blood orange tart

This blood orange tart is full of velvety blood orange curd, crispy citrus crust, luscious piles of vanilla whipped cream – and candied orange slices, because we fancy. We’ve taken the step past sprinkles (though, to be honest, if you put sprinkles on this I would not be upset) all the way to real fruits garnishing our tarts. It’s almost spring! We’re doing fine!

In all honesty, I spend what seems like my entire week in a lab, playing with fossils that are way too old for me – a casual 300 million years too old, and messing around (a.k.a. carefully using because I’m terrified to break) microscopes that are fancier than any piece of equipment I’ve ever touched. It’s almost spring! I’m doing fine!

I’m sure you’re being your best self right now. Maybe you had one too many mimosas for brunch last weekend, but it is citrus season, and we can still pretend that Vitamin C prevents all nasty illnesses – and hey – you won’t get scurvy anytime soon. It’s almost spring! We’re doing fine and we don’t have scurvy!

This tart will help walk you out of any scurvy worries and into a land where blood oranges naturally make everything a delightful shade of pink – where candied oranges look good no matter how you arrange them, and where there’s blood orange curd to eat by the spoonful. It will help you walk out of the winter citrus with dignity, unlike the fourth mimosa you had last brunch. It’s almost spring! We like dignity!

So, by my logic, this tart will not only taste delicious, it will prevent scurvy, bring back your dignity that a mimosa ran off with, and help you gracefully enter springtime. And yes, I’m so fully aware that it is still February, but here outside of Philly it’s feeling an awful lot like spring, and despite my schooling in climate change, I’m here for it. It’s almost spring! We’re doing fine in climate-change-warmness! Make this tart. You won’t be sorry.

 

blood orange tart

citrus tart crust:
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbs) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs cold water
Zest of 1 blood orange

blood orange curd:
2 eggs
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs cornstarch
1 cup blood orange juice
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 Tbs blood orange zest
4 Tbs butter

vanilla scented whipped cream: 
1/2 cup heavy cream
Scraped seeds of one vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbs sugar

candied orange slices:
1 blood orange/orange, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup powdered sugar

how-to: tart crust
Rub orange zest into sugar with your fingertips. Toss the zesty sugar with butter cubes in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until a paste forms with no lumps, about 5 minutes. 

Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

Sift flour and salt together in a separate bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients, just until combined. Add the cold water and mix briefly.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead several times until smooth. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Roll out dough to fit your tart pan, and don’t worry if it cracks or breaks here and there. Press it into the pan until there is a uniform thickness. Dock with a fork. For best results and less shrinkage, stick the lined pan in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Line pan with parchment paper and fill with dried beans (or rice, or baking weights) and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the bottom is somewhat dry. Remove weights and bake for another 15-20 minutes more until the crust is evenly golden brown. Let cool completely.

how-to: blood orange curd
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is a pale yellow and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and salt and continue mixing. Add blood orange juice, zest, water and butter, and mix until somewhat incorporated (the butter will not mix in). Pour the mixture into a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, and whisk continuously until mixture thickens and deepens in color. Remove from heat and whisk for an additional minute or two. Pour mixture into the pre-baked and cooled tart crust. Cover surface with plastic wrap and let cool in the fridge for at least an hour – ideally more.

how-to: vanilla scented whipped cream
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together cream, sugar, and vanilla seeds until stiff peaks form. Spread over surface of the tart and garnish with dried orange slices.

how-to: candied orange slices:
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Put the powdered sugar in a medium, shallow bowl. Dip each slice to coat and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until dried and slightly shriveled, about 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours. Let cool. Arrange over whipped cream on top of tart.

earl grey pound cake

I’m a big earl grey fan. Like I’ve said before, Andrew thinks that it tastes like fruit loops… but he likes the flavor so it’s not a big deal apparently. This earl grey pound cake is definitely the way to go for tea and cereal fans alike though.  It’s moist, it’s dense in all the right places, and it’s not so sweet that you feel guilty eating a huge ole slice right in the morning. Lavender scented cream helps pull it all together and add an extra level of luxe. You could make it without the cream, but I hope you don’t. An important note – you can see both the toothpick mark, and where the cat took a chunk when I was setting up for pictures and I smushed it back in…no shame. We’re here for each other.

I’m getting ready for my last semester of school, and starting to think ahead for the rest of the year. It’s funny, because I find myself thinking that creating a whole list of goals can be unrealistic…. and then I go ahead and make a huge list of goals, which I go over and consider deeply while I inhale this cake warm out of the oven.

I want to learn how to properly make croissants, and I’d like to keep up with my Italian – or what’s left of it. I’d like to post on here and make delicious recipes and also actually learn how to use a camera. With any list of goals, we’ve got to give ourselves a few gimmes. At this point in the game, graduating from college is a gimme. Trying to do more yoga is relatively a gimme. We’ll get there. You’ll get there, with your tough ones and your gimmes. This earl grey pound cake will help.

This cake will be there for you when you can’t remember how to conjugate yet another irregular Italian verb, and it’ll be there to rub your back when you melt a pound of butter out of your best-looking batch of croissants. It’ll also be there to celebrate when you successfully do 20 minutes of yoga, and when you snatch your diploma from the giving hands of whoever’s in charge.

earl grey pound cake
makes 1 nine-inch pound cake. adapted from the fearless baker cookbook.

8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup whole milk
4 earl grey teabags
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lavender

how-to:

First, we will infuse the milk with the earl grey tea. Put the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the milk up to steaming, but not boiling, and drop the four teabags in. Steep for 10 minutes, and remove the teabags. Re-measure the milk, and add back any any volume that you lost (I added back in probably about 50 grams, so don’t be worried if it seems like you lost a lot). Cool the milk to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9 inch cake pan. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium low until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Add the vanilla, and mix to combine. Scrape down the bowl well to catch anything on the side. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Add 1/3 of this mixture on low speed. Once combined, add half of the infused milk. Repeat until all ingredients have been added. Scrape into prepared pan, smooth top with a spatula, and sprinkle generously with the turbinado sugar. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 more minutes, and turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the whipped cream, heat the milk til steaming, and steep the lavender until it tastes good to you….depending on your lavender it can take different amounts of time, and you can kind of smush it up a bit if you want to extract more flavor. I did mine for 15 minutes. Strain and put the cream in the fridge and when chilled, whip in a stand mixer with a generous pinch of sugar until stiff peaks.

peanut butter and jelly pull-apart bread

When I was a kid, I wasn’t that into peanut butter and jelly. Quick, call the kid police, they’d be sure to post-arrest me for this horrible sin.  Any sandwich seemed to be too sticky and there was always too much peanut butter to jelly. Looking back on that ratio, I’m sure it was my mom trying to rein in some sugar consumption, which doesn’t seem like the worst of ideas. Generally though, let’s talk about peanut butter and jelly pull-apart bread. It’s 2018 people, and some old habits (hating pb&j) die easily here.

When you wrap up peanut butter and jelly in buttery brioche even the most ardent of pb&j haters will jump on board.  It’s melty, it’s gooey, it’s buttery and soft. I imagine those people who liked Uncrustables would also like this. It’s for all levels of the pb&j experience.

The brioche recipe was from a new cookbook of mine – the Fearless Baker cookbook – and it was flawless. I had a bit extra after making the loaves, so I rolled it up into a ridiculously sized bun and popped it in the oven.  I almost (almost) wish that I had done that with all of it, since it was pure buttery perfection all on its own. But alas, we’re not here for simple brioche buns, we want them jam-packed (literally) and full of childhood nostalgia.

If you feel like a more breakfasty-eggy bread-brioche situation, check out this maple-bacon challah. It’s also sure to rock your world and maybe you’ll change your mind about bacon and/or maple syrup?? By that I mean you will only love them more.

In more news, I’ve been getting deep into Pinterest… I’m a little sad but a lot happy about it and I’d love if you joined me!! It’s spiraling out of control so come check in on me, here’s the link!

peanut butter and jelly pull-apart bread
recipe adapted from the fearless baker cookbook

5 cups bread flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
5 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
14oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used smooth, but am intrigued by chunky)
1/2 cup jam of your choosing

Egg wash: 1 large egg, splash of water, pinch of salt.

how-to:

Mix the flour, granulated sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast and mix to combine. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs a bit until they’re all broken up, and add the milk and eggs to the stand mixer. Mix for 4 minutes.

Increase speed to medium and add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time, waiting patiently for the butter to be fully incorporated before adding the next bit. If butter rides up on the sides, scrape down the bowl to make sure it can be fully mixed in. Once the butter has all been added, knead in the mixer for another minute. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, grease and line two 9×5 inch loaf pans with parchment paper. I used one normal size loaf pan, and made the rest in an assortment of smaller pans and ramekins. Just be aware that the bake time will likely be different. Divide the dough into two pieces, and roll each out to a 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut 3 inch circles out of the dough. Pat the circles down a bit thinner, and spread half with the peanut butter and half with the jelly. Fold the circles into half-moons, and nestle them (alternating) in the loaf pan, with the flat side of the half moon down. Once the pan is snugly filled, wrap it with greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes. Depending on the temperature of your house this can take a bit longer.

Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a thermometer reads 190F. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, and pop the loaves out with the parchment paper overhang. Enjoy warm.

 

 

 

Time For A Beer, 1!

Welcome to Time For A Beer!!

This will be the weekly spot for beer discussions, pairing ideas, and other fun things having to do with the world of craft beer. To break into this shindig we are going to discuss a seasonal beer from Stone Brewing in California.

Beer Notes

Stone is one of the oldest, and largest craft breweries in the U.S.  Breaking ground in 1996, the brewery has continued to expand from self-distributing in Southern California to operating worldwide.  In 2014, they brewed  Xocoveza, an Imperial Stout inspired by Mexican hot chocolate.  With flavors of cinnamon, coffee, nutmeg, peppers, and of course, chocolate, the beer floored the brewers, and it has since been a seasonal release starting in October and running through the holidays.  With a dark pour, the beer makes for a full bodied glass that is great at any point of a night.

Pairing Notes

Chocolate and cinnamon are the heavy hitters here, really opening up your senses to enjoy the more subtle notes of nutmeg and vanilla. It’s almost like drinking a thin mole, and if you’ve ever had mole, I know we are on the same page for how amazing that would be. Also, I imagine having it with a tangy or spicy noodle dish, as the semi-sweetness from the cocoa would make a great balance with the spice, especially with the pasilla peppers that are in the beer.  Throw a little pork or super tender chicken in that bowl, you have yourself a delicious meal.

Xocoveza may really be at its strongest when enjoyed with dessert though! Either next to a bowl of vanilla ice cream, or poured over a bowl of vanilla ice cream if you are a bit adventurous ( I suggest being adventurous here!).

Well, until next time, enjoy a six pack of this seasonal beer! Really, run out and get it now, before it goes away until next year. Maybe even test out Stone’s Xocoveza Beer Nog! Who knows, you just might find yourself happily surprised with that one.

 

Cheers,

– Andrew

french coffee

A coffee cocktail is probably all someone needs during the holidays. A little boost, a little kick, and a big dollop of whipped cream to finish it off. Enter French Coffee.

My parents have this old mixed drink book, and the dog-eared pages and aqua blue highlighter give clues to the drinks they were fond of years ago. My dad’s handwriting seems to circle rum drinks, preceding his current fondness for a good Dark and Stormy. There’s a highlighted blue frozen margarita, and a note by a heavy cream and kahlua concoction indicating that it was far too heavy for their refined palates. All in all, it’s one of my favorite reads.

Hiding out in a corner of that book, amid many references to crème de cassis and blue curaçao is this little gem of a drink. For a split second, I was skeptical of the orange and coffee, but I’m glad I tried.

After a quick Google search, I can’t confirm that French Coffee has any connection to France, but that doesn’t make it any less warming and delicious. Try it with some cappuccino tea cake, and huddle around a fire.. .or a nice candle. Take a deep breath, sip, and enjoy a pillow of whipped cream.

french coffee

1 cup of hot coffee – 10-12 oz
1.5 oz orange liqueur
1/2 cup of heavy cream

how-to: 

Whip the cream to soft peaks with a whisk. This will make more than you need, but it’s easier to whip a larger amount of cream. Make a drink for a friend.

Mix the coffee and the orange liqueur in a small coffee cup. Garnish with the whipped cream, and serve with coffee cake and chocolate covered espresso beans.

creamed spinach and sausage pasta

To start, I was not planning on writing a blog post about this spinach and sausage meal. In fact, I only took a picture because someone suggested it, and I snapped a quick one on my phone without looking back – so forgive the quality.

Then I tasted it, and you bet your ass I looked back.

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This pasta is creamy and comforting, with bites of peppered ricotta and creamy spinach. For those people (like myself) who sometimes have a moment of hesitation when foods start with the word “creamed”… worry no longer. Embrace it. I embraced two whole bowls of it.

The balance between the creamy spinach, the salty sausage, and the soft ricotta is bomb. Add in toasty pine nuts and a grate of nutmeg? Sheer brilliance. Also, as I was writing this up, I realized that it’s a remarkably easy recipe to remember – lots of 1 pound weights… it’s like the pound cake version of pasta. Spinach and sausage, and everything in between.

creamed spinach and sausage pasta
recipe from joy the baker

1 pound fettuccine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound spinach
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg
Parmesan

how-to: 

Place ricotta in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper.

In a medium-large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add sausage and cook, breaking up, until browned and crispy looking. Drain the pan, and wipe clean with a paper towel. Toast the pine nuts over medium heat, being extremely careful not to let them burn. Take off heat and place in a small bowl.

At this point, heat up some water for the pasta in a large pot, and add a generous pinch of salt. Cook fettuccine until done, and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. While pasta is cooking, cook garlic in the same skillet until golden around the edges. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add spinach and cook until wilted (depending on the size of your pan you might need to add in batches, just keep adding a bit more). Add the cream, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes, or until thickened a bit.

Add pasta to the cream sauce, and toss to combine. Add sausage. Then, transfer pasta to the bowl with the seasoned ricotta and toss until slightly combined, but leave some big chunks of ricotta. Top with pine nuts and parmesan and enjoy.

your own blt

I know, I know, you know how to make a BLT.

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You know to toast up some good white bread and to slather with mayo. You know to pop on some crisp lettuce, and to layer with thick cut tomatoes. You know to go heavy on the bacon. You know it’s best eaten immediately. You don’t need me.

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Before I slink out of sight to wallow in my obsolete existence, let me pass on two things to you – the tip of a century and also variations. I like to think that in our lives where recipes tell you exactly how much of everything to put in, and exactly how long to bake it and exactly what it should look like… that we’re actually forgetting how to cook. We don’t learn to look in the fridge and make a meal – and not to be worried if it doesn’t look like it could get lots of likes on Instagram. All food isn’t beautiful. And all recipes could use a twist – and I’ll give you a few of my ideas but I know you’re also full of them.

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As far as a tip goes – bake your bacon! I’ve made many a mess with bacon on the stovetop, and ruined many a shirt. If you’re only making bacon for one, I’d still use the method that’s slowly whittling my wardrobe, but if you’re making BLTs for a crowd (which you should), this is the way to go. Simply heat the oven to 400°F, line a pan with foil and plop your bacon on, and bake for 15-20-more or less minutes until the bacon is the level of crispy you desire. Easy cleanup – thank god, and easy BLT eating. Also – butter lettuce was almost the star of the show here, and that’s really saying something.

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As far as twists, here’s what I got for you:

BELT it: Add an egg! Perhaps fried with a runny yolk… perhaps hard-boiled and sliced.
Chz it: I also don’t need to tell you to do this. Sharp cheddar is usually my go-to, but I’m not saying no to some gouda. Or Gruyere. Or Parm. Actually I’m not saying no to any cheese, ever.
Heat it up: Double meaning: if you chz it, maybe also panini it? BLT grilled cheese… yes. I’m saying yes. Second possibility, stir some sriracha into your mayo before you slather it on.

Here’s how to bake your bacon, in step form, for those of us that aren’t that great at following paragraph instructions (me):

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil, and place bacon in a single layer.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how crispy you’d like your bacon to be!

Now – go forth and prosper. I know you will.

smart science: wine edition

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Wine has always been something that varies from person to person. My mom and I like red, my roommate likes white, and my sister adores a solid (or not so solid) prosecco or champagne. After spending a semester in Italy, I was drawn to the idea that there are guidelines and rules for producing certain kinds of wine. A lot of these rules stem around where specific varieties of grapes can be grown, and whether you can call a wine a specific name. For example – you can’t make real Chianti outside of the Chianti region, in Tuscany. Complicated stuff. It got me to thinking… I wonder how these regions, these climates, and these grape varieties all interact with each other? There has to be a reason – and onto the smart science we go!

  1. There are a couple types of climate that matter here: macroclimate, mesoclimate and microclimate. Macroclimate is the easiest – essentially just the average temperature of a place – and unsurprisingly, some grapevines are more attuned to growing in one temperature than another. Think how cacti are happier in Arizona, and how maple trees are happier up north! Same idea. Mesoclimate is a bit zoomed in – differences within a specific region – like a hill, or a riverbed. This contributes to subtle taste differences between wines grown in the same region. Finally, microclimate is studying the individual vine. This can include how much sun it gets compared to its neighbor, proximity to water, levels of wind and airflow. These can all change how good a grape is from a specific plant.
  2. Soil matters too! Just like any plant, the type of soil you grow it in will affect your final outcome. Most good wines are grown in either clay or sandy soil. Clay soil is known for producing very rich wines (think – wines from Tuscany), while sandy soil is known for producing highly aromatic wines (think – Riesling).
  3. You may have heard the word “terroir” used to describe wine. Essentially, terroir is the entire natural environment of the wine – and then how that natural environment influences the taste. Winemakers from regions where great wine has been produced for many years take this really seriously – and rightfully so.
  4. In light of all these things it takes to make a great wine, it’s no wonder that really good wine can be quite expensive. Wine forgery has actually been around almost as long as wine (classic human innovation, eh), and still constitutes a pretty big issue today. There’s a couple different ways that people forge wine – some blend wine together to try and form a final product, some simply fake the bottle, and some create a bottle to look like a fancy wine. Interestingly enough though, people tend to enjoy wine regardless of the quality if you tell them it’s more expensive. Seriously – neuroscience and brain mapping has shown heightened activity in pleasure centers. Wild, right?

To beat the wine snobs at their own game, check out the links below to learn some timely fun facts you can insert into conversation! Drink some wine while you’re at it, and I’ll be back eventually with more smart science posts on wine.

  • A general overview on everything we’ve been talking about, with a bit more detail.
  • Want to know more about wine forgery? Read this article, and then watch the documentary Sour Grapes.
  • A whirlwind five things to know about the science of wine from the World Science Festival, some of which we’ll chat about later. It’s like homework! For wine!

smart science: sweeteners edition

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If you’ve ever been to a coffee shop, you’ve seen the brightly colored packets of artificial sweeteners kicking around on the table. You’ve probably also seen drinks proclaiming the health benefits of stevia, or a smoothie sweetened only with agave. Today, we’re gonna chat about these guys. Not only what they’re made out of, but whether or not the health/diet/superpower claims are true. Let’s start with Splenda.

  • Splenda is made out of sucralose, which is about 600 times sweeter than normal table sugar. It also contains very few calories – hence its popularity on the diet circuit. Since it’s approval by the FDA in the 90’s, sucrolose, in the form of Splenda, has become extremely popular. Additionally, it was thought to be biologically inert – meaning that it had no actual, chemical effect on the human body. Recently, an article published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health has shown that sucralose does have an effect on the mechanisms involving glucose and insulin – both hot button topics due to their involvement in diabetes. This study did not definitively prove that sucralose contributes to Type II diabetes, but it merits further study. To add insult to injury, another recent study in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental heath suggests that, in mice, sucralose might contribute to some malignant cancers. Strike two.
  • In this vein, many of the artificial sweeteners like Splenda (aspartame, for one) have been embroiled in far more dangerous controversy. Some sides say it’s completely safe, some don’t. All sides merit further study. Aspartame, (name brand: Nutrasweet, Equal), was discovered in the 60’s by a man attempting to make an anti-ulcer drug. Displaying poor scientific practice, he licked his finger reaching for a piece of paper, and discovered that whatever he was making was extremely sweet – and aspartame was born. Before aspartame, other low-calorie sweeteners all had significant health concerns. So, when aspartame hit the market, it seemed like the best option for a low calorie sweetener. Its scientific significance was broad, in that it momentarily filled a hole in the low-calorie sweetener market, and also provided a new structure for sweet compounds. But – there is serious conflicting evidence that aspartame contributes to serious health issues, including insomnia, headaches, neurobehavioral difficulties, and seizures. Additionally, mice and rat studies have shown an increase in malignant tumors after long-term exposure to small amounts of aspartame. Animal studies are significantly different than human studies, so this does not by any means indicate that aspartame causes cancer in humans. As always in science, more research is needed.
  • Moving onto agave. Agave syrup is made from the agave plant, which is the same plant used to make tequila! It’s long been marketed as the healthy alternative to any other sweeteners, whether that be honey, sugar, or artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame. In theory, agave syrup should contain a lot of inulin – a fiber-rich, sweet compound. But – agave you buy in stores is highly processed, and most of that inulin is broken down into fructose. Fructose is found in all sugars, in varying amounts – and the higher the amount, the more unhealthy for you it is. Think…. high-fructose corn syrup! We all know that’s bad. Now, when agave gets processed, it is equally as dense in fructose as HCFS, if not more! Essentially, it’s genius marketing, since ingesting high levels of fructose actually interfere with digestion, among other processes. Agave isn’t healthy – despite what people on Instagram might think.

Essentially, when looking at any version of sugar, whether that be normal white sugar, artificial sweeteners, or agave, limiting the amount you eat and drink is definitely a good move. Eating diets high in sugar contribute to a bunch of health problems, not just limited to things like diabetes or heart disease. Additionally, if you eat a diet high in artificial sweeteners, your body and brain might forget what a normal sweetness level in foods is, leading you to consume even higher levels of these sweeteners. Bummer – since we should all be able to remember the natural sweetness of a ripe strawberry!

For tons more information, check out the links below!

  • For more information on the affect of Splenda on insulin levels, check out the Huff Post article here.
  • Cancer experts tend to think that aspartame is safe to use, but they also like to provide all the information. Check out this detailed factsheet here.
  • Lots of general information here and here from Harvard about artificial sweeteners, their brand name counterparts, and some crazy facts about how much sweeter than normal sugar they are!
  • A doctor has some harsh words about agave in the HuffPost…. all rooted in science!

earl grey and gin cocktail

I love a good cup of tea. I cart around a 20 ounce thermos of tea all year round, and fill it up multiple times a day. It might be too much. I’m not terribly picky about what kind of tea… give me gas-station english breakfast or fancy-schmancy herbal blends. One of my go-to morning choices is any type of earl grey – plain jane, lavender, or whatever weird concoction Tazo thinks of next. Andrew thinks that it tastes like fruit loops, but that fits right on into the morning theme, so I think it’s okay. Today – we’re messing around with earl grey and gin.

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We can’t relegate poor earl grey to live only in mornings! What if it wants to get out about town, meet up with some friends, and grab a drink? Without smashing this joke over and over again…this is what happens when earl grey grabs a drink.

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It gets all mixed up with some sugar, and cooked down to form a simple syrup. It jams along with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, some gin, and some club soda. It has a ball.

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This is too easy not to make, and it’s something that you can impress your friends with. Feel free to infuse all sorts of stuff in simple syrup to make cocktails with….I want to try with plain black tea, but I’m also tempted by grapefruits.

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earl grey and gin cocktail

1 1/2 ounce gin
1 1/2 ounce earl grey simple syrup (recipe follows)
3/4 ounce lemon juice
Club soda, to top

Fill glass with ice and top with gin, simple syrup and lemon juice. Stir around with a spoon or something to combine. Top with club soda, swirl, and enjoy! Feel free to mess around with proportions – you’re making your own drink, after all. Regardless, the earl grey and gin flavor combo is bomb.

earl grey simple syrup

4 earl grey tea bags
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Once the sugar is melted and the mixture is bubbling, add the earl grey tea bags and steep for 10 minutes (taste to tell if you want to go more!). Strain and let cool completely. Store the rest in a jar in the fridge.