Accidental Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Cocktail

Accidental Strawberry Rhubarb Cocktail

The other day while making strawberry rhubarb jam, I had a bit of a problem. A good problem. My strawberries were just too juicy. I’ve been using the same recipe for 3 years now, adapted from Preserving Summer’s Bounty. First macerate the strawberries in honey overnight. Then, mix together strawberries and juices, extra honey, lemon juice and rhubarb. Cook that down and you have jam, right? In this case, very wrong. At the stage that I should have almost reached the jellying stage, I was instead left with somewhat of a strawberry soup. A deep, rich red broth with the occasional strawberry or hunk of rhubarb bobbing up and down.

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Infused Alcohols: Apricot Brandy

Apricot Brandy

After my experiments with infused vodkas and homemade gin last Christmas, the requests have come in. Mostly from my husband. So when I came across this super simple Apricot Brandy recipe on Buzzfeed’s list of 30 Best DIY Food Gifts, how could I resist? PS–there’s a ton of other awesome suggestions as well like bacon salt, cinnamon honey butter and homemade dog biscuits.

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When Life Gives You Dandelions–Make Wine!

A few weeks ago I went to visit my friend, Cristin, in Baltimore. It was a beautiful weekend in early April. Baltimore being only a few hours south of New York, I’m still always surprised by the weather difference. Magnolia and Cherry Blossoms were already in full bloom, with New York’s spring still a few weeks away. There was no shortage of activities in front of us–museums, Fells Point, antiquing. But being high off my first foraging experience just the weekend the before, we decided on what any sane, classy women in their early 30s would do. We spent the afternoon picking dandelions and the evening making wine.

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Foraging for Violets – Violet Syrup and Bonus Cocktail

plate of violets

How about some foraging projects this weekend? The weather is BEAUTIFUL here in Brooklyn, as was last weekend. With a little chilliness in between. But with the fantastic weather last weekend, I tested the foraging skills I learned on a tour with Leda Meredith. I came home with several quarts of violets, two quarts of dandelions and plans to turn these beautiful edibles into delectable treats. I felt a little bad because I was fairly certain I had cleared out all the violets in Owl’s Head Park, Brooklyn (don’t worry–I couldn’t even make a dent in the dandelion population. However, on my walk yesterday afternoon, I found probably three times the violets I had seen the previous weekend. They returned with a vengeance, a forager’s own utopia.

This weekend I challenge you to get outside and enjoy the weather, and most importantly forage for your own beautiful violets, before they’re gone for the year. As a reward, I’ll share a new violet recipe each day this weekend. And since it’s Friday night, and we’re all done with this hectic work week (let’s be honest, we were done on Tuesday), it’s only proper to start with a cocktail using homemade violet syrup.

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Local Luck of the Irish

Irish Boozy hiding in a Mason Jar

Irish Booze Hidden in a Mason Jar

I’m not Irish, not in the littlest bit. A pure bred Polish girl is what you’re looking at. But when my mom remarried over a decade ago, she chose an Irishman, with roots from Northern Ireland, just outside Belfast. I met his family for 5 minutes when they came for the wedding in 2001. When I really met them for first time we went to Ireland in 2002 and spent barely a week with them, but they welcomed me like I had always been part of the family. Two years later when my friend and I backpacked across Europe, my stepfather’s parents welcomed us into their home and insisted on taking us to visit every tourist location and castle within a 50 mile radius. I swear his mom, then in her 70s had more spunk and energy than we did at 21. We weren’t allowed to sleep in or lounge around–there was always something to see and do. His niece, my cousin in law, took us out on the town in Belfast and introduced us to Spuds (loaded baked potatoes–the Irish solution to our late night post bar diner food). So while I have no actual Irish blood in me, I think a bit has rubbed off.

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