If I had to name my top ten favorite movies, I’d spend at least a couple of hours finalizing my list, picking through the films I love and figuring out which ones were worthy of being included (Showgirls!). One movie that would make it without a second thought would be Annie. I love that freaking movie.
I used to park myself in front of the stereo on Sunday afternoons when my parents were “taking a nap”. I was 25 years old before I realized what they were really doing. I’m grateful I never figured that out in my teens. Sitting there with my ginormous headphones on, I’d tune the strange knobs on my Dad’s equalizers, enjoying how I could manipulate the sounds and colors on the stereo. The records that I wore grooves in were by bands like The Moody Blues, Abba, Chicago and an album known as “Annie – the Soundtrack”.
I love my mom, but I’m still bitter about missing my chance to be a star in that movie. They held auditions in our city, and I desperately wanted to go and try out. My mom nixed the idea, wisely deciding that if I ever were to become a child star, I’d end up at Studio 54, snorting lines of coke with Drew Barrymore.
I would have made a spectacular Annie. I would have made an amazing Molly. In retrospect, I probably would have made a better Pepper, but please don’t tell my 7-yr-old self that. And getting the part of Annie would have proven that I could have red hair every bit as cute as my stupid little brother’s curly, red hair.
Feel free to blame my parents now for not being organized and not knowing where the pictures of me dressed as Annie for Halloween are. Those pics are gold. Instead, enjoy this picture of me in an Elmo hat. It’s the closest thing I’ve got.
Be afraid, little children. Be afraid
I still know every line in in every song from that movie. Give me the name of a song and let me loose. I’ll do the best rendition of ‘Dumb Dog’ that you ever heard. Some people brag about knowing every song that the Grateful Dead ever sang or being able to sing all the words in “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”. I mean – I can do that too, but belting out “Tomorrow” is so much cooler.
I’m pretty much past my Annie prime. I still could be a spunky ragamuffin that could charm a lonely, gruff mega millionaire’s heart. But that would be kind of creepy. Not the charming a mega millionaire’s heart. The part about having to dress and look like a 12 year old.
But one part I know I could still play to perfection? Miss. Hannigan. Miss Hannigan is the shit. The main reason? Two words – Carol Burnett.
Other reasons include her fabulous taste in fashion. Feather boas, slinky negligees, tasteful multiple strands of cheap necklaces – Miss Hannigan put the sass and ass in class. She danced like a goddess and knew the best way to clean house was not to get your fingers dirty. She was also a good person! She didn’t let her brother kill Annie!
The most kickass thing about Miss Hannigan? She wasn’t going to let a little thing like Prohibition get in the way of an after dinner drink. Or a before breakfast, after breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, before dinner, midnight snack drink. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if a bathtub had to be sacrificed to the gin gods, so be it.
My uncle lives in Texas and sent my family these gorgeous grapefruit. Since I’m such a generous soul, I took most of them and have been eating them and turning them into cocktails. They were so amazing that I wanted to do something special with them. I made marmalade. You know how people stick a bird on it? I stick gin on it.
Marmalade is a strange thing. No matter how many steps or voodoo magic you try to work, it will always have a bitter component to it. I like it; it keeps the sugary fruit from being too cloying. My husband hates grapefruit almost as much as he hates coconut. That’s a lot of hate. He shivers when I eat one. He likes this marmalade. Screw the Oscars. I’ve got enough validation right here in my own home.
Enjoy! If you don’t have a bathtub, feel free to use gin out of a bottle.
General Canning Notes: If I can avoid it, I don’t use any kind of commercial pectin in my canning unless it’s Pomona pectin. When I use regular pectin, 95% of the time it gets rubbery enough that it can be used in regulation racquetball competition.
Recipe Notes: This is not an exact recipe. You’ll need to at least use the amount of sugar I listed in the recipe, but if it doesn’t taste sweet enough, add more. I cooked this marmalade at a simmer until close to the end. You can keep yours at medium if you’re watching closely and stirring frequently. Back the heat off if it starts to foam up and boil over.
Scary “Oh my God, is it going to gel” Notes: Answer? Yes. I used to rely on the saucer in the freezer tip, and it made me feel like a moron. A candy thermometer is my best friend. 220 degrees is the holy number.
Kristina Writes the Longest, Damn Recipes in the World Notes: Yes. Yes, I do. The majority of the recipe instructions below have nothing to do with the recipe. I’m still wiped out from cancer last year, so I’ll admit I took a nap afterwards, but y’all will have no trouble making this. It’s not a complicated recipe. You will feel like you’ve properly stocked your family for the end of the world. You’ll feel like a badass and a little bit like Glenn Beck. Sorry about the last part. Buy gold.
GRAPEFRUIT POMEGRANATE & BATHTUB GIN MARMALADE
Makes: 2-3 pints and a little extra that will get stuck in your hair (I canned the marmalade in a combination of 1/4 & 1/2 pint jars)
3 large grapefruit (mine were gorgeous, beautiful monsters. All together, they weighed 3 pounds) plus 1 more grapefruit (last grapefruit is optional).
Rinds from 2-3 of these grapefruit.
1 lemon, medium size (snag a lime while you’re at it, but it’s optional)
1 cup pomegranate juice (I used POM brand)
3.5 or more cups of sugar
1/2 cup gin
1) Juice the first grapefruit. Juice a lime. Make a simple syrup (I use 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Simmer to combine). Pour 2 ounces gin in a cocktail shaker (mainly because this makes me feel like Tom Cruise in Cocktail) and add grapefruit juice, lime juice and simple syrup to taste. Make this mixture a little bit strong. Shake and pour over ice in a highball glass. Or ladle some gin out of your bathtub into a flask and tell your liver that you’re very sorry.
2) Remove the rind from two or three of the grapefruit. I used a vegetable peeler. Do not include the white pith. Remove the rind of one grapefruit this way. Think to yourself that this is fucking ridiculous and be a lot less careful removing the rind from another one. Some pith here and there will not kill you.
3) Put your grapefruit on a cutting board in a shallow pan with edges. This makes your kitchen the slightest bit less sticky when you’re done. Understand that you will still get marmalade in your hair at some point, and if you have kids, they’ll end up sticking to the fridge like they’ve just used superglue. Laugh at them and continue on with the recipe. Cut the grapefruit in half and cut out the sections (the little areas between the wagon spoke shaped membrane) as best as you can with a knife. If you’re a badass and have a grapefruit spoon, use that and feel superior to the rest of us.
3) After realizing that you now know where every single cut on your hand is located, dump all of these grapefruit sections as you cut them into a large saucepan. Squeeze the pitiful looking grapefruit remains over the saucepan to extract the most juice that you can. I ended up with almost 4 cups of fruit and juice.
4) Put the pieces of rind in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Dump the rind into a strainer and let all the water drain out. Add those to pan with the grapefruits and their juice. Add the pomegranate juice. Stir.
5) Add the 3.5 cups of sugar to the pan. Mix in well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and reduce to a vigorous simmer. I cooked mine a little higher than the low setting on my stove. Skim up any foam that collects. Do not drive yourself crazy trying to remove every bubble of foam. If you feel the need to do that, make another drink.
6) Put your candy thermometer in the pan. Do not let the thermometer part touch the bottom of the pan. Mine is encased in metal, so it can’t touch. This is very handy, especially after you’ve had the two drinks.
6) Time to start tasting to see if you used the right amount of sugar for your taste. A warning – jam, jellies & marmalade turn into plasma. Countries use it as a chemical weapon. Let that spoon cool down. Taste. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar.
7) Once the thermometer gets up to 210 degrees, add the gin. You will be very heartbroken to see the thermometer plummet. Have faith, young grasshopper.
8) You are watching a boiling pot. Time will bend, so a chair and another drink is really helpful right now.
9) The temperature will hit 220 degrees. Wait a few minutes to make sure you’re not imagining it. Do a little dance, makes a little love, and pour into containers. Store in the fridge or freezer. I got hardcore and canned it. Marisa has an amazing set of instructions for boiling water canning. She is the Yoda of all things preserved & pickled. This marmalade needs to process for 10 minutes. Marmalade will continue to set up over the course of a week.
10) Wait to hear the plinking sound the jars make when they seal and yell “Fuck yeah! I’m Laura Ingalls, bitches”. Revel in your awesomeness. Make another drink if that helps. The next morning, put any unsealed jars in the fridge.
11) Go take a shower. You’re sticky, and your hairstyle is approaching Something about Mary grossness. You’re disgusting.
12) Understand that you’re perfectly justified in feeling annoyed that I tried to be clever in the instructions of this recipe and leave a comment on this post telling me to STFU and just post the damn recipe next time.
No green food coloring was used in the making of this drink.
I have never been one for fruity, over-sweet cocktails. I like my bourbon neat, and I’ve never found a margarita mix that I could tolerate. I think this process started in college. While most of my friends were getting carded every time they ordered a Sex on the Beach or a Long Island Iced Tea, baby-face me got away with ordering a vodka tonic with a twist of lime almost every time. From an early age, I was well on the path to becoming a cocktail snob.
My husband jokes that I like manlier beers than he does. It’s true – give me a stout, and I’m a happy girl. But I’m game to try any kind of cocktail. It either needs to be the kind of refreshing drink that you crave when it’s 90 degrees out like Watermelon Gin Fizzes or a Route 69 Cherry Limeade. If it’s not something that’s going to cool me down, it needs to have an intriguing element to it like lavender (Kid Curry Cocktail) or basil (Peach Basil Sangria)
The McLynchburg Lemonade is not one of those cocktails. At all. And yet, I still adore every single sweet, fruity gulp of it.
I had my first Lynchburg Lemonade at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. This place is amazing. It looks like a Sandals Beach Resort, a hideously huge McMansion, Pigeon Forge and a botanical garden all got together for an orgy, and 9 months later this hotel was born. As a child I occasionally went to brunches there with my parent and participated in Easter Egg hunts, so I have a soft place in my heart for it. Is it tacky? You better believe it. But it’s tacky in such a refined way that you actually feel posh when you stay there. Its presence almost makes up for the fact that they ripped apart my beloved Opryland Theme Park and turned it into a steroid infused mockery of an outlet mall. The Opryland hotel has also provided me with the sweet, sweet image of Sarah Palin giving a speech standing in front of a podium that had “GAYLORD” posted in big letters across it.
The first time I took my husband to Nashville, I told him he had to experience the Opryland Hotel. It was too glorious to be missed. I brought him to the restaurant in the Cascades Atrium because it was where I had my first Lynchburg Lemonade. I have no idea if this still goes on, but at one point there was a nightly light and water show there. A man dressed in white would play a gigantic white piano in what had to have been an homage to Liberace. That show was another formative step towards my love for all things camp.
We each ordered a Lynchburg Lemonade. We sat there looking at the pulsating fountains and tropical trees all around us. And then my husband turned to me and said “Not bad. I bet we could make this better. This tastes like a mix.” I looked deeply into his eyes and said “Let it be done.”
As soon as we got home we made them ourselves, and they were better. Every once in a while we’d make and drink them, usually while sitting on our upper porch that we like to call “The Veranda” when we’re feeling fancy.
The topic of Lynchburg Lemonades can be very controversial. Some things in the South are sacrosanct and should not be changed, but there is no way in hell I would ever buy a container of sweet & sour mix. So we make our own sweet and sour mix (it’s very similar to this recipe), and we sometimes change it up with a more natural lemon-lime soda than Sprite. You may do these things as well, but here’s the “real” recipe for a Lynchburg Lemonade.
One hot August day we decided a Lynchburg Lemonade was in order, but there was no Jack Daniels to be found. The only whiskey we had was a bottle of Bushmills Irish whiskey. We defiled that whiskey, and we defiled it hard. Into the Lynchburg Lemonade it went, and it was delicious. We decided to name that drink a McLynchburg Lemonade, because O’Lynchburg Lemonade didn’t sound as dumb.
So we created a new holiday ritual in our home. Every St. Patrick’s Day we go to a fine purveyor of spirits in our fair city. Every St. Patrick’s Day we ask them what kind of moderately-priced Irish Whiskey they recommend. And every St. Patrick’s Day we enjoy the look of horror that spreads across that person’s face when we tell them what we’re going to do with it.
Have a gloriously fun St. Patrick’s Day everyone. And for the love of all that is holy, stay away from the green beer.
2 part Irish Whiskey
2 part sweet and sour mix
2 part triple sec
8 parts Sprite or lemon-lime soda
Add ice and give it a good stir. If you’re feeling all Sandra Lee and want to garnish it up, stick some lemon slices and cherries on the edge or in the drink.
The Oscars are this Sunday. I know there are many people that delight in the glamour, the splendor and the honor that winning an award brings to the actors, actresses, directors and producers in the movie business.
But I hope you all know me well enough to know that what I’m looking forward to is the opportunity to drink cocktails, eat fattening food and snark on the whole ridiculous charade of the event. What better way to do that than with a drinking game? And let’s all make sure to drunk-tweet using #oscarsnark.
You can choose some of these options or all of them (make sure you don’t have to go into work the next day). You can make bingo cards with the various choices. I’ve made sure to list some tasty snacks to help you soak up the booze.
Now on to the drinking game options. Luckily, I have a lot of friends who still delight in drinking games. Those delightful boozehounds helped me immensely. Here are the rules:
Drink every time someone gets played off the stage by the orchestra while giving their speech.
Each time you see Anne Hathaway cry, drink.
Take a drink if someone copies Sally Field’s ‘You like me’ speech.
If Sally Field gives that speech, finish your drink.
Drink when you get the first glimpse of John Travolta’s hideous toupée.
Drink every time the camera cuts from Ben Affleck to Jennifer Lopez to Jennifer Garner.
Each time the camera cuts to anyone from the entity I like to refer to as JenniJustPittAngel, drink.
Take a drink each time Joan River’s face moves. Expect to not be taking a lot of drinks for this.
Drink every time Nicole Kidman’s face moves.
Take a celebratory drink if Keith Urban is spotted, because the highlights in his hair are a work of art and should be celebrated as such.
Whenever a guy flubs a designers name (Except for Versace), drink.
Drink each time Ryan Seacrest mentions his “girlfriend” Julianne Hough in his effort to appear heterosexual.
Every time the camera cuts to Joaquin Phoenix, and he is sulking, drink.
If a British actor gets an award and is too important to show up to claim it, drink.
Take a drink each time a side boob or underboob is sighted.
Take two drinks if butt cleavage shows up.
If Jon Hamm shows up and is obviously letting the python in his pants go commando again, all the ladies should toast to it and finish their drink.
Drink each time the mani-cam is used. (I did not know this existed and I wish it had stayed that way.)
When the camera pans to Taylor Swift, drink.
If Zooey Deschanel wears a twee manic pixie dream girl dress, drink while adorably spinning in a circle.
Every time the camera pans to Daniel Day Lewis and he looks “not impressed”, drink.
If you’re a seasoned drinker, each time someone uses the word amazing to describe a script, another actor, or anyone else involved in movie making, drink.
Drink each time Seth McFarlane makes an off-color joke, and the camera pans to the subject of said joke.
Roll your eyes and drink anytime someone makes a reference to their “craft”.
If Helena Bonham Carter wears some outrageously crazy dress that just makes you happy, toast her crazy ass and drink.
Each time the camera cuts to Tom Cruise, and he is grinning manically, drink.
If Bjork shows up in an outfit that tops the Swan costume, you have to eat the worm at the bottom of the tequila bottle.
If anyone pronounces Versace like Ver-sayce, turn the TV off and immediately do 5 shots of whatever bottle of booze is closest. There’s no way anything else at the Oscars can top that.
I do want to warn you that this is the first year that the Academy is using an electronic voting system. Get ready for hanging chads, or make sure you’re prepared for a 6 hour show that consists of only a Guy Fawkes mask on your TV screen.
And I am posting this for no other reason than it’s awesome:
Please tell me that I’m not the only one here in Knoxville that gets panicky now whenever a thunderstorm heads our way? My childhood fears have crept back recently and I find myself getting anxious whenever there are storms. But luckily, I think I’ve found the charm that seems to warn them off. Gin. I’m in the process of testing this theory but anecedotal proof is conclusive in my book. So much so that I now store a bottle of gin in the cellar so that I can do my part to warn off the ugliness. You’re welcome Knoxville.
So, I have a bit of a severe thunderstorm/tornado phobia. When I was very young, a tornado took part of the roof of our house off when we lived in Nashville. Then I had a babysitter who would freak the heck out whenever there was a storm and she transferred her irrational fear to me. My mom couldn’t understand why I started running around, acting like Chicken Little every time there was a storm. Then she found out that my babysitter would have a panic attack anytime a storm approached. She’d also tape the shades to the windows because….well, I’m not really sure why. Maybe it was an ancient Southern ritual that was supposed to charm away storms? Or she was crazypants. Babysitters of the world? Please don’t do this. You’ll make the eccentric little knee biters in your care even weirder than they already were. So this is where my unhealthy fear of thunderstorms first appeared.
Then we moved to Wisconsin where one of the main pastimes is obsessing about the weather. And then recounting any disastrous weather events in explicit detail, ad nauseum. I lived outside of Milwaukee for seven years and while I still don’t know where the town of Barneveld is, to this day, I can still tell the tale of the killer tornado that destroyed the town.
But when I moved to East Tennessee, I was given a little bit of breathing room. Knoxville is protected by what my husband and I refer to as “The Forcefield of the Awesomeness That is Knox Vegas”. I’m sure there’s a technical term for it but ours is snazzier. Think of it as kind of like that forcefield that protected the Death Star, just without all the peskiness of those annoying Rebel Alliance people trying to destroy it. Horrible storms that pummel the Cumberland Plateau strangely break up before they hit our fair city and for someone that turns into a quivering mass of jelly before a severe thunderstorm or tornado threat, I’m grateful for that. Sure, every once in a while a nasty storm hits us but we usually get fair warning.
Until this spring. Two days before killer storms ripped across Alabama, on a Monday, a storm blew out of nowhere in Knoxville. One minute it was your typical thunderstorm, the next minute you couldn’t see five feet in front of you and my husband was yelling “Get into the cellar now!” This storm involved several microbursts that took out trees all over Knoxville, and many old ones in our neighborhood. We lost several large limbs off the beautiful old maple in our front yard. A large patch of shingles were ripped off of our roof. We discovered this hole in the roof when our bedroom light fixture filled with water and poured it all over the floor. Two windows were smashed out and water was forced through the front door and all the windows on two sides of our house. The storm hit at 5pm, we had a roofer on the phone by 6pm and the next day our roof was fixed just as our power was restored.
This was just in the knick of time because that Wednesday we were hit again. Unfortunately, we knew they were going to be bad because of the news coming out of Alabama about the tornadoes. Between waves of storms, we ran out to Chandlers and picked up fried chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and fried okra. Right before the more severe storms rolled in, I asked my husband to check the weather radar again. I must have sounded a bit tense (or the fact that I was almost levitating off the couch while I chewed my nails down to stubs) because he turned to me and said “I’ll be glad to. Let me get your a drink first.”
Yes, at one point to be on the safe side, we did go down to the the cellar when a torndado warning hit a little too close to home. But aside from the rattle of hail on the outside cellar door, we emerged remarkable unscathed. And I shakily emerged from the cellar with a death grip on my empty drink glass.
Late June, we had another series of severe storms roll in. I was watching my sister while my parents vacationed in Prague when the first one hit on Tuesday. What started out as a remarkably unassuming storm, quickly developed into another storm where we could barely see past our front porch. A large crashing boom sounded and I shoved my sister into our inner bathroom as she asked me over and over again “Sissy, are we going to die?”. We emerged after this storm to find one of the two trees that shade us from the afternoon sun, lying on the ground after having taken out another tree on the way down. I did not have gin in my hand when this storm hit so I’m pretty sure I caused our tree’s death. That’s a lot of guilt to deal with so I’ve been trying to make sure gin is always close at hand. You know, because I want to keep the trees safe.
Now I have no problem with swigging gin out of the bottle but I understand that some of you aren’t as refined as I am. For all you dainty people, I give you the Watermelon Gin Fizz.
I had a watermelon that went a little past its prime. It still tasted great but the texture got a little grainy. I pushed it through a seive and saved the juice. This was the delicious result.
Watermelon Gin Fizz Serves 1
Juice of one lime
2 tsp sugar
1 oz gin
1/2 cup watermelon juice
1/2 cup tonic or soda water
Mix together. Serve over ice. At first sign of storm, drink one and wait 30 minutes. If the storm doesn’t go away, drink another.
The cool kids might be in Atlanta (every time a BlogHer Food attendee refers to it as Hawt-Lanta, God kills a kitten) this weekend for BlogHer Food but the fool kids (AKA The Most Awesome Sauce Drunks in the Universe) will be partying it up at home, with only our bitter tears and our loneliness to keep us company.
Last year, I discovered the BlogHer Food Pity Party community the day before the conference. This year, I was more prepared. Besides making a hairshirt, there are a few things that you can do to make your Pity Party experience even fuller. Let me guide you.
First off, you really need to make sure you’re in the right mindset. I suggest listening to this song repeatedly.
Since the world is going to end during BlogHer Food, get prepped by listening to this:
Follow this up by listening to Ke$he. Because she sucks and so do you.
The only way to show those foodies at BlogHer Food that you don’t need them is to outdo them at their own game. Make your most elegant dish and serve it with a very fine wine. Let me make a pictorial menu suggestion:
You’re going to want to be comfortable, yet professional looking while BHFPP11 is going on. You’ll never have a better chance to make a good impression so dress sharp. As a guide, here’s what I wore last year:
Crafting is never amiss when it comes to BHFPP11. I’ve been hard at work on my project.
Beverages are a very integral part of BHFPP11. Sure, you could slum it with a boring margarita or martini but why not get fancy pants about it? Show all those BlogHer Food attendees you don’t need them and the buckets of awesome sauce swag they’re about to get because you’ve got fancy-schmancy drinks. Don’t you and your liver deserve it?
Enter the Kid Curry. I first had one of these at Knox Public House. This is my favorite bar in Knoxville. Every Thursday they have an artisanal cocktail and Laura, the owner, created this drink for one of those Thursdays. Lavender syrup, lemon juice and my favorite bourbon, Buffalo Trace, come together into a magical elixir that takes the pain away.
This is the kind of drink you start out BHFPP11 with. This is a drink that says that you’re cool and sophisticated. This is a drink that says “Hey – I could totally go to BlogHer Food if I wanted to. I choose not to.”
After three or four of these drinks, you’ll be able to convince yourself that when the world ends on Saturday you’d much rather be at home, dressed in baggy sweats with Cheeto stains, finishing off leftover Chinese food than living it up at the after parties at BlogHer Food.
After five or six of these drinks, you’ll be convinced that your genius idea to put out a couple pairs of shoes and clothes in the yard on Saturday will totally fool your neighbors into believing that you got raptured up while they were left behind. And that kind of brilliance took the act of missing BlogHer Food in order to come to fruition.
It’s later on when all your hopes and dreams have died that you start cracking into the Cardbordeaux and MadDog. The only cocktail mixing you’ll need to do with these babies is letting your bitter, bitter tears fall into the glass.
2.5 ox Buffalo Trace
1 oz lavender syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice
Shake all items together in a cocktail shaker with a little ice. Strain and serve.
1 cup water
1/4 cup lavender blossoms (I used fresh blossoms, use 2-3 tablespoons dried)
2 cups sugar
Bring water and lavender blossoms to a boil. Stir in sugar and remove from heat once it’s fully dissolved. Let cool and refrigerate for three days. Strain lavender out. You can use the syrup immediately but I like it best once it’s steeped a little.