Carrie Allen – Lemon Thyme Fig Jam

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Figs. Not everyone loves a fresh fig but none can deny their lush, velvety beauty, the deep purple, greens and browns on the outside, and the visual burst of ripe redness inside.  I love figs on a cheese plate drizzled with honey.  I love fig jam even more.

Making jam gives me so much pleasure – the chopping of the fruit, measuring of the ingredients, watching the slow bubbling of the mixture coming together as a thick syrupy jam.   Time literally slows down. I adore making jams of all kinds and these days tend to experiment with the flavor and fruit combinations.

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I’ve mentioned before my grandmother in Virginia first taught me and inspired me to make jam.  She and my grandfather planted fruit trees on their property nestled next to the water of the Chesapeake Bay.  Every summer we made jam from the cherry trees, peach trees, apple trees, grape vines and more. She also loved canning.  After the summer’s bounty and canning sessions she would fill a large wooden cabinet in the basement with her jars of jam, pickled beans, okra, watermelon rind, bread and butter pickles and more.  When those old wooden doors creaked open the rows of colorful jars gave me so much delight.  I would sneak down to the cool basement just to open the doors and stare at the beautiful bounty.

Years later, when I came across Marisa McClellan’s book Food in Jars, it was love at first site.  If you are new to jam and canning, check our her site for tips and tricks on canning 101 to get started.

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Recently I made a fig jam and added fresh thyme and lemon juice.  The taste gives it deeper, brighter layers than a typical fig jam.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Lemon Thyme Fig Jam Recipe

Ingredients:
8 cups coursely chopped fresh figs
4 cups sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:
1. Remove the stems from the figs and coarsely chop.
2. Wash your lemons, and using a vegetable peeler or pairing knife, cut thin strips of the lemon rind, being careful not to include the white pith from the lemon rind.
3. Juice the lemons.
4. Put the figs, sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and sprigs of thyme in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Stir to combine.
5. Bring contents to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer 45-50 minutes, depending on desired thickness.  Make sure the mixture does not stick the bottom of the pan.  While the jam is stewing prepare the jars in a boiling water bath.
6. Remove and discard thyme stems and lemon rind (although a few pieces left in give a bright burst of lemon flavor, which is lovely).
7. Add in vanilla, making sure to stir well. You can use an immersion blender to chop up the fig skins – pulse until desired consistency. (I tend to leave it as is.)
8. Remove the pot from heat and ladle into 4 regular-mouth pint-sized prepared, sterilized canning jars.  Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrie Allen – Transitions

I love the cool, crisp Fall in New England.  The cooler days, the changing leaves, the dark evenings, all make me want to curl up around a fire and have meaningful conversations with my friends and loved ones.  This season always makes me pause and think about the year ahead – as it feels like a beginning with the kids back to school, and I start planning out the festive holidays to come.

The fall has so much bounty that inspires me: gorgeous dahlias, zinnias, cosmos, leaves turning their golden hues, apples heavy on the limb – ready for picking, pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes.

All of this quietly stirs up anticipation within in me… thinking about what is to come, what I can create and make, bringing friends together.

As the season quietly transitions from Summer to Fall with the days getting shorter and cooler, this site is also quietly transitioning.  August Ardor remains all about passion.  I still welcome guest posts, written by my insanely talented friends, whenever they feel moved to share anything about their passions; however, I want to bring some focus to my efforts, which can be wrapped up around a table.

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I have always loved gathering people together, planning delicious meals, flipping through cookbooks (another deep passion of mine) and setting a fun and inspiring table.  I know my love for this grew out of spending summers with my Grandmother Corinne Earle every summer in the country, down on the Chesapeake Bay in Lancaster County, Virginia.  She was the ultimate southern hostess and taught me to garden, make jam, set a table, make biscuits, steam crabs, plan a party and more.

Beautiful design, in every form from architecture, to interiors, to painting, to setting a table all inspire me.  I want to focus on these topics – entertaining tips and tricks, recipes, inspirational thoughts, mindfulness, healthy living, and beautiful design.  Krister will share his passions and architecture.

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Today as the blog takes it’s new focus, Krister and I are launching my long-time dream of August Table, an online store with handmade block print linens that we have designed and had made in India, along with curated products that we love –  to help inspire you to be the baker, the cook, the entertainer, the designer and the gardener.  All things that I am deeply passionate about.

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Helping inspire others around the table is a passion project.  If you gather in the kitchen, around the table, on a picnic blanket, you are hopefully with people you love and care about and have healthy delicious food, which can be very simple and fresh – not a huge ordeal.  The main goal is to make connections.  Slow down.  Savor each moment and every bite. Relax and Enjoy.  A common thread I always talk about is slowing down and unplugging.  Perhaps it’s because I too get easily caught up in email, busy life, my wonderful job in corporate innovation, trying to pack in too much all the time.

I long for quiet days filled with beauty and slowness, which can take many forms.  Making time for creation, things that inspire me, including writing this blog, help me find my quiet days of beauty.

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I’ll close with this quote by author and poet Victoria Erickson:

If you inherently long for something, become it first.  If you want gardens, become the gardener.  If you want love, embody love.  If you want mental stimulation, change the conversation.  If you want peace, exude calmness.  If you want to fill your world with artists, begin to paint.  If you want to be valued, respect your own time.  If you want to live ecstatically, find the ecstasy within yourself.

This is how to draw it in, day by day, inch by inch.

 

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Todd Maul – Cocktail menus need a bartender

 

“Cocktails are mostly little drinks made up from people’s screwy ideas of what tastes good or sounds better. They’re usually originated during the middle stages of a beautiful glow or to create an impression of sophistication. Among the hundreds of cocktails, ingredients comparatively few have weathered the years and are ordered repeatedly everywhere… Most cocktails, whatever the name, are just slight variations of a few good standard recipes…” Trader Vic 1948

(Trader Vic created the Mai Tai)

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A Cocktail menu, can be daunting- but why? A cocktail menu should be a leaping off point that breaks the ice between you and the person behind the bar.

Yes, a cocktail menu functionally is a printed document handed to everyone and serves the purpose of being the fastest way to convey the most information to everyone who enters the establishment. However, it is not a stand-alone document. The Menu serves as a baseline for communication. The cocktail menu theoretically is much more. It is the conduit to getting the drink you “want”. How? It does two distinct things.

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Katie Byrum, Bartender AT THE UP & UP | COLE SALADINO/THRILLIST

First, it gives the guest an insight into the skill set of the bar and an idea of what products the bar carries. It is a marker, not to what is, but what is possible. Secondly, but far more importantly it is a talking point- it allows the guest to open a dialogue with the bartender about “what you like”

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Nick Bennett, Head Bartender at Porchlight

It should be clear, from the cocktail menu, what style of drink the bar likes to make and what “classics” they are riffing. This is where the bartender comes in… It is the bar’s responsibility to tell you, to the extent you want to know, (nobody goes to a bar for a lecture) the philosophy behind the cocktail menu and the whys of the drink list.

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In the end the bar should want to give you the drink you want, not the drink they want to sell you. This seems like a silly turn of phrase, but this statement strikes at the core of what it means to be bartender. Bartending is a restaurant’s front line in hospitality. Being a proper bartender demands the skill of reading people and understanding what the guest wants. It is assessing the experience they are looking to have and exceeding their expectations. The cocktail menu is the first tool, to engage with the guest.

As stated by Trader Vic, most drinks are going to be a simple riff on a classic cocktail.  But a guest should not be herded into buying a drink on the menu, they should be led to a place of collaboration. The end product should be the result of idea sharing, on flavor, notes, spirits and even mood. The bartender should be using the menu as a beacon, to help you find your drink.

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Todd Maul co-founded Cafe ArtScience in Cambridge, MA and is an amazing mixologist who has revolutionized the way we see cocktails.

Todd Maul – The Mai Tai

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This drink is probably the best known and worst executed drink in the tiki universe. It is a drink that has a storied origin and colorful past but lets just settle on a recipe and move on. For me: it is a slight variation of Trader Vic’s recipe from his book “Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide Revised

1oz aged Agricola rhum
1oz Antigua rum (a round sweeter rum is needed)
1oz fresh lime juice
½ oz. orgeat
½ oz. orange clement schrubb (I like this because it’s a rum based orange)

Lets put the actual drink aside for a moment. How do you garnish this masterpiece at home? How do you make this drink pop at your deck party, or hell for just a sunny Saturday afternoon at home?  I like to think it is in the presentation that separates good from great. I like to think that every part of the drink should be accounted for, meaning: Ice, vessel, and garnish. Garnish is its entirety.

Lets look at the ice situation first. I like to serve my Mai tai’s on crushed ice. For me at home or in a bar, the best way to achieve this ice is with a vintage Ice-O-Mat. (You can find them on Esty). You want to pack the ice down well, and have it just overflow the mug.

I like tiki mugs for the “glass” –  the color, style and shape are really a reflection of how you see tiki. You can find a great selection on Amazon – Tiki Farm is a good source.

Now that we have the ice and the glass accounted for, how do we garnish this beverage? For me, I like a little surprise, a garnish that isn’t quite what it seems. I like to use two different cherries in concert and have them just taste different than your guest would expect. I like to start with the horrible Bing cherries, yes those bright red sugar bombs. Let’s lean into that bright red bomb. Be honest, it’s eye catching and going to make your drink pop, only problem, they are terrible. Solution, soak them in amaretto with some orange zest. Orgeat is an almond based syrup, this will tie the drink and garnish together.

The next cherry you want to use is a Luxardo maraschino cherry. They are excellent as is, but I like to manipulate them to give a “what the f&*k” note to the drink. I like to soak them in bitters and lime husk. It makes something that your guest thinks is sweet into bitter. The contrast of flavors, sweet and bitter, is further marked esthetically by the different shades of the cherries.

We are going to use a wooden skewer to hold the cherries. I like the combo of Bing, Luxardo, Bing, but this is really up to how you want to see tiki.  After this, we need a way to keep this garnish above the ice. I use an 8th of a lime husk, (remove the meat of the fruit with a knife) use the triangle husk as a “stopper”  and put it at the bottom of the cherry combo.

This husk will keep the skewer/garnish above the drink, in an eye-catching fashion.  You can use fresh mint to create a dry aroma around the top of the drink, again, lean into the esthetic and make it yours.

(Note for the real drink nerds: I like to soak my skewers in rum or orange schrubb, it gives off a aromatic that the drinker can’t figure out where it is coming from.)

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Todd Maul is Co-Founder of Cafe ArtScience in Cambridge, MA and an amazing mixologist who has revolutionized the way we see cocktails.

Todd Maul – Valentine’s Day Nectar

I think a lot of people overthink Valentines Day, fancy this or surprise that. I think it is at its core a day to say “I don’t take you for granted”.  Going out to dinner or staying home, simply just saying thanks for being part of my life is going to hold up better than stuff that ends up in a drawer or in a box in the attic.

This leads me to the drink that I would have, as it is a winter wonderland here in the Northeast – I would serve a Frank Sullivan. This classic drink, the Frank Sullivan, does what it is intended to do very well. It is a riff on the Corps Reviver #2 but with cognac. It does everything that a Side Car is supposed to do but better. It says thanks for understanding and drinking the better beverage.

If you are sitting by a fire with your best guy/gal I would strongly suggest listening to Django Reinhardt.

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He was a very talented gypsy jazz guitar player. He played before amplification, and was a big influence on Charlie Christian and Les Paul. He played with a sense of purpose and quiet beauty. Hopefully, these will be the words used at the end of your Valentine evening.

Frank Sullivan

1oz congac
1oz luxardo triplum
1oz blonde lillet
1oz lemon juice

Shake and strain into a large coupe glass – garnish with lemon twist.

toddmaul
Todd Maul is Co-Founder of Cafe ArtScience in Cambridge, MA and an amazing mixologist who has revolutionized the way we see cocktails.

Carrie Allen – Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Cinnamon Vanilla Cashew Cream

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Eating healthy and serving healthy food to my kids is critically important to me.  Yet we all crave sweets from time to time so having recipes made from wholesome ingredients that actually benefit our bodies fills me with joy.  My friend Mia gave me Alissa Cohen’s Raw Food for Everyone Cookbook one year for Christmas.  It was here that I first stumbled upon chocolate pudding made from avocados.  I have adapted the recipe over the years to whatever I have on hand but the main ingredients are simple: avocados, dates (or agave syrup, honey or maple syrup – whatever you have!), plus cacao (or cocoa powder).

Last night I had to be on a work conference call (it’s hard to coordinate meetings with Tokyo) so I asked my 12 year old daughter to make pasta for dinner for her and her brother – you do what you need to do to balance work and life.  I set two avocados next to all the ingredients, thinking they would also have avocados with balsamic vinegar on top, a favorite of ours.

When I came down they were eating their pasta but the avocados were untouched.  I asked why they were not eating them and my son, who is 11, said “we thought you could make chocolate pudding with them instead.”   What a great idea!  I topped the avocado chocolate mousse (more of a mousse this time than a pudding) with cashew cream, which balances the deep rich chocolate flavor with a lighter creamy taste.

The recipe is super simple.  Here is what I made last night:

Chocolate Avocado Mousse
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup organic, raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1/4 cup coconut milk
4 dates, soaked in hot water for a few minutes
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and spoon into bowls.  You can put it in the refrigerator to chill for 10-30 minutes.  The pudding will develop a skin over top, just like pudding, if it sits for a while. Spoon cashew cream on top before serving.

Cinnamon Vanilla Cashew Cream
1 cup raw unsalted cashews soaked in water for 1-2 hours
1/2 cup water, plus more for a thinner cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Put all ingredients into a high speed mixer (I use a vitamix) and blend until smooth.  Add more water, sweetener and cinnamon according to taste.  This will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

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Carrie Allen created this blog as a way to share stories of passion and love, big and small, with those around the world.  You can read more about this on the About page!