13 July 2018

I will have all of the sangria, please

I am so done witrosé, and never really did get the appeal in the first place.  But sangria is definitely something I can wrap my brain around...a crisp white wine (go with something cheap), made more interesting with fresh fruit and maybe fortified with a little sweet liquor--what's not to love? 

1/2 cup (1 to 2 oranges) freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup (3 to 4 lemons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup Triple Sec
1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine (anything but Chardonnay)
1 bottle (10 oz.) soda water
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced

1 750 mL bottle riesling
1 750mL bottle prosecco
1 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup simple syrup (optional)
1/2 cup club soda
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1 grapefruit, cut into chunks/slices

4 cups honeydew melon or canteloupe, cubed
1 cup sliced English cucumber
1 750ml Prosecco
1/2 cup white grape juice
1 cup fresh mint leaves

1 bottles of crisp white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio...)
1 bottle of sparkling white wine (Vino Verde, Prosecco)
2 ripe peaches, sliced
1 pint raspberries
2 kiwis
several sprigs of mint
Stevia or other sugar substitute to taste

I often skip the additional sweeteners, but for something a bit more like soda pop, you may elect to keep them in.  Whichever recipe(s) you try, plan ahead so that it can sit in the fridge for about an hour before serving.  You can also substitute any amount of fresh fruit for frozen.

06 July 2018

Weekend in Old Colorado City/Manitou Springs

Thanks to Air BnB, I had a pretty sweet couple of nights in a 1979 Airstream down in Old Colorado City recently. OCC, as I like to call it when I'm being lazy, was the original capital of Colorado. By the 1920s they were going broke and voted to incorporate into Colorado Springs, so what's left today is a cute selection of old-timey architecture filled with restaurants, pubs, and overpriced clothing. Manitou Springs, home to a bevy of amazing hikes, looks similar. They're both tucked into the Pike's Peak/Garden of the Gods mountainous area, providing a nice respite from your climbing and hiking adventures. Here are my recommendations:

Local grocery stores (OCC):
King Soopers, 1750 W. Uintah St
Safeway, 3275 W Colorado Ave

PJ’s Diner, 915 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829 (authentic Polish + burgers)
La Baguette, 2417 W Colorado Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80904 (French bakery serving a full menu through 6pm)
Alchemy Irish Pub, 2625 W Colorado Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80904
Paravicini’s, 2802 W Colorado Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80904 ($9 lunch menu) 
Red Dog Coffee and Cafe, 739 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829

In Town:
Old Colorado City wandering: along Colorado Ave.
Manitou Springs wandering: Manitou Ave & Canyon Ave

Garden of the Gods: take either Pikes Peak Ave or Colorado Ave West to 30th St, North on 30th
Red Rock Canyon Open Space: Take US-24 W, turn left onto Ridge Rd, turn left onto W High St
Manitou Cliff Dwelings $ (open 9-6): same as above, but continue on US-24 until Turn right onto Cliff Rd/Sunshine Trail
Miramont Castle Museum $ (closed Mondays): same as above, but continue on US-24 until continue on Serpentine Dr. Take Manitou Ave to Capitol Hill Ave
Manitou Incline: US-24 to Continue on Serpentine Dr. Take Manitou Ave and Ruxton Ave to Hydro St (towards Cog Railway)
Manitou Heritage Museum: 517 Manitou Ave (11:30-4:30 daily)

If you think this Airstream looks like a cute place to bunk, I couldn't recommend it, and the host, more highly. Go here for more info.

29 June 2018

Hot Chicken in the City

Nashville Hot Chicken, I'm told by the natives, is not a long-standing tradition.  But the term is now used as if it's been around forever, and let's face it, Southerners know how to fry up a good bird.  The "hot" is only an option, by the way--all of these places offer a mild version, so don't be scared if you don't feel like burning your lips off.

Like a good BBQ joint, a plate will offer you two sides, like mac & cheese (often done with pimento cheese), greens, corn on the cob, cole slaw, or baked beans. Here are a couple delish ones in the South, and one bonus joint in Colorado that definitely does it right, despite the lack of twang from the servers.

...special thanks to my Southern pals who helped me find the best places in Nashville!

Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish, 624 Main St and 2309-A Franklin Pike in Nashville, TN 
Features: Chicken on a Stick plate (trust me) makes you feel like you're at the county fair, and there's also a great selection of fried fish and pork, either in a platter or sandwich.  SO, it's basically a BBQ place that also does great fried chicken, which makes it a real crowd-pleaser for mixed groups. 
Best sides: white beans, corn on the cob, spaghetti (I mean, it's not the most amazing spaghetti you'll ever have, but-?!)

Hattie B’s, 29 Seven Apartments, 2808 7th Ave S #101 in Birmingham, AL; 596 Cooper Street in Memphis, TN; 5209 Charlotte Pike, 112 19th Ave S, and 2222 8th Ave S in Nashville
Features: Besides becoming pretty ubiquitous in a short amount of time, it's probably the most hipster place I visited (in newly gentrified Melrose, Nashville, anyway). There are some great local beers on tap, and the service is super fast and friendly. Shut the Click Up!! is their hottest chicken, and it's near-nuclear. And the banana pudding is just super Southern, if you're and outsider like me and looking to go all-out. 
Best sides: black eyed pea salad, red skin potato salad

And believe it or not:
Music City Hot Chicken, 111 West Prospect Road #C , Fort Collins, CO 
Features: Since they're just a couple shops down from Black Bottle, they have their own BB brew on tap (it's a light, summery lager called Music City Cold Beer, and it's perfect with spicy chicken). They also have some exotic flavors, like a green chili flavoring and also a Jamaican Jerk, which are both super tasty. Each chicken comes with a dipping sauce, as well, which I didn't see in Nashville.  I don't really get the point, but it's nice if you like that sort of thing...
Best sides: mac & cheese, waffles (get the Fireball syrup as your sauce)

22 June 2018

The best cold brew coffee for the summer

If you've been paying over $10 for a tiny bottle of cold brew at the grocery store (or going out every day for it-?!), you need this recipe in your life. Making cold brew at home couldn't be any easier, and if you have a French press, straining it is a breeze, too.  Save your money for a great road trip and start making your fancy cold coffee drinks at home!

Cold Brew @ Home

Makes about 4 drinks

2/3 cup coarsely ground coffee
3 cups water
1 teaspoon cinnamon or cardamom, depending on your taste (I prefer cardamom)
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Put ingredients in a quart jar, stir, and cover with lid. OR, dump in your French press and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, pour the coffee base through a sieve or strainer into a bowl, then strain back into jar for easy storage. If you've used a French press, just strain and dump it into a jar. This makes pretty strong coffee, but it's totally drinkable this way.  However, if you want to get all Starbucks-y, put a few ice cubes in a glass. Pour in coffee until glass is about 3/4 full, and add milk/half and half/cream to taste.