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I lived in Boston and Cambridge during two very tough years.

It was hard, it was cold, and for this spoiled New Yorker, things closed early and often seemed to take too long. I didn’t have a job, I burned through money, and I couldn’t make friends.

It was also a beautiful place to live. I found four-leaf clovers in your parks. I sat in the Prudential Center at four in the morning, eating Krispy Kremes as they came off the belt, hot and sweet and sticky with glaze. I meandered quietly through your cemeteries, looking at the epitaphs and the carved skull angels on red stone. I followed the red-marked path of the Freedom Trail, sometimes to learn and sometimes just because it was like following the Yellow Brick Road. I dressed like a pirate and got mistaken for Sam Adams. I sat in bars until (too-early) closing time, shrieking like a gleeful child through the 2004 MLB postseason, and sang Sweet Caroline with a brass band in Harvard Square.

I bundled up and walked through feet of snow to the Galleria. I peered at the lovers’ tomb in the MFA. I rode the Green Line just because sometime it’s fun to ride a trolley. I sat in South Station feeling the immensity of space; I cried on a bench in Harvard Square.

I wrote a novel, a novel about cities and home and wandering and places as characters in their own right. A story I would never have written without Boston.

And Boston is the place where I really began to learn to be myself. To be strong against odds, to love and forgive and forge ahead even when it feels like the world hates you. I would not be the person I am today without Boston.

Scary things happen. Painful things happen, and while they’re happening, you’re stuck between numbness and denial and tears. I’ve been there, in that place where you want to claw someone’s eyes out and ask them why, why my city? This is my city. Why are you cutting it open and making it bleed? It feels raw and makes your eyes burn. It makes you realize how much passes between you and the city every time you take a step, how interconnected your bloodstream is to the pavement, how permeable your skin is and how much of you is made of the air and water and dust and stone that surround you. You feel cellular, as if you are just a tiny thing that is part of this larger organism that is under attack.

And I thought I would only ever feel that for New York. This place was my home before I chose it. I didn’t expect that two years of being comforted by the skies over your city would make me feel like a small part of my heart was left there. From far away, I feel myself straining toward you in my mind, feeling my blood wanting to run northward.

Love you.

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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Hi, everybody.

I go to a therapist.

Once a week, I take an elevator up to my therapist’s office, and sit on her sofa, and tell her about my week, what is going on in my life, what I am pondering, what is upsetting me, what is making me happy, really all kinds of things. Sometimes the things we talk about are very serous. Sometimes they are not. Sometimes I cry, but most of the time, I laugh a lot, too.

In the past few weeks, I’ve seen or heard several of my friends talk about therapy. They have been wondering if they might benefit from therapy, or they’ve been feeling unhappy and don’t know what to do about it. Some of them have been scared to tell people they would like to try going to a therapist. Some of them tried going to a therapist once and didn’t have a positive experience. So I thought I would write about my experience with it, because I think that talking about these things, and knowing that people you know do them and do have positive experiences with it, can help a lot in trying to figure out whether it’s the right thing for you to do.

How did I start going to therapy?

I was sent to therapy as a child. It was a pretty bizarre experience and something that my elementary school strongly recommended, but my mother pulled me out of it because she didn’t like what was going on there. I can tell lots of stories about my childhood therapy experience, but that’s really a different post.

Anyway, when I was about 25 years old, I started experiencing some pretty bizarre things. I had always struggled with my emotions in ways that people might called depression or anxiety or other things, but I’d never been diagnosed with anything. Then, right after I turned 25, a few things started happening.

–I had difficulty eating and lost my appetite. My appetite became very small. I was always the kind of person who forgot to eat, but suddenly, eating outright repulsed me. When I did eat, I often vomited immediately after. This frightened me a lot, because I come from a family with a history of eating disorders. I didn’t think I had an eating disorder, because I didn’t look in the mirror and hate my body, but it worried me a lot. I dropped a lot of weight, almost fifty pounds.

–I became very emotionally closed off. I had a hard time having conversations with people about things. I would start feeling symptoms of nausea and apprehension when I had to have serious discussions.

–I started getting unreasonably upset about small things. The biggest way this manifested was as a sort of paranoia, where I was convinced that people were angry at me, didn’t like me, or were repulsed by me. I would get uncomfortable if I was on the subway and a person moved away from me. If a friend was too busy to do something, I would become convinced they hated me.

–I became discontent with my job. I had a great job, but I was having difficulty focusing and doing my work.

–A couple not-so-great things happened. The worst one was that someone I had looked up to for a long time and had become relatively close with on the internet did something pretty horrible and hurtful to me and a group of my friends. I was having difficulty finding support or help to address it and didn’t know what to do.

Anyway, I had a bit of an emotional meltdown, and finally, my mother found me a psychiatrist (the kind of doctor who can prescribe medication). He diagnosed me with depression and gave me a medication to take.

The first medication didn’t seem to do anything but make me vomit more, so he changed me to another medication.

That medication actually made me hallucinate and exacerbated the paranoid feelings I had been having. The doctor lowered my dose, but that didn’t seem to help. After a few weeks of hallucinations and emotionally (not physically) violent freakouts, he changed my medication again.

The third medication seemed to be better. It kept me from feeling as paranoid but didn’t really do anything about the other, more physical symptoms.

I went away for Thanksgiving and completely forgot to bring my medication with me. When I came home, I stopped taking it, and not only stopped taking it, but stopped going to the psychiatrist. I had been somewhat disappointed in the experience– I had thought that the doctor would talk to me more, but he really just listened to me list symptoms and prescribed medication.

About six months later, I had moved to Boston, and I was still having trouble with the same types of symptoms. I had always felt a little more “depressed” around February and March, and it was definitely that time of year. So I found a clinical psychologist who was more focused on talk therapy and started going to him once a week. Within a few minutes of talking to him, he said that he felt a depression diagnosis had been wrong, and I was pretty certainly suffering from an anxiety disorder. That experience in general was definitely better than the psychiatrist I’d gone to, but there were still problems– the doctor was an older man and would sometimes doze off while I was talking to him. He also would get our schedule confused and sometimes would fall asleep in his office between patients and not wake up when I knocked. I finally got frustrated with his lack of reliability, especially since I felt like he became even less reliable after I decided from a budgetary perspective that I needed to cut back on visits, and stopped going.

I moved back to New York about two years after I moved to Boston, with a stopover in Richmond, VA, of several months. I was living in Westchester with my parents. We had some family difficulties at the time and they were definitely getting to me. It was a pretty rough time, so I ended up seeing another clinical psychologist.

I really liked that doctor. He was around my parents’ age and much more about two-way communication, and giving me “homework” assignments, things to think about and do during the week, and that was definitely the kind of therapy relationship I thrived in. I really liked going there. But due to the circumstances at the time, it became difficult for me to go regularly, and I eventually moved back to Manhattan.

That was about six years ago, and in the meantime, I developed a lot of strategies for overcoming my anxiety. It also lessened a lot as I found myself new situations and experiences. But about a year and a half ago, I was starting to feel symptoms that seemed similar to the ones I had had several years before, and I was concerned about my mental health.

This time, I started going to a psychologist who is a woman closer to my age. I had mixed feelings about that at first because I felt like I wasn’t sure I wanted a doctor whom I would see as more of a peer. But I’ve been very pleased with that relationship and have continued going to her ever since. I go exclusively for talk therapy, which is more comfortable for me because of my bad experiences with drugs in the past.

Do you feel better now?

Yes, much! Thank you for asking!

If you’re better, why are you still going to therapy?

So, I have asthma. Sometimes I don’t have an asthma attack for many months. There have been times that I’ve gone over a year without an asthma attack. But other times, I have chronic wheezing that does not abate for many months.

If I have an asthma attack after months of not having one at all, which would be wiser: continuing to keep my rescue inhaler prescription up to date so that I have one when I need it, or not having one and having to go get a checkup with my doctor and get a new prescription? Best case scenario, it’ll take a few hours to get a prescription refilled, which isn’t usually the end of the world, but could be pretty bad. And having the rescue inhaler for the times when I get a little wheeze that isn’t a full-blown asthma attack might actually be helping me go longer between full-blown attacks.

So I feel the same way about therapy. I could stop going to therapy and only go when I feel truly awful, but going to therapy every week means that when I feel awful on Thursday, I know that I’ll get to talk to someone about it on Monday. And that probably keeps me from getting as deeply unhappy when I feel unhappy as I would if I wasn’t sure when I would get a therapist’s appointment, and had to go to the trouble of finding a therapist and scheduling one every time I was starting to feel bummed out.

You talk about how you prefer talk therapy to drugs. Do you think that’s best for everyone?

Of course not. I don’t think talk therapy is right for everyone, but it is definitely right for some people. I don’t think drugs are right for me, but they are right for some people. As with my asthma comparison, some people take maintenance steroids for asthma all the time. Those are right for some people, but not all people. Some people use natural medicines to control their asthma. Those are right for some people, but not all people.

Different people’s depression, anxiety, and other brain sicknesses are caused by different things, and therefore require different kinds of treatment. I’m not a doctor and don’t purport to know what’s best for everyone– just what’s best for me. Heck, my experience alone shows that the wrong therapist can be wrong, even when therapy is right for you, and the wrong drugs can be wrong, even if there’s a drug that is right for you.

If you feel like you might be suffering from a clinical, severe, or prolonged depression or anxiety (or something similar), I would recommend going to a doctor about it. But don’t be shy about determining that you don’t like a doctor or think a different type of treatment might work better. It might take a few tries. In fact, it will almost definitely take a few tries. Don’t be discouraged, and keep trying to find a doctor who works. It can be REALLY discouraging, when you’re feeling depressed, to feel like all the doctors you see are wrong for you, and of course, depression as a disease can convince you that nothing will help, which makes it much easier to give up looking. But if you think it’s something you might benefit from, don’t give up. When you go to a therapist you don’t feel comfortable with, try to articulate on paper for yourself what you didn’t like, so that as you continue your search, you can narrow things down more easily and better describe what you would like.

What happens in therapy?

Different therapists are different, and many therapist will tailor what goes on in therapy to what you WANT to go on there. In my therapy sessions, I talk first about the things I’ve done over the course of the past week, and how those things have made me feel. I make a point of listing any achievements in terms of personal self-improvement or things that I normally have trouble with on the social anxiety front.

Then I usually talk about anything I’ve been thinking about, whether it’s a bad thing or a good thing. Sometimes it’s the things that I’ve been unhappy about, sometimes it’s realizations about why I think the way I do about things, sometimes it’s themes I’ve seen cropping up in my life, sometimes it’s my hopes and dreams. It really varies.

My therapist offers some commentary and sometimes asks some questions, but really only when I am having trouble expressing something or am losing direction in my train of thought. She offers a supportive ear in a non-judgmental and objective way. Even when I’m really unhappy, my therapy sessions usually make me feel better.

I’m worried about overcoming the stigma of going to a therapist. What do I do about that?

My answer is a very reassuring pfft! There is stigma about going to therapy. It can be a problem in certain careers. But that’s part of why I decided to write this post. The best way in my mind to overcome stigma against something that you know SHOULDN’T be stigmatized is to normalize it.

I tell everyone that I go to therapy. I mean, I don’t drag it up in conversations where it doesn’t belong, but when I’m making plans with friends, I tell them outright that I have therapy on Monday nights, so I can’t socialize that night until after eight. I tell people about things that I thought about in therapy, or ways discussions in therapy helped me with a problem when it comes up in a discussion. I just talk about it like it’s as normal as going to work or going to my Monday night bar night (which is incidentally right after therapy).

If people see that you are not ashamed to go to therapy and that you think of it as a positive, normal experience, they will be less likely to think negatively about you going– or at very least, less likely to make negative comments to you about it. It can be embarrassing to talk about at first but remember that it is normal! We humans have a tendency to act like our problems make us weird or freakish. But most people have some kind of problem, and more often than not, when we talk about our problems like they’re normal, we find out how very normal they are.

I have another question about therapy that you haven’t answered here

Ask it!

I hope this helps! Please feel free to pass it on to anyone who might find it useful.

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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Here’s some pretty Harry Potter fanart I made for [info]Hogwarts_Elite

Moaning Myrtle:

A gender-swapped Severus and Lily as children:

(The idea of doing gender-swapped art in this case was inspired by [info]zephre

Enjoy!!!

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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Hey, so, it’s been a while.

But a while back, [info]joeymichaels sent me a script for a comic on a whim. And I did the thumbnails for it right away but never got around to finishing it.

UNTIL NOW.

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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Ahoy! Since I’m at my grandmother’s, I am totally breaking out the fancy hats for Derby Day.

I’ve posted a traditional Julep recipe before, so there’s no need to rehash again. Here’s my traditional recipe:

Mason Jar Juleps

And here’s my blackberry-rhubarb ones. Rhubarb is up all over the northeast, so it’s a good use of seasonal fruit:

Blackberry-Rhubarb Mint Juleps.

Today, I’ll be making Juleps with fresh sage blossoms, which actually taste a bit minty and go really well with bourbon. Pics and recipes later, but I’m not sure I’ll have time before the actual derby! In the meantime, here’s the recipe for the simple syrup I use for juleps.

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1 cup brown sugar

Instructions
This is east. Just put the water on the stove and let it boil. Pour in the sugar. Let it cook until the sugar is dissolved, then test with a wooden spoon. As soon as the liquid gets the consistency of maple syrup, where it coats the spoot before dripping off, then it’s ready.

I’m in Delaware right now with my grandparents for Mother’s Day! Last night, my parents and I went to the Bohemian Beer Garden and got some sausages and potato pancakes and beers before heading down to DE. It’s lovely here, warm and sunny enough for an outdoor shower, which is always awesome.

My father told me I looked good today. Now, I’m not going to turn down a compliment, but his taste is a little funny, considering that yesterday I was in nice work clothes and my hair looked awesome, and today, I’m wearing a grubby Dogfish Head tee shirt and a long hippie skirt that doesn’t match.

It’s a pretty chill day; I went to the grocery store with my grandmother, and we just had some pizza rustica and we’re planting stuff for my grandparents, and that’s been pretty much it. We’re going to a wine tasting in a little while across the street with our pals at Teller Wines, which is one of my favorite wine stores. Steve, who owns it, picks my Thanksgiving wines every year, and he has never ever set us wrong with wine, no matter what I tell him I need to pair it with. He has a very tiny but highly curated and always completely rocking liquor selection. He also makes his own phenomenal artisan bread. In exchange for him bring awesome, I bring hors d’oeuvres across the street to the staff when we’re here.

Happy Almost Mother’s Day!

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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[info]lawchicky asked me for some cheese plate recommendations for Thanksgiving.

Since we don’t do a cheese plate for Thanksgiving, I don’t have photos of these cheese, but I do have many links. I tried to stick to cheese I see in normal grocery stores that have nice cheese sections, since I know that living in New York City, I can get some weird cheeses that aren’t available in many places in the US! You may not be able to get all of these, but you should be able to get some. I picked four cheeses from four categories each: soft cheese, semi-soft cheese, hard cheese, and blue cheese. If it’s not in the blue cheese category, it’s not a blue cheese! I tried to avoid ones that you’re already likely to have, like cheddar, gouda, and so forth.

Soft Cheeses
Camembert.
Robiola.
St. André.
St. Marcellin.

Semi-Soft Cheeses
Bel Paese.
Morbier.
Port Salut.
Taleggio.

Hard Cheeses
Caerphilly.
Gloucester.
Gruyere.
Manchego.

Blue Cheeses
Cashel.
Gorgonzola.
Maytag.
Stilton.

Here are also some more novelty-ish cheeses you might like, if you are into that:

Red Dragon (Y Fenni).
Winey Goat.
There are also a number of Wensleydale cheeses that are sold blended with fruits (cranberry or lemon, usually) that you might like if you like fruit and cheese.

A helpful note: Most hard cheeses are lactose-intolerant friendly. If you have a friend who is lactose-intolerant coming for Thanksgiving, make sure to include a traditionally-made hard cheddar, Asiago, Manchego, Emmental or other hard cheese on your cheese plate, as these cheeses are aged longer and contain a lot less lactose than softer cheeses. A lot of American name brand hard cheeses aren’t made this way, so check to see if the cheese has an age on it– cheeses that are aged for more than 2 years are usually good.

I hope this helps anyone who needs to do cheese shopping for Thanksgiving or upcoming winter holidays!

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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[iljuser]kittehkat[/ljuser] asked for a stuffing recipe. I did a pretty good breakdown of a bread stuffing last year, and it’s not one that’s cooked inside the turkey. Here is the link to that. I hope it helps.

Today is two weeks before Thanksgiving. You should have your menu pretty well-planned so you can make sure there’s nothing you HAVE to do this far ahead (and that you can do it if there is!). This will also give you enough time to do assignments if you do a family or potluck style Thanksgiving, and enough time to hunt grocery stores for really fancy ingredients if there’s something you need that you’ll have to shop around for, like a more exotic fruit, cheese or spices.

It’s also a good time to make some turkey stock. Turkey stock is a staple you will need in a lot of recipes if you are doing a meat-based Thanksgiving, so making it well ahead of time will really help, because you’ll just be able to dip in whenever a recipe calls for it. It’s great for basting your turkey, using as a base for your gravy, and adding flavor to sauteed and roasted veggies, potatoes, and stuffing.

People often ask what the difference is between stock and broth. The main difference is that stock is made with a higher bone-to-meat ratio than a broth. This means that it will be thicker and the gelatin from the bones will cook out into the liquid.

Here is what I used to make stock:

One really big pot with a strainer. The strainer makes it super easy to fish everything out when you are done:
Stock Pot

You know why they are called stock pots? Because people make stock in them!

–Two turkey wings:

Turkey Wing

This should be about 3-4lbs of meat. Some people like to roast their wings before they put them in the stock pot.

–About 2 lbs of turkey or chicken parts:

gizzards and hearts!

I used hearts and gizzards. But you can use livers and feet as well. If you’re making your stock once you’ve gotten your turkey for Thanksgiving, you can throw the contents of the giblet bag in here, too. Turkey necks are great in stock. No matter where you shop for meat, most local farms, butchers, and even some grocery stores will be able to sell you bags of just chicken parts that most people don’t want.

–12 cups of low sodium chicken broth. Always use low sodium chicken broth to make stock, because then you can salt the food you’re making with the stock however much you want.

–Four small-to-medium onions, quartered. Quarter an onion by cutting it in half, turning it 90 degrees and cutting it in half again:

onion

I always leave the skins on my onions when I make stock, but some people take them off.

–Two to four carrots, peeled and cut into chunks:

carrot

–Two to four celery stalks, cut into celery-stick sized pieces:

celery

–One or two leeks, cut into one-inch chunks:

leeks

If you don’t use leeks often, you will want to cut off and discard the dark green tops, then rinse the inside of the leeks well before cutting.

–One bunch of parsley, cut in half:

Parsley

You will want to use the stems as well as the leaves. For many recipes, you would discard the stems, but since the stems are quite flavorful and you’ll be straining this all out, definitely leave the stems.

–Two to four bay leaves:

Bay Leaves

You can get bay leaves fresh sometimes, or most grocery stores will have them dried in the spice aisle. I like Turkish bay leaves, which are a bit larger.

You can also add other herbs and spices you like. Some good things to try are fresh sage, rosemary, or thyme. Whole peppercorns of any color can be nice, as can whole garlic cloves. If you are doing Mediterranean-style cooking, you can try some oregano and red pepper flakes. You can also try different vegetables in your stock. Potatoes, scallions, parsnips and turnips are all veggies I sometimes use in stock.

When everything is in the pot, it should look like this:

Don’t worry if you can’t see the broth at first. Everything will cook down significantly.

Cover the pot and bring the ingredients to a boil. Once it is boiling, set it to medium-low heat, and simmer the heck out of it!

When it is boiling, everything in the pot will cook down, like this:

You will also see glistening drops of fat and gelatin in the broth! These are good things.

Use a wooden spoon to turn over the contents of the pot now and then, so that everything gets stirred up. You will want to cook it for at least two hours, until the meat starts to fall off the wings.

Then, strain it all (if you have a strainer for your stock pot, this is easy, if not, pour your stock through a strainer into a bowl or container). And voila! Stock can be frozen and stored for a very long time.

You can make vegetable stock, too, and the recipe I make here can be very easily turned into a veggie stock recipe by adding more veggies and using water or vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. I like to put more root vegetables in my vegetable stock, usually parsnips, turnips, and beets. For people who like to try to get a meaty flavor in their vegetable dishes, some portabella mushrooms can do this nicely!

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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I asked on my LiveJournal for people to give me questions to answer or write about this Thanksgiving. [info]dootsie asked a question so good I was surprised I’d never thought of answering it myself, and this is totally the right time for me to answer it– yes, three weeks in advance!

[info]dootsie asked me how I organize to cook on Thanksgiving. I actually started yesterday! You could start anytime in the next two weeks, but I’ll be away next weekend, and you do really want everything ready to go the weekend before Thanksgiving, so you’re not trying to organize and prep all at once.

This is really mainly for people who do the feast themselves, but it might even help those of you who make a few dishes to bring to a potluck, or who are in charge of desserts, or whatever. But I cook everything except the desserts (and the squash– there is a rule in my house, that since squash and sweet potatoes are two of the few foods I don’t like, if anyone wants them at Thanksgiving, they have to do the cooking themselves.), so I need to be super on top of things if I want to get everything done.

How do I do it? Part of the reason I have to be hyper-organized is because I pick new recipes every year. There are a couple recipes I stick with (like this mashed potatoes recipe from epicurious), but with the exception of one or two recipes that are family favorites, I make everything new every year. This means I have to:

1) Pick out my recipes
I start by getting all of my cooking magazines from November of whatever year it is. Right now, the list is Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, Food Network Magazine, Saveur, Cucina Italiana, and Cook’s Illustrated. I look through them, and put a post-it on each page that has a recipe I think I like. I’ll mark it “Turkey” or “vegetable” or “salad” or whatever the general category of recipe is. Then, when I’m finished looking through on the first go-round, I find all the recipes of the same category, and compare them, and pick out my favorites.  The ones I don’t choose lose their post-its.  The ones I do choose get a post-it upgrade: I add what the recipe is to the post it.  So, for example, “Vegetable” becomes “Vegetable Roast Carrots.”

Once I have my recipes chosen, I

2) Start a Spreadsheet
I made a blank version of my spreadsheet for any of you who want to use it. Get it here!
Notice that the first page has a list of dish descriptions, such as “Turkey,” “Gravy,” “Vegetable #1.” You can rename these and add or subtract to fit your meal, but this is the number of dishes I would recommend for a sit-down dinner for 6-10 people. I do two or three appetizers (usually one vegetable, one meat) that are served while last-minute prep is still happening, along with one cocktail. Then, I do a soup, followed by a salad, and the main course. The main course consists of turkey, gravy, and stuffing, mashed potatoes, two kinds of cranberry sauce, and two to four vegetables. The cranberry sauces are always one made with fresh cranberries, and one made with cooked cranberries (which may be warm or cold). The vegetables usually include at least one starchy root vegetable dish, like carrots, parsnips, or beets, and one leafy green vegetable dish, like kale or collards or spinach. The other one or two can be whatever else. For example, this year my starchy vegetable will be roasted carrots with fennel, and my green leafy vegetable will be skillet-cooked kale. I am also doing a cauliflower dish with dates and pine nuts, and a brussels sprouts dish with smoked ham. I added a space for a squash/sweet potato dish and two desserts to the spreadsheet, since those aren’t my responsibility, but they may be yours.

I fill in my chosen dishes in the “Name” column next to the appropriate dish category, and list what their source is (which magazine) and what page number they are on. These go in the “Source” column on the spreadsheet. Then I look for holes. I also check to make sure I haven’t made too heavy a meal– say, too many gratin dishes or casseroles– or a meal with too much of one ingredient– like, say, four recipes with artichokes in them.

If there are any holes, I

3) Go to the cookbooks. I get out previous years’ Thanksgiving magazine issues, any cookbooks that might have the right kinds of recipes, and I do online searches on websites like epicurious or Bon Appetit, who both have Thanksgiving guides. I add the recipes I find there to the spreadsheet, and if I am pulling it off a website, I put the URL for the recipe in the “Source” column.

Okay, so now we have our recipes all listed. The next step is to

4) Make a shopping list.
I make the shopping list early (like, this week), so that if I need to buy anything online, I have the time to do that. To make a shopping list, go to page two of the spreadsheet, labeled “Shopping List.” Go through all your recipes in order. Read the ingredient list, and fill out the shopping list with the name of the recipe that the ingredient is for, the ingredient you need, with any qualifiers. For example, I would do “Onions, Red” and “Onions, Vidalia” so that I can sort my list, print it out, and get all the onions in one go when I am in the produce section. I fill out what store I need to buy the item at, and what section of the store it is likely to be in– so, for example, if I need to go to the butcher for some things and the greenmarket for others, I can sort the list by section, and then by store, and have everything sorted by where I need to buy it. You can also list which things you need to order online or from catalogs, so you can take care of those right away. Many cooking magazines will recommend a website to purchase more difficult-to-get ingredients, so put those URLs in this section if you need to order them that way.

Once you have your shopping list together, you can plan when you will go to each store. Some things, you might want to buy a full two weeks ahead of time; others, you might not want until the day before so they are nice and fresh. I don’t write out my shopping plan anywhere, but I do keep it in the back of my mind.

5)Make the to-do list
Go back to the first page of the spreadsheet. See how there are columns for “Ahead” and then “Sunday” through “Thursday”? This is where you’re going to fill out what gets done when. Read through every recipe carefully and figure out which parts have to be done ahead of time. For example, if you’ve got a frozen turkey, you will need to start thawing it several days before Thanksgiving. Likewise, if you’re pickling anything, that needs to be done several days in advance. Then take note of what things can be done ahead, and what things must be done the day of. Many tasks, like chopping herbs or vegetables, can be done ahead of time. Fill in which tasks need to be done on which day. Always front-load the beginning of the week: if it CAN be done on Monday, put it on Monday. You might need to put it off till Tuesday, but you don’t want to be stuck Tuesday with more than you can do. It’s much better to be finished with things ahead of time than to be rushed later because something took longer than you thought it would.

When you get to Thursday on the to-do list, your list should mostly say things like “roast,” “bake,” “reheat,” or “assemble.” Only the things that absolutely MUST be done at the very last minute should be on the Thursday list. If you can bake something ahead of time, do! Oven space is always at a premium on Thanksgiving. You will inevitably have other things you need to do on Thursday, but try to keep your day as clear as possible so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. If you have kitchen helpers, you can put who does what on the Thursday list. Also, take note of which things have to be in the oven or on the stovetop, and for how long, at what temperature, on the actual day of. I usually just write up a little schedule Wednesday night with all of that information on it. Remember that a Turkey usually comes out of the oven a while before you actually will be eating it, so you will have at least a half-hour, and maybe up to a full hour, that you can use to cook casseroles and other baked dishes once the turkey is done.

6) Start Doing!
Now you have your lists, so it’s time to start putting them to use. Once you’ve done your shopping, you can start prepping. I usually start with prepwork on Sunday night before Thanksgiving, save the few things that need to be done well in advance, if there are any. I get all of my ingredients into the state they need to be in to work with before I do anything else. I put all the prepared ingredients in containers or plastic bags, and label them with how much, of what, and what recipe(s) it is for. This way, when I get to the parts where I have to combine ingredients, everything is all ready for me to grab out of the fridge or off the shelf.

Then I just work through my list, crossing things off as a I go. That part is pretty straightforward!

I hope this is helpful! It is probably much more than most of you need, but I think it is easy to downsize this kind of big organization for smaller projects. If anyone has more questions, I will be happy to try to answer them!

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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In the spirit of Election Day, I thought I would take a moment to re-assert my political values:

My coworker, Glenn, gave me that this morning, after expressing his dismay about the number of “This is a sign” signs at the rally this weekend.

Oh, yes. I went to the “Rally to Restore Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive” this weekend, with [info]sunnyrea and [info]kutiechick. Sadly, I left my camera in their apartment, so pictures will have to wait. I will leave you with one photo of myself:

The rally was kind of amazing. Have you ever felt hundreds of thousands of people jump in unison? Have you ever heard the sound of their feet echo off the buildings that surround you? Explaining the impact (no pun intended) of being involved in such a demonstration is not really going to do it justice.

We went to Rocky Horror after the rally, which was also super fun. I haven’t been in years! I was disappointed, though, to hear all the sort of “new” shout-outs, lots of references to really contemporary things that sort of seemed out of place. And there were a lot of people doing really long shout-outs, which I don’t get the point of, because they all overlapped each other and were impossible to hear. The live cast was really good, though! I liked the guy who played Frank a lot.

Sunday, I came home, and watched the first episode of The Walking Dead. It was literally gorgeous. I am still not entirely sure how I feel about a serialized zombie TV show, even based on a comic, but the first episode was excellent. Did anybody else watch?

There haven’t been many comics lately because I’m working on a longer project and I really only have time to do one thing a night, so the comics have taken a back seat to the other thing I’m working on, which is about 1/5 of the way completed. If I have some time to do some, I will post them, but it might be a while til I have time to do anything new.

I have actually been writing more. I don’t have the time in my day to work on something like a, say, NaNovel, because I can commit to about 500 words a day, but I’ve been writing some prose every day, and I’ve been reading a lot more books. I’m up to about a book a week, which is awesome, when I haven’t read in so long. I’m reading a lot of books that have been sitting on my shelves for years and years, and I’ve been buying new books, too. I have been reading Shannon Hale’s Bayern books and last week, I read Chalice by Robin McKinley, which I loved. It was about bees! This week, I’m reading Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones, which I’m enjoying, but not as well as I like most of her other books.

Last weekend, I went with my mom to Columbia University Teacher’s College Reading & Writing Project’s first ever Parent-Child day. My mom wanted to go because a lot of the parents in her school were going, and asked me if I would come along as her child. Which was excellent because one of my favorite authors, Kate DiCamillo, was speaking there. I really liked what she had to say, especially for the kids. She talked about how she doesn’t like to write, how writing is hard, and it’s not something that comes easily to her. I thought that was a great thing for kids to hear from a professional and successful writer who’s written a very wide variety of types of books. I think a lot of the time, kids thing that being good at something means you like it and it’s easy, and so I thought it was great that she told them that. She also follows very few rules: she doesn’t use an outline, she doesn’t plan things out. It made me decide to go back and write something without an outline, which I haven’t done in about ten years. I’m rewriting a story I wrote when I was in my early 20s, a horrible fantasy story that was very trite and cliched, because I think I figured out how to make it into something better. So I guess in some ways it has an outline, but I’ve been veering away from the original plot quite a lot. I’ve also started working on another story I’ve had in my head for a while.

I wish I could write short things! But I’m terrible at short stories; everything has to be long, long long!

I’ve strayed from the topic of elections quite a lot, and it’s time for me to go vote, so I will go do that and possibly write more later.

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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We have a whole boatload of hot peppers from our garden right now. This week, we went to the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth Delaware, which is one of my favorite favorite places. We got a dish of calamari which had some crazy pickled hot peppers on it, and I decided this meant that we should take it as a sign to do this with our surplus!

This is a long and photo-heavy recipe, so click on the link to read more:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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I have been totally fail at posting new cocktails, and I have a bunch, only now I have so many that I don’t even remember what-all I put in some of them. Two of them were good, too. One had gin, muddled stevia and pluots, but I don’t remember what else.

But here are drinks from this weekend.

On Friday, I did something I almost never do, and mixed a drink from a magazine. It was a drink from this month’s Food & Wine, made with Hendricks, arugula, lime, and agave. I mixed it for two reasons: one, because it had arugula in it; and two, because it accompanied an article that reflected a lot of my own thoughts about bartending (and particularly my thoughts on the pretentiousness of the term “mixologist” and the unsettling trend of people putting things in drinks purely as a type of liquid oneupmanship as opposed to making something that tastes good. I wasn’t fond of the agave, and think it’s just not really the right sweetener for gin, but the arugula was really nice.

On Saturday, I made this:

Basil Negroni

This isn’t quite a negroni with basil in it; it’s a little bit off a traditional negroni recipe and has a sort of duskier flavor.

Ingredients for two drinks
6 oz gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz port wine
1/2 oz Grapefruit bitters
About 20 leaves basil, plus two pretty sprigs with blossoms

Instructions
Put everything in a shaker with ice, except basil flowers
Muddle until basil is bruised
Shake
Strain into two chilled cocktail glasses, add flowers for garnish

On Sunday, I started out my day by infusing a bottle of gin I wasn’t too thrilled with with lavender. We’ll see how it comes along next week.

Then I made this:

Elderfields Road

Elderfields Road is the name of the street my father grew up on. This drink is a variation on a Manhattan, and since he grew up right outside the city, I thought that was appropriate, considering the major ingredient here.

Ingredients for 2 cocktails
6 oz bourbon
Juice of 1 lime
2 oz elderberry syrup (homemade)
1 oz red vermouth
2 splashes blood orange bitters

Instructions:
Mix everything but the bitters together in a shaker with ice and shake
Pour into two chilled cocktail glasses, add bitters

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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This cocktail has a story.

Last night, when Rina came over, I offered to make her a drink. She said she liked Manhattans and drinks of that ilk, so I pulled out some bourbon and vermouth (Punt E Mes is my red vermouth of choice).

While I was doing this, I opened up a bottle of Fernet-Branca and asked her to smell it, toying with the idea of mixing it into the drink. But Fernet-Branca is one of those things that people either love or hate, so I didn’t want to put it in the drink if she wasn’t going to like it.

She took a sniff, and said “that smells like my childhood!”

Rina went on to talk about her Italian family and their cakes, which, and I agree from my experience with my Italian family, are always covered in delicious icing, but when you get to the cake part, it’s always drenched in liquor to the point that for a child who is craving sugary sweetness, it’s inedible.

So I made her a drink. Tonight, I remade the drink for my mother, who said it was “a better Manhattan.” It’s not as sweet, and the Fernet-Branca is a much more sophisticated flavor than, oh, maraschino cherries.

Here it is for you:


sensory memory

Ingredients:
3 oz bourbon (I used Eagle Rare last night, Buffalo Trace tonight)
1 oz red vermouth (Punt E Mes)
1/2 oz Fernet-Branca

Instructions:
–Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake
–Serve in a chilled martini glass
(easy!)

In other proportions, served on the rocks or shaved ice, this is called a Fanciulli Cocktail, but I use a lot more bourbon here. And no ice.

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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For my birthday, my parents took me on a tour of the Tuthilltown Distillery in Gardiner, New York.

The story of whiskey in New York is a funny one. You know what a Manhattan cocktail is, right? The Manhattan was called a Manhattan for a reason– because New York state was known for their abundant rye whiskey.

But then Prohibition came along, and the distilleries closed. When Prohibition ended, in many other parts of the country, the stills went back to work, but in New York, they stayed shuttered. Tuthilltown Distillery didn’t open until…I think 2005? I might be wrong on the year, but around then, and that was the first distillery in New York to produce whiskey since Prohibition ended. It is a tiny microdistillery inside an old mill granary on an 8-acre farm (which appropriately grows hops), but they make some of the best whiskey I’ve ever tasted. So when we found out they gave tours, I was really excited.

Click the link for massive awesome pictures of the distillery!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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So, I don’t normally do this, but I want to start getting into the habit of posting more about the comics I read and enjoy. I have a lot of comic-savvy friends reading, and you might already know about the comics I’m going to talk about here, but I also have a lot of friends who want to learn more about comics, and I thought it would be good to do some promoting of some of my favorites.

Today, I will tell you about a wonderful comic called Herman the Manatee, by Jason Viola.

Last year at MoCCA, [info]quirkybird told me I just had to go read this wonderful comic. So, [info]cacophonesque and I went to meet Jason and purchase his comic and his Shrinky Dinks. Seriously, how awesome is Shrinky Dinks?

Herman The Manatee is about a manatee named Herman who gets hit by a speedboat. Over and over and over again, and then some more. Very much in the spirit of Charlie Brown going for the football every time, he gets hit by the speedboat in all kinds of different scenarios in a sort of fatalistic existentialist dance of speedboat-thunking.

There are three Herman the Manatee books, of which I own two, and I highly recommend purchasing these fine comics or simply reading the strip online (new strips come out on Wednesday).

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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Before I start this post, there is something I feel like I need to say.

After last week’s post, someone said that these fitness posts were triggering to them, but didn’t offer any details as to why. They asked me to cut them, and I said no.

That’s not something I will say very often, but in this case, for me, the purpose of making these posts is to challenge taboos about looking at bodies and discussing the way our bodies make us feel. It’s also for myself, to help me become more aware of the way I think about my body, and make me braver about my physical self. It’s very important for me, for the purposes of personal self-improvement, and putting these photos under a cut would not serve the same purpose.

I’m also troubled by the idea that photos of a woman in shorts and a sports bra could be so severely upsetting or cause such a severe physical reaction that someone can’t even look at them, especially since I see people dressed like this on the street when they’re jogging, or in less clothing when they’re swimming– or on billboards. Imagine how you would feel if someone told you that even a glimpse of your body could cause severe negative emotional or physical reactions to them. That really upset me. Even if it’s not what intended, it’s effectively saying “looking at your body makes me sick,” and I’m sure anyone who has ever had any kind of insecurities about the way they look or feel would be hurt if they heard that.

That being said, I realize that I have always been pretty healthy and able and for the past several years, on the slender side of normal as far as my body type. So if any of you ever take specific issue with something I say about body shapes or body types or anything like that, or think that anything I say shows an insensitivity toward other people’s bodies or ignorance about other people’s ability levels, please feel free to tell me what it is. I will try to listen and improve. After all, the purpose of these posts is to try to engage in body-positive thinking. But please don’t suggest that it’s bad for me to work on improving my self-image in my own journal in the way that I need to for myself.

On to this week!

So, last week I did my exercises every day but Friday, because we went to Delaware. So I didn’t get to take my pictures till today. I missed out on exercising yesterday but I walked a bit instead and I did some today.

I really enjoy stretching. I think it is my favorite type of exercise and it’s the one where I feel the most marked improvement every time I do it.

Once I move, I am going to get some weights and start working on my upper arm strength because I think that is the place where I am doing the least to improve my physical fitness. I feel like my upper body is very weak, especially my left arm, which is funny because that’s my dominant arm, so I really should start doing something about it. But a lot of the exercise routines are getting easier and easier. On a few of them, I still can’t do the “extra challenge” bits, but I can do most of the regular bits and that is making me really proud of myself. Especially when there’s this bit that I thought I was doing right all this time, and then I realized that my legs had become stronger and that in and of itself changed the way I did that exercise. It was a sudden realization of wow, so that’s how those muscles are supposed to work!

Tea Gets Fit, Week 6-- Front Tea Gets Fit, Week 6-- Side

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

teaberryblue: (Vector Me!)

Yeah, so…I already told you all about the mishaps with my camera, but it means I now have four pictures of four different drinks to share with you!

1) Rhubarb Capirinha

Ingredients for 2 cocktails
6 oz cachaça
2 oz rhubarb syrup*
1 stalk rhubarb
1 Tb sugar
1 lime
Ice

Instructions
Fill 2 rocks glasses with ice
Cut rhubarb into 2 4-5″ pieces
Roll rhubarb in sugar and set aside
Cut lime into eighths and put in pitcher.
Add rhubarb syrup and muddle.
Add cachaca
Pour contents of pitcher over ice, including lime pieces
Add 1 piece rhubarb to each drink.

2) Spruce Juice

Ingredients for 2 cocktails
6 oz Rogue Spruce Gin
6 strawberries
2 oz Acacia Honey
1 small Kirby cucumber, trimmed but not peeled, or about 4″ of another larger cucumber
1/4 oz Absinthe or Pernod

Instructions
Put ice in two martini glasses to chill
Set aside 2 slices of cucumber and 2 strawberries
Cut remaining cucumber and strawberries to a 1/2″ dice
Put honey, cucumber, and strawberries in shaker and muddle
Add ice to shaker
Add gin to shaker, shake
Remove ice from glasses
Coat each glass with Pernod, pour out excess
Pour contents of shaker into glasses, garnish with strawberry and cucumber

3) French Mojito

Ingredients for 2 cocktails
6 oz white/silver rum
1 Meyer Lemon
1 oz lavender syrup
1 cup fresh mint sprigs, plus 4 sprigs
Club Soda

Instructions
Put ice in two highball or rocks glasses to chill
Cut lemon in eighths, put in pitcher
Roughly crush mint and add to pitcher
Add lavender syrup
Muddle contents of pitcher
Add rum and stir
Remove ice from glasses
Add mixture to glasses, including lemon pieces
Top off with soda
Add mint to garnish

4) Rhubarb Manhattan

Ingredients for 2 cocktails
6 oz bourbon
2 oz sweet vermouth
2 oz rhubarb syrup
4 dashes Fee Brothers’ Rhubarb Bitters
2 4-5″ pieces of rhubarb

Instructions
Add ice to martini glasses to chill
Put ice in shaker
Add all ingredients but rhubarb to shaker and shake
Remove ice from glasses and pour
Add rhubarb to garnish

*We have a lot of rhubarb growing in the garden, so I made a lot of rhubarb syrup.

Ingredients
2 stalks rhubarb
1 cup sugar
3/4 cups water

Instructions
Chop rhubarb into 1/2″ pieces
Boil water with sugar in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved
Add rhubarb and turn to medium heat
Cook, stirring intermittently, until rhubarb has softened and “melted” and consistency is syrupy
Pass through strainer to remove stringy bits

Enjoy, everybody!

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

teaberryblue: (Vector Me!)

Yeah, so…I already told you all about the mishaps with my camera, but it means I now have four pictures of four different drinks to share with you!

1) Rhubarb Capirinha

Ingredients for 2 cocktails
6 oz cachaça
2 oz rhubarb syrup*
1 stalk rhubarb
1 Tb sugar
1 lime
Ice

Instructions
Fill 2 rocks glasses with ice
Cut rhubarb into 2 4-5″ pieces
Roll rhubarb in sugar and set aside
Cut lime into eighths and put in pitcher.
Add rhubarb syrup and muddle.
Add cachaca
Pour contents of pitcher over ice, including lime pieces
Add 1 piece rhubarb to each drink.

2) Spruce Juice

Ingredients for 2 cocktails
6 oz Rogue Spruce Gin
6 strawberries
2 oz Acacia Honey
1 small Kirby cucumber, trimmed but not peeled, or about 4″ of another larger cucumber
1/4 oz Absinthe or Pernod

Instructions
Put ice in two martini glasses to chill
Set aside 2 slices of cucumber and 2 strawberries
Cut remaining cucumber and strawberries to a 1/2″ dice
Put honey, cucumber, and strawberries in shaker and muddle
Add ice to shaker
Add gin to shaker, shake
Remove ice from glasses
Coat each glass with Pernod, pour out excess
Pour contents of shaker into glasses, garnish with strawberry and cucumber

3) French Mojito

Ingredients for 2 cocktails
6 oz white/silver rum
1 Meyer Lemon
1 oz lavender syrup
1 cup fresh mint sprigs, plus 4 sprigs
Club Soda

Instructions
Put ice in two highball or rocks glasses to chill
Cut lemon in eighths, put in pitcher
Roughly crush mint and add to pitcher
Add lavender syrup
Muddle contents of pitcher
Add rum and stir
Remove ice from glasses
Add mixture to glasses, including lemon pieces
Top off with soda
Add mint to garnish

4) Rhubarb Manhattan

Ingredients for 2 cocktails
6 oz bourbon
2 oz sweet vermouth
2 oz rhubarb syrup
4 dashes Fee Brothers’ Rhubarb Bitters
2 4-5″ pieces of rhubarb

Instructions
Add ice to martini glasses to chill
Put ice in shaker
Add all ingredients but rhubarb to shaker and shake
Remove ice from glasses and pour
Add rhubarb to garnish

*We have a lot of rhubarb growing in the garden, so I made a lot of rhubarb syrup.

Ingredients
2 stalks rhubarb
1 cup sugar
3/4 cups water

Instructions
Chop rhubarb into 1/2″ pieces
Boil water with sugar in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved
Add rhubarb and turn to medium heat
Cook, stirring intermittently, until rhubarb has softened and “melted” and consistency is syrupy
Pass through strainer to remove stringy bits

Enjoy, everybody!

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

teaberryblue: (Default)

Yesterday, I was going through my liquor cabinet, and I decided to sort my gin by region, when I discovered that out of 15 different gins (not counting my saved-for-special-occasion bottle of Tanqueray Malacca), 9 of them are from the United States.

So my mother and I had an impromptu little gin tasting. Here are all our gins arranged geographically!



The gins in question are:
Greylock , from Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Great Barrington, MA
Gale Force, from Triple 8 Distillers, Nantucket, MA
Seneca Drums, from Finger Lakes Distillers, Burdett, NY
Bluecoat American Dry, from Philadelphia Distilling, Philadelphia, PA
Jin, from Dogfish Head Brewers, Rehoboth, DE
Death’s Door, from Death’s Door Spirirs, Washington Island, WI
Desert Juniper, from Bendistillery, Bend, OR
Rogue Spruce, from Rogue Ales, Newport, OR
DH Krahn, from DH Krahn Spirits, Mountain View, CA

My mother and I tasted 1/4 oz tastings of each gin in the order listed above. Here are our findings!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

teaberryblue: (Default)

Yesterday, I was going through my liquor cabinet, and I decided to sort my gin by region, when I discovered that out of 15 different gins (not counting my saved-for-special-occasion bottle of Tanqueray Malacca), 9 of them are from the United States.

So my mother and I had an impromptu little gin tasting. Here are all our gins arranged geographically!



The gins in question are:
Greylock , from Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Great Barrington, MA
Gale Force, from Triple 8 Distillers, Nantucket, MA
Seneca Drums, from Finger Lakes Distillers, Burdett, NY
Bluecoat American Dry, from Philadelphia Distilling, Philadelphia, PA
Jin, from Dogfish Head Brewers, Rehoboth, DE
Death’s Door, from Death’s Door Spirirs, Washington Island, WI
Desert Juniper, from Bendistillery, Bend, OR
Rogue Spruce, from Rogue Ales, Newport, OR
DH Krahn, from DH Krahn Spirits, Mountain View, CA

My mother and I tasted 1/4 oz tastings of each gin in the order listed above. Here are our findings!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

teaberryblue: (Default)

Yesterday, I was going through my liquor cabinet, and I decided to sort my gin by region, when I discovered that out of 15 different gins (not counting my saved-for-special-occasion bottle of Tanqueray Malacca), 9 of them are from the United States.

So my mother and I had an impromptu little gin tasting. Here are all our gins arranged geographically!



The gins in question are:
Greylock , from Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Great Barrington, MA
Gale Force, from Triple 8 Distillers, Nantucket, MA
Seneca Drums, from Finger Lakes Distillers, Burdett, NY
Bluecoat American Dry, from Philadelphia Distilling, Philadelphia, PA
Jin, from Dogfish Head Brewers, Rehoboth, DE
Death’s Door, from Death’s Door Spirirs, Washington Island, WI
Desert Juniper, from Bendistillery, Bend, OR
Rogue Spruce, from Rogue Ales, Newport, OR
DH Krahn, from DH Krahn Spirits, Mountain View, CA

My mother and I tasted 1/4 oz tastings of each gin in the order listed above. Here are our findings!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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