Showing posts with label cocktails. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cocktails. Show all posts

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Marilla of Green Gables" by Sarah McCoy, Served with a Recipe for Cranberry Cordial (+ Five Favorite Cranberry Recipes)

Happy Friday! I'm excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy, the story of Marilla Cuthbert before we meet her in the Anne of Green Gables books. Accompanying my review is a recipe for Cranberry Cordial, my seasonal take on the red currant and raspberry cordials mentioned in the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (October 23, 2018)

My Review:

I jumped on this book tour both because I adore Sarah McCoy and her books (see my reviews of The Baker's Daughter and The Mapmaker's Children) and because the Anne of Green Gables books have had a place in my heart since childhood. Marilla Cuthbert was never my favorite character in the books--especially in the beginning when she is so cold to Anne, but she grew on me as the series unfolded. It's intriguing to learn about her and how she ended up unmarried and living with her bachelor brother when they decide to take in an orphan boy to help with the farm work and end up with Anne instead. In Marilla of Green Gables, Anne is not in the picture and instead we meet thirteen-year-old Marilla, growing up in her somewhat isolated family home on remote Prince Edward Island. Marilla's world is small and feels safe with her parents, older brother Matthew, and a new sibling soon to be born. Her world is shaken up with the arrival of her Aunt Izzy, her mother's twin and a shock to Marilla who had no idea her mother was a twin and really no concept that twins existed. Marilla starts to form a bond with Izzy when tragedy strikes and the baby is stillborn, Marilla's mother dies in childbirth, and she makes a promise to her that she will care for her father and brother. It's a promise that spurs Marilla to distance herself from her neighbor, family friend and romantic interest, John Blythe--and one that alters her future. 

It was a comment from Marilla about John Blythe in Anne of Green Gables that prompted McCoy to write this book... "John Blythe was a nice boy. We used to be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau." McCoy's imagining of Marilla's early life is touching, interesting and offers insights not just about Marilla, but about other characters like Matthew Cuthbert, John, and Marilla's friend, Rachel Lynde. The book takes place from 1837 to 1876 and gives glimpses into the history of the times from the beginnings of women's suffrage to the impact of slavery and the U.S. Civil War in Canada and that country's own strife and rebellions. Marilla's story captured my imagination and touched my heart, as well as made me want to reread L.M. Montgomery's beloved series. Even if you aren't acquainted with Anne of Green Gables and its characters, if you like well-written historical fiction, books set in the nineteenth century, and books that take place in Canada, you will enjoy this one.

Author Notes: Sarah McCoy is the New York TimesUSA Today, and internationally bestselling author of the novels The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award nominee; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. She has taught English and writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She lives with her husband, an orthopedic sports surgeon, and their dog, Gilbert, in North Carolina.
Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page, on Instagram at @sarahmmccoy, or via her website,

Food Inspiration:

Sarah McCoy books have plenty of the foods of the time and setting of her stories and Marilla of Green Gables is no exception. Food mentions included bread, cocoa and gingersnaps, angel cake baked with red currant wine, sweet biscuits with sweet butter and homemade preserves, warm milk and sardines for Skunk (the family cat), picking sorrel for soup, cellar turnips and pickled vegetables, profiteroles filled with plum and crabapple preserves, black tea, dried red currants, Easter scones, porridge with maple syrup, potatoes, peas, roasted chestnuts, corn, butter nut cakes, brown bread, cake with strawberry jam, creamy neep soup (turnip soup), toffee puddings, guinea hens, spring bean succotash and sponge cake, soft-boiled eggs, cheese curds and apple slices, cabbage soups, asparagus, fruit juice, cordials, cucumber boats, pickled eggs with creamed mustard, herb bannock (a kind of bread), beef pie, mackerel, pea soup, breakfast oats, Darjeeling tea and vanilla cake, raspberry cordial, Dinner hampers filled with stewed oysters, biscuits and lemon pudding, jelly chicken, pickled cucumbers, cherry tarts, plum preserves, chocolates from London, ham and mushroom pastry, sweet almond gingerbread, beef olives, potato balls, cottage loaf, figs, a jar of sweets meats, and raisin Bath buns, fried potatoes and sausages, tomato stew, potato soup, string beans, pork and pea soup, baked sugar shortbread and maple creams, roasted beef, fruit cake, mulled currant wine, "buttermilk biscuits studded with sweet currants, sprinkled with cinnamon, and drenched in maple syrup," coffee, applesauce, jarred blue plums, leg of mutton with garlic and rosemary, ham with brown sugar and vinegar dressing, green peas, tart apple turnovers, oatcakes and cold bacon, and hotcakes. Whew!

For my book-inspired dish, I feel like the book called for either a fruit wine or a cordial--either the Cuthbert red currant versions or perhaps a raspberry cordial in honor of the Ladies Aid Society fundraising efforts. Either would be a pretty red color but, needs must, I also needed a cranberry recipe this week and so I looked for a recipe for an equally red cranberry liqueur or cordial recipe. In Diana Henry's Salt Sugar Smoke, she has several recipes for fruit syrups, liqueurs, and sharbats (Middle Eastern syrups). I ended up using her Black Currant Syrup recipe as my base, switching out the black currants for fresh cranberries.

Cranberry Cordial
Adapted from Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry

4 cups cranberries
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

Put the fruit into a saucepan with 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the berries are completely soft and pulpy. 

Pour into a jelly bag suspended over a bowl to catch the juice, and let it sit overnight.

The next day, measure the liquid. Add the lemon juice and sugar (2 cups sugar for every 2 cups of liquid). Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then pour into a warm, sterilized bottle and seal. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months.

Notes/Results: I'll be honest, I did this all in one night, pushing the berries through a lined sieve with a wooden spoon, then putting them back on the stove to cook down a bit with lemon and sugar. It would have been nice to let it sit overnight but I fell that there was still plenty of cranberry flavor coming through. The flavor is pleasantly sweet-tart--not too much of one or the other and deliciously fruity. You can mix it with water--plain or bubbly, or add it to a cocktail. I used an apple-flavored sparkling water and really enjoyed it. This would make a pretty gift in cute bottles for the holidays and it's a great way to use up extra bags of cranberries. I will happily make it again. 

Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week is our Monthly Ingredient Challenge: Cranberries

Here are five of my other favorite cranberry recipes from our IHCC chefs:

Tessa Kiros Cranberry Syrup Two Ways

Jacques Pépin's Brie with Pistachio Crust & Cranberries

 Tessa Kiros's Cranberry Sorbet

Diana Henry's New York Sweet Cranberry Mustard

Nigella's Cranberry and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Pistachios

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Marilla of Green Gables" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.   You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.  


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "You All Grow Up and Leave Me" by Piper Weiss, Served with a Fuzzy Navel Cocktail

Happy Wednesday! I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for You All Grow Up and Leave Me by Piper Weiss, a book that mixes memoir with true crime. Accompanying my review is a Fuzzy Navel, a cocktail from my youth--inspired by a bottle of peach schnapps and the book. 

Publisher's Blurb:

A highly unsettling blend of true crime and coming-of-age memoir—The Stranger Beside Me meets Prep—that presents an intimate and thought-provoking portrait of girlhood within Manhattan’s exclusive prep-school scene in the early 1990s, and a thoughtful meditation on adolescent obsession and the vulnerability of youth.

Piper Weiss was fourteen years old when her middle-aged tennis coach, Gary Wilensky, one of New York City’s most prestigious private instructors, killed himself after a failed attempt to kidnap one of his teenage students. In the aftermath, authorities discovered that this well-known figure among the Upper East Side tennis crowd was actually a frightening child predator who had built a secret torture chamber—a “Cabin of Horrors”—in his secluded rental in the Adirondacks.
Before the shocking scandal broke, Piper had been thrilled to be one of “Gary’s Girls.” “Grandpa Gary,” as he was known among his students, was different from other adults—he treated Piper like a grown-up, taking her to dinners, engaging in long intimate conversations with her, and sending her special valentines. As reporters swarmed her private community in the wake of Wilensky’s death, Piper learned that her mentor was a predator with a sordid history of child stalking and sexual fetish. But why did she still feel protective of Gary, and why was she disappointed that he hadn’t chosen her?
Now, twenty years later, Piper examines the event as both a teenage eyewitness and a dispassionate investigative reporter, hoping to understand and exorcise the childhood memories that haunt her to this day. Combining research, interviews, and personal records, You All Grow Up and Leave Me explores the psychological manipulation by child predators—their ability to charm their way into seemingly protected worlds—and the far-reaching effects their actions have on those who trust them most.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (April 10, 2018)

My Review:

I love memoirs and I find true crime fascinating so I immediately wanted to read this book and be on the TLC Book Tour even though I only had a vague recollection of the Gary Wilensky case. I was in my late twenties, across the country, and focused on other things when in 1993, Wilensky attempted to kidnap a seventeen-year-old former tennis student and when he failed, killed himself. I had little in common with New York's Upper East Side teens and their lifestyles and private schools and tennis coaches. Piper Weiss, however, was in the middle of it all, a fourteen-year-old student of "Grandpa Gary" who was confused reconciling that Gary with the friend, mentor, and one of the few "adult allies" in her life. Also confusing for her--both then and today, are her feelings of being let down, that she wasn't the focus of Gary's so-called love. 

You All Grow Up and Leave Me vacillates primarily between 1992-93 and 2014-16 and Weiss paints a picture of growing up on the Upper East Side where many people including Weiss's mother believes is the "safe" part of New York City. With prep schools and privilege and parents focused on getting their children the best help to stand out and be successful, it seems all to easy for Gary Wilensky to insinuate himself into society and become a successful tennis coach. Because of word of mouth and his own marketing skills, no one looked closely at his background and parents gave him access, often too much, to their daughters. It wasn't until his obsession with one of "Gary's Girls" made her uncomfortable that his behavior escalated into dangerous. Piper Weiss does a good job of building Gary's background and history--although I wouldn't have minded more information on him and the actual crime. I found myself pulling up some of the articles the Weiss mentioned to learn more, but really this story is Piper's--at least in this book. 

Piper's story is both relatable and not. While her personality, family, and lifestyle were very different from mine, I think most anyone who is or was a teenage girl has had that feeling of not quite fitting in, being judged--by yourself, your friends, the boys you like, and wanting to be special and to be loved. I found myself at times both wanting to hug her and give her a shake. Both she and Gary Wilensky had (in her case, still has) their obsessions, but his came out in a chilling attempted crime and death by his own hand, while Weiss exorcises her demons by seeking to understand them and writing about them. She writes honestly, often poignantly, sometimes with dark humor, and in a way that is a bit unsettling--the memoir-leaning parts are a bit like looking into a teenager's diary and seeing more than you might have wanted to know. This book won't be for everyone, but I think it could lead to some interesting discussion. I found it unique and compelling and well worth reading. 


Author Notes: Piper Weiss has served as editor in chief at Levo, editorial director for HelloGiggles, and features editor for the New York Daily News and Yahoo. She is the author of the book My Mom, Style Icon and has written for various publications, including Hazlitt, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency,, and Refinery29. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Find out more about Piper at her website, and connect with her on Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

You All Grow Up and Leave Me is full of candy and treats, alcohol and restaurant meals. In the nineties it's things like Whatchamacallit candy bars, Diet Coke, Red Vines, Sour Patch Kids and Gummy Bears. There are Mallomars and Sleepytime Tea, Tasti-D-Lite frozen dessert, spray butter, Diet Cokes, Zimas, pizza, and Fuddruckers. There are pigs-in-a-blanket, home-cooked meatloaf, carrots, roast chicken, corn-on-the-cob, and rye toast. Two decades later in present day it's a baba ganoush sandwich, boiling pasta, Genesee and whiskey shots, and Amatrician di tonno. There were popovers with strawberry butter from the Popover Cafe that I thought about replicating, but ultimately it was a bottle of peach schnapps that provided the inspiration for my food (or drink) pairing.  

(p.103) "We sit on the floor facing a lit closet full of wine bottles. There are handles of vodka and gin, a blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire, a bottle of my father's Crown Royal preserved in its velvet bag. Forget those. We go for a dusty brown jug of peach schnapps. I first discovered it years ago when my mother rubbed a schnapps-soaked Q-tip on a sore on my tongue. The taste--syrupy, pungent, buzzy--was everything ice cream had been missing. 

This is my bottle, the one my parents have forgotten about, and we swig from it before returning to my room to stash a mess of clothes in my closet. We take one last look in the mirror, first at ourselves, then at one another.

So at first I was going to make a Sex on the Beach cocktail (vodka, cranberry juice, peach schnapps, and orange juice) as it was mentioned a few pages later in the book but although I could relate to peach schnapps being Piper's introduction to alcohol, I came of age a decade earlier when Fuzzy Navels were popular and a simple, tasty cocktail to make for use underage and new to drinking--just get a hold of a bottle of peach schnapps and a gallon of orange juice and you were set. I decided that my book-related cocktail would have to be a Fuzzy Navel since I don't think I've had one in decades and I happened to have a bottle of peach schnapps leftover from when I got some to add to this Peach Iced Tea. ;-)

There are recipes all over for Fuzzy Navels--many call for equal parts of the orange juice and peach schnapps, but since I was day-drinking yesterday afternoon I went with more orange juice. Usually it goes into a highball glass but I liked the way it looked in my favorite orange fish glass with matching straws.  

Fuzzy Navel 

3 oz Peach Schnapps, or more to taste
6 oz orange juice (I like it pulpy)
orange slice to garnish

Place ice, Peach Schnapps, and orange juice into a cocktail shaker and shake and strain into a highball glass or glass of choice. Garnish with an orange slice and enjoy.

Notes/Results: A classic that takes me back to my youth. It's sweet but refreshing with the orange juice. Some people hate pulpy orange juice. I like it and I like how it adds a bit of 'body' to the drink--but you do you and use whatever orange juice and amount of schnapps you like. Yesterday was vacillating between rainy and sunny here and this drink makes me think of sunny, breezy days. I will make this again. 

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "The Wild Inside" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Way to London" by Alix Rickloff, Served with a Gin Rickey

I'm happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Way to London by Alix Rickloff, a WWII historical fiction novel. I am pairing today's review with a crisp and refreshing cocktail, a classic Gin Rickey, inspired by the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

From the author of Secrets of Nanreath Hall comes this gripping, beautifully written historical fiction novel set during World War II—the unforgettable story of a young woman who must leave Singapore and forge a new life in England.

On the eve of Pearl Harbor, impetuous and overindulged, Lucy Stanhope, the granddaughter of an earl, is living a life of pampered luxury in Singapore until one reckless act will change her life forever.

Exiled to England to stay with an aunt she barely remembers, Lucy never dreamed that she would be one of the last people to escape Singapore before war engulfs the entire island, and that her parents would disappear in the devastating aftermath. Now grief stricken and all alone, she must cope with the realities of a grim, battle-weary England.

Then she meets Bill, a young evacuee sent to the country to escape the Blitz, and in a moment of weakness, Lucy agrees to help him find his mother in London. The unlikely runaways take off on a seemingly simple journey across the country, but her world becomes even more complicated when she is reunited with an invalided soldier she knew in Singapore.

Now Lucy will be forced to finally confront the choices she has made if she ever hopes to have the future she yearns for.

Paperback: 384 pages  
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 19, 2017)

My Review

World War II-set historical fiction is my jam. Between book reviews and on my own, I have read or listened to about ten for the year so far. What drew me to jump on the tour for The Way to London was that they main character has been living in Singapore for the past few years and having spent time there for work years ago, I am always looking for books set there. Although we don't spend long in Singapore before Lucy is banished to London for the indiscretion of a romance with the son of one of her stepfather's local business contacts, it's always nice to read about the Raffles Hotel and other places I recognize.   

Beyond the initial Singapore location, I didn't settle into the story in The Way to London  easily--mainly due to the main character who is not immediately likable. She is spoiled, defensive, and has trouble controlling her impulses--especially when it comes to things that will annoy her distant socialite mother and lecherous stepfather. It is the interactions with these characters that made me thaw to Lucy--it becomes more than understandable what drives her behaviors. Once Lucy arrives in the English countryside to her aunt's estate (taken over by the government for use as a hospital/rehabilitation center for soldiers) she meets 12-year-old truant Bill Smedley, escaping back to London to find his mother. Lucy, wanting to get there herself in hopes of getting to America to start a new life by finding an acquaintance staying there on his way back to Hollywood, sets off with Bill and her experiences on the road with him begin to change her. With these changes, she becomes a better person and I found myself rooting for her happiness and on board with the rest of the book. There is romance, but the heart of the story is about growing up and Lucy's coming of age and it is well told. There is a good balance of humor (Bill especially is a pip and once Lucy grew on me I appreciated her wit and sarcasm more), some action, and a touch of poignancy--although coming off of a round of heavier books, I was happy that The Way to London leans to the lighter side of war historicals. Lucy and Bill have quite a journey and I was happy to travel along with them.

Author Notes: Alix Rickloff is a critically acclaimed author of historical and paranormal romance. Her previous novels include the Bligh Family series, the Heirs of Kilronan trilogy, and, as Alexa Egan, the Imnada Brotherhood series.
Find out more about Alix at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow her on Pinterest.


Food Inspiration: 

Even though it's wartime, there are food and drink mentions in The Way to London including bacon and eggs, pickled onion, whiskey, bananas, cookies, coconuts, lemonade, scrambled powdered eggs, haggis, coffee, champagne, boiled cabbage, biscuits, haddock, cabbage and potato pie, beer, popcorn, boiled parsnips and cabbage,apples, tea, ham sandwiches, Coca Cola, chocolate bars, gum, cold martinis, extra jammy jam rolls, fish and chips, gingerbread, boiled eggs and toast, blackberry jam, a ham dinner, oysters, strawberry jam, beer, caviar, plum Charlotte, cottage pie, beans, soda bread, a recipe that replaced SPAM with cauliflower, peanuts, mushrooms, a picnic lunch of SPAM sandwiches and milk tea, an orange, currant roll, crisps, toast and margarine, beans on toast, bread pudding, egg and cress sandwiches, "carrolade" (a drink of carrot and rutabaga juice), real eggs and butter, mushy peas, eels, offal and sausage, finger sandwiches (ham, chicken and cheese), berries and scones with cream and jam, porridge and soft boiled egg, a cream bun, licorice all-sorts, steak, canapes, and chocolate millefeuille.  

There were also a few mentions of gin--usually in a gin rickey which seemed to be Lucy's drink of choice although gin gimlets were mentioned as well. Not really being inspired by most of the food, I decided to make a gin rickey as my book inspired dish. It sounded good in our warm and humid weather and it's been a crazy week again and a cocktail was definitely needed. I am not a huge gin drinker as a rule but I have a bottle of Tanqueray gin that needs using and I like the fact that a classic rickey has no added sugar.

The gin rickey was created back in the 1890s in a Washington DC bar called Shoomaker's and was named for democratic lobbyist named "Colonel" Joe Rickey (Here's a take on the history by Imbibe.) There are lots of recipes for them online, differing slightly in ingredients. I ended up going with the one below from Serious Eats. 

Gin Rickey
Recipe from
(Makes 1)

Fill a 10-ounce Collins glass with ice. Squeeze lime into the glass, getting as much juice out of it as you can. Toss in the lime shell, then add gin. Top off glass with club soda. 

The rickey doesn't need it, but if you like a sweeter drink, add splash of simple syrup. 

Notes/Results: Crisp, tangy and refreshing with that slightly bitter-in-a-good-way bite from the juniper in the gin. I can see why they were a favorite of the Lucy in the book. I liked it a lot as made as I tend to prefer a less sweet drink. I would happily order it or make it again.

I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "The Way to London" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I Carried a Frozen Watermelon Daiquiri and Homemade French Onion Dip You Won't Want to Put In a Corner for Food 'n Flix July Film: Dirty Dancing

How many times have I seen Dirty Dancing?  About a bazillion, maybe a bazillion and two. It's one of my favorite "comfort" movies--to watch when I am sad, or sick, or I just happen to come across it flipping through channels and sit and watch it--despite having The Ultimate Edition on DVD. So of course I was excited to have it be our Food 'n Flix July movie pick, hosted by Chef Sarah Elizabeth. (You can see her announcement post here.) I'm so excited that I am breaking my last-to-the-party habit and getting my entry in at the beginning of the month instead of the last day and so excited that I even had my dish in mind before I re-watched the movie this past weekend.

I can't imagine that you have not seen or know the story of Dirty Dancing but just in case, it came out in 1987, making it turn thirty this year. And by the way, it DID NOT need to be remade this year ABC and I lost two hours of my life watching it when I knew I shouldn't. So a re-watch of the original was definitely needed to wash the awful remake from my mind. Anyway, in short, the movie is set in 1963 where Francis (Baby) Houseman and her family are at Kellerman's resort in the Catskills, the summer before Baby heads to college at Mt. Holyoke and begins to change the world. There she meets the dance kids that provide entertainment at the resort (she carried a watermelon) and falls for Johnny Castle, their leader. Johnny's friend and partner Penny gets pregnant by creepy waiter-med student Robby and Baby tries to help, borrowing money from her father for an abortion and taking Penny's place as Johnny's dance partner for their annual big performance at a local hotel. I won't go into the rest other than to note that nobody better put baby in a corner and everyone (OK, not everyone but Johnny and Baby at least) has the time of their lives. Sure it's a bit sappy and you have to suspend some disbelief at the plot at times, but it's sweet and fun and has Patrick Swayze, so I love it.

So about the food, there is some--the watermelon of course, champagne cocktails, rolls and salad on the table, and pot roast that Baby's father says she wants to send to Southeast Asia to feed hungry children. Baby 'wins' a live chicken for being a good sport and getting sawed in half at Kellerman's comedy show, there's iced tea, and Neil the annoying resort manager takes Baby to the kitchen and offers her brownies, milk, leftover rice pudding, beef, leftover cabbage rolls, fruit salad and sweet gherkins. There are Coca Cola bottles sitting about and alcohol, bagels, grapefruit and other breakfast foods like eggs, meat, coffee, orange juice, and Danish.  

I knew before my re-watch what I wanted to make because it had to be something from watermelon. The "I carried a watermelon" quote is something I say over and over, anytime I see or come close to picking up a watermelon. I say it to others, mumble it under my breath at the grocery store, and say it in my head. Do not ask me why. It is like some kind of Dirty Dancing Tourette's. ;-) Anyway, I wanted to put that watermelon I carried into a frozen summery cocktail--named for my favorite quote--and frozen daiquiris, which although invented much earlier than the 1960s, were a popular summer party drink in that era. (And July 19th is National Daiquiri Day!

Because every 1960s era party needs a good classic appetizer or dip, I decided to make an updated version of a 60s classic--French Onion Soup Dip (aka California Dip or Lipton's Onion Soup Dip). I don't like all the sodium and preservatives that come in packaged soup mixes so I decided leave it out and put my own flavors together. When I looked online to see what all was in the original Lipton's packaged onion soup, several recipes for homemade mixes and dips popped up. I used this one and this one as a starter and then changed it up for my tastes.

I Carried a Frozen Watermelon Daiquiri
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Large Servings)

4 cups watermelon cubes, frozen overnight
juice of two limes, or to taste (about 4 Tbsp)
1/2 cup rum of choice (I like coconut rum), or to taste
simple syrup or honey to taste (optional)
small wedges of fresh watermelon to serve

Place frozen watermelon cubes, lime juice, rum, and sweetener if using, into a blender and blend until smooth, scrapping down the sides of the blender as needed. 

Pour into glasses and serve immediately with straws and watermelon wedges. Enjoy. (And carry it around and think of Baby when you do!)

I used a mix of kefir labne which is like a yogurt-based cream cheese and Greek yogurt--thinking that the labne would give the dip a thicker, richer texture. Kefir labne also has more protein and probiotics than Greek yogurt--always a benefit. I buy it at my local grocery store or natural foods store but if you don't find it, a mix of cream cheese, yogurt and sour cream would also work.

Homemade French Onion Dip
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 2 1/2 cups of Dip)

1/4 cup canola or olive oil
2 large sweet onions, peeled and chopped (about 3 heaping cups worth)
sea salt 
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and minced
2 tsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce or tamari
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1 cup kefir labne (or cream cheese or yogurt labne)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
crispy fried onions to garnish, optional 

Heat the oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. When hot, add the chopped onions and a pinch of salt and stir. Cook until onions begin to turn light brown, stirring as needed so as not to burn onions. Cook 35-45 minutes--until onions turn dark golden brown and caramelize. Add the minced garlic, thyme, dried parsley, Worcestershire and sherry vinegar. Season to taste with additional sea salt and pepper as needed. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, add the labne, Greek yogurt, celery salt, and smoked paprika and stir until blended. Add the cooled onion mixture and the chopped fresh parsley and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Place dip in a serving bowl and garnish with crispy fried onions if desired. Serve with chips, crackers, and/or vegetables.

Notes/Results: These frozen watermelon daiquiris are refreshing--not too sweet (I didn't use any added sweetener--just the coconut rum), thick and creamy rather than icy, which comes from using the frozen watermelon cubes instead of ice. Delicious and well worth carrying a watermelon of your own. ;-) The dip is rich and full of flavor from the caramelized onions, herbs and other goodies. Now I have to admit that I haven't had French onion soup dip, or the packaged soup mix in years but this dip tastes so much better than I remember. It's definitely moreish, I served it with waffle cut potato chips which hold up well but I really liked it with salt & pepper chips. It also tastes even better after it has sat for a few hours or overnight and the flavors have come together--so it definitely can be made ahead. I would happily make and carry both of these recipes again.  

You still have plenty of time to join in this month as the deadline for this round of Food 'n Flix is Sunday, July 30th and Chef Sarah Elizabeth will be rounding up the dishes on her blog soon after. If you can't make it this month and you like food, movies, and foodie movies, join us for Food 'n Flix August when we will be watching Secondhand Lions, hosted by Fictional Fare.