A variety of hand made US Flags and other July 4th regalia for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

New Additions- July 2020

We have a few new offerings to report and our buildings face lift is complete!A variety of hand made US Flags and other July 4th regalia for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

First and Foremost: We will be CLOSED for The 4th but OPEN regular hours the rest of July- which reminds me- we have expanded our hours a bit. Our new store hours are 11 AM – 5 PM Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.

Next on the Agenda:View of the front of the building housing The Virginia Farmhouse after after completion of the facade improvement of the historic Fravel House

The Historic Fravel House (where our store is located) has had a major face lift. Last month we reported on the repainting being completed and this month the beautiful new awnings were installed.View of the front entrance to The Virginia Farmhouse after after completion of the facade improvement of the historic Fravel House

And… We have a few new products on the shelves, including:Mini 187 ml bottles of Virginia Sparkling Apple Wine available for purchase at The Virginia Farmhouse

Mini bottles of Virginia Sparkling Apple Wine from Widow’s Watch Cidery of Edinburg. These 187 ml bottles  hold a glass and a generous samples worth of their delightfully crisp and refreshing, champagne-style apple wine. Plus these bottles are the perfect size for gift baskets and bags.Bottles of Pinot Grigio, Gruner Veltliner, Picpoul, Rose de Syrah and Sparkling Whites Wines available at The Virginia Farmhouse

Also new:

  • Ornato’s Pinot Grigio from Italy’s Veneto Region
  • Hugl’s Gruner Veltliner from Austria
  • Picpoul de Pinet from Cap Cette of France
  • Rubus’ Blanc De Blanc from France
  • Beauvignac’s Rose de Syrah also from France

All of these wines are light, crisp and refreshing- they make great summer sippers- and at a great price.

*Stay Safe- Stay Sane*

 

two Face Masks made with dog and cat pattered fabrics for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

New Additions- June 2020

We have some news and new items to report-Front entrance of The Fravel House in Historic Downtown Woodstock, VA after repainting in May of 2020

First and foremost: You may not recognize our building on your next visit after its dramatic (and much needed) face lift.

After a year of delays the facade of the Historic Fravel House (where we are located) was repainted and within the next few weeks will have brand new awnings.

Before:The Historic Fravel House in Downtown Woodstock is being repainted

After:Front view of The Fravel House in Historic Downtown Woodstock, VA after repainting in May of 2020

And with the Art Sale over  we’ve done a bit of rearranging-Some of the home goods for sale at The Virginia FarmhouseSome locally made gifts for gourmands-A selection of the locally made stoneware platters, plates and dishes for sale at The Virginia FarmhouseSome of the locally made hot pads, dishes and home goods for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

A plethora of Wildwood Hearts hand made from scraps of wood by Bruce Rosenwasser for sale at The Virginia FarmhouseI completely rearranged the jewelry display-Beaded jewelry by Sue Southee and hand made pottery by MJ Seal for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

I think the hand-knitted goods look a little more put together now-A selection of Hand knitted hats and scarves from Jill Gochenour and Clare Ellisfor sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

We have a few new additions to report like Sparkling Apple Wine from Widow’s Watch Cidery of Edinburg, VA. This is considered a wine not a cider- it tastes like a nice, dry champagne- which makes sense as it is produced a la methode champenoise. It does not taste apple-ey. We are tentatively planning on have an official tasting this July.Bottles of Sparkling Apple Wine from Widow's Watch Cidery of Edinburg, VA for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

Also new: “Our Mountains- The View from Shenandoah County”. This guide from the folks at the Mountain Courier is full of helpful information about our regions geology. It also has full color illustrations and topographical maps.Copies of Our Mountains a guide to the mountain ranges of the Shenandoah Valley for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

We have Face Masks by Dawn 2.0- this batch of cloth masks are larger (they fit my face unlike the previous masks) and come in a variety of different fabrics- like the cat and dog patterned ones pictured below:two Face Masks made with dog and cat pattered fabrics for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

And with some wall space cleared out I had some room to display a couple new hand made (by moi) mirrors in hand made (also by moi) picture frames- like this gold and black number with an eggshell veneer which measures 11 3/4″ x 13 1/2″ on the outside of the frame- just $50 (!). That’s real 24 kt gold leaf on the corner ornaments to.A hand made mirror in a hand made frame by MJ Seal woth eggshell veneer and gold corner ornaments for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse Detail of the corner of a hand made picture frame by MJ Seal for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

Back in Stock:

-Guacamole and Blue Corn Tortilla Chips from Nana’s Cocina.

-Ramp and Heirloom (Plain) Ancient Sea Salt from JQ Dickinson Saltworks

Bags of Guacamole Flavored and Blue Corn Tortilla Chips from Nana's Cocina for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse*Hang In There*Jars of various salts from JQ Dickinson Saltworks and stoneware pottery by MJ Seal for sale at The Virginia Farmhouse

New Additions- May 2019

We were quite busy in April stocking the shelves with new offerings-

Orris Root (Pale Iris) flowers in a hand made vase

My favorite Harbinger of May- Pale Iris (Orris Root) in bloom-

In The Pantry we’ve been adding wholesome dry goods like:

  • Organic Wheat Berries- Great substitute for couscous or for grinding your own flour
  • Organic Hulled Barley- Simply the whole grain version of pearled barley
  • Rye Berries- Can be cooked like rice or used for making rye bread
  • Roasted and Salted Soybeans- Makes a light, crunchy topping on noodles or salads
  • Sliced, Dried Shiitake Mushrooms- Great in soups or in stir fries

*Dried porcini mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, raw whole almonds and raw whole cashews are back in stock.

Hulled whole grain barley, Organic wheat berries and rye berries available at The Virginia Farmhouse

New: Better Stevia Zero-Calorie Liquid Sweeteners. These sugar-free, liquid stevia extracts are an easy and healthy way to add a little sweetness to your favorite drinks or snacks- simply add 1-5 drops to your cup of coffee, oatmeal or yogurt and stir. We have Plain, Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut and French Vanilla. Keep in mind these are quite strong so 1 drop goes quite a ways.

Recipes: Easy Lemon Yogurt

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon- or to taste
  • 3-4 drops Better Stevia Liquid Extract French Vanilla Flavor
  • Pinch of lemon zest
  • generous dash of salt

Simply stir ingredients together and serve topped with crushed or slivered almonds, berries of choice and a dash of powdered Ceylon Cinnamon.

Also New:

  • Liquid Coconut Oil
  • Macadamia Nut Oil
  • Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut Haystacks
Organic coconut oil, macadamia nut oil and sesame oils are available at The Virginia Farmhouse

In the personal care section we are restocked on:

  • Arnica Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Natural Deodorant
  • Xyliwhite Toothpaste
  • Balsam Fir Essential Oil
  • Frankincense Essential Oil
  • Orange Essential Oil
  • Cedarwood Essential Oil
  • Pine Needle Essential Oil
  • Fragrant, Hand Made Soaps from The Olive Oil Soap Company

New- soothing Cocoa Butter Lotion from NOW Solutions

On The Wine Rack we have added a few new selections including:

  • Short Street Pinotage from South Africa’s Swartland region- Medium bodied and spicy with notes of tobacco, earth and black plum
  • Rubus Wine Selection’s Old Vine Zinfandel from California’s Lodi Valley- Rich, spicy and fruit forward
  • Alain De La Treille’s Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) from France- Lush, floral and semi-dry- like a creamy Petit Manseng or Ligurian Vermentino
  • Thorn-Clarke Riesling from Australia’s Eden Valley- Light, crisp and citrusy- similar to a Johannesburg Riesling

Back In Stock:

  • Beaujolais Villages from Manoir Du Carra of France
  • Carmenere from The Crucero Collection of Chile
  • Old-Vine Garnacha (Grenache) from Burgo Viejo of Spain
  • Old-Vine Garnacha from Tres Ojos of Spain
  • Gruner Veltliner from Hugl Weine of Austria
New wines available at the Virginia Farmhouse including French Vouvray and Australian Rieslings

New Additions- April 2019

We’ve really been cramming the shelves full this month with a plethora of new products-

First- the batch of stoneware pottery I started last year (before we moved) has finally been fired! I made an assortment of leaf-shaped dishes (Oak, Tulip Tree, Maple, etc.) with finishes like Autumn Scarlet (glossy), Dark Cocoa Brown (semi-matte), Autumn Gold (matte), Mushroom Soup (satin) and First Snow (matte). The First Snow and Autumn Scarlet finishes look especially nice on the brown of the clay body.

I also made an assortment of serving bowls, relish dishes and little trinket boxes (they were supposed to be salt cellars) with an oceanic look to them.

New Additions to The Pantry:

  • Organic Buckwheat Flour
  • Organic Coconut Flour from Tropical Green Organics of Sterling, VA- my home town! The coconuts that went into the flour weren’t grown in the state though- they sourced those from Sri Lanka.
  • Organic Spelt Flour
  • Organic Chia Seed
  • Organic Farro (a kind of wheat berry)
  • Organic Scottish Oatmeal

Back in stock:

  • Bulgur Wheat
  • Organic Whole Flaxseed
  • Almond Flour
  • Sorghum Flour
  • Millet Flour

Also new:

  • Organic Chia & Quinoa Restaurant-style Tortilla Chips from Late July
  • Organic Ancient Grain (Spelt Flour) Pretzels from Hanover
  • Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat Pretzel Shells from Unique Pretzels
  • Gluten-Free Multigrain Crackers from Crunchmaster
  • Whole Wheat Fig, Raspberry and Strawberry Bars from Nature’s Bakery
  • Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Brownies also from Nature’s Bakery
  • Dill Pickle Spears, Pickled Baby Beets and Pickled (baby) Green Tomatoes from Jake & Amos

Note: The pretzels are quite a deal at $7.49 for a giant, 28 oz container.

New to the Wine Rack:

  • Bluestone Vineyard’s 2016 Chardonnay and Petit Manseng, 2017 Moscato- Their Cab Franc is very spicy with lots of cardamom and black pepper. The Petit Manseng is complex, fruit-forward (tropical fruit- think starfruit) and luscious. The 2017 Moscato is slightly drier than previous vintages.
  • Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico- rich, full-bodied and spicy with notes of tobacco, earth and violets.
  • Rabble Pinto Gris- light-bodied, mellow with notes of pear, golden delicious apples and a refreshingly tart finish
  • Slow Press Lodi Zinfandel- Spicy and rich with juicy black cherry on the nose and cedar on the palate.

Mulled Wine Recipes

Here are three easy recipes for mulled wine- and you can find all of the ingredients to make them here at The Virginia Farmhouse- well except for the brandy-

*Honey or a pinch of stevia extract can be used in place of the sugar in these recipes.

For Classic Mulled Wine:

* A smooth, fruity and light-bodied red wine is best for this recipe. A Merlot or Gamay is ideal. You do not want something tannic. Cognac or orange brandy works nicely to in this recipe.

For White Mulled Wine:

* A smooth and/or fruity white wine is best for this recipe- lightly oaked Chardonnays, Traminettes or clean and citrusy Sauvignon Blancs are ideal. You do not want something grassy or with a lot of minerality.

Spicy and Savory Mulled Wine Recipe

* A smooth, spicy and meaty red wine is best for this recipe- Pinot Noirs, Red Zinfandels and Chambourcins are ideal. You do not want something tannic though.

And to make the mulled wine:

1. In a small sauce pot heat water over medium high heat. When it comes to a boil add the sugar and when it is dissolved add the wine.

2. Reduce heat to low, add the spices and cover. Let stew over low heat for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. The longer the wine is mulled the stronger the flavor will be.

3. Strain and serve hot with a splash of brandy.

New Additions- December 2018

We’ve been quite busy over the past month and we have big news for the upcoming New Year!

First and foremost: We will be moving during the month of January to our new location–just across the street to the former location of The Woodstock Gallery and Frame Shop. We will begin moving mid-January and will be completely set up in our new location by February 1st. During January we will be open by appointment, so give us a call first.

And from now until December 24th we will be Open every day of the week for your shopping convenience. We will be closed on Christmas Day and the day after (Mike’s Birthday!).

We have a few new additions as well:

  • Wired By ALP Essential Oil Bracelets- These hand beaded bracelets have lava stones that act as a reservoir for essential oils. Simply dab your favorite oil or blend onto the lava stone and it will slowly diffuse into the air around you all day.
  • Sainte Victoire, Cotes de Provence, Rose- A light, crisp rose with lots of melon, a hint of almonds and a balanced acidity
  • Chateau Bonnet, Bourdeaux Blanc- A mellow blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle with notes of apple, pear, tropical fruits and a very clean finish.
  • Sassafras bark- Cut and sifted- great for making root beer or a spicy tea. Product of the USA. It smells Heavenly.
  • Summer Savory- Dried, whole leaf
  • Gumbo File Powder- A blend of sassafras leaf and thyme that is an essential component of Creole Cooking
  • Culinary Sage- Dried, whole leaf and Locally Grown!
  • Makrut (Kaffir) Lime Leaves- Dried, whole–an essential herb for authentic Thai cuisine–makes an interesting ingredient in gin–goes great with green tea too.
  • Tejpatta- Indian Bay Leaf- Dried, whole leaf- essential in Indian cuisine.
  • Thai Chilies- Whole, dried–great for making red curry paste, in stirfries and giving some kick to really anything you are cooking
  • Szechuan (Sichuan) Peppercorns- An essential ingredient in Authentic Chinese Cuisine especially from Szechuan Province. These are nothing like black peppercorns. Szechuan pepper are the fruit of a tree related to oranges and lemons–they are tart and cause an interesting numbing/buzzing sensation in the mouth.
  • Stevia Herb- Powdered stevia acts as a completely natural sweetener.
  • Vegetarian Gel Capsules- size 0 empty gel capsules are great for making your own supplements.

And we also have a fresh batch of functional ceramics from local potter Barbarah Robertson, including our custom- made Woodstock, VA mugs. These large, heavy-duty (and surprisingly lightweight) coffee mugs have a bright, sky-blue glaze along the upper 2/3 portions and “WOODSTOCK, VA” embossed along the bottom. We have some of Barbarah’s fluted mugs with a honey/caramel glaze, Virginia-shaped ornaments  and several platters in different finishes.

Back in stock:

  • “Betwixt” and “Cider Maker’s Barrel” hard ciders from Old Hill Cidery
  • Bluestone Vineyard’s 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc
  • Big Hawk Premium Sake–A light, crisp Ginjo sake

New Additions- November 2018

We’ve been very busy this past month and there are lots (!) of new products gracing our shelves-

For the Pantry we now have instant Vegetarian Vegetable Soup Broth Powder, No-Beef Broth Powder, No-Chicken Broth Powder and Nutritional Yeast Powder. The “chicken” and “beef” broth powders taste and smell just like the real thing but are low in sodium, have essentially no fat and are great for making soba and other instant noodle soups on the fly. The nutritional yeast powder is actually very nutritious- high in protein and vitamins – and is made from all-natural, deactivated yeast. It smells like chicken and wild rice soup with extra mushrooms and tastes similar to miso. The yeast powder imparts a rich, meaty quality to dishes and is great for making savory broth from scratch.

And to go along with the broth powders we have Veggie Deluxe Soup Blend- a rich and flavorful blend of dehydrated vegetables and herbs that are great for making a quick stew. We also have dried Organic shiitake mushrooms and Bell peppers.

Also we now carry Organic Mushroom Gravy Mix, French Onion Dip Mix and Red Enchilada Simmer Sauce (tastes just like home made) from Simply Organic.

New: Artisan Salts from JQ Dickinson Salt Works. JQ Dickinson Salt Works makes salt from ancient brine deposits deep underneath West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley. The brine was left behind when the Iapetus Sea which covered our region 400 million years ago evaporated- so technically this is sea salt. We carry their Heirloom (plain) salt in refillable grinder jars and in bulk bags. We also have their ramp salt (lightly flavored with local ramps -a relative of onions) and Apple-Wood Smoked Salt (earthy and slightly smoky).

Back in Stock: Traditional Yellow Corn, Blue Corn and Guacamole Flavored tortilla chips from Nana’s Cocina.

On the Spice Rack we now have Organic white peppercorns, Organic dried jalapeno and Simply Organics Mulling Spice Blend- perfect for making spiced cider or mulled wine at home. Also Organic dried lemongrass (great for making tea), hibiscus and black peppercorns are back in stock. I also stashed our harvest of fresh, locally-grown lemongrass in the freezer. The frozen lemongrass works great in place of fresh in recipes like Tom Yum Goong and in curry pastes.

On the Wine Wall we now have Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Hook or Crook. Blueberry Muffin, Blackberry Cobbler, Ras Ma Tas Apple Raspberry Wines from Peaks of Otter are back in stock as is Hugl’s Zweigelt.

And on the Beer Cart we now have “Cheeky Monkey” Belgian-Style Blonde Ale and “Cocoborealis” Triple Chocolate Stout from Chaos Mountain and Hoptimization IPA from Brothers Craft Brewing. Legend’s Brown ale is back in stock and we got a sweet close out deal on Hacker Pschorr’s Oktoberfest.

Remember the Holidays are just a few weeks away -yeah I know it’s hard to believe it’s that time of the year again. We have a ton of hand made fabric ornaments and gift tags made by Dawn Steed and lots more goodies on the way. Hopefully my latest batch of pottery will be ready to go here shortly as well. And for your four-legged friends or friends with four-legged friends we are well stocked on gourmet dog treats like Doggie Donuts and Goat Cheese Twists  from South Paws K9 Bakery-

Recipes- Updated Hamburger Stroganoff

Since summer is now technically over and it’s quite cool and clammy (in these parts anyway) here is a fresh take on a savory comfort food from childhood-

Hamburger Recipes:  Updated Hamburger Stroganoff

*This is a tangier and more complex take on the classic Americana recipe. The wine and vinegar reduction brings some natural sweetness and acidity to this traditionally very heavy (and fatty) dish that complements the sour cream. The generous amount of herbs gives it some added depth.

*A Chablis, Bourgogne Blanc or Viognier work best in this recipe. TVP or Faux ground beef work well if you want a veggie version of this- and they don’t need to be browned beforehand- simply add them to the pan after the mushrooms are nice and tender.  We have Pot Pie Squares from The Little Barn of PA here in the store which work well to in place of regular egg noodles.

 

  1. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the raw hamburger and sauté until nicely browned and no pink shows. Remove from pan and keep warm.

2. Add the remaining butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until onion is soft and begins to caramelize. Crush garlic into pan and sauté until fragrant and beginning to turn golden- do not brown/burn the garlic- about 30 seconds.

3. Add the porcini mushrooms, herbs, spices, wine and vinegar and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer, uncovered, until the liquid begins to condense a little- probably 10 minutes or so.

4. Add mushrooms and sauté until they start to give off their juices. Then stir in the water or broth, the flour mixture, a little salt and the ground beef and let simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes.

5. When the gravy begins to thicken remove from heat and stir in the sour cream and parsley.

6. Serve hot over egg noodles dusted with pepper and paprika and garnish with green onion or chives.

Home Brews- Bath Tub Gin

Two easy home brewed gin recipes-

So I was looking for recipes that called for juniper berries and found several for “bath tub” gin. Fairly simple- mash up some juniper berries pour some vodka over them and let them sit overnight. Then add whatever botanicals you want the next day, let them infuse a few hours more then filter and serve. I looked up which herbs went into my personal favorite gin- Bombay Sapphire- and decide to try an experimental batch with those and a second batch that would be lighter, sweeter and more floral.

For Batch #1 I went with a combo of juniper berries, almonds, orris root, lemon peel, green cardamom and cassia cinnamon. And since I don’t have angelica root I used a combination of some celery seed, bay leaves and gum mastic (which smells like angelica- trust me). And for a little extra zip I added a piece of galangal root.

For Batch #2 i wanted something more floral and perfumey so started with juniper berries and added linden flowers, German chamomile, rosebuds, frankincense (which has like an intense woodsy, floral scent with citrus notes and has a resinous piney flavor), orange peel and orris root. Orris root comes from the Dalmatian iris plant. the root is then slowly dried and aged for 2-5 years to develop a strong floral scent similar to iris – the raw root doesn’t have much scent or flavor. It imparts a perfumey scent and a violet-like taste to the gin.

I placed the mashed up berries in two different mason jars, along with the orris root, mastic and frankincense and in batch #2’s jar I added the chamomile and linden flowers. I poured a high proof vodka over the herbs and resins, sealed up jars and placed them in a sunny window to let them stew for 24 hours. I think that was a bit to long as the scent- and flavor- were a little overwhelming. I also probably shouldn’t have put the orris root in so early as even the few pieces I added came out very strongly in the brew. Otherwise they smelled and tasted about right. I then added the remaining herbs and spices, resealed the jars and let them marinate overnight. The next day I strained and filtered both batches. They were a bit darker  (batch #2 came out about the color of a brown ale) and a little more bitter than the commercial blends I’ve tasted but still fairly close.

Batch #1- while a bit piney- was actually pretty good once diluted (and chilled) with lots of ice. Batch #2 was really bitter but a little honey and some ice to cool and water it down turned it into a refreshing, bittersweet liqueur.

Liquor Recipes- Amber Gin

*This home brewed gin tastes (and smells) very much like Bombay Sapphire and can be used in cocktails like true distilled gin or served on the rocks. If served with ice or tonic water this translucent liquor will turn cloudy like ouzo.

*The juniper berries should be fairly fresh and plump- similar to a raisin- not hard and crunchy. They should have a piney, cedar wood like scent and a sweet, fruity and spicy flavor. They should not be bitter or taste like turpentine. You can use almond meal in place of whole or slivered almonds.

*If you can’t get angelica root a combination of ¼ tsp celery seed, 2 bay leaves and a slice of galangal comes pretty close to it.

  • 1 1/2 cups vodka (80 or 100 proof)
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries, raw almonds
  • 1 tsp granulated dried lemon peel
  • 1 tsp each whole coriander seed and angelica root
  • ½ tsp orris root, whole or minced
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 3” stick cassia cinnamon
  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. In a mortar and pestle mash up the juniper berries and almonds. Add to the jar along with the lemon peel.
  3. Shake the jar vigorously and place it in a cool dark place. Then let it sit for 8-12 hours.
  4. In a mortar and pestle coarsely crush the coriander, angelica, orris, cardamom and cinnamon. Add these spices to the jar.
  5. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar back in a cool, dark location and let stew for 24 hours or so. Shake the jar every few hours.
  6. After 24 hours the liquor should have developed a lovely rich, amber coloration. Open the jar and smell the brew- you should note the sweet piney juniper scent first against a spicy, floral background. Taste the liqueur to see if it has the desired level of sweetness. It should have a little bite from the alcohol and orris root but it should not burn like moonshine or be unpalatably bitter.
  7. Decant and strain the liquor -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a rich, translucent amber- it should not be cloudy. Place liquor in a bottle or jar (preferably dark glass) and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.

Liqueur Recipes- Gin Blossom Liqueur

*This gin-based liqueur can be used in cocktails like true distilled gin or served on the rocks. If served with ice or tonic water this translucent liquor will turn cloudy like ouzo.

*The juniper berries should be fairly fresh and plump- similar to a raisin- not hard and crunchy. They should have a piney, cedar wood like scent and a sweet, fruity and spicy flavor. They should not be bitter or taste like turpentine.

*If you can’t get Mushaad grade frankincense any high quality omani or Yemeni franckincense will do. Mushaad frankincense has an intense perfume-like scent –similar to violets with hints of balsam and citrus. The flavor is floral, piney and somewhat bitter.

  • 1 1/2 cups vodka (80 or 100 proof)
  • 1 tbsp each juniper berries, linden flowers and German chamomile
  • ½ tsp Mushaad grade frankincense
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp granulated dried sweet orange peel
  • 1 tsp each whole coriander seed, orris root, whole or minced, and rose buds or petals
  • ½ tsp lavender buds
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 3” sticks Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1-3 tbsp honey (or to taste), preferably clover or linden
  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. In a mortar and pestle mash up the juniper berries and frankincense. Add to the jar along with the linden, chamomile, bay leaves and orange peel.
  3. Shake the jar vigorously and place it in a cool dark place. Then let it sit for 8-12 hours.
  4. In a mortar and pestle coarsely crush the coriander, rose, orris, lavender, cardamom and cinnamon. Add these to the jar.
  5. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar back in a cool, dark location and let stew for 24 hours or so. Shake the jar every few hours.
  6. After 24 hours the liquor should have developed a dark brown coloration- about like coco cola. Open the jar and smell the brew- you should note the sweet piney juniper scent first against a perfumey, floral background. Add the honey- a tbsp at first. Let the honey dissolve and then taste the liqueur and see if it is sweet enough. It should be bittersweet but not so bitter that you couldn’t drink it on the rocks. After adding any additional honey (if needed) reseal the jar and let sit another 8 hours or so.
  7. Decant and strain the liquor -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a dark translucent amber- about like a brown glass bottle- and not cloudy. Place liquor in a bottle or jar (preferably dark glass) and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.

Home Brews- Spiced Orange Liqueur

So for my first experiment with making flavored liqueurs I decided to make something similar to the spice blend I dust over my coffee in the morning which uses granulated orange peel, star anise, Ceylon cinnamon, mace and green cardamom.  I got some high proof vodka, placed some of these spices in a jar and then poured the vodka over them, twisted on the lid and let it marinate in a sunny window for a couple of days.

Upon first sampling the scent was intense as was the anise flavor- and the bite from the vodka. so to sweeten things up I added some mashed dried fruit and to balance out the spiciness I added more orange peel. The brew was left to infuse for another day. The smell was heavenly and the flavor much better- though there was still some burn to it so I added some clover honey and let it sit overnight. The final result was like a cross between a really good, mellow orange brandy and anisette.

Liqueur Recipes- Spiced Orange Liqueur

*This liqueur tastes (and smells) like a combination of orange brandy and anisette and can be served like either. If served with ice or cool water this translucent liqueur will turn cloudy like ouzo. Navel oranges are ideal for this recipe although mandarins will also work.

  1. Pour the vodka into a mason jar (preferably wide mouth).
  2. Break apart the star anise and cinnamon and add to the jar along with the orange peel.
  3. In a mortar and pestle coarsely crush the allspice, cloves, cardamom and mace and add these to the jar along with the nutmeg.
  4. Tightly seal up the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then place the jar in a warm, sunny window and let stew for at least 24 hours. 36 to 48 hours is even better. Shake the jar every few hours.
  5. Add the orange juice, raisins, dates, orange zest and 1 tbsp of honey to the jar and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Then return jar to the window sill. Let stew for another 24 to 48 hours, shaking every so often.
  6. Open the jar and smell the brew- you should note the anise first and the orange scent second against a spicy, floral background. Taste the liqueur to see if it has the desired level of sweetness. It should have a little bite from the alcohol (like a quality brandy) but it should not burn like moonshine. This liqueur should have a smooth mouth feel so if the alcohol is to strong add a little more honey. It should be semi-sweet, citrusy, spicy and balanced not bitter or like drinking straight orange juice.
  7. Decant and strain the liqueur -preferably twice- through coffee filters or cotton plugs or both. The strained liquid should be a rich, translucent earthy orange- it should not be cloudy. Place liqueur in a bottle or jar and keep tightly sealed. You can drink it straight away but I think it actually improves for weeks after straining. If kept in a tightly stoppered bottle at normal room temperature it should keep for months.