Quite a focal point for a room: bookshelves that look like a chrysanthemum or a star.
When you look closer, it looks like it’s just a series of boxes that have been cleverly attached to the wall.
Wouldn’t that be an interesting DIY project…
This being barbecue season, DIY Cocktails and I thought it would be a good time to try a grilled fruit cocktail. So we experimented and came up with the Honey Barbecue Plum Cocktail.
It uses bourbon, honey liqueur, and, of course, grilled plums.
To make the cocktail, we put the plums on the grill while making other food, just as you would if you were making a grilled fruit dessert. It took 7 minutes over medium-high heat to get the plums caramelized and lightly charred. Then we used them in the drink.
And we discovered something pretty interesting: grilling fruit enhances the fruit flavor of a cocktail.
The grilled plums gave the drink a deeper, brighter, more plum-like flavor than if we had used them raw. In fact, when we tried the recipe without grilling the plums, the drink tasted a little tart. But grilling them made the plums blend with the other ingredients so that the cocktail came together beautifully.
This is even more impressive when you consider that we purposely used lackluster plums. That means this cocktail is an excellent way to use up those unexciting plums you get from the grocery store. You know those plums that you buy and somehow they never ripen or taste all that great, no matter how long you leave them out? Yep. Here’s a way to make them sing.
Honey Barbecue Plum
(Makes one cocktail)
1 1/2 ounce bourbon
3/4 ounce honey liqueur (learn to make your own honey liqueur here.)
1/2 ounce agave nectar or simple syrup
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
Dash Peychaud’s bitters
Cut the plum in half and remove the pit.
Grill the plum on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to caramelize and you see grill marks. Turn over and let it cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes, until the plum is soft. Remove from the grill.
In a cocktail shaker, combine all the ingredients except the bitters.
Muddle the plum thoroughly. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice.
Put on the lid and shake for at least a solid minute, or until ice starts to form on the outside of the container. This is especially important if the plum is still hot. You don’t want a warm cocktail.
Strain the drink into a glass. Add a drop or two of Peychaud’s bitters. Enjoy!
I bought this Dinner Winner Plate for Savvy Jr. The plate is set up like an old-fashioned board game with a series of little cubbies for finger food. The end has a cover that says “Finish!” where you can hide at treat. (Naturally, the treat is going to be eaten first in this scenario, but who cares…)
I cut up finger food like cheese, raisins, olives, and strawberries, and put them in the cubbies, and he enthusiastically eats all of it. By the time he’s done, he’s had a pretty decent meal.
The plate is sturdy and good quality, and safe for the dishwasher, though not the microwave. It would work well for a picky eater. $20.
Check out this Tentsile Tree Tent. It’s a camping tent that let’s you sleep in the trees.
$70, plus overseas shipping.
The Black Walnut Manhattan is a traditional Manhattan that uses nocino in place of vermouth. It’s tasty and elegant. Here’s how to make it.
Black Walnut Manhattan
(makes one drink)
1.5 oz bourbon
1 oz nocino
2 dashes bitters
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the bourbon, nocino, and bitters. Stir–don’t shake–the ingredients and strain into a glass. Garnish with a cherry if you desire. Enjoy!
Nocino is an Italian liqueur made from green walnuts. It’s sweet, nutty, and spicy. You can mix it with a cocktail, drink it straight, or pour it over vanilla ice cream for a delicious dessert.
Like most liqueurs, nocino can be pretty pricey. A small bottle (375 ml) starts at about $30. So last summer, I decided to make my own.
To make the nocino, we first needed green walnuts. No problem, there are California walnut trees all over the place. (I assume you could use any green walnut to make this liqueur.)
Last June, I located a walnut tree on public land that was loaded with green walnuts and foraged away. Here’s what I picked, which is approximately 800 times what I needed:
There are lots of recipes for nocino online. They all say to steep green walnuts with a combination of syrup and spices in liquor–either vodka, wine, or a combination of both.
I tried several recipes and found that Imbibe’s recipe was the best. It was also the simplest. You steep the walnuts in vodka for 40 days until the concoction turns the color of motor oil. Then you add syrup, let it sit for 40 more days, and you’re done.
Once finished, I did a taste test. It was pretty great! It lacked the depth of the store-bought nocino, but it had all the nutty and sweet notes I was looking for. Best of all, my nocino cost a fraction of the price of the one I bought in the store.
Just how much cheaper is it to make your own nocino? I used a 750 ml bottle of vodka that cost $12 and about $1 in supplies. The green walnuts were foraged and the lemon was free from my garden. All and all, it came to $13 for twice the amount of nocino that you can buy for $30.
That means that a 375 ml bottle of my nocino cost $6.50, where store-bought nocino cost $30. Making my own nocino was 79% cheaper than buying it.
Best of all, it was easy. While making nocino takes 80 days, it only takes a few minutes of work. Here’s how to do it.
Make Your Own Nocino
(This recipe is from Imbibe Magazine)
16 green walnuts, quartered
Zest of 1 lemon
750 ml bottle of vodka
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
In June-August, pick green walnuts from a tree. If that doesn’t work for you, you can purchase them online.
Quarter the green walnuts. Use gloves because the walnuts can stain.
Put the green walnuts and lemon zest in the glass jar. Add the vodka. Cover the jar.
Now it looks like this:
(I didn’t have a lid for my flask, so I used a cheese cloth and a rubber band to cover it.)
Put the jar in a dark place and let the liquid steep for 40 days.
After that time, the liqueur will be dark brown, but will taste abrasive. It’s time to add the syrup.
In the pan, combine water, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Turn on the heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cool. Throw out the cinnamon stick.
Strain the spent walnuts out of the liqueur. Add the syrup. Cover and let sit for another 40 days.
At the end of that time, strain the liqueur through a cheese cloth to get out the bits of walnut and cinnamon. Pour into a glass bottle.
Ta-da! You’ve got yourself a delicious, versatile liqueur. It makes a great gift, too.
Is it cheaper to make your own bubble soap? I’m not sure, but for what it’s worth, this recipe seems to work, especially for giant bubbles.
Impressive looking. I may try this recipe sometime soon.
To me, nothing says summer more than watermelon. And with Independence Day just around the corner, here are 5 Ways To Eat Watermelon: