Melon Mojitos!

It’s been HOT here in Ottawa. Very hot, like with heat warnings at least half of every week. Fusselette has been in town on furlough from her job up in Northern Ontario and she brought down with her a small pot of pineapple mint, which I’d never heard of before.

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And when in possession of mint in the hot summer, one must make mojitos. Obviously. And these ones were just a wee twist on the classic.

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Grab a couple glasses and scoop a few balls of watermelon into each one. You can use cubes if you don’t have a melon baller. You’re just gonna squish ’em anyway. Slice up some lime wedges and add them in as well.

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Yes, those are key limes. Just wait for the post where I deal with them. Add some mint leaves (pineapple mint!) to the glass as well. I also added an extra splash of lime juice because of my wee limes.

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Use a muddler (or in my case, my trusty spurtle) and mush those up. LongJohn helped, as you can see.

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Let them sit for a few minutes so the juices can meddle with each other.

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I added in a few more balls of melon, then 2 ounces of white rum.
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Top that up with club soda.

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Garnish with more mint and enjoy in the summer sun!

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Stay Cool!

Happy Canada Day folks!

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Even if you’re not celebrating the Great White North’s 149th birthday today, you should still make sure you stay cool and hydrated (even if it’s not summer where you are).

Here’s a recap list of my favourite refreshing beverages from Ali Does It’s archives. Some are alcoholic and some not – I hope you can find one that appropriately wets your whistle!

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Cool as a Cucumber Summer Punch

Happy spring!

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Why don’t you enjoy a cool refreshing beverage on me after finishing your weekend projects? Keep this one in mind for this weekend’s to-do list.

We served this at our housewarming party back in April and it was incredibly popular. I’ve seen it in a few places around the internet so I can’t tell you exactly where I found the recipe, but it’s so easy you should give it a shot.  You’ll need a jar or bowl that can hold about 2.5L of liquid.

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Into that jar, tip 1 can frozen concentrated yellow lemonade. Then tip in 1 can frozen concentrated white grape juice.

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Mush those up and then add the requisite 4 cans of water from the lemonade can and the 3 cans of water from the grape juice can. Stir, stir, stir. Isn’t this easy?

Then cut up a whole cucumber into attractive slices. And slice up about 2 lemons as well.

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Dump those slices in the drink. Add some ice cubes if you like.

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Then drink up! I told you it was simple. And if you let it sit overnight the flavour of the cucumber really starts to come through – but it’s good instantly as well.

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Brazilian Lemonade

It’s not summer yet, but you’ll be glad to have this in your arsenal when those long hot days finally roll around. The Minion and I discovered this amazing beverage while we were tooling around Salt Lake City and ended up having dinner at a Brazilian grill. The funniest part about it is that it contains no lemons whatsoever. But that is what it’s called.

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The traditional method follows the rule of threes: 3 limes, 3 cups water, 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, and 3 tablespoons sugar, but you can play with it as much as you like to come up with something that suits. I like it with a hint of mint added, myself.

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Take your 3 limes, washed and scrubbed, and slice off the stem and leaf bits at the top and bottom, then quarter them. If you have a really good blender, traditionalists will chuck the limes in whole, but my blender is not that great, so I quarter them. I found wedges were better than cutting rings, as the rings tended to get stuck around the blade at the bottom.

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Fill your blender with 3 cups water and chuck those limes in.

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Next, add in 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar. I thought at first I could leave out the sugar but it’s necessary. The milk is just not sweet enough. Feel free to use any sugar substitute you like, of course.

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Now this looks way less appetizing, I’m sure. If you want to add some mint, tip in some fresh leaves at this point.

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Blend for about thirty seconds, until you have this frothy goodness.

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Strain out all the solids and compost those. Your compost bin will smell amazing.

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What you’re left with is a pale green milky liquid and a bit of froth.

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Serve over a glassful of ice and enjoy how refreshing it is.

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Want a dairy-free version? Not a problem. Tip a can of coconut milk into the blender and top it up with water to equal three cups. You will need to double the sugar to six tablespoons to compensate. The result is a slightly creamier version, and I can’t decide which I like more.

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In terms of longevity, this beverage is meant to be served immediately (possibly with some white rum mixed in), but I couldn’t drink both batches by myself that quickly so I tossed them in the fridge. The one of the left is the one I made with coconut milk, and you can see that over time it separates quite a bit. That said, a quick stir and it’s back to emulsified goodness, with no alteration in flavour.

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Evening Tipple: Drinks at the Haye Loft

If you’re ever toodling around Long Boat Key in Florida you may pass an old restaurant hidden behind a mess of palm trees on the one road on and off the island. This is Euphemia Haye. Feel free to make a reservation and enjoy sumptuous dining on the ground floor, but the real fun is to be found upstairs.

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In the Haye Loft, the bar above Euphemia Haye, you’ll find (at least four nights out of seven) a dashing older gentleman with a suave moustache mixing drinks and cracking jokes behind the counter. This is my uncle Eric. Go and tell him I say hi! Eric’s been a fixture behind the bar at the Haye Loft since its inception, and people come from all over to chat with him and sample his excellent cocktails and top shelf liquors. Here’s a nice rum with a delightful colour (not that I had any, but my dad said it was delicious).

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After finding out that the Pie’s favourite cocktail was the White Russian, Eric made him up a Smith and Kearns, which might be his new favourite.

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While you’re tippling away, avail yourself of the bar menu and give the hummus a try – it’s worth the experience.

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The Caesar salad is made up daily and bursts with flavour.

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And our unanimous favourite snack (which we never thought we would like) was the fried green tomatoes in a roasted red pepper sauce. It’s weird and not what you expect, but so good.

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If you still have room after all of that, go next door to the Dessert Bar. All these puppies are made fresh daily and differ depending on the season and the whims of the kitchen.

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The fruit crumbles shown here are the perennial favourite, though we preferred the berry crumble over the top-rated apple.

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If you’re in town, stop by and say hi!

Warm Vanilla Apple Cider

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When we were on vacation at the Landmark Inn in Cooperstown, they had warm apple cider from the Fly Creek Cider Mill simmering in a crock pot in the dining room all afternoon and it was heaven to come back to at the end of the day. Why not do it at home too? I modified this from a Martha Stewart recipe and it’s so easy I wonder why I don’t do it all the freaking time.

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I doubled the recipe to accommodate my massive family so don’t let the pictures scare you. Start with some apple cider of your choice. This stuff from Farm Boy doesn’t QUITE match up to the Fly Creek stuff but it’s pretty darned good. Tip about 6 cups apple cider into the bowl of your slow cooker and put it on low heat. You have the option to add some brown sugar to the mix, about 2 tablespoons. This cider is pretty sweet as it is, so I didn’t bother.

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Grab 2 whole nutmeg seeds and a vanilla bean. Split and scrape the bean and dump all that goodness into the pot and give it a good stirring. Leave it be. Do this first thing in the morning before, say, a lunch party, and just let it do its thing all morning while you do other more important things.

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When you’re ready to imbibe, whip up some heavy cream in a chilled bowl. Add a bit of maple syrup for sweetness. Scoop out all the solids in the slow cooker with a mesh spoon and ladle the delicious cider into a heat-proof mug. Add a dollop of whipped cream and you’re all set for amazing!

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Ginger Molasses Cookie

So there’s a certain giant mega-corporation coffee chain near our office. I’m sure you know the one – it has a fishy logo. Because it’s the only place near our office, we go there ALL THE TIME. And I’m kind of in love with their giant ginger molasses cookies. But they’re a million dollars and I just KNOW that the reason they’re so chewy and amazing is because they’re filled with all sorts of ick. And there’s probably some form of addictive substance in them (other than sugar, I mean), because I don’t even LIKE cookies and I can’t resist these. And I just found out TWO DAYS AGO that the place near work has discontinued the darned things.

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So it’s been a quest of mine to re-create the recipe on my own. Turns out I’m not the only one who has tried. Most of the recipes I found seem to be taken from the same source and have mostly the same ingredients, so I picked this one from Food.com. Forgive my crappy photos – it’s a weeknight in the winter in Canada so it’s dark. Start by preheating your oven to 375°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Then grab your ingredients.

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Whisk together 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Set that aside for a few minutes.

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Next, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 3/4 cup butter and 1 cup dark brown sugar. I didn’t have dark brown so I went with regular brown. But the darker your sugar, the darker your cookie.

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Scrape down the mixing paddle and the sides of the bowl and crack in 1 large egg. Pour in as well 1/4 cup regular unsulphured molasses. I used fancy grade molasses, because that seems to be what you can get in Canada. Not sure what the difference is.

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Give that a good beating until it’s smooth.

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Now, slowly add in your flour mixture while beating on low speed. Keep mixing until the dough forms a cohesive mass – it’ll be super thick and you’ll have to scrape things down occasionally to ensure good mixage.

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Now grab your cookie dough, and your baking sheets, and a shallow dish or plate. Tip about 1/3 cup granulated sugar onto the plate and spread it around. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the dough (I’m not kidding, these things are huge), roll it into a ball, and roll it in the granulated sugar before placing it on the baking sheet.

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Do that five more times for the first sheet, spacing them far apart (they spread). Do the other six on the other baking sheet (yeah, this recipe only makes 12. If you’re not insane and you’d like a smaller cookie go ahead and do that).

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Next, wet your fingers and press down on each cookie ball to flatten it slightly and dampen the sugar coating. Shove one baking sheet in the fridge and the other in the oven.

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Bake each sheet, one at a time, for 12 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until the cookie is an even brown and is mostly solid in the middle. Let those giant suckers cool on the baking sheet.

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I’m not sure if they’re *quite* the recipe I was looking for – I might add more ginger and more molasses (or maybe my ginger is just a little old). But they’re really good nonetheless!

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