Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mobile Warming

Today has begun as it often does for me - with a cup of hot spiced Chai. I've been hooked on this delicious tea ever since I was introduced to iced Chai about seven years ago. At that time, there weren't any commercial brands available on the grocery shelves but I spoiled myself from time to time at Starbucks or other gourmet coffee shops. In recent years, it seems that every tea manufacturer has at least one blend of my favourite tea available, and so my cupboards are full of various brands which were purchased in pursuit of the tastiest one. It turns out that they're all pretty much the same, so lately I'm sticking with the widely available Lipton's. With a bit of honey and a splash of vanilla, its milky smoothness is the perfect morning alternative to coffee.

There have been other mornings this winter when tea or coffee were not the first sips of the day, and I thank blame Frank for that. This winter has been a cold and snowy one, and despite subtle signs of spring, it's not quite over yet. There have been mornings with windchills of -25 Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit), and though layers of clothing sure do help keep us warm on the outside, a little something extra is occasionally desired required for the inside. So we've been known to fill a small, pocket-sized bottle with experimental mixtures, perfect for sipping while out walking early or late in the day. Frank claims that I "hog all of the belly-warmer," that my sips are actually gulps, and that his mini-bottle usually lasts him three ventures into the woods when he's alone. The bottle only holds 100ml (just over 3 ounces), so I suppose anything more that a lip-wetting would make a significant dent in it. Besides, it's his own stroke of brilliance fault for even introducing me to the concept of drinking alcohol in the morning.

Of course these sweet mixtures are not exclusive to morning and evening strolls into the woods. They're just as delectable served on ice in a tumbler, and we frequently enjoy sipping on one during the course of an evening while preparing dinner, playing cribbage or while watching a movie. Part of the fun is in the guessing. One of us will mix the two, or sometimes three ingredients, and the other will try to guess which components have made up the flavour-du-jour. Usually, it takes several sips before we can determine what it is.

Occasionally one or the other of us has mentioned that we really should keep track of the combinations that work. So far, neither of us have - at least not in writing. They're worth the effort though, so I'm going to share some of the better concoctions that Frank and I have discovered, and taken the liberty of naming. A ratio of fifty-fifty works well for most of them, but you may want to go heavier on the flavour you like best.

Peppermint Pattie: Peppermint Schnapps and Creme de Cacao combined in such a way that you'd swear you just bit into a Peppermint Pattie or a Junior Mint - very refreshing!

äger: A combination of Goldschläger - cinnamon liqueur with the real flakes of gold and Jägermeister - a sort of fortified tonic. Even better if you replace the Goldschläger with the stronger-tasting Fireball (a flavoured corn whisky shooter).

Hot Pepper: A spicy mixture of Fireball and Peppermint Schnapps. Wait for the burn!

Pepperetto: A delicious marriage of Peppermint Schnapps (yes, it shows up in a lot of our drinks) and Amaretto. This one is my personal favouite.

Black Forest Cacao: Creme de Cacao blended with Cherry Whisky. You'll have to imagine the whipped cream.

Sambucca Sizzle: Combine Fireball with the mild, black licorice flavour of Sambucca for a surprisingly yummy taste.

Also delicious in combination with many of the above, and with each other are: French Kiss (vanilla flavoured), Orange Brandy (tastes the same as Grand Marnier, but is much less expensive), Drambuie, coffee-flavoured liqueur such as Bolivar and peach-flavoured Southern Comfort.

If you experiment with any of these mixtures, I'm sure you'll come up with something you'll love. Pour yourself a drink and come join me on a late-day walk as seen through my eyes and my camera - enhanced only slightly by the glow of a sip or two.

Please click each of the photos for their larger images.

After walking through an open, windy field, we entered this lovely cedar grove at dusk. It was rewarding to take a break and bask in the warmth of the setting sun.

The early evening sun lends its glow to the creek which winds its way through most of the walking path.

Though the water runs swiftly, the air is still cold enough to form ice clusters on the wet branches and rocks.

This tree stump seemed to glow in the light of the setting sun.

A sign of spring! Frank told me about these tiny bugs the previous day when he first noticed them on the surface of the snow. A bit of Googling and I learned they were Winter Stoneflies. Apparently they come out of the creek in the early spring sunshine, feed on vegetation, mate and lay their eggs back into the creek. It took a macro photograph to reveal that they actually have wings.

We also saw this snow spider.

Inevitably, whenever I tried to photograph subsequent bug sightings, SOMEBODY came running to trample the surrounding snow, burying them in the process. But who couldn't forgive this adorable snow-covered face?

Back at my park, Frank spotted this cardinal perched on a branch. Only a hint of his typical bright red shows up in the dusky light.

I took a few shots of the setting sun as it lit up the tree branches. I couldn't decide which one to post, so I've included them all.

The park was on fire with golden sunshine.

Fiery colours light up the branches.

Trees reach out and cast their shadows in the late day light.

The lake reflects the warmth of the colourful sky.

The sky's colours deepen over the rooftops. It's time to go home for a drink.


Frank Baron said...

Wonderful pics, and, definitely your most yummalicious post. :)

Tink said...

Omg, fourth picture from the top is eye-wateringly beautiful! You should frame that. Your drink mixtures sound awesome. Maybe Hoop would agree to hike with me more if there were alcohol involved. ;)

Phyllis E said...

Spectacular photos as always, cuzzie.

What drink goes best with a morning that has encompassed sleet, rain and snow by 8:47am?

Crabby McSlacker said...

Love the pictures and drink recipes!

My only problem with the drinks is the power of association. I had some unfortunate experiences with overindulgence in sweeter concoctions during college--before I'd developed a taste for wine. Just thinking about some of those liqueurs brings back some god-awful hangover memories.

Shammickite said...

Hi Hilary:
the list of Care and Share Thrift shops in Ontario (run by the Mennonite Committee) can be found here:

Hilary said...

• Thanks, Frank. That'll earn you a sip or several. ;)

• It's sure worth a try, Tink. And even if he doesn't, you'll still enjoy your hikes a lot more. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thank so much, cuzzie Phyllis. For you this morning, I suggest raspberry vodka and clear Creme de Cacao blended and served over crushed ice. We'll call it the Vermont Slushy. Sip at your own risk. ;)

• I understand fully, Crabby. That's how I feel about Drambuie and I blame Frank for that too.. damn Rusty Nails! Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks ex-S. :)

Reb said...

Lovely as always. The 'puter at work is in a bad position, so I will have a better look tonight from home. Recipes sound great though.

Anonymous said...

So gorgeously cozy! And delicious!

the Bag Lady said...

Magnificent photos, as alway, Hilary (thanks for the personal showing!!)
Your drink recipes sound inviting. Now the Bag Lady is going to have to go shopping and top up her drinks' cupboard. Damn, hate it when that happens :)

david mcmahon said...

Lovely shots - my favourite is the one of the ice clusters.

I'm so glad you liked the Imax theatre shot. And in answer to your question, yes I have several previous posts that feature shots from Quebec City and Montreal, all the way back through my blog!

Reb said...

I love sunsets and you have done a fabulous job of capturing one. I especially like those that you couldn't decide which to post, I am glad you posted them all. Love the iced branches and rock in the stream.

Hilary said...

• Thanks so much, Reb. I'm glad you enjoyed them. :) Let me know if you try any of the drinks, and how you like them.

• Thank you, Beav. :)

• Thanks, Baggie, and you're welcome. Just hurry and get yourself onto high-speed so you can see the pics on site. ;)

• Thanks so much, David. I'm going to have to check back through your archives sometime, but at the rate that you post, it could take months! :)

david mcmahon said...

Sorry this is off-post, but you win the Funniest Pun of the Year Award for your comment ``nostrildamus''!!!

lime said...

here from david's

what marvelous pictures. and i learned something about those early spring insects. i never even knew they existed, much less the name.

Shrinky said...

What a scenic part of the world you live in, thanks for the mini-tour. Berfore the children arrived, hubby and I often used to make our own "cocktails", that kind of fell off by the wayside as the years have gone by.

Perhaps it's time to revive the tradition? I may well give a couple of these mixtures of yours a trial run of my own (smle).

Jennifer S said...

Magnificent, beautiful photos. (I think I love the cedar grove the best, though it's very hard to choose.)

You've given me an excuse to add creative drinking to my day. Not that I needed one.

I came here from David's blog.

Cath said...

Hi Hilary - thanks for stopping by mine - waving back atcha!
I wanted to choose one of your pics to comment on as being my favourite, but I can't. All of them are just beautiful. I DO like the ice clusters - that made me catch my breath when I sctolled down to it - but then the other ice / snow ones, and the park, the sunset....

Oh they are a work of art Hilary. Well done!

Tamie said...

You say your cupboards are stocked full of tea. Do you have a suggestion for how to keep tea and coffee from going stale once they're opened? How do you store them? I am more of a coffee drinker, but even the small cans last me a few months and go stale before I use them up.

That was a really cool pic of the spider on the snow, btw. Neat, you can get something so small without losing focus.

Nabeel said...

the tree stump and the bird picture were the best .. i love birds .. and you captured an interesting colorful one :)

Hilary said...

• Thanks David, I'm glad you liked it. I couldn't resist. ;) And thanks so much for sending even more folks my way. Very much appreciated.

• Hi Lime, I'd never seen them before either. Thank Google for coming up with the name. I'm glad you stopped by.. thanks. :)

• Hi Shrinky. Your kids can't be teens or you'd have rediscovered those cocktails for sure! Let me know if you try them, but only if you like them. ;) Thanks for your kind words.

• Hi Jennifer. Creative drinking.. I wish I'd thought of that. Thanks so much for stopping by with your kind words. :)

• Thank you, CrazyCath. So very nice of you to say. I'm glad you like the pics.. even gladder that you stopped by. :)

• Thanks, TKWI. I tend to just toss the tea that I know I'm never going to drink again, or give them away to those that will. As for coffee, a large can last me a few months and either it doesn't go stale, or I'm not discriminating enough. As long as the caffeine does its trick, I'm happy. A ziplock bag might do the trick for you, though. :)

• Thank you Nabeel. I'm glad you enjoyed them and happy you stopped by. :)

THANK YOU DAVID: I can only assume that all the new names come from you. :)

Chica, Cienna, and Cali said...

come over here to Central Illinois and I'll make you spicy Indian chai...tons of it :)

Jo said...

Beautiful photography, Hil...I especially like the creek & the Stonefly (the detail on the wings is amazing!)...and who can resist Benny with his snow-beard--I want to give him treats!

You & Frank crack me up! Your post made me wish it was colder here occasionally...I had a mimosa on Thanksgiving at 11am while cooking & felt scandalous. I can already guess that I'll lean towards the Peppermint Pattie or the Pepperetto (when I order iced frappicinos at Starbucks I have them add a splash of Amaretto & Mint).

Maybe you guys should shake things up & splurge on a 6-ouncer? Or would that have you making wonky snow-angels? :)

aims said...

What a wonderful combination of tastes....drinks and beautiful pictures! I loved it all!!

btw - David sent me - and I'm glad he did!

Hilary said...

• Moi, if I'm ever out that way, you can bet on it. :) Thanks.

• Thanks so much, Jo. :) I don't know if we'd make wonky snow angels but no doubt, I'd take some wonky pictures. Frank's already complaining that I'd get 5 oz and he'd only get 1 anyway. Let me know if you ever do try one of those drinks, and what you think of it. And if you gave Benny treats.. you'd be his new best friend forEVER! ;)

• Thank you so much, Aims. I'm glad David sent you too and I hope you'll be back soon. :)

John-Michael said...

It is not my fault! I was under some power of influence beyond normal ... I just know I was! But I was mysteriously guided to the only substance at hand ... and had a bit of the Bailey's Irish Creme after the text and prior to the walk through the images. All-in-all, a completely wonderful experience! Thanks for the influence AND the magnificent images!

Hilary said...

Thanks John-Michael. Hope you enjoyed your Irish Cream. :)

Unknown said...

this is the best blog i have seen
very pretty
i would love to live in a place just like this!!! very nice!!! thank you!

Hilary said...

Thanks very much for the kind words, Toggs. Much appreciated. :)