Posts tagged cinnamon
Doug Fir Tip // Spruce Tip Oxymel
Doug Fir Tip // Spruce Tip Oxymel

Since moving to Montana, I've been going on hikes with Connor nearly every morning. It's been a really nice way to familiarize myself with this city and check out the local plants. It's also been great for me to get outdoors. Between intense Montana weather and writing the book, I've been a real indoor cat, which is not normal for me. 

Last weekend, we got in the van and drove out to one of the many nearby forests. I'll admit, that my anxiety has been a little off the charts this year and especially with the recent move, so spending time outdoors has been vital for me. Once we found our campsite, we scrounged together some money for the reservation (sorry for all the change, Forest Service!) and parked the van. It was one of the best designated campsites I've ever been at. A large picnic table sat next to a fire pit, hidden from the road by overgrown trees and flowering brush. A small path to the side of the clearing, lead to the creek, which looked much more like a river with all the flooding we've had lately.

As we explored the campground, my heart began to flutter and a child like excitement overcame me. I turned to Connor and exclaimed, "this is the best place in the world!!!" What really got me, was the abundance of medicinal plants around me. Spruce tips, woodruff, cleavers and mushrooms! It felt like the Disney World of herbalism in that moment, and I couldn't have been happier. 

Conifer tips are not only delicious, but they are filled with vitamins that are perfect for fighting off colds. They taste and smell of the forest in such a way, that it's impossible not to feel like you're next to a roaring campfire while sipping on a doug fir tip tea or adding a bit of this oxymel to a cocktail. (Try it with gin or vodka and some fizzy water or elderflower soda!) Conifer tips appear in mid-late spring and go fast, so now is the time to keep an eye out for those light colored tree tips. 

I decided to make an oxymel with my humble harvest. They are so simple to make and they last.. forever? I'm not entirely sure, but since the preserving liquid is vinegar, any oxymel will last you through to the next season. Take an oxymel on it's own or add it to your preferred drink. Bon Appetit has a great article on oxymels that you can find HERE.

As always, never harvest more than you need! And you don't need as much as you think you do. And always always ALWAYS, make sure you are harvesting the correct plant. 

Doug Fir Tip // Spruce Tip Acetum
Doug Fir Tip // Spruce Tip Acetum

Ingredients 

1 cup tightly pack doug fir or spruce tips
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup honey or agave

Method

Inspect tips for bugs and other little critters and place in a jar along with cinnamon sticks and honey. Completely cover with apple cider vinegar. Cap tightly and shake. Infuse for 2 weeks in a cool, light proof space and shake daily. After infusion time, strain herbs and store in a clean, airtight jar. I like to keep my herbal vinegar in the fridge, but any cool space will do. 

 

Doug Fir Tip // Spruce Tip Acetum
Irish Cream & Reishi Mushroom Coffee Cordial
Irish Cream & Reishi Mushroom Coffee Cordial

Well la de da, I guess it's already mid March and time for another round of me remembering that I'm of Irish descent (very much so, in fact) and breaking out some basic Irish recipes. I love Irish food. I'm one of those few Americans who are obsessed with a traditional Irish breakfast, my absolute favorite part being the blood sausage. That paired with tomatoes and beans make for the perfect comfort food in my book. The Irish seem to have a knack for comfort and good hearty food; at least from what I understand from the meals that have been popularized here in the States. Dense soda bread, boiled potatoes with corned beef and root vegetables, dark, frothy beer... the Irish have a good sense of foods and libations that are made to satisfy and soothe. 

Bailey's Irish cream was first created in 1973 by two men in Essex. According to their tale, the idea was birthed in minutes and the actual product was mixed up within one hour. It was a daring move, to add cream to the beloved Irish whiskey, but they made it work and it sold - a lot. Its low percentage of alcohol made it the perfect paring for other spirits, therefore creating space for people to purchase more booze to mix with it. Ka-ching, am I right? 

While mulling over what to create for my second annual "oh right, I'm also Irish" recipe, I knew I wanted to do something with liquor and after some research, this was the thing that stood out most to me. I still haven't been to Ireland and none of my immediate family immigrated from there, so my ancestral connection to that side has yet to be fully experienced. But I know it will some day and until then, I'm going to keep on making Irish recipes and learning the folklore. And hell, maybe I'll even try my hand at making my own blood sausage. I'll keep ya updated on that one. 

Traditionally, instant coffee is used when making Irish cream. However, being the herbal cordial nerd that I am, I wanted to try something different and infuse my whiskey before adding the cream and chocolate. This version is less sweet than Bailey's, so feel free to adjust the maple syrup, or add 1/2 a cup of raw sugar to the cordial while infusing. 

The Cordial

1 pint Irish whiskey
3 slices reishi mushroom, chopped
1/4 cup crushed coffee beans
2 cinnamon sticks
 

The Mix

1 cup infused whiskey
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbs cocoa powder
1-2 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

In a glass jar (I used a wide mouth pint size jar) place the coffee beans and lightly crush with a wooden spoon or muddling tool. Add cinnamon sticks, chopped reishi and cover with whiskey. Cap tightly and infuse for 1-3 weeks. After infusion time, strain the cordial and transfer to a clean jar. ((For this recipe, I honestly forgot to make my cordial a couple weeks in advance, so I infused it over the course of a few nights. It wasn't as strong as I would have liked, but it was still so good!!))

After straining the cordial, place all the cream, cordial and remaining ingredients in blender and mix until smooth. The liquid will be a little frothy, so let it settle for a bit before transferring to a clean bottle or jar. It will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Serve with coffee or on the rocks. 

 

Irish Cream & Reishi Mushroom Coffee Cordial