I just discovered my new, porch-sipping drink. I didn’t know bourbon could dress for Autumn so well.


Last Christmas, I gave my clients this homemade ginger syrup along with a bottle of bourbon so they could make the “prescribed” drink on the front of the bottle. Since then, I have had a number of discussions with clients about their favorite drinks. At one office in particular, a group of us have regularly shared inspiration. Recently, I received an email from a comrade that simply said this:

This was all the inspiration i needed. My usual gingery bourbon drink seems a bit more appropriate for autumn. The blueberries and thyme sounded like just the right way to sip bourbon in the summer months. I have been keeping the fridge stocked with michigan blueberries and thyme is bursting out of my herb garden.

In preparation for a  small gathering last week, i stopped home for lunch and prepared a few syrups.

I didn’t have ginger and decided to omit it from my concoction. I left the thyme in the warm simple syrup all afternoon. When i returned home, the syrups only needed a quick straining and i was ready to shake my cocktails.

The thyme syrup smelled fantastic. At first, i couldn’t pick up the flavor in the drink as the bourbon and blueberry were overpowering. Once i added the sprig of thyme as garnish, the added aroma did the trick. If you aren’t a fan of bourbon, experiment with vodka or gin. It’s hard to imagine anything going wrong with blueberry, thyme syrup and fresh lemon juice.

Bourbon blueberry thyme cooler
makes 2 cocktails
1 1/2 oz thyme syrup
4 oz bourbon
1 oz blueberry syrup (see recipe below)
1 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
thyme sprigs for garnish

  • shake all ingredients together with ice for a minute. Fill glasses with ice and pour over top. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Thyme simple syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup of fresh, washed thyme

  • heat water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add thyme. Let the herbs infuse for at least 20 minutes or up to 5 hours. Strain the syrup.

Blueberry syrup
1/4 cup water
2 cups fresh blueberries

  • put blueberries and water in a medium sauce pan and crush the berries with a potato masher. Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the berries and return the syrup to the pan and cook for another 10 minutes to reduce and thicken the syrup. Remove from heat and cool.

Note: i don’t add sugar for this syrup since the simple syrup in the cocktail adds enough sweetness.

source: whipped

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies


Double Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and mix well. Add chocolate pudding mix and vanilla extract. Mix well. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together. Add to cookie dough and mix until just combined. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl and mix again. Add chocolate chips and mix until combined.

Chill cookie dough in the refrigerator about 1 hour, enough that it is pretty firm. Scoop by the tablespoon on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until just set. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.


Berry Pie


Who knew something that looked like celery , but red and with poisonous leaves could create such a wonderful pie? And then, if you pair its tartness with the robust sweetness of berries you can get an even better pie! Oh, wait… everyone already knew this didn’t they. Yes. I am a little late hopping onto this Rhubarb wagon but when it comes to food there’s  no old dog in this pup (as in you can’t teach an old dog new tricks). I suppose it just took me a while to give rhubarb a try. Needless to say I love it. If you haven’t tried it I suggest doing so. If you decide to, why not try this recipe out.

An overfilled, leaky Rhubarb Berry Pie
I do love  berries. They are the category of fruit I like best for using in desserts… and often raw, on their own for breakfast. I love each separately, as each brings such a wonderful and unique flavor to the table–eaten raw each brings a unique eating experience as well.  I like blackberries and strawberries best, but blueberries are never in short supply in my kitchen either.But together, especially in a pie or trifle, they seem to work so well together. Those three are the three berries I like to combine most and sometimes raspberries when I can find them, but I don’t often go out of may to find them.
You’ll also notice my pie was a tad leaky. I like foods best this way: overfilled so they are  almost obligated to leak their delicious juices everywhere just before serving. Yes, I do have to clean my stove almost nightly because of this philosophy, but its the small treats that accompany a bursting dish like the finger taste of exposed sauce before digging into the pie that keeps me smiling in the kitchen. Pies are as easy to make as they come, but there are some things I find helpful to know in making a good pie.
We’ll start with the crust, the often overlooked aspect of a pie that often proves to be its most vital. You of course are wanting a delicious, flakey crust that compliments, and never detracts from the pie filling. To get this I suggest a butter, shortening combination for the fat (usually half and half). You’ll get the delicious from the butter and the flaky from the shortening. These should be very cold before mixing them with the flour; toss each in the freezer ten minutes before you begin. I use a food processor and think it works best, though you can also use your hands. You never want to completely mix or blend the flour into the fat. You want there to be little layers of fat pockets (butter and shortening) that melt away between the layers of flour, creating the flakiness. So mixing it to where there are still pea sized chunks of the fat in the butter is best–hence having it very cold before mixing. You can see how using a food processor (pulsing a few brief times) can achieve this quickly, especially  faster than your hands. And that can be key as you dont want the butter and shortening to melt and blend too much into the flour. With the water you’ll again want to make sure it is very cold–toss it in the freezer a few minutes before using; you’ll only want to use just enough water to make the dough cohesive.

Pie Crust Ingredients2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter (very cold)
1/2 cup shortening (very cold)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
5-9 tablespoons water (very cold)
Pie Crust Instructions
1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until well blended.
2. Add the cold shortening and pulse the processor 8 to 12 seconds until it has combined into a coarse mixture.
3. Add the cold butter and pulse 8 to 10 times for a second each until you get pea sized (or slightly larger) chunks of butter.
4. Pulsing a few more times, very briefly each time, slowly add water until the dough begins to come together. You want a fairly solid structure that is not sticky or damn at all.
5.  Roll all the dough together and divide into two balls. Roll each out into a 4 inch disk, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for an hour (in the coldest part of your fridge).
Next is the pie filling, another super simple phase. Here is where the fruit will shine, so aside from a decent amount of sugar, and a little bit of corn starch and flour, you do not need a whole lot, otherwise you’ll start affecting the flavor of of he berries to much. The only thing to prepare for filling the pie. Before pouring in the filling over the pie crust, you’ll want to sprinkle equal parts sugar and flour, or egg wash the bottom of the crust. This will help keep the crust from getting soggy or gooey from the filling. To get a golden top to your pie there are a couple things you’ll need to do. I go into detail regarding those below.
Filling Ingredients
2 cups (3-4 stalks) Rhubarb diced (rough large dices will do)
1 cup strawberries cut into large peices
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons butter diced

Pie Crust Topping Ingredients1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Mix all the ingredients except the 4 tablespoons diced butter in a large bowl. You’ll want to make sure the fruit is all well coated with all of the dry ingredients; You’ll also want to make sure the extract and lemon juice has a chance to get mixed in with all of the other ingredients.
2. Take one of the crust disks out of the refrigerator. On a floured surface roll it out to a size slightly larger than the baking dish. This will need to be large enough to create the bottom and sides of the crust.  Press the crust into the baking dish–I used a fairly shallow (for a pie) pie/tart ceramic baking dish.
3. Sprinkle equal parts flour and sugar (just enough to lightly cover) on the crust. This will help keep it from getting soggy from the pie filling.
4. Pour in the pie filling, making sure to spread it through the pie evenly.
5. Sprinkle the diced butter on top of the pie filling. I create a grid of evenly spaced butter mostly because i’m OCD.
6. Take out the second crust disk from the refrigerator and roll it into a disk big enough to completely cover the top of the pie. Lay it over top and crimp the edges to seal it to the bottom crust.
7. Cut a few slits in the top of the pie. This will help steam escape, which is a good think for a berry pie cooked for so long.
Now for topping the crust. To get a nice and golden crust you’ll need to so something to the top. Some people like using egg whites and water (this gives a shiny, but not often dark crust), some people just milk, or just eggs. I like to use egg and heavy cream (the same basic ingredients for great french toast, or custard, or so much more). After that a little sugar can go a long way to not only adding shine and sparkle, but a sweet touch to an already delicious crust.
8. Whisk together the egg and cream until well mixed. Use a bigger bowl then you’re going to want to initially, as this will aid in the whisking process. Use a fork or whisk.
9. Either brush the egg wash over the crust, or like I did, use a spoon to drizzle the  wash on. I used the drizzle method because I couldn’t find my brush at the time; I also think drizzling gives you more creative freedom to create a deliciously modern looking pie.
10. Sprinkle sugar on top. I suggested 1/4 cup but really it’s up to you. Be careful using more as it could create a soggy, heavy top crust.
11. Bake for the first 15 minutes at 425.
12. Reduce the temperate to 375. Bake for another 40 to 45 minutes. The filling should be bubbling. 
For me, since I used a shallower dish, I was signified with a few leaks of what is a delicious rhubarb and berry sauce.
If you’re offended by the sight of a messy pie dish, or the thought of sauce oozing onto your plate, placement or table, then please don’t just use a paper towel to clean way the leaks! Use you’re fingers and enjoy every minute of it. Think of this as a pie appetizer. Just make sure you let it cool a bit! As for the pie cooling, I am a  man who loves things hot, so I served myself a slice almost automatically. I also burnt my tongue, so maybe I should have waited. I’m sure if you let it cool a bit you might also have an easier time of enjoying the flavors. That’s what I did for my seconds, and after cooling slightly, you really do get to taste the melody of mixed berries and deliciously tart rhubarb.
If you haven’t noticed I’ve taken a liking to pies and tarts lately. Every day I feel like I’m getting better with the process, and the crust has been one I’ve felt obligated to perfect. I think the aforementioned pie crust might be darn near perfect… until I find myself adopting that baking secret… lard! So because I feel as this is a particularly pretty pie, and equally delicious, and because everybody finished it before I could get thirds, I wish to immortalize it here with a second picture.

My favorite pie yet!

Egg Rolls


These are better than any take out you will ever have. The spicy mustard recipe that follows is probably more German inspired, than Asian, but it sure is tasty with these egg-rolls. This is a combination of one of my husband’s  dishes and my neighbor’s that I have improved on. My neighbor also made these when I was growing up. Her name was John and she is very special to me. She use to give tution to me when i was about 5 years old, i tell you those days were my golden days She taught me about estate sales and antique auctions. I have many found memories of going with her to find antique treasures. you can say we were treasure hunters. She also gave me my first job, which was at her family’s spring company. They made springs for refrigerators. I calibrated many, many boxes of tiny springs. I am sure that now all this work is done in China now. Anyway, she would have egg rolling parties every year. Everyone would come to her home and make huge amounts of egg roll filling and deep fry them in the back yard. After the egg-roll feast, everyone got a couple of freezer bags filled with leftover egg rolls. They freeze very well.

Enormous Egg Rolls

Filling Ingredients:
2 lb. ground beef
1 head of bok choy or small head of cabbage sliced thinly
1 medium carrot, sliced with a vegetable peeler
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, grated
Kosher salt

Egg-roll Ingredients:
Egg Roll Wrappers
Cooking oil for frying
1 egg, beaten

Spicy mustard:
1/4 cup Yellow mustard
1 tablespoon horseradish


  • Preheat skillet. Drizzle with olive oil. Brown ground beef. Add onion, cabbage, garlic, and carrot. Cook uncovered until vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Add cilantro and ginger, and cook until cilantro is wilted, this will take just a few minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Combine ingredients for spicy mustard, set aside.
  • Preheat oil for frying, either use a deep fryer, or a skillet with enough oil to submerge egg-rolls to 350 degrees.
  • Flour your work surface. Take an egg-roll wrapper and flour each side and shake off the excess. Put about 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling in the wrapper and fold like a burrito. Place the egg-roll wrapper so that it is in a diamond shape facing you, not a square shape, and start to roll, tucking in the edges. You may need to adjust the amount of filling till you get the hang of rolling the egg-rolls.
  • Seal the edges closed with the beaten egg. You will have more than enough filling for the wrappers. You can use the leftovers and mix with rice for tasty leftovers. Submerge each egg-roll in the hot oil. Turn once and cook until golden brown. 
  • Drain on paper towels. Serve with spicy mustard.

Hope you guys love this recipe as this is one of my favorites.