Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Tart and a Drink

Leek, potato, & thyme Tart

I had the tart dream for the second time. I wake up in a kind of panic, I can't remember the recipe, and it's the best tart recipe in the world. Maybe it's an allegory for my life? I have an awesome dish and I can't figure out how to share it with anyone. I'm not even sure I get to eat the tart in my dream, but I am left with a sense that I need to share the recipe. Well, it beats the migraine I had for three days right about Christmastime.

I'm learning that the holidays have their burdens and joys along with the packages, services, opportunities, and people. I've been in Lala Land for a long time since in the military we were always away from home and thus the visitors. Now I'm here, busily rooting into this place I call home, the place I came to die. Not immediately mind you, but I mean that I am taking the long view. I am the hostess now.

I tend to wear myself out. I wish I could get my children to do this all by themselves. I over obligate perhaps, but as a parent, or fill in any other roles you hold that open you up to others, there is little down time. School breaks and holidays are not times to pine for quiet time to write, better to reflect on the gifts and experiences enriched by our times with others.

As new year's resolutions and aspirations begin to float about, it helps to let your mind go places. I find it helps to shape it in some kind of format. I like a question that frames intentions without strangling or stifling them.  How can I encourage? What is a way to reach into the world and stir up some good? 

My neighbor had a lovely party whilest I was enduring a day of said migraine. The thumping in my head did not keep me from noticing her glow, the effortless cocktail making, or the locally sourced spirits she was using. My husband and his brother commented on the robust presence of a local food and drink scene that did not exist during their childhood memories of Athens. Now, we've got beer which will soon be bottled, we've got wine, and we've got spirits. We've also got milk, crackers, vegetables galore, bacon, beef, pretzels, cheese, and more.

When I got up, I made a tart to shake off the tart-mare. Then it came to me that I should write something to direct others to the local spirits, after all I did say I wanted to stir up some good. I haven't had a lot of opportunity to shake something up myself so that's where I get to be thankful for some of my new friends.

My neighbor brought over a pitcher of these Cranberry Bubblers recently. It's a Salty Dog variation-- not too sweet which appeals to the love of tang that developed during my Japan years. Make it with the local stuff! As you sip a draught, contemplate your hopes for the new year.

Cranberry Bubbler
By Sydney Oland of

Special equipment
Cocktail shaker and strainer

serves makes 4 cocktails, active time 5 minutes, total time 20 minutes

For the Cranberry Simple Syrup
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

For the Salt Solution
1 1/2 ounce water
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Cocktail
8 ounces Dancing Tree Gin
8 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, from 1 lime
4 ounces cranberry syrup
2 teaspoons salt solution
16 ounces club soda

For the Cranberry Syrup: Combine cranberries, sugar, and water in a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries begin to pop, about 6 minutes. Allow to cool then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a sealable jar, using the back of a spoon to press down on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Cranberry syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.

For the Salt Solution: Mix together water and salt until salt is dissolved.

Fill a cocktail shaker and four glasses with ice. Add 4 ounces gin, 4 ounces grapefruit juice, 1/2 ounce lime juice, 2 ounces cranberry syrup and 1 teaspoon salt solution to the shaker. Shake until mixture is very cold, about 15 seconds, then divide between 2 serving glasses. Repeat and fill second 2 glasses.

Top each glass with soda water, stir gently to mix, then serve immediately.

A toast will then be in order.


  1. Last year I picked one word as a focus for my year. That word was "priorities" and it was very helpful. I was wondering if I should keep that word again for thin year. The time to decide is fast approaching. Now that I have read your post, the word "encouragement" popped out. I think I might look into a year of encouraging not only my family and friends but myself. I will think of you as I look forward to the new year.

  2. I am grateful you pulled out "encouragement" in light of my suggestion to mix up a cocktail. I do ask myself this and I do find it a mighty task depending on the day!

    Akemashite omedito! Happy New Year! I going to miss ringing the bell and visiting the shrine this year.


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