Friday, May 27, 2011

Raise Your Glass

Wow. I had quite a break here. Sorry about that. Spring and I are never the best of friends, no matter how hard I try, and this year was particularly...busy. Yes. Busy is a very good word.

In the spirit of celebrating a series of massively-important jobs well done, and in recognition of the fact that I lose my water glass several times a day when I'm this busy, today's recipe is both celebratory and beneficial. Remember a few posts ago when I mentioned that I hadn't really intended to stick with just baked goods? This is NOT a baked good.

As an alternative medicine practitioner, I need to take a certain number of continuing education classes every two years. This Spring, I am taking a course on Using Food as a Healing Modality. I know, right? For an acupuncturist who practically lives in her kitchen and has started a food blog, this was like a blessing from the gods. I am enjoying the heck out of it, and will share some of the other recipes with you later. This week, however, an article hanging on the wall caught my eye and, once I'd read it a few times, I whipped out my notebook and pen and jotted down, I kid you not, a cocktail recipe devised by a leading herbalist to combat dementia. Fittingly, I forgot to write down the name of the publication. I will add that information here next week, after my next class.

I am not much of a drinker. I am too tiny; a single drink can make me sorry for days afterward. This recipe, however, is going into my repertoire. You know, for those rare moments when I can in fact kick back and have a drink. Here's to you, Spring: May the door not hit you on your way out!

Jim Duke's Creme D'Mentia Cocktail
  • 1 cup 80-proof vodka*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 fresh lemon (leave the peel on for extra potency)
  • 4 Tbs fresh rosemary leaves
  • 6 Tbs fresh lemon balm leaves
  • 4 Tbs fresh peppermint leaves (any mint will do about as well, he says)
  • 2 Tbs fresh sage leaves
  • evaporated cane juice to taste
*You need to select your vodka carefully, because it is made from any one of many common allergens, so look for one that fits your particular allergy needs. Remember, some vodkas are made from grapes - no grain at all!

Clearly, since this is designed to be medicinal, it's best if everything you use is organic. If you want to go all the way to awesome, use organic vodka. However, since I'm aware that most of my readers are more concerned with staying gluten-free than staying organic, I can also give some advice on vodkas that are definitely gluten-free. Isn't the internet wonderful?

It's best if the water you use doesn't contain chlorine. Why? Because that will kind of mess with the medicinal properties of the beverage, even if everything else hides the nasty taste. I am fortunate enough to have a really great filter. If you're worried, use bottled water. If you really don't have access to anything but straight-up municipal tap water, it will work nearly as well, it just won't taste as good.

You will notice that I am still very much in favor of evaporated cane juice, too. Interestingly, I just found out from this same awesome class that that's because it's one of the few forms of sugar that are definitely non-GMO. No wonder it always tastes better to me! (Seriously, do a taste test between organic/non-GMO fruits or veggies vs. regular ones. The taste difference is staggering. Unfortunately, so is the price difference, except maybe at Trader Joe's.)

It is vitally important that you mix everything in a glass container. Using plastic does Bad Things. Remember that nasty drain-cleaner-esque vodka you had in college that came in a one-gallon plastic jug? That's pretty much what I'm talking about.

Using a glass container, mix together the two liquids. Squeeze and then drop in the 1/4 lemon. Add in each kind of herb. Bruising the leaves first is very helpful, but not strictly necessary; if you forget, don't worry too much. Rolling the leaves between your palms before you drop them in is a nice way to do it that will also leave your hands smelling lovely, but you can also press on them with the flat of a knife, or whack them with a meat tenderizer, or work them over a bit with a mortal and pestle. It really is a matter of personal preference. After all, you're going to drink this later.

Add in the cane juice and stir together. The amount of sweetener you use is of course up to you. If you prefer your drinks sweeter, add a fair amount. If you aren't sure, 1-2 Tbs is probably a good middle-of-the-road starting point.

Let everything steep together, covered, for 3 days in a cool, dark place. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down on the herbs to extract as much liquid as possible. The more tattered your herbs were, the more particulate you will see in the finished product. Serve either neat or over ice. If it's too overpowering, dilute it with water or your beverage of choice. Do not forget where you left your glass.

Safe for the following allergies: dairy, gluten, wheat, corn, oats, rye, barley, egg, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, soy, nightshades