Archive for the ‘Hooch’ Category

Dear The Red and the Black:

I am sorry I have to put you on blast on the internet.  Yes, I realize these “open letter” formats have become cliched and are way past their prime.  I also realize I am merely a teeny, tiny corner of the internet and this probably won’t effect your business much.  Still, you have forced my hand.  I want everyone to know what I think of you.

Last Friday, I visited you.  I was stuffed and happy from a spectacular meal at your neighbor, Granville Moore’s. We were all in good spirits on this dreary night.  We looked to you to let the good times roll.

The four of us sat at the bar and luckily, sweet and peppy Layla served us.  The place was practically empty, due to pouring rain.  My friend LiLu was excited to see Layla as she has had great experiences with her.

Then, things took a turn.  Rachel took over as our bartender.

Rachel rolled her eyes at us.  She snickered at us and acted openly hostile.  I have never been treated so rudely at a bar in my entire life.

Now, we were not drunk.  We were polite and laid back.  LiLu was actually a bartender for years, so I think we were pretty ideal customers.   I cannot imagine what Rachel found so offensive about us.  Rachel eventually stopped refilling our drinks, passive agressively bullying us in to leaving. We left, happy to bring our business somewhere else.  I am not in the business of begging someone to take my money.  There are plenty of other empty bars in the area that were more than happy to have us.

On Monday, LiLu sent you this note:

I’ve been to this bar a couple of times and always enjoyed myself- Layla has always taken care of me and is absolutely fantastic- warm and friendly, and always up for making some creative libations. Last Friday I stopped in for an after-dinner drink and although Layla was there, the other bartender (blond girl with glasses) “took care” of us. She was unbelievably rude- I’ve never felt so unwelcome in a bar. There was only a handful of people in the bar, and she certainly wasn’t busy, but when she wasn’t ignoring us, she was being outright rude. Perhaps we weren’t hip enough for her? As a bartender myself for years, I consider myself and my friends to be ideal patrons and can’t for the life of me imagine why our money and company was so offensive to her. We literally felt bullied into leaving. We weren’t drunk, loud, or making a scene of any kind- just four people trying to get a beer after dinner in what is normally a really cool bar and atmosphere. I love the H Street scene and will be back, but not if that bartender is working.

And ya know what? You didn’t even take the time to answer us.  So, I while LiLu is a willing to give you a second chance, I am not.  The Red and the Black…you can suck it.

Also, I think we are all pretty cool.  Just a thought: everyone in that bar was wearing skinny jeans and plaid shirts. You are not unique or cutting edge when every person at the place is merely a reflection of you.

Peace out,



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Watered Down

We stood outside in the parking lot of the rundown firehouse, the clanking noise of the tiny wooden cars in the background. It was the Boy Scout Pinewood Derby and my family was inside cheering my brother on in his efforts to win a trophy. I don’t know why he was there; he was an only child and he was not a Boy Scout…by any means. The shifty men found their way towards me, even in middle school.

He was very tall with dark, shiny hair. A chain connected his wallet to his too-short pants and I had never seen him in anything other than the clunky black boots that lived on his feet. As we stood in the parking lot, I felt a flutter that had only been reserved for Anthony Kiedis in the past.

I miss that feeling; the pulse quickening excitement when you realize you have a crush. As we stood there in that parking lot, I didn’t know what it felt like to be hurt by a guy. I had yet to adapt any sort of instruments of self-preservation, hadn’t yet begun the maddening see-saw of pushing someone away to protect myself and then pulling them back in because I craved the comfort. I didn’t see men as weak or strong then, just nice or mean. I hadn’t started picking them apart, trying to figure out what was wrong with them; I just wanted them to smile back. I had yet to acquire a stable of pithy responses to their come ons; them talking to me was enough. I stood there vulnerable and nervous, skin spotted, my adolescent hair greasy and my braces shining. I had not learned the lazy tricks I would come to utilize regularly–plunging tops, bedroom eyes and copious amounts of liquor–when I got older. In that moment, I was just stuck being me. Because I didn’t know any better, I fidgeted and stuffed myself full of the watermelon that sat on the refreshment table in an effort to make the time pass and alleviate some of the awkwardness. It made my stomach slosh and my hands were sticky, but that fruit seemed the only course of action.

I have learned a trick or two, though. You live and you learn and since him I have grabbed on to some important lessons. Maybe it does help me hide a little bit, but no one ever said the whole truth was for public consumption, anyway. I still hope I can find that girl again; the girl that is awkward and bare, excitement coursing through her veins, ignorant to the pain such a thrill can bring. She is in there, she has to be. But for now, she still chokes her watermelon down with some alcohol. It helps her conceal herself just a little bit.

Note: Ok, this stuff is the shit. Light, summery, and not too sweet, it is perfect for any party you may throw this summer.

Watermelon Ginger Punch

Adapted from Cooking Light

8 cups seedless watermelon cubes, divided
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sugar (we used splenda)
2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
18 (1-inch) seedless watermelon balls
1/4 cup sparkling water, chilled
3/4 cup rum
Cracked ice, optional

Put 4 cups watermelon in a blender; process until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a pitcher; discard solids. Repeat procedure with remaining watermelon cubes. Combine lime juice, sugar, and ginger in a bowl; stir with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Add lime juice mixture and watermelon balls to watermelon mixture; stir in sparkling water just before serving. Serve over cracked ice, if desired.

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God Bless the…

What does the Fourth of July mean to you?

Burgers on the grill?

Frolicking in your bathing suit?

Sweet, delicious freedom?

Well, I am sure you can guess what it means to me: becoming mindnumbingly plastered over the course of many hours in the blazing sun.

I am taking a super long weekend to charge the batteries and pickle myself. Yes, I realize these seem like two contradictory statements, but it works like this: the alcohol numbs the chaos in my brain, releasing me into a replenishing and rejuvenating period of rest.

Trust me, this works. Alcohol is the answer.

Might I suggest you try the same? I find Annie Birdie’s famous sangria the perfect elixir to lull me off in to a deep and wonderful sleep. Having one glass is simply impossible. It is hands-down the best sangria I have ever tasted.

Happy 4th…sleep well, be safe. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

Classic Spanish Sangria
Adapted from All Recipes

1/2 lemon

1/2 lime

1/2 orange

1/2 apple

1 peach

1 1/2 cups rum

1/2 cup white sugar

1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine (Annie uses Shiraz)

1 cup orange juice

Make sure the fruit, rum, wine, and orange juice well chilled. Slice the lemon, lime and orange into thin rounds and chop the apple and peach and place in a large glass pitcher. Pour in the rum and sugar. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours to develop the flavors.

When ready to serve, crush the fruit lightly with a wooden spoon and stir in the wine and orange juice. Adjust sweetness to taste.

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American Patriot

A few months back, Pagina and I headed out to a party and ended up having a few too many cocktails. (I know, shocking.) We were the kind of buzzed where we danced for hours, not caring who was looking or what people thought of us. All was right with the world…until the sailors showed up.

These boys had to be…19? 20? I think they were drinking seltzer. They had us in their sights. We ducked them for a while, but Pagina, gin and tonic in hand, began to egg me on. This is the phrase that lead to my undoing:

“Lemmonex, what if he goes to war? You should do it for our country”.

So, this is how I ended up smooching a barely legal boy wearing a sailor hat and a dickey. Don’t ever question my patriotism. Turns out, though, that Pagina hates our freedom. She sent me to sacrifice myself for the nation, while she idly stood by, sipping her drink. (Or conversely, while she sat back and behaved like a mature, responsible adult…but I like to blame others for my behavior.)

When I think of Pagina, I always think of those gin and tonics and that night. She had a birthday a couple weeks back, so I took this as my opportunity to give her a great gift and make a simple syrup I have been eying for a while. See…her birthday is about me.

Now, I know this is barely a recipe, but it is worth passing on. The cucumber syrup adds a bright freshness to the gin and tonics and is unlike anything I have ever had. The cucumber can be replaced with countless other fruits, vegetables or herbs. Lemongrass, watermelon, basil, and lavendar simple syrups are some I hope to make in the future.

Pagina enjoyed this…while burning our flag.


Cucumber Simple Syrup

3 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 large cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped

Bring sugar and water to a boil. Let boil for about 2 minutes and turn off heat. Add cucumber chunks and let everything steep for at least an hour. Strain though a coffee filter and add to jar.

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Pop the Bubbly

New Year’s Eve, 2005.  I was 24-years-old, with an extreme desire to create a memorable night.

Now, I have learned many things in the past (almost) three years, and I am glad one of those things is you cannot force fun.  Even with lots of alcohol.  New Year’s Eve is called amateur night for a reason, and that night, I was the ring master of the amateurs.

I attended a party with my ex and I was on a mission.  This mission included tequila, Miller Lite and a huge solo cup filled with champagne.  Very, very cheap champagne. I was warned by many people that a night full of pain awaited me at the bottom of that cup, but their warnings fell on deaf ears. The night ended with me pretty tipsy, but having had a fun time.  I thought I had shown all my friends I was the drinking champion of New Years Eve 2005, having successfully conquered the red vessel of liquid with no harm or foul. 

If I had known what awaited me in the morning, I never would have even looked at that champagne bottle. Man alive, it was a bad scene.  I had a throbbing headache for almost two days, and the slightest noise made me want to end it all.  It felt like my brain was in a vice studded with nails.  I never, in my 26 years, have had such a horrendous hangover. Besides the occasional rendezvous with a mimosa, my friendship with champagne was severed after that night.

I had some flashbacks when I found this recipe for bubbly pear cupcakes, but I decided to forge ahead and face my fears. I am very pleased I pushed the ugly memories of that night deep down inside me.  These cupcakes are why I bake. I brought them to a party celebrating Bawstin’s new job and the masses seemed just as impressed. They were moist, flavorful and nothing like anything you could buy at the store. The champagne (specifically the bubbles) is to thank for the moistness.  Besides my raspberry pudding cake, this may be the best thing I have ever baked.  The flavors together are perfect and they are like nothing I have ever tasted.

Finally, some champagne without a world of pain.


Bubbly Pear Cupcakes

Adapted from YumSugar


2 ¾ cups flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

pinch salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 firmish, but ripe, pears

1 cup champagne


½ stick butter, softened

8 oz cream cheese, softened

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

3 Tbs champagne

Preheat oven to 350°. In small bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt-set aside.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until mixed and airy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg/butter/sugar mixture.  Stir in vanilla and champagne.  Peel and grate pears and add to the batter. Line cupcake tin with papers and scoop an even amount in to each cup-I got 28 cupcakes.   Bake for 15 minutes, but start checking around 12 minutes.  While cupcakes bake, making frosting by beating all ingredients together.  Let cupcakes cook and then frost.  Enjoy.

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I ate two Pop Tarts for breakfast every school day in middle school.  Sometimes I would convince mom to buy the more expensive Toaster Strudels, but I always came back to the Pop Tarts.  Even more than a decade later, the smell of one in the toaster makes my mouth water.  Screw Wheaties–a blueberry Pop Tart, slathered in butter, is the breakfast of champions.

 As the years have passed, I have developed a more sensible breakfast routine.  A hard boiled egg and a banana is fine and much better for my arteries, but it just doesn’t illicit the same feelings as a Pop Tart.  Then again, if I have to go back to middle school to enjoy these trashy breakfast pastries, I will eat the eggs and bananas every damn day, until the day I die. I have managed to block a lot out regarding middle school, but the flashbacks prove to be unpleasant.  Polyester and perms were pervasive.

The weekends are a boiled eggs and banana free zone, though.  Omlettes, bagels, banana bread, muffins, egg sandwiches-bring it on. Breakfast is my favorite meal, for any meal with so many pork products playing a prominent role-bacon, sausage, ham-is a meal I can get behind.  When Irish Lebowski invited me over for brunch this weekend, I knew we would have fun.

We made Kahlua Rolls, a Lebowski family recipe, and Jesus Christ in a mini skirt, these things are good.  It is dessert for breakfast, with booze.  The only thing that could have made this meal better was doing blow off a stripper’s ass as an appetizer.

Look, here I am, eating the last bite of the last roll:


I could not even be bothered to shut my huge mouth while this photo was taken.  If I did not eat it immediately, I feared Kalhua Roll withdrawal. After brunch, we went shopping; I can’t speak for her, but I had the sugar shakes. (It is a little known fact we are only friends because she can drive me places and I provide her with tales from dating hell, making her feel very happy she is married and does not have to tolerate this bullshit. Oh, and I swear a lot.  She likes that, too.)

Irish Lebowski did most of the heavy lifting for the preparation.  I was too busy yapping to her and her lovely husband, Waspy Wasperson.  I did make the Kahlua syrup, though.  Thanks for humoring me, Irish!  The pre-made bread dough is genius, because honestly, when Kahlua is involved in a recipe, I don’t think anyone has the patience to make bread.  It saves a lot of time.  They emerge from the oven hot, sweet and gooey.  The liqueur taste bakes off, but the Kahlua makes a deep mahogany caramel that compelled Irish and me to stick our fingers into the bottom of the empty pan.  The three of us made short work of this batch. 

I think I have found the 26-year-old Lemmonex version of the Pop Tart.


Kahlua Rolls

A Lebowski Family Creation

1 loaf frozen bread dough

½ cup unsalted butter, divided

1/3 cup sugar

¾ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup and 1 Tablespoon Kahlua

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar (dark would be fine though)

1 Tablespoon light corn syrup

Follow instructions on loaf of frozen bread dough to let it rise.  Soften butter.

Prepare syrup: put ¼ cup butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and ¼ cup Kahlua in saucepan.  Bring to simmer over low heat.  Set aside 1/3 cup; dump the rest into a 9″ round cake pan.

Make spiced sugar filling: beat remaining butter, sugar, cinnamon and 1 T Kahlua until smooth.  Roll bread into rectangle on a floured board. (Irish was genius to let the bread rise in a loaf pan, spritzed with Pam. It kept a rectangle shape that just needed to be rolled out a bit.)  Spread with spiced sugar filling. Roll it up like a jelly roll, starting from the long side.  Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.

Arrange slices in cake pan prepared with syrup.  Press down rolls to flatten them. Preheat over to 375°. Cover with towel and let the rolls rise for about 25 minutes, until they double in size.

Once rolls have risen bake them for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from oven, let stand for 5 minutes and then turn pan upside down onto a serving plate.  Spoon reserved syrup on to rolls and serve.

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Now Look What You Did

As I stated a week back or so, I know the photos suck. Some of you have been happy to keep telling me over and over again how bad they are.  When you cut me I bleed. Didn’t your mother’s teach you any manners?

This has a great deal to do with my camera. It is two years old with a weird lens issue and the delay between the flash and the photo is painfully long. I aim to get it replaced within the next month or so, but I am doing my research and don’t want to make a hasty purchase.  I reserve my impulses for things like tattoos.

This cannot all be blamed on the camera, though. 

It’s mostly me, ok? Does that make you happy? Annie Birdie had the misfortune of walking into the apartment one day while I was on the phone with our internet provider.  The poor person on the other end of the line had done nothing wrong except have the bad luck of receiving me as a caller. I incredulously and maniacally pleaded: “I have blue wire in my left hand and a grey one in the right hand.  TELL. ME. WHAT. TO. DO.” I had unwraveled. 

I am the definition of a luddite; I still haven’t really figured out blog feeders (is that what they are called?), I only use the most basic of functions on my home computer and my shiny Apple at the office and, in all honesty, I doubt I could even figure out how to use an iPhone. I know; it’s shameful. I have lots of other good qualities, so please don’t hold this against me.

In an attempt to win your love, I tried to figure out my camera on Wednesday and erased all my photos. This was not the intent.  Poof!  They are gone, off to the land where single socks go to die, never to be found again.

So, I had to recreate the photos I had stored on the camera for the following recipes.  Admittedly, it was not really a hardship; I could drink a mojito every day and there were some left over strawberries in my fridge. These photos are even worse than the originals because they were taken in a rage and in a rush; you have no one to blame for the quality of these images but yourselves.

I had to share these two perfect little concoctions, so the reshoot was worth it.  These recipes prove that sometimes less is more; you only need a handful of really great ingredients to make something incredibly delicious. These short, simple recipes also serve as a warm-up to an upcoming post; prepare yourself for a fairly intensive, but totally worth it, recipe this weekend.

I digress. I served the balsamic strawberries (a simple recipe I put together based off numerous I perused) over frozen yogurt, which I had already devoured by the time the second photo session was resumed.  The berries were delicious on there own.  Please don’t be afraid of the pairing-I assure you the final product does not taste like vinegar.  As far as the mojito goes, I know I may be stretching it putting up a recipe for a cocktail, but I think powered sugar is a little secret that really makes the drink soar.

And Allah knows after the camera debacle, I was owed a drink…


Strawberries in Balsamic Reduction

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons chopped mint

1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered

In a small sauce pan, heat vinegar and sugar over medium high heat (it will bubble) until it has reduced by half.  The mixture should coat the spoon.  Allow balsamic syrup to cool and add strawberries and mint.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving.  Great over frozen yogurt, with creme fraiche or on their own. Serves 3-4.


 Mojitos from Heaven

4 oz lemon rum

1/2 lime, cut in 4 pieces

5 mint leaves

1 tablespoon powered sugar

6 oz. club soda

In bottom of glass, put in torn mint leaves, powered sugar and the lime sections (give the lime sections a good squeeze in the glass before throwing them in). Add a splash of the club soda and muddle the mixture at the bottom of the glass aggressively with a wooden spoon.  It should be beaten to a pulp.  Fill glass with a generous amount of ice and add club soda.  Mix well and enjoy.  Repeat.

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