Lavender Vanilla Bourbon Cocktail

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It’s not hard to love lavender, with its sweet scent and beautiful soft purple blossoms. We have a huge more-or-less overgrowing lavender bush in our front yard. In June and early July, it’s bustling with bees and the fragrance is intoxicating. As we live right downtown in Ashland, there’s a lot of foot traffic along the sidewalk in front of our home. This particular overgrown, wildly reaching lavender beckons folks to pick a sprig here and there. One new experience this year that our lavender apparently instilled as I looked on from our front porch, included two grown women who stretched their arms wide, crouched to their knees, and took in a full frontal brushing from our [poor] sweet smelling lavender bush. It was very dramatic (although I suppose living in a town known for its nearly year-round Shakespeare Festival, that isn’t entirely surprising).

That aside, one other thing I was excited to learn about lavender not too long ago, was the culinary purposes it could provide. Lavender ice cream was my introduction and it was thoroughly delightful. Fragrant, floral, sweet. Perfect in a creamy ice cream. Most recently I saw a honey simple syrup that had included lavender steeped in it and instantly my mind went to cocktail hour. While I tend to prefer a drink that isn’t overly sweet, the balance of the following syrup and the rich warmth of bourbon works nicely. This is a great drink for the end of the week (or whenever you prefer) and the recipe is easy to double, or triple, if you’re preparing drinks for someone other than yourself (or merely find yourself really thirsty).

Cheers!

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Lavender Vanilla Bourbon Cocktail

Yields one drink, for one lady or sir. Easily doubled.

Ingredients:

For the honey lavender vanilla simple syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 tablespoons culinary grade lavender

For the cocktail:
1 ounce of the above simple syrup
2-3 ounces of good quality bourbon (Knob Creek is my preferred)
1/2 a lime, squeezed
4 ounces ginger ale
ice and slice of lime for serving

Directions:

Make your simple syrup:
In a small pot, combine the water, honey, and sugar. Stir over medium-high heat until the honey and sugar completely disintegrates. Add the vanilla bean (scraped insides and the pod as well) and lavender, stirring to submerge them into the liquid. Bring to a low boil for 10-15 minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup, removing the vanilla bean pod and the lavender. Keep refrigerated in a covered bottle for up to a week.

Cocktail time!
In a highball glass, or your preferred glass, fill with ice. Add the simple syrup, bourbon, lime juice, and ginger ale. Stir until well combined. Add a slice of lime for garnish and drink IMMEDIATELY ;)

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Blueberry Almond Steel Cut Oats

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We just got back from a few days of traveling. Whenever we are gone for more than a day or two, one of the things I most look forward to is being back in my own kitchen. It’s not that I don’t completely appreciate being able to eat out, or try new restaurants in different cities and towns; there is merely a comfort in being able to prepare what I enjoy eating, whenever I decide to do so.

That said, we had a mediocre breakfast before getting on the road this morning, ala the complimentary vouchers we were given as the peace offering for hotel management screwing up our room reservation, then moving us the second night to another crummy room that included nonworking wall outlets and a broken air conditioning unit. All I could think about were these oats as I ate my overly runny scrambled eggs and freezer-burnt tasting potatoes.

This recipe is simple and delicious. If you’ve made steel cut oats, it’s likely you’ve either made or had a version of it before. The recipe is easily adaptable to ingredients you have on hand. Since steel cut oats take a bit longer to cook than rolled oats, I like to set them up the night before so when morning rolls around, it takes a mere two or three minutes to heat them up.

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Blueberry Almond Steel Cut Oats

Yields 6 or so servings.

Ingredients:
2 cups water
2 cups vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
2 cups steel cut oats
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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Directions:
In a pot, combine the water, almond milk, sugar, salt, and peanut butter. Heat over medium, stirring until the peanut butter melts and blends with the rest of the mixture.

Stir in the almonds and oats. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Stir in the blueberries, almond extract, and cinnamon. Cover and remove from heat. Let the mixture sit overnight.

In the morning, uncover the pan and bring the oatmeal back up to a simmer over medium-low heat. You can thin out the oatmeal and create a creamier consistency by stirring in a cup of milk before reheating.

When warm, serve. You can add more blueberries, some toasted almonds or coconut, or your preferred toppings.

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Day to Day Life: Week Twenty-Nine

The last week looked a little like this:

Looking up…
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Homemade ravioli one night, stuffed with ricotta, spinach, crimini mushrooms and topped with a homemade spicy marinara.

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Salmon tacos for my husband and I one night…

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My mother in law is watching Teddy while his mama, who is also Vincent’s mama, is on Kauai for the week. Teddy is the best little guy. Especially when he lays like this without moving for 4-8 minutes.

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What to do when you have a crap ton of zucchini growing? Make zucchini parmesan on a bed of garlic basil parmesan pasta.

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I had the opportunity to participate in an online honey webinar this week, which included some tasting samples. Nothing like receiving little spoons and little pots of honey ala FedEx!

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Bourbon-thirty.

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Overloaded quesadillas for lunch one day. Rice, black beans, cheese, soyrizo, salsa and jalapenos stuffed in those tortillas!

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Mt. Shasta from the I-5, southbound with Silas Henry for a few days.

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Golden hills are one of my favorite things to pass in northern California…

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Did I pack a margarita making kit for the trip? Absolutely.

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We went to the Oakland A’s game this afternoon…

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A moment on the BART.

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Burrito time…!

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Happy Hour for 3. One minus the booze.

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Silas met 3 boys from China who spoke almost no English… it didn’t keep them from playing together.

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Happy weekend, friends!

Saturday Sites: Week Twenty-Nine

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  1. My slippers will never become “flip-flops” or “sandals.” I’ve converted my husband and stepchildren to correctly refer to them as slippers.

  2. This salsa screams summer to me. I would eat it by the bucket-loads.

  3. The reversed melting parts were my favorite… and made me really hungry for ice cream.

  4. These words:
    born

  5. Bwahahaha. Then there’s a tiny little bedroom… I died.

  6. I could totally dive into this pasta.

  7. This is one of my favorite TED Talks. I’ve watched it numerous times and love it more and more every time.

  8. Seriously? Number 7… And Number 10 may be the laziest-person-invention EVER. I’m slowly losing my faith in humanity. Hah.

  9. I’m very disappointed that I wasn’t invited to this party.

  10. Yum, yum, yum, this blueberry peach crisp!

  11. Photos that show how motherhood hasn’t changed over the last 50 years

  12. This tiny home is very cool.

  13. Abandoned amusement parks are pretty eerie.

  14. As well, these vintage Disneyland characters?! GAH!

  15. This map of rude and crudely named places around the world made me laugh like I am 12.

  16. Correct… I’d like to be having adventures in all of these places!

  17. I do like the concept of this project… and wonder how much dog hair our family would be laying in.

  18. This list

  19. Yes.

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Baked Cherry Doughnuts with a Cherry Glaze and Toasted Almonds

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There’s this thing about baked doughnuts… Somehow they are a cross between both doughnuts and muffins. Obviously that means they’re totally acceptable as breakfast, snacks, a mid-morning (or afternoon, or evening) party-in-your-mouth. These baked cherry doughnuts waiver in that doughnut-muffin realm even more than your average vanilla or chocolate baked doughnut. They’re light, fluffy and filled with fresh cherries.

I left a couple of these glaze-free and they were equally delicious. Do as you will, want, may… all that good stuff.

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Baked Cherry Doughnuts with a Cherry Glaze and Toasted Almonds

Yields about one dozen doughnuts.
* A doughnut pan is needed for this recipe.

Ingredients:

For the doughnuts:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved

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For the glaze:
1/4 cup fresh cherries (about 6), pitted and very finely diced
1 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds

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Directions:

Prepare your doughnuts: Place a rack in the upper third of your oven, then preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a doughnut pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Stir in the buttermilk, melted butter, vanilla, and egg, mixing until all of the ingredients are well combined. Try not to overmix the batter. Gently fold in the halved cherries.

Using a small spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth out the dough, filling each doughnut in the pan three-quarters full.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes,. Keep an eye on them and try not to over-bake them. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the finely diced cherries, milk, melted coconut oil, almond and vanilla extracts, and confectioner’s sugar until smooth.

Once the doughnuts have completely cooled, dip them top-side-down into the glaze. Return to the wire rack then sprinkle with the sliced almonds. Allow the glaze to set for about 30 minutes before serving. For best flavor, eat the day they’re made.

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