Category Archives: cocktails

Holiday Cranberry Punch

Every fall I look forward to picking lowbush cranberries. They are my favorite food to forage – easy to pick and they keep perfectly in the freezer until November when I use them to make Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.

I had some leftover cranberries this year and I saw a friend on Instagram share a video of her making cranberry tea. She was kind enough to share the recipe, which she got from a friend in Unalakleet, Alaska named Betty.

I used the last of my lowbush cranberries for this delicious tea, which I’m calling a punch because I added a wee kick of rye whiskey. You can use store bought cranberries or even high bush cranberries if you happened to have foraged those in the fall.

This might have to be a new holiday tradition in my household!

Holiday Cranberry Punch

Serves 4


2 cups cranberries

1.5 quarts water

1 cinnamon stick

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup orange juice

up to 1 cup sugar (to taste)

Rye whiskey (optional)


In a saucepan, combine the cranberries, water and cinnamon stick. Heat to a boil, turn down heat and simmer until the berries are soft and have popped, about 10 minutes.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Discard pulp and cinnamon stick. Add the lemon juice and orange juice to the pitcher. Slowly stir in the sugar so it dissolves in the hot liquid, until it’s sweetened to your taste. Serve hot with 1.5 oz. of rye whiskey if desired.

Lavender Gin Fizz

I know I shouldn’t complain. I know it’s like 102 degrees on the East Coast. But right now it’s 80 degrees outside my Alaska home and it’s TOO DANG HOT.

All we can really do is sit around and complain about how hot it is, so we might as well drink while we’re doing it.

I came up with this delightful fizzy concoction that’s sure to quench your thirst on the most sizzling day.

Lavender Gin Fizz


  • Ice
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1.5 oz. pineapple juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 oz. lavender simple syrup (rose syrup would be tasty too)
  • Club soda

Lavender Gin Fizz - a delightful cocktail from

Fill a tumbler with crushed ice. Add the gin, pineapple juice, lime juice, lavender syrup and top with soda. Stir and serve with a lime wedge.


Mulled Cider

Nothing says “the holidays” like spiced booze. Here’s a recipe I came up with last week when we went trick or treating with our son and some family friends. This recipe has no alcohol in it but add a glug of your favorite spirit and you’re good to go!

Mulled cider


  • 1/2 gallon apple cider or juice
  • 3 strips of orange peel
  • 3 strips of lemon peel
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger
  • 5 or so peppercorns
  • 4 or so allspice berries
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 4 or so whole cloves
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg


Place all ingredients into a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for an hour or two. Pour into a thermos and enjoy while out in the cold!

Grinch-themed birthday party

Our son, Jack, turns 4 this week. Since his second birthday we’ve let him choose his party theme. At 2 it was Pingu (please, have a look at this adorable Swedish claymation penguin show), last year it was the Lorax and when I asked him this year what he wanted, he chose the Grinch.

A Grinch-themed birthday party | Minimal organization and lots of running around is all you need for a fun kids birthday party. A photo gallery from
Pin the heart on the Grinch. It’s more of a tradition on my part to get me into the spirit of party planning. The kids play with it for about 5 minutes.

During the holidays we took Jack to a local restaurant to see the outrageous film based on the Dr. Seuss character. It was his first big screen experience so it must have left an impression on him.

Continue reading Grinch-themed birthday party

Sausage 101 — a photo & video tutorial

The kitchen is the heart of our family. My dad would spend the weekends making vats of marinara sauce and in the late summer my mom would be canning blueberry jam. Back when apples were cheap we’d make gallons of applesauce with the food mill and mix in low-bush cranberries for color. Most of my childhood memories are centered around cooking.

One staple in our family is sausage. I remember waking up early on Saturday morning to the loud humming of my dad’s homemade motorized sausage grinder. I was thrilled to stuff  hog intestines with meat — I was the best sausage stuffer in the family thanks to my deft, friendship bracelet-making hands.

Sausage-making 101 | a photo tutorial from Learn how to make your own Italian sausage with this step-by-step guide.
Me, age 9, stuffing sausage with some old family friends.

My dad owns one of the most popular sausage-making sites on the Internet, (yes, that is really the name). People from all over the world come to his site for his detailed recipes and tutorials.

When we decided to make 100 pounds of Italian and breakfast sausage this morning at 7:30 I thought it would be the perfect time to make my own tutorial for my little DIY audience.

Continue reading Sausage 101 — a photo & video tutorial

A Wes Anderson Dinner Party


A Wes Anderson theme party | a tablescape in the style of The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel and other fine films by Wes Anderson. Perfect for grown-up Halloween dinner parties. See more at
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” illustration credit: Bambi WIllow via Compfight cc

It’s been a fun couple of weeks here in Alaska blogland, with akshopgirl taking the lead in week one with “Where the Wild Things Are,” and the whimsical wonders of week two’s “Woodland Creature” theme.

In a similar vein, we are dedicating this week to Wes Anderson. We’ve got costume ideas, knitting patterns, cocktails, music mixes, and in this post I’ll show you how to set your table for a Wes Anderson theme party.

How to host a Wes Anderson-inspired dinner party | Halloween for grown-ups. See more photos at

We’re all adults here. Our days of Halloween ragers have long passed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate. This theme party is for the folks who have left their kids with the grandparents for the night. It’s fun, it’s classy and you can probably find all the materials in your house (I raided my parents’ place, which, as it turns out, is very Tenenbaum-esque).

A huge thanks to Black Cup for letting us stage our tablescape in their remodeled cafe. The floor tiles alone would make Royal Tenenbaum stop and smirk. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at Cafe Del Mundo’s makeover, I highly recommend it.

Here’s what you’ll need to host your very own Wes Anderson dinner party.


  • An old atlas
  • Red cloth napkins
  • Brass figurines
  • Decadent salt shakers
  • Silver fruit bowl
  • White plates
  • Low vase in emerald green or pink)
  • Red pitcher
  • Flowers
  • Doily
  • Gold candlesticks
  • Red or pink candles
  • Filagree-patterned coasters
  • Wine glasses
  • White mugs (provided by Black Cup)

Continue reading A Wes Anderson Dinner Party

Harvesting Anchorage: Rose and rhubarb cookies (and a Rose Collins)

As part of my personal challenge to forage at least one edible plant a month this summer in Anchorage, I decided to revisit wild rose petals. Several years back I collected these perfectly pink petals and made a just-OK jelly out of them. Thing is, I don’t eat jelly. I’m not a toast and jam kind of gal, I guess.

This time I opted to make rose petal syrup. It was easy to prepare and resulted in a gorgeous pink concoction that tasted as good as roses smell.

Harvesting Anchorage: Wild Rose and Rhubarb Cookies | A recipe from
You can find wild roses just about everywhere in Anchorage in June. This bush is on the on-ramp to the Seward Highway.

Harvesting Anchorage: Wild Rose and Rhubarb Cookies | A recipe from

The wild roses are in full bloom here in Anchorage and it’s hard not to find them. I picked petals on the side of the highway, on my street and in my back yard. They have been in bloom since the first week of June and will probably be around for another week before they fade, fall and begin to turn into rose hips (and that’s another foraging adventure!)

Rose Petal Syrup 

Harvesting Anchorage: Wild Rose and Rhubarb Cookies | A recipe from

To make one bottle of syrup I collected about 2 gently packed cups of petals. Be ready to encounter some caterpillars, bugs and spiders (I lost about a cup of petals when I spotted an arachnid creeping around my collecting jar).

Harvesting Anchorage: Wild Rose and Rhubarb Cookies | A recipe from

I followed this recipe from Nitha Kitchen to make the syrup.

Continue reading Harvesting Anchorage: Rose and rhubarb cookies (and a Rose Collins)

Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade

Mid summer in Alaska means you and your neighbors probably have rhubarb coming out your ears. I never know what to do with rhubarb other than make a pie or crumble, which I don’t actually love. Yesterday my friend brought over some rhubarb syrup and I suddenly had a delicious idea.  I’d been wondering what to do with the wild strawberries I picked earlier this weekend and again wasn’t into the pie or crumble idea.

Strawberry rhubarb lemonade was born!

Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade

It’s tangy, sweet and perfect for a sunny day.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 12 oz. chopped rhubarb (by weight)
  • about 1.5 cups water
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 thingie of frozen lemonade, pink or regular, prepared according to package instructions
  • fresh, ripe strawberries
  • lemon slices for garnish

So I actually started this recipe by squeezing my own lemons, but after about three lemons and only a half a cup of lemon juice, I remembered I had some frozen lemonade so I went that route (still using the lemon juice I already squeezed).

To make the rhubarb syrup, place the chopped rhubarb in a small saucepan and fill the pan with water till rhubarb is just covered. Add the baking soda and sugar and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let cool and pour through astrainer, pushing on the rhubarb with a spoon to get all the liquid out. This stuff should store in a jar for about a week or so in the fridge.

Rhubarb Syrup
Place a few strawberries in a glass and muddle them with the back of a wooden spoon. Add ice and pour 2/3 up with lemonade. Top off with rhubarb syrup. Add lemon slice for garnish.

Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade

If you wanted this drink to be fizzy, you could add some sprite to the mix. It’s delightful!

Sangria on the Lawn

It was a priceless Alaskan summer today. One of those days where you feel guilty if you’re inside. So naturally it was sangria time. Kelly and I made jewelry all evening while drinking this stuff.

1 bottle of white wine
2 cans of ginger ale
1 bag of frozen peaches
1 container of raspberries
1 container of blackberries
2 tsp. splenda or sugar

In a 2-litre pitcher combine the fruit, sugar and wine. Set out in the sun while you lie out there and tan. After a while, pour in the ginger ale and mix with a wooden spoon. Ladle out some fruit into a glass then pour in the sangria.

Summertime Mocktail

I hung out with my friend Ashley last night and helped her sew some curtains. She had had a small party the night before and needed me to clear away some left overs. No problem! In addition to halibut chowder and cheesy bread, I downed about five glasses of this deeeelightful concoction:

And here is her recipe for it:

1 bag of frozen strawberries
some lemon slices
2 cans lemon San Pellegrino
2 cups of Sprite
2 cups of lemonade

Check out Ashley’s fun photos at her blog.