Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Advil Calendar 2013 Day It's All a Blur: COOKIE SWAP KEY PARTY EDITION

We do crack ourselves up, don't we Raylan?

I have turned a corner on this whole December bullshit. Yes. It is safe to say there was a corner back there yonder - and I stepped smartly around it. I know when it was, too - it happened this afternoon, the minute I put two trays of cookies in the oven and slammed the door.


Oh sure, super cute, but so far beyond my level they
might as well be made of unobtainium.
I mean. What ailed me, signing up for the cookie swap? "Well I'll be making cookies anyway," I seem to remember thinking, having totally lost all memory of WHO I AM.

I have spent my whole life - 48 years - being Not a Baker. The whole "measure" and "watch the time" thing, I suck at both of those. Everyone who knows me knows that if they are looking for cookies, they can just keep looking. I don't even buy cookies, for Christ's sake.

So it was just another storm cloud on the December horizon, along with the webcast I agreed to moderate and the radio show and the judging panel for the Cybils Awards - now the Cybils is a labor of lusty passionate leg-humping love every year, but the finish line IS Christmas, basically, and so it kind of simmers in the background threatening to boil over and stink up the kitchen all month long.

Not to mention the book I was supposed to have reviewed by November 28. And that book is the most boring book I have ever read, and when I say that it was a boring book, I say that as a person who reads and reviews how to draw books twice a year. Yeah, boring and I, we're buds. So it has taken me A WHILE to read this book.

But the webcast is done, the radio show is done, the Safelite guy showed up this morning and replaced the windshield on the van, the cat gets eye drops, I am 30 pages from the end of this godforsaken book, and the kid's shoes fit, so this morning I beat some egg whites until they cried and rolled over and begged for more, and I made meringue cookies. Which are pretty much the only cookies I can make because they bake for two hours. You would have to forget them for DAYS before they burned.

(On the other hand, you can somehow screw them up so that after they have baked and cooled they will be adhered to the parchment paper so profoundly that you will have to tear them off the paper and then use a microplane grater to sand the paper off the bottoms, which is what we have Bob has spent the last hour doing. NO COOKIES. I am not cookie lady. Must remember for next year.)

(Plus I realized when I took the trash out after grating the asses off those cookies that my fly has been unzipped all afternoon. Yup. Things are looking up.)


So I took the older kid out to Toys R Us so he could buy a gift for his brother and for his Secret Santa at school (UM? OK FINE. I will forbear) and a wreath hanger and a new dish drainer, and then we got pho and we were very happy. Then the liquor store. Man, have you been shopping lately? It is a world of picked-over out there right now. Had to go to three stores before I found a wreath hanger.

AND the liquor store had no Flor de CaƱa rum. TRAGIC - I can't find my favorite rum! How am I going to get through Christmas day? There better be a bottle of Rum Jumbie under my mistletoe, that's all I'm saying. Also missing from the shelf was Punt e Mes, which is going to make my little glass of rye very lonely. On the other hand... well you know there's always something intriguing at the liquor store. I ran across this item tonight and I just had to have it. ROOT spirit. It's got like tea and birch bark in it and I am a supersized sucker for stuff like that.


•1 part ROOT
•1 part rye whiskey
•1 part sweet vermouth
•2 dashes barrel aged bitters
•Build in a rocks glass with one large ice cube.

See? Rye! It's everywhere!

Our old friend Uncle Shawnie (you may conjure a scrawny version of SNL's Drunk Uncle if you need a visual) was once told by a nun, "you're like the broken arrow that finds its mark" or something like that. Spinning arrow maybe. Nuns. Who knows what they'll come up with. So years later, he has to go to his old school for some reason, and he was a cop at that point and the same nun was like, "Oh Shawn. I always knew I'd see you in a police car one way or another," and Shawn was like, "Hey! What about the spinning arrow?"

They offered a terrarium making
workshop for recycling your empties.
I can't make this shit up.
That cocktail is one for Shawnie, all right. The ROOT is bitter, ex-cop bitter, bitter to the point of astringent. And there's kind of a dirty aftertaste. By which I mean it tastes kind of like dirt. Which is a new one on me, for sure.

I think there are good uses for ROOT, but they need to involve something sweet. I'd add maple syrup to the Broken Arrow, for example. And I'd drink the Appalachian Flip, a drink on their website involving a whole egg, sugar syrup, and beer.

SIDEBAR: More brand website treasure
ROOT is made by (or for) one of those supertrendy supply stores for the well-groomed urban lumberjack DJs in our lives. It's located in Philly and it's called Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and uh-huh. Lordy. Let's just slide right past that. In fact, I walked past that when I chaperoned the 5th grader's field trip last month. I remember thinking, "Oh Jesus. We were just in Austin."

They have a men's gift guide though that is a scream. It hits every hipster beat fat and square. Warby Parker sunglasses. Fancy-pants shaving cream with a general store-looking label. A hemp denim necktie! BEARD OIL. Oh my.

You know who doesn't need BEARD OIL? That's him at the top of this post. Yup. I have decided that Timothy Olyphant is the spirit animal of The Advil Calendar 2013, as Taylor Kitsch was our leading man of 2011. Mmm. I kid you not, I saw John Carter of Mars twiceIn the theater. I will bet you that not even Taylor Kitsch's mom paid to see that movie twice. And still it's not on Netflix. Dang it!

Anyway. Olyphant. There was so much drinking on Deadwood that I think I damaged my liver just watching. And Raylan? "Raylan will pretty much drink whatever's in front of him," says Taylor Elmore, a writer on the show (quoted on The Gray Report).

Raylan drinks Wild Turkey with his dad, white lightning with Boyd, beer with - um, anyone - and potentially poisoned moonshine out of a Mason jar with a notorious criminal mastermind.

Here he is with no hat, on a network TV show (Damages)
and he's still got a glass of bourbon in his hand.

So screw that hemp denim necktie bullshit - me and Raylan got something that'll oil your beard just fine.

Naturally, after this year's VERY SUCCESSFUL Viryta making experience (yes we have cracked a bottle and oh my heavenly honey angels it is good), I got to wondering whether Mags Bennett's "apple pie moonshine" was a real thing. I suspected yes, and I thought maybe it was some kind of sweetened infused moonshine, just like the Viryta is just Everclear, honey, and spices. And I thought maybe I should make some.

Well there are just a ton of recipes for it out there online. There's even one for you crock pot enthusiasts. Most of the recipes I found call for a gallon of cider and/or a gallon of juice and then a liter of moonshine but you know what? that just doesn't jibe with the high-testosity I associate with the word "moonshine."

The end product that "Tickle" here has produced is about half moonshine, half cider and juice. Well, I guess. Points for doing it outside, that's for sure. There's a legend in our family that my great-grandmother, a famous cook, burned the kitchen down three times making oyster fritters. She liked that oil good and hot - and deep. So my great-grandfather built her a barbecue in the backyard. But this is legend and I am 100% sure that one or both of my parents will tell me that I have that completely wrong - not only did she not light the kitchen on fire, she wasn't actually much of a cook and in fact I never even had any great-grandparents.

GRR CHRISTMAS. Sorry, sorry: Corner! Turned! In the lane snow is glistenin'! Timothy Olyphant in a Santa hat!

This is from "Go" but it's an emergency.

Ok I'm better. Here is also better - an apple pie moonshine recipe that uses apple concentrate instead of all that juice and cider. This recipe is from Clawhammer Supply, a company that will sell you an honest-to-god copper still (they're not that expensive!), and this apple pie is described as "knock-your-socks-off strong," which is definitely what I picture Mags Bennett drinking. I blended the steps a little bit with Nida's Viryta process, so that this is actually an overnight project.

Clawhammer Apple Pie Moonshine
1 quart of 150 proof, pure corn whiskey moonshine (everclear could be used as a substitute).
3 cans of frozen apple concentrate.
8 cinnamon sticks.
0-2 cups brown sugar*
other spices to taste**
*Depending on how sweet you want it to be.
**I would definitely jazz this up with whole allspice berries, mace, vanilla, ginger, cloves. Maybe orange peel.
First, add the apple concentrate, cinnamon sticks and brown sugar to a pot. Heat gently but do not boil. Stir a few times as it is heating up to dissolve the sugar.
Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat. If you're using orange peel, you might want to keep the burner on a little longer. Cover and let cool overnight.
Split the apple/spice mixture between 4 pint jars (or 2 quart jars). Top the jars off with 150 proof corn whiskey. Remember, 100+ proof moonshine is flammable. You do not want to do this anywhere near a heat source.

Or you could just play Vulture's Justified drinking game. It's a good one - shots for shots fired, small sip whenever someone is addressed by their full name, tiny wince-y sip whenever Raylan winces. My goodness that man can wince.

It's late now, but maybe just one episode before hitting the hay. And I know I promised hot drinks, but it has just not been that cold. The snow didn't last, and I know all y'all in New York are all wintry-mixing it up, but the weather is pretty boring here.

Well then. This is Your Neighborhood Librarian. Until tomorrow, keep it zipped, and carry a flask.