The Queen of All Bloody Marys!!

Bloody 3

This week, I’m down in Florida visiting my parents and letting my boy meet his cousin for the first time! It’s going to be a few fun filled weeks playing with babies, cooking good food, hanging out with family, and of course, making cocktails! My Mom is a huge fan of the Bloody Mary, and while I don’t drink them myself (Vodka has the same effect on me that whiskey has on a lot of people, it’s not my friend!) I love making them for her. I think it’s because vodka and tomato juice are the perfect canvas for so many creations. You can make the drink as simple or complex as you like. My Mom likes to call them a meal in a glass, and when you start adding meats, shrimp, bacon, and other entrée items to the glass, you really can fill up on one!

There are some conflicting stories as to where the Bloody Mary got its start. The version that I like to go with is told by Ferdinand Petiot of the New York Bar in Paris, France. This was a famous bar, frequented by Ernest Hemingway. Petiot claimed he created the tomato-vodka drink in 1921 and it took off from there, each new destination it landed on added their own twist. I think this account is my favorite, because it has all my favorite components; Paris, New York, alcohol, and a great author and explorer. I like to imagine Hemingway bellying up to the bar around eleven when he rolled out of bed (ok, maybe it would be later in the afternoon!) and ordering a Bloody to help fight his hangover so that he could start his day. It would be just the pick me up that he would need to get his mind right to pen the great American novel, while bantering back and forth with dignitaries, locals, and my favorite character from his story, his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. She was his equal in every way, and probably indulged in several Bloody’s herself!

Bloody 5Enough of my romanticizing about Hemingway and days of yore….back to the cocktail at hand! The most obvious origin of the name Bloody Mary would be from Queen Mary I of England. She was known as Bloody Mary for her persecution of people of the Protestant Faith during her reign. It was a legacy that she probably didn’t want, but was saddled with, after all the deaths that occurred under her rule of England. Bloody Mary is also said to be a scary women who appears in the mirror is you turn out the lights and say her name three times. We’ve all done it at a sleep over, and no one ever appears, even though you tell all your friends that she did! I like to think this folk lore version is a play on Queen Mary, giving her the rightful claim as the name sake of the Bloody Mary. There are several other Mary’s who would like the make the claim, but since this is my blog, I get to decide who gets top billing, so for this story, it goes to Queen Bloody Mary I of England (another one of my favorite places for history and inspiration!)

Like I said before, the base of a Bloody Mary, tomato juice and vodka, is a blank canvas for whatever your imagination holds. If you’re in Charleston, S.C., you probably put boiled shrimp in yours, making it a true shrimp cocktail! The French Quarter in New Orleans adds crawfish for a truly unique flair. If you’re in the Midwest, everyone’s best friend is bacon, so why not replace the mundane celery stalk with your favorite piece of fried pork! Feeling Italian? Add some of your favorite antipasto faves to your cocktail. On a rainy day, a grilled cheese is the perfect garnish. The world is your oyster, so to speak (also good in a Bloody Mary style shooter!) when it comes to your Bloody Mary. One of my favorite party setups is a Bloody Mary bar, where guests can build their own drink. It’s fun to watch everyone’s personality come out when they create their unique cocktail. You provide the base and the garnishes, they do the rest!

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Deacon put in his request for a spicier Bloody Mary….Sadistic Mistress was the key ingredient!

To narrow down the choices for my Bloody Mary recipe this week, I went to my old standby, Garden and Gun to find inspiration. As usual, I wasn’t disappointed. I immediately went to the article entitled “The Queen of Bloody Marys”. It was kismet! I like to take drink recipes and give them my own twist. With this one, there was very little I wanted to do to change it! It is the perfect recipe and holds all of my favorite ingredients. I would make it my own by using local Lexington, Sadistic Mistress Hot Sauce (to order, click here) and some of my garnishes would be pickled peppers that I made with locally grown peppers. I flew down here and anticipated making Bloody Mary’s and knew these would be staples that I needed. I put the jars in plastic bags and packed them in my checked bag. I know TSA had fun looking at my Sadistic Mistress pickled peppers! I have to tell myself that people have to pack weirder things than me! Other than that, I wanted to keep this recipe as true to the original as possible. How could I go wrong? It’s from one of the best pork restaurants in New Orleans and doesn’t use any pre-mixes. Just tomato juice, vodka and flavor. At Cochon, executive chef Donald Link has perfected his form with the addition of pork jus, an obvious by product of his cooking. Don’t worry, if you don’t have pork jus just sitting around (I only do, because we had pork for dinner earlier this week, and I always save pan drippings for emergency situations, like craft cocktails!) Beef broth can be substituted. This recipe makes about 10 – 12 Bloody Mary’s. The mix can be made ahead of time and kept in a pitcher in the fridge for about a week. Add the vodka right before serving.

Cochon Bloody Mary 10-12 servings

Ingredients:

1 can V8 (46 oz.) (This is pure tomato juice, so there’s no sense in going to extra trouble to make tomato juice if you don’t have too!)
2 tbsp. finely ground black pepper
2 tbsp. whole grain mustard
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1.5 oz. pork jus
1.5 oz. lime juice
2.5 oz. lemon juice
3.5 oz. hot sauce (I’m using Lexington’s own Sadistic Mistress)
2 oz. green hot sauce
1.5 oz. red wine vinegar
1 oz. olive juice
1.5 oz. okra juice (the brine from a jar of pickled okra)
vodka of choice

Directions:

– Mix everything, except for the vodka. Remember, you can substitute beef broth for the pork jus. Just pick up a box the next time you’re in the soup isle at the grocery store. I always keep some on hand. You can prepare a meal with almost any ingredients, as long as you have beef broth on hand!

– Add ice to the glass type of your choice. I prefer the taller Collins glass for presentation purposes, but depending on what your garnishes are, and what you have on hand, you can use any glass. Wide rimmed wine glasses are perfect for holding larger garnishes.

– Add about 2 ounces of vodka to the glass.

– Fill the rest of the glass with the Bloody Mary mix you made.

– Stir with a celery stalk or stiff garnish of your choice.

– Garnish and enjoy!

Variations:

This is what I did for my garnishes:

A better view of the garnishes!

A better view of the garnishes!

– I rimmed the glass with bacon salt. Yes, you read correctly…bacon salt. Basically you make bacon, put it through the food processor, pat off any additional fat and mix it with coarse sea salt. It’s amazing and can be used in so many different ways! I ran a lemon wedge around the rim of the glass to wet the rim, so the bacon salt would stick.

– I added some of my own pickled peppers. If your garnishes don’t want to stay on the side of your glass, use a tooth pick to help hold them up.

– I also added a pickled okra and some olives, since I already had the jars out to get the juice!

– Since it was for my mom, I added a few cured meats, because she loves them, but is very good about limiting her intake! She can’t resist when they are on the side of a Bloody Mary…. They make her happy, and obviously I want my Mom to be happy, and to enjoy a great cocktail!

– Where you have meat, cheese is usually a good accompaniment, so I added a few slices.

– She also LOVES garlic, so I added a few whole pieces for her to dunk and enjoy.

– With the bacon on the rim, a bacon stir stick seemed like over kill, until I remembered, you can never have too much bacon!

– I put the lemon and lime wedges for some fresh color and so that she could add a little extra tartness if the mood struck.

– My brother was coming over, and he’ll occasionally indulge in a good Bloody, he also loves pickles. Why not add them as well!?

– The other garnishes were found in the fridge and added on a whim. You can do the same. Just go to your fridge and look at all the jars of various pickled and other condiments that you have. You’ll fill your rim up faster than you think!

– If this drink didn’t have so many other great flavors going on, I would have added some horseradish crème fraiche. Basically you take crème fraiche and mix it would horseradish and add a glob of it to the mixed drink. It dissolves and adds some great flavor. This particular mix is already full of flavor, but if you didn’t have all of these ingredients on hand, or wanted to change things up a bit, omit either the olive or okra juice (or both) as well as one of the hot sauces and possibly the vinegar. Add the crème fraiche in their place.

Bloody 1

Play around with the mix. You’ll surprise yourself at how many variations you can come up with!

Set up a Bloody Mary bar at your next get together. With this mix, and your own take on the garnishes, you will be the hit of the social season!

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International Beer Day!!

keep-calm-and-drink-beer-435-650x487For this week’s cocktail, we are going a little simple. Not all cocktails are fancy mixed drinks, with liquors that are hard to fine. Sometimes, you just want to kick back and relax with an ice cold beer! It just so happens that it’s International Beer Day! Yes, you read that correctly, International Beer Day. It is celebrated on the first Friday of August every year and it has three purposes.

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1. To gather with friends and enjoy the taste of beer.

2. To celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving beer.

3. To unite the world under the banner of beer, by celebrating the beers of all nations together on a single day.

Deacon,  as always, had to help out!

Deacon, as always, had to help out!

It was started in Santa Cruz, California in 2007 and has quickly grown into a international day for beer. Not that any of us really needed an excuse to drink beer, but on this day, take the extra time to thank your local brew-master and tip your beer wench a little extra! They do a great job bringing you your cold libations year round, so think of it more as a day to appreciate them and all the hard work they do for you!

Country Boy 3

Wikipedia (my go to source for really everything) says that, “participants are encouraged to give one another the ‘gift of beer’ by buying each other drinks, and to express gratitude to brewers, bartenders, and other beer technicians. In the international spirit of the holiday, it is also suggested that participants step out of their domestic/locally brewed comfort zone and sample a beer from another culture.” Well, I want to encourage you to change it up a little. Go local. Try a beer from a local brewery that you wouldn’t normally try, or even switch it up more and go to a whole new brewery that you haven’t been to before. I know that it’s “International” Beer Day, but we need to continue to support our local vendors whenever we can. Besides, a lot of the time, their flavors are inspired by the brew master’s travels, so you can get your international fix that way! We are very blessed here in Lexington, and have several local breweries to choose from. If you are not as lucky, do a quick Google search and I bet you can find one closer than you think.

Love their logo!

Love their logo!

For my local beer, I chose a brewery that I haven’t tried yet. I have heard Country Boy Brewery mentioned in many different circles, but have never been there. I decided that this would be the time to try it! And I have not been disappointed! They have several different beers to choose from, and they range from blonde ales to heavier nitro stouts and everything in between. They even have a bourbon barrel aged beer, called “PaPaw’s Red”. With fun names like “Shotgun Wedding”, “Stampin Ground”, and “Half Way Home”, just to name a few, how was I ever going to choose what I would have to celebrate International Beer Day. “Cougar Bait” caught my eye, and it’s an American Blonde Ale, just like me. Obviously it was meant to be!

Country Boy 1The “Cougar Bait” did not fail to impress. She’s a lighter beer, but with a crisp, nice finish. It’s perfect for an August afternoon, sitting on the patio. You can drink several and not feel weighed down, like you would from a heavier beer. It also pairs well with heavier fare that we associate with this time of the year, like hamburgers and brats!

The greatest thing about Country Boy Brewery is that they don’t serve food. I know what you’re thinking, how is this a plus? Well, it means that there is a different, local food truck frequenting their patio every night. Not many restaurants can boast that they change their menu daily! Lexington has some amazing food trucks, and to be able to pair their local cuisine with Country Boy’s unique take on beer equals a winner every time! If you aren’t in the mood for the food truck of the night, they encourage you to have food delivered, or bring your own!

Country BoyIf you’re in the Lexington, Kentucky area, get out to Country Boy Brewery this weekend and enjoy a “Cougar Bait” or one of the many other locally brewed beers they have on tap. If you’re a little further away, go out and find your closest local brewery (they are popping up everywhere!) and enjoy something new! Don’t forget to say “Hi” to your local brew master and tip your beer wench in appreciation for International Beer Day!

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The Best Diaper Bag for the Outdoor Mom!!

This is Deacon, Bur, and I at a training day when Bur was about 2  months old. Like I said...always on the go!

This is Deacon, Bur, and I at a training day when Bur was about 2 months old. Like I said…always on the go!

I am always on the go. This has been true since I was a little girl and I couldn’t sit still. After I got my first truck, my parents rarely saw me. I was either at the barn with my horses or out somewhere I probably wasn’t supposed to be! Always out, always doing something. This hasn’t changed in the last few years. My life looks basically the same, other than I traded the horses in for dogs and school has become working at the kennel. I still end up in places I’m not supposed to be, I’m just drawn to them 🙂

My little man....already looking for adventures! Four months old and he's already exploring the blackberry patches!

My little man….already looking for adventures! Four months old and he’s already exploring the blackberry patches!

The biggest change that has happened in my life this year, is my son, Bur (his name is William, my Dad started calling him Wilbur, and Bur just stuck!) I think everyone thought that I would slow down a little after I had him, but true to form, I am even more active now than I was before he was born. Sure I might take an extra nap, and 7 o’clock in the morning has become my new 5 o’clock, but all in all, we are still always on the go! And I couldn’t be happier!

I'm sure Bur will be like Deacon and you won't be able to keep him from getting dirty!

I’m sure Bur will be like Deacon and you won’t be able to keep him from getting dirty!

Since I have an actual human life that depends on me for survival now, I have to be a little more prepared than I have been in the past. He is like a puppy in so many ways, but unfortunately housebreaking doesn’t occur until much later in his life, and until then, I get to be responsible for everything going in, and coming out of him. This means that I need a diaper bag to fit my unique situation. I needed something that is durable and pretty large, because when you are out training in a dove field, you don’t want to have to go back to the truck for more supplies. Also, I’m outside around dogs all day long. Things get muddy and things get peed on. It just happens, especially with male dogs when there is a female in heat around! I needed something that I could hose down pretty quickly and that would dry, so that I don’t have to carry around a wet bag for the rest of the day. I also like to be fashionable, so I needed something looked good!

Water + Dirt = Mud. It gets all over EVERYTHING!!

Water + Dirt = Mud. It gets all over EVERYTHING!!

I started looking for this magical bag well before Bur was born. I knew what I wanted, but was having a problem finding it through any of the popular diaper bag companies. I could certainly find one that was big enough with plenty of pockets, but nothing I was finding was going to be durable enough. Sure, they were plenty fashionable, but I could tell just by holding them, that they weren’t going to hold up to my daily routine! Also, the sales people thought I was crazy when I asked about washing them out with a water hose when they got dirty! Apparently I was looking at the wrong type of stores. I started looking at bags through different outdoor stores, but the bags they had didn’t really fit my needs. I thought about a traditional backpack, but it seemed like they would be more difficult to get stuff in and out of than a bag closer in resemblance to a traditional diaper bag.

My Magical Bag!

My Magical Bag!

I thought all was lost, until we went into Lexington’s local Orvis retailer. Sitting right there next to the register was the bag I had been looking for! I couldn’t believe it! It was the perfect size and made from durable canvas that would easily be washed, but would dry before I walked back to the truck. It had several pockets on the outside for things I would need quickly, but sections on the inside, so that I could keep extra clothes separate from bottles and formula. Even more important than its perfection in usefulness, it was a very nice looking bag! It was green, my favorite color, and would look perfect hanging off the back of my Bob’s stroller. I was so excited!

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Even better, it included two collapsible bowls and a food pouch for my dogs! Yes, I had found the Orvis Dog Travel bag…..

Everything you need in one bag to have a baby on the go!

Everything you need in one bag to have a baby on the go!

It is the perfect diaper bag for the outdoorsy Mom on the go. No, it didn’t come with a changing pad, but a quick search on Amazon got me one for $12.00 (here is the link) and was at my front door in less than 24 hours. The outside pockets are perfect for sunscreen, bug spray, extra pacifiers, and tennis balls. The food pouch holds bottles of formula and a water bottle to fill them up with. When I was using pumped boob milk, it was the perfect way to keep it out of direct sunlight. The other side of the partition holds extra clothes, with the  Amazon changing pad folded neatly to one side. The changing pad had pockets for wipes and diapers, so there was no need to put them elsewhere. Another quick trip to Amazon got me the perfect dispenser for bags to put dirty diapers and soiled clothes in (here is the link order some extra bags here). It hangs perfectly on the side of the Orvis bag. Quick tip, order the dispensers for dogs and not babies, they are much cheaper and the bags seem to be thicker. The top of this bag also has a zippered compartment that is perfect for band-aids, Neosporin, Benadryl, sanitary wipes, and what ever else you may need out in the field.

I love the dividers to keep bottles and water separate from extra clothes. There's also room for dog necessities as well!

I love the dividers to keep bottles and water separate from extra clothes. There’s also room for dog necessities as well!.changing pad folded neatly to one side. The changing pad had pockets for wipes and diapers, so there was no need to put them elsewhere. Another quick trip to Amazon got me the perfect dispenser for bags to put dirty diapers and soiled clothes in. It hangs perfectly on the side of the Orvis bag. Quick tip, order the dispensers for dogs and not babies, they are much cheaper and the bags seem to be thicker.

It even looks good int he back of my truck!

It even looks good int he back of my truck!

True to form, within a few days of putting the Orvis bag to the test, it got covered in mud, when I put it down too close to a puddle and one of the dogs knocked it over. A quick spray down with the hose made it clean again, and ready to go back in the truck. You couldn’t even tell that it had ever been dirty. The inside is also lined with a material that is easily wiped down if a bottle spills, or some other mishap, that I’m sure will happen in the future.

All in all, I am completely satisfied with my purchase. Re-purposing the Orvis Dog Travel bag as a diaper bag has been the perfect situation for us. If you are a busy, outdoorsy Mom on the go, this is the perfect bag for you! If you have dogs, you can use it for them after the baby is grown and no longer needs you to carry all of his worldly possessions. If not, it will still be useful for your outdoor adventures long after your kids are grown!

If you are interested in purchasing the Orvis Dog Travel Bag as your diaper bag, I encourage yo to go to your local Orvis retailer.

If you are a Mom, or Dad on the go in the great outdoors, do yourself a favor and get this bag as your diaper bag!

If you are a Mom, or Dad on the go in the great outdoors, do yourself a favor and get this bag as your diaper bag!

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Yes, I made a watermelon keg! And you can too!!

Watermelon Cocktail 21This week’s cocktail doesn’t have a big back story or a sentimental attachment for me. Honestly, I’ve just always wanted an excuse to make a keg out of a watermelon, and what better reason, than to help you guys at home learn to make one! It’s really not that hard, but looks super impressive to all of your friends. You can get the tap at your

You can find different types of these small plastic taps at some liquor stores, and always on Amazon.

You can find different types of these small plastic taps at some liquor stores, and always on Amazon.

local big box store or if you are lucky enough to have a Liquor Barn, they usually have them. If you can’t find one, or you’re like me sometimes and you just don’t want to leave the house (OK, fine, I’ll always leave the house to go to my favorite liquor store…), you can always find what you need from Amazon, and for a slight fee, you can have it at your door in less than 24 hours. Really, they are going to rule the world one day.

So, since I don’t have a long story this week, let’s get right to the concocting!

First, go to your local farmers market and get a watermelon or two. I encourage you to buy

My melons from the Lexington Farmers Market!

My melons from the Lexington Farmers Market!

local, because they really are the best fresh, and you’re helping out your local farmers. Also, they will have so many varieties to choose from! Usually, samples will be available, so you can decide which melon tickles your fancy. Buy a few. You can use one for your keg and another can be cut up for garnish. Do stick to the seedless varieties, though. You don’t want to have to go through the trouble of picking seeds out of your drink! This week, I chose a red seedless and an orange crisp. I used the orange crisp for the keg and liquid for the drink and the red seedless as the garnish.

Display your watermelon keg on the table, or raise it up on a stand. It's your choice.

Display your watermelon keg on the table, or raise it up on a stand. It’s your choice. I chose to leave my pumpkin plain and not decorate it. The writing that the farmer did added a nice, personal touch for me, but you can decorate it in whatever way fits your theme. Let the kids help!

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When making your keg, the first thing you want to do is cut off a small amount of the bottom of the melon, so that it will sit upright. This particular one had a pretty flat bottom, so I didn’t need to cut much off to get it to sit upright. When you are picking out your watermelon, look for one with a flatter end to use as your keg. It will make things easier when you are setting it up! I put mine on a wooden cutting board for display purposes and it will hang over the edge of the table so that drinks can be filled easily. You may choose to mount your higher, so that it can sit further back on the table, but still have room for glasses to fit under the tab comfortably.

Cut a hole in the top, the same way you would a pumpkin before carving.

Cut a hole in the top, the same way you would a pumpkin before carving.

Now, cut the top off of the watermelon like you would a pumpkin before carving it. You will want to put the cap back on for presentation purposes. Make sure that the opening is large enough to get a serving spoon and your hand in it. You will be removing the insides, so you want plenty of room to work. Now that you have an upright sitting watermelon without a top, start digging out the insides and putting them in a separate bowl. Scrape the sides pretty well, just like you would a pumpkin. You can spoon the insides out, or if you break them up pretty good, you can dump it directly into the bowl. Don’t worry if there is a little liquid left in the bottom, you are putting most of this back in anyways.

I used a spoon to break up the flesh, so that it was easier to remove.

I used a spoon to break up the flesh, so that it was easier to remove.

Next, look for a good spot for your tap. You’ll want it to be close to the bottom, but not so far down that it’s inconvenient for filling drinks. About an inch off the table is about right. Take your knife and make a hole smaller the tap. You’re needing it just bug enough to be able to push the tap in. Make sure that you use the rubber pieces, so that you won’t have any leaks. One will go on the outside of the watermelon and the other on the inside before the tightening piece is screwed on. Once you have the tap inserted, you may have to dig a little around on the inside of the watermelon where the tap end is, so that you can attach the other rubber piece and tightening screw. Luckily, it’s pretty fleshy, so this is easy.

Make your hole slightly smaller than the end of your tap.

Make your hole slightly smaller than the end of your tap.

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Set the watermelon keg aside, and take the insides that you have in the bowl and blend them in a blender. All of the watermelon flesh will probably not fit in your blender without making a giant mess, so you’ll have to do it in several rounds. Set on liquid, or whatever your equivalent is, and liquefy. I like to strain the liquid through a mesh sieve (the cheese cloth over a colander method would work here as well), just so my drinks are smoother, but this is your choice.

Now here is where you can decide how in-depth you want to get with your drink. You can take some of the watermelon liquid and

Watermelon insides!

Watermelon insides!

make a simple syrup with it. It’s a one to one ratio, sugar to watermelon, over the stove on medium to high heat. You have to make you watch is as it starts to boil, or it will boil over and you will have a giant mess (this is one of those things that I know, because it happens to me all the time when I get side tracked!) Once the mixture comes to a boil, stir it for several minutes and remove from the heat. Let it cool before adding back into the rest of the watermelon water. The amount of simple syrup you need, depends on how sweet you want your drinks to be. You know your crowd, and if they like sweeter drinks, obviously make more syrup. I prefer less sweet drinks, so I did 3 cups of watermelon with 3 cups of sugar. You can choose to not make the

I like to strain the mix, so that my drinks are smoother, but if you like a pulpier feel, skip this step.

I like to strain the mix, so that my drinks are smoother, but if you like a pulpier feel, skip this step.

simple syrup and just go with the straight watermelon. At this point, you can do whatever drink you desire for your keg. Sangria, rum drinks, tequila, kid friendly with ginger ale, whatever your heart desires! Mix it up, and pour it into the waiting watermelon keg and enjoy!

Cut up some pieces of watermelon and put little slits in them to be used as a garnish and you’ll be the hostess with the mostest! You can also leave it just watermelon juice, and have it be a mixer for your guests to use. They can add their own choice of alcohol and amount, making the drink as sweet or not as they please. This is the method that I chose, since this is Cocktails with Cally, and I promised to show you that you can make pretty cocktails at home! The drink that I have chosen is salty sweet, with a little kick from some Ancho chili peppers! The recipe follows.

Watermelon Cocktail 18

Kicked Up Watermelon                                                                             Makes 1 cocktail
Ingredients:
2 shots of rum
1 shot of elderflower liquor (you can find this at most liquor stores, just ask someone working there and they can help you find it)
Splash of watermelon liquid
Splash of tonic water
Ancho Chili Salt Mix for your drinks rim (1 teaspoon each of Ancho Chili Powder, salt, and sugar)
Basil for muddling and garnish
Watermelon slice for garnish

Directions:
1. You’ll want to rim your glass first with the Ancho Chili mix. Take the Ancho Chili

Ancho Chili Mix for the rim of your glass.

Ancho Chili Mix for the rim of your glass.

powder, salt, and sugar and mix them together in a small bowl. Transfer to a small plate that is just larger than the rim of your glass. You can get a special package at the liquor store to wet the rim of the glass, so that the mixture sticks, but for today, I just used a wet sponge and ran it around the rim. When it’s wet, dip it and twist in the Ancho Chili mix, to cover the whole rim.

Muddle the basil to release its crisp flavor into your drink.

Muddle the basil to release its crisp flavor into your drink.

2. Take a few sprigs of your basil, more if you really like the flavor of basil, and muddle it in the bottom of your glass. If you don’t have a muddler, you can use a spoon. Really, you just want to bruise the leaves, so that flavor will infuse into your drink.

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3. After you have muddled a few leaves, add two or three more leaves that will be a pretty garnish when you add the ice and liquids. Add ice to fill at least half way up the glass.

4. Pour in shots of rum and elderflower liquor.

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5. Add a splash of watermelon liquid from your keg and a splash of tonic water. Taste it and if it is too sweet for you, add some more tonic water. Not sweet enough, add a little more watermelon.

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6. Garnish with a watermelon wedge and enjoy!

This finished product!

This finished product!

You can set ingredients up and guests can serve themselves. Leave a little card out with the directions to the drink and they can have fun! If you have a larger crowd, you can make extra of all of your drink or mix, keep it in the fridge and refill your keg as needed. Like I mentioned above, you can have other liquors, add ins, and garnishes displayed as well, and your guests can make their own cocktails, using the watermelon as their mixer! Let them have fun, and you will the envy of all the late summer parties in your neighborhood!

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The Calamity….My very own cocktail!

My Mama and Papa having some fun!

My Mama and Papa having some fun!

Since last week I went pretty far away from home to find my inspiration, I thought it would only be fitting that this week, I bring it back. That’s why I’ve chosen a drink that is inspired by my childhood and goes back several generations in my family. Many of you who grew up in the south probably remember putting peanuts in your Coke, or at least knew someone who did. For whatever reason, in my family, we chose to use Dr. Pepper in lieu of Coke. Don’t ask me why, but it goes all the way to my Grandparents, who were High school sweethearts. Mama and Papa would enjoy a Dr. Pepper with peanuts as an after school snack. It was a special treat, and I like to imagine them sitting on the hood of my Papa’s car, sipping their Dr. Pepper, out of

Who wouldn't have wanted to share a Dr. Pepper with her!

Who wouldn’t have wanted to share a Dr. Pepper with her!

glass bottles and crunching on the occasional peanut that found its way out of the bottle; talking about the ways of the world, or whatever you talked about before the internet and social media took over. I love these thoughts and the inspiration that they invoke.

You may be wondering at this point, “What is the reason for putting the peanuts in the Dr. Pepper?” Well I will tell you….sweet and salty are two flavors that complement each other so well. The sweetness of the Dr. Pepper mixes perfectly with the salt off of the peanuts. It’s a magical combination that I admit I haven’t enjoyed in many, many years.

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Dad walking me down the isle!

Dad walking me down the isle!

Today, when I was preparing for this post, I mixed myself up a bottle of Dr. Pepper (unfortunately, after scouring the greater Lexington area looking for Dr. Pepper in a glass bottle, I had to admit defeat and drink out of plastic) and peanuts. The first sip took me back to being ten years old and riding around with my Dad in his old blue, two tone, Ford truck after school when he was taking me to my riding lessons or whatever other after school activity I had going on. I loved these times. Just me and him, playing whatever memory game we had made up for that day, or just enjoying the silence of each other’s company. I don’t remember the first time he taught me to put a packet of peanuts in my Dr. Pepper, it’s one of those things that’s always just been a part of me. We would stop at the Circle K on 17, go in and grab two Dr. Peppers and two of the skinny packets of peanuts. I couldn’t wait to get back in the truck and pour the peanuts into the bottle. The salt made the Dr. Pepper fizz up and almost erupt out of the top….this was truly my favorite part. It always got so close to coming out, but never quite made it! It was almost as if the people at Dr. Pepper knew what we were

This is where my love for dogs comes from.

This is where my love for dogs comes from.

going to do, and put the exact amount of liquid in to fizz to the top without overflowing. I had such a pleasant afternoon with my memories, and thank this drink for bringing them back to me.

So at this point, you are probably wondering how I am going to turn this into an adult beverage. Well, I have to give credit to Garden and Gun Magazine for their version of what is known as a Tallulah. It is basically Jack and Coke, with the addition of a peanut simple syrup, known as peanut orgeat. An orgeat is basically a simple syrup with nuts and orange flower water. I know what you’re thinking….Dear God, where am I going to get Orange Flower Water. Well, have no fear, Amazon is here. You can find it with the mixers and bitters at most liquor stores, but if yours doesn’t have it, check Amazon and they can have it at your door in time for Friday night cocktail hour.

Take not of the beautiful bottle of bourbon. But at least it wasn't the 20 year Pappy!

Take not of the beautiful bottle of bourbon. But at least it wasn’t the 20 year Pappy!

It’s a really simple syrup to make (get it…”simple” syrup. I know, lame joke, but I couldn’t help myself). You can make it way ahead of time and store it in the fridge. I decided to take this drink and put my own spin on it, calling it the Calamity, instead of The Tallulah. My version uses the peanut orgeat, but I swap out the Coke for Dr. Pepper and instead of Jack Daniels, I’m using Kentucky Bourbon. I raided my husband’s collection of fine bourbons and settled on the William Larue Weller. Sacrilegious, I know, to use such a fine bourbon to make a mixed drink, but if I’m going to create a drink and go to the trouble of naming it, I’m going to use the best. And besides, we didn’t have any well bourbon in the house and I’ve already taken the baby to 3 different liquor and wine stores this week. My phone is constantly trying to check me in at Liquor Barn on Facebook. Someone is going to call Child Protective Services on me for buying more alcohol than baby food if I don’t slow down! After Trev saw the pictures, he freaked out, but I soothed his anger with, “at least I didn’t open the 20 Year Pappy.”

I also thought this would be the perfect drink to help introduce my new favorite find of all

My new all time favorite!

My new all time favorite!

time….the traveling bar! Go to Etsy.com. Search for travel bar. Buy one. You can thank me later. You will be the hit of every tailgate and outdoor outing with your travel bar. I will be giving it its own post this weekend, going into great detail of all the benefits of having it in your survival kit, as well as the extras I added to mine to trick it out. I have nothing that is stock off of the lot, and that includes my travel bar! But I couldn’t wait to showcase the travel bar, and since this drinks was inspired by the truck rides I had with my Dad, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make you drool over my fantastic find! Besides, I’m using the good bourbon, I’m going to serve it off of a silver tray that is resting on top of antique lace. The travel bar can carry everything you need to make these drinks, so that you can show up and flawlessly start serving!

I was like a little kid, waiting for it to fizz to the top; wondering if this was going to be the time it erupted!

I was like a little kid, waiting for it to fizz to the top; wondering if this was going to be the time it erupted!

Well let’s get to it!
First, the orgeat. You can make this ahead of time and store it in the fridge for about two to three weeks. Don’t be intimidated by making a flavored simple syrup. I made this one while tending to an angry four month old, who is mad that he can’t eat regular food yet and is tired of milk and mushy cereal! It doesn’t require a lot of time and after you are done with the steps that involve the stove (which takes about ten minutes), you can do the rest at your own pace, in-between whatever else you have going on.

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Peanut Orgeat – Makes about 1 ¼ Cups of syrup

Ingredients:

– 2 cups of salted peanuts (another change I made. The saltier the better!)
– 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
– 1 ¼ cups water
– 1 teaspoon Orange Flower Water
– 1 ounce brandy (you can also use Vodka, but since I don’t drink Vodka, I stuck with the brandy)

Special Equipment:
– Cheese cloth (you can get this at the grocery store in the section that sells the cooking utensils. This is one thing that I always have on hand in the kitchen. It can serve so many purposes!)

                                                                    Directions:

This is a method I use a lot in the kitchen for straining solids out of liquids. You can leave it to strain on it's own and stop by occasionally to stir it with a spatula.

This is a method I use a lot in the kitchen for straining solids out of liquids. You can leave it to strain on it’s own and stop by occasionally to stir it with a spatula.

– Pulverize the peanuts in a food processor or blender.

– Combine the water and sugar in a pot on the stove over medium heat. Stir it until the sugar is dissolved and the water looks clearer again.

– Allow it to boil for about three minutes and then add the peanuts.

– Lower the heat and let it simmer for a few more minutes.

– Start to increase the heat, slowly.

– Right before it’s about to boil again, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered for at least six hours.

– After the steeping period, put the cheese cloth in a colander and strain the peanuts out of the syrup over a large bowl.

– Get rid of the peanuts and add the Orange Flower

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Water and Brandy or Vodka to the syrup. I store mine in a mason jar in the fridge.

The Calamity
Ingredients:
– 2 ounces of Kentucky Bourbon
– 1 ounce of Peanut Orgeat (you can play with the amounts to get your own precise levels of salty versus sweet)
– Dr. Pepper
– Peanuts to garnish

Directions:
– Put ice in a glass or solo cup. Whatever you are drinking out of.

– Pour in Bourbon and Peanut Orgeat.

See, it even looks pretty outside!

See, it even looks pretty outside!

– Add your preferred amount of Dr. Pepper.

– Throw a few peanuts on top for a garnish and a little added salt.

– Enjoy and hopefully bring back some great childhood memories!

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French Macarons with a Southern Twist!

Macaron 6

Contrary to what many of you may think (and what I thought up until a few years ago), there is a difference between a macaron and a macaroon, and it’s not that macaron is just a fancy way to spell and pronounce macaroon!

A macaroon is probably what a lot of you, including me, grew up eating as a delicious dessert. My Mama would make these delectable treats every Christmas and I would hide them from my Dad, because we were the two in the house with the biggest sweet tooths! Now, the main ingredient in this dessert is coconut, but they were originally made with almond paste. They are little mounds of goodness that can be enhanced with various flavorings and differ slightly with each region who claims them. The Turkish version resembles a cookie; in Ireland, they dip them in Chocolate; here in America, they are beautiful, white mounds of coconut. Their heritage can be traced back to Monks in a 9th century monastery. Their descendants came to France in 1533 and joined the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici. It was here that they began to develop what is known in France as the Macaron. They became a popular dessert within the Jewish community, because they be eaten trough Passover. They are leavened with egg whites rather than flour, and eventually became a year round favorite.

So, through all of this evolution, two distinct biscuit type desserts emerged. The Macaroon, that I have just described above, and the French Macaron; a beautiful filling between two light and fluffy merengue biscuit tops. They are the perfect canvas for your culinary imagination. If you can think of the colors and flavorings, the Macaron is ready to accept your ideas.

Macaron 4

That is why this is the perfect choice for my French-Southern Heritage fusion cuisine. What is more Southern than the Muscadine Grape and more French than a Macaron? This short season grape can be found from Florida to Delaware and is like gold to many in the South. The jams and wines made from them offer flavors that you cannot find in any other grapevine variety. They have adapted to the harsher, hotter climate of the south and require fewer chilling hours than more well-known varieties; making them the perfect southern grape. When ripe, they range in color from a rich champagne to an almost midnight black. A deep, royal purple is the most commonly known color, and the color palate that I chose for this bake.

IMG_0882Don’t be intimidated by a Macaron. The four ingredients that go into the biscuits are actually quite forgiving and friendly. I thoroughly enjoyed working with them, but will admit to trying 4 different times before getting exactly what I was looking for. Like any merengue, humidity plays a big role in the process, and I decided to make them during the most humid two days that Kentucky experiences every year. What can I say, I love a challenge! After getting the consistency right, I had to play with the color to get the exact Muscadine purple that I was looking for. The recipe that I am providing for you comes straight from the famed Pâtisserie in France, Laduree. I am obsessed with all of their desserts and will feature more of them in the future, but I thought this would be the perfect place to start. The filling is my own creation, but you can use whatever flavors speak to you. I like to put Southern spins on a variety of different cuisines, and combining the sweet almond flavors of the Macaron biscuit with the tartness of the Mascadine grape spoke to me. You should experiment with flavors, and see what works for you. I promise that you will be the hit of your next party or luncheon when you show up with these bite sized goodies. The best part? They can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. It actually helps to enhance the flavors!

The measurements are very precise and you will understand why when you get to the pastry bag and start to mold each one. Too wet, and they will spread into blobs, to firm and they will not have the smooth texture a Macaron is known for. I’m not the best at following directions exactly, but for these, I get out all the measuring cups and spoons, and do it properly like my Mama taught me; leveling everything off with a knife and making sure there are no egg shells of yolk pieces in my egg whites! Now……Go forth and create!

Macaron 2

Muscadine Macarons – Makes about 50 Macarons

Ingredients:

Macaron Shells
– 2 ¾ cups + 1 tablespoon ground almonds (also known as almond flour. If you don’t see it in the baking section of the store, look in the organic or healthy food section)
– 2 cups + 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
– 6 ½ egg whites from large eggs (Yes, you really do need to have that ½ egg white. Keep it separately, it gets beaten on its own and added before you start piping.)
– 1 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (I like the super fine sugar, because it gives a smoother consistency. You can find it in the baking section with the specialty sugars and sugar substitutes.)
– You can add other flavors to the batter if you like. I chose not to, because I wanted my Muscadine filling to complement the almond shells.

Muscadine Filling
– 10 ½ tablespoons softened butter
– 1 ½ cups Muscadine jelly
– Several dashes of heavy whipping cream. (The consistency of your jelly will determine how much heavy whipping cream you will need. Start by adding a little at a time. When the consistency of the filling is fairly firm, you’re in good shape.)

Special Equipment:
– Piping bag with a ½ inch plain tip (You can also use a Ziploc bag with a small bit of the corner cut off)
– Silpat liners (Parchment paper with 1 ½ inch circles drawn on them also works, but I decided to invest in the Silpat with the Macaron circles on it from William-Sonoma. It worked like a dream.)
– Fine mesh strainer (You can pick these up cheap at the grocery store. It really will make a difference to the consistency of your batter.)

Directions:

Macaron Shells

– Combine the ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and pulse to obtain a fine powder. Sift or strain through a sieve to remove any lumps.

– In a clean, dry bowl, (I used my electric mixer. You can do this by hand or use a hand

My favorite way to separate whites and yolks is with my hands. It's easier and you have less of a chance of getting yolk in your whites.

My favorite way to separate whites and yolks is with my hands. It’s easier and you have less of a chance of getting yolk in your whites.

mixer.) whisk the 6 egg whites to a foam. Once they are frothy, add a third of the granulated sugar and whip until sugar is dissolved; add another third of the granulated sugar, whip for another minuet; finally add the remaining granulated sugar and whip for 1 more minuet. I was only making 1 color Macaron, so I added my food coloring at this point. If you are making several colors, divide the batter after you have completed the next step, and then add your colors.

– Using a rubber spatula, delicately fold the sifted mixture of ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar into the whipped egg whites. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining ½ egg white until just frothy. Then add to the final mixture, folding gently to loosen the batter. If you are making several colors, divide the batter into the desired number of colors that you want and add food coloring.


– Transfer mixture to the piping bag fitted with the plain tip. On a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, or Silpat, pipe small Macaron rounds 1 ¼ – 1 ½ inches in diameter, about 1 inch a part. When you are finished, lightly tap the baking sheet on the counter, so that the Macarons spread fully, and any extra air is released. You could sprinkle with chopped nuts at this point, if you wanted to. Like I said, this is a very forgiving batter, and gives you room for your imagination to run wild!


– Preheat the oven to 300*.
– Allow the Macarons to sit uncovered for 10 minutes, until they begin to lose their sheen

These are still a little too sticky. You can see where the batter stuck to my finger and pulled it up into a little spot. You want to avoid this. On a more humid day, you will need to let them sit a little longer.

These are still a little too sticky. You can see where the batter stuck to my finger and pulled it up into a little spot. You want to avoid this. On a more humid day, you will need to let them sit a little longer.

and are not sticky to the touch. If it is a very humid day, you may have to let them sit a little longer.
– Place them in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until they form a slight crust.
– Remove baking sheet from the oven and place on a cooling rack. If you are using parchment paper, follow this step. If you are using Silpat, there is no need. With a small glass, carefully pour a tiny amount of water in between the sheet pan and parchment paper (life the paper ever so slightly corner by corner). The moisture and steam that result from the water on the hot baking sheet will allow the Macarons to peel off more easily once they are cool. Do not pour too much water, as this could cause the Macarons to become soggy.
– Allow them to cool completely.
– Remove half of the Macaron shells and place them upside down on a plate.

Muscadine Filling
– Cut the softened butter into small pieces. I used my electric mixer, but you can do this by hand or with a hand mixer. Place butter in a clean bowl, and beat until fluffy. Add jelly and continue to beat.
– Add small splashes of heavy whipping cream, until everything is mixed and it begins to have a fairly sturdy consistency. Basically, you want it to form a pretty hard ribbon when the whisk or rubber spatula is lifted from the bowl.

Macaron Construction
– It is your choice to spoon filling onto the shells, or use a pastry bag. I chose to spoon. If you use a pastry bag, just rinse out the tip you used before and use it again.
– Fill the half of the shells that you had previously placed top side down on the plate, by placing a small amount of the filling on each. You don’t want to overfill your Macarons,so about 2-3 teaspoons should be sufficient, depending on the consistency of your filling. Once each one is filled, top with the remaining shells.
Laduree recommends that you let the finished product rest at least overnight in the fridge. Apparently this causes a reaction among the ingredients, further enhancing and refining the flavor and texture.

Macaron 1
There you go! You have just made an incredibly popular, and often daunting French Pastry! Pat yourself on the back, sit down with a glass of wine, and decide what flavors you are going to wow your friends and guests with at your next party!

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Summit Antler Chews Review

Summit 2So, a few weeks ago, the nice folks at Summit Antler Chews sent me a few pieces of their product for my dogs to try and review. I was incredibly excited, because antlers are becoming very popular in many areas of the dog world. More and more, dog enthusiasts are training dogs to hunt for antler sheds, and people are swearing by them as dog chews. I have tried many different types of chews for my dogs. From pigs ears, to kongs filled with chicken liver pate; if I think the dogs will like it and it’s healthy, I’ll give it a shot. Especially since one of the great selling points of antler chews are their longevity, I was hoping that they would last a while for my vigorous chewers. As many of you know, dog chews can be extensive and you want to get the most out of the toys you buy for your dog.

These are the medium sized chews. Perfect for my Lab and Mal!

These are the medium sized chews. Perfect for my Lab and Mal!

Summit 2I have to tell you, I have been incredibly impressed. They sent me two medium sized antlers, one split down the middle, the other an intact tine. I decided to let me two biggest chewers, a 5 year old Malinois and a 2 year old black Labrador Retriever, give the antlers a shot. As soon as I put them down, both dogs took one and went off to their separate beds to enjoy.

Reba, enjoying her Summit Antler Chew!

Reba, enjoying her Summit Antler Chew!

The Malinois is a very picky dog, about everything, and what she chooses to chew on is no exception. She took to the antler immediately. The lab is a typical retriever and loves anything he’s allowed to chew on or carry around in his mouth. He’s also a trained shed hunting dog, which means that every year around February and March, we go out and look for antlers shed by deer in our surrounding fields. I have been making a few videos concerning training dogs to hunt sheds and have had no problems with him understanding the difference between the one he’s allowed to chew on and the one he’s suppose to bring back to me. It’s been a win win situation since receiving the chews from Summit Antler Chews.

Deciding if he's suppose to retrieve it, or chew on it!

Deciding if he’s suppose to retrieve it, or chew on it!

The dogs have been chewing on their antler pieces for about a month now and while there is the expected wear and tear from their teeth, both pieces are holding up nicely and I expect them to last another few months at least.

He caught on quickly!

He caught on quickly!

The dogs chew on them probably 3-4 times a week in the evenings, after a long day in the field. The split antler, which I have pictured, has more wear than the intact tine, but both are holding up to my expectations.

After a months worth of chewing by both dogs, there is still a lot of antler left!

After a months worth of chewing by both dogs, there is still a lot of antler left!

The are so many other benefits to Summit Antler Chews products besides the great bang you get for your buck. The most important to me, as a consumer, is how they are harvested. Sheds are collected after they drop from the animal during it’s natural, yearly cycle, so that new antlers can grow. This makes them a green product, with no extra additives or Summit 6processing. You are basically taking what the earth gives you and re-purposing it. Everything that your dog ingests is organic and easily digestible. Even a dog with the most sensitive stomach (my black lab for instance) can digest this product with ease. They are also great for your dogs teeth, without splintering, like traditional dog bones. This means your dog can chew on them as much as they want without you having to worry about your dog swallowing little shards and harming his digestive tract. They are hard enough to clean tarter off of your dogs teeth, but giving enough as to not

The owners with their happy pooches!

The owners with their happy pooches!

cause damage to their gums. Also, the people at Summit Antler Chews are pretty awesome and very easy to work with; they will go above and beyond to make you happy customers! You will also never meet a cooler dog than their mascot, Cooper!

Cooper doing product selection!

Cooper doing product selection!

He’s a great big yellow lab, in their ads, who has a personality that can’t be beat. And as chief product inspector, he puts his four paw guarantee on everything that leaves the warehouse!
Summit 1If you are looking for a great chew for your dog, that will stand up to even the toughest chewer, look no further than Summit Antler Chews. Your dog will love it and you will love how long they last! Reba and Deacon both give them a four paws up rating!

For more information or to purchase from Summit Antler Chews, please go to summitantlerchew.com or find them on Facebook at Summit Antler Chews.

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I Am Pleased to Introduce….The French Blonde!

Recently I’ve been wondering if I was born on the wrong continent. I am obsessed with everything European! I can’t get enough of the history, food, drinks, and lifestyle. You will be seeing this obsession in many of my upcoming posts. I decided to draw on this inspiration for this weeks edition of Cocktails with Cally. While I was looking for something fun and different, I couldn’t pass on the French Blonde! It’s delicious, it’s French, and it’s blonde, what more could you ask for?

One of my new favorite cocktails!

One of my new favorite cocktails!

This drink has been around since the 1920’s, but it isn’t often seen on many cocktail menus. I’m not sure why, it’s not very time consuming to make and it is a great option for people who want a fun drink, but not something that is too fruity or sweet. It has just the right amount of sweetness to cut the dry gin, but not so much that you feel like your drinking candy. It’s also a great drink for any time of the year. It’s refreshing for the hot summer months, but comforting enough to enjoy during a long winter night by the fire!

The hardest part about making this drink at home is finding some of the ingredients. I spent a lot of time wandering around Liquor Barn, my favorite store when it comes to making cocktails. If you can’t find it there, they can usually order it for you! If you don’t already have a complete liquor store for all of your craft cocktail needs, a quick Google search will help you find a close one. Call ahead to see if they have these ingredients, and if they don’t, see if they will order them for you. Luckily, after a little searching and asking several employees, I found what I needed.

Now, one of the ingredients is Lemon Bitters. For years, I have been afraid to make drinks with bitters, because it seemed like something that only a professional bartender should use. Kind of like using truffles in the kitchen, it just seems daunting! However, I decided it was time to overcome my fears, and what better reason than a French Blonde! I promise, don’t be afraid to use bitters. They are quickly becoming one of my favorite items to work with. They allow you to add depths of flavors to your drinks with little splashes of flavor. Get a small starter pack to begin with and play with a few drinks, like the French Blonde. Before long, you’ll be a bitters expert and impressing all of your friends at parties with your amazing cocktails!

Nothing prettier than a French Blonde!

Nothing prettier than a French Blonde!

This recipe is for 1 cocktail, but depending on the size of your martini shaker, you can make more by multiplying the number of drinkers by each component. I would not suggest making these too far ahead of time, to save the integrity of the ingredients, and besides, you want to impress your guests with your bartending skills! It should only take you a few minutes to whip up a shaker full; like I said, most of your time will come in when you’re looking for the elderflower liquor and Lillet Blanc! Also, to make your life easier, I did the mixture using a shot glass as my measuring cup, because not everyone has a jigger and it saves you the trouble of figuring out ounces and half ounces of liquid.

Ingredients:
– ½ Shot elderflower liquor (Brands include St. Germain and John DeKuyper and Sons, but any brand will do)
– 1 shot dry gin
– 2 shots Lillet Blanc (I had no idea, but it is a French white wine!)
– 2 shots fresh grapefruit juice (I cut one in half and squeezed into a bowl to make the measuring easier. Don’t worry about the pulp and seeds. They will be strained out at the end. For me, one half made about 2 shots.)
– A few dashes of lemon bitters (you can usually find these in the section with the mixers.)

Special Needs:
– Martini Shaker (You could stir all the ingredients together and strain them into the glasses, but I prefer the martini shaker. And it’s fun to use!)
– Martini Glass (Again, like I said last week, if you don’t have the particular style of glass, don’t worry about it. It drinks the same out of anything!)

Directions:
– Fill Martini Shaker with ice.
– Add all ingredients.
– Shake for at least 30 seconds.
– Strain into glass.
– Garnish with grapefruit peels.
– Enjoy!

I promise, this will be a hit at your next party! Who doesn’t love a French Blonde!

Add a few macaons for a true French experience! Check back early next week for my blog on making the perfect Laduree macaron!

Add a few macaons for a true French experience! Check back early next week for my blog on making the perfect Laduree macaron!

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The Inaugural Edition of Cally’s Cocktails!

So I’ve decided to start something new……I’m into craft cocktails and I know you would be too, if you saw how easy they are to make! So I’m going to start a weekly (OK, sometimes it won’t be weekly, because as you know, life gets in the way!) blog called Cally’s Cocktails. Each week I will feature I different, unique, or classic cocktail that you can make at home. How do I know you can make them at home? Because I am making them in my home! You should need very little equipment, basic bar-ware, such as a shaker and shot glass should suffice. Everything else can be improvised. I happen to collect bar-ware, even though my husband has no idea why! But I will show alternatives to using equipment when I can.

Full disclosure, I obviously had to try the cocktails before writing this, so cut me a little slack if it’s not perfectly put together. Rest assured, though, I had a really good time trying out the drinks and writing the article!

The players! I fell in love with this rum on our honeymoon in Belize. I make all my summer rum drinks with it!

The players! I fell in love with this rum on our honeymoon in Belize. I make all my summer rum drinks with it!

This week I wanted to start out with something that was inspired by two of my favorite things, my Mom and Farmers Markets! I was visiting the Lexington Farmers Market this week when I noticed some produce that I would have normally overlooked.

There weren't many pictures involved in making the cocktail, si I'm filling with some shots that should make you smile!

There weren’t many pictures involved in making the cocktail, si I’m filling with some shots that should make you smile!

Rhubarb had caught my eye and I couldn’t leave without it! I have never eaten rhubarb, much less cooked with it. The nice man at the stall gave me some tips on preparing it and said it makes the perfect pallet cleanser for any meal. I didn’t want to make something predictable, like a pie, and my husband has been traveling all week, so making it for a meal was out. I’ve been eating take-out and leftovers since he left! Still, I had to buy it. So I did what I do whenever I have strange ingredients sitting around the house that I don’t know what to do with, I decided to make a cocktail! This is where my second bit of inspiration came into play. My Mom gets to be the Guinea pig for most of my cooking and drinks, so I try to cater to her tastes when I can, because she will try anything I put in front of her, no matter how crazy or weird it is! So for that reason, when I can, I try to go with flavors that she prefers.

So for this little project I hit the internet looking for some way to pair my rhubarb with liquor. That is how I came across a little known mix, called a shrub. Yes, a shrub! What is a shrub you may ask? Why I will tell you! There are two different ways a shrub is made into a cocktail, but for our purposes, a shrub is basically a drinking vinegar. That is where my Mom comes into play. She prefers acidic flavors to overly sweet. We actually have a problem finding cocktails sometimes, because most of the time, they are really sweet! So, since I knew she would want to try one on my next trip to Florida, I decided to go on ahead and start practicing! If you want the full explanation of a drinking shrub, go to this page on Wikipedia, Drinking Shrub, and check it out. I thought it was very interesting, but I wanted to give you the choice to read further into them or not. Sometimes I go a little overboard learning all the information I can about certain subjects, and it can get a little overwhelming to a normal person, so I’ll give you the choice.

Now that we know what this type of shrub is, and why I chose it, let’s get into making the cocktail. I made the drinking vinegar yesterday, so that the flavors would have time to develop, and let’s be honest, I have a four month old in my home, I do things when I find time! Anyways, I chose to add ginger to the vinegar mix, because I thought it would taste good, and I had some leftover from another recipe. So yesterday, I made the vinegar mix, which makes this drink a shrub. Then, today while the baby was taking a nap, I raided the liquor cabinet to see what bottles I had left in there from before I was pregnant. I’ve been keeping mostly to wine since the baby was born, but now that summer is rolling around, I’ve been looking forward to my rum and gin drinks! Anyways, I found a nice bottle of rum, but no other clear liquors. The moonshine in my fridge doesn’t count, because you don’t really find them in mixed cocktails on a Friday afternoon. They are saved for late night when you have company over and don’t plan on getting up early the next morning! So I knew I could do a rum drink, but I also enjoy gin, and some of you may have a preference one way or the other, so I wanted to make sure this mix would work with both choices. So I loaded the baby up in the truck, in between thunderstorms, and we went to our favorite store….Kroger Liquor. We aren’t lucky enough to have ABC Liquor here, and it was about to rain again, so we didn’t make it to Liquor Barn, my home away from home. But we found what we needed at Kroger, and made it back home before the sky opened up on us again.

This is what I got accomplished today before it rained and I started making cocktails!

This is what I got accomplished today before it rained and I started making cocktails!

I tried a few different version of this drink before coming up with what works for me. Now, if you prefer a less sweet drink, substitute the club soda with tonic water. That’s what I plan on doing when I make this drink for my Mom. If you like tart with a little sweet, stay with the club soda. Remember, this is your preference, so you don’t have to follow my recipe exactly. Add more of anything you like, or take a little away. I always make my drinks a little strong, but you can always cut out some of the liquor. The shrub itself with lime juice and club soda actually makes a very nice, refreshing drink for a summer afternoon.

One with gin and one with rum. They look a like, but have decidedly different flavors. You'll have to see what works for you! The Duck Fat Carmel's are the perfect  accompaniment.

One with gin and one with rum. They look a like, but have decidedly different flavors. You’ll have to see what works for you! The Duck Fat Carmel’s are the perfect accompaniment.

So, now for the recipe! I made the measuring easy…I just used what I had in the kitchen, so there’s no extra work with clean up. This recipe makes one cocktail. It can be made ahead of time in a pitcher, just add the club soda or tonic water to each individual cocktail before serving, so they stay fizzy.

Shrub:
Ingredients
1 large bunch of rhubarb, cut into ¼ inch pieces

½ ginger root, cubed (ginger is basically sold in the same sized, uniform pieces at the grocery store. You only need about ½ of one. The smaller and thinner you cut it, the more flavor you will infuse into the shrub)

1 cup of sugar

½ cup apple cider vinegar

Directions
-Put all ingredients into a pot on a high burner. Stir with a spoon, until everything is mixed will, and the sugar looks to be dissolved.

-When the mixture boils, reduce the heat, so that it is barely simmering.

-Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb pieces start to become more translucent and peel apart.

-Once you are done cooking the mix, transfer to a clean, glass container, using a colander to keep the solid bits out of the mix. If you have a piece of cheesecloth on hand, you can line the colander with it, but if you don’t mind a little extra garnish, you should be fine with just the colander.

-Store in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

For the cocktail:
Ingredients
1 shot of shrub mix

2 shots of gin or rum (vodka would probably work, but I don’t drink it, so I can’t tell you for sure)

Juice from 1/2 Lice

Ice to fill shaker
Club soda or tonic water to fill the glass

Highball or Collins glass (Really any cup will work, solo cups and Tervis tumblers would be perfect. Just add the club soda or tonic water according to the size glass you have and how strong you want them to be)

Directions
-Mix the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, until the outside of the shaker becomes frothy and chilled.

-Strain into your glass and add your club soda or tonic water.

-Enjoy!

Please join me next week (hopefully!) and we’ll look at a new craft cocktail that you can make at home and impress all of your guests at your summer get togethers!

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The Power of Genetics….

One never knows where inspiration will come from. It could be a fleeting glance at something that brings back a distance memory, or it could be found in an unlikely place when you aren’t even looking. Recently, I have found some inspiration in what I feel like is an unlikely place. It’s a very short video by a man that no one has ever heard of in Ireland. It’s not very often that I can agree totally with someone’s views on dog breeding, but in this case, I can find no fault in what the man has to say. It’s a very short video and if you watch it, you’ll probably think, “She’s crazy….this old man is saying nothing of note and it was a waste of a perfectly good minuet.” But let’s sit down and really look at what he’s saying.

I was very fortunate to get to photograph this nice puppy at a field trial a few weeks ago. She had such a natural ability to retrieve and drive for the work. It was a pleasure to watch her work.

I was very fortunate to get to photograph this nice puppy at a field trial a few weeks ago. She had such a natural ability to retrieve and drive for the work. It was a pleasure to watch her work.

So you’ve watched the video, but are still wondering, “Why does this crazy girl think so much of a crazy old Irish farmer who is droning on about Border Collies training themselves?”.  Let me set up the scenario for you…….You go out, buy a dog and have every intention of working that dog every day and making him the best possible dog on the planet. The first day, you get the dog, your training equipment, and your training book out, and go to work. Perfect day. The next day, maybe it’s the same. The third day comes around and your significant other wants to go out for dinner, it is a Friday night after all,

This is Norton, he's obviously a lab. Has never once willingly picked up anything but food in his entire life. He hangs out in the field when I'm working other dogs and I have no fear of him interfering with the training, because he is usually under the nearest tree. However, you can't beat him when it comes to being a Therapy Dog! He's loved by many because we placed him in a program where he can excel at being himself.

This is Norton, he’s obviously a lab. Has never once willingly picked up anything but food in his entire life. He hangs out in the field when I’m working other dogs and I have no fear of him interfering with the training, because he is usually under the nearest tree. However, you can’t beat him when it comes to being a Therapy Dog! He’s loved by many because we placed him in a program where he can excel at being himself.

and you only do a little training. That’s alright, tomorrow is Saturday and you can make up the time then. Saturday comes and friends want to go to the movies. You go, promising yourself that Sunday will be your day with the dog. You wake up with the best of intentions, but your hangover convinces you that Monday is the day for training and you give him a quick exercise session, so he won’t bother you while you chill on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. During the next week, you get in a few good training sessions, but work and life get in the way and you never get to train as much as you had originally intended. I’m not saying that you are a bad dog owner. Your dog is well exercised, well fed, and well loved. He is just not “training” as much as you would like.

Time goes by, you work with him when you have a chance, but not nearly as much as you had originally planned.  One day, during hunting season, a buddy calls you up and wants you to bring your dog over and spend the day hunting with him and his dog. Now this buddy brags on his dog and how much time he spends training, and maybe he does spend that much time working with the dog. Unlikely, but he’s your friend, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. You’re a little nervous, because you know your dog is good, but hell, you buddy spends every weekend working drills and obedience with his dog, so he must be perfect.

This is Deacon, who many of you will know from my previous posts, and the MANY pictures I take of him. When I went to look at him as a puppy, my choice was between him and his brother (read my previous article about my experience picking him up...it's pretty funny :) ). Both pups where about the same on land. They both fetched everything the old man threw out for them and both barked when someone new showed up. They were basically identical in appearance and both impressed me enough that I wanted to leave with ONE of them. At that point it didn't really matter which one. The tie breaker was when Deacon threw himself headfirst into the pond, at eight weeks old, chasing after his Dad for a retrieve. His brother went in, but not with the same enthusiasm. While he wasn't perfect, he was a little skeptical of new people, he had enough of the qualities that I was looking for, that I was willing to take the time to work through his skepticism. I chose what battle I wanted to fight. I could have chosen a dog who didn't retrieve with his natural ability, but was perfect around people. If I had made that choice, I would have to force fetch and collar condition. I chose what was an easier route for me....socialization for the dog. I knew it would be a pretty easy fix, because he loved food and loved to fetch. I paired those things with being polite when in public. Now he's not perfect, the cracks show occasionally, but I expected this, because like I've said over and over in this article, genetics beat out training every time.

This is Deacon, who many of you will know from my previous posts, and the MANY pictures I take of him. When I went to look at him as a puppy, my choice was between him and his brother (read my previous article about my experience picking him up…it’s pretty funny 🙂 ). Both pups where about the same on land. They both fetched everything the old man threw out for them and both barked when someone new showed up. They were basically identical in appearance and both impressed me enough that I wanted to leave with ONE of them. At that point it didn’t really matter which one. The tie breaker was when Deacon threw himself headfirst into the pond, at eight weeks old, chasing after his Dad for a retrieve. His brother went in, but not with the same enthusiasm. While he wasn’t perfect, he was a little skeptical of new people, he had enough of the qualities that I was looking for, that I was willing to take the time to work through his skepticism. I chose what battle I wanted to fight. I could have chosen a dog who didn’t retrieve with his natural ability, but was perfect around people. If I had made that choice, I would have to force fetch and collar condition. I chose what was an easier route for me….socialization for the dog. I knew it would be a pretty easy fix, because he loved food and loved to fetch. I paired those things with being polite when in public. Now he’s not perfect, the cracks show occasionally, but I expected this, because like I’ve said over and over in this article, genetics beat out training every time.

You get to the pit blind, dove field, or whatever your poison is that morning and you unload your dog and your gear. Your dog is kind of hanging out, checking out the situation, and your buddies dog is running around while he’s screaming his name and blowing on his whistle that’s as big as your hand. You guys get going and it’s obvious that his dog is not going to make for a fun day. His whistle sounds like a damn freight train and the dog whines so much that it’s numbing. Your dog, on the other hand is in tune to your quiet whistle and doesn’t hunt perfectly close, but he’s within gun range and is steady on the flush, so you aren’t constantly after him to calm down. Your dog retrieves what you shoot with a soft mouth, while his dog will occasionally pick up a bird, maybe, and bring it within a ten yard radius of the handler, hopefully. If he does happen to pick one up, his mouth is so hard that there is nothing left of the bird when your buddy finally chases down the dog and picks it up from wherever it was dropped.

Environmental obstacles have no effect on Deacon. This is something that can be trained, but it's so much easier when it comes naturally!

Environmental obstacles have no effect on Deacon. This is something that can be trained, but it’s so much easier when it comes naturally!

As the day progresses, you have to be wondering, “What in the world is going on here? I hardly work with my dog and he works with his all the time. My dog is making his look really bad.” Don’t lie, we’ve all had those thoughts!

He's a bit of a show off....

He’s a bit of a show off….

There are two possible answers and more than likely it a combination of the two. Your buddy probably isn’t working with his dog as often as he says that he is, and the more likely answer is that, your dog has better genetics than his dog. One rule you can always live by, genetics beats out training every single time. You can cover a lot up, on the surface, with training, but if the breeding isn’t there, no amount of training can fix that and the cracks will show at the most inopportune time; like when you are trying to show off to your friend who doesn’t work his dog as often as you do.

Now force fetch needed. Inductive retrieves with a variety of objects at a young age have made this dog capable of picking up anything, withing reason, that I ask for. Before we go shed hunting, I play a little fetch with him with an antler. Take him to the field and he's a shed hunting machine.

No force fetch needed. Inductive retrieves with a variety of objects at a young age have made this dog capable of picking up anything, withing reason, that I ask for. Before we go shed hunting, I play a little fetch with him with an antler. Take him to the field and he’s a shed hunting machine.

Now, some dogs may not reach their true potential, because of the owner, but if the dog doesn’t have breeding to support the traits that you are looking for in an ideal dog, then you will never get where you want to be with the dog.

This series of pictures are of a Malinois puppy named Tig. I love working with Tig. He has a drive that can't be beat. However, no amount of exercise could make him a house dog. He would tear a normal persons house apart in a matter of minuets. But he's fun to work with. He's a great sport dog and will hunt for anything at anytime for hours. He's a star in a lot of training videos, because he's flashy and will do anything you ask, as long as he gets to bite someone or chase a ball.

This series of pictures are of a Malinois puppy named Tig. I love working with Tig. He has a drive that can’t be beat. However, no amount of exercise could make him a house dog. He would tear a normal persons house apart in a matter of minuets. But he’s fun to work with. He’s a great sport dog and will hunt for anything at anytime for hours. He’s a star in a lot of training videos, because he’s flashy and will do anything you ask, as long as he gets to bite someone or chase a ball.

This little guy will make a great house dog, but there are a few in the litter who are much more suited to farm life, because they are constantly on the move. As evidence from this picture....there were 4 in the picture right before I snapped the button!

This little guy will make a great house dog, but there are a few in the litter who are much more suited to farm life, because they are constantly on the move. As evidence from this picture….there were 4 in the picture right before I snapped the button!

The man in the video is talking about herding dogs, but the same is true for any breed and discipline of dog. It’s even true for dogs that would be considered house dogs or lap dogs. No one wants a lap dog who would rather be running around, looking for something. They want a dog bred to sit in a lap and requires very little exercise. The opposite is true for a dog that needs to be active to earn his living. Dogs will either pick up their work or they won’t and you will have to “force” them into the job. Who really wants to be forced and who really wants to do the forcing?

Golden Doodle...a combination of a Poodle and Golden Retriever. Both historically good hunting dogs....you don't see many Doodles hunting, but they are quickly becoming one of the most popular house dogs around. Genetics....you breed  two historically hunting breeds together and get an amazing house dog.

Golden Doodle…a combination of a Poodle and Golden Retriever. Both historically good hunting dogs….you don’t see many Doodles hunting, but they are quickly becoming one of the most popular house dogs around. Genetics….you breed two historically hunting breeds together and get an amazing house dog.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t care what titles the parents of the puppy has, if they aren’t game to chase and pick things up, more than likely I’ll take a pass and look further for my next dog. Now many of you may go on the defensive here and say that some dogs mature slower than others, and I will agree with you on that point. However, if given my druthers, I want the quicker maturing dog, because I can get down to the real work of refining their desired traits and not have to wait and hope they mature into the dog that I want. I’m not saying that the slower maturing dog won’t become a great dog, I’m just pointing out that I’m going to get better work done at an earlier age with the one who picks up the work naturally and at a young age. So you may ask at this point, “Well how do you breed for desired traits? Do you go on what titles the possible parents have? Do you look at their breeding history and what their offspring have done?” These are good ways to look at it, but

This is my Malinois, Reba. Looks like a pretty high drive dog in this picture, doesn't she? You would think that she is the perfect protection dog for our home, but honestly the lab will probably deter more people that she ever will. She's high drive for a ball, tug, or Frisbee. Biting people, not so much. She looks like the perfect Malinois with great conformation and eagerness to work, but has exactly zero skepticism towards people. She is incredibly social, although a little dog aggressive. Now, she is perfect for me, because I love to play Frisbee, she travels well, and she's perfect in the house and with my new born (whom she really just ignores). If someone who wanted a protection dog or sport dog were to have bought her, they would be incredibly disappointed. She's not protecting your home from anything but the neighbors dog and rabbits. As far a sport dog goes, she's competed a little. She had perfect obedience, but her bite work is lacking. Again, she wasn't born with the perfect Malinois bite. We have tried a lot of training techniques to bring out a better bite, and she has improved, but hers will never be as nice as a dog who does it naturally, like the Dutch Shepherd who is trying to pull my Dad out of the tree in one of these pictures.

This is my Malinois, Reba. Looks like a pretty high drive dog in this picture, doesn’t she? You would think that she is the perfect protection dog for our home, but honestly the lab will probably deter more people that she ever will. She’s high drive for a ball, tug, or Frisbee. Biting people, not so much. She looks like the perfect Malinois with great conformation and eagerness to work, but has exactly zero skepticism towards people. She is incredibly social, although a little dog aggressive. Now, she is perfect for me, because I love to play Frisbee, she travels well, and she’s perfect in the house and with my new born (whom she really just ignores). If someone who wanted a protection dog or sport dog were to have bought her, they would be incredibly disappointed. She’s not protecting your home from anything but the neighbors dog and rabbits. As far a sport dog goes, she’s competed a little. She had perfect obedience, but her bite work is lacking. Again, she wasn’t born with the perfect Malinois bite. We have tried a lot of training techniques to bring out a better bite, and she has improved, but hers will never be as nice as a dog who does it naturally, like the Dutch Shepherd who is trying to pull my Dad out of the tree in one of these pictures.

honestly, any time you breed two of anything together, it’s a crap shoot as to what you’re going to get. You can take two of the most decorated field trial dogs out there and breed them together and get a littler of pups who would rather hang out under the shade tree than fetch. You could take two backyard dogs, breed them together and get national champions. It’s all up to where the good lord decided to give them their points, and we know that he only gives you so many points!

This is Ranger, my bosses Dutch Shepherd. This dog lives to play the game of biting the man in the suit. He came out of the womb like that and gets into it so much that he would rather get in trouble than let go. He is perfect for sport dog competitions and showing off to your buddies when they think they can out run a dog!

This is Ranger, my bosses Dutch Shepherd. This dog lives to play the game of biting the man in the suit. He came out of the womb like that and gets into it so much that he would rather get in trouble than let go. He is perfect for sport dog competitions and showing off to your buddies when they think they can out run a dog!

Honestly, if I were breeding dogs together to do field trial work, I would look at both dogs involved and look for traits that I desire. How sensitive are the dogs to the handler? I prefer a dog who is sensitive to me, so that I don’t have to raise my voice much or use much force while training. Do the possible parents look healthy and how are they around people? I don’t want a dog who looks like he will break down after an hour or work and I need a dog who is social around people. How are the potential parents with other dogs? Obviously, a dog with aggression towards other dogs would be hard to manage, unless that was a trait you were breeding for. Now, you’ll notice I didn’t say anything about whether or not the parents had any titles, or how well they hunted. These may be qualities that you look for, but as for me they aren’t that important. If I want a hunting dog, I’m looking at labs or pointers. If I want a personal protection dog, I’m looking at Malinois or Dutch Shepherds. If I want a lap dog or a small house dog, I’m looking at something else (honestly, I couldn’t even tell you what breed I would be looking at, because the thought of a small house dog has never crossed my mind!).

This is a great group of dogs, but they are all different. Notice the two Shelties in the front. They were both raised in the same house, under the same circumstances, but they couldn't be more different. The female on my right is so outgoing and loves everyone, the male on my left, only likes certain people. The male, will however do any sort of agility that you put in front of him and is a heck of a worker. He'll let a little kid drag him around the agility course for hours on end and never complain. The female likes to jump and go, but not with the same love that the male shows. Both are equally loved by their owner, because she understands their differences and accepts what some people would consider flaws.

This is a great group of dogs, but they are all different. Notice the two Shelties in the front. They were both raised in the same house, under the same circumstances, but they couldn’t be more different. The female on my right is so outgoing and loves everyone, the male on my left, only likes certain people. The male, will however do any sort of agility that you put in front of him and is a heck of a worker. He’ll let a little kid drag him around the agility course for hours on end and never complain. The female likes to jump and go, but not with the same love that the male shows. Both are equally loved by their owner, because she understands their differences and accepts what some people would consider flaws.

Within these breeds, I will look for lines bred to do the work that I want, so that automatically gets rid of many of the questions of what I’m looking for. I’m not looking at labs that come from American show lines to do field work. I would look at these lines if I wanted a dog to do therapy work or something more subdued. So I go out, ask my questions, and find what I think is the perfect breeding.

This is my boy Cain. He is one of my all time favorite dogs and I love him very much. I have a huge problem with him staying in my house in town. He is a lot of dog to handle and is very skeptical of people. It makes it difficult living in town without a lot of space for him to run on several times a day. He is a great personal protection dog and loves to go, you just have to be prepared to deal with his aggression. He's not a man fighter and most of his aggression comes from fear, so he would really rather go away from you, but is prepared to make you go away if you make him too uncomfortable. Now he is by parents who were both very successful sport dogs. Cain has competed a little bit, but structured events are not really his thing. I could train him to be a more competitive sport dog, but he would never be a really great one. I accepted this about him, and found him a place as a training video dog and personal protection dog when my husband is traveling for work.

This is my boy Cain. He is one of my all time favorite dogs and I love him very much. I have a huge problem with him staying in my house in town. He is a lot of dog to handle and is very skeptical of people. It makes it difficult living in town without a lot of space for him to run on several times a day. He is a great personal protection dog and loves to go, you just have to be prepared to deal with his aggression. He’s not a man fighter and most of his aggression comes from fear, so he would really rather go away from you, but is prepared to make you go away if you make him too uncomfortable. Now he is by parents who were both very successful sport dogs. Cain has competed a little bit, but structured events are not really his thing. I could train him to be a more competitive sport dog, but he would never be a really great one. I accepted this about him, and found him a place as a training video dog and personal protection dog when my husband is traveling for work.

The litter is born, and half the puppies run and chase feathers as soon as they can walk. The other half want nothing to do with it and would rather spend time sleeping or eating. So that eliminates them. Of the four that are left (I decided it was a litter of eight), two hide behind their mother any time a new person comes in the whelping room. That leaves me with two to choose from. Out of those two, I take the one who will pick up anything off the floor and play with it, and the one who appears to be more sensitive to his surroundings. This proves that even within a litter of puppies, all raised exactly the same way, you never know what you’re going to get.

I can tell you this is true from two puppies that I am working with right now. They are litter mates and were raised in exactly the same environment. The male puppy is a little more skeptical of new situations, while the female will gladly walk into any room and need no time for adjustment. On the flip side of that, the male puppy will pick up and retrieve

Here we have three dogs, all related. The father on the left, daughter in the center, and son on the right. You would think that they would be pretty similar, and while they are alike in appearance, you are looking at three totally different dogs. Deacon, on the left is becoming a great hunt test dog and is working on his CH this year and hopefully some AKC Field trials as well as other competitions. He hunts occasionally and travels with me all over the place. He has a few flaws, but is a great house dog and companion as well a field dog. Henry, on the right side, is almost the double of his Dad. Great field dog, a little skeptical, but all around a good dog to have around for the type of competing that I do. On the flip side, he's hard to have in the house. He doesn't "turn off" as easily has Deacon does. It's just who he is and I know that when he comes home with me, I'm going to have to exercise him within an inch of his life to be able to  get any sleep that night! Then comes Peanut in the center. Now you would think she would be pretty similar to her brother, but you couldn't be more wrong. She loves everyone in and situation. There is no skepticism in her at all. On the flip side, she's not as reliable of a retriever as her brother. She fetches and returns to hand with a perfectly soft mouth, but has moments of silliness and doesn't pick the bird up and chooses to hunt the field instead, as I described in the article. I've moved her into the environmental detection dog work instead, because she has a great work ethic and loves to go, she just doesn't always want to pick up ducks. Now, would you be surprised to know that these two puppies are out of a bitch who is even more lethargic than the yellow lab I reference in this article?

Here we have three dogs, all related. The father on the left, daughter in the center, and son on the right. You would think that they would be pretty similar, and while they are alike in appearance, you are looking at three totally different dogs. Deacon, on the left is becoming a great hunt test dog and is working on his CH this year and hopefully some AKC Field trials as well as other competitions. He hunts occasionally and travels with me all over the place. He has a few flaws, but is a great house dog and companion as well a field dog. Henry, on the right side, is almost the double of his Dad. Great field dog, a little skeptical, but all around a good dog to have around for the type of competing that I do. On the flip side, he’s hard to have in the house. He doesn’t “turn off” as easily has Deacon does. It’s just who he is and I know that when he comes home with me, I’m going to have to exercise him within an inch of his life to be able to get any sleep that night! Then comes Peanut in the center. Now you would think she would be pretty similar to her brother, but you couldn’t be more wrong. She loves everyone in and situation. There is no skepticism in her at all. On the flip side, she’s not as reliable of a retriever as her brother. She fetches and returns to hand with a perfectly soft mouth, but has moments of silliness and doesn’t pick the bird up and chooses to hunt the field instead, as I described in the article. I’ve moved her into the environmental detection dog work instead, because she has a great work ethic and loves to go, she just doesn’t always want to pick up ducks. Now, would you be surprised to know that these two puppies are out of a bitch who is even more lethargic than the yellow lab I reference in this article?

anything I set out for him, any time, no questions asked. He has never been force fetched or collar conditioned, but is more than happy to do any sort of retrieving work that I want to do that day. The female, not so much. She’ll run a perfect line to a mark, get to the duck, stop, sniff it, and continue to hunt like she never found the bird. Now, I know that she knows what she’s supposed to do, because she retrieved perfectly a dozen other times on different days, under exactly the same circumstances. You can come up with as many excuses as you want, as to why today is different, but none of them matter. The fact is, she chose not to do the work, for whatever reason. You can rethrow the bird, and more than likely she’ll retrieve it that time and bring it back perfectly. The fact remains, her brother is at 100% and she’s at 90%. Some champion dogs have come out of litters with mates who never desired to pick up a bird up in their life. You could ask me to force fetch the female puppy or collar condition her, so that she retrieves out of fear of getting in trouble, but why would I want to do that? She likes to hunt, she makes that apparent as she’s running around the field, looking for anything other than the bird she’s supposed to be bringing back! She needs a different job. Put her in the training program for detection dogs, she might like that work better. If not, maybe she’s suited as a rough gun dog, who spends most of her time living with a loving family, plays occasional fetch, and hunts for quail once a year. There are many techniques that you can use to increase a dogs drive for the work, and many of them work, but why add the extra steps into the training if you don’t have to. Pick the dog who naturally wants to do the work.

This is Miss Lula Belle, my Dad's Bloodhound. She came out of dogs who do tracking work for the Police Department. You would think that breeding would result in a litter of little tracking fanatics. Nope....all went to homes as pets. They would call her a washout, I call her my Dad's friend. She has her place hanging out and tracking the occasional rabbit, but my Dad's life wouldn't be the same without her. That's her job.

This is Miss Lula Belle, my Dad’s Bloodhound. She came out of dogs who do tracking work for the Police Department. You would think that breeding would result in a litter of little tracking fanatics. Nope….all went to homes as pets. They would call her a washout, I call her my Dad’s friend. She has her place hanging out and tracking the occasional rabbit, but my Dad’s life wouldn’t be the same without her. That’s her job.

The puppies in the litter who don’t want to pick up wings at a young age might be better suited as a pet or in a detection dog program. They aren’t washouts, just re-purposed. The fact remains though, if the dog didn’t get the genetics to do the work that you are looking for, you can cover up the flaws with training, but the cracks will show at some point.

This is Ruger, my Brother's German Shorthaired Pointer. Osco is not a hunter and has no desire to hunt his dog, he just like the breed personality, so Ruger has never done any sort of gun dog training in his life. He points like no other. It's amazing to watch him in the yard. One minuet he's running a muck chasing Lula Belle and then all of the sudden, he breaks into of the finest flash points you've ever seen. You can bet that there's a quail somewhere right in front of him. He'll hold his point steadier than dogs who have been in training for months. It just comes naturally to him. He's also a great house dog. A lot of the pointers are constant movers and make it almost impossible to keep them as a house pet. When Osco went to look at puppies, he had an idea of the qualities he was looking for and chose a dog that fit those parameters.  He got the dog that fit his lifestyle.

This is Ruger, my Brother’s German Shorthaired Pointer. Osco is not a hunter and has no desire to hunt his dog, he just like the breed personality, so Ruger has never done any sort of gun dog training in his life. He points like no other. It’s amazing to watch him in the yard. One minuet he’s running a muck chasing Lula Belle and then all of the sudden, he breaks into one of the finest flash points you’ve ever seen. You can bet that there’s a turtle somewhere right in front of him. (Yes, he points turtles of all kinds. Box, gopher, snapping! It doesn’t matter, he’ll point it!) He’ll hold his point steadier than dogs who have been in training for months. It just comes naturally to him. He’s also a great house dog. A lot of the pointers are constant movers and make it almost impossible to keep them as a house pet. When Osco went to look at puppies, he had an idea of the qualities he was looking for and chose a dog that fit those parameters. He got the dog that fit his lifestyle.

Obviously I’m not saying that we don’t need training for our dogs. That would defeat the purpose of many people’s jobs, and we would have a bunch of ill-mannered dogs running around. You still have to train your dog, like you train a kid. They need to know right from wrong and learn the consequences to the choices they make. That’s where your training comes in. You can’t train natural instinct. You can hone it, and bring out the best in the dog and help them to reach their true potential. However, if you need to force a dog to do something (my views on force fetching and collar conditioning are thoughts for another article), then they probably need to find a new occupation and you need to find a new dog to meet your needs. Like the man in the video says, the dogs basically train themselves to herd the sheep. Your dog either came out of the womb ready to retrieve ducks, or he didn’t. He’s not a bad dog because he’s not interested in the retriever work, he just needs to have a different job that serves his natural instincts. Just remember, genetics will beat out training every time.

There's a reason you don't see many Springers doing hunt tests and field trials. Most of them are born with the instinct to quarter within gun range and retrieve. This is not a desirable trait when you are wanting to do things that require him to be incredibly sensitive to the handler, like blind work. Their instincts tell them that they need to quarter the field to find the birds. Running in a straight line and waiting for you to help them find the bird never crossed their mind. In their brain, the whole reason you have them is to find the bird. They don't need your help to do their job. If you just let them do what comes naturally, they will get you the bird. I'm not saying it can't be done, but there's a reason why Springer people have their own trials. I love working with Springers, because there is nothing more beautiful than watching a well bred Springer quarter a field looking for a bird. Many of them also have fun and resilient personalities and they usually love to work. They are not my chosen breed when I am looking to do hunt tests, but I would hunt over a good one for Pheasant any day of the week.

There’s a reason you don’t see many Springers doing hunt tests and field trials. Most of them are born with the instinct to quarter within gun range and retrieve. This is not a desirable trait when you are wanting to do things that require him to be incredibly sensitive to the handler, like blind work. Their instincts tell them that they need to quarter the field to find the birds. Running in a straight line and waiting for you to help them find the bird never crossed their mind. In their brain, the whole reason you have them is to find the bird. They don’t need your help to do their job. If you just let them do what comes naturally, they will get you the bird. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but there’s a reason why Springer people have their own trials. I love working with Springers, because there is nothing more beautiful than watching a well bred Springer quarter a field looking for a bird. Many of them also have fun and resilient personalities and they usually love to work. They are not my chosen breed when I am looking to do hunt tests, but I would hunt over a good one for Pheasant any day of the week.

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