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Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Black Russian and the White Russian

Wow, another drink that David and I both enjoyed - doesn't happen that often! I've never had a Black Russian, but this was pretty good.

The Black Russian was reportedly first served at Hotel Metropole in Brussels, Belgium in 1949. The Black comes from the use of Kahlua, and the Russian from the Vodka.

Vodka originally comes from Poland in the early 15th century, but was made popular in Russia after that time. It was originally called "bread wine" until the mid 18th century. There are two explanations for the word "Vodka" - a diminutive of the word water in Russian "voda", and it is also thought to have derived from the Latin phrase "aqua vita" (water of life) which in Polish was "okowita".

Dmitri Mendeleev (famous for the invention of the periodic table)worked on perfecting the alcohol content in Vodka in the late 19th century. It's typically 40% (80 proof).

David's Swizzle Stick Ratings:
Black Russian - 5 Swizzle Sticks

I'd give it at least a 4, if not 5.

The Black Russian - 2.5 oz. Vodka, 1 oz. Kahlua. Pour into an Old Fashioned cocktail glass filled with ice cubes. Swizzle.

A "White Russian" is mixed the same as the Black Russian, but topped with cream. That I've had, and it was really good too.

A "Tall Black Russian" is mixed the same, but served in a Tom Collins cocktail glass and topped with Coke.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Stinger

We tried a new cocktail last night - The Stinger. There is not a lot of background on this cocktail, but it is written about as early as 1917. It was made famous in the Cary Grant/Jayne Mansfield 1957 movie "Kiss Them for Me", in the Jack Lemmon 1960 film "The Apartment" (which I really liked!), and the 1970 Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical, "Company".

I didn't care for this strong cocktail, but David did - at first. After awhile it had quite an after-taste and he ended up not finishing it. I think the taste was caused by the creme-de-menthe, because he has really enjoyed other brandy-based cocktails like the Sidecar.

Creme-de-menthe is mint-flavored extract made from Corsican mint, found in Corsica, Sardinia, Italy, and Sicily.

David's Swizzle Stick Ratings
Stinger - 3 Swizzle Sticks

The Stinger - 1.5 oz Brandy, 1.5 oz clear (white) creme-de-menthe. Add ingredients to crushed ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain into a chilled Martini cocktail glass.

When using green creme-de-menthe, the cocktail is called a Green Hornet.

Friday, July 24, 2009

YouTube Clip-of-the-Week

Have you seen this? It's been all around the blog world this week. Now THIS is a wedding entrance! I love how everyone really committed to it.

Have a great weekend!

Happy Birthday Amelia!

Amelia, our wonderful, wonderful babysitter this summer, is 20 today!

The boys wore their Purdue shirts today in honor of Amelia, who is transferring to Purdue this fall.

We'll see if Amelia gets to take any of the cake with her this afternoon!

Happy Birthday Amelia!

The Daiquiri

Last night David and I tried Daiquiris. Not the fluorescent frozen concoctions, but an original version. And we loved it.

One of my key sources for the drinks I am learning to mix this year is David Embury's classic book "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks", first published in 1948. It's considered the Bible of cocktail mixing to most.

Embuy says there are six basic drinks, and I've completed them all now: the Martini, the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, the Sidecar, the Jack Rose, and now the Daiquiri.

The Daiquiri was first made in 1905 in Santiago, Cuba at a bar named Venus by a group of American mining engineers. A U.S. Navy medical officer introduced it at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C. in 1909. It became incredibly popular in the U.S. in the 1940's as wartime rationing made whiskey, vodka, and other spirits hard to come by. Through Rossevelt's Good Neighbor Policy with Latin America, Cuba, and the Caribbean, rum became readily available and more fashionable. Previously rum had been looked down on as a "sailor drink" or for those down-and-out. In later years, The Daiquiri was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy.

A true Daiquiri is similar to what British sailors drank from the 1740s onward - Grog. However, Grog did not include ice or sweeteners, so the American mining engineers take full credit for the recipe.

David's Swizzle Stick Ratings:
Daiquiri - 5 Swizzle Sticks

The Daiquiri - 2 oz. white rum, juice of 1 medium lime, .5 oz sugar syrup.
Pour all ingredients into a shaker half-full with crushed ice. Shake vigorously and then pour all into a tall glass. Garnish with lime.

Rum, lime, and sweetener. What's not to love?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wonderlab and The Siam House

On Sunday the boys and I went to Bloomington with two other families from our church. We stopped at my least favorite restaurant, and then went on to Wonderlab, which was a lot of fun!

Here are the boys at my favorite exhibit

Church friends experimenting with the magnets

Climbing the Grape Vine - a huge hit!

Boulean exhibit - this was fun too.

The water table was a big draw for the younger kids.

Lots of reptiles and other animals.

The "frequency" exhibit that Thomas especially enjoys

After Wonderlab Brennan begged to go to the Thai restaurant that I mentioned. He barely at lunch and loves ethnic restaurants and food - but won't eat a hamburger or chicken nuggets. Go figure.

We went to the Siam House and it was delicious. Brennan had a very large Chai with cream and chose the Vegetarian Delight with tofu.

I had a wonderful Thai Tea and a dish that I cannot remember the name of! But it was delicious. Lots of vegetables in a sweet and spicy sauce, along with wide, thin noodles. Delicious!

And, David, he stayed at home and did a ton of house projects - poor guy! I did take him all of our leftover Thai food though!

We'll definitely return to Bloomington soon for Wonderlab and Siam House!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More House Photos

Stacy linked my blog with her photos to her own blog last week and we had a number visitors to the site, asking for more photos. I have taken a few, but I know they pale in comparison to Stacy's. I would LOVE to one day get a good camera and learn to take better shots.

But for now, my trusty Kodak and I have attempted these shots.

Kitchen shot from the second island.

Living room from the dining room

Living room and front entrance

One of my favorite shots looking from the front porch. I stand here every morning watching the boys get on the bus.

Another of my favorite shots - side angle of the front yard. And look at my Midland Roses! I haven't killed them yet.

A rose plant from my parents for my birthday earlier this year. I wasn't sure if he was going to survive, but he's thriving in the pot on the front porch!

Oakleaf Hydrangeas - I had never seen these before. But they're very hearty. I hear a lot of people mention they're all over Calloway Gardens.

Hydrangeas from the backyard.

Brennan's marigolds that he planted from seeds this year. They're overtaking the hostas!

Oak trees lining the front yard/street.

I love our yard, moles and all!

9th Birthday Party!

We celebrated Thomas's birthday yesterday with a swimming and sundae party!

It started out an unseasonably cool day - who would have thought that in JULY we'd have to heat the pool?!

Our monkeys on the monkey bars

Some of the kids ready for sundaes!

Great arm Brennan!

By middle afternoon the sun was out and it felt great. The kids had a wonderful time playing and we enjoyed visiting with OUR friends too!

The boys had a sleepover last week. Here are 3 of the boys waiting for the garbage truck to arrive.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thomas's Fireworks Memories

Thomas made the paper last Sunday. At KidsCommons a reporter interviewed a number of kids about their favorite 4th of July memories.

Double click to enlarge the picture. In case you can't read it, it says,

"I wish they would shoot all the fireworks at the same time. Once, my dad blew up a pinecone with firecrackers. The pieces went everywhere!"

Yep, right out on our driveway next to all the pinetrees.

What kids remember!

The Scarlet Lady and The Black-Eyed Susan

It has been MONTHS since I tried out any new cocktails. I hosted a Lia Sophia party Friday and decided it was a great time to try out a couple of new drinks.

I started with The Scarlet Lady at my friend Rebecca's request. It sounded much like sangria but doesn't take as long to make. It also sounded refreshing for a summer evening so I gave it a try. I liked it, but prefer sangria. If you like a good red wine, you'll enjoy this cocktail.

The Scarlet Lady - 1 bottle good, bold red wine. I used a cabernet. 1 1/2 cups club soda, 1/2 cup orange juice. Diced fruit - orange, apple, peach. Place the diced fruit in a pitcher and add the red wine. Chill for 30 minutes. Add the orange juice and stir. When ready to serve, add the club soda. Serve in a wine glass over ice.

I had a Black-Eyed Susan at a baby shower down south years ago and loved it so thought I'd give it a try. It's another great summer drink with the abundance of sweet cherries available. Tastes much like a mimosa, but quite a bit stronger!

Black-Eyed Susan - 4 cups orange juice, 2 1/2 cups pineapple juice, 1/2 cup light Rum, 1/2 cup Vodka, 1/4 cup Grand Marnier. Garnish with a fresh cherry with stem and a piece of lime. In a pitcher mix the juices. Add the Rum and Vodka and stir. Chill until 30 minutes before serving. Add the Grand Marnier and serve over crushed ice in a wine glass. Place a cherry in the cocktail and it will slowly travel to the bottom of the glass to be eaten after the cocktail is finished. Garnish with a piece of lime.

I much preferred the Black-Eyed Susan (as did most of my guests). But I'd make them both again sometime.

David stuck to a Dos Equis and didn't give either cocktail a try. I'll instead give the Black-Eyed Susan 4 swizzle sticks, and the Scarlet Lady 3.

Now I need more cocktail ideas!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Our House (in the middle of our street)

Stacy came last week and took some great photos of our home. Thought I'd share a few. She's coming back because in her eyes the grass is too "green" and she'd like to take more in better light. I'm fortunate to know such an artist!

We live in a neighborhood with a lot of pretty lots, and no two houses look the same.

We especially love all the mature trees - although David has different feelings come November leaf raking time.

Our famous rock - it's a great landmark to find our house, and it's a lot of fun to play on for the kids.

I will always associate Tiger Lilies with Thomas. They bloom around his birthday every year and we have them out by the pool where he has his party. Orange is his favorite color and tigers are his favorite animal. They're just his flower I guess.

The weeping cherry on the left is beautiful in the spring.

Day lilies. They're so hearty. Luckily we have planted a lot of hearty varieties - oakleaf hydrangeas, midland roses, hostas. I love plants that are OK with a little neglect.

This is my favorite spot in the house. I sit on the couch a lot and look out the windows. It's such a pretty lot in the back and I love to look out the windows to the right.

View from the living room.

Dining room

There are a few things I'd change about the house, but the kitchen isn't one of them. I love the skylights and the open feel.

The "kids patio" as Brennan calls it. Kids inevitably want to sit out here to eat - no matter the weather.

The pool is great for summer parties. And I love the hydrangeas - even though they threaten to take over the backyard each year.

From the playground

Next landscape project - around the overgrown lilac and around Brennan's patio.

From the (rarely used) master deck

From the apple tree - which our friendly neighborhood deer enjoys this time of year

Thanks for taking the tour with me. And Stacy, thank YOU!