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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Ice Cream Lady

It was pretty exciting to hear the Ice Cream Truck going through the neighborhood yesterday. We've never seen the truck in our neighborhood before!

As usual, Brennan went with the largest item he could find. Where does he put it? Can you tell he lost his 5th tooth?

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Cuba Libre

While studying up on Highballs I found another drink that I had not yet tried in this cocktail family - The Cuba Libre.

According to Bacardi and other sources, the Cuba Libre was invented in Cuba in 1900. It was after the Spanish-American war where Cuba gained its independence from Spain in 1898. Teddy Roosevelet and the Rough Riders were in Cuba during this time along with a large number of Americans. Coca-Cola had just arrived in Cuba, and a young American soldier ordered a shot of rum, a Coca-Cola, and a wedge of lime. He mixed the 3 and it became an instant hit across Cuba. The locals gave it the name after the recent battle cry across the country - Free Cuba! By the 1940s it was very common in the Unied States and inspired an Andrews Sisters song "Rum and Coca-Cola".

Of course, in the States this cocktail is usually referred to as a "Rum and Coke".

I took the opportunity to try some new dishes last night to go with the Cuba Libres. The Sullivans, Lirettes, and Joshua and Sarah joined us for some Cuban food. Most didn't partake of the Cuba Libre - but I did. And it was good.

I made Ropa Vieja (a shredded beef dish with tomatoes, spices, and lots of herbs), moros y cristianos (black beans with peppers and white rice), and grilled Cuban corn. I thought it was all really good. David said he'd love to have the beef as often as I want to make it. The boys would love the black beans and rice as well. Always great when new recipes work out as the guests are arriving!

David's Swizzle Stick Ratings -
Cuba Libre - David stuck to his beer last night, but I give it 5 swizzle sticks. Coke, Rum, and Lime - how can you go wrong?

The Cuba Libre - 1 cup Coke, 1/2 cup dark Rum, squeeze of lime juice. Pour over ice in a Highball cocktail glass and garnish with lime.

Variations -
A "Coppertone" is made with Malibu Rum (rum with coconut oil) and Cherry Coke. It smells like suntan lotion.
A "Cuban Missile Crisis" is made with Bacardi 151 instead of regular Rum.
A "Hot Cuba Libre" is popular in the West Indies and includes a shot of Caribbean hot sauce like Matouk's.
A "Midas" is made with Cream Soda and spiced Rum which creates a bright gold drink.

I'll stick to the original, thanks!

The Screwdriver

It wasn't until I started looking into the Screwdriver that I found the cocktail style of "The Highball". I had heard of this before, but I thought it was a specific cocktail, not a class of cocktails. A Highball is the family name for mixed drinks where the largest proportion is a non-alcoholic mixer. I've made quite a few Highballs without realizing it - Mojito, Long Island Iced Tea (though I beg to differ - that is NOT heavily weighted on the non-alcoholic side!), Tequila Sunrise, and my old favorite, Gin & Tonic. Highballs are usually served in tall Highball or Tom Collins cocktail glasses.

The first Highball was said to have been a mix of Scotch and carbonated water. The name originated in 1898 and was derived from "ball" meaning a drink of whiskey, and "high" in reference to the tall glass.

The Screwdriver is a simple drink, but the proportions vary widely. Several sources said the classic Screwdriver is 5 parts orange juice and 1 part Vodka. Others went as strong as 2:1. I mixed the most often referenced sources and went with 4:1 and David would have preferred it stronger. My guess is that 3:1 is probably closer to right. The Screwdriver is often called "Vodka and Orange".

The earliest reference is from Time magazine on October 24, 1949. Several sources cited that it got its name from engineers working in D.C. on building works projects in the 1940s. They were given small cans of orange juice to drink after work. The engineers would add sneak Vodka into the cans and stir them with their screwdrivers.

David's Swizzle Stick Ratings -
Screwdriver - 4 swizzle sticks

The Screwdriver - 4.5 oz orange juice, 1.5 oz Vodka. Pour over ice in a cocktail glass and swizzle.

A Harvey Wallbanger is a Screwdriver with a splash of Galliano (an Italian herbal liqueur) floating on top.

A Sameretto is a Screwdriver with 1/2 oz Amaretto added (which sounds pretty good to me!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

First Day of School

Wow - what an exciting school year we have in store for us. Both boys have moved to a new school. Thomas will be in the Academic Challenge 4th grade class and Brennan will be in 2nd grade. We attended the Orientation and Open House last night and everyone is pretty excited. I can't wait to hear all about it this afternoon!

Brennan - first day of 2nd grade

Thomas - first day of 4th grade

2009-2010 School Year

Our Summer with Amelia

We said goodbye to Amelia yesterday and wished her well at Purdue. We had a wonderful summer and Amelia was a huge part of that!

She gave us some good pictures she took of Thomas and Brennan over the summer. I like this one...

But she also encourages their true selves as well

Group photo

Apparently after swimming one day, not sure where though!

They took tennis lessons - Thomas rocking out

Brennan really enjoyed tennis this year

Brennan attended Smiley Camp (Photography Camp) at kidsCommons

Amelia brought this snowman over and he kept showing up in the oddest places all summer


Saying goodbye yesterday was tough. Brennan was a little teary.

Bye Amelia! Have a great sophomore year at Purdue!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Model Airplanes

Yesterday we went to a Model Airplane show. The boys and I didn't quite know what to expect. I assumed the models would be much smaller, like the ones you can buy at Radio Shack or Target. But these were impressive models, mostly built by the owner/operator and not from a kit.

David, of course, had more of an idea of what they were like, and enjoyed looking at them and talking to the owners. Many were replicas of real planes from WWI and WWII. The owners take a lot of pride in the work and the difficulty in flying them.

There was a pretty cool bi-plane that had smoke and did some impressive tricks.

The planes take off on a runway and then land just like a real plane. It was pretty fun to watch.

Although Brennan was a little disappointed that they weren't going to let him fly them.

Most of the planes have little figures in the cockpit. The attention to detail is pretty impressive!

It was a fun Saturday afternoon, and thankfully there was a nice breeze because it has turned out to be a pretty warm weekend!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Mai Tai

Success again! We found a drink that we both like. Because of the sweetness, I was surprised David like the Mai Tai as much as he did. It was actually slightly strong for me, but I did like it. Visions of the beach did pop into my mind a few times - the only time I've ever had a Mai Tai was in Hawaii, at a restaurant on Waikiki. Ah, Hawaii!

The Mai Tai was actually invented in 1949 at Trader Vic's in Oakland, California. "Maita'i" is the Tahitian word for "good". The story goes that the owner of Trader Vic's (Victor Bergeron) first made it for some friends who were visiting from Tahiti. One cried out "Maita'i roa" - very good, or literally "Out of this world", and the name stuck.

I held off making this drink because of one ingredient - orgeat syrup. All of my sources provided directions on making this almond sweetener and it sounded terribly difficult and hardly worth the effort. I checked in at the liquor store though and found it's available and inexpensive. Fate!

David's Swizzle Stick Ratings -
Mai Tai - 5 Swizzle Sticks

The Mai Tai - 1 oz. light rum, 1 oz. dark rum, 1/2 oz. curacao, 1/2 oz. orgeat syrup, 1/4 oz sugar syrup, juice of 1/2 lime. Garnish with lime peel, mint sprig, pineapple, and Maraschino cherry. Mix the light rum, curacao, orgeat syrup, sugar syrup and lime juice in a shaker filled with crushed and cubed ice. Strain into a glass and add the dark rum just before serving. It will float on the top for a couple of minutes. Garnish.