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Archive for the ‘Beverages’ Category

Hi, misfits!  Today I want to introduce you to an overlooked and underappreciated character on this blog.  Everyone?  Take a good look at those photos up there, and say hi to Crap Table.

Hi, Crap Table!

Crap table is old and rickety and faux-ish wooden and scratched-up and borrowed, but it’s quite the trooper and it does the job.  In fact, the half-Jew in your BMG might even go so far as to call it a Real Mensch.

Real Crap Mensch Table.

Well, now that you all know Real Crap Mensch Table, I’d like to get to the real reason I called you all here today…

Real Crap Mensch Table has a serious wood glue problem, and this is an intervention.

No, wait, that wasn’t right…why were we here again?

Oh, right, we’re moonshining again!  Twist your arms, why don’t I?

You just know you’ve got some melon on its last legs sitting in your fridge taking up valuable space.  And that unstoppable Robocop garden mint (unsurprisingly, not the first time I’ve compared a plant to Robocop) needs its ranks thinned out SOMEHOW since apparently the cold weather is doing NOTHING to dampen its spirits (GOD COLD WEATHER WHY YOU SO LAZY YOU NO HELP ME NONE).

So why not do what we always do in times like these, Pinky?

What is it we always do in times like these, you ask?

Why, we band together and we moonshine!  We moonshine for all we’re worth.  We moonshine to prove to the bad guys–NAY–to ourselves, that we will not be defeated.  Because united we stand, divided we fall, but when we come together to moonshine, we stand up and then fall and then repeat the process again and again!

Kinda makes me tear up just thinkin’ about it.

**I’m linking to a reliable source for any optional special equipment or ingredients, and am telling you when there’s a  free alternative. Before settling, though, consider that most of this stuff is surprisingly dirt-cheap, SIGNIFICANTLY easier, and will last you.  Why not invest in your future as a slutty moonshiner?**

Homemade Watermelon Mint Wine
Makes 1 Gallon

Go Get:
a buncha water
3 lbs. honey or 6 cups sugar
4 lbs. watermelon cubes, seeded (yes, I am ruining your whore-tastic manicure)
1 cup packed mint leaves
juice of 3 freshly-squeezed lemons (don’t use the preserved stuff in the bottle)
1/2 cup strong black tea
1 packet wine yeast
OPTIONAL: 1 tsp. yeast nutrient
OPTIONAL: 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme (gobbles up the suspended pectin to prevent the formation of snotty-looking ropes and haze in your wine)

Special Stuff you’ll want to have on hand:
*A primary fermenter: 1 gallon glass jug, crock, or food grade bucket–recycled wine jugs are, obviously, perfect for this
*An auto-siphon with tubing for transferring the wine from the fermenter to the bottles without kicking up sediment; you can also just use about 4 feet of clear, plastic tubing if you’re willing to siphon manually.  If you REALLY don’t care about wine clarity or the potential for off flavors, you can use a kitchen ladle to separate wine from sediment, but you’ll need a wide-mouthed fermenter, like a bucket or crock.
*Bottles for the finished wine: 5 750-ml wine bottles (recycled is fine), or a 1 gallon wine jug, or swing-top beer growlers; if you’re not using wine bottles fitted for a screw top, make sure you have the corks for sealing them.  Sanitized, plastic 2-liter soda bottles aren’t ideal, but they’ll also work as long as you cover them to keep out light–you’ll need about 2 2-liter bottles
*A fine mesh sieve for straining the pureed fruit
*OPTIONAL: A hydrometer (not necessary, but it’ll help you figure out how alcoholic your wine is and how far along the fermentation is)
*OPTIONAL: Airlock (this keeps air from getting to your wine while still letting CO2 from the fermentation escape–you can also use plastic wrap and a rubber band to seal, though results are not as secure
*OPTIONAL: Rubber bung (heh heh…bung) to seal the fermentation jug (if you’re using one) and have a place to stick the airlock-if you’re using a fermentation bucket, the airlock can go into a pre-drilled hole in the lid. If you’re not using an airlock, do that plastic wrap/rubber band thing.

*OPTIONAL: Candy or meat thermometer (highly recommended)

Go Do:


Clean, rinse, and sanitize all tools, spoons, etc.–basically anything that is going to be touching the wine and isn’t getting boiled needs to be cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized.  See my post on doing that for the products and processes you’ll want to use.

Puree watermelon and mint in batches in a food processor.  The resulting mixture will be thin and soupy (about 9 1/2 cups).  Put it in a large pot with 2 cups water and all the honey or sugar.

Heat until very hot, but not boiling (185 degrees), and hold it at that temp for half an hour, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, boil a second pot of water and let it cool down to room temperature (70 degrees F).

Pour the hot fruit mixture through the fine mesh sieve into a sanitized bowl or pot.

Toss the pulp into the compost heap, or find a fun use for it and share your idea with the class.  Now stir in the lemon juice, tea, yeast nutrient, and pectic enzyme, if using.

Cool the mixture to room temperature (you can set the mix over an ice water bath, as shown, to speed the cooling process), and pour into the fermenter.

If the wine doesn’t fill the 1 gallon fermenter to within a few inches of the top, add water from the spare water pot (the one you boiled and cooled) and stir.  Take a reading with your hydrometer if you’re using one–write the number down for later (mine was 1.113).

Now take a half cup of the spare pot water and sprinkle on the yeast packet.  Let it sit for ten minutes to allow the yeast to reacclimate.  Then throw the yeast mixture on top of the wine mixture.  No need to stir, the yeast does a good job of that.

Now put in the rubber bung (heh heh) and airlock (or put on the lid and airlock, or use some plastic wrap secured with a rubber band).  Make sure you half fill the airlock with water to make it effective.  You may want to set the fermenter in a larger bucket in case there’s spillover during fermentation.  Put the whole deal in a dark, room-temp location.

Now we wait.  We let the yeast do their thing, periodically checking to make sure there’s still water in the airlock.  Over the next week or two, you’ll hear lots of bubbling and gurgling going on and will see bubbles coming out the airlock.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Then things slow down and yeast die and drop to the bottom of the fermenter–ah, sediment, can’t live with you, can’t live withou–actually, I just can’t live with you.

Anyhow.  If you were an advanced winemaker, you’d transfer the wine to secondary and tertiary fermenters, but it’s not strictly necessary, and I’d like to keep things simple for you beginners.  Leave the wine in that fermenter for about 2 months–the wine should have stopped fermenting and will hopefully have cleared itself (if you didn’t use pectic enzyme, or let the mixture boil, it may never clear completely).

At this point, a hydrometer really comes in handy to know how much sugar, if any, is left in the wine.  If the yeast have eaten all the sugar, you can safely bottle your wine.  Use this handy online calculator to figure out the final alcohol percentage of your finished wine.  You can test-sample, but fair warning, IT WILL BE HARSH AND PUNISHING, MISFITS.  Worry not, it shall improve immeasurably with time.  Just.  Like.  Us.

Now use your sterilized auto-siphon to transfer the wine from the fermenter (on a table or counter) to your sanitized wine bottles (on the floor), being sure to leave the sediment in the bottom of the fermenter.  If you’re using plastic tubing, set one end in the primary fermenter, the other end in your mouth–suck until the wine siphons up into the tube and quickly stick it into the secondary fermenter to catch the wine in time.  Then send me a video of you sucking on the tube.  If you’re ladling, well, ladle away!  You’ll have to leave enough space at the top of the wine bottles for sealing, about 2 inches.

Now seal using a corker if you’re fancy or a rubber mallet and some bravery if you’re not, or just apply the swing tops or screw-tops.  Put the containers back into a cool, dark location, stored sideways if you used corks, and let your wine age for a minimum of six months–a year is even better.

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It’s like the friggin’ Basil-pocalypse around here, what with my Ungodly Popular Caprese Pasta Salad and pesto buttons.  But in case you haven’t had enough…

In case you love your basil so much you wanna drink it…

In case you love your basil SO much that you want it to make you drunk…

Strawberry Basil wine, bitches!

I sure hope you planted some late-season berries, and if not, I hope you’ve got some stowed in the freezer.  I plan on cleaning it out and getting you trashed.

You’re welcome!

Crank the stereo to 11 and join me on my journey to immortalize one of summer’s most fantastic flavor combinations in the most holy form known to mankind…

BOOZE.

**I’m linking to a reliable source for any optional special equipment or ingredients, and am telling you when there’s a  free alternative. Before settling, though, consider that most of this stuff is surprisingly dirt-cheap, SIGNIFICANTLY easier, and will last you.  Why not invest in your future as a slutty moonshiner?**

Homemade Strawberry Basil Wine
Makes 1 gallon

Go Get:
*a buncha water
*3 lbs. honey or 6 cups sugar
*4 lbs. strawberries, preferably organic or unsprayed (frozen works just fine, thaw ’em first)
*1 cup packed basil leaves
*juice of 1 lemon (don’t use the preserved stuff in the bottle)
*1/2 cup strong black tea
*1 packet wine yeast
*OPTIONAL: 1 tsp. yeast nutrient (makes stronger yeast and more problem-free fermentation)
*OPTIONAL: 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme  (gobbles up suspended pectin to prevent the formation of snotty-looking ropes and haze in your wine)

Special Stuff you’ll want to have on hand:
*A primary fermenter: 1 gallon glass jug, crock, or food grade bucket–recycled wine jugs are, obviously, perfect for this
*An auto-siphon with tubing for transferring the wine from the fermenter to the bottles without kicking up sediment; you can also just use about 4 feet of clear, plastic tubing if you’re willing to siphon manually.  If you REALLY don’t care about wine clarity or the potential for off flavors, you can use a kitchen ladle to separate wine from sediment, but you’ll need a wide-mouthed fermenter, like a bucket or crock.
*Bottles for the finished wine: 5 750-ml wine bottles (recycled is fine), or a 1 gallon wine jug, or swing-top beer growlers; if you’re not using wine bottles fitted for a screw top, make sure you have the corks for sealing them.  Sanitized, plastic 2-liter soda bottles aren’t ideal, but they’ll also work as long as you cover them to keep out light–you’ll need about 2 2-liter bottles
*A fine mesh sieve for straining the pureed fruit
*OPTIONAL: A hydrometer (not necessary, but it’ll help you figure out how alcoholic your wine is and how advanced the fermentation is)
*OPTIONAL: Airlock (this keeps air from getting to your wine while still letting CO2 from the fermentation escape–you can also use plastic wrap and a rubber band to seal, though results are not as secure
*OPTIONAL: Rubber bung (heh heh…bung) to seal the fermentation jug (if you’re using one) and have a place to stick the airlock-if you’re using a fermentation bucket, the airlock can go into a pre-drilled hole in the lid. If you’re not using an airlock, do that plastic wrap/rubber band thing.
*OPTIONAL: Candy or meat thermometer (highly recommended)

Go Do:
Clean, rinse, and sanitize all tools, spoons, etc.–basically anything that is going to be touching the wine and isn’t getting boiled needs to be cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized.  See my post on doing that for the products and processes you’ll want to use.

Puree the berries and the basil leaves in a food processor until it’s smoothie consistency (8 cups).

Put it in a large pot with 8 cups of water and all the honey or sugar.

Heat until very hot, but not boiling (185 degrees), and hold it at that temp for half an hour, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, boil a second pot of water and let it cool down to room temperature (70 degrees F).

Pour the hot fruit mixture through the fine mesh sieve into a sanitized bowl or pot.

Toss the pulp into the compost heap, or find a fun use for it and share your idea with the class.

Now stir in the lemon juice, tea, yeast nutrient, and pectic enzyme, if using.

Cool the mixture to room temperature and pour into the fermenter.

If the wine doesn’t fill the 1 gallon fermenter to within a few inches of the top, add water from the spare water pot (the one you boiled and cooled) and stir.  Take a reading with your hydrometer if you’re using one–write the number down for later (mine was 1.090, a little low for my liking, but then I accidentally dumped some of my wine stuff down the sink, and will pay the price in alcohol percentage points…crap!).

Now take a half cup of the spare pot water and sprinkle on the yeast packet.  Let it sit for ten minutes to allow the yeast to reacclimate.  Then throw the yeast mixture on top of the wine mixture.  No need to stir, the yeast does a good job of that.

Now put in the rubber bung (heh heh) and airlock (or put on the lid and airlock, or use some plastic wrap secured with a rubber band).  Make sure you half fill the airlock with water to make it effective.  You may want to set the fermenter in a larger bucket in case there’s spillover during fermentation.  Put the whole deal in a dark, room-temp location.

Now we wait.  We let the yeast do their thing, periodically checking to make sure there’s still water in the airlock.  Over the next week or two, you’ll hear lots of bubbling and gurgling going on and will see bubbles coming out the airlock.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Then things slow down and yeast die and drop to the bottom of the fermenter–ah, sediment, can’t live with you, can’t live withou–actually, I just can’t live with you.

Anyhow.  If you were an advanced winemaker, you’d transfer the wine to secondary and tertiary fermenters, but it’s not strictly necessary, and I’d like to keep things simple for you beginners.  Leave the wine in that fermenter for about 2 months–the wine should have stopped fermenting and will hopefully have cleared itself (if you didn’t use pectic enzyme, it may never clear completely).

At this point, a hydrometer really comes in handy to know how much sugar, if any, is left in the wine.  If the yeast have eaten all the sugar, you can safely bottle your wine.  Use this handy online calculator to figure out the final alcohol percentage of your finished wine.  You can test-sample, but fair warning, IT WILL BE HARSH AND PUNISHING, MISFITS.  Worry not, it shall improve immeasurably with time.  Just.  Like.  Us.

Now use your sterilized auto-siphon to transfer the wine from the fermenter (on a table or counter) to your sanitized wine bottles (on the floor), being sure to leave the sediment in the bottom of the fermenter.  (Here’s how to use an auto-siphon, if you’re not sure.  If you’re using plastic tubing, set one end in the primary fermenter, the other end in your mouth–suck until the wine siphons up into the tube and quickly stick it into the secondary fermenter to catch the wine in time.  Then send me a video of you sucking on the tube.  If you’re ladling, well, ladle away!)  You’ll have to leave enough space at the top of bottles for sealing, about 2 inches.

Now seal using a corker if you’re fancy or a rubber mallet and some bravery if you’re not, or just apply the swing tops or screw-tops.  Put the containers back into a cool, dark location, stored sideways if you used corks, and let your wine age for a minimum of six months–a year is even better.

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Hey there, pumpkin muffins.

I’ve only met one of my grandparents, and none of my great grandparents.  But according to the tale I’ve been told, a great grandfather on my mother’s side was quite the Moonshine makin’ man during Prohibition.  Bathtub gin was on the menu, oh, pretty much every night.  Until that fateful day.

(Asshat Neighbors pound on door.  Great grandpa swears under his breath, gets up slowly–his knees just ain’t what they used to be–and hobbles over.  He opens the door and sees Asshat Neighbors.  Criminy, what do they want?)

Asshat Neighbors were all, “Give us some of that bathtub gin you make, or we’ll tell on you!”

And my great-grandpa was all, “No deal, Asshats!  Make your own.”

Well, maybe he didn’t say “Asshats.”  But who knows, he could have.  He is related to me.

And do you know what the Asshat Family did?  They told on him!  To the cops!  Now, where I come from, you don’t go tattling on neighbors, but I implore you to remember, dear readers, that these people were Asshats to the 10th degree.  Maybe even the 11th degree.  I’m not really sure what level of Asshattery happens at the various degrees.  I’ve also never been too clear over what the various sexual courtship “bases” are.  Which, actually, explains a lot.

Anyhow, the cops came and took my sweet little great grandpa to the slammer for making his sweet little bathtub gin and let him make one sweet little phone call to my sweet little great grandma, who had to show up to post his sweet little bail.

Wait…from what I’ve heard, there was nothing sweet, nor little, about the bail she posted.  Great grandma be pissed at great grandpa.  Great grandpa be pissed at the world.  Great grandpa sweared on the family Bible that he would have his revenge, mwahahahHAHAHAHA!

Okay, that didn’t happen.  But the bail part did, and the getting pissed part did.  And you know what else happened?  My sweet little great grandpa kept making his sweet little bathtub gin.  ‘Cause you know what?  Eff The Man!  Who is he to come between me and my gin!?

I mean, between great grandpa and HIS gin.

Well, thankfully, Prohibition eventually ended (where alcohol is concerned at least.  Did you know that weed was wiped out with alcohol when Prohibition began, and that it was never allowed back?) and when Jimmy Carter was President (remember my thank you to Jimmy Carter?) he legalized home brewing, making adventures like these (and The Boy’s career) possible!

Now, remember when I was talking about how I’m saving the pods from shelling peas in the freezer for a batch of peapod wine?  Well, I also loaded up on beets when my CSA began trying to clear them out.  Really, you don’t need too many–about 3 1/2 pounds will do just fine for a gallon of wine.  AND you get to eat the beets after you’re done with the boil.  AND it’s a great way to use up the beet boiling water that you’d otherwise have thrown out or tossed in with the compost!

People, this is free wine.  FREE WINE.

Mostly free wine.  I had everything home for this, but I was out of wine yeast.  So The Boy picked up some wine yeast for me.  For $0.36.  Then came home.  And went, Oh.  I brewed all day.  And now we’re going to brew some more.  Okay.  It’s fine.  It’s not like I wanted to sit.  Or anything.

Actually, The Boy isn’t passive-aggressive at all, nor would he ever turn down a brew project.  In fact, I ordered him to the couch and slipped the remote into his hand, but he jumped back up to bring out his sanitizing buckets and fancy tools (which you will not need).

If ever you have lied to yourself and assumed that wine making would be, OMG like sooo hard!, you can forget it.  This will take you an hour of active time to get started, tops (not at all like making beer, which, admittedly, can take kind of a while).  Even less time than an hour if you count the beet boiling time as part of dinner prep.

Which I did.  Because I like cheating the system.  Also, because I forced mass quantities of beets down our throats last night and I feel like I should get some extra credit out of that.

In case you’re curious, the finished wine is like a deep, dry, earthy red.  Or more like fuschia.  I likeses that.  I want to go to there.  Do you want to go to there with me?

Then shut the blinds and cast a suspicious sideways glance at your neighbors!  Gather round, children!  It’s beet wine we be makin’ tonight!  Bathtub optional!

No Asshats allowed.

Beet Wine
Makes 1 gallon

Go Get:
3 1/2 to 4 pounds of beets, peeled, with the tops and a sliver of the bottoms cut off (I used a mix, which will influence the color somewhat.)
5 3/4 cups sugar (I myself think it would be kinda awesome to use beet sugar for this part.  Just for parallelism.  Or something.  Whatever, I used evaporated cane juice.  I’m betting you could also tweak this and use honey.)
Juice of 2 large lemons, or 3 small ones
1 1/2 cups strong, cold black tea
1 packet wine yeast
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient (not strictly necessary, but recommended.  Hit a home brewing store–I like Brew & Grow in Chicago.)

Stuff You Should Have on Hand:
1 gallon glass jug
Another glass jug or food-grade bucket
An airlock
A siphon (or a ladle)
Wine bottles and corks

Go Do:
Hi!

Cleanse, rinse, and sanitize any equipment that’ll be touching wine but that isn’t getting boiled.

Okay, so now you put those rough and ready beets into a pot, cover ’em with, oh, 12 cups of water or so, and bring it to a boil.  Then lower the heat and simmer the beets until they’re tender enough to eat (for me, this took about 30 minutes).  Take out the beets and eat ’em or save for another use.

Stir in the sugar until it’s completely dissolved.  Now cover it and let it all cool to somewhere in the area of 70 degrees F.  When this happens, stir in the tea, yeast nutrient, and lemon juice.

Pour the liquid into your bucket or first jug (use a funnel if you need to), and fill with enough filtered water to make a gallon (but leave some room for 1/4 cup liquid).  At this point you can take a hydrometer reading to determine the original gravity of your mix.  Why?  Well, ’cause if you know it, you can take a final gravity reading after fermentation and determine the exact alcohol percentage of your finished wine.  Click here to figure out how to use one properly.  But admittedly, this is a totally unnecessary step.  We have a hydrometer that gets pretty regular use around here, so I took a reading.  If all goes according to plan, my finished wine will be between 12 and 13 percent alcohol.  Sweet!

Now mix the packet of yeast into about 1/4 cup lukwarm water…around 100 degrees F.  Let it sit for 5 minutes and re-acclimate to the liquid world.  There’s a science-y reason we do this, but I won’t bore you with that now.  Scrape down the sides of the yeast bowl and pour it into the beet stuff.

Mmm…beet stuff.

Even Bad Mama Genny makes messes. It's okay. Calm down.

Stick a sterilized airlock (filled with a little water) into the jug’s neck or a tight hole in the lid of your bucket.  The airlock allows CO2 to get out without allowing bacteria in.  And you need to let CO2 out.  Otherwise, I hope you like exploded glass.

‘Cause I know I heart exploded glass!

Put your jug in a dark place that’s between 70 and 75 degrees.  Let the whole thing sit and ferment for about a week, or until activity slows down.  What activity? you might be asking.  Well, about 12 hours after the yeast is pitched, you’ll notice signs of fermentation.  The jug may produce a gurgling or bubbling sound, or a clicking from the airlock.  You’ll see lots of air bubbles moving around, perhaps some foaming up top, and lots of gas bubbles rising up out of the airlock.  Once the little yeasties have eaten lots of nommable sugars, though, they’ll get tired.  Their environment is full of alcoholic waste, and there’s no more food.  Man, this really sucks!  Fermentation slows.  Some of the yeast will drop to the bottom of the jug and die.

<Sad trombone sound>

So after fermentation has slowed to a stop, use a sterilized siphon or ladle to move the liquid from the first container into another sterilized jug.  Be careful to leave the yeast sediment and general STUFF on the bottom of the first container.  You’re going for a clear wine, and muddy stuff does not aid this process.  Stick that airlock back on top (again, with a little water inside), and put it back in its dark, happy place.  You’ll want to leave it until the wine clears itself.  If you’re not sure, there should be no signs of fermentation, and no air bubbles in the air lock.  This usually takes about 8 weeks.

Dios mio, you mean I have to wait to drink this wine?!

Yes, yes, I do mean that.  And you’ll have to wait longer:  After that 8 week thingy happens, use that sterilized siphon (or ladle and funnel) to transfer the wine into sterilized wine bottles.  Leave a little less than an inch of space at the top.  You can take another hydrometer reading now–click here to figure out how to use one properly.  Cork or seal the bottles and move them into a cool, dark place to age for ::drumroll::…

4 to 6 months!  I know, I know, waiting to get drunk is NO FUN, DUDES.  No fun at all.  So I recommend having other alcohol on hand to meet your party animal needs.  Don’t try to drink the beet wine before this time has elapsed, though, and leaving a little more time will generally make it even better.  Wine that’s way too young?  Not as tasty, my friends.  Not. As. Tasty.

So whaddya think?  Sure, it’s a wait, and sure you can buy wine, but this is fun!  It gives you bragging rights, and it will make people at BYOB places think you’re a total badass.  Not to mention it’s waste-preventing and almost free!  How can you turn down free wine?

I’ll tell you, my sweet little cucumbers–you can’t.  You just can’t.

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Mmm, fall.  Delicious, delicious fall.  Succulent, tasty, juicy fall.

Aaaaand we’re already creepy.  I would say that’s a new record for this blog, but maybe not.  I do creepy things all the time and then “forget” them later.  It’s called “creepout amnesia.”  Or, as the rest of you might call it, “a reasonable sense of shame.”

Anyhow.

It’s officially fall, seeing as how I can no longer lay on the beach with those little wine juice boxes and a volleyball to give the impression that I’m sporty.  Oh, it’s such a lark when someone walks up and asks if I’d like to play volleyball!

“AHAHA, ahaha, AHAHAHAHA, oh, PLAY volleyball, stop, STOP, really, you’re too much!…::sip::sip::”

Anyhow.

So it’s no longer lay-on-the-beach-in-a-bikini-and-get-drunk-next-to-a-for-decoration-only-volleyball weather.  Man, what a sad, sad sentence.  But no one get too down about it.  After all, it’s just about lay-in-the-back-of-an-SUV-in-jeans-and-The-Boy’s-jersey-next-to-a-for-decoration-only-football weather.  Yes.  To everything, there is a season.  It’s the circle of life.  A wheel of fortune, if you will.  Turn, turn, turn.

Anyhow.

So it’s getting chilly, and I’ve been gallivanting around doing all manner of fall-like things.  Things like…

Using the last of the red tomatoes from the garden…

Preparing this delightful native dish that I’ve just learned about: soup…

Going apple picking…

Ooh…

Think we have enough apples for two people, The Boy?

You do?  Oh, that’s nice.  I think we need lots more.

Whaddya mean, you’re cutting me off?

Whaddya mean, you’re walking to the car?

Whaddya mean, you’re starting the car?

Whaddya mean, VROOM?

Oh.  I think I’m starting to understand whatcha mean.

…and of course, as the lead photo would suggest, we’ve been gallivanting (yes, MORE gallivanting) through pumpkin fields.  But only to look at them.  In my world, field pumpkins, like volleyballs and footballs and modesty, are for decoration only.  The flesh is scarce, stringy, watery, and not the least bit sweet.  Now those cute lil’ two-pound pie pumpkins?  THOSE are pumpkins.  Adorable AND delicious.

So if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I spent yesterday roasting all kinds of squash and squash seeds, and I’d be lyin’ if I didn’t admit to a bit of a pumpkin obsession these days.  Yesterday, I saved 79 pumpkin recipes on my desktop.  True story.  True story that I wish were even a little bit false.  78 would’ve sounded much better.  Thank goodness it wasn’t 80.  I mean, 79 is a lot, but 80 is just sick.

Ooh!  Just found a recipe for pumpkin french toast!  ::click::

<hangs head>

And today, as you’d know if you followed me on Twitter (hint hint FUCKING hint), is The Boy’s birthday.  That’s right, everybody’s favorite accidental sorta-celebrity was born ::mumble mumble:: years ago today.  To celebrate, I decided to start his morning off right (the poor dude had to work!) with a pumpkin latte.  YUM.

Now let me just be clear: The Boy does not NEED a pumpkin latte to feel good in the morning.  How could he ever have a bad morning when he opens his eyes to the sight of me rolling over, my hair in the most conspicuous white girl afro you ever did see, my nightie twisted around me like a straightjacket, the pillows on the floor, and my eyes half open?  How could he NOT have a great morning when my first words to him are usually something akin to “What the…f*&#…it’s not morning, right?  THE BOY, tell me it’s not morning, tell me it’s not morning, IFYOUVALUEYOURLIFETELLMEIT’SNOTMORNING, oh God, it’s morning.”  Also, a man needs to feel wanted and needed, right?  And when I wrap my arms around his ankles as he’s trying to scale the stairs to the door and beg him not to leave me to work all by myself, I’m sure what he’s thinking is, “God, it’s so nice to feel needed.”

BUT.

Just in case your mornings need perking up, UNLIKE THE BOY’S, you might want to try a pumpkin latte.  It’s a heck of a lot nicer than the one from the coffee shops.  And it’s made with a healthy dose of neurosis.  I mean, love.  Love.

Pumpkin Latte
*makes one*

Go Get:

1 shot of espresso (alternatively, probably about a 1/2 cup of really strong coffee)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon raw sugar (I’m thinking maple syrup would be a delightful substitute)
1 cup milk (this works with soy milk, nut milk, whatever turns you on; I’m a lactard, almond milk it is)
3 hearty dashes cinnamon (can I recommend–again–the Saigon Cinnamon from The Spice House?)
1 pinch ginger
2 whole cloves
1 pinch nutmeg
2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (you could use canned, but…you know)
whipped cream, if you’re feelin’ naughty

Go Do:

Start brewing your espresso or coffee.  Meanwhile, toss all other ingredients except whipped cream into a saucepan and blend.  Cook over low heat until the milk is just steaming (don’t boil it.  Ew.).  Now if you want your latte super smooth, remove the cloves with a spoon and put everything into the blender, set it to “milkshake” or its equivalent, and let that sucker blend ’til things are lookin’ frothy.  If you’re not picky and your pumpkin puree was smooth, just take out the cloves.  Now put your espresso into a mug, and pour the milk mixture over it.  Top with whipped cream if you’re using it.  Aw, what the hell, toss on another dash of cinnamon.  Let’s go whole hog.  Now doesn’t that sound like a nice way to start the day?  I’m thinking decaf and a walk after dark on a chilly, crisp day would suit me just fine, how ’bout you?

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