It’s been a long time since life has been normal. Chaos can make me a tiny bit anxious, and there’s just been so much of it lately. There’s a hope of stability just around the corner. I’m so ready to settle in and make a home again. It will be slow going, what with an empty kitchen and all, but I can already picture myself in the apartment, welcoming guests and creating memories. It’s gonna be awesome.
One of the biggest challenges is keeping your life confined to five suitcases. I could run out and buy and bunch of new stuff, but where would I put it all? I’ve had to challenge myself to work with what is immediately available to me. So instead of creating a new recipe that starts with buying a bunch of new ingredients, I raided my SIL’s liquor cabinet and made you something sweet and refreshing. Totally cheeky or totally brilliant? I’ll let you decide.
This drink is simple. Combine a shot of amaretto with a shot of orange juice in the bottom of a pint glass. You can add in a splash of something else like cinnamon schnapps or, in my case, just a dash of mead for a bit of extra flavor. Then fill your glass with your favorite crisp hard cider. We used a can of Strongbow. If you want to add some autumn whimsy garnish it with apple slices and a cinnamon stick, preferably bought at the Asian market where you can get mountains of spices for practically nothing.
I said it would be awesome, I never said it would be easy. But I don’t really see the point in sitting around whining about being technically homeless and unemployed. Instead, I’ll fix myself a drink, throw on a scarf and some cute boots, and love my life. Want to join me?
Orange & Amaretto Cider
Sweet, nutty, and crisp, Orange & Amaretto Cider is getting me into Fall in a major way.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own.
My cookbook obsession has me tapping into my romantic side. I’m sure it will surprise absolutely no one to know that my traveler’s heart has always lusted for a trip to France. They seem to love food there in a completely unique way. Though I generally find the actually preparing and eating of French food to be a bit fussy and fancy, I completely love the romantic ideal of French cuisine. That pastoral image of a woman in a fitted blouse, a full skirt, and a floury apron presenting her family with a gorgeous meal with fresh ingredients that she foraged from the hillside, it seems like a dream.
It’s no dream, kids. It’s real life. At least, it is for Mimi Thorrison. Her cookbook, A Kitchen in France, is absolutely breathtaking. Photographed at her country home in Medoc, every single bite looks absolutely exquisite. Every image is perfection, and the way she writes does nothing to dispel the myth of the French love affair with food. I want to walk into it’s pages.
That being said, the food is still a bit fancy and fussy for my personal taste. I want to read about and look at this food, but I probably wouldn’t go to the trouble to make most of it. I mean, I’m the girl who brought you bacon cheeseburger meatloaf, so… there’s that. There are a few desserts that look rich and spectacular, and I’ll definitely be giving them a shot.
When I was trying to choose a recipe from this book, I couldn’t decide whether to make an almond tart or a chocolate tart, so I decided to create something new and combine both flavors. I don’t know how French it is, but it feels right to me. Also, it’s incredibly simple to make. Not remotely fussy. This is why I’d never fit in in France.
If you love France, gorgeous photography, and rustic, Earthy food, if you can handle viewing someone else’s perfect life without being overcome by envy, if you want to step in to a French country dream, I definitely recommend A Kitchen in France.
Chocolate Amaretto Tart
A crisp, buttery shell holds a thick chocolate ganache infused Amaretto and topped off with a fluffy cloud of fresh Amaretto whipped cream.
8 ounces dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1 ounce plus 1 tablespoon Amaretto, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and press your pie dough into a 9-inch tart pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
As your tart shell is cooling, heat 1 cup of heavy cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Remove it from the heat as soon as you start to see small bubbles around the edge.
Put your chocolate in a small mixing bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, cover it with a clean towel, and leave it alone for 3-5 minutes.
Whisk the chocolate mixture until it becomes silky and shiny. Whisk in an ounce of Amaretto.
Pour your ganache into a tart shell and transfer to the fridge to cool for at least four hours.
To make the cream, whisk 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Add the sugar when it starts to thicken. Add a tablespoon of Amaretto when soft peaks form, and whisk until you have stiff peaks. Spread your Amaretto cream on top of your tart, cut and serve and imagine you're in the French countryside.
By Renee Rendall
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Not liking coffee can sometimes make one a social outcast. Coffee is not just a beverage in this culture, it’s an obsession, a way of life. It turns out people can actually be genetically pre-disposed to not liking bitter flavors. So it turns out maybe I was born to be a social outcast.
All this is to say that in order to fit in and conform to social norms, I had to find something I could drink when people wanted to go out for coffee. You can only order hot chocolate so many times before people start to make fun of you. Thank god for chai. It saved my social life.
The great thing about going out to bars instead of coffee shops is that I can almost always find something that I like. It’s even better when I can bring it all together in a chai flavored cocktail. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the chaitini.
I combination of vanilla vodka, amaretto, and chai latte, the glass is rimmed with cinnamon sugar, and you can stir it up with a cinnamon stick. It’s sweet and spicy and just a little bit fancy.
We can be friends, even if you want to go to a coffee shop. Maybe we should meet for cocktails, though. I predict more fun.
A sweet and spicy cocktail that will help everyone get along splendidly
April has come and gone and we’ve reached the end of our first full month of Awesome on $20. No idea how that happened. I’m so thrilled that a few people have found their way here. Isn’t the internet crazy? Indeed.
Here’s the awesomest stuff April offered up. Let’s do this every month! And let’s invent new words.
Awesomest Way to Get Funny Looks at Work
My new obsession is the Joy the Baker Podcast. I’m honestly a little sad that this has been happening for two years without me. Luckily, when you subscribe on iTunes, you can get every episode, and then listen to two a day at work. There’s a strong chance you’ll burst out laughing while everyone is quietly clicking away in their cubicle, then everybody will look at you like you’re a freak. It’s okay. They don’t even know how awesome you are.
Joy and her sidekick Tracy of Shutterbean chat endlessly about “totally important unimportant things.” Sometimes they even talk about food and blogging. It’s reassuring, as a new blogger, to know that people as successful as these two once felt a bit insecure as well. I’m totally normal. Yeah, I’m totally not normal. Joy the Baker podcast. Get it. Laugh much too loudly. You won’t regret it.
Awesomest Band You Never Skip When Your iPod Is on Shuffle
Do people even have iPods anymore? I’ve been using the same one since 2008, and I don’t think I’ve ever skipped over a Steeldrivers song. I’m always in the mood for their perfect brand of contemporary bluegrass. Alas, they lost their lead singer and songwriter, Chris Stapleton, a few years ago. I haven’t heard any of their recent stuff with the new singer, but that doesn’t stop me from singing bad harmony while driving my moped down busy streets. Their first two albums, plus “Live from The Station Inn” will always be worth listening to.
If you have Adele’s 21, and who doesn’t, then you already know one of my favorite Steeldrivers songs, “If It Hadn’t Been for Love.” I adore everything Adele does, but you really have to check out the original version. This song has a fiddle solo that just rips my heart out. Even if you think bluegrass isn’t your thing, I urge you to check out this band and have your mind thoroughly blown.
Awesomest Thing I’m Super Excited to Make
Whilst obsessively listening to the Joy the Baker podcast, I heard Tracy of Shutterbean talking about making her own amaretto. I immediately gasped (cue weird glances) and dropped everything to pin the recipe from her site. A few weeks ago I wanted to make a cocktail that called for amaretto, and the cheapest bottle at my grocery store was $25. What? I’m not paying that. When I looked at her recipe, I realized I already had everything except the vodka. How are we out of vodka? That needs to stop. I’m so psyched to try this out. I promise to let you know how it goes.
Awesomest Opportunity to Stuff Your Face in Honolulu
Since before I moved here, I’ve been saying I wanted to check out Eat the Street. That was a year and a half ago, and I finally went for the first time last week. Eat the Street is a monthly gathering of food trucks in Kaka’ako. They have around forty vendors, including beer and wine. There’s music and entertainment, and it’s all outside under the stars (depending on what time you get there, I suppose). Every month there’s a theme, and each truck creates a special dish for the event. April’s theme was bacon. How could I stay at home?
Next month is garlic Eat the Street. It happens the 4th Friday of every month. You don’t want to miss it. I don’t think I’ll miss out ever again. If you live in town, or you’re visiting my island, look for me. I’ll be near the cupcakes eventually.
What was the awesomest thing in your life in April?