said Nickie, my friend and fitness trainer, as we fast-walked through Georgetown one morning and she talked me through a recipe for cucumber vodka with basil. Nickie lives in Louisiana. I think it’s important to mention this, because if you’ve seen my photo you must think she’s not very good at her job. In truth, she’s aces as a fitness trainer, but since we work out together a couple of times a YEAR, well, you see the problem. You might think it odd that a fitness trainer would be handing out drink recipes, but that’s Nickie. She knows how to live. She also knows a knockout of a cocktail when she tastes one. This seemingly innocent drink is coolly numbing, and a refreshing counterpoint to the spicy cocktail mix recipe that follows. (Offering a cocktail without an accompanying savory should be against the Geneva Convention.)
It took a couple of attempts to get the Birdseed cocktail mix recipe right, after seeing a version of it in a tattered magazine in the dentist’s office, and trying to commit it to memory. (I am uncomfortable ripping things out of doctors’ office magazines if there are other patients in the waiting room. It’s petty theft, with witnesses.) A few nights later when my husband came home and found a baking sheet of nuts and seeds cooling on the stove, he asked, in his best my-wife-is-doing-something-odd-again voice, “Are you making birdseed?” I’ve no doubt that both birds and humans will love this mix.
Cucumber Vodka with Basil (Bottle should be left in freezer for several hours before using)
- One shot of cucumber vodka (There are several brands of cucumber vodka on the market. I used Effen Vodka and it was really good.)
- Six fresh basil leaves
- Muddle the basil under the ice
- Add vodka and stir.
Makes 3 cups
Prep time: 40 minutes
- 1 egg white
- 2 ½ Tablespoons of Grade B maple syrup
- ½ Teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 Teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 1 ½ Teaspoons fresh sea salt
- 3 cups raw unsalted nuts, including almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios and walnuts
- 2 Tablespoons flaxseed
- 3 Tablespoons quinoa
- 1 ½ Tablespoons fresh rosemary
- Preheat oven to 300 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk egg white until frothy, then whisk in maple syrup, cayenne, black pepper and salt. Stir in nuts, flaxseed, quinoa and rosemary. Coat everything completely.
- Spread the nuts on the baking sheet evenly and bake until nuts are browned, 25 minutes. You will know when they are done because they will smell amazing. Serve warm.