Foraged Foods Part 2

Who doesn’t love free? The beauty of foraged foods – foods you pick that grow wild that is – is the fact that it costs only your time. OK, I realize that time is money, and that my recipes require things you can’t forage to compete them (as club soda is definitely not something that grows in the wild) but come on people! Free food? I’m on board.

In my area there are soo many cool things you can eat growing outside in the woods. Last issue I spoke of Rose Hips. Today it’s crab apples. These are common all across North America and Asia and Europe and there a sooo many varieties! Crab apples are basically small apples, anything under 2 inches. Some are sweeter than others, some are more ornamental but they all have a 5 star middle just like their bigger sibling. Weird fact? Crab apples are part of the rose family (ok it’s a big family along with pears, plums, cherries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries to list a few).

Crab apples, like rose hips, have vitamin C in them but not half as much per 100 grams. What they mostly have is a very powerful flavour which can be used to create amazing jelly, jam, apple butter or… yup drinks!

One of my very good friends is a champion Apple liqueur maker. She packs jars with halved crab apples, sugar and vodka and lets them sit for a couple weeks, turning the jars every few day. But this is not something that you can substitute water for and have any success at all – just a lot of brown apples in some horrible tasting liquid. Juicing the apples is an option – if the apples are juicy enough and big enough, but if you want red sweet apple tasting liquid you gotta cook it out of them. And then let it drip and drip and never squeeze or you’ll get cloudy liquid.

Remember time is money? Well this whole process is slow and painstaking. My hubby and I went out and picked friends trees for 4 hours until we had two full bins of apples. Then we washed all the bugs off and started the process of cooking them all down. Days, yep days, later we had apple flavoured liquid ready for turning into cordial. Add sugar, cook to dissolve and bottle for winter.

How do make this at home? Here is the final perfected recipe.

Crab Apple Cordial

Ingredients
  •  1 kg crabapples (flowers & stem removed)
  • about 3 cups sugar
Directions

Wash then cut the flower end off the apples. Fill a pot with the apples and add enough water just to almost cover them. The apples should not be floating. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for around 15 minutes without stirring.

Strain the apples, without smashing them, through a double layer of muslin (or a cotton pillow case). Let the apples sit for about 3 hours so that all the juice passes through. Set the pulp aside for another recipe.

Measure the liquid and write down the amount. Return the apple liquid to the cleaned out pot and boil rapidly for half hour. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface, then stir in 1 cup sugar for every cup on liquid from your initial measurement. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes or until the sugar until dissolves. Pour the syrup into sterilized bottles, ready to serve. The cordial will keep for up to three months, stored in the fridge. 

This makes a great drink. 1 part cordial, one part club soda, a splash of lemon or lime juice and lots of ice. Enjoy!

Just like the rose hips from my previous post, crab apples are sweeter after the first frost. So if you are living somewhere where it hasn’t started snowing and/or freezing every night (so south of me), Happy Foraging!

Foraged Foods

I live in one of three UNESCO Geoparks in Canada.  Recently I started reading about foods that you can forage or pick that grow wild. One of the most common fruits found across Canada is the rose hip. This vitamin C packed, red seed-filled fruit has been used by ancient Chinese, Persians, Romans and Greeks. It can be used to make tea, jam, jelly, marmalade, soup (yup! The sweedish make a soup called nyponsoppa) or wine or mead. I love the jelly, but prefer making it into a cordial and then mixing into… you guessed it DRINKS!

Rose Hip Cordial 

This is a hybrid of online cordial and jelly recipes. It uses a double cook method to extract the most flavour from the pulp and a hint of lemon juice to brighten the flavour of the cordial syrup.

Ingredients
  • 1 kg rose hips (flowers & stem removed)
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 350 grams sugar
Directions

Remove the dried flower bit off the ends and wash the rose hips. Put into food processor and roughly chop the rose hips in batches and place in a large pot. Add 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for around 15 minutes.

Strain through a double layer of muslin, letting the pulp sit for a good half hour so that all the juice passes through. Set liquid aside.

Put pulp back into the sauce pan and add 1.5 litres of water. Bring back to a boil then turn off heat and allow to infuse for 15 more minutes. Strain through a double layer of muslin again and let drip for half hour. Squeeze out remaining juice and discard pulp.

Return all the strained rose hip liquid to the pot, add lemon juice and boil rapidly until the liquid is reduced to 1 litre. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface, then stir in the sugar until dissolved. Pour the syrup into sterilized bottles, ready to serve. The cordial will keep for up to three months, stored in the fridge. 

So now what? Right? The syrup is too sweet to drink alone so while I could mix it with club soda, I wanted to make the beverage more elegant. Online there are many options for what to do with Rose Hip Cordial that involve alcohol, but what if I don’t want that buzz?

Sparkling Rose Hip Orange Iced Tea 

This recipe is adapted from Orange Rose Hip Iced Tea  and originally calls for dried rose hips steeped like a tea and then cooled and mixed with orange juice and ice. While the end product sounded refreshing – I wanted more of a cocktail and something with a little zing. So I though, why not adapt it to use the cordial and then cut the sweetness with club soda. The result – much nicer but mostly just tasted of orange juice. But you can decide for yourself if you wish to try my recipe adaptation.

Ingredients
  • 1 oz Rose Hip Cordial
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup club soda

Pour 1 oz Rose Hip Cordial over ice in a lowball (short) glass. Add orange juice and club soda to fill. Stir and serve with a slice of orange as garnish.

Rose Hip Cocktail (Virgin Version)

Skotlander Rum published a rum based cocktail using rosehip cordial and lime juice that looked interesting and can be found here rose hip cocktail recipe . I removed the rum and added club soda instead for a virgin version. I served this to my family and some of us found that the club soda cut too much of the sweetness out, so when I served it the next time I tried half clubsoda and half tonic water (as it has sugar in it) and found the resulting drink a bit less dry without loosing the sparkle.

Ingredients
  • 2 oz club soda (or half club soda & half tonic water)
  • 2 oz Rose Hip Cordial
  • 1/2  oz lime juice
  • Lots of ice

Fill lowball (short) glass with ice. Pour ingredients over ice and slowly stir. Serve with a rose leaf for garnish if desired. 

Best time to pick rose hips is after a frost. That was about 4 weeks ago for me up north, but for many of you it could be right now… Happy Foraging!

 

Sparkling Jam Punch

Last year during my canning blitz I decided to try creating one of my favourite drinks as a jam – I love raspberry lemonade so why wouldn’t raspberry lemon jam be awesome? Turns out that adding lemon rind and extra lemon juice to an already tangy raspberry jam makes it too sour for my family. Who knew?

This year I was experimenting with blueberry jam recipes in preparation for a class I was teaching on wild berry freezer jam. One of my first trials of jam turned out a bit on the sloppy side and, while tasty, was too runny for bread. Well, what to do with all this not quite great jam?

I could have tried to fix it. I could have put it on pancakes. But I am into drinks – and since making a favourite drink into jam didn’t turn out – why not make a jam into a drink? And it worked! I stirred a couple spoons full of blueberry jam into a large glass with ice and some club soda and BAM! Sparkling Blueberry Punch. Add a little lemon juice and it’s Sparkling Blueberry lemonade. My daughter went crazy for it, consumed all the sloppy jam in the fridge and started raiding the freezer for blueberry freezer jam.

So this fall I am going to see what other amazing beverages I can create using jam that was too tangy, too runny or has been sitting in my cupboard too long.

Let the experiments begin.

Utter Fail!

Last valentines day I went crazy with drink making – and this year when I tried to be creative my efforts failed miserably. Utter fail as my kids would say.

Hypothesis 1: Ground up and disolved cinnamon hearts will create non alcholic “fireball”. Hypothesis 2: Non alchoholic Fireball would work for a virgin cinnamon apple mojito.

I had found a neat mojito on TimesofIndia that I wanted to try for valentines day. Simple right? Mix up some apple juice, lime pop, mint and cinnamon. Should be doable. NOPE.

First,  I wanted red -so instead of a cinnamon stick, and since it was valentines I grinded down cinnamon hearts and made them into a “fireball” like syrup. But I love cinnamon hearts and had eaten half of them before getting around to making the drink, so while the syrup was red and tasted like cinnamon, it didn’t have much kick.

Second, I didn’t have the fresh mint required. In an attempt to make-do I used mint extract to make my mojito mint syrup. Big mistake!

Well, I am still not sure what part of the process was not a mistake to be honest. Turns out that candy cinnamon syrup plus peppermint created a drink that tasted like colgate mixed with soda water. – YUCK! I didn’t even try it on anyone – it was that horrible, a complete and utter fail.

However, a true scientist doesn’t give up when the hypothesis proves false. We go back and try something else, a different combo, a different proceedure.

Someday, when mint, cinnamon hearts are both available in a store I am frequenting, I will pick them both up and try this again – to test to see if real mint plus candy cinnamon syrup also is grose. And if it is, well I may have to go to real cinnamon syrup and give up the hope of a red drink – and hey by the time this is perfected it may be a great easter drink, or summer, or fall.

Never give up, never give in, but most importantly never drink colgate!

Virgin Mojito Review

A taste of sunshine in winter.

A taste of sunshine in winter.  Enjoy this brightly flavoured drink on winter days and think of sunny beaches.

Last February and we had the biggest snow fall of that winter. Snow was piled higher than my car in the front of the yard from all the snow blowers removing the snow from the roads, and while it’s all so pretty – there were days I dreamed of summer. This year our family headed south to the Dominican Republic for Christmas and my dreams of summer beaches became a reality.

Ah sandy beaches. Where one can sit enjoying the warmth of the sun rays and sip on a cool refreshing drink. Something exotic? Like a Mojito!

Last year we started trying ideas around a non-alcoholic Mojito option so the whole family could enjoy the taste of summer. We found that putting together a drink that is normally rum and club soda based was more challenging than we anticipated. According to food.com a Virgin Mojito simply uses the club soda or switches it out for ginger ale and hold the rum.

Does it work? Well… Sort of.

The resulting drink was approved by my two girls, but I found the flavour of the mint less noticeable than I expected. The drink ended up tasting mostly like a lime pop, slightly sweet and pretentious, but not something that says “Wow! This was worth the expensive fresh mint leaves I drove 2 hours out of town for!”

What to do to fix this… well the drink called for the mint muddled with lime and sugar before adding a simple syrup and ginger ale. So what if the mint was incorporated into the syrup? Or how about more mint mixed in? (The recipe called for 15 mint leaves – but hey why not double it!) Since I didn’t have anymore mint and wasn’t about to venture back out onto the highway for another 2 hour drive to get some we left it at that… what if?

Online, other recipes included apple juice (BBC and Wikihow), lemons or lemonade (Salisfood.com and  BBC), and lemon-lime soda was suggested instead of ginger ale or club soda (Wikihow and Salisfood.com). But all sites I found suggested that only 8-10 mint leaves was necessary. In our test, I found that ginger ale’s flavour did not work well in the drink as it competed with the mint and lime.  I would not recommend using it in further recipes. Again we were left with … what if?

So, this Christmas, I had the tropical drink experts make me up a virgin mojito (and a “leaded” one) and discovered the secret to a successful summer drink. MORE.

Yep. MORE mint, MORE lime and MORE sugar = MORE kick. Watching the bartender make up my order I noticed that they used chopped mint and muddled that into a sugary syrup then topped it up with something akin to lemonade. I found the tropical virgin version to be less lime tasting and have less kick than I expected but it had plenty of taste which my attempts at home had lacked. (The “leaded” version had plenty of kick due to the addition of rum).

It was time to test out my theory and make a High Octane Version. Loaded with fresh lime wedges, lime sweet and sour mix, and about 3 cups of chopped fresh mint, I headed over to our family New Year’s Eve party. “Who want’s a mojito?”

The result? Yummy! The drink matched the bright taste and kick of it’s adult brother and was enjoyed by teens and adults alike. When I left the party a few hours later my niece was sad to see me go – because the drinks were leaving with me. Success? I think so!

Virgin “High Octane” Mojito

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 lime wedges (1/4 lime)
  • 2 oz lime sweet and sour mix (see below)
  • ice
  • 4 oz 7-up (or lemon lime soda)
Procedure

Muddle chopped mint, lime wedges and sweet and sour mix in bottom of a cocktail shaker by crushing the limes to release the juices and pressing the mixture about 4-5 times onto the bottom of the shaker. Add ice and shake once or twice. Pour in 7-up, stir and pour contents into a tall glass (not all the mint will make it to the glass but that’s ok). Top with 7-up if needed, Garnish with a lime twist or mint sprig and serve.

My Thoughts

The 7-Up takes the place of lemonade in the tropical version but adds fizz and sweetness lacking in the original recipe tested using club soda. The addition of lime sweet and sour mix replaced the need for a simple syrup and sugar while maintaining the intensity of the lime taste.

Using chopped mint and fresh limes introduce a bitterness (Wikihow explains that tearing or bruising the mint releases chlorophyll which is bitter, and the lime rinds also have a bitter element). Many cocktails call for bitters to balance the sweetness and allow the drinks flavours to come through and this is the case here.

The chopped mint leaves give a stronger mint flavour, the fresh limes lend a sharp kick to the drink and the sweetness of the 7-up and sugary sweet and sour mix create exactly the taste needed for this drink to compete head on with it’s “leaded” brother. I did find I suck up a bit of chopped mint through my straw – so if you don’t like that – I would recommend straining the drink before serving.


Lime  Sweet & Sour Mix

This version uses only lime juice for it’s sour component. I used bottled lime juice for this as I was adding fresh limes into the final cocktail. While fresh lime juice is always nicer, however since this recipe is cooked it is not essential. This recipe is not as sour as a standard sweet and sour mix as the ratio of sugar to juice is higher.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup lime juice

Procedure:

Heat all ingredients in a small saucepan and allow to come to a gentle boil. Allow to simmer 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Cool and store until needed.


Kid-o-metre 5/5 Kids loved it.
Taste: 5/5  Nailed it!
Simplicity: 5/5 Simple and easy to make.
Ingredient finding: 3/5 Mint is not available locally and this recipe calls for a whole lot – I was able to purchase bunches like parsley at a decent price when passing through a larger town.

Rockin Raspberry Lemonade

Raspberry Lemonade. Don't let the pretty pink colour fool yah...It's got a kick!

Raspberry Lemonade. Don’t let the pretty pink colour fool you…It’s got a kick!

Summer has come to an end and the kids are back in school. The campers are being washed up and winterized, yards are being cleaned up and gardens harvested. Yesterday we had one last weiner roast in our back yard to celebrate the Labour Day weekend and sat around a camp fire until bedtime. Wood fires are not just a summer thing up north, though. Once the weather cools many up homes in our community supplement gas heat with wood heat.

I recently read about the power outage that lasted three days for some in the Lower Mainland of BC, it was a friend of my parents who became the last family to regain power on Wednesday afternoon. Being a Scout leader and general contractor, and basically a totally prepared guy, this family didn’t suffer from the loss of electricity much. You can find the full story in the Vancouver Sun here.

Up north power outages are pretty common place, and while we have never gone three days, we have learned that things like wood heat, generators and lots of flashlights & candles is a must especially in the winter when going without heat isn’t an option. So what to drink when working up a sweat chopping wood or doing fall chores?

Recently I posted about my eldest daughter’s over the top lemonade stand success and offered a hint about her special lemonade option for those who were willing to pay the extra. We had named the lemonades simply Traditional and Raspberry but I quickly renamed the latter “Rockin’ Raspberry Lemonade”.

At first our clients were hesitant to spend the extra $3 bucks for the upgrade. “Why so expensive?” they would ask. “Ah but you see, we use real raspberries for the flavour, not some synthetic syrup!” I would respond. I had one gal decide to give it a try and buy one for her partner, 10 minutes later she came back for three more. “I sucked that back in about 2 minutes” she said, as she happily ordered more for herself and her friends.

So how do you make raspberry lemonade that people will deem worth every penny? Here is the secret recipe – or successful experiment.

Ingredients
  • 2 oz lemon juice (bottled)
  • 1/4 cup berry sugar
  • 1/4 cup frozen red raspberries (I used presents choice brand)
  • 1/2 oz grenadine
  • 1 oz blue raspberry martini mix/syrup (yes we did use a bit of the “synthetic stuff too”)
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup cold water
Procedure

muddle lemon juice, berry sugar and frozen raspberries in bottom of 32 oz ziploc twist and lock container or boston cocktail shaker (this is too much drink to use a small standard cocktail shaker).  Add grenadine, raspberry mix. Fill half full with ice and then add 1 cup water (or enough to cover ice). Seal and shake, shake, shake! Pour through a cocktail strainer (to strain out some of the seeds) into a 16 oz cup half filled with ice. Top with water if needed and garnish with 4 or 5 frozen berries. Add a straw and serve with a smile.

My Thoughts

At our fundraiser lemonade stand 1 in every 4 chose the raspberry option. The fresh tart raspberries gave the drink a really nice kick and were balanced perfectly with the added sweetness of the syrups. We found we needed very little grenadine —just enough to balance the blue colour of the other syrup— as the flavour would overpower the berries. When making this using a red shot glass we filled the bottom 1/4 with the grenadine and then topped it with blue raspberry syrup in order to make sure we wouldn’t over measure the grenadine.

We made these for my younger daughters birthday this August to see how a younger crowd enjoys them. Seven out of Eight loved it. Is it manly enough for a lumberjack? Well I haven’t a true lumberjack in the family, but my wood chopping man loves them.

Not Your Ordinary Lemonade Stand

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Hand Made Lemonade – because summer doesn’t have to end with Labour Day.

My husband is riding on the Tour de North Cycle tour with Cops for Cancer in BC this year. This is a momentous task  —over 800km in 7 days— which means that he is cycling 100 km a week to prepare. Another part of his preparation is to fundraise with the proceeds going to Camp Goodtime and cancer research. The reason for this inspired adventure is our daughter, Zoe, who at the age of 6 found out that she had ovarian cancer. Zoe has been cancer free for 5 years now, and she is very excited about the fundraising campaign to help other children.

So, this year a week before our music festival —Grizfest— she asked her dad if she could run a lemonade stand at the event as a fundraiser. They proceeded to send a letter to the committee asking if they could have permission and then informing me of the plan. OH DEAR! Lemonade at an event is still food, and thus needs a food safety plan, a food safe person on site, a food permit, and nothing can be made in our own home.

Plus they (the father daughter team) wanted to do more than simply mix lemon flavoured powder with water and serve it up  à la normal lemonade stand for a child. No, they’ve been watching their mom and her experiments and fancy drinks. So they wanted to do it up grand! Yup, with lemon juice, sugar syrup and individually made drinks for customers using my fancy shakers. So mom (that’s me!) got involved and we all sat down and came up with a compromise that would provide the customer with individual hand made lemonade while working within a food safe setting that would let our plan get passed by the health inspector. Some compromise was necessary, and some testing ensued to find the perfect balance between sweet and sour, but in the end we came up with a recipe for handmade lemonade using ingredients we could purchase at the grocery store —so no making ingredients at home— and could be replicated in a field under a tent with no electricity or running water.

Zoe was thrilled as she was given permission by the health inspector to proceed and could even mix the drinks herself, and we raised $450 for Cops for Cancer and sold out of our stock. We even threw in a second “high end” choice and added Raspberry Lemonade with real (frozen) red raspberries muddled into the mix.

The How to

So if you ever want to make handmade lemonade with your kids and let them have a go at helping out here is the how to list.

  1. The Ingredients: First things first – without making anything at home, what ingredients can we mix together cheaply to make a fantastic lemonade? With the ideal sweetening agent (sugar syrup) not being available to purchase I suggested using berry sugar which is finer than granulated, and hopefully would dissolve in the water with some shaking. Lo and behold, it was a success! The second concern was the element of practicality – fresh squeezed lemon juice was not going to work as there was too much waste and slowed the process,  so we settled on bottled lemon juice (but the good stuff: Real Lemon brand). After that it was just a matter of adjusting the amount of each along with the water and ice to get the perfect balance between sweet and tangy. We added a wedge of lemon for garnish, a straw and were ready for mass production.
  2. A food permit. Your local health inspector will have a list of what is required to get the go ahead. Basics normally include having food safe or someone with food safe on premise, creating a food safety plan, and having the appropriate working environment. As home kitchens are not food safe for selling stuff for profit I would recommend keeping this to a front yard endeavour and you won’t need to worry about a permit.
  3. A work station. Even a front yard space needs somewhere for the “vendor” to sell their wares. For us we used a first up tent just to keep it contained,  but the more important part was a plastic portable table to work on and coolers to hold the ingredients. If you use the hand made approach hands get sticky. I really liked the hand washing station recommended by our health inspector and plan on using that for our camping trips from now on. All that is required is a small bench/stool, a bucket, a roll of paper towel, pump hand soap and a coleman (or other brand) 5 gallon water carrier. Fill the water carrier with hot water from your sink, prop it on it’s side on the bench, put a bucket under to catch the dirty water and stick the towels and soap on the bench beside it. Instant running water and hand washing station!
  4. The tools. To make individual recipes we wanted to measure our ingredients like a pro as we mixed them, so jiggers or something that could measure ounces was required. I settled on the 2 oz red disposable shot cups that were chap and plentiful for the liquid ingredients, and some plastic measuring cups for the dry ingredients. Another compromise was our shakers: in our testing phase we realized quickly that the standard martini shaker wasn’t going to be roomy enough to adequately mix the volume of ingredients we were serving. (Did I mention our cup size was the big red solo cup?) The other challenge was that our sweetener needed to dissolve. This meant that there was a whole lot of shakin goin’ on! The solution: Ziplock twist and lock 32 oz round storage containers, which were perfect for this, lots of room and no spilling as you shake. My husband picked up “The Mason Shaker” for me as a bonus, it’s size is ideal for larger drinks and it worked beautifully. Along with that we used a cocktail strainer, standard cocktail shaker base (for measuring ice & water) a knife and cutting board to slice up fresh lemons for garnish and squeeze bottles to make pouring lemon juice simpler.

Ok so what is the perfect recipe? Well that normally depends on how sweet or sour you like your lemonade but here is a way to have both options.

Hand Made Lemonade (Traditional)

Ingredients
  • 2 oz bottled lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup berry sugar
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup water (approx.)
  • 1/8 wedge lemon (or 1/4 if you prefer)
Procedure

Measure and pour lemon juice and sugar into a ziplock or mason shaker. Measure ice to fill half of the bottom of a standard martini shaker (a plastic 2 cup shaker/measuring cup works well too) and add water to just cover the ice. Pour this into the larger shaker, seal and shake shake shake!

Here is the choice part: if you prefer a more tart lemonade strain the lemonade over fresh ice half filling a 16 oz cup and top with water if needed. If you prefer a sweeter lemonade pour the entire contents of shaker (ice and all) into the 16 oz cup and top with water if needed. What’s the diff? There will be some undissolved sugar clinging to the ice in the shaker giving the second option a sweeter flavour. Either way top with a wedge of lemon squeezed and then dropped into the cup, add a straw and smile at your new happy customer as you pass the drink to them.

Their Thoughts

Sold Out!! We ran the lemonade stand for two days – each day for 5 hours and had many return customers. In total we used 6 bottles of lemon juice, 5 bags of berry sugar, 16 bags of ice and 1 1/2 bags of lemons. I figure we served 125 lemonades over the two day period.

This project was designed for my 12 year old and she can now replicate it at home with ease. For a younger age group I would recommend adult supervision just to avoid too much “wasted” ingredients due to spillage and to control the number of times they forget not to lick their fingers!

Happy Labour Day!

Butter Beer Review

A while back I had the fun of offering virgin shooters at a community teen dance. One of the drinks offered was a virgin apple pie shooter which I originally came up with back in the Fall of 2014, and which you can find the recipe for here. Not knowing how much of any one drink would be ordered – I made a huge batch of the butterscotch syrup required to make the drink. I found the recipe for butterscotch from a blog by TreasuresBrenda where she tested a number of Butter Beer recipes. You can find her blog post here.

As my eldest daughter and my neice are huge fans of Hairy Potter (oh and so am I) I decided to see what our family thought of these recipes that Brenda posted on her blog. The first recipe she created had a rockin’ version of butterscotch syrup and a couple option for how to mix the drink up.Our family tried each option to see if we agreed with Brenda.

The first option was to make the drink with vanilla ice-cream, butterscotch syrup and ginger ale. Our thoughts? Too much foam not enough flavour. Second option was to replace the ginger ale with cream soda. This was horrible – especially in colour since we are not able to get clear or brown cream soda and the flavour was too sweet. Similarly making the drink with syrup and cream soda (no ice-cream) was also an utter fail. Mixing butterscotch with ginger ale was the best of the options in this batch and my kids enjoyed this option, but the “beer” seemed more like a light ale and in my opinion needed something. Brenda also found that this wasn’t quite right yet…

The second recipe was a video she had a link to by working class foodie the link to that recipe is here. This recipe is more complicated to make and we didn’t find the recipe notably better than the first option. Back to the internet!

Wizardingworldpark.com had a handful of recipes – many using pre made butterscotch syrups, toppings and butterscotch chips. Really, chips? meh! There was only one recipe that was interesting: Recipe #2 on the list suggests adding cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg with butter and sugar and then mixing with icecream and refreezing. To serve it’s a float of buttery ice-cream and cream soda. If the soda is hot, it will melt the butter, but if it’s cool? Butter lumps?  While the idea is interesting, I would like to try this by making a butterscotch syrup out of the butter and sugar, adding the spices and then mixing with the iced cream, to see if that lets the drink be served cold more readily.

Recipe #1 from this blog is the recipe from the Youtube video I referred to earlier.  Hmm.

So I went back to the first recipe that my kids loved and decided to find a way to make this one work. Since I was looking for a darker beer – I simply added 1/3 pepsi (or cola) to 2/3 ginger ale and topped with the required 2 tablespoons (or so) of home made butterscotch. Voila! A dark beer that has a strong butterscotch flavour, still has some kick and isn’t deathly sweet. I tried this on my niece – and her friend. The verdict – yum, can I have some more?

Pots of Tea

This winter for a Christmas present to myself I purchased a large quantity of specially loose teas from a variety of companies. Over the past months I have been trying each out and deciding which I liked and which I didn’t, and as things go the favourite teas have been consumed leaving me with the ok teas and the ones I don’t really enjoy.

Not wanting to simply throw away these “less preferred” teas, and being parched during the somewhat hotter weather now that we are into summer, I set about looking for ways to use these blends in cold drink concoctions. And as it turned out, these “lesser” teas became the preferred choice for cold iced drinks with some simple additions.

So now my home is often filled with pots of tea in the more literal sense. As I don’t have a tone of tea pots, and really only need containers to heat water, steep tea and allow to cool, my kitchen cooking pots have found yet another use. My stove top becomes tea steeping central as I steep, simmer or even boil loose tea in water to the desired concentration – works best with a tea infuser/strainer – and then turn the resulting liquid into syrups. What are some of my creations? Here is what’s currently brewing.

Chocolate Chilli Saigon Chai Syrup

I actually really love chai tea hot. In past blogs I have used chai tea to make various drink creations and had practically run out of tea. Digging through my cupboards I found a small sample of the Chocolate Chilli Chai which I had not yet used – preferring the more traditional flavour. So I rallied and mixed the last of my favourite tea with this new mix to make something fun for summer.

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp Chocolate Chilli Chai loose tea (Davids Tea brand)
  • 2 Tbsp Saigon Chai loose tea (Davids Tea brand)
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
Procedure

This tea requires boiling the loose tea and straining it or using a tea infuser as tall as the pot of choice, I prefer the latter. Place tea into infuser, and set into pot of water. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes to get a strong brew. Remove tea infuser and add last two ingredients, bring back to a boil and allow sugar to dissolve completely. Cool and store in bottles.

When ready to serve pour over ice to fill half the cup, top with cold water or milk and serve.

My thoughts

My favourite chai is spicy and strong. While this drink qualifies on both counts, I realized today while frequenting my local “specialty cafe” that a good chai needs honey. This recipe used sugar and I think would benefit from replacing some of the sugar with honey. I have still not mastered that perfect chai taste and have not figured out how to get the right balance of strong, sweet and spicy. As a result the the specialty cafe in my town still sees me willingly pay $5 for a tall cup of Chai at least once a month so I can get my fix.

Pink Lemony Blossom Tea Syrup

Two traditional non-caffinated teas that I have never enjoyed are camomile and mint tea. I am not sure if this is because those are the most commonly offered to kids and I tired of it years ago, or if it brings back memories of sleepless nights, but either way I won’t drink these hot. One of my Christmas purchases was a herbal tea called Pink Lady Herbal Blossom Tea. The description indicated it was a blend of rose petals, hibiscus and mint. Unfortunately for me the mint overpowered the more subtle herbs and this tea got put in the “lesser” pile.

With summer upon us, the idea of mint juleps came into mind, and the tea came out from it’s dark corner. Preferring a milder mint taste I added some black La La Lemon Tea to round it out.

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp Pink Lady Herbal Blossom Tea (Epicure)
  • 2 Tbsp La La Lemon Tea (Davids Tea)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
Procedure

Boil water in pot and place tea (in infuser) in pot to steep. Simmer about 10 minutes (don’t boil unless you want a stronger black tea taste) then remove infuser. Add sugar and bring to a boil until sugar has completely dissolved. Allow to cool and poor into bottle to store.

When ready to serve simply pour 2-3 oz over ice in tall glass, add water or club soda to fill and serve with a fancy straw.

My thoughts

Hooray for the resurrection of mint tea into something that doesn’t remind me of bed time and toothpaste! While a true mint julep this isn’t, it is a refreshing alternative. I prefer it with club soda as it adds sparkle and makes this a bit more upscale. I am not sure what the tiny bit of hibiscus and rose in the teas blend add to the mix… Something to test would be to add a drop or two or rose and/or hibiscus water to the drink to see if that takes it to the next level.

Scarlet O Citrus Twist Syrup

This is based on an Epicure Recipe for Berry-lemonaid Herbal Iced Tea which you can find the original recipe here. The recipe calls for Scarlet O Herbal Blossom tea infused syrup, fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice, and some berry flavoured mixes. For my recipe I chose to go more natural with the berries, and cheat with lemon juice. The tea itself is a blend of honeybush, elderflower and hibiscus.

Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp Scarlet O Herbal Blossom Tea (Epicure)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar or 1 Tbsp stevia powder
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
Procedure

Boil water in pot and add tea infuser full of tea. Turn heat down to low and allow to steep keeping water hot but not simmering (this tea is strong). Remove infuser and add sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved completely. (If using stevia you won’t need to boil as it will dissolve quickly). Allow to cool, pour into bottles and store.

When ready to serve pour about 2 oz over ice and a sprinkling of frozen blueberries, add 1 oz of lime cordial, top with water or club soda and serve.

Our thoughts

This is my favourite tea of the three, blended with the lime and club soda it adds a kick that cuts the thirst on a hot day. The original herbal blend comes through to give an intriguing and pleasant taste. Served without the blueberries is also nice. I am on my second bottle of syrup and summer has only just begun.

This tea is actually fabulous blended with the Pink Lemony Blossom tea, after their first tentative sip my girls both finished up two glasses at dinner tonight.

Sour Patch Drink Review & Adaptation

Sour Patch Kid inspired shooters and Mocktini. Sour Patch Virgin Shooters Front from left to right: Sunrise, Sour Grape, Sour Cherry, Sour Lime and at the back: Sour Patch Kid Mocktail.

Sour Patch Kid inspired shooters and Mocktini. Sour Patch Virgin Shooters Front from left to right: Sunrise, Sour Grape, Sour Cherry, Sour Lime and at the back: Sour Patch Kid Mocktail.

Previously I blogged about the dilemma with syrups when making shooters. Without an additional ingredient like juice, pop, milk or something the drink can be a little like that sugar tolerance test you take at a clinic – sickly sweet and not at all palatable. So I lay in bed wondering what can be done about this, and my science brain starts steaming. Citric acid as a Rimmer! Turns out I am not the only one who figured this out, and that there are many recipes for sour powder out there. According to ehow.com making sour powdered sugar isn’t that hard. All you need is citric acid and powdered sugar. Check out the recipe here. Another gal shows a recipe for sour powder including gelatine, baking soda. Not sure what the baking soda adds to the mix, I would think bitterness though. Here is her video. And what is the best way to use sour powder? Sour patch kid drinks!

Sour Patch Shooter

So I look to see if anyone had the idea, and yep that’s not a new concept. Turns out that there is even a virgin shooter recipe online. TheModernWoman actually came up with a virgin shooter based on that idea – for a girls night with mom’s to be. Check out her blog here for her great take on sour patch shooters. The ingredients are below. She didn’t have exact measurements in her blog, so I have included what I did.

Ingredients:
  • Unsweetened Koolaid (various flavours like: lime, cherry, grape and orange) 2 packs per colour
  • sweet & sour mix (see below)
  • Orange juice
  • grenadine
  • Sour Powder (for rim)
Procedure:

Depending on the colour of the shooter, not all the ingredients are used. The first step is to mix 2 packs Unsweetened Koolaid powder with 8 oz water and 4 oz sweet & sour mix for the foundation to the drinks. Fill each drink about 1/2 full. Sweet Sunrise Flavour: add 1/2 oz orange juice & 1 tsp grenadine to fill to 3/4 full.  Sour cherry & Sour Grape flavours: simply add 1 tps grenadine and top with sour mix. Sour Lime: Sour lime flavour: only add sweet and sour mix to the drink.

Our Thoughts:

Once you get the foundation flavours mixed up (they should be sour tasting and kind of strong) the rest of the drink mixing is done mostly by feel and mixed in the glass. The grenadine adds a lot of sweetness, so depending on how much you like sour, you may choose to add more or less of this. I couldn’t find lime Koolaid locally, so I improvised making a pretty awesome sour lime out of the following: 4 oz sweet and sour mix, 4 oz water, 4 oz rose lime cordial syrups, 1.5 oz bottled lime juice and 3 drops green food colouring.

Our family tried these out and my husband knocked all four back (brave man!) Us gals shared a set of four flavours sipping at each. These are very much like their name sake – and the sour hits you after the second sip – but they are equally full of flavour. Because of the strength and sourness of these they have that “Shooter” feel and I am looking forwards to offering these as my latest Skeeters (virgin shooters) for the next event I am invited to.

Oh and how sour are they? In order of least to most: Sunrise (orange juice and grenadine sweetened it), Sour Cherry (grenadine helped here), Sour Lime (I think my mix was perfect for this, lime should be sour) & most sour… Sour Grape (this was a surprise!)

Kid-o-metre 5/5 My kids loved these!
Taste: 4.5/5  So much like the sour kid candy !
Simplicity: 5/5 Once I worked out the amount of water and sour mix for each of the flavours this was fun and easy to make.
Ingredient finding: 4/5 Required adapting the lime recipe, otherwise easy to find ingredients.

 Sweet & Sour Mix

The basics of a sour mix is lemons, limes and sugar. According to seriouseats.com making the mix to have on hand for cocktails is a must and buying the mix isn’t necessary. Well I am all for that! Here is their take on it.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Procedure:

Make a simple syrup using sugar and water. Cool and add strained juices. Keep in fridge.

Simple Sour Powder Rimmer

This is the very simplest of recipes that I introduced above, from ehow.com slightly adjusted to make a more crystallized and sour rimmer.

Ingredients:

1 cup berry sugar
1 Tbsp citric acid (ascorbic acid)

Procedure:

Mix ingredients in a sealable container and store until needed.


Sour Patch Kid Mocktail

Other ideas for sour patch drinks? There were no virgin drinks online, but Drinkmixer.com had a sour patch cocktail – that wouldn’t be hard to alter and turn it into a Mocktail. Here is the resulting drink recipe adapted and tested.

Ingredients:
  • 3 oz club soda
  • 1.5 oz Blue Curacao syrup
  • 1 oz grenadine syrup
  • 1 oz sweet & sour mix #2 (see below)
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • Sour powder rimmer (see above)
Procedure:

Mix the first four ingredients and the juice from the lime into a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into cocktail glass filled with ice – rim with sour powder to add an additional sour hit!

Our Thoughts:

When I first made this drink using the original recipes quantities, but in syrups instead of liqueurs, it was overpoweringly sweet. Due to the sweetness of the sweet and sour mix I chose to use (the sugar syrup based recipe), and the sweetness of the grenadine and curaçao syrup, the Mocktail version of this drink had a high concentration of sugar. I went back to the original recipe and tried again using their sour mix suggestion – which was simply lemon juice and a bit of sugar mixed together.  I also increased the lime from one wedge in the original recipe to a half ounce to help balance the taste. And finally, because the original cut the sweetness with vodka and I had chosen club soda, I doubled the amount of club soda to balance the drink further.

The resulting colour of the mix is a fantastic purple, and the taste is fruity with a strong lime tone. The drink definitely has potential – and if you like fizz I would recommend adding even more club soda to your mix.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 Kids loved this.
Taste: 4/5  The adaption worked – kids say it could even use more club soda .
Simplicity: 5/5 Simple and easy to make.
Ingredient finding: 2/5 Requires home made curaçao, sweet and sour mix and a trip out of town for grenadine.

 Sweet and Sour Mix Recipe #2

I found a more simple recipe that may be more sour than sweet on DrinkMixer.com which called for 8oz lemon juice and 2 Tbsp sugar only. This may produce a more sour mix – if you need to balance out sweetness of syrups.