cocktails

the love list

Hello!

If you read my last post, you know my trip to Palm Springs left me motivated to be more present in my online and real-life existence. I even decided my word for the year is REAL. (I know it's a little late in the game to be setting goals and intentions for 2017, but we all know late is better than never and all that jazz.) So shit is about to get as real around here as I can manage!

There's so much hyper-curated fakery floating around on the internets, I sort of feel it my duty to share with you--in addition to things I find beautiful and wonderful and inspiring--what my life is really like. This includes the fact that our bed currently looks like a tangled rat's nest of sheets, book, pyjamas, and kitty litter that we can't seem to vacuum out completely. And that, despite all the travel I do, I'm freaking out about my upcoming trip and feeling like I should cancel it all and just stay home and binge-watch Harlots on Hulu (#guiltypleasures). It includes, too, how I pitched such an infantile temper tantrum this morning, I threw a blanket over my husband's head. Like a three year old. No joke.

(Luckily, my real life also includes the fact that I came back to my senses and I have a very chill husband and he forgave me and we ate lunch outside on a picnic blanket under the spring sunshine and shared half a bottle of rosé.)

So my life, like all our lives, vacillates between crap and delight, sometimes multiple times per day. I'm learning to roll with the punches a little better, which is why I'm dedicating this week's Love List to something I'm trying to weave into my life more fully: mindfulness. This week, I give you the resources, articles, apps (and cocktails) that have been helping me feel happier and more present in my life. Enjoy!


- First up is my new crush/hero: Dan Harris. My best friend told me I needed to read his book, 10% Happier. She's a life coach and a pretty savvy lady, so I generally follow her advice. I'm so glad I did. I loved this book! As an over-achieving, stressed-out, skeptical, child of the seventies, I feel like it was written just for me. Dan talks openly about his history of drug use, his all-encompassing ambition to make it in the broadcast news business, the on-air panic attack that led him to meditation, and how mindfulness practice has allowed him to be calmer, happier and more successful in life. It's all served up with a generous amount of wit, humor and self-deprecation, leaving you feeling that if this self-described "fidgety skeptic" can do meditation, so can I. 

 

 

- Which leads me to my next favorite thing lately: Headspace. I've been using this app since reading Dan's book and it does what it says it does: makes meditation simple and helps you clean up all the clutter in your mind and create a little more space for the thoughts, activities and people you want to focus on. Setting aside 10 minutes/day to focus on being mindful is already paying dividends for me in terms of better sleep and stress-management (blanket-throwing tantrums aside). It's definitely worth checking out if you're interested in meditation, but are turned off by all the woo-woo surrounding it and/or don't know where to start.

 

Image by  Amanda Paa

Image by Amanda Paa

- Amanda over at Heartbeet Kitchen wrote a great post about her recent trip to Paris. She and her husband booked tickets spontaneously, did very little research and hopped on a plane. They discovered that wandering a city without a to-do list ten miles long is one of the best ways to enjoy a new destination. They wandered the streets on foot, stopped to check out whatever caught their eye and interacted with locals as much as possible.

Here's my favorite part of what Amanda wrote: "Perhaps one of the things I was most moved by was their communication. Simply put, phones were obsolete when people were with one another. Whether that be a bar, restaurant, coffee shop – I literally never ever saw someone with their head buried in a device. They were solely focused on the conversation, the moment. What a wake-up call to the lost beauty of personal connection here in the United States." 

This sounds like the perfect sort of mindful travel to me--being in the moment rather than racing around ticking off the sights you "must" see and the food you "have to" eat. For my upcoming trip to Scotland, I'm going to take a page out of Amanda's book and spend more time wandering without specific goals or destinations in mind!

 

- Since my phone (a.k.a. Devil Device) is often the main thief of my ability to be in the present, I've started using the Moment app to track my usage and set limits on how much phone time I log each day. The non-intrusive notifications it sends after every 15 minutes of me checking social media and/or falling down a wikipedia rabbit hole have really prompted me to put my phone down more often. 

 

 

- Instagram feed of the week: Nitch. Inspiring quotes from amazing people. Plus, beautiful black and white portraits. Always seems to provide little gems of advice at just the right moment.

 

 

- And (of course) a cocktail recipe to help your weekend feel a touch more chilled out. Rhubarb + fennel + vermouth? Yes, please. Head on over to Honestly Yum for the recipe. 

 

Happy weekend and XO!

Olaiya

the high noon: golden watermelon, ginger, basil + tequila

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I just got home from 5 days spent camping on Orcas Island with my mom.

I briefly thought about just posting the outdoorsy, pacific-northwest-perfect highlight reel of our trip: sleeping under a twinkling night sky, hiking along crystalline mountain lakes and watching baby harbor seals frolic in the bay. (True story.)

But in the spirit of realness I try to bring to this blog each week, I figured I should also tell you how I arrived on the island so tired and tense that I promptly got in a mega-argument with my mom, during which I behaved like a total ass. And how for the first two days, I felt an overpowering urge to check my phone despite the complete lack of signal at our campsite. I kept reaching for my back pocket and my useless phone--a digital phantom limb that refused to stop itching. 

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I should also probably disclose how at the soaking tubs perched above a peaceful, wooded cove, I listened to a group of twenty-somethings drone on about the hipness of their lives and how “tight” Copenhagen is until I wanted to rip my own ears off. When their conversation turned to spontaneous human combustion, I decided I couldn’t take it any longer and proceeded to lecture them on the finer points of spa etiquette like a deranged schoolmarm. (I fully expect to look back on that day as the line demarcating the beginning of my old age.)

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

But the good news, and the point of this post, is that I eventually I stopped checking my phone and wanting to argue with my mom over nothing and lecturing millennials for not properly appreciating the glory of the Pacific Northwest landscape. And when I did, I found myself able to slip into the easy, camp-side spirit I’d been craving.

I was thrilled to be dressed in my coziest clothing. I skipped wearing makeup and didn’t attempt to corral my curls into any sort of order. I swam and picnicked and played cards. Mom and I explored the villages on the island. We bought tomatoes and tiny, sweet peaches at the farmers market. We watched the full moon rise and set over the bay. 

At the 11th hour, one week before I pack my bags and head back to Europe to lead another culinary tour, I found my way to that carefree, summer state of mind. 

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I’ve created this cocktail to help you reach the same state of summertime nirvana. It’s called The High Noon, both for it’s sunny color and to evoke the pleasure of basking in the August sunshine. It’s origins are accidental: I was trying to buy a regular old red watermelon to make cocktails for my pop-up dinner earlier this month and discovered I’d brought home a golden watermelon instead. When I saw that Sherrie from With Food + Love was organizing another #drinkthesummer event this year, I knew my contribution would involve that gorgeous yellow melon!

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I know I posted a salted watermelon cocktail last year. But I can’t help it--salty watermelon is one of my favorite summer flavors! So I’m back with a cocktail featuring watermelon, a ginger-basil simple syrup, a splash of tequila and a chile-salt rim to keep things interesting. It’s sweet, sour, tangy and a little spicy. Just like summer.


golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I’m thrilled to be part of the #drinkthesummer event! I loved tinkering in the kitchen to create this cocktail recipe. But I’m even more excited to try out some of the other recipes created by the bloggers participating this year! 

Here is a list of all the summer party people. Check out their seasonal cocktails and mocktails--hopefully you’ll find a new favorite blogger or two to follow! 

Boozy
With Food + Love | Basil Fig Smash
A Little Saffron | Beach Bum's Rum
A Thought For Food | Tarragon Tequlia Swizzle
Downshiftology | Limoncello Prosecco with Blueberries and Thyme
Heart of a Baker | Green Tea Mint Cooler

Hungry Girl por Vida | Whisky Peach Alexander
The Green Life | Spiced Plum, Fig & Kombucha Cocktail
Hummingbird High | Watermelon and Mint Agua Fresca
Floating Kitchen | Peach Sun Tea and Bourbon Cocktail
Beard and Bonnet | Melon Mojito

EGD | Backyard Peach Sweet Tea
Appeasing a Food Geek | Basil and Black Pepper Gin Sour
Vegetarian Ventures | Garden Tonic Punch
Nosh and Nourish | Mango Margaritas with Chile Lime Salted Rims
Domesticate ME! | Watermelon-Basil Mezcal Margarita

The Foodie Nurse | Husk Cherry Margarita
my name is yeh | Choose Your Own Adventure Bloody Marys
Sevengrams | Cucumber, Gin and Chartreuse Cocktail
Wicked Spatula | Coconut Gin and Tonic
Eat Boutique | Sbagliatos and Homemade Sweet Vermouth

Nutritionist in the Kitch | Healthy Muddled Blackberry Pina Coladas
Chocolate + Marrow | Pequito Verdecito
The Solstice Table | Jalapeño Watermelon Cooler
HonestlyYUM | Watermelon, Fresh Herbs, & Sotol Cocktail
Seasonal Cravings | Strawberry Lime Gin Rickey

Salted Plains | Frozen Honeydew Daiquiris
The Broken Bread | Honeydew-Ginger Apricot Mojitos
Fix Feast Flair | Ginger-Berry Splash Cocktail
Turntable Kitchen | Summer Cooler Cocktails, Two Ways
Foolproof Living | Blueberry, Dark Cherry and Calvados Cocktail
Dessert for Two | Salty Melon Slush

 

Non-Boozy
Heartbeet Kitchen | Salty Watermelon Shrub Elixir
TENDING the TABLE | Raspberry and Fig Hibiscus Cooler
Snixy Kitchen | Lavender Earl Gray Blackberry Ice Cream Floats (vegan)
The Bojon Gourmet | Vanilla Rooibos Peach Ice Cream Floats (vegan)
Gratitude and Greens | Hong Kong Style Crushed Watermelon Ice 

My Heart Beets | Spiced Pistachio Shake
rooting the sun | Strawberry Fennel Soda
The Modern Proper | Vanilla Bean, Plum Shrub
Feed Me Phoebe | Watermelon-Cucumber Kombucha Coolers
Gourmande in the Kitchen | Stone Fruit Thyme Shrub Soda

dolly and oatmeal | Cold-Brewed Shiso & Hibiscus Tea Iced Latte
happy hearted kitchen | Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Fennel, Orange + Cardamom
I am a Food Blog | Cherry Vanilla Sodas
Tasty Yummies | Fig Vanilla Bean Almond Milk
Let's talk evergreen | Iced Earl Grey Yuanyang With a Hint of Rose

Kale & Caramel | Emerald Beaut Green Spritzer
Earthy Feast | Watermelon Hibiscus Agua Fresca
Now, Forager | Sparkling Plumcot and Purple Basil Shrubs
The Pig & Quill | Brown Sugar Blueberry Pie Shakes
Well and Full | Peach Bubble Tea

Sweetish Co | The Best Frozen Hot Chocolate
holly & flora | Spiced Pineapple Shrub Sparklers with Black Tea + Coconut
Pure Ella | Fresh Mint Tea

A huge thanks to Sherrie from With Food + Love for organizing. Now jump on into this virtual cocktail party and shake up some seasonal, boozy (and non-boozy!) goodness. Drink responsibly and #drinkthesummer!


golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com
Golden Watermelon Cocktails with Ginger, Basil + Tequila

Golden Watermelon Cocktails with Ginger, Basil + Tequila

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-inch knob fresh ginger, thinly sliced (no need to peel)
  • ½ cup loosely-packed basil leaves
  • ¼ to ½ small seedless golden watermelon (or red watermelon)
  • 2 tablespoons flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chile flakes (I used Portuguese piri piri)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup silver tequila
  • 4 small stems fresh basil, to garnish

*Notes: Unless you plan to make a lot of these cocktails, you’ll have some simple syrup left over. It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for about a month. Use leftover syrup to flavor lemonade, in sorbet and popsicles, or stir a little bit into a fruit salad to kick it up a notch.

- Straining the watermelon is optional. It makes for a clearer cocktail, but you can skip this step if you like.

- The watermelon juice will keep, covered, in the fridge for 4-5 days.

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

First, make the ginger-basil simple syrup: Combine the sugar, water, ginger and basil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Set aside to steep for at least 30 minutes. Pour the simple syrup through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to get out as much liquid as possible. Discard basil and ginger and set syrup aside to cool completely. 

While the syrup is cooling, make the watermelon juice. Cut the rind from the watermelon and cut it into chunks. Puree in a food processor or blender then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Do not press on the solids with a spoon or you’ll force them through the sieve. Repeat until you have 1 ¼ cups strained watermelon juice.

Next, stir the salt and chile together in a small bowl and set aside.

To assemble the cocktail: Pour some of the honey simple syrup into a small, shallow bowl or a small plate with a lip. Transfer the salt to a similar plate. Dip the rim of 4 8-oz cocktail glasses into the simple syrup then place the rims the glasses in the chile salt and turn to coat evenly. Set aside

Shake the golden watermelon juice, ¼ cup of the simple syrup, the lime juice and the tequila over ice for 30 seconds (you will need to do this in 2 batches unless you have a large shaker). Strain into the prepared glasses. Top with ice to fill the glasses. Garnish with the basil and serve.

Makes 4 cocktails.

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

the love list

the love list // millys-kitchen.com

Hello!

I'm back with my second Love List, a collection of things from around the internet I find interesting and inspiring:

- I was feeling crafty last week, so I sewed these zippered throw pillows from fabric I had around the house. The two on the right are handwoven fabric from Burkina Faso that I found in a tiny tailor shop in Montmarte. I love that they're now a souvenir of that trip to Paris. The blue fabric on the left was a set of curtains in a former life. I found them at a flea market in Brussels for 4€. (Score!) Anyhoo...I used this tutorial to make the cushion covers and I'm rather proud of them. I am totally a fair-weather seamstress, as in, I can sew a straight line, sort of. So if I can make these, a monkey could (no offense to monkeys). You should give it a go if you're in the mood for a weekend project.

the love list // millys-kitchen.com

- If you are in the mood to fall down one of the internet's many rabbit holes, check out this mesmerizing series of videos called 100 Years of Beauty, depicting changing ideals of feminine beauty from around the globe.

- My friend Sanda is in town for a workshop with the incredibly talented photography duo, Gentl & Hyers. I have kicked myself many times over for not signing up for this workshop. My solace is that whenever my week is feeling a bit dreary, I can head over to their website or instagram feed for a jolt of inspiration. 

- My mom sent me this one day when I needed a laugh. She's a good momma.

the love list // millys-kitchen.com

- While working on a little Seattle city guide for you (coming soon!), I stopped by the Volunteer Park Conservatory to take some pictures last week. This is one of my favorite spots in all of Seattle and I don't know why I don't go there more often. It is supremely relaxing, especially on a rainy day, and I never tire of looking at all the wonderful plants they have, both familiar and exotic. If you are visiting Seattle (or live here), you should absolutely make some time to stop by. 

- And because it wouldn't be the weekend without cocktails, here's a recipe for Heirloom Tomato Bloody Marys with Old Bay and Spicy Pickles from With Food + Love. Sunday brunch just got a whole lot more exciting!

XO and Happy Friday!

Olaiya

P.S. Let me know in the comments if you like the Love List or if you have any suggestions for future lists!