Rosemary Cocktail Onions

I’m kind of addicted to tiny vegetables–baby carrots, mini eggplants, and of course, tiny onions. Not to mention that I love savory cocktails, so cocktail onions are kind of a necessity around here. Unfortunately, some of the commercial ones have either a really flat and bland flavor profile or a ton of preservatives that you don’t really need. So, I made my own. It’s slightly herbal, but the brine itself is still simple enough that it doesn’t have a ton of strong flavors that would compete with the onions.

Some notes: If you grow your own rosemary and bay leaves, they’ll make this recipe even better. Otherwise, if you don’t have access to the fresh stuff a dried bay leaf and a couple pinches of dried rosemary will work too. Also, you’ll make more brine than you need when you prepare this recipe. I prefer having too much brine to not enough so I don’t have to stop the whole preparation process to make another batch. This recipe yields one pint, but you can multiply it very easily.

Rosemary Cocktail Onions

10 oz white pearl onions
6 peppercorns
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
2 tbsp salt
1 bay leaf
2 small sprigs rosemary

-Prepare your canning jars (I used two half pint jars) by placing in boiling water to sterilize (if you haven’t canned before, this is a pretty good tutorial)
-Combine all ingredients besides onions and rosemary in a pan and simmer for ten minutes.
-Meanwhile, drop the onions (peels and all) into boiling water and boil for three minutes.
-Remove the onions to a bowl of ice water.
-Cut off the root end of the onion, and gently squeeze the top to push the onion out of its skin.
-Remove sterilized jars from water and add a rosemary sprig to the bottom of each.
-Divide the onions between the jars, and ladle hot brine over them to cover, leaving 1/2 inch of space in the jar.
-Top with lids and rings, place in hot water bath and process for 15 minutes.

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Tired of Store-Bought Perfume? Make your Own!

A little while ago it came out that the Komen Foundation’s perfume contains carcinogens. While I have other reasons for being skeptical of Komen, the perfume controversy got me to thinking about other ways perfumes could be made. I purchased perfumes that simply consist of plant extracts that have been infused in alcohol, and I have also used  essential oils as perfume. I like the former especially because the fragrance is lighter and can be used in a mister.
Long story short, I’ve started making my own perfume. There are still a couple (that are, as far as I know, carcinogen-free) that I will buy, but when I just want a simple scent, making my own is easy and fun! So far, I have just done lavender, but you can use anything you like (herbs, flowers, citrus zest, etc.)
For the perfume I made here, I used a bunch of lavender from Bluebird Hill Farm in NC. The best part is that their bunches of 50 stems fit perfectly in a pint jar for easy infusing! Just turn the stems with the flowers facing down, set in a jar, snip the stems, cover with vodka or everclear, and wait (I have vodka, so that’s what I’m using). I am waiting a month because it want it to be stronger than my infused vodkas, which usually infuse for a week or two, but you might wait more or less depending on what plants you decide to use.
I’m planning on blending some fragrances next, and I’m definitely planning on giving this perfume as a gift!

Lavender Perfume
1 bunch lavender
vodka
Pint jar, with lid

-Turn the lavender so the stems are facing down, and put into a pint jar.
-Snip off the excess length from the stems (I cut them just a tiny bit shorter than the jar).
-Add enough vodka or everclear to cover.
-Top with the lid and close tightly. Let sit (away from sunlight is probably best) for one month.
-Use! You have a couple options for this (and probably more than I haven’t thought of):

  1. Keep in the jar with the flowers. To use, dip your finger in and dab the scent on.
  2. Strain the flowers out, and funnel into a perfume bottle to use as a spritz for yourself or to scent linens and such.

 

 

Chai Spice Shortbread Cookies

We had planned to go to a housewarming party yesterday, and I thought I would like to bring over a snack for everyone. I was short on time, though, so it had to be something easy. Thankfully, few cookies are easier than shortbread and you can put whatever you want in them! I love warm spices this time of year (even though it’s not all that cold here in Florida), so decided I would make some spice cookies. I always have all the whole spices for making my own chai (I base it on this recipe), so I decided I would make a chai glaze and add some spices to the cookies themselves. They are delicious! When I made the glaze, I steeped the spices in milk, and made enough extra to have a glass of warm, spiced milk (normal people would add tea to have a chai tea, but I was feeling lazy). I’ve included that extra amount here, since it’s hard to get the spices really good and steeped if you’re only using the couple tablespoons needed for the glaze. If you’re adamantly opposed to drinking spiced milk or tea, you can try just using the small amount of milk, although be prepared to play around a little bit with the amount as some will evaporate.

Chai Spice Shortbread
For the cookies
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 c granulated sugar
about 2 1/2 c flour

-Preheat oven to 350.
-In a bowl, cream together the sugar, salt, spices, and butter.
-Add half the flour and mix. Begin drizzling in remaining flour until it’s the consistency of a stiff dough (the exact amount will depend on humidity and a host of other factors). If your dough gets crumbly, add the tiniest splash (about a tsp) of milk.
-To shape the cookies, you have two options:
-Option 1: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it out until it’s 1/2 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies.
-Option 2: Lay 2 pieces plastic wrap down on the counter. You want it to be long and wide enough to roll your dough up. Put half the dough on each piece of plastic (2-3 inches from the top), and shape into a ‘snake’ by gently rolling or pressing the dough. Take the top edge of the plastic and fold it over the dough. Press the dough firmly in the plastic until it’s a uniform round shape. Wrap tightly, refrigerate for half an hour, then unwrap and slice into 1/2 inch thick circles.
-Bake the cookies for about 15-18 minutes or until set and slightly golden.

For the glaze
 8 green cardamom pods, halved
10 cloves
15 peppercorns
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp anise seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
pinch salt
1 1/2 c milk
powdered sugar (about 1 cup)

-In a skillet, toast the spices over medium heat until they are fragrant.
-Add milk and bring just to a simmer. Add salt.
-Turn off the heat and allow the  spices to steep for at least 15 minutes (the longer you let it steep, of course, the more flavorful your milk is).
-Strain the spices out of the milk, and pour the milk into a glass. Reserve 2 tbsp for your glaze.
-Add powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.  Stir in with a fork after each addition. Keep adding sugar until it’s the consistency you want.
-Drizzle the glaze over cooled cookies.

Pumpkincello

Inspired by this recipe, I have been infusing pumpkin in vodka for about a week. I thought about using it as-is, but I’ve been on a big limoncello kick lately so I wondered if I could make a pumpkin-y beverage for fall. Indeed, you can! If you remember my previous post on limoncello, I made a creamy version which was delicious (it’s mostly gone now). This pumpkincello is pretty incredible too: I toasted the spices and added them to the creamy simple syrup, but you can also put them in with the pumpkin to infuse if you want your spice flavor to be much stronger. As an added bonus, roast your pumpkin seeds with maple sugar and salt for a tasty snack.

Update: A very good question was raised that I neglected to mention: refrigeration! Definitely store the finished product in the fridge. I let mine steep outside of the fridge and it came out fine, but if you are worried about it you can definitely store it in the fridge for every step. I feel like it will keep longer if you do it this way. I’m starting on another batch and planning to store it in the fridge as it steeps just to be extra cautious!

Pumpkincello infusing. I had two tiny pumpkins, hence the color variation.

1 pie pumpkin
1 liter vodka (depending on the size of your container and your pumpkin, you may have some left over)
12 allspice berries
1 green cardamom pod
1 cinnamon stick
grating of fresh nutmeg
2 c whole milk or soymilk (can replace with water for non-creamy drinks)
1 c sugar

-Cut up the pumpkin. Remove the seeds (I rinse them and toast them, but you do what you want). Reserve the flesh and strings.
-Put the flesh and strings into a non-reactive container, and pour vodka over them to cover.
-Let sit for at least a week (the longer it sits, the stronger it gets).
-After your vodka is infused, pour it through a strainer to remove the pumpkin. You can strain it again through cheesecloth if tiny pumpkin bits in your drinks bother you.
-Toast the spices in a cast iron skillet until fragrant, and put in a saucepan.
-Add the sugar and milk and heat over medium-low to medium (stir occasionally) until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
-Strain the spices from the milk, then add to the vodka. Pour into pint jars for holiday gifts or be selfish like me and hoard it all in a larger bottle in your fridge!

This recipe is on Punk Domestics!

Creamy Pumpkincello