Mr. Grassroofs Movement: A Historic Drink

Mr. Grassroofs would like to add to this post that, “the dude spoke EIGHT languages.”


A historic Cocktail

Joe Scialom is bar keeping royalty. Former head bartender at the Long Bar in the Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo he served some of the best cocktails to the who’s who from the 30’s through the 60’s. From Cairo to Cuba, the mythology that follows Joe the Bartender is also pretty tasty; being accused of espionage by multiple countries can have that effect on a reputation. Regardless, the trained chemist has left us with some of the most memorable cocktails around. While The Suffering Bastard was originally created to ease the morning hangovers of soldiers on WWII, I find it to be an excellent compliment to early NC falls where days can reach a humid 80+ and surrender into cool, low-60s bliss. So, without further ado:

A historic Cocktail


The Suffering Bastard

1 oz Gin (I like Bulldog)

1 oz Bourbon*(Honestly, Old Crow has a special place in my heart)

1 tsp of fresh lime juice

Bitters (Angostura is fine unless you’ve made your own!)

4 oz Ginger Ale (the spicier the better)

1 sugar cube

A historic Cocktail


Place sugar cube in a rocks glass and squeeze the lime over it. Add two dashes of bitters and shake the sugar cube around in the bottom of the glass to break it up. Add fresh ice (a sphere if you’ve got it) followed by the lime juice, bourbon and gin; mix briefly. Top with ginger ale and garnish with an orange.

“Mix well but Shake the politics”- Joe Scialom

A historic Cocktail


Great Big Family Weekend, Plus a Tutorial

This past weekend was great big fun. Mr. Grassroofs’ family came down from the Raleigh area to see him as the wonderfully, childish Jack The Giant Killer. They loved him and we loved having so much family around and the dogs loved all the attention.

Family weekend 1 One of these beloved family members had recently had a birthday. So, I took advantage of some of my favorite farmers market connections. Jodi, of Hot Pink Cake Stand, made the most delicious and beautiful custom cake for Carolyn. The cake itself was Lavender and Honey, topped with a dense and delightful Bourbon Vanilla frosting. And…I’m decently sure she made each of those flowers by hand. Handmade flowers!

At Jodi’s place, they serve cupcakes and wine all the time. They do monthly pairings. The place is doggone cute! Family Weekend 2 Bolstered by all the love in the room, I decided to try a craft that I’d seen around the Pin-o-sphere. I painted these beer bottles we had around- three were painted white and three the teal color shown in the picture.

I’ve seen this project done with twine, but as I didn’t have any, I used yarn. I wrapped the yarn tightly around the bottle, glueing with hot glue periodically. Repurposed Beer Bottle Vases The two shown in the picture are my first two attempts. They got better as I made more, as things like that tend to do. The bottle on the left was wrapped from top to bottom, while the one on the right was wrapped from bottom to top. I DEFINITELY recommend going from top to bottom. The wrapping is easier, faster and more consistent; you also use less glue which leaves a more polished, less “arts and crafts” feel. Repurposed Beer Bottle Vases

So basically, the weekend was a huge success, but now I want to know what unusual flavors of cakes have you had recently? What would you put in a case made of a repurposed beer bottle?

Mr. Grassroofs Monday: The New Fashioned

I recently finished performing in a run of “Into the Woods.” As you do with most shows, when you are in the dressing room talk about what comes next and/or what should be turned into a musical. If anyone has 50 grand lying around so I can take a year off and turn “The Princess Bride” into the next great musical to run on Broadway, please let me know. Well, that’s another story. Anyway, I was talking with Lisa one night before mic check about food blogging. In her story about the derivation of her blog’s name, it hit me. The next great musical; a spoof of the beloved Les Mis: Il Mozz featuring:

  • Parmesan Val Jean, a disgraced wine maker turned pizza chef
  • Insalata Javerte, a bad guy
  • Eponini, the local gossip
  • Frutti de Mar-ius, pizza delivery boy
  • Fantina, Former hostess
  • Gravlox , a mixed up Scandinavian kid

An upscale version of the old fashioned

I know, it’s a work in process, but I will be sure to let you all know when I finish writing the book. Regardless, in honor of great Italian flavors, this week I present the New Fashioned. This quirky take on my favorite cocktail brings the depth and sweetness of Amaretto into the fold.

The New Fashioned

  1. Place two sugar cubes (or a half teaspoon of your sugar of choice) in the glass of your choosing.
  2. Next up, add 3 shakes of bitters and 1 oz. of Amaretto and let this mixture break down the sugar cubes.
  3. Rotate the glass so this coats the sides.
  4. Add your ice. I am still thankful for my spherical ice mold;  but if you don’t have one, try to use the fewest, largest pieces you can find.
  5. Pour in 2 oz. of your bourbon of choice (I use Bulleit). Some people would stop here and add a garnish of orange peel. I get that, but I like mine a lighter so I add a splash of San Pellegrino (club soda is fine, but I find the intense carbonation interferes with the enjoyment of the flavors). Don’t forget the orange peel; give it a good pinch as you drop it in. Maraschino Cherry is out for this one.

Mr. Grassroofs Monday: The Hamburger Edition

Mr. Grassroofs has prepared not one, but TWO recipes for you today!  He’s been super busy being Jack the Giant Killer, so no photos today.  Next week, his delicious recipe will come with mouthwatering pictures too. 

I like burgers. Maybe not in the Ron Swanson “this burger is made with meat” way, but definitely in the sense that burgers are incredibly flexible. And delicious. That being said, this week I’m going to post my favorite burger recipe…if you can call it a recipe. It’s almost more of a style. If this burger were art it would be Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup portrait. There’s enough there to be interesting and edgy yet wonderfully familiar. So, without further ado, the Barbeque World Tour Burger.

1 lb. Ground Beef (fatty, none of that 97% lean business. But, preferably well sourced)
1 lb. Pork Country Sausage (I dig Neese’s because it’s from NC)
1/3 cup Brown Sugar

Sauce (yup, that’s right)

1 cup ketchup
¼ cup apple juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Chalula or Texas Pete*
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. crushed black pepper

Cooking the burger-
Knead the two meats together and be sure brown sugar is distributed evenly. I divide this mix into eight burgers. Patty these however you’d like, but be sure to press your thumb into the center of the patty to prevent racquetball shaped burgers. These will cook on a hot grill for about 5-6 minutes per side. Definitely aim for medium with these burgers considering the pork content.

Prepping the sauce-

Mix all the ingredients together EXCEPT for the ketchup. Whisk this mixture until the sugar is dissolved, Add ketchup and simmer for 20 minutes.


Pour a spoonful of sauce over each patty during the last 2 minutes of cooking. For a nice surprise, add another pinch of brown sugar as you pull them off the grill. In the way of buns, I generally prefer a nice, toasted, generic hamburger bun. I have had a friend tell me I should try it on corn bread. I’ll get back to you on that.

BONUS SAUCE (substitute for Memphis style sauce from above):
Since I didn’t get a post in last week. Here’s the bonus: Alabama White Sauce.

1 ½ cups of Mayonnaise (Brand loyalty matters here, go with what you love. If you’re just trying this with no allegiance to brand, I’d recommend Duke’s)
¼ cup Water
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. Coarse ground black pepper
1 tbsp. Creole Mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp sugar2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. prepared horseradish

Whisk all of this together and store, refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Mr. Grassroofs Movement: Everything is a Remix

Monday again, and Mr. Grassroofs is excited to build on his post from last week about the Old Fashioned.  Let’s give him and his simple syrups some love!


In case you didn’t know, everything is a remix. Don’t believe me? Check out Kirby Ferguson’s incredible work here. 

Bottom line: The best ideas generally start with something we already love. So, how do you create the next best thing in summer drink land? Simple Syrup. This basic, yet completely delicious ingredient is just begging for some attention. Yeah, so recipe:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
While you can get fancy and use any number of sugars (brown, turbinado, ect.), for our purposes here I’m going with standard white sugar. The first two experiments covered two distinct methods (steeping vs. simmering).
Rosemary Simple Syrup
Rosemary Simple Syrup
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water on the stove and heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Carefully move the warm syrup to a container (I prefer the multi-purpose mason jar) and add two springs of fresh rosemary. Let that sit for 2 hours and then remove the sprigs.
Peach-Basil Simple Syrup
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water on the stove and heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add one peach (sliced) and about 10 fresh basil leaves to the mix and simmer over low heat for 7-10 minutes. You’ll notice a nice pinkish hue in the liquid. Strain the mixture (using a fine strainer) into a container of your choosing and allow to cool slowly.

Simple DIY Butter

Let’s make a list.  A list of all the things made more delicious by butter.  It is a long list:

  1. corn bread
  2. cheese cake crust
  3. veggies
  4. steak
  5. other stuff

DIY, homemade butter recipe

So, basically, butter makes lots of things great! Mr. Grassroofs and I have a long term goal of not relying on butter in the future.  We both agree that we do feel better during Whole 30, and we attribute much of that to lack of dairy.

However, in the meantime, we make our own butter so that we can control the quality of the ingredients.  We like getting local cream from the farmers market.  Knowing the milk only came from one cow, knowing the quality of life the cow has, and knowing the farmer are all selling points for us.

It is so easy to make butter once you have the cream.  You can make it salted or unsalted depending on your preference.

Now, drop a marble in a mason jar.  Fill it half way with heavy whipping cream (add half a teaspoon of salt if you want salted butter).  Screw the lid on tight.  Shake the mess out of it!

DIY, homemade butter recipe

When you’ve been shaking for a while, the cream will  get airy and start to fill the rest of the of the container.

DIY, homemade butter recipe

At a certain point, the cream will have the consistency of whipped cream.  We often stop here and infuse the whipped cream with brown sugar or jam or liqueur for a delicious dessert.  But when making butter, just keep shaking.

DIY, homemade butter recipe

After about ten minutes, you’ll see that the cream starts to become a solid, You’re in the home stretch now! Keep shaking!

DIY, homemade butter recipe

As you continue to shake, the solid form will separate from the liquid.  The liquid is, you guessed it, butter milk.  You could save it for baking, drink it, or just pour it out.

DIY, homemade butter recipe

You need to keep shaking until the shaking doesn’t yield anymore buttermilk.  When your shaking just leaves you with the same old butter, then you know you can stop.

DIY, homemade butter recipe

Some homesteaders rinse their butter before packing it away.  If you want to do so, this is the time.  Mr. Grassroofs and I don’t rinse ours and we’ve never had any taste or sanitation problems.

DIY, homemade butter recipe

The contraption pictured above is called a butter bell.  We got one for our wedding and absolutely love it.  You fill the larger cup with a bit of water, slide the butter (in the bell) down into the cup and then the whole thing can live at room temperature on your counter.  Bonus: it is very cute!

Do you have a different way of making homemade butter?

Mr. Grassroofs Monday: Old Fashioned

So…This intimidating. Staring at this blank page like a performer in a giant empty hall. Lots of echoes in a seemingly undefinable space. Of course, this is just a blog about the stuff I (and hopefully you) create in the kitchen or bar; way less pressure.


That being said, let’s get going. I think Dwight Schrutte was on to something with his fascination in Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica (although it’s Jim who actually says that phrase). As you cook or mix along with me you will realize my culinary life focuses on three things: Bourbon, Bacon, BBQ. I should clarify that this is BBQ in the Aussie sense of grill (You may know the overly-commodified phrase “shrimp on the barbee”).

No better place to start than THE classic cocktail: The Old Fashioned. I haven’t found the finer points of Nick’s recipe from New Girl so here’s mine:

2 sugar cubes
Bitters (I like Peychauds when I can find it)
3 oz. Bourbon (if you’d like me to hawk your brand…I’m open to that for a fee)
Club Soda (San Peligrino is also a neat, more settled and less distracting option)
Orange and/or Cherry

The Build: place two sugar cubes on the bottom of a glass that makes you feel fancy/refined/ cultured and splash with bitters (I like 4 generous shakes, but start small). Let the bitters break the cubes down. Add a splash of club soda and rotate in the glass until the syrupy goodness coats the side of the glass. Now add your ice, a single sphere or giant cube when possible. Top with Bourbon (my go to: Bulleit (10 year when affordable)) and then club soda. Finally squeeze an orange slice, drop it in and give it a quick stir….víola.