The Old Fashioned Cocktail is Back in Style

Photo Credit: liquour.com
Photo Credit: liquour.com

It seems like every day there’s a new bar popping up around the corner, slinging innovative craft cocktails, using house-conceived recipes of specialty ingredients and infused liqueurs. It is impossible to be bored when looking over a great cocktail list. And, I don’t know about you, but I love to try them all. However, as your perusing these menus, mixed amongst the new recipes, you’ll notice some tried and true favorites popping up on almost all of them as well.

One that’s impossible to miss is the Old Fashioned.

Looking back to the earliest days of the cocktail, the recipes were pretty simple. So long as you had a spirit, sugar, bitters, and water (or ice), you were good to go. Then, as bartenders began to get creative and cocktail options grew, it left some customers longing for the good old days. Rather than a Whiskey Fizz or Whiskey Sour, they wanted an “Old Fashioned” Whiskey cocktail – made the way it used to be.

Because of its humble (but delicious) recipe, Old Fashioneds are not only great to grab from your local bar, but it also makes them perfect for your at-home happy hour. Even if you’ve never made a cocktail yourself, you’ve got this one in the bag.

For a perfect Rye Whiskey Old Fashioned

*(You can also substitute Bourbon or Scotch)
• 2 oz Rye Whiskey
• Orange Wedge (I trim off the peel and pith)
• 1 Cherry (Splurge for the Luxardo Maraschino Cherries… trust me!)
• 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
• ½ oz Simple Syrup

Muddle the Orange, Simple Syrup, Cherry and Bitters in a rocks glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add Whiskey and stir until chilled. Fini!

Now looking at the original definition, you’ll notice the first Old Fashioned cocktails would not have included fruit. Whether you choose to include the orange and cherry is up to you. If you want to forgo muddling, try rimming the glass with orange peel to release the essential oils.

Once you’ve perfected the Whiskey Old Fashioned, feel free to experiment. Just remember the original definition: spirit, sugar, bitters, ice. The possibilities are endless!

Here are some ideas using a few of my favorite Texas Spirits.

Waterloo Antique Gin Old Fashioned:

  • 2 oz Waterloo Antique Gin (From Treaty Oak Distillery)
  • Lemon Wedge
  • ½ oz Simple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura or Fee Brother’s Orange Bitters

Z Pepe “Anejo” Fasioned:

  • 2 oz Z Pepe Anejo Tequila
  • Lime Wedge
  • Grapefruit Wedge (optional)
  • ½ oz Agave Nectar2-3 dashes
  • 2-3 dashes Fee Brother’s Grapefruit Bitters

One Dish: Three Wines

One of my favorite ways to experience a wine is with a delicious meal. A perfectly paired dish can truly enhance your wines aromas and flavors (and vice versa). However, I know it can sometimes feel really overwhelming when you feel you need to find that “perfect” wine while trying to remember all of the “rules.”

HD
Jacques Pepin: Mustard Roast Chicken foodandwine.com

Well, here’s the great part. There are no rules! I know we’ve all heard “Reds with Steaks” and “Whites with Fish and Chicken”, and honestly those can be a great jumping off point. But, in my opinion, the important thing is that you’re drinking a wine you enjoy, and that you think is delicious with your meal. Then, just have fun with it!

– If you’re interested in learning specifics about why certain wines tend to pair better with certain dishes, you can definitely learn some tips and techniques. In fact, I may just have to do a follow up to talk some more about it. But, today I want to focus more on the “fun” of trying many different wines with the same dish – just to                                                                                       see what happens.

Here is one of my most recent adventures:

The Dish:
The great French-American Jacques Pepin has been sharing his fantastic recipes with us for decades. Perhaps you remember him on his television program “Jacques and Julia” with Julia Child? I’ve recently enjoyed making some of his recipes myself, and this one is probably my favorite. It’s his Roast Split Chicken with a Mustard Crust. Here is a link to the exact recipe http://www.kqed.org/w/morefastfoodmyway/pdf/204-recipe.pdf. I know for many people, a roast chicken may not sound particularly exciting, but trust me on this one. It’s fantastic!

The Wines:

• The first wine I paired with our Roast Chicken was Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy. The bright, citrusy lemon helped take a warm, hearty dish and make it perfect for summer. I also served the chicken with fresh summer veggies which helped to bring everything together.

• For the second wine, I went with Jacques’ suggestions – a chilled Beaujolais, also from France. Beaujolais’s tend to be relatively dry, but fruity and easy-drinking. And yes, you read that right. I paired a red wine with chicken. Yes, I drank that red slightly chilled. Take that rules! And you know what, it was fantastic.

• Finally, for my third wine, I wanted to be more adventurous and went with a 2012 Ch Ragotiere Muscadet (not to be confused with Moscato), from the Loire region in France. Thsecuredownloade bright fruit and lingering minerality of this white wine, kept the dish light and summery. Also, the particular way that this wine is made gives it a more rich, smooth texture that made this wine my favorite pairing of the three. This was an instance where the wine and the dish were so evenly matched that they both brought out the best in the other. I just wanted to keep going back from bite to sip to bite.

So, this was just one example of ways to have fun and try something new with dinner. And remember, when you’re planning your next meal, and you want to find that perfect wine, remain calm! Have fun with it. Try something new. (And it’s always OK to ask for a little friendly advice from your helpful neighborhood wine store associate.)

Life Is 4 Tasting: Differently

Was It All That I Thought It Would Be?

Alright, so now that my Elimination Diet is over (we survived!!), let me give you a brief look at the last week.

For Days 6 and 7 (the final totally clean days), I was in a much better place than the day before.  I think, after letting myself have that small “cheat” of a glass of wine, it reminded me that I’m in control here.  I’m not putting my body through the internal wringer because I have to, it’s because I CHOOSE to.  It also reminded me that I’m not doing this forever.  It’s just a couple of weeks.

Following my week of clean eating, I decided that rather than trying to take the time to add back all of the potential trigger foods/allergens I would pick my three top contenders.  (Maybe in 6 months, I’ll start the process again for the other 3-4.)  I figured I could tackle those three things in about a week, and that seemed reasonable.  Can you tell I’m ready to get back to normal!?

My Top 3 Contenders:

Nightshades (just a reminder, these are bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, etc.)

Dairy

Gluten

 

ImageI tried nightshades first, namely because it’s what my husband missed most 😉  We were able to add them to salads and stirfry, and even sauteed a big batch to have with breakfast.  We had really missed those flavors, and especially the spice of hot chilis, so this addition made a big difference at meal time.

Then I waited…

Well, spoiler alert! I felt fine.  I do want to give you a heads up though, before you go into this all willynilly.  More than just “feeling bad” if you have a problem with nightshades, this is one of those foods that, especially when eaten in large quantities like this diet suggests, can give you other physical side-effects if you’re prone to them: rashes, hives, cold sores, etc.  So, if you know you have dealt with these things in the past, be careful.

Then, a few days later:

Dairy

…Fine

Gluten:

…Fine

 

So, here’s what I’m getting at.  I honestly didn’t notice much of a difference physically whether I was eating these foods or not.  And, I’ll have to say, though I went into this process looking for answers, I’m relieved.

However, I’ll certainly not say that this whole, somewhat painful process was all for nothing.  There are certainly things that I learned and habits that I will keep with me.  Check back in for my next post where I list some additional tips and tricks for surviving the Elimination Diet and also share the positive aspects that I hope to make a part of my everyday life.

LifeIs4Tasting: Finally!

Gallery

I Cheated

fail                            …on my diet.

A quick recap:

Day 4: probably the easiest day by far.  At this point, it felt like we were really getting the hang of it.  And, no lie, I feel like I’m already seeing physical changes.  Now, I know this wasn’t my primary reason for doing this diet, but in my opinion, if I’m going to torture myself in this way, it would be nice to reap some rewards, right?  After just a few days, I can see that puffiness in my face has gone down and I swear to you my stomach is flatter.  Is that possible?  Chances are too, I’m just feeling better about myself, and that reflects how I see myself.  I can be OK with that.

Day 5:  

Was another story.

I cheated.  I couldn’t help myself.  This day was, by far, the hardest mental day so far.  It was Friday.

Duh Duh Duuuuuhhhhh

I spent the entire day at work stewing about the fact that it was going to be a beautiful weekend, and I wouldn’t be able to spend a single moment sitting on a patio enjoying a cocktail.  Now, I know that may seem silly to many people, but to me, it’s something that my husband and I really love to do.  So, yes, I caved.  But, thoughtfully.

Because we’ve made it this far, I really didn’t want to blow it.  So, I was totally OK with keeping all of the big offenders at bay.  I opted for my safest option – a glass of white wine.

And it was marvelous! (Cue the angels)

angels singing

Let me be sure to mention. If you decide to try this Elimination Diet, I’m not saying that you have to cheat.  I’m not even saying that it’s necessarily OK.  I’m just saying, that in order for me personally to stick with the bigger picture of the diet, this little slip was of vital importance.  And, because I allowed myself that little treat, it put me back on track, continuing to do the right thing.  This game is so mental, and you have to be in the right frame of mind or you don’t stand a chance. (Not to mention it saved my coworkers, fellow drivers, and my spouse from my diet-rage…)

So you know what, maybe it was OK.

Time to hop back on the wagon!

LifeIs4Tasting… Just a sip

Things are Looking Up…slowly

Day 3:
Today, I started out with the remnants of yesterday’s migraine, so that was definitely not a fun way to begin the day.  However, as the day progressed, I’m not sure if it’s from the cleanse or simply post-migraine euphoria, but I was feeling significantly better.  I’m also already starting to notice my tastes changing.  I found myself actually getting excited for celery and almond butter or for a refreshing berry smoothie.  It’s amazing – when you’re not constantly filling yourself with foods that high-sugar, highly processed, etc, you find yourself relishing in the natural flavors that these whole foods exhibit.
I will say though, that I am still really craving a good drink.  I was off from work today and it was BEAUTIFUL outside.  Finding a nice sunny spot for a glass of wine sounded pretty sweet.  But, alas…sigh… I will say though, a little trick I’ve discovered is infusing my own mineral water, and it’s definitely making great strides in holding me over.  I don’t know about you, but tap water all day, every day just doesn’t do it for me.  However, muddle a little fresh mint and cucumber in the bottom of a glass and fill with some sparkling water… It treats me just fine. (You can find all sorts of recipes scattered across the internet.  Just remember, no citrus.)

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TIP: If there’s a time in the day/week where you are in the habit of enjoying a cocktail/snack (for us it’s when we get home after work), consider planning something else during that time.  We’ve loved driving into the city for a walk – Just watch out for the temptation of outside patios and live jazz music 😉
We also had an AMAZING dinner tonight, and no recipe was needed.  We found these great little lamb chops at Costco that my husband cooked up in a cast-iron skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Let me tell you, delicious!  If you like lamb, I feel like it’s a must to get you through this diet.  Serve it with a sweet potato and sautéed Brussels sprouts, and it gives you a wonderful, savory, satisfying meal.

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TIP: If you have a membership to a wholesale club (Costco, Sams, etc) USE IT! It’s especially great for your meats, but they also have a nice selection of fresh fruits and veggies.  They are offering many organic options now too, which is nice if you can swing it.
All-in-all, Day 3 has been pretty good to me.  Things are certainly looking up.
LifeIs4Tasting…naturally

What They Say Is True

Though many of the sources that I read disagreed on many technicalities of the Elimination Diet, they almost all suggested one truth.

 

Day 1: Won’t be too bad.  It’s a time of adjustment, but you’ll feel like you’re actually going to succeed at this thing.

Day 2: SUCKS!

 

So what I’m saying is, prepare yourself, and be ready to push through.  

Day 1 really is OK.  I discovered an AMAZING salad dressing (nourishingmeals.com) that I will continue to make even after completing the Elimination Diet.

ImageGreen Apple Salad Dressing
1 green apple, cored (Granny Smith)
1/2 cup filtered water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic
1 to 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
Sea salt, to taste

 

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until very smooth and creamy. Add salt to taste and blend again.
 
I made a green salad with “safe” veggies and fruits (cucumbers, carrots, onion, blueberries, etc), pan-seared a small piece of salmon, and added some of the apple dressing. YUM!!  The best part is, I made it all the night before, and it was fantastic the next day.  
 
TIP: When in doubt, do as much slicing and dicing the night before.  Also, left-overs always make a great lunch.  This diet is going to have you feeling like you’re cooking/doing dishes ALL the time.
 
Dinner on the other hand… not so much a success.  I realized I could make pesto on the diet (brilliant!), so I tried baking chicken breasts with the pesto.  Now, I didn’t throw it out or anything, but it was certainly nothing to write home about.  I’m seeing that it’s going to be a struggle to figure out ways to make the chicken exciting.  However, it’s something I need to figure out because salmon (and lamb) get expensive, and certainly aren’t something I’m going to be able to eat everyday.  We did chop up the left over chicken and added brown rice and roasted broccoli (stir-fry style) to take for lunch the next day.  And, it was actually considerably better than the dinner version.
 
However, one side dish I made for dinner was life-changingly good.  
(Also from Nourishing Meals)
 
Kale with Red OnionsImage
– 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
– 1 small to medium red onion, cut into crescent moons
– 1 large bunch kale, thinly sliced
– Sea salt to taste
 
1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the oil (use coconut oil! Trust me!!) and then the onions and a dash of sea salt which helps draw out moisture and caramelize the onions.
 
2.Sauté onions for 7 to 10 minutes or until browned, and very fragrant. 
3. Add the kale and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the tenderness of the kale and desired doneness. You can add a few tablespoons of water, or vegetable broth, to quickly finish the cooking by steaming if desired.
 
4. Season with sea salt to taste. Serve warm. 
 
Cut to Day 2:
If you’re doing this diet to try and understand your migraine triggers, here’s the tough part.  If you have them especially frequently, like I do, the massive shock to your system has a pretty high chance of actually triggering a migraine (or at least have you fighting one) on day two. And yes, I found myself fighting a pretty rough one.  I tried this diet once before and quit because Day 2 and 3 made me feel so lousy. However, this time, I forced myself to stick to the diet – even though all I wanted was buttered noodles – and I’m hoping that this will be the worst of it.  Also, because I knew it was coming, I made sure to have my meds on hand, and was able to mostly keep it at bay.  I pray for you that this is not the case, but just a forewarning so you may be prepared.
 
TIP: Keep some vegetable broth on hand.  It’s a savior when your stomach feels out of sorts on Day 2/Day3. 
 
Here’s hoping that Day 3 leaves me feeling more positive and on the right track!
 
LifeIs4Tasting… veggie broth?

This “Foodie” Tries an Elimination Diet

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Stocking the fridge

So, I know it seems a bit strange to come back to my blog after all this time and not be talking about a delicious food and drink adventure.  But, as I’ve been researching and reading in preparation for starting an Elimination Diet, I felt a need to share my experience.  From one blog and webpage to the next, it can become very overwhelming.  What can I eat? What can’t I eat?  How long do I need to stick to this super restricted diet (read, “when can I drink wine again, please?!”), and will I possibly be able to make food that doesn’t taste like cardboard?

Well, I hope my blog doesn’t add to the confusion.  If you come across this post in your search, I just want to say – don’t stress about it.  While trying to cleanse our bodies with our diets of clean and “safe” foods, it’s also important to cleanse our minds by not adding unnecessary stress.  Take all that you find, look at the big picture, and make it work for you.  Also, be sure you find people who are doing the Diet for the same reason as you.  If people are trying this diet purely as a cleanse, they may be able to eat far more foods (i.e. dairy, bell peppers, whole grains) than those who are doing the diet to shed light on possible allergens or illness triggers.

For me personally, I deal with almost weekly migraines.  And, long story short, I’ve discovered many of my triggers, but know that there are still many answers that I need to live a happier, healthier life.  This Elimination Diet is the next step on my quest for those answers.

So… finally, now that I’m committed… how can I make this experience anything short of miserable?  Over the next few weeks, I’ll share my struggles, and hopefully triumphs, in giving this thing a go.  

To start, here’s what I’m eliminating.

Citrus Fruits (orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, etc)

Nightshade Vegetables (Tomatoes, Eggplants, Potatoes)

      * sweet potatoes are OK! (Yay!!)

      *see http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2013/06/23/nightshade-free-survival-guide/ for a great resource

All Starches except Brown Rice and Buckwheat (no Wheat, Corn, Barley, Rye, Oats, etc)

Legumes

All Animal Protein except Fish, Turkey, Chicken, and Lamb

All Dairy

All Oils except Olive Oil, Flaxseed Oil, and Coconut Oil

All Beverages except Water and Herbal Tea

Corn (which is in EVERYTHING these days)

Soy (speaking of being in everything…)

Spices and Condiments except Salt, Pepper, Fresh Herbs and Spices are OK

All Sweeteners

 

I know, right?!?!

 

Now, some people suggest you stick to this extreme diet for as long as 3 weeks, though most I find say that a solid week is enough. Needless to say, I’m starting with a week, and we’ll see how it goes after that. 

After a week, I’ll reintroduce one potential allergen/trigger (i.e. nightshades or dairy) for a whole day, then go back to the clean diet for two days and see how I feel.  Then I’ll introduce a second trigger for a day, and then back to the clean diet for two days.  I’ll continue this until I’ve tested all triggers, and hopefully discover something along the way.

So… here goes nothing. 

LifeIs4Tasting… I hope

**I want to be sure to say that, as I’ve been doing my research, I’ve found many resources linking me to many different Elimination Diets.  I’m taking what appears to be the most sound information from those different resources and making this diet work for me.  I am not a doctor or an expert, just someone sharing my own experience.  By no means take anything that I say as medical advice.