3 things outside the art studio: easy bread, medieval intrigue, and a perfect cocktail

    This week has been all over the place somehow. But I've had some delicious moments with a purple (!) cocktail and no-effort bread with olive oil. And I've managed to sneak in a little reading.

    1. Almost no-effort bread, with olive oil for dipping

    I'm among the throngs of bread-bakers these days, although it's a lot easier than the way I used to make bread. I did love the meditative pleasure of kneading once upon a time, but somehow I never, ever take the time.

    Thank goodness for the smart people who created the No-Knead Crusty White Bread recipe from King Arthur Flour. Seriously. My no-carbs husband asked me to keep this bread in the house always.

    2. One really good book (with 2 more to go)

    I love well-researched, beautifully-written historical fiction, but I rarely indulge. Somehow the googles know this about me, so reviews for Wolf Hall began peppering my news feed last month. I gave in a bought a copy, and I'm so glad I did. Gorgeous prose brings the intrigue of Henry VIII's court to life, and there are 2 more books in the series!

    3. And one perfect cocktail (I won't tell if you have more than one)

    It's getting on toward summer, so my tastes turn from bourbon and Scotch to gin and things lighter. I was browsing cocktail recipes over at Fine Cooking (What? You don't do this? Why on earth not?), and ended up coming up with my own riff on a Violet Lady. 

    My version loses the egg white, reduces the sweetness, and adds a little zing of mint. If your palate prefers something drier, reduce the violette to 1/2 ounce and increase the gin to 2 1/2 ounces. I strongly recommend a lightly floral gin, like Esme, or completely dry, like Nolet, for this one. Definitely steer clear of Hendricks or anything very herbal.

    Who might like this? It's one of the more versatile cocktails I've tried. It will definitely suit sweeter palates, especially as written. But when the temperatures rise, even those of us who prefer smokey Scotch and high-proof bourbon will like this one. My husband loves this, and so do I, and we rarely agree on a cocktail.

    Violet madam cocktail recipe

    Violet Madam Cocktail

    2 ounces dry or floral gin, such as Esme

    1 ounce liqueur violette

    1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

    Fresh mint leaves

    Combine the gin, liqueur violette, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake well, and strain into your glass of choice*. Rub the rim with mint, and float a leaf for garnish.

    *I believe the traditional glass for this is a coupe, but let's be honest. Coupe glasses are pretty and all, but cocktails like this taste just as good in a sturdy, hard-to-tip-over highball. Or sippy cup. No judgment.


    Edit: It's been brought to my attention that this cocktail of which I am so proud is also known as a Blue Moon. There's nothing new under the sun, I hear. But since just changing the bitters one uses qualifies as creating a new cocktail, I'm going to claim this is new since I switched out the garnish and switched the creme for liqueur. Bam!