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Just Add Wine Cocktail – Yields One Chichi Summer Outdoor Experience

20 Jul

Dear Jess,
Thank you and Shannon so so much for coming all the way down to Canada (down, technically, right? when you’re coming
from Minnesota to South-Western Ontario…) in order to celebrate the 4th with us!  Your  patriotic cynicism and Shannon’s grill-mastery made the evening.
After this excellent string of BBQ’s, which you anticipated in April with your Portobello Mushroom grillers, I am starting to feel, well, thirsty.  And while Coors Light and Molson Canadian may have been appropriate for an All-American, er, Canadian cook-out, our subsequent ‘cues have lacked a certain classy, refreshing, thirst-quenching element.
Thus, I dedicate this post to summer, to sparklers, and to you, dear sister, who always bring the culinary class!
Love, Bec

happy plants from the Spring enterprise

Earlier this summer Nina requested permission from our landlord to plant a garden in our back yard.  Three days of dedicated digging and fertilizing and hoeing (bow chicka bow…oh nevermind) and deliberating about how much space tomato plants really need and how deep the holes need be (no bow-chicka intended) we finally had 1/2 of the plants we’d bought in the ground.  The other half has remained in their seedling pots on our front porch until today which, for anyone keeping track, is JULY! Continue reading


Sour Jerks and the Women Who Love Them.

24 May

Dear Bec & Nina,

I’m writing this from my stuffy Chicago apartment just a day away from departing for your love ratification festival of joy (aka wedding). This meal is a lil’ mixture of your old Caribbean hood in Brooklyn and the Eastern European vinegariness of Chicago. Hope you all enjoy it. I’ll do a repeat of whatever you would like to sample when I see you on Friday! 

Love you, Margie

The slow arrival of summer in Chicago is always a relief. Not because of the end of the bitter winds, drifting snow, and constant gray sludge attached to the bottom of my jeans, but because I can finally accept that my neighbors were not eaten my zombies. Snowmagedden, what we fondly call the blizzard of 2011, made my back deck a wasteland of snowdrifts and rotting lawn furniture. After a few months of teasingly warm temps and nights in the 40s, we’ve reached a plateau and I’m finally beginning to see life in the neighborhood again. Back doors have slammed open and my neighbors have appeared again, alive, and ready to grill.

Cooks should ensure that there’s room in the fridge for a couple of loiterers as these babies will need 24 hours chillin for maximum flavor.  

People of all genders can love the Jerk.

Jerk chicken is one of the easiest, most flavorful dishes to grill. Some folks turn to spice rubs and bottles o’ jerk but the results are just not the same!  Continue reading

Apple Cider Day is the Best Day

23 Sep
Wow Becky.  I love the creative ways you are using your apples.  Usually I just get stuck in one of three routes:  apple pie, apple sauce and apple pie.  Whoops.  I forgot a fourth – apple cider.

This press is so old, the pallet is in two pieces and has to be held together as the crank descends.

Apple cider is flat-out my favorite holiday of the year.  What’s this?  You’ve never heard of apple cider day?  Okay, maybe it’s just a Bailey family tradition, but it’s one I think we all should celebrate.  I do honestly believe that if we could set aside our differences and band together in a pursuit of still-warm-from-the-sun, fresh-squeezed, direct from the apple, unpasteurized cider, this country would be a better place.  Come to an apple cider day celebration and you will agree with me, I promise.  Continue reading

Bitter Tears (jk, jk, jk)

11 Aug

cold brew is bettah

This morning Nina woke me up at the ungodly hour of 6:45am.  Okay, let me clarify quickly.  Normally for me, 6:45am should not be ungodly – I might even call it a refreshing wake up hour, when I’m in the daily rhythm of work, play, home and repeat.  But I’m not.  I’m unemployed, and despite my efforts to stay on a strict 9-5:00pm “work” schedule, after a few late nights of wine, too much laughter and the cozy cocoon of my dearest gal pals, Nina and Bec, the task of getting up before 7:00am to wish them goodbye feels wrong on so many levels.

They are driving away now, heading first to New York but then off on their great northern adventure, leaving me here in DC sleepy and sad at the empty day before me.

Enter my drug of choice and personal motivator:  iced coffee.

Iced coffee, whilst a must for any corner coffee shop or deli, seems to be confoundingly difficult to make for many professional establishments that serve coffee.  The Zoe of 4 years ago would understand, having never heard of “cold brew” coffee, but still partial to the cool morning jolt.  I do remember convincing a manager at the restaurant I worked at in Madison to allow me to brew hot coffee and cool it in the industrial freezer, serving it to desiring customers in beer glasses (yes, Wisconsin) once it reached lukewarm.    Continue reading

Move Over Mimosa!

8 Aug

bellinis are best with past-prime stone fruits

So, I’m in the middle of moving to a small city in Western Ontario called London.  At first, I assumed that repeating, “No, it’s London, Ontario … like in Canada, not in England!” would be the topmost annoying aspect of living there.  In fact, that is only the twelfth most annoying aspect (the first most, it transpires, is the homicidal truck drivers who seem to have it in for their arch nemesis: the bicycle).

Anyhow, after two weeks of settling affairs in London, I have high-tailed it back to the States, where I intend to stay until school starts for my partner in September.

Thus, last week found me hopelessly lost on small town highways in the wilds of Upstate New York.  In my New York State guidebook, this experience will come highly recommended… especially if it culminates in excellent directions from a mildly drunk trucker named Barney at a roadside diner.

Things you can expect to find when lost Upstate:

  • Tall, winding hills, the tops of which offer superlatively beautiful mountain vistas, and the bottoms of which make for delightfully breezy coasting
  • Cool, fragrant fresh air (though, admittedly, sometimes that fragrance is cow … a different kind of fresh)
  • Numerous roadside stands, on which you can find corn, tomatoes, potatoes, peaches, nectarines and apricots, all picked that day, with an accompanying honor system cash box for self service check-out

And so, instead of feeling lost in the boons of NY, I found myself believing that I had been guided by some benevolent providence to a Land of Fresh.  Plus, the stone fruit we bought was worth the two-hour ‘detour’ any day.

What to do with five pounds of just picked stone fruits?

First, you obviously want to stuff your face.  No napkins or knives necessary: luxuriate in an all natural apricot face and neck masque!

Second, pair with yogurt, ice cream, pancakes, or slice a few before, after or alongside basically any meal at all.

But, if you’re anything like me, your eyes were bigger than your stomach and you’re left five days later with three wilted and bruised, past-prime nectar nuggets.


Instead, here is a recipe for the best of brunch beverages: the Bellini.

Mimosa, move over!

1)      Buy a cheap bottle of Champagne, Prosecco, Cava … something white or pink and bubbly.
(Note: Stay away from sweet sparklings – these drinks will be sweet enough on their own!)

2)      Pit your fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums…any stone fruit or combination thereof)

3)      Using your hands, a fork, a masher, a rock, or a food processor, pulverize your fruit until it is a thick mess of pulp

4)      Pour a tablespoon or two of the pulp into glasses

5)      Pour your sparkling wine on top (carefully!)  The bubbles from the wine should disperse the pulp from the fruit, though there’s nothing wrong with having a ball of pulp at the bottom of your glass!

6)      Bask in compliments from your brunch buddies