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Entries in bourbon (2)

Monday
Nov122012

Hot Bourbon Apple Cider

Hot Bourbon Apple Cider

We are constantly told to obey the law of moderation. Everyone from doctors and scientists to advertisements on television give us subtle, but constant reminders on what we should (and should not) be doing with our minds and our bodies. They warn us that we should be practicing moderation in everything from the way we eat to our activity levels or else. This idea of moderation pervades every aspect of our lives, spreading the belief that we may have a taste, but never take a bite. They tell us that if we practice moderation we will be healthier and happier, more wholesome and financially secure.

I disagree with the idea of moderating all of the elements of our lives. The rules governing moderation are strict and unforgiving. There is no room for error, for spontaneity, for the variety in life that only midnight snacks and staying up too late can bring. I want to replace the notion of moderation with one of balance. Life doesn't have to mean a eating a bowl of oatmeal every morning. It can (and should) mean the occasional hot fudge brownie sundae, too.

I'm happy to see that Julia Child feels the same way.

Hot Bourbon Apple Cider

One glance at the three hundred sweet recipes on this blog and it's easy to come to the conclusion that my counter tops are lined with as many sweets as a bakery shelf. The reality is far from that truth. While I do eat my fair share of baked goods, the food on these pages often finds its way into friends' stomachs and onto coworkers' plates. I try to eat healthy outside of baking and, for the most part, I succeed. I try to make it to the gym for a couple hours a few times a week. I drink eight glasses of water and eat fruit and vegetables every single day. In many regards, I am the model of someone trying to practice moderation. However, as anyone could tell you, a dessert blogger is never going to achieve the ideals of moderation.

While there is a place for moderation in balance, there isn't necessarily a place for balance in moderation.

Hot Bourbon Apple Cider

Last night I threw moderation to the wind. While watching my latest guilty pleasure, I sat down on the couch with a jar of peanut butter, a spoon, and a handful of toffee. I nibbled the toffee and ate spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar. By the end of the show, the toffee had disappeared along with half of the jar. After a week of eating well and exercising regularly, a little indulgence just felt right. The truth is that I need small indulgences here or there to help me stay on a healthier (and happier) path. While moderation may frown at my indulgences, shaking its head in disappoint, balance embraces me for them, telling me to lick the spoon clean.

Good or bad, right or wrong, this is how I maintain the balance in my life. This is what works just right for me.

Hot Bourbon Apple Cider

Hot Bourbon Apple Cider is a hot drink for cozy evenings. The ingredients are few, but the taste will bring warmth back into chilled limbs. Spiced apple cider is heated before combining with a shot of bourbon and a splash of orange juice. A cinnamon stick to stir the concoction together adds a hint of extra flavor. While drinking only one of these Hot Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktails would be practicing moderation, drinking two might just maintain the balance in your life.

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Tuesday
Sep112012

Bourbon Peach & Thyme Jam

Peach Bourbon Thyme Jam

Jam-making is a calming process for me. When fruit begins to become overwhelming on the counter, spilling out of bowls and taking up too much space, I have no problem turning it into a simple jam. Cutting the fruit into small pieces and tossing it in a saucepan to bubble and boil, each batch is as unique as the others—some sweeter, some more tart—with a mix of flavors that comes from the extra ingredients in the cupboards.

Jam may be simple to make, but the scents that infuse the house as the fruit cooks down is why homemade jam is worth the time.

Peach Bourbon Thyme Jam Peach Bourbon Thyme Jam

My grandmother is well known in my family for creating vibrant strawberry jam. Every few months, she will simmer another batch over the stove, dividing it into small plastic containers, and freezing it until we pay her a visit. She makes certain the strawberry jam fountain never runs dry. My grandmother has faithfully made her strawberry jam for as long as I've known her. In those twenty-four years, I've created so many simple, strawberry-filled moments with sticky knives and happy faces.

Her jam is perfect on a freshly baked bun, warm and inviting—a treat I get to enjoy whenever the holidays come around.

Despite the love for my grandmother's jam, I truly believe different moments call for different flavors. The classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich just wouldn't be the same without a thick spread of grape jelly that oozes out from the crust of the bread as a bite-sized piece disappears. My mother's go-to barbecue sauce recipe uses grape jelly to bring in a depth of flavor (which I have been known to shamelessly eat with a spoon when my mother's back is turned). A spoonful of fig or strawberry balsamic jam blends seamlessly into a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Peach Bourbon Thyme Jam

At a holiday craft fair in Montreal, I stumbled upon the most unique jam I've ever had the fortune of tasting. It was a cedar jam, derived precisely from cedar trees in a nearby forest. The sample I tried was electric, the taste reminding me strongly of the tree-scented scratch-and-sniff sticker in my childhood book, The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. The instant memory and surprising flavor led me to buy a small jar of my own. I'm still waiting for the perfect occasion to open it.

The right moment to savor this Bourbon Peach & Thyme Jam found me. In a way, the jam seemed to form of its own accord, as I found myself tossing a little of this and that from the cupboards into the saucepan. Still warm from simmering, I spread a thick layer onto a slice of fresh bread and enjoyed it as the summer sun set, turning the sky into a spell of pink and orange hues.

Peach Bourbon Thyme Jam

Bourbon Peach & Thyme Jam contains a myriad of flavors that come together in an unexpected, but lovely marriage. Fresh peaches are peeled and sliced into small pieces, joining freshly minced thyme and a splash of bourbon. The jam simmers on the stove, infusing the room with bright scents and swirling steam. I love to sneak a taste with a spoon while the jam bubbles on the stove top (and I suggest you do the same).

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