The French Tart – Grapefruit and Rosemary Cocktail

This vodka, grapefruit and rosemary cocktail is tarted up with St Germain elderflower liqueur and has a refreshing, herby taste perfect for cocktail hour. One of my favorite words of all time is the French word for grapefruit: Pamplemousse. Say it! Pamplemousse. It's...

Herbed Potato Salad

Everyone has a favorite potato salad recipe and here’s ours: flavored with Dijon mustard and plenty of chives, parsley and dill. It’s our go-to BBQ side.

Basil Green Goddess Grilled Chicken with Red Onions

Give chicken thighs a long marinade in Green Goddess dressing, and char them to perfection on the grill along with red onions. Then dollop more herby dressing on them for good measure and eat dinner under the stars.

Easy scones

What ho, and all that, spiffing readers. I’m being especially upper-crust because I wanted to tell you about the scones I made a couple of weeks ago. Let’s take a gander at them first. Have a good look, there you go, feast your eyes.

Easy scones


Alright, that’s enough. Put your eyes away now.

On our spring trip to the UK, I wanted to take Emily out for a right old afternoon tea, with really nice sandwiches, scones, cream, jam, and all that. (You know, the sort of thing that Americans imagine that we Brits have every day, presumably as a break from striding around our castle grounds and whipping peasants.) We managed to find one at Huffkins in Burford (if you visit their site, do look for the amusing “About Our Employees” section) – all piled up on a proper tiered cake stand.

Anyway, I had picked up a jar of clotted cream at our local health food store last week (just let that sink in for a moment. Clotted cream. Health food store. Hm.) and decided on a whim to make scones. After some cursory research, and quickly realising I didn’t have any buttermilk (a requirement for many recipes) I settled on this version from Rachel Allen. I’ve adapted for US volumes and temperature. You can fuss with biscuit cutters and the like, but I like the country-style triangles simply cut from the dough with a knife.

The. Best. Mojito.

The Best Mojito

Does the world need another mojito recipe? Yes. Yes it does, because this one has a little something extra that, in my tipsy, slightly slurred opinion, takes it to the next level of yumminess. And no, I’m not suggesting you buy an expensive, impossible-to-find rum. Or scour the earth for special ice made from Himalayan mountain water. In fact it’s something really simple. Mint simple syrup…

imageIf you’re not familiar with it, simple syrup is just equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar melts. That’s it. It’s when you start infusing syrups that they get really interesting.

We’re growing all this mint on our deck and smelling it seriously put me in the mood for mojitos. I snipped a whole bunch but before I got to muddling, I thought about trying to make a syrup instead. I’m telling you, it’s a revelation. It’s not only intensely minty but you also don’t have to get a mouth full of squashed herbs every time you take a sip. I did still muddle a few leaves but not the massive handful that a good mojito usually needs.



Corpse Reviver #2


imageMy stepmom, Marcia, told us about this cocktail when we visited over the summer and though we didn’t get a chance to try it, it sounded so good I had to make it when we got back.

While it sounds like it should be served out of a skull, bubbling over with dry ice, the “Corpse Reviver” family of cocktails are actually classics. The name refers not to zombies (unfortunately), but to their use as hangover cures. There are several types of Corpse Reviver cocktails that were first listed in the Savoy Cocktail Handbook by Harry Craddock in 1930. When prohibition began, Craddock fled to England, where he became chief barman at London’s swanky Savoy Hotel.

This is his sage advice on how to properly drink a cocktail, “Quickly, while it’s laughing at you”.  He’s now my spirit animal. 

Corpse Reviver #2 is definitely the most popular today and I can see why. It’s not overly sweet and has a lovely citrusy, herbal flavor. It is strong though so prepare yourself for a fun night (or a nap).

One of the main ingredients is Lillet Blanc, which is a French aperitif. I really love it on its own just with ice, but it’s also a fantastic ingredient in cocktails. You’ll absolutely want to use fresh squeezed lemon juice for this, no refrigerated stuff out of a squeeze bottle.


The chickens have landed! I repeat, the chickens are in the coop!

The chickens have landed! I repeat, the chickens are in the coop!


Matt writes:

Hello there, chickadees! You’ve probably gathered that I’m not quite as prolific as m’wife when it comes to updating the blog, but I think it’s about time – no, past time – for an update on how the chicken coop is going. Well, it’s done. We have chickens.

“What’s this?”, you cry in alarm. “The last we heard you were planning on building one, and now you’ve built one, and you have chickens, and this is how we find out, you tell us?”

All those things are true. I found a plan online, a plan that was detailed and had lots of pictures (quite important for an idiot like me with no knowledge of power tools), I ordered the lumber and hardware parts, and hove at it. There was sawing. Quite a lot of sawing. There was the judicious application of nail and screw, along with a fair number of brackets, and a great deal of hardware cloth, wrapped around and sunk a foot into the ground. There is a brace, ‘cos it’s a bit wonky.

Essentially, it’s a walk-in coop consisting of a framed shell, roofed with corrugated vinyl, and enclosed on one side with interior plywood and exterior siding, to form the henhouse. Once the frame was together, our friends Karen and Tom helped us position it down in a corner of the yard, and I built up the frame, roof, netting and henhouse a step at a time when I had a few hours in the day. Last weekend I finished the plywood nesting boxes and interior walls, and today we drove up to Saugerties and handed a farmer some cash money in exchange for four chickens.

The design of the coop means that they can be confined within, but since we have a fenced yard, they should be safe to roam around under supervision, provided the whistle-pig doesn’t take a fancy to them…


Emily says:

Yes! We picked these four lovely ladies up today. Seriously, can you believe we actually have chickens? In our yard? I’m agog. AGOG, I say!



Arya says: “Whats? Im cant beleave!”


(At least she seems to realize they aren’t her dinner…so far.)


Orange-Maple Glazed Chicken (inspired by Withnail and I)

Orange-Maple Glazed Chicken (inspired by Withnail and I)

Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 3.10.18 PM

You’ve seen Withnail and I, right? Of course you have. It’s a classic fil…wait, WHAT? You haven’t? You must see it! Right this minute! Go on, we’ll wait. *Taps fingers on table sternly*. Cut to 5 hours later (because you had to watch it twice and have a nap because you were tipsy). Now… don’t you feel better? Something was missing, wasn’t it?

For years, every time I’d roast a chicken, I’d be tempted to stand it up in the oven, just for giggles.

chicken_upon_a_brickNow, I know cooking chicken on a beer can is a thing but I am way too accident prone to try to balance a large, slippery chicken on a tallboy . Then I saw this, noticed it was only $20 and decided that I must have it. I have to tell you, it actually works incredibly well and, more importantly, your chicken will look hilarious as it hangs out, sitting up, in your oven.


I imagine this will be me, Matt and one of our chickens very soon.



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