Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"I don't want people to think I'm a lush."

My mother and sister are giggling now. They should recognize that sentence.

If you are any kind of experimental cook, you've no doubt tried a recipe or two or three where 2 tablespoons of some alcohol was needed. Drive to the liquor store and find out said liquor comes in a 2 quart bottle. That's it. There is nothing smaller. Personally, I think there would be a decent market in making things like amaretto, hazelnut, cherry and other assorted spirits in 8 ounce bottles. I have a recipe for mahi-mahi that uses hazelnut liqueur. Fortunately, I like hazelnut liqueur, but what if you try the recipe and you wouldn't feed it to the neighborhood raccoons? You're stuck with a bottle of something you don't like.

I've mentioned my grandmother's cooking abilities in this blog before. She could whip up the most memorable dishes that took 2 hours and had 45 steps. She couldn't make chocolate chip cookies to save her soul. She was forever trying new recipes and many of them involved alcohol. Plus, she had certain drinks she preferred, although, unlike my grandfather and his rum and cokes, I can't tell you what she liked other than something that was yellow, came in a bottle with a tall neck; Galliano, or something like that.

She kept her alcohol under the kitchen sink, although a few bottles would go to the cabinet in the basement under the stairs. This way, the alcohol was at the ready if she needed it. Alcohol was on the left and cleaning supplies were on the right. Heaven help you if you put the dish detergent on the left.

In the last 5 years of her life, she began to think about her mortality and what her home said about her. Invariably, her thoughts turned to the bottles under the kitchen sink. I cannot count the number of times she would say to either my mother, my sister or me, "When I die, make sure the first thing you do is get rid of those bottles under the sink. I don't want people to think I'm a lush." We would always assure her the bottles would be removed quickly. Honestly, people might have had some negative thoughts about her for other things, but being a lush was not one of them.

I like to try new recipes and sometimes those involve alcohol. In the basement, on the top shelf of shelf unit along the west wall, are bottles of liquor. They sit, like the one in the photo, collecting dust. I've used, maybe, a half cup out of some of them and then not touched them again in years. Last winter, during the blizzard, I dug out a bottle of cinnamon schnapps and started adding a shot or two to my hot cocoa. When the schnapps was gone, long about August, and yes, I drink hot cocoa all year 'round, I brought up a bottle of white cream de cacao. There was a bottle of banana liqueur. A shot of both of those added to hot cocoa was really good.

The photo above is dark cream de cacao. You can tell how long I've had it by the layer of dust on the bottle. I had to run the top under hot water to break the crusty seal to get it open. It's still good. There's a bottle of cherry brandy down there, a couple of empty bottles and a couple bottles of wine. I really don't drink that much so it will be awhile before all of this is gone. Then, I'll be down to buying just what I'll drink.

As I savored my hot cocoa laced with chocolate liqueur, I thought about that mahi-mahi recipe. I haven't made that in years. Add a salad and fruited rice and that would be an excellent dinner. I think the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur to go into the sauce which is poured over the fish. I'll have to buy a big bottle. Just don't think of me as a lush if you find that bottle in the basement. Add a shot to your hot cocoa. It makes the cocoa taste like a peanut butter cup.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


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