Of course the obvious choice would be lemonade, which, trust me, I’ve considered. But I’ve got 32 juicy lemons to work through. How did I end up with such a fine cache of citrus? A dear friend and recent Arizona transplant had to strip her tree to avert the impending frost, so a big priority box of fragrant desert sunshine arrived on my doorstep! I’ve been entertaining quite a few options: homemade Limoncello, for one, has been appealing to me; but I’m not patient enough to wait the month-plus it requires. I could whip up a monster batch of Lisa’s rosemary lemon simple syrup and make cocktails and sodas; but I’m really looking for something more substantial, maybe something savory. Readers, what should I make? The best suggestion just may end up featured here as a future real life test kitchen… — Megan B.
Now that Iâ€™ve been working from home more these past few months, I missed picking up an occasional espresso drink on my way into the office. I have a 15+ year old Krups coffee maker that does a decent job making drip coffee, but itâ€™s nothing compared to a really good latte. I used to have a countertop espresso maker, but I gave it to a friend because I hated dealing with dragging it out and cleaning it. This holiday season, my sister brought espresso back into my home life by bequeathing me her Bialetti Musa stovetop espresso maker. I will admit, I was intimidated to use it, but after my first try, Iâ€™m sold! Hereâ€™s how I did it:
1. Fill the lower chamber of the espresso maker with water. Be sure not to cover the brass colored safety release valve.
2. Insert the metal filter basket into the lower boiler chamber.
3. Scoop coffee ground for espresso into the filter basket and lightly push down the grounds with the back of a spoon. (Iâ€™ve read several opinions about tamping the grounds â€“ some say that tamping can clog the filter, other say itâ€™s the only way to go. I decided to shoot for the middle.)
4. Place the rubber gasket on top of the filter basket, then the filter plate on top of the gasket.
5. Tightly crew the upper chamber onto the lower chamber.
6. Place the entire espresso maker onto a burner. Heat to boiling.
7. Once the water begins to boil, and youâ€™ll hear it, let the upper chamber fill with brewed espresso (about a 45 seconds) and take it off the burner.
8. Finally, pour the brewed espresso into a cup and add milk and sugar, if you like.
Enjoy! â€“ Rebecca F.
Photo credit: Rebecca Firlik
This year, our holiday cocktails held a chic and pretty surprise: wild hibiscus flowers! Anton, the member of our motley Christmas crew, arrived with his usual beautifully appointed basket of hand towels and wine, and a new cocktail garnish. Simply pour a glass of sparkling wine, fish out a flower from a jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, drop it into the glass and add a dash of syrup and watch as the bubbles gently unfurl the petals on the gorgeous edible treat. Snag a jar on Amazon, $11 for 8.8 ounces, or pick one up at Whole Foods and enjoy a Jingle Bell Bellini. This simple cocktail would also be an easy way to add a touch of pizzazz to a baby or bridal shower! Sample more recipes at the Wild Hibiscus Company website. â€“Sarah C.
In a perfect world, Iâ€™d have a cabinet full of Kate Spade china and gorgeous Waterford crystal stemware. Iâ€™d also love to be blonde, a self-made millionaire, and never shiver through another Chicago winter again but that just isnâ€™t me. Iâ€™m a brunette, I pay with coupons, and I love these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tumblers ($29.95). Colorful, witty, and all sorts of nostalgic fun, the turtles on a half shell have been immortalized in 16 oz. glasses from Neatoshop. Dibs on Michelangelo! â€“Katie D.
I realize that it may be considered too early in the season for this, but as someone who may be single-handedly fueling the hot cocoa industry in this country, I have something to share. As the days grow colder, Iâ€™ve been seriously considering upping my game when it comes to cold weather drinkware, and Iâ€™ve identified my next purchase. I saw these spoon coffee mugs, $3.95 each at CB2, as I was pulling the catalog out of my mailbox and I am going to make them mine. Perfect for coffee, hot cocoa or tea, the spoon holster doubles as a handle while keeping used spoons off the table and at the ready. Iâ€™ll definitely be snagging a few for some friends who share my cocoa obsession. One reviewer even suggested dipping the spoons in chocolate and gifting them with hot cocoa packets. Santa, are you taking notes? â€“ Sarah C.