I heard something about a polar vortex when I had a headache. I laughed and it hurt. There was frost on the ground and all the kiddie schools were closed; bless your heart, Tennessee. My new cat Gremlin has eyes the color of Devil’s Bay, and she lolls in front of the fires we build, stretched long. I listen to old lascivious records, Pulp & Roland S. Howard. They stir something warm & dark. I vaguely entertain the idea that it might be a bad idea to listen to them before I, half hearted, wonder what people think of me, wonder if people expect me to be so strange when they meet me, wonder if I should work on being more user friendly. Probably. Then again, maybe I’m too old to bother. No sooner do I shrug than my mind wanders down another burrow, thinking about my freshman year in college. How strange that I ever lived that. Lived in a real live dorm room with a Suede poster on the wall, went to bad parties for the sake of parties, smoked opium under the Spanish moss, flunked out. A different life. I blink, draw (a thing I like to do that I’m thoroughly mediocre at), and only drink hot things. If there ever was a time for digging around in rabbit holes wearing two sweaters at once while your cat yawns in excessive luxury, it’s now. I’m taking to my hermit ways, sipping warm buttery cider, and it’s very fine. This, my heart of winter.
It’s time for remembering & planning, reading & writing. Ostensibly. So much has happened in the past year, not the least of which were the wonderful Kinfolk workshops we held here in Tennessee. Here are the photos from the workshop portion of our November workshop, replete with an insane assortment of herbs (I’m an enthusiast) and the buttery bourbon cider cocktails we served. It’s been wild, meeting so many prismatic people. I never imagined such a thing would happen. I really didn’t. I never thought that at every turn I’d meet new friends—and I mean the real kind—even when I was quite certain I was at full friend capacity (I’m what I would call an outgoing introvert and that tends to feel like such a thing). Right now I’m trying to do this thing, this taking it easy thing. I play video games sometimes, a guilty pleasure. Even though I don’t think pleasures should ever be guilty. That one still makes me feel bad. As the goblins say, time is money, friend.
This cocktail is a whiskey spin on a rum drink. And then a spin on that spin, using bourbon infused with figs and rosemary. As some of you know, I don’t go in for the booze, so of course, there’s a virgin variation. But for those of you that imbibe, as I recall infusing bourbon with figs & rosemary and a bit of spice makes for an excellent wintery cocktail base. Spirit free? Just infuse the cider with the rosemary & figs instead and proceed as per usual with a pat of sweet spiced butter and the steaming hot cider. For the full recipe & variation (as well as the source of these dashing enamel mugs which I now use as everything from wine to water glasses at dinners…) visit West Elm’s blog Front & Main. And I just want to say another big thank you to our local partners Camellia Fiber Company for the hand dyed linens & a big helping hand, Yvonne Collection & husband for the always massive helping hand, Niedlov’s for their bountiful bread, and Sophie’s Shoppe for all their treasures & decor… you guys are wonderful! Aaand of course a big thank you to my co-host Hannah (who I couldn’t do any of this stuff without).
As for the infusions, I’ve been on an herbal infusion kick ever since I started preparing for the workshop. We infused everything that day. Salts & sugars, oil & spirits. Everyone was quite brave and jumped right in to the curiosity cabinet of herbs I’d curated. Currently I’m waiting (im)patiently for a greedy shipment of all sorts of herbs—everything from the usual like lavender, peppermint, and lemon balm to the not entirely usual like mugwort, blue vervain, and damiana. What does this mean for you, friends? Tea! Mystical, magical tea. And who knows what else; I’ve been in an alchemical mood lately. Entertaining vague apothecary ideas of candle making, bath salts, and balms. I have too much to do as it is. Not the time for that now. But time for tea, yes. It’s always time for tea, that elegant solution to the universe. Who needs M theory when you have tea?
Curious about those fennel & orange olives (you should be)? The recipe is below. The cider? Again, you can find it here.
•A little interview about life & work on Free People’s blog. Interview boring? Well there’s also a recipe for my Pine Butter and Pine Thumbprint Cookies with Chocolate Orange Ganache!
•Grab a copy of Home & Hill magazine, Issue 2… so much goodness in there! Rebekka Seale knitting, photography from Hannah Messinger, and a characteristically rambling interview & southern winter menu from yours truly. You can get it right here at my shop Sweet Gum Co.! If you get Issue 2 you can play “spot the weird books on Beth’s bookshelf”. Fun times. More enticingly? Recipes for Sorghum Meringue Pie, Rosemary & Cheese Biscuit Chicken Cobbler, and a pot likker salad.
•Pick up a January issue of Food & Wine… I have a little recipe & some work in it! Excited. Yeah.
•Where do I want to travel? I told Jennifer Chong.
And a happy new year!
spicy fennel, orange & garlic marinated olives
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- peel of one orange, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
- 1 cup mixed olives, preferably with pit
- Heat the olive oil in a small pot until is just starts to simmer.
- Remove from heat and stir in garlic, orange peel, and spices. Stir to cool just a bit.
- Add in olives, stir and cover for at the very least an hour and up to indefinitely in the fridge.