In an attempt to hold each other accountable to separately made resolutions, we have decided to combine two of our year-long goals into a series of posts. Welcome to Eat This, Drink That, in which kitchen-phobic Scout attempts to cook and compulsive baker Zelda takes the bartending reigns, in pursuit of her New Year’s resolution to learn how to make fancy cocktails.
On an overcast June afternoon, we ventured to the grocery armed with Zelda’s Mama’s cornbread recipe and a cocktail plan courtesy of Mamrie Hart. We sailed through the empty weekday supermarket aisles, made a stop at the liquor store (where we, as usual, marveled at the high price of mid-grade bourbon…sigh), and headed back to Zelda’s kitchen for late afternoon food and drink.
A Disclaimer: Scout wanted to ease into her cooking adventure, so Zelda encouraged the use of what we are calling a “cornbread hack.” If Scout were really ambitious, there would have been many dry ingredients and a cast-iron pan, but she’s not quite on that level yet (plus, the more ingredients there are, the more mess we create, and Scout just doesn’t have time for that). So with her low cooking ambitions officially disclaimed, we present: The Easiest Cornbread To Make Ever (originally found in the 1981 L.A. Times Cookbook).
The Recipe: Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine two boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix, one box of traditional yellow cake mix, and the accompanying ingredients listed on the back of all three boxes: eggs, oil, milk, and water (some would say this doesn’t really count as cooking, but Scout is calling it a win). Mix until only slightly lumpy and pour into a greased cake pan. Follow the baking instructions for a cake in the size pan you have chosen and voilá! Twenty to thirty-five minutes later, you have yourself a wonderful corn-cake bread.
The Verdict: It doesn’t taste quite like traditional cornbread, but it’s the right texture, and it’s not overly spicy or overly sweet. Also, it does not contain any corn kernels (very important). It’ll do.
While Scout was toiling away over her various pre-boxed mixes, Zelda was over at the stove making some thyme-infused simple syrup. After devouring You Deserve a Drink, she was dying to make one of our favorite punny bartender’s concoctions. We originally wanted to make a peach/bourbon/tea cocktail that was just made to go with the cornbread, but the lack of frozen peaches at our neighborhood grocery forced us to go in a different direction. Instead, she chose Show Thyme, a champagne cocktail with gin, blackberries, lemon, and thyme.
The Recipe: For this drink, you will need: 1 oz thyme simple syrup (boil one cup sugar, one cup water, and 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme together in a saucepan for five minutes, then let cool), fresh blackberries, the juice of half a lemon, 2 oz of gin, and champagne. Muddle 4-5 blackberries in your shaker with your fancy schmancy homemade simple syrup. Add the lemon juice, gin, and 4-5 ice cubes. Shake it (like a Polaroid picture). Pour into a pretty glass (approximately rocks-sized), top with champagne and a few blackberries on a toothpick for garnish (if you’re feeling fancy), give it a stir, and enjoy!
The Verdict: Zelda was a big fan of the final product. Scout wasn’t quite as enamored, so Zelda went rogue and whipped her up a concoction of thyme simple syrup, gin, limeade, and a dash of lemon juice (title: The Picky Drinker, patent pending). She added a sprig of thyme for garnish, and Scout was won over. Improvisation, people! And another check for Zelda’s 15 New Things.