Fresh & Frugal

How to cook fantastic, fresh food on a tight budget

Month: December, 2011

Rosemary Gin Fizz

A while ago I promised you a delightful drink that would drive you stark raving mad. Well, maybe not the raving part, and it really was quite a while ago, now that I think of it. This drink is meant to drive you absolutely mad, in the most delightful way possible.

One of my very few complaints about the holidays is the heaviness of it all. I’m almost sure to drag myself back to Philadelphia weighing a few pounds more than I had when I left, and while the food is delicious and the company is fantastic, and while I really do wish I could stay home forever, in this lovely holiday limbo — well, let’s get real. In a desperate attempt to steer myself away from some of the thickest eggnog in the world, and keep a pretty white smile by dodging the liters of mulled wine out there, it doesn’t really leave much in the way of holiday drinks, does it? My friend Amy would argue that Stingers (“An old-timey drink with whiskey and creme de menthe. It’s green!”) might offer one alternative, but I do beg to differ. With this in mind, I poked around in my mom’s fridge today, for some inspiration.

I’m big on smells, if you couldn’t tell from previous posts. No matter how clean a room is, it doesn’t feel clean enough until it smells clean. No matter how warm it is, it doesn’t feel like summer until you can smell your neighbors grilling hamburgers and sausages. A car is never quite as new as it is when that new car smell overwhelms you every time you open the door. It’s the same with Christmas, so in order to make a Christmas drink, it only seems right to use a smell that matches the holiday.

So as you can imagine, when I stumbled upon a recipe for a Rosemary Gin Fizz, I was immediately enthralled. Christmassy look? Check. Christmassy smell? CHECK. Simple, easy to make, something I can’t exactly screw up easily? Check. Delicious? Well…

I must have done something wrong. I cannot believe that it would have gotten such acclaim on other foodie blogs if it weren’t absolutely mind-blowingly delicious. I must have done something wrong. So I made more simple syrup. Remixed. Retried. Candied the rosemary. Cut down on the gin. Added more fizz. Upped the sugar content. Downed another one (with a rather pained expression). I must have done something wrong. I must have done something wrong.

So here, I present to you, the link to the recipe for this drink. Good luck. Measure carefully. And, of course, merry Christmas!


Making Up


Oh hello there. Did you think I forgot about you? Silly you. Let’s play a little catch-up: The end of my first year of grad school was more than welcome by the time it hit, which was — of course — just in time for bolting off to get some archaeological work in abroad. It was such an adventure, I can’t even begin to explain it here. Maybe I should devote a second (often forgotten) webpage to my travels. Ha. From Crete, it was back to the UK for a splendid two weeks with some of my favorite people on earth, and then a mad dash back to Indiana for a few days before zipping up to Canada for my Uncle Bill’s wedding. Honestly, that was the highlight of my summer. Canada itself is wonderful, but I finally got to meet (and remember) all those people that mom and grandma always talked about spending every summer with, matching names to grinning faces. We stayed in a little cabin on a lake (surprise!) for nearly a week, ate sandwiches almost every day (mmm!), and just spent time with the extended family. I can’t think of a better way to end my summer. Then I moved into a new place and spent the rest of August working. 


Whew! Now to make up for lost time. I do have photos of my mini-Thanksgiving coming, since I hosted my immediate family this year! Dad was the photographer, so expect a different style when those photos get thrown up, here. The photos you’re about to view are from this weekend’s baking extravaganza and my crafternoon with a few girls from the department. Last weekend I was lucky enough to have my own Canadian haul a real live Christmas tree up to my apartment (how he wiggled it into my car, I’ll never know), only to realize that I had neither lights nor ornaments. Solution: Crafternoon! 


I don’t want my slave labor to go hungry, so the logical answer was to whip out some Thanksgiving leftovers (It’s more than a week later and I’m still working on the turkey), and bake any and everything that occurs to me, beginning with Cranberry Orange Cookies and Sugar Cookies. As if making an insane number of cookies weren’t enough, I woke up this morning and just had to make (a cheap, shorthand version of) Deb’s Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Cornbread (smittenkitchen, folks). Yesterday I was also smacked with the realization that my mom had secreted away several apples and some pears into the crisper of my fridge, so something absolutely must be done with those. What exactly, I’m not yet sure, but you will probably find out later this week. 





Allow me to renew my vows, yet again, to post more often. No more 6-month-long silences. I promise



Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies

1 c (soft) butter

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp orange juice (fresh) or 1 tsp orange extract

1 c packed brown sugar

1/2 c white sugar

3 c oats (rolled is best)

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 c dried cranberries

1 tbsp grated orange zest

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon


Preheat to 350. 

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl (from the brown sugar on down the list).

Give it a quick stir. Trust me. 

Add all of the wet ingredients (from the top on down to the orange juice) and mix well. 

Spoon equal portions onto a wax-papered cookie sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes per batch. 

Allow to cool for 2 minutes before moving the cookies to a cooling rack or plate. 

Keep going! It took me 4 or 5 rounds in the oven before all of the batter was gone. 



Deb’s Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Cornbread

1 box Jiffy cornbread mix (I cringe to say it, but it saves time and money!)

1 small log chevre (softened)

1 can sweet corn (or fresh corn, if you’re sure-handed with a knife)

1/2 c milk

1 egg

1 large onion

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp sugar


Preheat to 400. 

Melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. In the mean time, chop/dice the onion. 

Caramelize the onion over med-low heat (10 minutes, give or take). Set it aside. 

Break up/whip the goat cheese in your mixing bowl. Add the egg and milk, and keep stirring. It’s going to look pretty icky, but just keep going. 

Add the box of cornbread mix (unless you have your own cornbread recipe). Keep mixing. 

Drain the can of corn, and add it to the mixture. Keep mixing. 

Add half of the caramelized onions and 2 tbsp sugar. Keep mixing. 

Dump it all into a greased pan and top with the remaining onions. 

Pop it into the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown.

Let that thing cool for at least 5 minutes before you dig in!