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Four Favorites in July

July 31, 2015

Four Favorites July: A book, blog, brand and break| Fake Food Free

My Four Favorites series is back and I’m introducing a new theme to these monthly installments of my favorite finds.

The four Bs. A book, a blog, a brand and a break.

These are a few things I’ve come across this month that I’ve enjoyed so much that I must share. 

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Grilled Cherry Mezcal Cocktails

July 21, 2015

 Grilled Cherry Mezcal Cocktail Recipe | Fake Food FreeI was preparing kebabs for the grill when the idea came to me. We love grilled fruits, but one fruit I had never grilled were cherries. I’m sure it’s been done before, but the idea was new to me. It was also pretty exciting because I adore cherries. Blueberries have always been my favorite fruit, but these days cherries are neck and neck for first place.

Considering a few grilled cherries led me to wondering what kind of smoky sweet flavors that grilling would add to them. No surprise that those thoughts led to our home bar and the bottle of smoky mezcal that I’ve found to be a challenging ingredient to incorporate into our drinks. If there is one thing that it had to go well with the spirit, I figured grilled cherries would be it. 

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Grilled Pizza with Scallops, Shallots and Arugula

July 1, 2015

As a member of the Cultivar Wine Bloggers club, I receive quarterly shipments of their outstanding wines to pair with my recipes. This month I took things outdoors with grilled pizza and the 2014 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc.  Grilled Pizza with Scallops, Shallots and Arugula paired with Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc | Fake Food Free

If you told me I could only grill one thing for the entire summer, my pick would be pizza. I might miss the grilled vegetables, maybe the meats, and most definitely the fruits, but having grilled pizza in front of me with the smoky, slightly crisp crust and the bubbly cheese would make it all better. 

We only just began grilling pizzas a few years ago and it was love at first slice. Since then I’ve experimented with different whole grain crusts and garden-fresh toppings as well as the best way to cook it.

While I’m a huge fan of the traditional with tomato sauce and mozzarella, I also like to step out of the box with some more original combinations. 

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Blackberry Scofflaw Cocktail

June 18, 2015

I like cocktails that have a seasonal twist. When Templeton Rye sent me a bottle of their whiskey to try in celebration of Father’s Day, it gave me the perfect opportunity to add a touch of summer with this Blackberry Scofflaw Cocktail. 

Blackberry Scofflaw Cocktail | Fake Food Free

I grew up with more blackberries in a single summer than most people eat in a lifetime.

For as far back as I can remember, at least one side of the property of my parents home was lined with blackberry plants that would produce buckets all season long. These then turned into bag after bag of berries that filled our freezers throughout the rest of the year. 

And not those puny berries that are so tart you can barely eat them. These were berries that grew to the size of a cherry tomato. They were so plump that if you squeezed a little too hard while picking them, splatters of juice could find their way from your forehead down to your ankles. 

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Shrubs and Shims from SHED in Healdsburg

May 28, 2015

Shrubs and Shims from SHED Healdsburg. Pouring the Apparent Sour. | Fake Food FreeTruth be told, I had no idea what a shim was.

A shrub? Yes. I’d actually made some shrubs at home. 

So when I was invited to a shims and shrubs workshop, I jumped at the chance, assuming that the shrub I knew had to be somewhat related to a shim that I was unfamiliar with. 

Plus, this workshop was at the Healdsburg SHED. I literally had just discovered this place no more than a month before this media workshop invitation arrived in my inbox. The moment I saw it in some of my travel research, it immediately went on my must-visit list. This seemed like the perfect excuse to take the short drive up to California wine country.

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Cinnamon Cardamom Hazelnut Milk

May 21, 2015

    Cinnamon Cardamom Hazelnut Milk | Fake Food Free
I wasn’t quick to jump on the nut milk bandwagon.

It’s not that I don’t like almond milk, but when everyone started going crazy for it, seeing it as the new health drink, all I really saw was another processed food. I’m not a fan of all the thickeners and fillers in the ingredient lists on most labels. That’s not to say, I haven’t found a few varieties I enjoy, it just never became a wonder drink for me. 

It took a while for me to realize that I could make my own. And not only almond milk, but milk from just about any nut out there. Still, even with that knowledge, I’ve failed to give it a try, despite my DIY attitude in the kitchen. 

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Meyer Lemon Bourbon Winter Warmer

February 8, 2015

This Meyer lemon bourbon cocktail is the best way to get through a cold winter night! It combines the fresh flavor of seasonal citrus with warming spices and Kentucky bourbon. 

 Meyer Lemon Bourbon Winter Warmer | Fake Food Free | A warm cocktail made with spiced, fresh lemonade and Kentucky bourbon.

Let’s be clear. It’s not cold here. If I were to utter the phrase, “I’m cold,” I’m certain it would be met with a bless-her-heart chuckle and an eye roll from just about everyone Colorado and eastward. Those being pounded with snow would likely close the browser window, never to return. 

So it’s not cold, but it does get cool and there are distinct differences between winter, spring, summer and fall here in the Bay Area. Thank goodness, because I do love the four seasons. They just aren’t nearly as extreme as other places I’ve lived. 

That being said, I still love the comfort foods and drinks of winter — a steaming bowl of soup, rich pot pies, and a warm bourbon drink — just as much as a person digging out from the snow. 

We might not have freezing temps, but one thing we do have in the winter is citrus! And you are probably well aware of my love for it.

When we moved into our apartment here in 2012, I immediately purchased a small dwarf Meyer lemon tree from the local farmers market. I read up a little on growing them in pots and this tree already had a few lemons on it when I bought it so I thought, this is going to be too easy. 

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Visiting Vienna Christmas Markets

December 8, 2014

If you have ever been tempted to visit Christmas markets in Europe, I hope this post will convince you to finally book the trip. We spent time in Vienna last December and the experience left me speechless. After a year to gather my thoughts, I’m sharing the highlights with what to drink and eat when visiting Vienna Christmas Markets.

Visiting the Vienna Christmas Markets | Fake Food Free

I haven’t fully decided how I feel about the term bucket list. I’m not a huge fan, but that might just be because it is so popular and overused. At the same time, I lack an appropriate name for my list of places to see in this world.

Must-go, must-see, travel list? They all feel rather boring. Especially with the places that I have on my list. I feel like the name needs to match the magnitude of the experiences.

So while I’m searching for a name, I’m slowly progressing through my list (whatever it is called).

A big, and I mean huge, destination for me, became a reality last December. We’ve been to Vienna a few times now and it remains one of my favorite places in the world, but I’ve always wanted to go in December to see the Christmas markets.

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Ginger and Black Peppercorn Hot Tea Recipe

October 8, 2014

This hot tea combines ginger and black peppercorns for a slightly spicy drink that will warm you up. A recipe I learned from friends while living in Brazil, it is a non-alcoholic twist on the Quentão we used to drink there during the winter.  

Ginger and Black Peppercorn Hot Tea Recipe | Fake Food Free

During one of the Julys we spent in Brazil, I helped a friend host a party for her English students and she made this tea. I know what you are thinking — hot tea in July? But remember, U.S. summer = Brazil winter, and where we were in the south, it did get pretty fall-like.

It is a non-alcoholic version of the warm wine drink, Quentão, that is enjoyed during Festas Juninas celebrations. This drink, often described as a mulled wine, was made in large volumes with very, um, affordable wine and often cachaça so it’s surprising that I liked it, but the spicy flavor of the fresh ginger won me over. 

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Frozen White Russian Cocktails

September 12, 2014

Turn your White Russian cocktail into a spiked frozen treat with this recipe!

Frozen White Russian Cocktail | Fake Food Free

I like to keep my desserts and my cocktails separate. I’m rarely tempted by the spiked dessert shakes or fancy frozen drinks that show up on restaurant menus.

But that is when I’m dining out. This? This is when I’m at home. No way am I passing up a frosty combination of spirits and ice cream at home. It’s a lot more fun to be creative with frozen cocktails in your own kitchen than to pay someone else to do it for you. At least that is how I feel about it.

I love both Black and White Russians, which is no surprise considering that I am a huge coffee fan. So with some coffee ice cream in the freezer and a few warm days lingering from summer, I thought a frozen cocktail would be a welcome addition to a rather long week.

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