into the ring or tart pan, fold it in half gently, then in quarters. Move the folded dough to the tart ring or pan, with the point of the dough in the center, then unfold it, gently patting the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the ring. Trim the edges so that they are flush with the top of the ring. You can do the same with the tartlets by simply cutting out a circle the size of the tartlet rings plus about .5 inch. Dock the dough with a pastry docker or prick the dough all over with a fork.
Put the baking sheet and pastry ring into the freezer for 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 350º. Place the baking sheet and ring in the oven and bake 25-30 minutes or until the dough is lightly browned. You can actually cook the crust longer than you think; a deeper golden brown is great. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before filling.
Filling + Assembly
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces
1/4 c. bourbon
1 c. granulated sugar
1 3/4 c. frozen cranberries
2 c. unblanched sliced almonds
Keep (or preheat) the oven to 350º. Measure the bourbon, cream and butter into a saucepan and heat it over low heat. When the butter has melted completely, remove from heat.
To make the caramel, spread the sugar evenly in a perfectly dry, deep 10-inch skillet and place it over medium-low heat.
The sugar should turn straw-colored, then gold and then a nutty-brown caramel after about 10 minutes. If the sugar cooks unevenly, gently tilt or swirl the pan to evenly distribute the sugar. Remove from heat and slowly whisk the bourbon/cream/butter mixture into the sugar, which can splatter as the cream is added (long sleeves are a good precaution). If the caramel seizes, return it to the heat and continue to stir until it is smooth and creamy. Strain the caramel into a bowl and cool it for 30 minutes.
Stir the frozen cranberries and the almonds into the caramel and mix until all the fruit and nuts are coated. Spoon the filling into the partially baked tart dough mounding toward the center.
Bake for 3-40 minutes, until the juices and the caramel are bubbling slowly around the edges. Again, you can bake these for longer than you think. Get those edges nice and brown! Remove from the oven and let stand for 1 hour, then gently lift the tart ring off the pastry.
Carefully transfer the tart to a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature—with ice cream, of course!
I always forget about Kimchi. How fresh and delicious it is—perfectly spicy and full of flavor. Seeing the recipe in Small Victories for Kimchi Fried Rice incited that “YES!” reaction in my belly and so I went forth fearlessly into the world of fried rice!
Luckily, it turned out for me, fried rice is about the easiest thing to whip up for a quick weeknight meal. And bonus: you can make a lot of it ahead of time, like the rice and scallion “salad” to top it off.
I added bacon because a) BACON and b) Kyle is the type of guy whose go-to meal is “meat on bread” and so I threw him a bone by adding a touch of the good stuff into this dish.
The also topped it off with a soft-boiled egg for some protein and to make it feel a little more like a meal than a side dish. The result was a bowl full o’ comfort, and made great leftovers for lunch the next day.
I paired the kimchi fried rice with a classic Dark & Stormy—bold but with a little sweetness to balance out the spice of the kimchi. It’s a great cocktail to serve for guests, too, because of the rum float atop the ginger beer.
One important note about the Dark & Stormy: I’ve made it with ginger simple and seltzer vs. ginger beer, and the latter is just better. Plain and simple. The syrup and seltzer just doesn’t have the strong flavor that really makes for a good Dark & Stormy. I love to keep ginger beer on hand—the mini bottles of Fever Tree are my favorite, since you never really need a full bottle for two cocktails—it will keep in your pantry for quite some time, and its a great addition to so many cocktails.
I’ve got one more recipe up my sleeve from Small Victories, and I can’t wait to share it! In the meantime, grab that leftover rice, pick up a jar of spicy kimchi, and get cookin.’
Kimchi Fried Rice adapted from Small Victories
4 scallions, chopped
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
toasted sesame seeds, optional
1 16-oz jar kimchi, chopped, juices reserved and set aside
3 tbsp canola oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6-8 slices of bacon, diced (or, if you have it already cooked, simply crumble and set aside)
4 cups white or brown rice, cooked (leftover is great—so is Minute Rice. No judgements here!)
1 tbsp soy sauce, plus more to taste
salt to taste
sesame seeds or furikake for garnish
To make the scallion “salad” combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl, mix well and set aside.
To make the rice, warm the canola oil in a skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, bacon (if uncooked), and a pinch of salt. Cook about 5 minutes until onion is soft. Add chopped kimchi and let cook for another 5 minutes. Add the rice, reserved kimchi juice, bacon (if previously cooked), and about 1 tbsp soy sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add more salt and soy sauce to taste.
Serve in bowls topped with the scallion salad and a soft-boiled egg, if desired. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or furikake if you have it on hand!
Dark & Stormy makes 1 cocktail; build each individually
2 oz dark rum
5 oz ginger beer
Fill a rocks glass with ice. Fill about 3/4 of the way with ginger beer. Using an inverted spoon, pour the dark rum slowly over the back of the spoon so the rum floats on top of the ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Sunday mornings are my favorite. I usually spend them lounging in bed, waking up slowly, relishing in the fact that I don’t have anywhere in particular to be, no to-dos that need to be checked off right away. When I finally crawl out from under the covers, I grab a cup of coffee that Kyle (the early riser of our relationship) has brewed.
Scrambled eggs are my go-to weekend breakfast (I finally learned how to make the best scrambled eggs—the secret is in the pull!), bacon (this recipe is everything) and english muffins (ideally from here). Sometimes, though, I like to mix up the breakfast routine and make something different—like waffles, pancakes, or chilaquiles!
Chilaquiles are a great weekend breakfast because they are quick and you can typically adapt them to whatever you have on hand. I made my own chips and homemade salsa for this version (because the salsa from Small Victories is soooo good), but I’ve also used store-bought of both, and honestly, it’s pretty great either way.
A couple pro tips for making the best chilaquiles: sauté the chips right before you’re ready to eat—and go easy on the salsa to start. The chips will get soggy in a hurry, especially if you over-do the salsa, and you can always add more. A little goes way farther than you’d think.
My other tip: fry the eggs separately rather than cracking them over the chips and baking. I’ve made it both ways, and it’s way easier to get the eggs perfectly cooked by frying and adding to the chips.
Chilaquiles are great for a crowd, and equally as perfect for two. Topped with lime sour cream, cotija and picked red onion (don’t skip this! so easy to make and they’ll keep in your fridge)—and you’ve got a show-stopping Sunday breakfast.
I paired them with a tequila-based cocktail called The El Diablo, which also has lime juice, ginger beer, and creme de cassis. It’s a great brunch cocktail but would also be delicious with tacos at dinnertime. Is there every really a bad time for tequila? Happy Sundaying!
Heat oven to 425º. Arrange tomatoes and onion on a baking sheet; dress with a couple of tablespoons of canola oil and a pinch of salt, and roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a blender or food processor, pureé roasted veggies with the jalapeño, salt, cilantro and lime juice. This recipe makes quite a bit of salsa, but I love to use it for dipping plain ol’ chips.
For the pickled red onions
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. water
Combine all ingredients in a mason jar. Shake well. Let sit for at least 20 minutes until serving. Will keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks.
For the chilaquiles
4 generous handfuls of chips (fry strips or wedges of tortillas in canola oil, 1-2 minutes per side; or use store-bought chips)
1/4 c. salsa (see above)
2 fried eggs, sunny-side up
sour cream (add lime juice to taste, optional)
1/4 c. pickled red onions (see above)
1/4 c. crumbled cotija
cilantro leaves for garnish
In a deep skillet, combine chips with salsa. Sauté for a few minutes to coat chips; remove from heat. Arrange sautéed chips on two individual plates or bowls. Top with a fried egg, then pickled red onions, cotija, sour cream and cilantro. Serve immediately.
El Diablo makes two cocktails
3 oz tequila (blanco and reposado are both great options) or mezcal
2 oz creme de cassis
1.5 oz fresh lime juice
3-4 oz ginger beer
Combine the first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until very cold, about 20 seconds. Strain into two coupe glasses. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wedge.
When I spotted the recipe for “Feel-Better-Soon Cookies” in Small Victories, I earmarked the page immediately. Though I love savory dishes (read: all the cheese and basically anything salty), sweets are my true love. Pies, cakes, cookies—my love knows no bounds. If it has sugar in it, I’m in.
What I loved about these cookies—and the Small Victories book at large—is how much Julia invites you to make the recipes your own. Almost all of them include ideas for swapping ingredients, using what you have on hand, and not following the rules all the time. Rule-breakers, unite.
My variation kept the oats (though you could sub in ground nuts), chocolate chips (I almost exclusively use Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips—the best quality chips at a reasonable price and available everywhere), and tart dried cherries, because I had them on hand from a batch of granola I made. The result was perfection.
The cookies are super soft and pretty flat—which I tried to fix by refrigerating the dough and baking longer—but then realized they are best in their ooey, gooey form. Just embrace it!
These treats would certainly be perfect for someone who needs a little pick-me-up or dose of comfort—and equally as good for no reason at all, other than wanting a damn good cookie.
In my opinion, the only acceptable beverage with cookies is milk, so I started thinking about the classic White Russian. I found a variation that originated at the Tosca Café in San Francisco which uses brandy, and used bourbon instead. Combined with coffee liqueur, warm coffee and rich half and half, it was super smooth and decadent—perfect with the cookies.
I enjoyed the two after dinner as a nightcap, but I would not argue with you if you insisted on spiked coffee and cookies for breakfast on a Saturday. Remember? We’re rule breakers around here.
The White Nun makes 1 cocktail; build each cocktail individually
Combine the first four ingredients in a mug, stir to mix, and top with lots of foam. Sip alongside a feel-better-soon cookie (or two).
Feel-Better-Soon Cookies adapted from Small Victories cookbook; makes about 24 cookies
2 sticks butter at room temp
I cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. flour
1 cup rolled oats (or ground nuts)
3/4 c. chocolate chips—I love Ghirardelli’s 60% cacao chips
1/2 c. dried fruit of your choice (raisins, cherries, diced apricots, etc)
Preheat oven to 350º. Beat butter and brown sugar together until well-combined and fluffy. Add vanilla, eggs, baking soda, salt and flour. Mix until combined. Add remaining ingredients until everything is distributed evenly in the dough.
Scoop dough into 1-inch balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes for gooey cookies, 15-17 for crispy cookies.
Two years ago, I spent what may well have been the best two weeks of my life in Italy with my two sisters—jumping from city to city, seeing allllll the sights, and of course eating and drinking everything. While we had many amazing meals, the cacio e pepe that I had in Rome was the highlight. Creamy butter, nutty parmesan, and the perfect amount of fresh ground pepper. A gift from the heavens, if you ask me.
So cacio e pepe popcorn? No brainer. I saw this gem tucked away in the back of Small Victories (which I’m cooking from all month!) under the heading “Seven Easy-but-Memorable Bites to Have with Drinks”—clearly the section intended solely for me—and within minutes I was snacking away.
What I love most about this recipe (and truly, so much of this book in general) is that you probably have the ingredients on hand. I almost always have freshly-grated parmesan in my fridge, and butter? Do you know me at all? I will never be without butter. I think it was part of my marriage vows.
Three ingredients. That’s it. You could certainly pop your own popcorn over the stove, but honestly I threw a plain ol’ bag of popcorn in the microwave and used that. Be sure to butter and pepper your popcorn as soon as you remove it from the heat or microwave so that it sticks to the kernels. Otherwise you end up with parm and pepper at the bottom of the bowl and you’ll be forced to grab a spoon and lap it up. I mean…throw it out. Ya, that.
I paired the popcorn with an Italian cocktail, the Sbagliato (pronounced, from what I can tell, spah-li-ah-to)—the lovechild of an Italian spritz and a negroni. Sbagliato actually means mistake in Italian; legend is, a bartender was making a negroni and accidentally added Prosecco instead of gin—but the customer insisted on trying it and loved it even more than his old negroni. And the sbagliato was born!
I like this cocktail because it adds a little sweetness that you don’t get with a traditional negroni. It worked well with the cacio e pepe because it adds a little bitterness and sweetness to the savory snack. I went a little heavier on the Prosecco and lighter on the vermouth and Campari to keep it light and easy to sip.
So fire up the Netflix, cozy up under a blanket, make yourself a cocktail and gather ’round a big ol’ bowl of cacio e pepe popcorn. Happy Friday!
Pop the popcorn to package instructions. While still hot, transfer to a large bowl and immediately add parmesan and as much cracked pepper as you like—I used about 3/4 tsp. Mix well and serve immediately.
The Sbagliato makes 1 cocktail; build each individually
.5 oz sweet vermouth
.5 oz Campari
Prosecco or sparkling wine—I prefer a drier, less sweet variation
Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add vermouth and Campari and then top with the Prosecco or sparkling wine. Mix and enjoy!
After only a few weeks back to blogging, I found myself at a bit of a crossroads: I was incredibly happy to be behind my camera again, playing with props and dreaming up new cocktails; but I was also feeling a little antsy and a little uninspired. It felt a bit like Groundhog Day: make new cocktail, photograph new cocktail; post new cocktail. I started to feel like I was going through the motions for the sake of it.
So, I took a step back. I made a list of the reasons I started blogging in the first place: to learn more about photography, to explore the ins-and-outs of food styling, to write from my heart. To be honest, cocktails were really just my subject matter; they were never the end game. I don’t aspire to know the mechanics of distilling or the intricate differences between vermouth and punt e mes. All I really want is to inspire and be inspired.
So I stopped with my self-imposed rules. Who said I have to make cocktails and cocktails only? I had ventured into the food realm before and found it so rewarding. To test out recipes I had bookmarked and to play with props beyond coupes and juicers—that felt good. I wanted more of that.
While Amazon-wishlisting the many incredible fall book releases, an idea came to me—cookbooks! Of course. I probably have over 50 of them in my to-buy queue. And even though so much of my world is digital, there is something about holding a beautiful book in your hands and creating something delicious from it.
And so the idea was born: choose a cookbook each month, pick a handful of my favorite recipes, and dream up some delicious cocktails to go with them. Heck yes!
For my first selection, I chose Small Victories by Julia Turshen. If you don’t know Julia, she’s a recipe developer for the stars, sort of—working with the likes of Gwenyth and Mario Batali (no big deal)—as well as an accomplished chef in her own right. She just wrote a cookbook of her own, which immediately stood out to me because of its accessible subject matter: simple recipes we can master in our home kitchens. Think: a tried-and-true lasagna, versatile dressings you can keep on hand, and appetizers suited for Sunday nights and dinner parties alike. I was sold.
The first recipe I chose was Julia’s Carrot + Tahini salad, which feels fresh enough for the warm days of our Indian summer and autumnal enough for the early days of October.
With it, I paired one of my favorite cocktails, The White Stag, which I sipped at Penrose in Oakland quite some time ago. I begged the bartender to give me the full recipe and he kindly scribbled it on a scrap of paper for me, sending me off with luck and well wishes.
The drink is only slightly sweet and a little savory from the celery which I think goes well with the tahini. I love the smokiness of the mezcal as well—be sure not to skip it.
I hope you’ll explore Small Victories with me! It’s only $20 on Amazon. Seriously. Can’t wait to share my next pick from the book with you.
Cheers—and bon appetit, too.
Shaved Carrot Salad with Tahini adapted from Small Victories by Julia Turshen
1 generous tbsp tahini
2 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch of carrots, shaved or thinly sliced into coins
1 avocado, sliced
handful of roasted nuts—pine nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds work well
2 scallions, diced
Combine first five ingredients and shake well to combine. Plate each salad individually, starting with carrots followed by avocado, nuts and scallions. Drizzle each salad with dressing. Serve and enjoy!
The White Stag makes two cocktails
.25 oz absinthe
1.5 oz gin
1.5 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz mezcal
1 oz dry vermouth (Dolin Blanc recommended)
1 oz simple syrup
2 celery stalks, ends removed and chopped into chunks
Rinse two coupe glasses with absinthe; toss (or better—drink!) any remaining. Set aside. Add celery to a shaker and muddle well, 20-30 seconds. Add all other ingredients to the shaker with ice and shake until very cold, about 20 seconds. Double strain into the coupe glasses.
September 21st signaled the beginning of fall—but the thing is, summer isn’t ready to hit the road just yet. Temperatures soared over triple digits up north this past weekend, and strawberries, not pumpkins, lined the baskets at my local produce stand. I went in search of something seasonal to dream up a new cocktail with—and strawberries it was.
Whiskey seemed too heavy for the heat, and in the spring I created a bourbon-strawberry cocktail anyhow. Gin seemed like the perfect pairing, and in hopes of creating a variation of the negroni I actually enjoyed, I went to work with my berries.
I skipped the vermouth integral to a classic negroni and instead used the sweetness of the strawberry and tartness of balsamic vinegar to create a similar flavor profile. I could have probably let them soak in the vinegar for an hour or two to the same effect, but instead roasted them for just a few minutes over low heat.
The result is a vaguely sweet but still largely bitter cocktail—Campari can’t be overshadowed by much, so it retains its bite. It felt like the perfect sip for a hot summer day just teetering on the heels of fall.
Strawberry-Balsamic Negroni makes 2 cocktails
2 oz gin
2 oz Campari
2 oz strawberry-balsamic syrup (recipe follows)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir rapidly until cold and slightly diluted, about 15 seconds. Double strain into two rocks glass filled with fresh ice. No garnish necessary.
2 cups of fresh strawberries, quartered
3 tbsp balsamic
2 tbsp sugar
Combine all ingredients in a skillet over low heat. Stirring frequently, allow sugar to dissolve in the vinegar and strawberries to begin getting mushy, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, coaxing as much syrup from the fruit as possible. Makes about enough for two cocktails.
Barware notes: The rocks glass is from Crate & Barrel. The napkin was thrifted. The cast iron was handed down to me from Kyle’s nana (hi Nana!).
Sip + Skim my favorite finds this week, boozy and otherwise
This post—from the cutest mom ever—on not identifying as a mom really resonated with me. Even though we don’t have kids yet, the eventual intersection (and reckoning) of me and parent occupies many of my wandering thoughts.
I finally read the uber-hyped book of the summer, The Girls, and it was everything I wanted it to be and more. Cline’s writing is just plain bonkers good. Now I’m reading this (a coming-of-age novel set in NYC? No-brainer) and after that comes this. There will be tears.
Have you watched the Tony Robbins documentary? I’m pretty sure I spent two hours with my mouth gaping open. Still unclear if I’m repulsed or inspired.
Next time you’re looking for a thoughtful housewarming gift—which is to say, always—this guide is the ultimate.
Cocktail inspiration aplenty is crowding my brain at the moment, but I’m itching to get my hands on some Pastis before all else.
Get your fill of mellow, late summer/early fall jams from the band Bouquet, which I can’t remember how I discovered but am so glad I did.
Two current favorite blogs: (1) Cake Over Steak—food blogger/artist/jane of so many talents—you’ll do a double-take to decipher her illustrations from photographs; (2) Bev Cooks—her Instagram captions/stories make me giggle, she has two adorable toe-headed twins who she pokes fun at, and her blog is a mashup of awesome. Trust me. (I made this recipe last week and it was 100%.)
I’m starting a new item called “Things I Recently Added to My Amazon Wishlist”. This vegetable brush is supposed to be the b-e-s-t at scrubbing dishes, and this floss is the chicest dental product since, well, ever. (It comes in coconut and cara cara orange, people!)
Always on the hunt for new podcasts, I’m getting ready to binge listen to In the Dark, the newest member of the true crime genre—it’s gotten fantastic reviews and has a great digital component to boot.
Roundups and lists are my favorite—can you tell?—and Undrrated, a weekly compilation of music/reads/links/etc from women you either know or want to know, is a must-open.
No—really. For the last four weeks, I’ve gotten daily reminders in my inbox that this domain was about to expire. That my hosting services were coming to an end. That this space would be taken from me if I didn’t act now. Like, right now.
I’d be a fool if I didn’t see the symbolism in these pestering notes, the threats of closure looming as I approach the five-month mark of the last time I posted here. I wish I could say the months flew by without me realizing that I hadn’t written in so long, but that wouldn’t be true. I’ve thought about this virtual home of mine every day. I mentally added posts to my to-do list and then found reasons not to follow through. Long days at a new job. Summer vacations. Weddings, bachelorette parties, birthdays, family gatherings. Obligations.
But that’s not why I was taking an unplanned sabbatical. There was more to it than that.
I was recently rereading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and came across one of my favorite pages in the book: The List of Ways in Which You Might Be Afraid to Live a Creative Life. This isn’t any clichéd list, either—it’s an extensive list of detailed reasons why you aren’t doing the thing you know you should (and want to) be doing.
Though they all sound quite familiar, these were the ones that sucker-punched me in the gut:
You’re afraid somebody did it better. You’re afraid everybody did it better. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of training. You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack. You’re afraid you’re too old to start.
And finally, this one:
You’re afraid you’ve neglected your creativity for so long that now you can never get it back.
Just typing those out made my inner critic jump with joy. You ARE a hack. Someone WILL do it better. Your creativity IS gone. Are these words as familiar to you as they are to me?
It would be pretty easy to listen and obey—to succumb to these fears and move on with life. Pack up my proverbial blogging bag, let the domain expire, and console myself with some platitude about how it wasn’t meant to be.
But then I reread Liz’s crucial rebuttal to The List of Ways in Which You Might Be Afraid to Live a Creative Life:
Fear is boring. Everyone’s song of fear has exactly the same tedious lyric: STOP! STOP! STOP! It’s the same thing every day.
Who wants to do the same thing every day? Not me. I realized that’s been my biggest gripe about the last five months: they bored me. The monotony of our lives—the grocery shopping, the deadlines, the 7am alarm—is made less so when we let a little creativity in. I was bored of fear. It was time.
And so I renewed my domain. I committed to another year of hosting. I remembered why I started, and began again.
I hope these words don’t come off as self-indulgent or navel-gazing. I’m thinking that if you’re reading this, you, too are creative—which you are, because we all are—and have experienced these same sentiments and might feel stuck as well.
Whatever distractions—fears, that is—are keeping you from your pursuit, I hope you’ll toss them aside, even if momentarily, and start again, too.
This recipe is super simple and is perfect for the last dog days of summer! I recommend using a dry rosé, but really any you have on hand will do. A sparkling rosé would make a great variation as well.
Rosé Sangria with Fresh Fruit Ice Cubes makes approximately 4 cocktails
Fruit, fruit peels or herbs of your choice
Fruit juice or water
2 oz orange liqueur
1 bottle of rosé
Ice cube trays
To make the cubes, fill an ice cube tray with the fruit, herb or peel of your choice. Cover with water or fruit juice. Freeze at least 4 hours.
To make the sangria, simply build each cocktail individually. Add several fruit ice cubes to a glass; top with .5 oz orange liqueur and your favorite rose!
Ah, bourbon, my old friend. I’ve missed thee. Lately I’ve been into gin and tequila and my bottles of whiskey and bourbon have been left neglected. The booze equivalents of the kids picked last in gym class. Just sitting there quietly at the back of my bar cart, unassuming. UNTIL NOW.
Strawberry season is here—maybe my favorite right after citrus season. I had just picked up several baskets of them from a local selling them on the corner (this legitimately happens in Sonoma County)—they were so sweet and delicious and I knew they would be perfect in a cocktail.
I was flipping through my Death & Co. book (have I mentioned this book before? Only at least least a dozen times? Once more for good measure, then: this book is everything), and came across this strawberry-bourbon number that basically jumped off the page and begged me to make it. It was divine intervention, if you ask me.
It turned out SO. GOOD. I know this recipe has more ingredients than I typically like to use (let’s keep things accessible around here!), but I think this one is worth the extra effort. You can make small batches of the syrups (linked below), and you already have orgeat on hand from making the Pink Lady. See? This cocktail practically makes itself! The consuming though, you’ll have to take part in. Sorry. I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them. Bottoms up!
Warehouse C adapted from Death & Co.; makes 1 cocktail
2 strawberries, halved
1.5 oz bourbon (I used Heritage Distilling Co.’s Batch 12)
Muddle strawberries very well in a cocktail shaker; add ice and all other ingredients, and shake until very cold, about 20 seconds. Double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a strawberry. Die happy.