Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hot Buttered Rum Cider

Baby, its cold outside. Why not warm up with some warm cider & booze?

This drink will be featured at my mixology & small bites class next week. So, I thought I'd give you all a preview. The drink is a play on two classic winter drinks - Mulled Cider & Buttered Rum. If you're not a drinker, or are going to a party with a bunch of squares, you can leave the alcohol out & still have a really delicious hot drink. Traditionally it is served in a mug with a cinnamon stick for garnish. Happy drinking.

(For 6 servings)

6 c. apple cider
zest of 1 orange - use a peeler rather than a micro plane so you end up with long strips of zest
zest of 1 lemon - use a peeler rather than a micro plane so you end up with long strips of zest
3 allspice berries
2 sticks cinnamon
2 star anise
2 cloves
1 t vanilla
thumb size knob of ginger
6 T butter
6 T brown sugar
1/2 c. dark rum


Bring all ingredients except rum to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium & simmer for 15 minutes. Cover and let steep until just warm. Add 1/2 c. of your favorite dark rum.

Vanessa Recommends:
Use more rum than the recipe calls for... let's be real I was just being politically correct there

Use Cockspur 12 year Barbados Rum for delicious notes of toffee & nut. $33.99/750mL

Use Seedling Organic Cider
Locally produced - no preservatives & cold pasturized

Use one whole vanilla bean instead of extract
Kilo Kai Spiced Rum for great taste on a dime $16.99/750mL - only $1 more than Captain Morgan Spiced Rum with better flavor & finish.

Serve warm in a mug garnished with a skewer of candied ginger & twist of orange to mix it up a bit.

Cider mix can be made & chilled without rum & then used to make drinks later. Just add 2 T of rum per 1 cup of cider.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

something new

I've recently decided to test the culinary teaching waters.

I have always loved teaching others & sharing food with them and this seemed like a logical step for me. I have been told I have endless patience so I'm sure that will help my foray into engaging with amateur cooks.

Most of my cooking in a teaching capacity has been done with kids so I'm really looking forward to working with adults & then hopefully offering classes for kids in the future as well.

I'm really grateful to Efrain - the owner of Clandestino for allowing me to teach classes under his company name.

My first class will be taught with my good friend Lauren & is called
Entertaining on a Dime: Cocktails & Small Bites

The class will feature 3 classic wintertime cocktails & 4 seasonal small bites. Class lasts 3-3.5 hours & costs $40 per person including all materials, food & alcohol. All skill levels are welcome & class will be inviting and not intimidating for the non-cook!

For more information or to sign up please go here. Hurry though, class size is limited to 18 students.

I look forward to cooking with you!

love, vanessa

Look ma, one hand!

Okay, maybe I shouldn't joke about my little accident but sometimes humor is the best medicine. Recently, I was pretty severely burned by some very hot soup at work. The burns cover the majority of the back of my left hand and have proved to be a hurdle in my life the last week.

This is my hand on Dec 1st (4 days after the incident) 

However frustrating being off work from a job I basically just started & absolutely love has been, it has forced me to do some reflection.

First of all, I realized that I have an incredible support system & group of friends both here in Chicago & back home. My friends here haven't missed a beat in making sure that I'm taken care of, at my doctors appointments on time & laughing through the pain. Friends & family who can't be here in person have also been so great about sending encouraging words and being positive for me when I thought I couldn't be.

In the words of Jay-Z when the grass is low the snakes will show. I'm so happy to say that so far I haven't found any snakes in my time of need. I really am blessed with some of the greatest people in my life. I cannot thank them all enough.

Secondly, I realized how much I really do love both of my new jobs. The only time I really broke down and cried was when my burn specialist told me I wouldn't be able to return to work after a week. Hearing that really broke my heart. I enjoy what I do so much and I am grateful for tears over not being allowed to go to work. I know there are many people who cry because they have to go to work. My co-workers & bosses have been so sweet & supportive this past week as well. They've fed me, made me laugh, and have been reminders of why I enjoy what I do.

I'm pretty sure I scared the doctor when I started crying. I had shown little emotion as she scrubbed my wound, poked & prodded it, & talked me through cleaning procedures. Then she said "you won't be returning to work next week" and I had a melt down. Her blank look told me that not many people get emotional when being told they are going on mandatory vacation.

This has also cemented what I already knew - that I'm stubborn to the max. I love being able to do things for myself and I loathe asking for help. I've certainly been humbled this week. Asking for help with zipping my coat, carrying things, washing my hair. Makes me appreciate my little left hand. One of the most difficult parts of this injury -aside from not being allowed to work- is the fact that I can't cook for myself. When I do have free time I generally like to spend it in my kitchen. However, I've spent some good time one handed hunt & pecking some recipes I will get to try as soon as I heal :) And yesterday, despite Lauren's attempt to stop me I cooked two over-easy eggs, cut & toasted a baguette, and made myself a sandwich without any assistance. Small milestones.

Finally, I think that (what I consider) my speedy healing is attributed to my already healthy lifestyle. I've seen vast improvement in my hand in just one week. Each time I change my bandages it looks better & better. I always eat healthy foods & drink tons of water. This week I've been careful to consume lots of protein & keep myself super hydrated. I've kept a positive outlook (95% of the week) on my healing & have refrained from any medication other than my prescribed burn cream. I have been relatively pain free (minus my first few cleanings), have not had to rely on painkillers & am happy to say that I'm letting my body take care of itself.

Our bodies are amazing & I really believe that we get what we give. I'm so thankful that I treat my body & soul with respect. I'm reaping the rewards of a speedy recovery.

This is a picture of my hand today (December 4th) just one week after my accident! 

Special thanks to:
Lauren: for coming to the ER, taking me to the doc, letting me sleep & shower at your house, not slapping me when I was on morphine, keeping me positive, & for just being a generally awesome individual.

Karla: for letting me sleep at your house, for braiding my hair & for making me mac & cheese

Mom & Pop: for listening to me complain about my hand, reminding me to stay happy, and for not driving here to coddle me because that would have driven me nuts.

Mike: for telling me to stop acting like a badass and forcing me to go to the ER, for holding my purse & for making awkward conversation on the drive to the hospital

Jason: for being so concerned about my well-being, making me feel comfortable, reassuring me that the doc bills are covered, for giving me book recommendations & for being an amazing restaurant owner. I'm blessed to work for you.

Jared: for keeping me laughing throughout and for thinking I'm beautiful even if I'm disfigured

The Lula crew: for being genuinely concerned about me, for feeding me delicious protein I need for a quick recovery, & for reminding me why I love what I do. 

Darnesha: for driving me to the doc, reminding me of all the good things I have, and for always being there in a pinch.

Claire: for dedicating your yoga practice to my health this week it means a lot to my yoga nerd self. 

To everyone else who called, texted, and left me love on facebook: you all brightened my days.