The Old-Fashioned Lantern: An NYE Cocktail

Just in time for your NYE celebrations, here’s our first cocktail recipe from Emily Andrews, Hannah’s best friend. Emily and her husband Ian are some of the best at throwing a good party, so we knew that they’d be the perfect guest-posters for this recipe. We hope you enjoy this smokey, spicy cocktail this New Years Eve as you’re kissing the new year in. Happy 2018!


About this time four years ago, I landed at the Spokane International Airport and stepped into the Pacific Northwest for the first time in my life. I had come to celebrate New Year’s with my boyfriend’s family, and to meet them for the first time.

Ian and I had not been dating very long – not even a year – but we were already talking about marriage. He and I are nothing if not tempestuous.

I was extremely nervous as I waited for my suitcase at baggage claim. I knew there was a good chance he would propose that week, but everything was so uncertain and I carried all the pressures and insecurities of being a senior entering my last semester of college like the proverbial monkey on my back. So many of my future plans hanged on what would happen here in this alien outlying territory of the Louisiana Purchase, and for heaven’s sake, what if his family didn’t even like me?!

The days of my scheduled trip ticked by. The Andrews were as warm and delightful as could be, although I might have surprised them with the churlish bent of my Scotch-Irish ancestry. I think Ian decided to marry me only after he found out I enjoyed drinking whiskey straight.

My expectations dwindled. He wasn’t going to propose this week.

So I was completely unassuming when Ian asked one night if he could take me on a walk through his parent’s property. We passed under the bright starts of the Washington night sky until Ian stooped at the base of a pine tree to pick up an old fashioned lantern and light it. He said they kept it there for when it got dark in the woods.

I believed him. I wasn’t initiated in the ways of the PNW. What did I know?

To make a long story short, he had fixed up a tent in the middle of the forest and laid out a picnic dinner for us there in front of an elaborate wood stove. He proposed. I cried. It was all the worst kinds of warm and fuzzy.

And here we are four years later, back in the place where it began. After a lot of cross country travel, we’ve bought a new home in Spokane and I am officially a PNWer myself, though Ian still makes fun of me for thinking all PNWers hide lanterns in the woods.
They say every home needs a house cocktail, and this is what Ian came up with for us. It bites like the pines of the PNW, smells sweet like the wood stove where we got engaged, and punches every bit like a feisty Andrews.

I hope that as you enjoy it, we may all find rest from any fears we have about the future in the New Year and joy in whatever adventures 2018 brings our way.

Cheers!

The Old-Fashioned Lantern

Ingredients:

  • Grand Marnier
  • Old Forester Bourbon
  • Cinnamon Brown Sugar Simple
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Orange Rind

Tools:

  • 2 Rocks Glasses
  • 2 oz. Jigger
  • 1 oz. Jigger
  • 3/4 oz. Jigger
  • A Lighter

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Simple Recipe:

Standard ratio for simple syrup: 1 cup of Extra Dark Brown Sugar to 1 cup of Water. In this case, however, add 2 cinnamon sticks. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate.

Using the lighter, set one end of a cinnamon stick on fire. This could take a second: be persistent. Once it is lit, upend one of the rocks glasses and place it over the top of the lit stick, so that the smoke fills the glass.

Fill other glass with ice. Add 3 oz. of Bourbon, 1 oz. Grand Marnier, and ¾ oz. Brown Sugar Simple. Stir briskly until chilled. Then, carefully but quickly, strain the mixture into the smoked glass over one large ice sphere. Snap and squeeze the orange rind over the cocktail, and drop it into the top as a garnish. Enjoy.

 

Friday Faves: Host a Christmas Coffee

Here we are, back again with another nudge (whack?) to host people in your home. Do you hate us yet? Look, we’re both introverts, but we still love hosting people. There’s something about bringing people together, feeding them, and giving them an overabundance of caffeine, that really makes a house feel like a home. So, we’re back with more suggestions.

The Christmas season is full of amazing recipes, no one’s on a diet, and everyone’s in party mode. So grab a couple of your favorite pals and have a ladies night with dessert, coffee, and great conversation. Coffee and dessert are an especially great combo if an entire meal seems overwhelming.

We’re maybe a little bit obsessed with coffee. Both of us have an obscene number of ways to make coffee: espresso maker, Chemex, pour-over, moka pot, and percolator, to name a few. We love good, strong coffee to match our highly-opinionated personalities. It’s a killer combination, just ask our husbands. (Actually, maybe don’t.)

So drag out your favorite, most high-maintenance way of making coffee and make a fun dessert! We suggest this pear-cranberry galette, these cookies, or a store bought chocolate cake. We aren’t picky about the sort of sugary yumminess you serve with coffee, and we can guarantee your guests won’t be either.

We also would like to begin to beg you all to tag us on the ‘grams if you use one of our recipes. Pretty please? #commonsensekitchen #helpusout #makethefood #isitgood #arewecrazy (don’t hate us)

xoxo & Merry Christmas!

Hannah + Essie

 

Roasted Chicken

Everyone should know how to roast a chicken.

This is a staple of good home cooking and the base of so many good meals. I use my leftover roasted chicken for curry and use the carcass for homemade chicken bone broth. You can get at least 3 meals out of one whole chicken, which is incredible.

We thought we’d create a super-simple recipe for you all, just so you get the basics down. Once you’ve tried one flavor combination, you can try many more and just find one that fits your kitchen and your tastes. We like garlic and garlic and vampire kryptonite here so obvs that’s in our recipe. If that’s not your jam, sorry ’bout it and find another food blerg to read. (actually plz don’t – stay and be our friend).

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to roast the chicken, about 2 hours, and enough time to let it rest before serving it. I baked mine in my blue Le Creuset, which is just so pretty that you can even use it as a serving dish as well. If you have leftovers, just pop the lid on and put the whole thing in the fridge. Remember to cool it down, ya dingbat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 3lbs chicken
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 lemon, halved or quartered
  • 1 head of garlic (not a clove, folks, this is serious business)
  • twine or unflavored dental floss (to tie the chicken legs together)

Preheat your oven to 450. Make sure you dry the chicken well with a paper towel. Dry chicken skin = crispy chicken skin, and who doesn’t want that?

Next, place the chicken in your baking dish, whether that be a Le Creuset or a roasting dish. Make sure you place it breast-side-up. Rub the butter underneath the skin of the chicken. We have pictures of this, but it looks like I’m man-handling the chicken and that’s just not a good look for us. (NB: If raw chicken grosses you out, please, please talk to someone about it. You can’t live that way forever.) This recipe calls for kind of a lot of butter, but I don’t think butter has ever made anything worse, so use it all. Once you get all the butter you can under the skin, use what you have left inside the cavity of the chicken and on the legs and the back.

Fill the cavity of the chicken with rosemary sprigs, lemon slices, and garlic. With the garlic, I just slice the whole thing in half width-wise. You can also crush all of the garlic cloves for a bolder garlic flavor.

Place the chicken in the oven with the cover or tin foil on it for the next hour. Make sure you check on it every 15 minutes and spoon the melted butter and rendering chicken fat over the top of the chicken. Remove the lid or tin foil for the second hour and keep checking on it. Your chicken will be done when the skin is brown and crispy and the juice runs clear when you slice into it. The chicken in the feature picture isn’t actually cooked all the way – we were running out of daylight and oh wow you already stopped caring, didn’t you.

Serve with roasted veggies, salad, and a good, oaky chardonnay for a hearty dinner.

Egészségedre!

Hannah

Kinderpunsch on St. Nikolaus Day

Happy St. Nikolaus Day!

St. Nikolaus and I had a rocky start to our friendship. In southern German and Austrian homes, St. Nikolaus comes for a visit, bringing gifts in exchange for songs and kisses.

My first encounter with him at our door was when I was two. My poor father, who was in fact the man underneath the St. Nikolaus costume, still tells the story about how “pure terror” filled little Essie’s eyes when he came in the door. Even with his fake white beard removed, this is still the best picture my mom was able to snap:

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In case you’re worried I always rewarded my parents’ efforts to create special traditions and memories for their children with fear and ingratitude, I offer these pictures that later years were more successful and smile-filled:

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However, since I don’t live with my parents anymore and I have yet to convince Dave, my husband, to dress up as an Armenian Bishop, our St. Nikolaus Day celebration will be more low key. It’ll include some popcorn, Kinderpunsch, and cozy Advent candles.

Kinderpunsch is a hot beverage served in steaming mugs at German and Austrian Christmas markets. This non-alcoholic alternative to Glühwein is a mixture of cider, juice and tea.

Three years ago, Dave and I spent Christmas overseas with my Austrian relatives and visited as many of the markets as possible. We made a point to buy a Punsch at each one and kept the mugs as souvenir. Every Advent I love unpacking our little mug collection and making this Kinderpunsch recipe as a cozy tradition.


december-5

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup apple cider
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 bag hibiscus tea
    • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • Instructions:
    1. Heat juice, cider, water and cinnamon to a simmer.
    2. Add tea bags for 2-3 minutes.
    3. Remove tea bags.
    4. Add honey.
    5. Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes. You can just keep it on the stove quietly simmering while it fills your home with amazing smells.
    6. To serve, fill into cozy Christmas mugs and sip with loved ones, preferably with a lit candle or two or ten.
  • Serves: 2 (I highly recommend tripling or quadrupling this in a huge vat and enjoying it every evening this week)

Prost!

Essie

 

Apple Crisp

Just a month ago, we were drowning under one of Michigan’s biggest apple crops. My mother sent me home with buckets and buckets from her tree. We made more apple sauce, pies and crisps than we could possibly eat. We may have even been a little sick of apples, though we didn’t want to admit it because they were so good.

Finally, we threw out hands up in the air and just started freezing them. My mom has one of those handy dandy peelers that does it all for you. We’d get them all peeled, cored, and cut, stick them in bags and freeze them. This is by far my new favorite way to process fall apples. It’s been so nice to grab a bag or two and make baked apple goodies whenever I want.

Seasonal cooking means we use what currently grows and is ripe. However, we also put away some of that bounty to enjoy later. This apple crisp is ideal for apples that aren’t perfect or pretty to look at, like previously frozen ones, seconds or just a little older.

I’ve been perfecting this recipe all fall, so it truly is the best. All goopy and bubbly and just the right amount of sweetness without overshadowing apples’ natural flavor.


  •  Ingredients:
    • Crumb topping:
      • 1/4 cup flour
      • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
      • 1/4 cup sugar
      • 1/2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
      • 1/3 cup butter diced into small chunks
    • Apple filling:
      • 4-6 cups apples, peeled and cut
      • 4 tbsp butter
      • 1 tbsp flour
      • 1 tbsp lemon juice
      • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1/4 cup sugar
      • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Sift together all crumb topping ingredients except butter until well mixed.
    3. Add butter and incorporate with hands or fork until crumbly. Set aside.
    4. To make the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave.
    5. Add the flour, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. Mix well.
    6. Pour over the apples and stir until the apples are well covered.
    7. Dump apples into a baking dish (pie plate, 8×8, etc).
    8. Crumble the topping over it.
    9. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until apples are bubbly and topping is toasty.

Mahlzeit!

Essie

 

Simple Baked Oatmeal

You know in the early mornings when you really want something that’s kinda sweet to go with your hot coffee, but you just don’t want all the sugar that goes along with pancakes or cinnamon buns or what-have-you? Here’s your new go-to recipe. It’s super easy, you can make it ahead of time, and it keeps fairly well (if there’s any left). I’ve also recently learned that it’s great for nursing moms. So, here you go, mom-friends! Just for you!

Ingredients:

  • 2 C oats
  • 1 C milk (you can substitute almond milk)
  • 1/3 C coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3-ish C chunky applesauce
  • 2 Tbls canola or vegetable oil
  • handful and a half chopped pecans

Before you go and roll your eyes at my coconut sugar, hear me out. EVEN IF it has no special health benefits, the taste has me doing praise hands all day long. There’s a nutty richness to this sugar that just isn’t around with regular white cane sugar. It has more dimension than just sweet and I love that; it plays with the flavors of the apple sauce and the pecans in just the right way. You could probably use maple sugar here too, but that just seems so crazy expensive when you’re putting it in something with so many other ingredients. If you’re gonna use maple, LET IT SHINE LET IT SHINE LET IT SHINE.

Ok, ok. On to directions. Preheat your oven to 350 and grease a glass baking dish. You can use an 7×11 or an 8×8. I use the 7×11 because that’s what I have at my Airbnb.

In a mixing bowl, combine all your ingredients except the pecans. If you wanna be fancy and whip your eggs together before you add them, go you, but we’re not fancy here. Make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of egg whites leftover. Pour into your greased baking dish and sprinkle chopped pecans over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes. You want the edges to be crunchy and brown and for it not to move when you wobble the glass dish inside the oven (a little like you’d do with a quiche). It should also start smelling reeeeeeally good all up in your kitchen.

It’s one of my very favorite things to be up and at it before everyone else in the family and for them to come down to a warm, dimly lit kitchen that smells like cinnamon and coffee. I try to do this in our studio apartment, but the racket that I make getting our coffee made with the horrible whistling tea kettle and my clumsiness with glass jars wakes up my husband. Ah, well.

NB: there are SO many delicious variations you can do with this. I’m already thinking about adding some leftover cranberry sauce to it along with a little applesauce to see what it’s like! #livefast #dieyoung #what

Serves: 4-5

Egészségedre!

Hannah

 

 

Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is by far my favorite season. It marks the end of summer and summer clothes (I’d rather be a burrito of knitted things than in a swimsuit any day), it marks the beginning of the school year, and it’s full of the incredible magic of the world around us changing. The fall colors, the sweaters, the coffee, the chilly mornings and evenings, the crickets singing at noon, the harvest season, Thanksgiving . . . ALL OF IT. I LOVE ALL OF IT.

My mom homeschooled us from K-6 grade and she made the fall a time of complete joy. We loved school because it meant new books, Ticonderoga pencils, and learning about Ancient Egypt for the 235th time (kidding, but I have to put this in here for my mom and friend Celia). We raked leaves with my dad, making them into a leaf ‘n’ tarp burrito that he drove over to a nearby ditch. We hiked Bradbury “Mountain” (a beautiful hill nearby). We put pieces of paper over leaves and scribbled with the flat side of a pencil until the shape of the leaf showed up. My mom bought 3 pumpkins, one for each of us kids, and set them on the stoop in the front of the house (she still does this). The traditions go on and on and I love every single one of them.

One of the best things about fall, though, was mom’s fall recipe collection that came back out after its summer hibernation. This pumpkin bread/muffin recipe is from my grandmother originally and it’s one she used as a “tea bread” (she’s reeeally into high tea and scones and bone china and all that).

Since my husband and I live in California right now, I’m forcing fall on us in every way from turning up the A/C until we have to wear sweaters to making pumpkin everything.

Ingredients:

  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 C veg oil
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 3 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg

Mix it all in a big bowl. This batter keeps for a couple days, so you can make it the night before and have fresh muffins in the morning! When I was single and working full-time, I would make a batch of this batter and put it in the fridge. I’d get out my miniature cast-iron crock and make one giant muffin every morning for breakfast and this amount of batter lasted probably a week or so.

 

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aww suh cute, past hannah.

Sprinkle raw, chopped pecans or almonds on the top of each muffin for an extra, nutty crunch. They’re best served warm with butter.

 

Serves: well, how many muffins do you eat?

Egészségedre!

Hannah