Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dazed and Infused

Christmas is always a tricky time for me.

Things I love about it: 
  • opportunities to get together with friends and family
  • strings of those little white lights
  • having an excuse to bake a lot
  • the possibility of making a snowman

Things I hate about it:
  • it's cold outside (but not at the moment -- thanks, climate change!)
  • it's the time of year with the least amount of daylight
  • there is an endless loop of mostly terrible holiday music playing everywhere
  • the pressure of gift giving

Don't get me wrong, I *love* figuring out the perfect present for people in my life. I often get so excited when I find that something that I can't stand to wait until the designated occasion to give it to them. And then the occasion rolls around and I have bupkis. "Remember that awesome thing I gave you three months ago? No, that other thing. Yeah, happy birthday."

Well, this year, I decided to go homemade. And boozy. On Christmas morning, Mom unwrapped a big bottle of homemade limoncello. Dad found himself with a hand-painted recipe and ingredients for chestnut chocolate milk -- don't be fooled, there's bourbon in it -- that I'd learned from the good folks at a cocktail tasting and watercolor class my friend Patricia invited me to at Union Market a couple of weeks ago. And little brother became the proud owner of a pint jar of lemongrass-infused vodka. Plus some books for his wife and the most adorable 9-month-old niece ever, both of whom apparently don't drink. (Slackers.)

Yes, lemongrass vodka. I'd never come across it before, either. It all started when my friend Steve decided to dig up the lemongrass plants in his back yard last month to make room for some winter greens. Admiring them sitting in a sunny windowsill in my front room, I began to brainstorm things I could make with 3 large pots of lemongrass. This was assuming the plants survived the repotting process. (And as you can see, they have, and are even starting to grow new shoots!)

Historically, I have pretty much only used lemongrass in Thai cooking. But there are only so many curries a woman can make, even one who loves them, so I started to dabble in other lemongrass experiments. Lemongrass in my miso soup (great with lots of fresh ginger and garlic). A few stalks in the bath (nice). Burned as incense (not recommended). Lemongrass tea (lovely with a touch of local honey). Wait. Drinks. Yes. Why not lemongrass cocktails? I thought. It was time to do some serious experimenting.

Okay, maybe not so serious. But thorough. If you decide to make your own, all you need is:
  • a handful of lemongrass
  • some decent vodka
  • a bottle with a tight top
  • a dark place to let your infusion steep
  • a sense of adventure

(Goodness, this is starting to sound like the list of "things I couldn't live without" on my online dating profile. Hmmm. This might be a better list.)

Anyway, if you need some lemongrass, call me. For heaven's sake, don't pay $5 for a 3-inch stalk at Whole Foods! And if you need some ideas for what to do with your fancy seeming lemongrass-infused vodka, try one of these cocktails:

Be careful, though. You don't want to end up like this guy:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hot buttered popcorn

I can't stop thinking about the popcorn I had a couple of weeks ago at Lyman's Tavern, out on a date back in my old Columbia Heights stomping grounds. While we didn't pan out as romantic partners, I will be eternally indebted to Patrick for introducing me to sriracha popcorn.

I know what you're thinking. Popcorn isn't very highbrow. And I am something of a foodie. But I have to tell you, this stuff will change your life. [Cue infomercial....] But seriously, should you find yourself snuggled up on the couch with a movie and a hankering for something to nibble on, try this twist on the traditional buttered popcorn, which is great washed down with a cold beer or a finger of rye whiskey:

Sriracha buttered popcorn


  • 1/4 cup olive or grapeseed oil
  • 2/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 3-4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sriracha
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Add the oil and 3 popcorn kernels to a large pot with a lid.

Cover and cook over medium-high heat until all 3 kernels pop.

Take the three kernels out of the pot, and pour in the rest of the popcorn kernels.

Cover and take the pot off of the heat. Wait 30 seconds (fun to count with your kids, if you have any).

Put the pot back on the heat. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally until the popping slows down.

After about 2 minutes, and the popping has slowed down, transfer the popcorn to a large bowl.

In the same pot you popped in (I mean, no need to create extra dishes), melt the butter and add the sriracha.

Toss popcorn back in the pot to coat it, then sprinkle on the salt.


I'm pretty sure they make it differently at the bar, but some trial and error has gone into the homemade version of this recipe.

Oh boy, all this writing about it, I think I might have to make myself a big bowl of it right now. (And, still single, I don't have to share it. Ha! Take that, cruel dating world!)