Sol

She’s so hot.

fireball

A fireball, waiting to warm your belly.

Her radiant madness setting your heart on fire.

Stand too near, too long, and her aura burns right through you.

beachsun

She gives all she has to give, tirelessly.

She is there for you, almost every day.

Yet…she can be elusive.

suninthewoods

Some avoid her strength, intimidated by her confidence, and seek the darkness of shadows.

anotherbeachsun

I choose to bask in her warmth whenever she lets me, wherever I might be.

I find her irresistible.

skyfire

She has the power to destroy us all.

And she will. One day.


I love the Sun. Year after year, I eagerly await the time to slip out of the every day, slip out of the chores of adulthood, slip out of any preconceived notion of what I should or should not be doing. I eagerly await the time I can slip out and slip into the sun.

suninmyface


My first love is whiskey, yet I find myself drinking my share of gin as the days get longer and hotter. Occasionally, I find the perfect shrub to compliment bourbon and I get a thrill of drinking my cherished amber elixir with a fresh fruity shrub.

apricot

Here we have:

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1.5 oz. of apricot shrub
  • 3-4 dashes of Smoke & Salt Crude Bitters

Add 2 cubes of ice, topped off with club soda. Lucious.

Shrubbery

I’m a big fan of shrubs. Not the kind you purchase at the Garden Center, plant in the ground, and prune on occasion. I’ve never been much of a gardener at all, really. I like a pretty flower, relish the taste of a freshly plucked tomato, and it is nice to be able to pick fresh basil, rosemary, or sage at a moment’s notice. But I haven’t the patience for planting flowers, and I’ve tried every which way to grow a tomato in the middle of our woods, to no avail. There are usually some fresh herbs somewhere in the yard, but that is all due to my husband’s dedication, not mine.

So yes, I am very interested in shrubs. But shrubs of a different sort:
shrub2  – SHrəb/  noun

  1. a drink made of sweetened fruit juice and liquor, typically rum or brandy.
  2. NORTH AMERICAN
    a slightly acid cordial made from fruit juice and water.
early 18th century: from Arabic šurbšarāb, from šariba ‘to drink’; compare with sherbet and syrup.

There is a great book on the subject of shrubs, as well as many delightful recipes, titled Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch. I began my deep dive into shrub making with this book and I continue to refer to it all the time when considering a new flavor combination, a particular fruit, or just for inspiration. If you have a real interest in making some of your own shrubs, I highly encourage you to start with this book.

shrubsLemon-lime (made with Turbinado sugar), Blueberry, Watermelon-Lime, Cucumber, Pink Grapefruit

The shrubs I make consist of a fruit and/or occasionally a vegetable, a sweetener, and vinegar. I’m a big fan of using what’s in season, so this time of year I lean towards berries. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are pretty easy to come by, but there is no reason why you couldn’t try huckleberries or even gooseberries, if you have a source.

My general rule is for every 2 cups of berries, I use 3/4 cup of sugar, and 1/2-3/4 cup of vinegar, but these proportions may change on the sweetness of the berries, the final sweetness desired, and/or the level of acid you desire in your shrub. In other words, experimentation is key. It’s also important to remember that the flavor of the shrub right after mixing will be different than the flavor 5 days later. The vinegar will have co-mingled with the sweet fruit syrup that much longer, making the vinegar less intense and the flavor that much more balanced.


If you’re interested in making a basic berry shrub, start with 2 cups of berries and 3/4 cup of sugar.* Mix the berries with the sugar, stirring well to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for anywhere from 24-48 hours, being sure to stir once or twice a day. When you have a nice syrup, place the berry and sugar mixture into a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl (I use an 8-cup glass measuring cup) and strain, pressing down on the berries to make sure you release as much of the juice as possible.

Now. At this point, you could easily throw all your berry bits and pieces into the compost and be done with it. But you might consider freezing it, seeds and all, and keep it for smoothies.

After you have your strained, sweetened berry juice, add your vinegar. You could try a raspberry, white, or red wine vinegar, or a champagne vinegar, or even just apple cider vinegar. Or combine them and see what happens. Start with 1/2 cup, give it a taste, and if you think you might like more, add more, but I would do it gradually, no more than about 1/4 cup at a time. I generally use around the same amount of vinegar as the amount of sugar, but not all the time. (I made a strawberry shrub with balsamic vinegar once and I did not enjoy it as a drink, but it made a pretty decent salad dressing!)

*The sugar you use could be white, turbinado, raw, pure cane, etc. Keep in mind, darker sugar will not only affect the flavor a bit, but also the color. I experimented once with some calorie free all natural sweetener but had little success. It never really dissolved into the syrup. 

Once you have everything mixed together, put it all in a jar or bottle(s) and store in the refrigerator. After anywhere from 3-5 days (the longer the better, but I’m horribly impatient), you have a finished shrub. Mix about 1.5 oz with club soda for a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink. Or, add an alcohol of your choosing, maybe a squeeze of lime, throw in the shrub and club soda and you have a great cocktail.

firstMy first raspberry shrub. I mixed about 2oz of gin, 1.5 oz of shrub, a healthy splash of Domaine de Canton, and topped with club soda. Delicious.

Cheers!

 

Sunday on the Porch

I had just gotten off the train from Baltimore. I had spent the last three days discussing and sharing information on suicide, the philosophy of it, the psychology behind it, the social and cultural aspects of it. And while all of that was fascinating and enlightening in and of itself, the point is that I had just gotten off the train and was waiting at the old Amtrak station for my then-husband to pick me up. As I sat there on the curb, with the sun lowering in the evening sky, I experienced a moment that I never forgot. A moment I relive with each remembering. A moment which resonated with the thought: “This place. I KNOW this place.”

The trees across the street, the sounds of downtown in the distance, the smell of the dirt, the heat coming off the asphalt. I knew it. It was part of me. I felt as if I could get lost in the soil at my feet, that if I were to taste it I would be tasting a morsel of who I was. It was so visceral, the sensation that “I” was part of that moment, that place.

For many years, I had assumed “that place” was Raleigh, as I had lived there for most of my life and felt deeply attached to my hometown. Yet – and perhaps this is something we all come to know eventually – I now realize the place I connected with doesn’t have as much to do with where I was/am geographically as it does to where I AM. I could be walking on a dirt road in Chatham County, riding in a car in Sicily, sitting in an airport in Iceland, drinking and discussing dreams in a bar in Raleigh, or sitting on the porch with my dog. Come to find out, I felt the sense of connection just as profoundly in every one of these moments as I did at the train station. I’ve simply become more adept at paying attention, more attuned to the vibrations, the connections, and to the morsels of who and what I am.

Energy. Fire. Water.
Stardust, baby.

stardust


Today was a day spent on the porch, cleaning, purging, readying for a season of settin’ and sippin’. Which, of course, brings the raspberry shrub that’s been “resting” in my fridge since Thursday to mind. I know the flavors will have mingled together that much more over the next few days, but I’ve never been known for patience. Hence, we have a perfectly lovely Spring libation:

gin porch sipper

Gin Porch Sipper

  • 1.5-2 oz of gin (you could also easily make this with vodka or even tequila)
  • 1.5 oz of raspberry shrub
  • squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • 3 ice cubes, topped with club soda

I will go into details on making shrubs soon, but in the meantime, for those of you who are unaware, a “shrub” is a mixture of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. Delicious!!!!