Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Inside the Process

It was a perfect day... the first day the heat broke. I was driving with the windows down. My dog, Chloe, was adorably barking her fool head off at everything in creation and all felt right with the world. I have passed this cute little farmstand a couple of times a week since the beginning of summer and meant to stop. Today was my day.

I pulled off the road and unloaded the dog and we walked across the warm gravel toward a young mother and her two children and the whole thing could hardly have been more Norman Rockwell if there had been two boys headed off the the fishin' hole. It was perfect. I had already decided to buy whatever she was selling; thanks to our recent drought the selection was somewhat limited. Limited, but locally-grown and beautiful.

I bought a couple of bags of produce and went on my way and I didn't think any more of it. I'm coordinating a cocktail competition and have a lot on my mind -- most of all my mixology block. I plan and execute whole menus of cocktails, seasonally -- this little thing should be no problem. All I had to do was invent a cocktail using only ingredients from the Great State of Wisconsin. I love cocktails. I love Wisconsin. It should have been a snap.

Slowly, it all came together. The fresh cucumbers I bought at the farmstand went into a jar of Rehorst vodka, which they softened and to which they imparted a fresh, green flavor. With no real plan in mind, I then made some lavender-infused sugar.

I've been growing some lavender out back of the bar. Lavender infused sugar is as simple as putting lavender in a bag and letting time do the work. Remember when I wrote about oleo saccharum? I was surprised to see the sugar is getting ever-so-slightly melted from the essential oils in the flowers, just like the lemon oil melts the baker's sugar.

Then I melted the sugar in boiling water to make a supersaturated simple syrup which should crystallize into rock candy - remember rock candy? Rock candy, being supersaturated, is exponentially sweeter than simple syrup, Mine, having begun with herb-infused sugar, then having that same herb added at the end of boiling, will -- cross your fingers -- should have a big lavender flavor to match so that a little will go a long way.

I think it will need an acidifier to balance it out and then we should be in business. Brennan's has some nice Wisconsin canteloupe and I'm thinking shrub...

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