Saturday BJ and I kitted up a couple of quilts each, all cut and ready to be pieced. I think I have maybe four projects ready, it's best to have them cut because there is a lot of chatter, laughter and other distractions at the retreat [e.g. 28 other quilters' projects in progress] and the likelihood of cutting errors is high!
Everyone is encouraged to bring "snacks" to share during the retreat so this evening after young Matthew went home I made up a pan of caramel brownies [they have home made caramel baked in the middle] that are already packed away................
and a double batch of my Grand Marnier/orange/cranberry biscotti. if you'd like the recipe leave me a comment and I will post it. It is super simple and inexpensive, you can make an entire batch for the price of one Starbucks biscotti!
That way there are plenty to take, some for JW and some to leave for DH.
When I bake I usually try to make several things so there's only a one time mess to clean up-that's the worst part of cooking, I need a Sous Chef or maybe just a personal dishwasher!
Since I was on a roll and had some citrus that needs using I decided to make a new batch of my tonic water mix. Some time ago I rebelled against the commercial tonic water- either you get a neuro- toxin [aspartame] or something that messes with your metabolism [corn syrup].
We like gin and tonic occasionally and the store bought tonic water also has an off taste that does not compliment a good gin.
On an internet search I came across this website, with lots of info on home made tonic water and other drinks like non-alcoholic ginger beer a favorite from my childhood when my Mum kept a "ginger beer plant" on the kitchen window sill and made the very best ginger beer I ever had. It was a major refreshing treat, on a hot Aussie summer day, cold, sweet and strongly gingery.
I have yet to try to duplicate my Mum's ginger beer, but it's on my "to do" list!
Here is my tonic water mixture simmering away and filling the air with the delightful scents of orange, lemon, lime, cardamom, and allspice, what's not to like. Everyone who has tried a G and T at our house with my homemade tonic mix has pronounced it excellent and way superior to the commercial tonic.
In case you are interested in trying it, here's how I make mine.
4 cups water
3 tsp. dried lemon grass[or one large stalk of fresh]
2 Tblsp. cinchona bark powder[see below for ordering this, it's the origin of quinine]
2 oranges, zested
2 lemons, zested
2 limes, zested
1tsp. whole allspice berries
pinch of cardamom
2 Tblsp. citric acid
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Zest the fruit then use a reamer to squeeze out most of the juice. Place fruit, zest and juice in a large saucepan, add remaining ingredients and water and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain out fruit and allspice etc with a colander, then pour the liquid through coffee filters- it takes a long time to strain because the cinchona powder is dense. I just leave it overnight then if necessary pour it through fresh filters and leave it again. It may still be a bit cloudy if like me you get tired of waiting for it to filter, but that doesn't affect the taste. You can also run it through a French Press.
We make our G an T's in a tall glass, using two-three tablespoons of the mix, depends on how much bitterness you like, two-three tablespoons of agave syrup, about two fingers of good gin and top off with plain soda water. You can add more or less agave syrup too if you like it more or less sweet. I like mine very citrusy so I add a wedge of lime to serve. That's another really good thing about making your own tonic mix you can adjust the flavoring to your personal preference.
I bottle mine and keep it in the fridge for months.
This is very bare bones info. so please check Jeff's blog for everything you ever wanted to know about mixing drinks including places to purchase cinchona bark powder. Many people have made adjustments to Jeff's original recipe as I have so it's interesting to see what others have done with it.
I just ordered another 5 ozs. of cinchona bark from one of Jeff's sources, Tenzingmomo.com in Seattle.