Spiked Lavender Lemonade

Spiked Lavender Lemonade, the perfect pitcher-drink for summertime // Feast + West

Nothing says summer to me more than a glass of ice-cold, fresh-squeezed lemonade. The sickly sweet powder-based mixture was a staple at the picnics of my youth but the real stuff has always been a favorite of mine.

In college, I used to frequent this Mediterranean restaurant next to campus. They made the best fresh-squeezed lemonade to order. I like my lemonade on the tart side, not too sweet. The powder-based stuff is usually too saccharine for my taste, but this place did it right. It was always a special treat for me. Like, last-day-of-classes special.

Spiked Lavender Lemonade, the perfect pitcher-drink for summertime // Feast + West

To me, lemonade is best when there are tiny flecks of lemon pulp in the juice. I like to rub some of the sugar into the rinds before I juice the lemons — this helps the sugar to collect some of the bitterness of the rinds and to cut down on the sweetness. I read about that trick once, and it truly makes for better lemonade, I think.

All you need to make lemonade is lemon juice, sugar and water. This Spiked Lavender Lemonade has the addition of two more ingredients — vodka and lavender extract. The lavender adds a light floral flavor to the citrus blend and the vodka provides a little kick.

If these early summer nights need a little sprucing up, this Spiked Lavender Lemonade is the ticket. // susannah 

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Hidden Gems: Detroit Travel Guide

Hidden Gems: Detroit Travel Guide // Feast + West

I’m excited to welcome Amy of the amazing food blog Club Narwhal with a gorgeous Detroit travel guide today!

When I first moved to metro Detroit four years ago, the nicest thing anyone could say (after a very pregnant pause) was, “Well… at least you can buy a cheap house there.” And it’s true — sometimes houses go on sale for one whole dollar!

As I get to know Detroit better and better, I can see definitely why people are nervous to explore — there are huge swathes of blighted land pretty much everywhere you go that look downright depressing — but if you look closer, there is a thriving community of creatives and entrepreneurs who are working hard to make Detroit better and stronger. And they’re doing that right now — imagining, creating, rebuilding.

Welcome to Detroit | Image via Club Narwhal
Welcome to Detroit
While it’s true that Detroit will never revert back to its art deco glory days, I don’t think it has to — nor should we want it to. I’m rooting for this town with all my heart and here are some of the reasons why:
Check out Amy’s full Detroit travel guide!

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How to Cook with Vodka

How to Cook with Gin, a guide // feastandwest.com

Vodka is frequently used in cooking. One look at the menu of an Italian restaurant or the pasta aisle should tell you that. Penne alla vodka is a classic pasta dish with a creamy tomato sauce. The vodka helps to bring out new flavors in the tomatoes, as well as bind the acidic tomato juices with cream, olive oil and and water. Plus, vodka sauce is just delicious — it’s one of my favorite ways to eat pasta.

But there’s a lot more to cooking with vodka than just pasta sauce. Because of its almost flavorless taste, it adds a bonus booze factor in many recipes, especially sweet ones. You can also flavor vodka yourself for both cooking and cocktails.

If you missed it, you can see here what I wrote about this month’s Kindred Spirit and what you need to know about mixing drinks with vodka. Keep reading to learn how to cook with vodka and see some awesome food recipes that go beyond pasta.

Click through to keep reading!

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Instagram 101: Editing Your Photos

Instagram 101: How to edit your photos for a gorgeous feed // Feast + West

A few weeks back, I was having dinner out with some friends. We were taking turns photographing our table full of food and cocktails — for Instagram, of course. We started chatting about how we edit our phone photos, and I realized I have a lot of opinions on this subject. Some of the most popular posts on Feast + West are from my Instagram 101 mini-series from last summer. So after that conversation, I decided I’d bring it back with some new tips for stepping up your Instagram game.

In today’s installment of Instagram 101: Editing Your Photos, I’ll be talking about my most favorite photo editing apps, as well as how I use each of them. You can see them in action on Instagram at @feastandwest and @slbrinkley, my personal account.

What do you want to know about Instagram? If you’ve got questions or suggestions for this series, I want to know. Send me an email, a tweet or let me know in the comments.

Click through for my Instagram editing tips!

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Guava Cosmopolitan

Guava Cosmopolitan // Feast + West

Cosmos are one of the quintessential classy cocktails. (Fans of Sex and the City have known this for years.) I mentioned the Cosmopolitan a couple weeks ago when I showed you its cousin, the Madras. Served in a fancy cocktail glass, a traditional cosmo is made with vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice and triple sec.

But the cosmo can get boring if you make or order them a lot. Sometimes, making better cocktails at home is as simple as substituting something else for a key ingredient. This Guava Cosmopolitan changes out just one — the cranberry juice for guava juice — to make a totally new cocktail packed with flavor.

Guava Cosmopolitan // Feast + West

Guavas are a sweet, tropical fruit that I enjoy eating when I visit South Africa. I rarely find fresh ones in my local supermarket in America, but you can sometimes find guava juice in the juice aisle or in the international aisle. Worth a look, I say! If you don’t have any luck, feel free to sub in other kinds of juice. Try it with pomegranate juice or pineapple juice, or go back to classic with cranberry.

The Guava Cosmopolitan is a fun and classy cocktail for any night in with the ladies, or just sipping on solo at home. One sip, and you’ll feel like you’re vacationing in a tropical and cosmopolitan destination. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte would be very, very jealous. // susannah

P.S. Feast + West will be taking off Memorial Day. See you Tuesday!

Click through to learn how to make a Guava Cosmopolitan!

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Hidden Gems: Indianapolis Travel Guide

Hidden Gems: Indianapolis Travel Guide // Feast + West

I’m excited to introduce my friend Anne from Wit Wisdom Food to the blog with an Indianapolis travel guide!

I grew up in the Indianapolis area and just moved back after 16 years. In the time I was away, the city has blossomed. Now filled with so many hot spots it was hard to pick a few. I am still searching out some of the new spots that have opened since I last lived here.

Indianapolis is called the Crossroads of America because if you are going across the United States in just about any direction, you are likely to cross through Indianapolis.

Hidden Gems: Indianapolis Travel Guide // Feast + West
The Dancing Donut

We are a fairly large city with a small town feel. Nothing is overly complicated in Indianapolis. We like our down-home roots and our sports teams. When you visit, pack for all kinds of weather because Indiana weather is unpredictable.

If you visit in May — my favorite month to be in Indy — you will see the city in her finest as she celebrates the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500. No matter when you visit you will certainly be greeted by our well-known ‘hoosier hospitality.’

Click through to see Anne’s Indianapolis travel guide!

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Brown Butter Moon Pie Ice Cream

Brown Butter Moon Pie Ice Cream // Feast + West

A few weeks back, I joined a group of friends for a Saturday excursion to a nearby small town. We visited a dense thrift shop, an antique store straight out of an episode of American Pickers, a greasy (and delicious) burger shop, picturesque botanical gardens, and a bottle shop. It was a busy day, and halfway through we needed to stop for an afternoon treat.

My friend took us to the town’s creamery. There was every flavor of ice cream imaginable: rum raisin, banana pudding, pear sorbet… and Moon Pie. I hadn’t planned on getting any, but I did sample the Moon Pie ice cream, because I just had to. An ice cream dotted with bits of my favorite childhood treat? It sounded heavenly.

Brown Butter Moon Pie Ice Cream // Feast + West

Those not from the South might be unfamiliar with Moon Pies. They’re a soft, cake-like cookie sandwich filled with marshmallow cream, then the whole thing is dipped in chocolate. You often find them at convenience stores and vending machines. I’m not sure if you can find them outside of the Southern states, but if you can, I hope you’ll try them in this Brown Butter Moon Pie Ice Cream.

Yes, that’s right. I set out to try to mimic that creamery’s genius. The resulting ice cream is treat upon treat upon treat. In addition to the creamy custard base and the soft texture of the Moon Pies themselves, I added brown butter into the mix. The nutty flavor complements the cookies so well.

This ice cream makes me nostalgic for my childhood. If it doesn’t do that for you, perhaps it’s time to try Moon Pies and then put them into ice cream.

Click through to see the Brown Butter Moon Pie Ice Cream recipe!

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Dream Jobs: Q&A with Haleigh DeRocher of Peels and Posies

Dream Jobs: A Q&A with Haleigh DeRocher of Peels & Posies

Today I am thrilled to introduce my new interview series, Dream Jobs. I have been dreaming about curating a series like this ever since I started Feast + West but wanted to take my time with launching it. I love reading Q&A-type pieces on other blogs, especially if they are about people I really admire. I love learning what makes creative people tick.

A good friend and I often chat about our dream jobs, the mundane ones and the totally crazy ones. Some will never happen, some may with a little work. I love to ask the question, If you could do anything, what would it be? There are so many people out there living their dreams with their businesses, with their careers, and I want to hear from them. For now, this column is going to focus on creators and makers of all kinds, such as chefs, designers, artists and small business owners — people who make beautiful things. With their hands.

I’m excited to kick off the series with this Q&A with Haleigh DeRocher of Peels and Posies. I first discovered Haleigh’s work when I ran my weekly Kitchen Road Trip series, which consisted of gift guides to all 50 states. I got to include Haleigh’s work twice, because she moved from Iowa to Wyoming that year. I fell in love with the way she ties her love of literature with her whimsical, artistic style to create gorgeous handmade treasures. This interview is a beautiful and thought-provoking insight into Haleigh’s creativity, and I hope you enjoy. // susannah

Click through to read the whole Q&A with Haleigh DeRocher! 

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How to Shop at the Farmers Market

Farmers Market Shopping Tips // Feast + West

A summer tradition of mine is visiting the local farmers market on Saturday mornings. I have fond memories of tasting strawberries and local honey with my brother and sister while my parents shopped for produce for the week. Dad would pick up a bag of fresh doughnuts to share and Mom would often make a pie or cobbler with her findings.

I still love the farmers market, and have even recently gotten more involved with the one in my little town. I love the community surrounding farmers markets. You can actually meet and talk to the farmers who grow the food you buy. It’s a Saturday morning tradition I want to carry on for the rest of my life — unless I really want to sleep in!

Since I’ve been doing it forever, I thought I’d share a few of my farmers market shopping tips with you.

Click below for some tips on farmers market shopping.

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Cheerwine Shandy

Cheerwine Shandy // Feast + West

I can’t believe in all this time of blogging, I have only made one cocktail with Cheerwine. I don’t drink a lot of soda, but this is one of my favorite splurges.

What’s Cheerwine, you ask? Well, you must not be from around these parts. It’s a sweet, cherry-red soda made right here in North Carolina. As far as I know, you can’t really get it in other states. My great-uncle used to bring cases of the stuff home to Georgia, where he savored every last drop.

In honor of American Craft Beer Week, I thought I’d skip the vodka this week and share a beer cocktail instead, just in time for Memorial Day — Cheerwine Shandy. I love using beer as the main alcoholic agent in a cocktail. Beer can bring a wide range of new flavors to a cocktail, not to mention a little foam. The shandy is a classic beer cocktail — a combination of beer and juice or soda.

Cheerwine Shandy // Feast + West

Adding soda to beer may seem like an unusual choice, but it’s a tradition you can trace to Western Europe, where shandies are still quite popular. The Germans even have a word for it — Biermischgetränke — meaning “beer-based mixed drinks.” The Potsdamer is a traditional cocktail served in Berlin made with light-colored beer and flavored soda.

If you’ve never made your own shandies, I recommend starting at a 1:1 ratio. I find I prefer more beer than mixer, but if you like your drinks on the sweeter side, you may tone down the beer if you wish. There are no rules, really when it comes to shandies. Choose a beer that is light in flavor such as a pilsner, lager or ale, so as not to overcome the mixer you pair it with.

For the Cheerwine Shandy, I chose Weeping Willow Wit, a locally-brewed Belgian white ale. If you can’t find Cheerwine, feel free to substitute black cherry soda or any red-colored, flavored soda for a similar effect. Cheers! // susannah 

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