Hummmm…..

Yesterday’s infusion becomes today’s coagulation, which in turn,
becomes tomorrow’s clarified nectar…or so I’m hoping.

cookie

Now let’s retrace our steps.

Yesterday we peeled 11 lemons and added the peels (minus the white pith) to 3 cups
cognac and 3 cups brandy…and let it steep for 24 hours.

And thus we’ve gone from this on Monday…

To this on Tuesday…

A curdled heady aromatic pot of who knows what.

Waiting for about 2 hours, I next poured the coagulated mess through some cheesecloth
and a fine-mesh strainer.

After staining, the remaining liquid will be moved to the fridge where it will sit for
another 24 hours, allowing any remaining “curds” to settle.
After sitting and settling, I’ll strain the liquid through a coffee filter.

Benjamin Franklin used a jelly bag…or so said the recipe he’d
handwritten and shared with a friend.
Aren’t handwritten recipes great?
They just keep getting passed around…albeit it spotted, yellowed and torn.

I don’t know what a jelly bag is and thus, doubt I own one…
hence the coffee filter and cheesecloth.

I did previously add to this putrid looking mess some cardamon pods, a single star anise,
a broken cinnamon stick, a fully grated nutmeg along with 2 cups of lemon juice,
1 1/2 cups of sugar, 4 cups of water and 4 cups of boiling milk…

All resulting in the curdled mess now staring up at us from the pot.

I dared to taste it, stealing a small spoonful this morning.

It’s pretty boozy as well as heavy on the lemon.
Maybe too lemony—

I was hit with a taste of bitterness but of course,
that was before I added the sugar, water, and milk.

I’m beginning to think that 11 lemon peels and 2 cups of juice may have been all of
a bit of an overkill.

But Ben said to do it and so I did.
How can I argue with the man who wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac?!

The sampling I had tasted down at the beach had been made with pineapple.
Since I’m not a huge pina colada, tropical drink kind of fan, I stuck to Ben’s original recipe
and opted not to introduce any pineapple.

I did deviate slightly however and threw in a few cardamon pods.
I like cardamon as it reminds me of a warm Fall cozy evening.
I also sprinkled in some cinnamon along with the broken stick as I like a heavy dose of
cinnamon in my Fall goodies.

I’m now wondering if adding a vanilla pod might have been a nice touch.

As you can see in the picture below, the curds were caught in the cheesecloth…

The strained liquid, which is still rather cloudy and reminds me of apple cider, will sit
for a day or so before it goes through more filtration.

The taste is spicy, warm, and again, very boozy…but in a soft sort of way.

We’re off to see the Mayor and Sheriff tomorrow so the final presentation will have to wait
a day or so longer— but trust me…
we’ve come this far and by gosh, we will have an official presentation if it kills me…

And let’s hope that drinking this stuff won’t…kill me!

I’ll also pass on Mr. Franklin’s recipe.

And I suppose that there might be some of you wondering why in the heck I would go
to such trouble just to make a simple drink…or more aptly, a most complicated drink?!

Maybe it’s because the mountain was there and I wanted to climb it…
Maybe it’s because I’ve been missing that creative spark in my life.

Or maybe it’s in part because it’s something that harkens back to a
different day and time.

It takes us back to a time when taking one’s time was appreciated.
It was a time when taking the time to do something that was somewhat painstaking
and was in turn, shared with others,
was equally appreciated as both a product and a preparation.
There is a deep sense of satisfaction in that.

It harkens to a time when we didn’t take everything for granted…
knowing that we could simply run out to a store and buy what our tastes might
be yearning for…
As in there were no grub hubs or uber eats back then.
The work from our hands filled our needs and wants and thus that was where our satisfaction
was found.

It was a time when things like lemons and spices were not readily available.
So when you could find them, afford them, they were savored and relished.

And thus savoring and relishing while feeling a sense of accomplishment and gratitude
is certainly reason enough…or at least it is for me.
And since it is indeed Fall…there’s no better time for slowing down,
savoring and reflecting upon some past simple pleasures.

Cheers!

the cure

“Goodbye to Rosie the queen of Corona
See you, me and Julio
Down by the schoolyard”

lyrics by Paul Simon

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(they say it help / Julie Cook / 2015)

Probably not the image you’d expect seeing on a Sunday morning.
And no, this is not an advertisement for Corona or beer or anything along those lines…
and the truth be told, I don’t even much care for beer.
I’ve always been a bit more hard core but this is not about that….

This is actually the image of a suggestion…
or rather the recommendation of a curative…

And if the truth be told, there has been more than one well meaning
family member and friend who has wholeheartedly and
even joyously made this recommendation.

For some, this is more of an excuse hidden within a recommendation…
For me it’s a last ditch effort of relief from misery.

Part of this is most likely my own fault as I have always been more camel than human.

GTY_camel_jtm_140822_16x9_992
(image courtesy of ABC)

I’ve never been one to consume those 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water a day.
64 ounces is a lot of liquid to have sloshing around in ones stomach.
I don’t usually drink anything while I’m eating,
waiting I suppose to wash it all down,
after the fact, with a swallow of whatever has been offered.

I’m bad to nurse a bottle of water on and off for most of the day.
Sometimes I finish it, sometimes I don’t.
I probably run on more dehydration than I do on hydration.

Yet I do know the importance of keeping hydrated—
it flushes out the kidneys, ridding the body of toxins…
it keeps the blood flowing smoothly, the skin nice and plump
and it keeps the brain running smoothly—

So think plum verses prune.

They told me in the ER to drink, drink, drink…

So far today I’ve already finished all of these…

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2,480 ounces thus far, add to that one 12 oz beer and I hope I’m drowning any and all kidney stones
stuck in this body of mine, causing me all this tremendous pain and suffering.

Is it bad that I’m drinking a beer while sitting propped up on a heating pad?

I am however currently watching my beloved Bulldogs playing against UNC, so I suppose
it’s in keeping with the spirit of the game…..

I’m however still putting my money on the disc causing most of my woe…

Yet with all this talk of cure alls, curatives and snake oil treatments….
this business of drinking lots of beer in order to flush out the stones…
It’s all gotten me thinking…

So often in our lives, the cures are often worse than our ailments—ask any cancer fighter who has endured chemo, radiation and radical surgeries all in order to either cure or prolong life…
Chances are that they will tell you first hand that if it doesn’t kill you, those potential cures and helps…those things indeed to help….may or may not help you in the end, but it, whatever it is, will make you stronger…
if you survive it….

We fight hard when told our very lives, health and wellbeing depend on it,
we find ourselves willing to do and endure almost anything for the sake of living…
Despite our not having always tended to those very things we should have early on…
which, more often than not, could have prevented or avoided a bit longer the
precarious health predicament we may be currently finding ourselves in….

Yet what of our spiritual lives and our spiritual health?

More often times than not we live our lives with very little thought to our
spiritual health and well being–
that is until we find ourselves facing a crisis of unsurmountable proportions…
For despite what the critics will say,
we are spiritual beings—
spending the majority of our lives, most often unconsciously, searching for that reunion with our Creator…

It is only, for the majority of us, that when we find ourselves scared or in a tight fix,
that is when we turn our thoughts to God, Jesus and our very salvation…

When we feel backed into a corner, helpless, defenseless and hopeless…
never mind that the majority of time when life was foot loose and fancy free,
that our thoughts were on living life and far from anything “other than”…
We had no need, no urgency to keep our spiritual health in check because we were…
busy…
living…
life…

And isn’t that what life is all about…. living?
Leaving any and all thoughts of spirituality and that of a spiritual need to those in need..
those who are sick or dying…..

And there was Peter, full of Peter, living in the moment of desperately wanting to come met Jesus out on the water—despite the raging storm—
and yet it was that very raging storm that diverted Peter’s attention as he took his eyes,
his faith and his trust off of Jesus…
turning instead to face a fierce and consuming storm…
At which time, he began to sink, crying out for “salvation”

It is exactly when we are happy, healthy and full of life that we need
to tend to our full being—
both the physical as well as the spiritual.

We take our cars in for regular maintenance, check-ups and oil changes because they
are a huge investment and we know that maintaining them prolongs their “life” and performance…

Yet the question begs…
why don’t we do the same for ourselves…?

Here’s to another bottle of water….

But I will restore you to health
and heal your wounds,’
declares the Lord,
‘because you are called an outcast,
Zion for whom no one cares.’

Jeremiah 30:17

Déjà vu, mint?

“Deja Vu All Over Again”
Yogi Berra

“Open the whisky, Tom,’ she ordered, ‘and I’ll make you a mint julep. Then you won’t seem so stupid to yourself… Look at the mint!”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

DSCN4716

Ok, so it seems as if it was just last year that I was posting some rubbish about summer mint (Mentha × piperita), mint juleps, the Kentucky Derby and life in this quintessential South of mine.
Well bless my soul. . .the Derby ran Saturday (hooray for the underdogs!! California Chrome, what a wonderful story! If I were a betting woman, my money for a triple crown would be on this little young man—oh but we are digressing), and my yard is smack-dab full of mint. . .so it just seems more than appropriate to post something about mint and juleps and derbies all over again.
The same, yet different and yet new.

We’ve been having a bit of a rough go as of late. Our son has been having some health issues and the next couple of weeks call for tests with possible surgery. Did I mention there is a wedding June 7th?! Do you hear any panic in my voice? Good. I’m trying to keep that stiff upper lip you know. And also–we would all greatly appreciate any and all prayers!! Yet sadly, as is my child’s lot in life. . .when it rains it definitely pours. . . so I thought a nice little diversion was in order. . .as in a drink. Oh, not for me silly it’s still too early—but rather for you—as in I suppose the old song is right, it must be 5:00 PM somewhere on the planet?!

I had this little beauty Saturday as they were calling the jockeys to the Post. . .

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What is that you ask? Why it’s a world famous Julie Julep!!
And since I think I hear you saying you sure wish you had one right about now, I’m going to do the next best thing— I’m going to tell you how to make one.

First you’ll need a pretty glass—you can use a typical silver julep cup, or in my case, the best and prettiest crystal type glass you own.
–Gather a handful of mint (peppermint only)
— You’ll need an ounce or two (depends on your constitution) of good ol Kentucky Bourbon (that is if you’re a purist)–you may wander outside of the Kentucky state lines, drifting over to Tennessee or Virginia if you prefer, but it must be a Southern Bourbon of some sorts!
–either make some quick simple syrup (1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup water, boil ’til sugar dissolves) which you can also add mint leaves to in order to boost the mint flavor, or use agave nectar–works just as well–plus you don’t need as much nectar as you would simple syrup as agave nectar is sweeter than sugar—purists, however, stick to simple syrup.
–crushed ice
–here’s what makes it a Julie Julep–Limeade juice—as in Simply Limeade (this makes it most quaffable–meaning it’s smooth, refreshing and calls for more than one)
–a garnish of a mint sprig and a slice of lime.
MIX:
—In your glass, throw in a handful of mint. Some call for the addition of a little Demerara sugar thrown in which I did try and I kind of liked it. The coarse sugar helps break up the mint as you muddle it (pound and grind the life out of it). I must confess that I do not own a muddler. I use the end of a wooden spoon. Pound that mint with the spoon releasing those delightfully aromatic essential oils.
—add crushed ice
—add bourbon (1 oz to 2 oz it’s your call–I’m thinking 2– maybe even 3, but hey, we want more than one drink right?)
—add about 1 to 2 TBL of simple syrup or agave nectar (if you like it sweet, add more)
—fill the remainder of the glass with limeade.
—give that puppy a good stir, with a silver sipping straw of course, garnish with a nice pretty sprig of mint and a slice of lime.
NOW—settle back in one of the rocking chairs out on the front porch, prop up your feet if you’d like, as you enjoy the sun dipping low in the sky— begin singing to yourself “My old Kentucky Home” for a real sense of true Southern Living. . .

“My Old Kentucky Home”
by Stephen Foster

Contemporary Lyrics (1986):

The sun shines bright in My Old Kentucky Home,
‘Tis summer, the people are gay;
The corn-top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom
While the birds make music all the day.

The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright;
By ‘n’ by hard times comes a knocking at the door,
Then My Old Kentucky Home, good night!

Chorus:

Weep no more my lady
Oh weep no more today;
We will sing one song
For My Old Kentucky Home
For My Old Kentucky Home, far away

I am no man’s man

“They say that none of us exists, except in the imagination of his fellows, other than as an intangible, invisible mentality.”
― Edgar Rice Burroughs

I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
Ralph Ellison

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( Alamo Square / San Antonio, Texas / Julie Cook / 2014)

I am no man’s man

When I was born,
Hope was born,
Potential was born,
Possibilities were born.
The world was beautiful with vibrant color.
The stars above were endless and bright.

Was there love in my world?
Did my birth bring anyone joy?
Was I a happy child?
Did I coo as a baby?
Did I laugh easily?
Did I thrive and develop?

As my years increased, I think the stars grew dim.
Hope eerily languished.
Potential suffered slowly and painfully before dying.
Possibilities vanished.
Love was lost.
Color was no more
My world was black and white
I become no one.

When did I come to this park?
When did this bench become my bed?
When did I, as a person, no longer matter?
When did I become a non entity?
When did my light grow dull?

The throngs of tourists, the business people and the children
they all simply see through me, past me, beyond me.
I do not exist, yet I am here.
You who do see me, secretly wish I was invisible.
I am a trouble to your conscience.
I should simply cease being
I am no man’s man.

I am dirty
I smell
I am lost
I have nothing
I own nothing
I am not productive
I am your eyesore
Your burden
The being you wish would disappear

I do drink when I can
I do smoke when I can
I mostly beg
I am dishonest to you but more so to myself.

The days roll one into the next
The time matters not
I cough
Is that blood?
I smoke things to forget
I drink things to take me to different places
Days merge into night
the night will not stop
Is this all there is?

I close my eyes,
If they open again,
It is all the same
I am still the same empty specter you despise
I am the nothing which bothers you, irritates you
You wish I would vanish
You wish I did not exist, not like this
You blame me
You blame others
That would make all of this much neater
You wouldn’t have to be troubled

This is a messy situation
This is an uncomfortable issue
This is a troublesome thing
To you, I am:
unsightly
ugly
bad
I am a nobody
I am no man’s man

I am no man’s man.
and it all begins again. . .

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.

Mother Teresa