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drink this

After making burrata with corn and tomatoes, I just couldn’t throw away the corn cobs without squeezing every sweet drop of summer from them. Since I only had a few, I couldn’t make enough corn stock to be worthwhile for soup. Using the same technique, however, I was able to produce enough sweet corny liquid to create a simple syrup for cocktails.

Place corn cobs in a pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook to extract flavor, about 30-45 minutes. Strain, and combine however much corn stock you have with equal parts sugar (ex.: 1 cup stock requires 1 cup sugar).

Use anywhere you would use standard simple syrup. For me, whisky was a natural partner, so I combined 3 parts of the spirit with 1 part corn simple syrup and topped it with club soda. A great cocktail to help transition into fall.

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After a fabulous night in Brooklyn with my good friend from a previous job, we were in dire need of a refreshing drink and a heavy brunch. Being that we were out the door by 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday, and that my friend lives four blocks from Pies ‘n’ Thighs, the next step was obvious.

She ordered a Michelada, and since I wasn’t in the mood for sake in my Bloody Mary, I got the same. Naturally, on my way back to Connecticut, I stopped for hot sauce, and my cocktail hour hasn’t been the same since.

Roadmap to success:

In a pint glass, place two ice cubes (enough to chill, but not too much to dilute). Add 3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (not typical in a Michelada, but it adds that Bloody Mary element that I adore), anywhere from 3-8 dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I like it hot), and a good squeeze of lemon juice (lime juice is traditional, but I think the yellow citrus works better with the Worcestershire). Top with a light, inexpensive beer of your liking (I go for Narraganset), stir, and enjoy–with a straw (not optional).

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Several years ago I was fortunate enough not only to take a vacation with my family, but to take it in Hawaii. It was the perfect marriage of physical activities and pure laziness, and peppered throughout were many a mai tai. Being that it is summer and I cannot be much farther away from Hawaii if I tried, I thought it was high time I create my own version of this iconic libation that so impeccably represents the season.

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2 parts dark rum
1 part amaretto
1 part pineapple juice
Club soda (optional)

Combine rum, amaretto and pineapple juice and stir. Pour over ice and top with club soda, if desired.

Consume outdoors, guinea-style, like I do (and am doing, right now): in a lawn chair on my front porch. Perhaps I’ll pick a flower and stick it in my hair…Passersby, be jealous.

This simple smoothie is ridiculously easy to prepare, and provides key nutrients to nourish your skin. Strawberries are full of vitamin C, and cucumbers contain silica, both helping to boost collagen production for youthful-looking skin.

1 cup strawberries
1 cup cucumber, sliced
1 cup coconut water

1. Combine all three ingredients and whirl in a blender until smooth.

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(Or, my first attempt at homemade nut milk.)

I’ve been hurtin’ for a blender for a while now (though, if you’d ask my boyfriend, he’d say, “We need another blending device?”). I finally invested in a Ninja, and damn! if it’s not one of the most fun tools I have played with in a while. I mean, come on–there are THREE BLADES, people! Two more blades to injure myself on (I am notoriously clumsy), but it makes for a pretty lethal toy for anything that enters the vessel.

The main motivator behind this purchase, besides the smoothie appeal (an immersion blender is only useful for blending soft things, and I was growing tired of banana-only beverages), was to make homemade nut milk. No, I do not consider myself one of “Those People” (though I do consider myself “hippie chic”). But the allure of making things at home that one would normally purchase is exciting to me. Sure, it’s a totally over-involved process, and does not save you an exorbitant amount money when it comes down to it, but it’s a great DIY project that beefs up your culinary chops. So why not give it a whirl (ha)?

1 cup sunflower seeds
3 Medjool dates, pits removed
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt

Makes 1 quart (4 cups)

1. Cover sunflower seeds with cold water by 2 inches and soak overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Drain and discard the soaking water and place seeds in the blender.
3. Blend on high for 2 minutes, or until completely pureed.
4. Add dates, vanilla, and salt and whirl for another minute.
5. Strain the nut milk using a nut milk bag (I don’t have one of these…yet…so I used a fine mesh strainer, which worked okay–left a bunch of small bits. You can also try a few layers of cheesecloth)

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I chose to start with sunflower seeds because they were the least expensive nut/seed I could find. They have a nice flavor, almost vegetal, which is great on its own, but I had fresh dates on hand and was in that kind of a mood. The end result was mildly sweet, which worked well with the hint of vanilla. Since the fine-mesh strainer wasn’t the greatest option (the little bits were strange, floating around in my coffee), I used the sunflower seed milk in my morning smoothies.

Many people bake the leftover strained meal (in most cases, almond) to use later in baked goods in place of flour. So I spread the sunflower seed meal onto a baking sheet and baked on very low for a very long time. It smelled gross. It looked strange. I must have done something terribly wrong.

1 cantaloupe, large dice
Mint sprigs, for muddling
Vodka

1. Using a blender, immersion blender, or food processor, puree the cantaloupe until smooth. The cantaloupe juice is more gritty than the watermelon juice, so you may want to strain it (I didn’t).
2. Add ice to a tall glass or jelly jar.
3. Pour vodka over the ice and add mint sprigs. Muddle the mint with the handle of a wooden spoon until bruised.
4. Top off with cantaloupe juice, stir, and sip away.

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A cleanse from the work week, more specifically. And hey–in the realm of cocktails, this one actually has some health benefits. There’s potassium, lycopene, vitamins A and C, and a bit of fiber. So there.

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1/2 seedless watermelon, cubed
2 limes
vodka

1. Using a blender, immersion blender, or food processor, puree the watermelon until smooth. Feel free to strain, but it is lovely just how it is.
2. Add ice to a tall glass or jelly jar.
3. Pour vodka over the ice and squeeze lime juice into the glass.
4. Top off with watermelon juice, stir, and sip away.