Root Simple’s Favorite New Year’s Eve Cocktails

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While you’re ringing in the New Year we’ll most likely be snoozing. Kelly and I rarely celebrate the evening, since neither of us function well the next day if we’re up past 11. And even if Kelly weren’t recovering from open heart surgery, she has an unfortunate allergy to alcohol that prevents her from drinking. But, perhaps earlier in the evening I might make one of my favorite, if unimaginative, cocktails.

Denizens of the snowy regions of the world may object that two of these cocktails are considered appropriate only for warm weather. But we do live in Los Angeles where it can be hot in December (though not this year, so far). Personally, I like these cocktails regardless of the outdoor temperature. Here’s my three favorite:

pegu_club_postcardThe Pegu Club
This was the house cocktail in the 1920s at Burma’s Pegu Club, a gentleman’s establishment for British Army officers and government officials. The cocktail faded into obscurity only to be revived during the heady early years of the vintage cocktail revival of the aughts. The cocktail went viral and even inspired a new Pegu Club in New York. It’s simple and easy:

1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce orange curaçao (or Triple Sec if you’re cheap like me)
1 teaspoon lime juice
Dash bitters
Dash orange bitters

Shake with crushed ice, strain and serve in a cocktail glass with a lime twist. The Angostura bitters will give the drink a pleasant, pink tinge.

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Negroni
Named for Count Camillo Negroni, who supposedly asked a bartender to replace the soda water in his Americano with gin, the Negroni has become ubiquitous at many hipster bar hangouts and has many variations. I keep it simple:

1 part gin
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part Campari

Stir into a glass with ice and garnish with an orange slice.

Manhattan
2 ounces Rye whiskey
1 ounce sweet red vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Place the booze in a shaker with ice, stir for 30 seconds and strain into cocktail glasses. Here’s the important part: garnish with the classy kind of cherries, not those bright red ones. What you want are marasca cherries such as the Luxardo brand, imported from Italy. They are dark colored and delicious but should not be stored in the fridge.

And take my advice for a decent New Years Day: stop at two cocktails the night before!

Happy New Year everyone! And many thanks for your kind wishes! Hope you all have and abundant and happy 2017!

Jas. Townsend’s 18th Century Cooking

The recovery journey for open heart surgery involves three things: pain killers, a recliner and a flat screen television. Thanks to our new TV’s ability to access the internet, we’ve fallen into a deep and unlikely YouTube hole: Jas. Townsend and Son’s 18th century cooking videos.

Jas. Townsend and Son is the most unlikely business I can imagine. They manufacture and sell 18th century clothing, cookware, camp equipment and housewares though a brick and mortar shop in Pierceton, Indiana. Founder James John Townsend is one of the most prolific and accomplished YouTubers I’ve encountered. His cooking videos feature professional lighting and sound (rare in the YouTube universe) and look like something PBS would (should?) make. And Townsend has produced over 500 videos giving Kelly and I a chance to spend many evenings catching up on the finer points of pemmican, hardtack and pickled smelt.

Neither of us are historical reenactors, though Kelly sometimes accuses me of trying to relive the 1990s. But you need not be into historical reenactment to appreciate Townsend’s well researched videos. You can tell he’s having a good time making them too.

Kelly wanted me to highlight the portable soup video I embedded above. And note that it’s just one of four videos on portable soup! There’s also a fascinating series on 18th century breads.  If Townsend’s video output isn’t enough for you he’s got a website containing the recipes and videos called Savoring the Past. Does Townsend sleep? I’m glad he doesn’t because we’ve both been enjoying his creative output.

And, lastly, a note on Kelly. She thanks you all for your kind comments, thoughts and prayers. Getting over a surgery like this is no picnic. It’s more akin to eating hardtack and suet by the side of a meager fire (thank you Townsend and Son for the metaphor). It will be awhile before Kelly can blog again but she wants me to tell you how much she appreciates your support.

Jennie Cook’s Bedda Chedda: a Vegan Cheese that Tastes Great

img_7457While I’m not a vegan, I have a fondness for some of the tricks up the vegan cook’s sleeve: things like dehydrated crackers and cheese alternatives. Many times they don’t work, tasting like someone tilted the random contents of a health food store’s bulk bins into a blender but, occasionally, you end up with a breakthrough new food concept such as Jennie Cook’s cashew-based “Bedda Chedda.”

While Kelly was in the hospital our very kind neighbor Jennie Cook who is a caterer, author (and guest on episode 50 of our podcast) dropped by many trays and tubs of food so that Kelly’s mom and I would not need to cook or eat out. Jennie is a rare master of both meaty and vegan fare. In addition to the delicious jambalaya, mac and cheese and many other items in her porch care package, there was a tub of “Bedda Chedda.”

I liked it so much that I made a batch myself last night. You can find Jennie’s Bedda Chedda recipe here. Note her admonition to add the liquids first. The end result will solidify more once you refrigerate it. Like most successful vegan foods it doesn’t pretend to be something that it isn’t. While it really does taste vaguely of cheddar, consider this to be more of a delicious cracker spread. I guarantee if you make a batch of this for a holiday party it will disappear much faster than the eggnog.

And let me also note that for someone in the midst of a family crisis, one of the best ways to help is to drop off food. Thank you to Jennie and to beekeeper Amy and to the many people who offered us food during a very difficult two weeks.

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095 Bean Holes and Deep Fried Turkeys with Eric Rochow of Garden Fork

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Listen to “095 Bean Holes and Deep Fried Turkeys with Eric Rochow of Garden Fork” on Spreaker.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner in the US it’s time to rock the friends and family with some new cooking traditions. How about baking beans in a hole or deep frying your turkey? I discuss these topics, plus how to plant garlic with Eric Rochow of Garden Fork. Eric’s got some great how-to videos:

Make sure to subscribe to the Garden Fork Youtube channel!

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

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Deep Frying in a SolSource Solar Cooker

We did a little deep frying test of the SolSource Solar Cooker (provided to us by the manufacturer) and made us some beignets this morning. As Kelly says in the video, a little known fact is that solar cooked deep fried dough pillows won’t make you gain weight. Never! Really!! (Not.)

But they are mighty good! The test worked out really well and now we want to do something fun with it, like take the solar cooker to the streets and make donuts for The People!

We’re also really pleased to find that we can hit deep frying temperatures with the cooker, even in November. We’ll be doing more videos about solar cooking in the coming weeks.

The beignet recipe we used comes from King Arthur Flour. Note that we have a new Youtube channel. Please do us a favor and subscribe!