Behold! 2014!

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Seattle fireworks via Hotel Andra

2014 and I are optimistically skeptical of each other. At this point last year, 2012 and I had moved past any hope of being a warm memory to each other and I was ready to launch head first into the wild, deliciously, delightful unknown of 2013. And 2013 has been my bestie. In my more genuine moments, I can say that this year has been my best, hands down. Much of the highlights have been chronicled here: travel, baby Leo, a new job, a new apartment, an elopement, adventure, many, many great cocktails. There are already some rough guideposts that suggest 2014 has potential: Sparky’s wedding in March, hopefully a speaking slot at a political conference in June, a family trip to the UK in September. For now, I will focus on what I can improve on and heck, I’ll put it on the internet so you beautiful people can hold me accountable.

Read more. My new commute provides me with up to 90 minutes of reading time a day. I recently renewed my library card and will challenge myself to read 15 books in 2014.

Reestablish an exercise routine. I’ve been enjoying exploring the pool that is now conveniently near my house. I’d like to combine swimming and yoga into a solid routine. Steps to get there: find a yoga studio in my new neighborhood that fits my style, write these commitments down in my calendar and weekly plan, announce these things to people around me so they are aware that these commitments are firm, purchase a racing suit but use my regular suit in the meantime, enjoy the sauna as a sweet reward.

Attend two or more concerts a month. Live music came back to my life with wild abandon this year and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve set aside funds in my monthly budget to make this happen. I love it when Mint reminds me to do fun things.

Stamp my passport. I’m on track to achieve this goal (thanks Mom and Dad!) but want to keep it at the forefront of my brain.

Set boundaries. Do things on my own terms. Be gracious.

Cocktailing: Liz’s Champagne Cocktail

Cocktail Week comes to a close with a delightfully festive drink for your end of the year celebration. Here’s a 2014 full of adventure and growth! Happy New Year!

You’ll need:

Champagne (or other sparkling wine)

Sugar cube

Rhubarb bitters (I use Fee Brothers)

Note: a tradition champagne cocktail uses Angostura bitters and makes a fine drink. I was gifted rhubarb bitters and found the tart bite appealing. You do your thing. I trust your judgement.

Place sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute. Splash 2-3 dashes of bitters directly onto the sugar cube and let soak for a moment; the sugar cube will begin to break down. Pop open chilled champagne and pour over sugar cube into glass. Make a toast and drink!

Curious about variations? Cooking Light has some fun idea ideas.

Cocktailing: Hot Toddy

Welcome to Monday. It’s another wonky holiday week. Let’s not get too stressed about things. Stress is for New Years Eve plans and how to accessorize when you need to factor in tights and a coat. The last minute run to Forever 21 can wait until tomorrow. Tonight, you need to sit on your couch and drink a toddy.

You’ll need:

2oz bourbon

3/4oz fresh lemon juice (make it right, use fresh!)

3/4oz honey syrup

Lemon wedge, whole cloves, cinnamon stick (for garnish)

In a sturdy mug combine the bourbon, lemon juice, and honey syrup. Top with 2-3oz (depending on how strong you like your drink) hot water. Stir lightly to combine. Garnish with a clove-studded lemon wedge and cinnamon stick. Cheers!

More of a gin fan? Shutterbean has you covered.

Cocktailing: Emilia’s Lion Tale

Today’s cocktail comes to us from my beautiful and talented friend, Emilia of Emilia Jane Photography in Chicago and New York. Emilia has great taste in everything and her cocktails are no exception. She made the best date for my trip to the Aviary to see my brother in all his glory. Take it away, Em!

My absolute favorite winter drink, meet the Lion’s Tale. I originally tried this drink at the Violet Hour, though I don’t think it’s ever been on the menu. It’s a classic cocktail with a whiskey base and St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram which is one of the most delicious, flavorful things in the world.

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Photo by Emilia Jane Photography. Used with permission.

Here’s what you need:

Whiskey (I use Weller 107 or Weller Reserve because it’s smoother, and I am not normally a huge whiskey fan)

St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram

One fresh lime. Yes, it does NEED to be fresh. Don’t squeeze lime juice from the bottle into this, you’d regret it.

Simple syrup (which is easy to make…but look at the cute bottle!)

Angostura bitters (available anywhere you get cocktail supplies)

You will also need a jigger to properly measure, a shaker, and strainer. And if you want to get fancy, the proper glass is a coupe.

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Photo by Emilia Jane Photography. Used with permission.

Please note, I have modified the recipe just a wee bit because I don’t LOVE whiskey and wanted the drink to be smoother. Start with 1 1/2 ounces of the Weller 107 or other whiskey of your choice, pour this into the shaker (original recipe calls for 2 oz).

Add 1/2 ounce of Allspice Dram (original recipe calls for 3/4 oz), then 1/2 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice, and 1/2 oz of simple syrup.

Add ice, put the top on the shaker, and shake hard for about 20 seconds. The bottom of the shaker will look and feel much colder as you can see above on the right.

From here, strain out the drink into a coupe or other glass of choice, add 2 dashes of Angosura bitters to the top, cheers with someone you love, and drink up!

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Photo by Emilia Jane Photography. Used with permission.

Cocktailing: MB’s Franken-Nog

Its cocktail week! Whether you’re at home or traveling, working this week or curled up on the couch, you probably need a drink. And we (read: me) here at Liz Takes the World HQ are here to help. From now until New Years Eve, we’re rolling out the favorite cocktails of some of my favorite drinkers.

Starting us off is Michael’s egg nog. Lovely dubbed Franken-nog because it draws on several recipes for its execution and technique. The result is a heavily spiked dream cloud of rich cream and eggs. This is not for the faint of heart but the calories and uncooked eggs are totally, 100% worth it. I solemnly swear. xo, Liz

I know that no recipe I find will have enough booze. I don’t know what other people do when they drink, but I need a hefty helping of vitamin bourbon.

I always default to Cook’s Illustrated when I’m going to prepare food, but their recipe required cooking, and thus also a long time chilling, and I just didn’t have time for that. Three years doing this and I’ve never gotten salmonella, I figured doing a raw nog would be just fine. Alton’s recipe was my second choice, and lays a great foundation. His didn’t make quite enough, so I bumped up the amounts a bit.

Neither of these recipes called for more than a half cup of bourbon, which just plain wasn’t enough for me, but luckily Cook’s Illustrated provided the note that if you add more liquor all you need to do is add more cream.

Ingredients:
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 pint whole milk
1 pint cream
1 cup bourbon
1/2 seed freshly grated nutmeg

Make sure all the liquid ingredients are nice and chilled before you start, that way you don’t have to wait to drink it when you’re done!

In a bowl, beat together three eggs and three egg yolks (with the whites reserved for later) until it lightens in color. Then gradually add in a half cup of sugar while beating until it completely dissolves. Next, dump in a pint of whole milk, a pint of cream, and a cup of bourbon. Grate about half a seed of nutmeg (something like 1.5 teaspoons) into this, then stir until combined.

Next whip those reserved egg whites into stiff peaks, then fold the whites into the bowl of liquid.

Pour a cup, grate some nutmeg over the top, and serve.

This worked for me, but I’m noticing some subtleties in their recipes that I may try next time. When beating the egg yolks, maybe add in 1/4 teaspoon of salt. When the egg whites have reached soft peaks, gradually add in 2 teaspoons of sugar. Maybe you can get a lighter nog by reserving 4 whites instead of just 3. Note that double the recipe lands you at a convenient carton of eggs and half-gallon of both milk and cream, so make a couple batches and have fun!

And because we once went and saw a killer Charles Mingus tribute band, I give you the Angry Man of Jazz’s top secret egg nog.

Christmas!

Hope your day was merry and bright!

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Crackers with my parents

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America’s Next Top (Tree) Model

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Facetiming with the little bro

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Afternoon presents at home with these two lovebirds

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Flashback to 1991

Trader Wino: Beringer Founders’ Estate Zinfandel

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Beringer Zinfandel

Beringer Zinfandel, $7

“What do you want with dinner?” “How about that one?” “Nope, I can’t review a third Cab Sauv on the blog. Zinfandel?”

A little taste of California. Beringer’s Founders’ Estate line* combines “quality with everyday value” which seems like a lovely way to spend a weeknight. We paired it with pumpkin risotto and it warmed up nicely after it got some air. I also imagine this would make a great contribution to a low key dinner party.

Bottom line: B+, would definitely drink again.

Your fearless reference guide is always available.

Cin cin!

*I heard from a reliable source that you can buy cases of Beringer wine for a song at Costco. Report back if you take advantage.

Christmas Week: A Working Stiff’s Survival Guide

If you are like me, you’re working at least part of this week. Luckily, there is the internet!

Dance Off: Tom Hiddleston vs Benedict Cumberbatch

Pussy Riot is free!

Hipster baby name generator. Too fun! Too ridiculous!

GFY’s 2014 Vogue cover predictions. Probably the most fun I’ll have all day.

I’m thinking this mac and cheese should happen ASAP. It’s too bad Kat doesn’t like mushrooms….who wants to come over?

The new Eldridge album made me late for work this morning. I regret nothing.

These podcasts from Filmspotting were recommended by Sarah of The Comyn Space.

Ready to dig into some theory? This article on Black feminism and intersectionality is not short but it is so so good and so so worth your time.

SNL can be hit and miss but Jimmy Fallon is just hilarious. Want to go down a Jimmy and Justin on SNL rabbit hole? Enter here.

Lena! Mindy! Together in Rookie. And the people rejoiced. Speaking of Rookie, their Ask a Grown Man series is everything.

And finally, get lost in some of my favorite blogs: Another Damn Life, Ohio on Purpose, Girls Gone Child, Better in Real Life, Mansplained Marxist

In the Kitchen: Pumpkin Risotto

Soundtrack: We the Common by Thao & the Get Down Stay Down

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An honest meal

We had some canned pumpkin puree left over from Thanksgiving that somehow ended up next to half a bag of arborio rice in our pantry. Clearly these two should be joined a holy union, I just had to figure out the best approach.

I started a basic risotto (technique here) and seasoned the rice with a little smoked paprika before beginning to add the warmed stock. In a separate bowl I combined half a can of pumpkin puree with a bit more paprika and some salt and pepper. Once the rice was nice and starchy and nearly al dente (a few cups of stock, don’t rush things) I folded dollops of the pumpkin mixture in. For a last step, as is required by all delicious risotto, I stirred in a few generous handfuls of parmensan.

Buon appetito!

Christmas Two Ways

Sweater | Skirt (similar)

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Let’s party!

I bought this skirt on super clearance after Christmas last year and have been dying to wear it ever since. There simply aren’t enough occasions to wear a sparkly skirt. The sweater is from Macy’s, purchased approximately four hours before our guests arrived.

With two Christmas parties in one week I finally got to show it off. Friends, and my heated home, allow me to go bare legged, spring for pearls, and wear super sexy heels from Paris. Work, and my transit-oriented commute, demand tights, boots, and more sedate jewelry. Did you treat yourself to something fun for the holidays?

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Let’s “party”.