Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wall Calender

My residents got to this before I did, and I couldn't bear erasing it.  So many Bridget Days!  And Disco.  Very important.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book club!

Book club Conversion 022815 (1)
Skyping into book club continues to be a fun event - this month's pick?  The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which I found a really tough and sad read.  But I'm glad I was able to say hello to everyone!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Boston is still cold.




And windy. Did I mention cold? Yes. It's cold.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Danger! Icicles!

We've reached the point where the Stata Doors have been closed for fear of injury.  Yikes.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Winter Storm Neptune: The Cocktail

(Others in the storm cocktail series: Hurricane Irene in August 2011, Winter Storm Nemo in February 2013, Winter Storm Juno in January 2015, Winter Storm Marcus in February 2015)

Neptune!  Now we're talking, tiki and the sea.  And blue curaço, of course.  And celebrating being one. day. closer. to spring.

(adapted from Top Shelf Recipes)

Blue Ice Neptune

2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce blue curaço
healthy dash orange bitters
handful of ice cubes

1.  Blend all ingredients in a blender.
2.  Drink.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter Storm Marcus: The Cocktail

(Others in the storm cocktail series: Hurricane Irene in August 2011, Winter Storm Nemo in February 2013, Winter Storm Juno in January 2015)

With another winter storm comes another cocktail!  I was at first confused by Marcus, since I thought they were going for Greek/Romany names of antiquity.  But!  Marcus is a praenomen derived from the Roman God of War, Mars.

And of course, guess what?  Mars is the son of Juno!  It all makes sense. 

Unfortunately, as in the making of Winter Storm Juno, I was stuck in the same Roman Gods sphere, trying to mull over where to go when it's clear that the Romans didn't really do cocktails, they drank wine...though their certainly are some pleasant liqueurs to work with, many stand on their own.  Limoncello?  Best with ice or with some soda water.  Amaretto?  Ice.

Even more frustrating, it seems as if the Romans didn't have the same level of affiliation of sacred plants or animals to their gods as many other cultures seem to.  The figs with Juno were a rarity as I played wikipedia roulette, trying to find something to latch onto when designing a cocktail.  My choices with Mars?  Wolves, woodpeckers, and swords/spears.  Wolves have to do with the fact that he was the father of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, and woodpeckers were renowned by the Romans for their power of augury (determining the will of the gods).  Swords and spears are appropriately war-like for the god of war. 

And that's it. 

You get to the point where you just say: "Google, is there a woodpecker cocktail?"

And then it tells you, yes, there is.  And it is 2 ounces vodka and 15 dashes bitters.

Well.  That's certainly exceedingly creative.

What about the wolf?  Anything to work from there?

Wolf Bite:  absinthe, midori, pineapple juice
Black Wolf: sambuca, chartreuse, tabasco
Lone Wolf: cardamom tincture, bourbon, lemon, amaro

While the last one is definitely more my style, there's a definite issue in the fact that Mars had about 87 children by at least 35 women.  Not a lone wolf, not at all. 

And then, hm.  What about swords or spears?  Beyond adding an awesome cocktail sword or a pickle/cucumber spear, there weren't really any named cocktails with sword in the name.

(though I did learn that stainless steel cocktail swords exist, which is awesome)

Then I was thinking, okay, what about God of War.

Then the first thing you get is a terrifying concoction based on a video game god of war with hershey's strawberry syrup and everclear

Now, there was also amaretto in it, which jives with the Italian connection, but the drink just doesn't seem all that manly and war-like.  They did use the strawberry syrup as an ode to blood, but I have to say, the attempt was a bit far-fetched.  I mean, I get what they were going for, but no.

So what I am left with?  I have no idea.  Boozy milkshake with almond milk and strawberry and amaretto?  I mean, that sounds delicious, and maybe irreverent is the way I want to go here.  "God of War, ha.  I'm making your cocktail have STRAWBERRIES in it.  And there ain't nothing you can do about it."

After all, here's where we are with the snow here in Boston as of last Monday afternoon.  Last Monday!  (I tried looking for an update through today, but no luck). 

from here

from here

So.  Irreverent it is.  

Winter Storm Marcus

(the easiest way to prepare this is by putting your blender carafe on a scale and measuring out the ingredients by weight rather than volume)

1 ounce homemade vanilla vodka
1 ounce homemade vanilla simple syrup
1 ounce amaretto
4 ounces homemade almond mil
113 grams frozen strawberries

1.  Blend. 
2.  Drink. 

Vanilla Vodka

30 vanilla beans
1 handle vodka

 1.  Pour out about a cup of the vodka and reserve for another use.  
2.  Add vanilla beans.
3.  Wait six months, turning occasionally to mix.
4.  Feel free to top off vodka as you use the vanilla, it will continue to extract out the ethanol-soluble compounds from the vanilla beans.

Vanilla Simple Syrup

220 grams granulated sugar (1 cup)
1 cup water
2 vanilla beans (these can be new or have spent time in the vanilla vodka)

1.  Mix water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved. 
2.  Add vanilla bean and

Homemade Almond Milk

113 grams raw or toasted almonds**
pinch of salt
sweetener as desired
spices as desired

1.  Add nuts to about 4 cups of water and allow to soak overnight.
2.  Drain nuts and wash under cool water.
3.  Add nuts to blender carafe and add in four cups of water.
4.  Blend using a high powered blender for about a minute.  
5.  Use a nut milk bag and filter out the leftover nut pulp.  Leftover pulp can be used to make crackers, cookies, all sorts of different things.  It's also good mixed in smoothies.

**a mix of almonds and hazelnuts is nice, as is most other nut combinations, but be wary of using all super fatty nuts, like cashews or macadamia nuts, the filtering gets tough and they separate out in the fridge.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter Storm Neptune

Hurricane-force winds, and a morning with white out conditions.

8:30 am (on my way to lab)

"That's no moon!"

The sidewalk is completely inaccessible!  Ah well.  Best use the street.

1:30 pm, on the way back from lab:

Ha.  Nope.

The out-of-focus parts of the skyline across the river are actually windy snow tornado-y things (snow devils?).  The wind is really whipping out there.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

wedding suits, Russian spies, and fur, oh my!

Agent Carter has me reminiscing about my senior pictures from high school: I wore my grandmother's wedding suit from 1944 - and brought along the fur coat and hat just because.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Winter Storm Marcus

The average snowfall in Boston for the entire winter season (typically December through March) is 43 inches.  The snowfall in Boston through Winter Storm Marcus brought us up to 71 inches.  Unreal.  And it's set to stay under freezing for the next ten days or so, meaning it will stick around for awhile!

MIT Facilities is on the job, clearing campus.  They've been so great...but going off campus is rough.  The MBTA closed down Monday evening and all day Tuesday.  The Red Line is essentially broken, over half of their cars are out of commission.  Visiting a friend's near Harvard Square?  Two lane roads are definitely down to one lane, and very few parking spaces are plowed.  Unlike Montreal, Boston hasn't figure out where to put their snow.  Dumping it into the ocean was thrown around, but that's been illegal for some time now given the icing chemicals plows use on the snow. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

And the snow keeps coming!

The time following Juno --well, the snow kept falling!  It reminded me of home.

According to the National Weather Service, as of 1 p.m. on February 2, Boston set a new record for the snowiest 7-day period, at 34.2 inches.

I know this is a picture of a grocery cart and my zipcar and the Trader Joe's parking lot, but you have to understand, half of the parking lot is covered with giant piles of snow.  If I had snow pants here, oh man.  I would have come back to climb and play on the mountain.  For hours.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Winter Storm Juno: Aftermath

The snow in the courtyard was waist high!

This is a bus that got stuck on a snow drift, with such force that it pushed the window into the bus.  Mother nature, not messing around.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Storm Juno: The Cocktail

(Others in the storm cocktail series: Hurricane Irene in August 2011, Winter Storm Nemo in February 2013)

Juno is the Roman goddess of fertility and marriage (her Greek counterpoint is Hera).  Her symbol is the peacock, and her sacred tree is the fig tree, a symbol of fertility (though pomegranates are also mentioned). 

I decided to run with the fig idea, and interrogated the internet for Italian liqueurs, given the Roman connection.  Thank you, wikipedia, for your wonderful page on Italian liqueurs to remind me of my options!

I checked my liquor cabinet and found these potential candidates:


Even better, I noticed a bottle of cheap Hiram and Walker amaretto in the back; I think I bought it because I needed it for a cocktail and they didn't have Disaronno at the liquor store (which I had since bought).  I thought---perfect.  Figs, amaretto - let's make a syrupy infusion.  And it doesn't matter if the amaretto tastes like cheap almond extract, the infusion will fix that.

The next step was thinking if any of the others would place nicely with figs and almond.  Though I despise the taste of fernet plain, I guessed that it would be a terrific counterbalance to the sweet amaretto and fig when all was said and done.  Don't get me wrong, I will make a cocktail with limoncello, maraschino liqueur and galliano one of these days, but today is not that day. 

Unfortunately, I would still call this cocktail in development; my amazing blender turned the amaretto and fig syrup into, well, a fig amaretto fruit butter.  It was spreadable, not the syrup I thought it would be.  It was tasty, but not really what I was looking for.  
The iterations of the cocktail that I tried ended up being...good.  Not great.  I'm going to be trying a fig-infused vodka to see if that makes a better fig option - maybe 2 ounces vodka to 1/2 ounce each of fernet and amaretto?  We'll have to see!

Winter Storm Juno (a work in progress)

2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce fig amaretto fruit butter
1/4 ounce fernet amaro
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice; shake until chilled.  Top with club soda if desired.

Amaretto Fig Fruit Butter

3 cups amaretto (use the cheap stuff)
284 grams dried figs, de-stemmed and cut into small pieces (about 20; a 10 ounce bag of dried Smyrna figs)
pinch of salt
a few stems of thyme or rosemary (optional; but don't go overboard here, it's meant to be an earthy background note, not a thyme syrup)

1.  Simmer over low heat for about an hour to infuse and slightly reduce. Allow to cool to room temperature (about another hour).
2.  Remove thyme stems, if you used them.  Using a high powered blender, blend for about a minute.  This makes a sauce of apple butter-like consistency.  If you don't have an expensive blender, it will likely leave some seeds, and I'd recommend straining them out with as sieve or cheesecloth. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Storm Juno

From, Tuesday the 27th at 11 am.  Look at that wind!