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Earlier this year I bought a whipped cream maker and promptly used it to make a lazy girl’s Ramos Gin Fizz. During my research I found that a whipped cream maker has more uses for booze, it can fast infuse spirits in seconds by using the pressure inside the canister to push flavors into the liquor. So cool.
I’ve previously made grapefruit and tarragon infused vodka and love it so much I’ve wanted to introduce it to anybody that showed the smallest interest but it takes six days and I cannot tell the future. So I decided to test a few infusions and do a side by side tasting of the slow and fast versions to see how they compared.
To make fast infusions you put your spirit and flavorings into your whipped cream maker. Put the lid on and charge it with your gas canister. Swirl (don’t shake) the canister for 30 seconds then let it rest for 30 seconds. Carefully, discharge the gas by leaving the canister upright (you want to keep the liquids inside) and slowly pulling the trigger, make sure to point the nozzle away from anything important like delicate stemware or your face. Then remove the lid and pour the ingredients through a fine mesh strainer. Why the swirling and resting for 30 second increments? I’m not sure but Cooking Issues and a few other sources recommend that so I go with it.
Results? My tasting panel (um, myself and Scott) took careful notes. The slow infused gin had more tarragon and more bitterness from the grapefruit peel. The slow infused tequila carried lots of green notes from the cucumber that the fast infusion didn’t show. The slow infused rum showed a little more pineapple, but the fast infusion had a much stronger ginger note. I’m not sure if the fast infusion is better at getting ginger flavor out or if the ginger I used was better, but it was such a clear difference that I might try again to see how it compares.
The winners were the slow infusions, at least for now. I’ll just have to learn to plan ahead if I want people to try Salted Tarragon Greyhounds. (You should make some, I’ll wait.) I think that the recipes could be adjusted to create better results for fast infusions, but I’m wondering if there are some things that just cannot be rushed. Clearly I’ll need to do a lot more research. It’ll be tough to sip so many variations on infused liquor but, for you, I’ll be tipsy any time.
While we were at it I did a fast infusion recipe that I saw demonstrated at the Northwest Distillery and Cocktail Festival by Jay Kuehner. He talked through his recipe so here is the best I could do from my notes from the night. He made enough for six cocktails:
I made a smaller amount and used about 1/4th of a 750 ml bottle of whiskey, one vanilla bean split and cut into a few shorter segments and two pinches of loose tea. I strained the result and then poured it through a coffee filter to also get the the vanilla beans and smaller specks of tea. The tea imparted a nice smokey flavor into the whiskey and though the vanilla wasn’t too apparent in the flavor it imparted a lovely vanilla nose. It vastly improved my unfortunate choice of whiskey (which shall go unnamed).
Have a favorite infusion recipe? Please share it, I have jars and fridge space that need filling.
When I was getting ready to head off to NYC for the HP/Project Runway trip I ran into a neat series of coincidences. I asked Rena Tom for a recommendation and she pointed me towards Sarah Loertscher, a jewelry designer right here in Seattle. Rena wasn’t aware of this but it turns out that Mila Hermanovski (who appeared on Season 7 of Project Runway as well as Project Runway All Stars) had commissioned Sarah to create a jewelry line for her Fall/Winter 2012 runway show. Sarah has a set of earrings, Structure Earrings No.25, from the runway collection for sale on her site which happened to be the same as the pair of earrings Mila wore when she appeared on Episode 3 of the current season of Project Runway. And then I found out that Mila was working with Jamie of Design Milk and would be joining us for the trip.
Mila was delightful and I really enjoyed chatting with her. And on the first day of the trip she wore Sarah’s Hex Bracelets.
Sarah told me that Mila snagged this necklace off of one of the models after the runway show so it became known as Mila’s necklace. She was wearing it at the Project Runway 10th Anniversary Party, shown above.
The earring that Mila wore in episode three of season ten of Project Runway.
The three images above belong to Sarah Loertscher, used with permission. Top image, Left: Mila Hermanovski and Jamie Derringer at the Project Runway 10th Anniversary Party, Mila is wearing a necklace made by Sarah Loertscher. Right: Mila Hermanovski wearing Sarah Loertscher’s Hex Bracelets, photo taken with permission, obviously. Apologies for the small images, both are from my Instagram stream.
In August I attended Hops Academy in Yakima, Washington. I don’t brew beer outside of kits but I have a deep love for hops, they are so darn yummy, so when I discovered that I could learn more about them I jumped at the chance. Also a friend of mine is expanding his brewery, Charging Hippo, and I figured knowing a lot about hops miiiight just be information that could be traded for beer. The academy was a two day class that ranged from basic introduction, how hops are grown, harvested and preserved to full on molecule diagrams. I learned that 75% of the hops in the US are grown in Yakima by ten growers, that in recent years the desires of craft brewers have dramatically influenced what variety of hops are grown commercially, that when you grow hops you need to wrap them clockwise around the cord (even in Australia) and I heard jokes like this:
“If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the precipitate.”
One of the best things about the class was meeting the other attendees who ranged from a really huge beer company to large and small craft brewers and even a hops grower. I was wildly happy that women made up a fourth of the class. After the first day we took an unofficial “research” trip to The Beer Shoppe where we all bought bottles and tasted Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA which was sweet and potent. Oh so potent.
We were there about a week before the hops were going to be harvested so we got to visit huge fields full of ripe hops. They grow to 16 feet high and are very dramatic. It was a geeky thrill to get to pick one to crush in my hands, it smelled amazing. We also got to visit sparkling clean processing factories and, the most exciting, enormous cold warehouses filled with bales of hops.
If you’re a brewer or a grower I think the class would be well worth it. We learned that Haas is building an experimental brewery in Yakima and it will become part of the class so I’d wait for that to be up and running, hopefully by next summer. I might go back.
The girl we all wanna be – Girls of a Certain Age. Kim France on Andrea Linett’s new fashion memoir: “Anyone who came of age in the late 70s and early 80s—or whose universes were in any way altered by The Brooke Book, Fiorucci, Bow Wow Wow, Sun-In or Leif Garret —will be utterly charmed.”
I recently got to visit Tom Douglas’ Palace Kitchen restaurant to learn how they smoke tomatoes. It was pretty rad. I went home and made my own. And guess what? My tomatoes? Not so smokey. Let’s blame the underpowered two-burner grill. Or me not really committing to setting wood chips on fire. Or my tiny foil containers.
I’ll be trying again. Smoked tomatoes, I will conquer you.
Hi there, for this post I’m collaborating with 3M DIY.
A few years back I made a shoe rack for the tiny corner by our back door which is the only place to put shoes when we enter the house. There isn’t enough room to fit a regular rack and the space is tight enough that I wanted to avoid having anything hard that I (because I am clumsy) could bang my shin on as I am reaching for my coat or hurrying to shut off the house alarm. At the time I took some inspiration from a designer rack (that was tragically built too long to fit into our space) and set up a series of short shelves that the toes of the shoes perch on. We’ve used it for the last, wow, five years but of course it very quickly went from the spot to hold four pairs of shoes to the spot where we unceremoniously dump about ten pairs.
Our original rack was installed using a series of L-brackets and when we were putting it up we realized that if we’d mounted the shelves on a backing instead of the wall itself we would have to drill a whole lot fewer holes into the wall. So, with the shoe situation only getting worse I decided to make a version that would hold six pairs of shoes instead of four and this time make it with a backing.
I realized that no matter what we’d still put shoes on the floor under the rack itself so I hung it high enough on the wall so that it short boots put underneath wouldn’t run into the soles of shoes on the lower part of the rack. This means we can neatly (or some approximation thereof) store eight pairs of shoes in a compact space and if I do bump into anything it will only knock a shoe off the rack and cause no pain. Excellent.
I’m happy with the result but I’ll admit it was more complicated to build than my earlier version. It does feel sturdier though. I can report (or, really, brag) that I build and installed this all by myself because my loyal manservant had supposedly important things to do. Like go to his job.
As I was making this I would complain to Scott in the evenings that it was so much work and that I don’t think woodworking is something I would be adding to my Do Not Like list (right next to dealing with out of control ivy). But now that I have it up and it’s being used I’m already wondering what other custom storage I can build for my house. I found sanding surfaces down to be very therapeutic.
This upcoming weekend there are four events going on and I wanted to attend them all. Each time something new came up I’d throw an increasingly quiet and more intense hissy fit. I’m listing them here mostly so that if they happen again next year (I hope they do, on separate weekends) I’ll be able to find them easily. I need more versions of myself to go around so let’s get on that, science.
Design Camp Yay! AB Chao is bringing her Design Camp to Seattle, it’s a two day workshop on interior design, and we get to focus on a room in our house. I need this class, my design skills only get as far as driving myself to Ikea.
XOXO Festival Put on by Andy Baio and Andy McMillan this arts and technology festival is in Portland and I’ll just quote from the site now: “bringing independent artists who use the Internet to make a living doing what they love together with the technologists building the tools that make it possible.” Happily Scott is going and since he’s been playing around with game engines lately I’m expecting a very excited full report when he gets back.
Bounty: Yakima, a Farm to Table Dinner This is put on my Sasha Vino whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few months back. She told us all about the old estate that the dinner is being held on (the W.P. Sayer House) and I so, so wanted to go. I’ve joined the mailing list so I hope the next event is soon.
Washington Outdoor Women Weekend Workshop My friends were joking that this sounds like Lady Summer Camp but it does take place in a scout camp so if you want to relive the days and learn which wild plants work for emergency food this is ideal. Classes include Big Game Hunting Basics, Field to Freezer, Situational Survival Skills and Tracking. Do I want to know how to field dress? Yes, yes I do. WOW offers day long classes during the year and I think I’d like to take Shotgun Workshop next time it comes around, my bb-gun skills from summer camp has long faded.
In addition to these it’s Cider Week and there are lots of beer festivals going on and gah! Stop being such an awesome weekend! Luckily I won’t miss the Fresh Hop Ale Fest in Yakima on Oct. 6th. Nobody plan anything good for that weekend, agreed?
We are back from our trip to New York! It was a whirlwind and so much fun, huge thanks to HP for such a fabulous time.
Here is the design by graypants that you helped us shape, thank you! graypants used neon to light up bottles, the result was fascinating:
The project incorporates a lot of what graypants is about, reusing materials and looking at things in a new way. I only wish we could have gotten pictures in a dark room because the flow of the glowing neon was fun to observe, but the unveiling party was held on the rooftop of the Mondrian hotel and we were surrounded on three sides by floor to ceiling windows. I know, tiny violins, I hear you.
Here are all the teams and their final designs. I had so much fun spending time with you all!
And here are Seth and Jon from graypants and I. I’m the short one.
And here is a video that HP put together interviewing the bloggers and designers on the collaborations:
(Thanks to Jamie at Design Milk for hosting the video on her YouTube page!)
Earlier in the week we got to attend the HP Project Runway 10th Anniversary party, where we found they were actually filming for the finale episode. Yikes! All these lovely people were at the party, as were a whole lot of past designers. It was thrilling.
We also got to meet up with Anya again (we got to see her at Alt Summit in January too).
We got a group shot on the red carpet, which was inside Lord & Taylor itself.
When we entered the party there was a dress form we all got to sign. I was waiting to get a picture of Seth signing the form and suddenly found myself this close to Tim Gunn!
At the end of the trip we got to attend the runway show taping and I had a good view of the judges. It was fun to watch them whisper to each other. (All the way to the left there is Debra Messing!)
Cool Tools – Presentation Zen. From Kevin Kelly: “Among the many guides offering design advice, this one is the best. Watch some of the most popular TED talks online (including mine) and you’ll see this advice in action.”
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Scott and I enjoy taking bicycle rides on the weekends and happily Seattle has lots of dedicated trails. It’s good for exercise but as an exceptionally lazy person I found that I need a little extra motivation to get me to put on a bicycle helmet. Something like lunch, definitely on a patio, hopefully with some beer. New trails always feel like an adventure, but finding a restaurant that we wouldn’t have tried otherwise feels like victory
Here are some of my favorite bicycling and lunch combinations near Seattle:
Food pairing: Red Hook Brewery, which has lots of bicycle racks and a big patio. And beer, obviously.
Advantages: If you get there at the right time you can catch a tour of the brewery. Also, you’ll go right past the famous Herbfarm Restaurant (!!!), though they might not appreciate you eating there in your bicycle shorts.
Food pairing: Armadillo BBQ which has a sun dappled back deck and and some hot sauces that might be a challenge. Smokey meats and bike paths go surprisingly well together.
Advantages: The path is unpaved and less used so you can go for a long way without seeing another soul. So much so that when I had to stop and find a bug that had bumped into me and fallen down into my bra (yikes people!) I’m fairly certain that nobody saw. Proximity to curious cows and a few bridges that allow you to watch the fish swim by below you.
Food pairing: Maggie Bluffs, a lesser known casual counterpart to the nearby fancy Palisades restaurant. Great views, outdoor seating and shrimp.
Advantages: The ride is mostly along the waterfront so the view cannot be beat. There is a section that goes along some major train tracks and we got to witness the process of train cars being coupled by, essentially, ramming them together. It was spectacular. The train obsessed kid in our neighborhood would have lost his mind with joy.
Next I’m going to get a bicycle basket and we’re going to work on finding spots for epic picnics that cannot be reached by car.
Lunch definitely tastes better when you have traveled there under your own power. Do you have any rituals for bicycle trips? Ever find anything fabulous?
Earlier today all the bloggers and designers that teamed up for the HP Designer Matchup Challenge got to reveal the results of what our readers (that’s you!) helped guide us. graypants studio created this amazing neon light made by using neon gas inside of bottles. It combines reuse and looking at a familiar thing in a new way. I didn’t get the change to photograph the lamp in the dark due to some floor to ceiling windows with an incredible view, more on that later. The neon glides down the sides of the bottle and pools at the bottom, it is something to behold:
I’ll be back to talk more about the trip and unexpectedly finding myself about three feet away from Tim Gunn with lots of cameras pointed our direction.