Cherry Bounce Ginger Snap

Cherry Bounce Ginger Snap // Feast + West

Happy Halloween! I’ve got a bloody-looking cocktail for you. For me, Halloween is just the gateway to the holiday season, and this Cherry Bounce Ginger Snap is one you can drink all winter long. Earlier this month, I uncapped the first bottle of the cherry bounce I made over the summer summer. I made two bottles of this delightful beverage when cherries were fresh and in abundance, and I have been anxiously awaiting for three months to pass so I could open it.

Cherry bounce was one of Martha Washington’s recipes, and I followed it pretty closely. You can find my recipe here, and you’ll need it to make this Cherry Bounce Ginger Snap. (Remember, cherry bounce takes 3 to 6 months to infuse. You wait patiently for a good cocktail, my friends.) On its own, the cherry bounce is quite potent. To make it last and to make it a bit easier on the taste buds, you’ll want to mix it with something else. In this cocktail, I’m calling for ginger ale.

Cherry Bounce Ginger Snap // Feast + West

This cocktail packs a mean punch. It has the potency of rye whiskey. It has the sticky sweetness of cherries. It’s even a bit spicy thanks to the star anise and cinnamon infusions. To top it off, it finishes with the gingery snap of ginger ale. (If I had homemade ginger ale, you bet I’d be using it in this cocktail!) If you didn’t make cherry bounce, you could certainly make this drink with another cherry liqueur, but I can’t vouch for it tasting this good. Let me know if you find a good substitute!

The Washingtons used to make their Cherry Bounce in the summer and enjoy it in the wintertime as a holiday delight. It’s kind of fun to imagine the first president and his wife enjoying this cordial with friends at a snowy Mount Vernon. I’m saving my second jar for later this year, but for now, this one is going to last me a while. Who knows? Maybe I’ll dream up another cocktail with it… // susannah

Click below to learn how to make a Cherry Bounce Ginger Snap! 

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Apps of my Eye: Ommwriter

Apps of My Eye: Ommwriter for writing // Feast + West

For the last few Novembers, I’ve tried to commit myself to winning National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. In a nutshell, the goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Is it hard? You bet. Can it be done? Absolutely. It’s always been a bit of a dream of mine to write a novel, so NaNo is something I’ve really enjoyed participating in. And one year, I won! My novel still isn’t done and needs tons of work, but I’d highly recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone thinking of writing a book. It kicks off on Saturday!

Apps of My Eye: Ommwriter for writing // Feast + West

One of the trickiest challenges I have faced each time I’ve participated in NaNo is just staying focused on writing. I find I am easily distracted online. (Damn you, Facebook.) A friend introduced me to Ommwriter to me a few years ago, and it has been a godsend for my concentration and a remedy for writer’s block.

Ommwriter is a software application for your computer. It turns your entire screen into a word processor environment, free of any bells and whistles. Just a blank slate waiting for your words.

Apps of My Eye: Ommwriter for writing // Feast + West

And boy, is it an experience. The interface is so simple and easy to navigate. There are just a few buttons to toy with. There’s no text formatting either, though you can choose between four fonts and a few sizes in which to pen your words.

While you work, Ommwriter plays your choice of delicate ambient music or the sounds of a coffee shop or nature, carefully composed. It adds soft, typewriter-esque sound effects to your every keystroke. You can also choose from a few minimalist backdrops to fill your screen with. (My favorite is the wintry scene lined with trees.)

When I’m ready to take my piece to the next level, I’ll open it in another word processing application and add any formatting during the editing process. The only point of Ommwriter is to write.  A novel idea.

Apps of My Eye: Ommwriter for writing // Feast + West

The whole experience is gentle, almost meditative, like yoga for writing. Whenever I really need to focus on writing — whether it’s a novel, a blog post or an estimate — I turn to Ommwriter. Its bright, customizable interface is relaxing and keeps all potential distractions at bay. Ommwriter is available at a pay-what-you-want price, though it’s suggested you pay $4.11. Download it here.

Tell me, what helps you concentrate on writing? // susannah

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Why I Use Recipe Cards + A Free Download

Why I Use Recipe Cards, plus a free recipe card download // Feast + West

The holiday season is closer than you think, which means it’s time to be thinking about recipes. I received my Thanksgiving edition of Bon Appetit in the mail yesterday and (like the little nerd I am) I opened it immediately to read the mashed potato cover story and dogeared the pages I want to read ASAP.

Maybe it seems impractical in the digital age, but I love writing down my favorite recipes on paper cards, the way the women in my family have done for decades. There are many reasons why I use recipe cards. For one, I very much cherish handwritten recipes from loved ones, especially those who have passed away. When I read from my great-grandmother’s handwriting, it’s like she is right there with me in the kitchen. Making the food someone loved to make is such a sweet way to remember them by. Recipes are treasures, and it’s important to write them down and share them with the people we love.

Plus, a box full of recipe cards is just so handy. Searching through a box I wrote and organized myself can be so much quicker than scrolling through an entire Pinterest board for something I pinned last year. It’s great inspiration for what to cook, so I keep my recipe box in the kitchen at all times. Here are my tips for getting started with recipe cards:

  1. Write down only the recipes you make a lot. This cuts down on clutter in your recipe box. If you’ve made it before and would make it again, write it down. If it’s a magazine clipping or a recipe you’re only a little interested in, chuck it or somehow keep it separate from your faves.
  2. Keep them accessible. I keep my box on the kitchen counter with my cookbooks. Sometimes it’s really great to not have to hunt down a beloved recipe in a cookbook or on the Internet!
  3. Share your recipes. If someone asks you for a recipe, they’re giving you a compliment. Say thank you, and offer to write it down for them. Keep blank cards in your recipe box and jot down your recipe for them right away. Be generous.
  4. Be honest and thorough. I hate it when people admit they omitted a ‘secret’ ingredient from a recipe they shared with me. Be honest and share your entire process so I can make it like you did.
  5. Write legibly. There’s nothing worse than guessing what someone’s messy handwriting says. The difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon is huge! Don’t make me guess.
  6. Update your recipes. If one day you decide your classic apple pie needs a little more cinnamon (because of course it does!), make a note of it on your recipe card. You’ll know to do it next time.

Why I Use Recipe Cards, plus a free recipe card download // Feast + West

Today, I’m sharing a free, PDF download of these recipe cards. Download the file now, then print them out and trim them. (These are 8.5 x 5.5 inches. You may want to change the scale in your printer settings, depending on the size of your recipe box.) Start saving your recipes today!

Tell me, which recipes do you cherish the most? // susannah 


P.S. This recipe card download is just one of the pages in The Complete Guide to Building Your Home Bar, a FREE 24-page, illustrated booklet filled with secrets I learned in bartending school. Everything you need to know to keep your bar well-stocked, from the right tools and glassware to basic liquors and ice. You’ll also get 10 easy cocktail recipes, a measurement cheat sheet and blank recipe cards. Read it on your computer, smartphone or tablet, or print it and assemble it into a 24-page mini-booklet for your home bar.

With this guide at your side, you’ll mix better cocktails and impress your guests! To download it for free, you’ll first need to sign up for The Feast + West Dispatch. (You can do it over here, in the sign-up box in the sidebar or right here:

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Getting More Out of the Mason Jar

reCAP Flip Cap // Feast + West

Whenever possible, I try to use less plastic in my kitchen and reuse containers as many times as I can. Mason jars are a great alternative when storing food. These glass beauties bring a vintage feel to the kitchen, plus they are environmentally friendly and can hold just about anything! Mason jars can also be a bit limiting, though. Just the other day, I cracked open a jar of Cherry Bounce I made over the summer (more on this soon!) and I really struggled with the jar’s pouring ability. Sure, the regular canning lid is perfect for the initial bottling of goods, but ultimately you need a bit more functionality.

reCAP Flip Cap // Feast + West

Enter the reCAP, a line of jar lids with all kinds of different functions and possibilities. Founder Karen Rzepecki came up with the idea when she needed a pouring receptacle for her homemade salad dressing. So far, you can buy reCAPs for pouring, spraying and pumping. There’s even a version with a slit in the lid to make an adorable coin bank out of a mason jar.

reCAP Flip Cap // Feast + West

Right now, the Mason Jars Company has a Kickstarter to raise money to produce a new lid for their line, the reCAP Flip Cap. This one is a flip lid that makes it easy to reach inside the jar for things like candy and jam, then reseal it for safe-keeping. The Flip Cap also comes with a screen to make your own shaker. I know I would use this lid to shake out flour, powdered sugar or cinnamon when I’m baking.

reCAP Flip Cap // Feast + West

These jars have endless possibilities. You could definitely take them beyond the kitchen for storing anything that will fit! Nails, Legos, bobby pins, paper clips — you name it. These products transform Mason jars into multi-purpose, reusable, sustainable containers. And the best part? They come in several sizes to fit on the jars already in our kitchens. Yes, please. // susannah

(Photos // The Mason Jar Company)

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Kitchen Road Trip: Tennessee

Kitchen Road Trip: A Tennessee gift guide // Feast + West

Even though Tennessee is just a hop, skip and a jump over the Blue Ridge Mountains, I feel like I haven’t explored it to its fullest. I’ve driven through it many times and even spent a few summers there, and yet I’ve never been to Nashville and Memphis — two of the most important cities in music history. I’m sure due to take a proper road trip to the Volunteer State, complete with a stop at Graceland and a show the Ryman Auditorium. This state is also a hot spot for great food and good design, as you’ll see in this Tennessee gift guide. I just want to surround myself with these golden hues. Clearly, I need to make this trip happen! // susannah 
The Kitchen Road Trip series is a virtual ‘trip’ to a different state. Posted weekly on Mondays, each post is a gift guide to items from a different state, in alphabetical order, and features food & drinks, books, home goods and travel items.

Click below to see the Tennessee gift guide!

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The Skeleton, A Halloween Cocktail

The Skeleton, A Halloween Cocktail // Feast + West

Halloween is all about trompe l’oeil, which is French for ‘trick of the eye.’ From disguises and costumes to spooky decorations and haunted houses, every part of this holiday has something to do with tricks — right down to The Skeleton, a Halloween cocktail I designed.

But it’s a real treat too. It looks like a poisonous, dark potion, but it’s actually a sweet and fizzy root beer cocktail. It tastes like a Tootsie Roll candy, but the smooth, velvety Kahlua really packs a hidden punch. Painted stripes of melted white chocolate inside the glass give it the air of a skeleton’s rib cage against the jet blackness of the drink itself. If you’ve got kids, let them think they’re drinking a grown-up cocktail by skipping the alcohol altogether. Serve the Skeleton at your Halloween party this year, or sip on one as you wait around for those trick-or-treaters to ring the doorbell. Cheers! // susannah

Click below to see the recipe for the Skeleton cocktail!

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Creative Maps + Atlases for the Home

Creative Maps for the Home // Feast + West

Over the years, I’ve been building a map collection. Maps and atlases make incredible art and often spark conversation with guests — I loved displaying mine in my last apartment. By incorporating a map into your living space, you can pay homage to a former home, commemorate a special vacation or get excited about future travels to faraway lands. I find that vintage maps are just as interesting as current ones, too. Maps always tell a story.

Outside of framing a cool map or investing in a gorgeous print, there are lots of other ways to integrate wanderlust into your home. Maybe it’s in the decor, such as a lovely quilt, or something more functional, like a pie dish or a calendar. Lately I’ve been adding lots of location-based decor ideas to a board over on Pinterest, but here are a few of my favorite creative maps for the home.

What places have a special hold on your heart? Which would you commemorate in your home? // susannah 

 

Creative Maps for the Home // Feast + West

1. Nevada State Plate by Corbé ($78) // 2. Uncle Goose USA Blocks ($100) // 3. Haptic Lab Great Lakes Quilt ($219) // 4. 2015 Travel The World Calendar by Rifle Paper Co. ($26) // 5. Paris Subway Map by Lineposters ($25) // 6. Vintage Typographic Globe by Pixels and Wood ($200)

(Photo // E Weiman)

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A Weekend in St. Louis

A Weekend in St. Louis // Feast + West

At the beginning of the month, I travelled to St. Louis for a dear friend’s wedding. My mom and I flew in a day early so we would have an opportunity to explore the city, which was new to us, before the celebrations. Here’s a look at how we spent our weekend in St. Louis

To pinpoint where we would eat, I followed suggestions from Twin Stripe’s St. Louis Travel Guide and by using my own Instagram as a travel guide. It’s amazing to me how many great recommendations you can get from real people versus generic travel guides.

A Weekend in St. Louis // Feast + West

After leaving the airport, we went in search of lunch. We meandered through the outlying neighborhoods and I immediately fell in love with the architecture there. The row houses are tall and narrow, and they lack driveways as there are alleyways in the back. So different from the homes we have in North Carolina.

A Weekend in St. Louis // Feast + West

We settled on lunch at Mission Taco Joint in The Loop, an area of St. Louis near Washington University. We tried the carne asada taco, the baja fish taco and the roasted duck taco, plus a side of their signature off-the-cob Mexican street corn. It was an amazing meal, and I would want to eat here again on my next visit!

A Weekend in St. Louis // Feast + West

After lunch we walked off our tacos in The Loop. The architecture there was so cool, and I loved all the neon signs over the theaters and restaurants. This one is the Tivoli Theatre, a historic cinema.

A Weekend in St. Louis // Feast + West

For dinner, we met my soon-to-be-wed friends at The Shaved Duck in the Tower Grove East neighborhood. It was an insanely good meal of St. Louis-style barbecue, and I loved the handmade details on the walls and the welcome sign on the door.

A Weekend in St. Louis // Feast + West

Our hotel was the Missouri Athletic Club. It was an inexpensive option downtown, a great location for walking during the day or for driving outside the city. Built in 1903, the MAC is a lot like a YMCA — it has exercise facilities as well as overnight rooms. The interior was stunning, with carved wood and embossed metal details all over the lobby.

A Weekend in St. Louis // Feast + West

The next day, Mom and I explored the Gateway Arch, because how could we not? We had limited time before driving to the wedding location, so this was a priority for us though we did not take the elevator to the top. It was a windy and chilly fall day, but I kind of love how the arch blends into the sky in my photos. What a stunning piece of architecture!

A Weekend in St. Louis // Feast + West

Before leaving town, we stopped for lunch at Zia’s on the Hill. The Hill is an Italian neighborhood in St. Louis, and we had heard we needed to try ‘toasted ravioli’ while we visited. It did not disappoint. Important question: How did I live without breaded deep-fried ravioli before?

A Weekend in St. Louis // Feast + West

Our last stop before the wedding was at Pie Oh My in Maplewood. We had been aiming for dessert at Strange Donuts, but they were already sold out for the day. The air outside was thick and sweet, and we realized next-door Pie Oh My was still open. Mom and I enjoyed a cup of tea and one mini-tart each. She chose chocolate ginger pear, and I tried the toffee pumpkin. All I want to do is go back there and eat more pie!

A Weekend in St. Louis // Feast + West

And then, the sight-seeing ended as it was time to celebrate our friends. The wedding was held the next day at this adorable venue, Three Barn Farm. A weekend was hardly enough time to see all that St. Louis has to offer. Next time, I’ll be sure to visit the City Museum and take a trip to the top of the arch! I can’t wait to take another trip there. // susannah

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Kitchen Road Trip: South Dakota

Kitchen Road Trip: South Dakota gift guide // Feast + West

There’s a big road trip I’ve always wanted to take. Stretching between Boston and Seattle, Interstate 90 is the longest highway in the country. I would definitely be a long trip but I’d want to stop pretty much everywhere. One of those stops would have to be South Dakota, to see the buttes, Badlands and Black Hills. And Mount Rushmore, of course. I’ve heard it’s simply gorgeous. One day, I will take this road trip. Until then, the goodies in this South Dakota gift guide will have to do. Hope your week gets off to a good start! // susannah

The Kitchen Road Trip series is a virtual ‘trip’ to a different state. Posted weekly on Mondays, each post is a gift guide to items from a different state, in alphabetical order, and features food & drinks, books, home goods and travel items.

Click below to see the South Dakota gift guide!

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Ginger Fig Sparkler

Ginger Fig Sparkler // Feast + West

Somehow, I missed out on figs this year. Apparently last winter was particularly harsh, so my mom’s and aunt’s fig trees didn’t provide as well this time around. Luckily, I came across two jars of fig jam I made last year and thought of two things:

  1. These amazing Almond + Fig Thumbprint Cookies. (I think I need to make some more.)
  2. This Improved Gin + Jam Cocktail from a couple months ago.

Inspired by these ideas, I created this Ginger Fig Sparkler, a bright and tangy drink with a few spoonfuls of the jam, plus some vodka, lemon juice, ginger ale and thyme. The ginger ale brings bubbles, making this drink quite sparkly indeed.

Did you get your copy of The Complete Guide to Building Your Home Bar yet? It’s yours for free when you sign up for email updates from Feast + West. This guide will walk you through everything you need to make this cocktail. Finding a spot for your home bar would be a great weekend project — promise! Enjoy your weekend, friends. // susannah 

Learn how to make this Ginger Fig Sparkler! Click below.

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