Archive | March, 2011

Go to The Salvage Show

31 Mar
Knoxvillians!  Beth Meadows, artist, blogger and Architectural Salvage Coordinator for Knox Heritage is curating a one-day-only-show featuring art created from Knox Heritage’s collection of architectural salvage.  Twenty artists visited Knox Heritage, picked out salvaged materials and used them to create works of art.
I can’t wait to see what everyone chose and how they transformed them.  Shawn and I are participating artists.  Here’s a sneak peek of what we created.  To see more, you’ll have to check out the show TOMORROW (Friday, April 1st) from 6-9 p.m. at 110 S. Gay Street.

Reclaimed Lamp by Shawn

Herb Door by yours truly

Photos by Shawn Poynter.


Make Cake in a Jar

30 Mar
For my last “food we made at the cabins” post, I’d like to share a recipe by the lovely Nigella Lawson, on whom I have a bit of a crush.  I wanted to bring a nice dessert but didn’t want to deal with making it in the cabins, so Nigella’s recipe for cake baked in ball jars seemed like a perfect idea.  I mixed up the batter at home (it took ten minutes), poured it into ball jars, stuck them in the cooler and popped them in the oven when it was eatin’ time. It was so easy, I may never leave the house again without a ball jar of batter. What’s more- this cake isn’t too sweet and has a bit of a kick from the molasses and cinnamon, which I prefer to overwhelming sweetness. To make things easier, we forwent the frosting and opted for ice cream instead, but I’m including it here because it looks tasty.




  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup leftover brewed coffee


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans halves or pieces

Special Equipment:

  • 10 (8-ounce) Ball jars
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place 10 jars on a cookie sheet pan, evenly spaced out. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth.
  3. Add the sugar and eggs and mix until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and mix.
  4. Add half of the flour; then half of the sour cream, and mix. Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream.
  5. Drizzle in the coffee and mix until smooth. (The batter will be thin.) Pour the batter into the jars, filling a little more than half way and bake until the tops almost firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the Frosting: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; then add the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons water and stir until the sugar is dissolved, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and beat in the powdered sugar adding 1 or 2 tablespoons more water so that the frosting is fairly liquid and can slide down the sides of the cake in the jar.
  8. While the cake is still warm, sprinkle the top with pecans and pour the brown sugar icing over to cover and soak in.
  9. Let cool then screw on jar lids and keep at room temperature until ready to eat.

For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page

Cocktail of the Week: Roasted Lemon Martini

29 Mar

As I mentioned yesterday, in packing for our cabin trip this weekend, I did my best to bring a reasonable amount of stuff (mind you, reasonable to me meant bringing a muffin tin, three board games and hibiscus flowers in syrup, none of which we used.  I still have a long way to go when it comes to exercising moderation while packing). There are always cocktails at the cabins, but I didn’t want to lug bottles and bottles of different liqueurs, so I tried to keep the cocktails simple.  I came across a recipe for a roasted lemon martini with only three ingredients and have added a few tweaks that create a tart and smoky cocktail.

Roasted Lemon Martini

  • 4 thick slices of lemon
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz vodka
  • coarse sugar such as Turbinado or Demerrara

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lay lemon slices on a cookie sheet and brush the top sides with honey.  Roast lemon slices for about an hour at 325 degrees turning once and brushing with remaining honey half way through the roasting.

Take one lemon slice and slide around rim of a cocktail glass to coat. Place rim into plate of sugar to create sugar rim.

Combine roasted lemon slices, simple syrup and vodka over crushed ice in a shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into chilled martini glasses.  Garnish with a roasted lemon slice.

For more recipes like this, visit the Domesticity page.

Make Your Own Pop Tarts

28 Mar

We spent this weekend in a cabin in Hot Springs, North Carolina, enjoying a lazy weekend with friends, a spring-fed hot tub and great food we’d made.  Whenever I’m traveling somewhere I’ll be cooking, I bring WAY too much food and more kitchenware than is reasonable.  This time I made a concerted effort to bring less– let’s face it, it’s no fun carting green onions and maple syrup across state lines and back if you’re not going to end up using them.  I decided to make things that required just a few ingredients, but were still delicious.  After seeing a blog post about homemade Pop Tarts, I thought I’d make a super simple version for breakfast one morning.  They were yummy, quick and easy.

Pastry Pop Tarts

  • one sheet frozen puff pastry
  • jam or jelly of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • powdered sugar

Allow puff pastry to defrost to room temperature (should take about an hour).  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut lengthwise into four strips and cut each strip into four pieces about the size of index cards.  Place about 2 teaspoons of jam or jelly in the center of each pastry piece and fold in half, squeezing the edges to seal.  Brush with melted butter and bake for 15-20 minutes or until they’re starting to brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Make Detox Tea

24 Mar

Full Disclosure: When I say “Detox Tea,” I actually mean “Hangover Tea,” though the tea blend here promotes detoxification of all kinds and is pretty tasty besides.

Full Disclosure Part 2: Once in a while I will find myself with a hangover.  This usually follows an evening during which red wine or champagne featured prominently.  There are few things I like less than having a hangover.  Every hangover I’ve experienced has resulted in a vow Never. To. Touch. Alcohol. Again., my commitment to which inevitably crumbles when I come across a fun new cocktail recipe, meet up with friends after work, or am sitting on the porch with my sweetheart when he offers me a beer.

Of course, the real cure for hangovers is to exercise moderation, but in the event you should fail to do so, it’s nice to have a remedy on hand to help you through the hurt.  An Asprin’s OK and a laying down with an herbal eye pillow might help, but in my opinion there’s nothing like a cup of tea to comfort me when I’m feeling puny.  This tea contains fennel (said to be good for digestion and a troubled stomach), milk thistle (said to promote liver function and act as a blood purifier), and peppermint (said to soothe troubled stomachs and headaches).  The combination of peppermint and fennel also makes it smell great.

I suggest mixing some up and storing it in a jar or disposable tea bags so they’re ready when you need them.  I made individual tea bags and used scrap paper and string to make tags before I stapled them closed.

Hangover Tea

Equal Parts:

  • milk thistle
  • fennell
  • peppermint

Mix ingredients and store in a lidded jar or disposable tea bags.

For more posts like this one, check out the Domesticity and Apothecary pages.

Make Your Own Bitters

23 Mar

Remember when I wrote about making tinctures?  The logical next step for me was to start experimenting with making my own bitters, which are basically tinctures made for taste rather than medicinal qualities.

Bitters are alcoholic concoctions flavored with plant extracts.  Bitters were originally created for medicinal purposes but are now more commonly enjoyed as a digestif or flavoring in cocktails.

The primary taste in bitters is, shockingly, bitter, but flavors can vary from citrus to sweet to very green or spicy. Since making tinctures, I’ve been eager to create my own bitters, but wasn’t sure how to proceed.  The idea is to make something bitter and very strong, but that tastes good when you mix it with other things.  I had no experience in this field, so I decided to do some research.

I quickly learned from a variety of sources, including and basically limited to Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails and Wikipedia, that gentian, orange peel, wormwood, and various barks and roots are the primary ingredients and bittering agents in most bitters.

I decided to try making up a recipe based on what little information I’d gathered.  Basically, all I needed was some herbs and strong flavorless alcohol.  I made two bitters, which I created just like the tinctures, filling the jars about 3/4 full with herbs and pouring vodka over them.  I then let them sit for two weeks before straining them and transferring them via a tiny funnel to nifty dropper bottles that I bought at our local co-op and which you can find online.  Below are the recipes for the bitters I created  (both of which are quite tasty, if you ask me) and a simple cocktail recipe in which to use them.



Lavender Chamomile Bitters

This batch had the flavor of an aromatic tea.  It’s a little flowery, but I think the bitterness balances that nicely.  I’d mostly use these with bourbon and whiskey drinks.

  • 1 Tablespoon lavender
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel
  • 1 Tablespoon rosehips
  • 1 Tablespoon chamomile
  • 1 Tablespoon dried cranberries
  • vodka

Add all ingredients to a 8 oz jar and fill with vodka until herbs are fully saturated.  Store capped jar in a cool, dark spot and give the jar a shake each day.  Strain after two weeks.

Use these bitters in an Herbal Manhattan

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 4-5 drops Lavender Chamomile Bitters
  • maraschino cherry for garnish
  1. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes.
  2. Stir well and strain to serve.

Strawberry Sassafras Bitters

I LOVE these bitters.  They’re sweet and spicy and work best with champagne, vodka or gin drinks.

  • 3-4 large fresh strawberries
  • 1 Tablespoon sassafras
  • peel of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Balinese peppercorn or 5 black peppercorns
  • vodka

Muddle strawberries in a 8 oz jar and add remaining ingredients.  Pour vodka until the mixture is fully saturated.  Store capped jar in a cool, dark spot and give the jar a shake each day.  Strain after two weeks.

Use these bitters in a Classic Champagne Cocktail with Strawberry Bitters

  • 1 sugar cube (why not make your own?)
  • 5 drops Strawberry Sassafras Bitters
  • Champagne (chilled)
  • 1 oz brandy
  1. Place the sugar cube in the bottom of a Champagne flute.
  2. Use the drops of Strawberry Sassafrass Bitters to saturate the sugar cube.
  3. Add the brandy.
  4. Fill with Champagne.

For more posts like this one, check out the Domesticity and Apothecary pages of this blog.

Make Pizza and Lemonade

22 Mar

Nice weather makes me feel like a kid, and feeling like a kid makes me crave the foods I ate as a kid.  We tended to eat uber-healthy in my household, so whenever we had a pizza party in school, I’d gorge myself on sugary lemonade and pizza, claiming it was the best stuff I’d ever tasted.  I still have a soft spot in my gustatory heart for these treats, though in lieu of the oily Domino’s pizza and teeth-achingly sweet Country Time Lemonade, I like to opt for homemade for something at least a little healthier and certainly much more palatable.

My friend Lorin came to visit this month and we did a fair amount of cooking, partly because Lorin’s a vegan and there aren’t all that many restaurants in Knoxville that will reliably be able to serve vegan fare.  We didn’t mind, though, as our lemonade and pizza were delicious.  Lorin substituted the mozzarella cheese we used for daiya vegan mozzarella, which she says is the only melt-able vegan cheese she’s found that she really likes.  I had a bite and must admit it’s not bad.

Simple Lemonade Recipe

  • 6 lemons
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (you can adjust this according to taste- most recipes ask for about double this amount, which is a little too sweet for me)
  • 6 cups cold water
Juice the lemons to make 1 cup of juice. To make your labor easier, FIRMLY roll the lemons between your hand and counter top before cutting in half and juicing.
In a gallon pitcher combine 1 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar, and 6 cups cold water. Stir. Adjust water to taste. Chill and serve over ice.


Lorin making lemonade

Simple Pizza Recipe

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 cup (or more) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons cut fresh herbs
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • sauce, cheese and toppings of your choice

Pour 3/4 cup warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.   Brush large bowl lightly with olive oil. Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add yeast mixture and 3 tablespoons oil; process until dough forms a sticky ball.

Transfer to lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is very sticky, about 1 minute. Transfer to prepared bowl; turn dough in bowl to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or tea towel and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch down dough and knead in herbs and garlic, making sure to get rid of any air bubbles.


Roll out the dough to your desired thickness and add tomato sauce, pesto, cheese, vegetables and any other toppings you desire.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

Pizza #1

Pizza #2. Can you spot the vegan cheese?

For more recipes like this one, visit the Domesticity page.