Bulwarks’s Limited Edition Winter Cider

Today I finished up all my major Christmas shopping, now I only have a few little things to pick up to finish up gifts; humble-bragging for the win.  I did a lot of online shopping this year and (admittedly) more of it ended up being for myself than for others. I always have the best intentions of spending frugally over the buying season but then the ‘I love giving’ feeling gets to me plus I get so tempted with all the sales and holiday products that I splurge on myself as well. Don’t tell my mother, she is a Christmas purest, never buy for yourself at this time of the year. I can hear her now…what if someone was going to surprise you with this, that or the other-thing you like? But I’m over here like ooohhaii can I get a fancy latte with that please…thanks.

IMG_3367I love adding a bit of the homemade into the season, and if I were more organized I would make all my gifts I give. Here’s the thing, making stuff on a deadline and making it perfect is wayyy stressful and often more expensive than just buying something within your budget that your peeps want. It’s a sad reality I learned the hard way. It doesn’t mean you can’t make fabulous homemade gifts because you totally can, but when you are as OCD as me, sometimes it better for everyone if you just shop. I do have baking and candy making planned out for the coming weeks for a few people I know would totally enjoy some sweet treats more than any product I could buy them. Pick your battles.

I feel like a mini-superhero today because this Christmas grouch even got the tree out of the basement and up (Grouch whispers…it only has 3 decorations on it due to the fact I have no clue where our decorations are packed and have no will to play jenga with my storage…. but it’s up!). I also may have written/signed about 50 cards 10 of which will hopefully be sent out in the mail tomorrow.

IMG_3369Bulwarks’s Limited Edition Winter Cider

After this busy day I wanted to chill out with a holiday libation and found this curious addition to the NSLC. Bulwark’s brand cider is a local company that also produces Stutz and they are currently selling a limited edition winter cider which is the perfect thing to relax with after a trip to the mall.

The holiday version seems sweeter than their regular apple cider and I’m not sure if that is due to the mulling spices they use to flavour it, or just because they have intentionally made it less dry. I usually like a cider to be drier but the sweetness complements the spice well and really does bring on the holiday cheer. Because it is sweeter it tastes more apple-y and really reminds me of apple brandy.

The cider seemed less carbonated to me than its original version, but again I don’t mind, it tastes like a completely different product. As far as I know, you can only buy these in individual bottles (500mls) for under $5 a bottle. I chilled mine well before serving but you could serve this warm by gently heating it over the stove. Be careful not to bring to a boil otherwise the alcohol will evaporate. At 7% it has a nice kick and while I did enjoy this holiday beverage, one was definitely enough. Next up I think I’m going to try making a winter sangria with a buttery California chardonnay, this cider and loads of apples.

If you like sweeter drinks or just want to try a beer alternative, or even if you are just a huge cider fan this is definitely worth checking out. Get it while you can, as it won’t be around for long!

This Blog is Five!?!

Happy Monday! It’s officially Summer-time!!! Even the weather in Nova Scotia is acting the part, thanks Momma Nature, you da best.

I want to catch up because a lot has happened these last two weeks. My fifth year anniversary of this blog just passed about a week ago, which is absolutely crazy to me! Five years, devoted to food on the internet. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

5th Year Blog Anni

Last week I joined a Ladies Beer League, yeahhh girl. If you are in Halifax check out their Facebook page. We convened at Garrison Brewery, and kicked off night by trying a casked version of the Nit-Wit beer they have for the summer.  There was  huge difference in flavour between what you can buy in stores and what we were lucky enough to taste. The casked version they unveiled was fed with honey and elderflower juice/essence and has a sweeter taste, a really red colour. It actually kind of tasted like a red beer with a black-currant syrup stirred in. The bottled version is a Belgium beer, nicely balanced with a bite of citrus and a fine fizzy body, it even has a super cute label.

Nit-Wit

I’ve been restaurant-hoping and went to Indochine two weeks in a row for amazing banh mi. I also visited a fairly new restaurant by Craig Flinn called 2 Doors Down and had an amazing cocktail called Kentucky Royale that was composed of Kentucky bourbon, local black-currant liqueur, cava and orange peel.

I hauled out the lawn chairs and the dog pool, made overnight oats in mason jars (breakfasts for work) and saw the new Star Trek movie.

Day to-day, I’ve been reading and not cooking, lounging in the sun and not cleaning and I’ve been staring at my dogs playing in their pool instead of walking them cause it’s too hot (for them, not me, I love it!). Whether I’ve been reading, lounging or staring at the dogs I’ve been mostly enjoying hard cider with a side of sunshine. This summer is for cocktails and cider, and I really want to do a whole cider week. Scratch that it may take me two!

What is hard cider?

Hard cider is a bubbly alcoholic drink generally made from apples. You can get all types of flavoured ciders, and ciders made from other fruit sources as well as different sweetness and dryness levels.

Ship Builders Cider

Ship Builders Cider

I’m going to start with a local one called Ship Builders Cider. Not to ruin any surprises or anything, but I’m sure this is will remain one of my favorites as my cider reviews go on.

Nova Scotia makes excellent cider in quite a few varieties and per-bottle, this is one of the cheapest. It’s sold in 500mls at your local NSLC for about $3.29 a bottle. I wish you could buy a 6-pack for less but I have only seen individual bottles.

When I got to the cash register, the cashier asked me if I liked Strongbow (traditional English cider which is quite dry). I really do like Strongbow because it’s not sweet and crisp but she said while ‘it’s marketed as being dry, its not’. I took it home anyway expecting to not really like it but wanting to give the local product a chance. I’m really glad I did because this cider is so lovely. For me it’s one of the best ciders I’ve had. It has slightly more apple flavour than Strongbow, with only a touch more sweetness. It’s very acidic which reminds me of a dry riesling. It’s true to its bottles description of being extremely crisp and refreshing, perfect for a summer’s day and makes a great alternative to beer.

After doing some research on the brand, I found it’s actually made by the same company that makes Stutz which is slightly sweeter than Ship Builders. Stutz has been one of my local favorites for a while but I think I’m switching to it’s drier cousin.

If you have never tried cider, I encourage you to check one out. Join me on my Summer mission for the perfect cider, I’m sure you have a local gem in your area!

Rosemary Gin Lemonade and a Grapefruit Rosemary Fizz

I’m usually not this stoked on a Tuesday but it’s my mo-day. One-mo-day until my little vacation. It will be a stay-cation and it will be glorious provided the weather is on my side.

I was going to wait until Wednesday to post, but I hope to be kicking it off in the sun in my lawn chair with some wine, watching my dogs play in the dog pool or reading A Clash of Kings. (P.S. If you guys are Game of Thrones readers/watchers and are reeling from last Sunday’s episode, this cute article from Buzzfeed might make you smile).

Where there is vacation (at least in my case) there is alcohol. I’ve made an unofficial pact with myself that this will be the Summer of hard liquor, found only in the form of fancy and refreshing cocktails.

Rosemary Gin Cocktails

Cocktails are so popular now, even my sweet little city hosted Imbibe last February (P.P.S a huge thanks to Halifax Event planners for being so on trend). My favorite type of cocktails are sour, or at least minimally sweet, with some sort of savoury component (like herbs or bitters) and premium spirits.

I’m kicking my Summer cocktails off by mixing you up two delicious drinks with similar ingredients but quite different taste. Equally easy, they revolve around gin and rosemary simple syrup.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

Rosemary Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup of white sugar (vegetarian friendly) can use coconut/turbinado sugar but it will darken the drink
  • 3/4 cup of spring/ filtered water
  • 2 whole sprigs of fresh rosemary

Method

To make the simple syrup heat all ingredients over medium heat. Stir continuously until the sugar is completely dissolved. There is no need to bring it to a boil unless you want to thicken the syrup for any reason. Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Rosemary Gin Lemonade

Rosemary Gin Lemonade

If you want an easy drinking adult lemonade you will be extremely happy with this slightly sweeter of the two drink options. It’s cool and refreshing and the Tanqueray gin is balanced well with the herby rosemary syrup. I used PC’s Old Fashioned Lemonade but if you want to up the ante, make your family’s lemonade recipe from scratch and sweeten with the rosemary simple syrup.

  • 1 oz of gin
  • 1 tsp of rosemary simple syrup
  • 4 oz of PC Old Fashioned Lemonade
  • 1 sprig of rosemary and a lemon slice for garnish

Method

Add two ice cubes, rosemary simple syrup, gin and lemonade to a martini shaker. Shake well, pour into a tumbler with ice. Garnish with a lemon slice and a sprig of rosemary.

Rosemary Gin Fizz

Grapefruit Rosemary Fizz

Love sour and slightly bitter flavours? This semi-bubbly dry gin cocktail really cools you down. It’s pretty in pink cocktail and as refreshing as it is easy to make. Use your favorite grapefruit juice and sparkling water.

  • 1 oz of gin
  • 1 tsp rosemary simple syrup
  • 2 oz of grapefruit juice
  • sparkling water
  • 1 sprig of rosemary for garnish

Method

Add two ice cubes to the bottom of a tumbler. Top with gin, rosemary simple syrup and 2 oz of grapefruit juice. Stir and top with sparkling water until the glass is near full. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Dangerous Duo

Enjoy!

J is for

What’s the Word? Wednesday … more like Where’s the Word? Wednesday. I’d like to defend myself for a second. One, I’ve been sickly. I know that seive holds no water, you are also sick and working. My second excuse is better however, J isn’t so easy. Let me review some options.

Jack fruit? Never eaten it. Jicama, love it but I have not cooked with it.

I could have chosen jalepeno because I love spicy food and throw these fiery gems in just about everything. I could have chosen juniper and rambled on about gin and cocktails and wintery pine aromas. I could have even chosen junk food because we all battle with it at one point or another and some is really not vegetarian and other pre-packed foods are unassumingly vegan.

I didn’t choose any of the above, instead, for What’s The Word? Wednesday this week, I’m choosing to talk about something I want to learn more about. 

gs2

J is for Juicing

Joy the Baker recently posted about juice on her blog, something that I feel like has been around forever; remember the infomercials in the mid 90s for Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer? Juicing however has seemed to stand the test of time, briefly interrupted by protein shakes, wheat grass shots and green smoothies. Juice bars pop up next to gyms and suddenly everyone is getting in on the fresh, and energizing plant power of juice.

I myself am no expert nor do I own a juicer because right now it’s not in my budget but hopefully one day soon. As Joy explains in her post, there are two types of juicers, one that utilizes blades to microscopically mince fruit and vegetable matter into a liquified pulp (see Vitamix). The second is what is called a slow juicer (see Hurom Slow Juicer), which I can only imagine presses the living essence out of each living thing you put in it. Have questions about the difference? I’m no juice genius BUT there is a ton of info out there, so grab it! 

What is it?

Juicing is the act of adding, fruit, vegetables, and sometimes herbs to a mechanical juicer/blender to extract most of the pulp from the juice.

What does it taste like?

You can make so many kinds of juice and most juicers come with a recipe book although recipes are easy enough to find online. Most recipes are labelled with the general benefits of the juice such as a ‘detoxifying juice’ or ‘energy juice’ etc.

Where do I use it?

You can use juices are meal supplements but they shouldn’t be used often as meal replacements. They are an awesome way to get picky eaters to consume raw vegetation with all their nutrients intact. They add balance and variety to your diet, and you can even use the leftover pulp to throw into baked goods, soups and stews and a variety of other things so nothing goes to waste.

Are there health benefits?

There are so many health benefits to juicing. One you are eating the majority of the plant or fruit, all the living vitamins and minerals in one easy-to-digest and smaller portion. Can you imagine eating two apples, some celery, a piece of ginger and a raw beet raw all in one sitting? Probably not. Juice is easy on your digestive system and because most of the fibre if the juice is extracted through maceration(or annihilation), you can get in so many nutrients in one little serving of juice. Plus if nothing else, they are hydrating and we all need a little more liquid in our diet (unfortunately I don’t mean wine).

V-Spot recipes and suggestion for juicing:

I have smoothie recipes (see here, here and here) but not actual juice recipes. For that I call in the experts, please see below.

Juice Recipe Inspriation:

Saturday Morning Reflections

Goodmorning Morning blog-reading folks, I had a total intention of getting to work this morning and bringing you a new recipe but I kind of failed. Last night I went out to Mezza, a traditional Lebanese restaurant, met some new friends had some great food and tried a Lebanese wine for the first time called Ksara. The NSLC details are here. We all had a great time and since it was a nice evening we walked home and even ran into my co-worker with her adorable puppy.

Once home around 10:30pm I realized my usually quiet neighbours, were having a backyard party. I don’t blame them it was a gorgeous night, so I got some water, talked to my boyfriend then headed to bed. 

What I have learned early this Saturday morning:

My neighbors can be total jerks who sing, outside, in unison, until the cops are called to stop them at 530am.

 
Being truely tired makes it impossible to do things right the first time and sometimes the second.
When it’s rainy and you are over tired from your neighbs shenans, don’t go on pinterest while still in bed, you won’t have an excuse to get up and start your day until much later than you anticipated. Second thoughts on this, if you can stay in bed pinterest has some really great recipes and DYI instructions you should check out and because of this, I really want to make fresh pasta, especially this one from The Italian Dish.

Do NOT leave an open bag of chocolate chips in your freezer for a multitude of  reasons.

Reason one, you are probably going to eat them before you ‘use’ them.
Reason two, you will inevitably open the freezer to get fruit for your smoothie and they will fall on the floor causing the morning panic of fending off two dogs from getting sick. Reason three, you may possibly enact the 5 second rule for emergencies, but then realize, eww no, not in my house, dog hair.

 

Green smoothies fix a lot of my problems, mine has:

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 3 organic kale leaves washed trimmed and torn into bit sized pieces
  • 2 tbs hemp protein powder
  • 1/2 tbs of flax seed
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1/4 cup of vanilla almond milk
  • 3/4 cup of orange juice

Cooking bulgur in the morning makes the house smell homey and makes me feel blog focused and a little productive.
❤ Amy