In the kitchen with Mackenzie Lindquist

Mackenzie Lindquist of Goffstown is the owner of Boston Bakes (find her on Facebook @bostonbakesnh and on Instagram @boston_bakes), a homestead business offering a variety of sweets and treats made to order, from birthday or special-occasion cakes to multiple flavors of macarons, cupcakes, cookies and more. Born and raised in New Hampshire, Lindquist got her start in the industry when she moved to Boston at the age of 18, first working at Flour Bakery + Cafe before later holding an assistant pastry chef position at Mistral, a French Bistro in the city’s South End. Just prior to going full-time with Boston Bakes, she was the pastry chef of Greenleaf in Milford for about a year, creating the farm-to-table eatery’s entire dessert menu while drawing on nostalgic flavors from her childhood. Orders can be placed through her Facebook or Instagram pages, or through her email at mackenzie.r.lindquist@gmail.com, with pre-arranged pickups out of Lindquist’s home. Local deliveries are also available.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

Definitely a rubber spatula. People have heard me say so many times that I hate to waste product, so a rubber spatula always helps ensure that I get that last bit of whatever I’m baking.

What would you have for your last meal?

It’s a tie between barbecue eel sushi and birthday cake Oreos.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

My current favorite is Taipei & Tokyo, located in Bedford. I’ve been going there with my dad ever since I was younger. They consistently have the best Japanese food, for sure.

What celebrity would you like to see trying something that you’ve baked?

[Top Chef winner] Melissa King. She’s just an icon.

What is your personal favorite dessert that you’ve ever made?

I think it might be the three macaron trees that I did for a private event at Greenleaf. It was a project that took nearly two weeks to complete and had over 300 macarons, but it was so satisfying to see them at the end.

What is the biggest food trend in New Hampshire right now?

I think it’s probably farm-to-table dining. I love that people, especially now after Covid, are really interested in learning about where their food comes from and what is in season in New Hampshire. As chefs, we love to be able to teach people about that kind of stuff.

What is your favorite thing to make at home?

The humble chocolate chip cookie. They are just the best.

Mom’s soft pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
From the kitchen of Mackenzie Lindquist of Boston Bakes

1 can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons milk
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups chocolate chips
Cloves and/or nutmeg (optional)

Combine wet ingredients into one bowl and set aside. Combine dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips into another bowl. Whisk wet and dry ingredients together. Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. Scoop batter, about two tablespoons worth per cookie, onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges appear set. Wait until cool and enjoy.

Featured photo: Mackenzie Lindquist. Courtesy photo.

Riverside brews

Exeter’s Powder Keg Beer Festival returns

When the Powder Keg Beer & Chili Festival was first held in downtown Exeter in 2012, there were only a few other events like it in New Hampshire. Nine years later it continues to be one of the largest beer festivals in New England, bringing together dozens of local and regional breweries collectively pouring more than 200 different beers, ciders and hard seltzers to try in one spot. After a one-year hiatus in 2020, Powder Keg is back — the festival will return on Saturday, Oct. 2, along Exeter’s Swasey Parkway by the Squamscott River.

Of course this year’s festival is not without its modifications, perhaps the most notable being the absence of chili makers that usually accompany the breweries. Instead there will be a few local food trucks parked throughout the day, in addition to some specialty food vendors.

“We didn’t want to approach restaurants about donating large amounts of chili and staffing a booth, because we know how hard it’s been for the industry,” said Greg Bisson, director of the Exeter Parks & Recreation Department, which organizes the festival in collaboration with the town’s Chamber of Commerce, “but that also allowed us to spread out our beer vendors more. So, where we used to have four big-top tents with all of the breweries under them, we are now spreading them out on the perimeter of the whole entire park to allow people to have their own booth … and give them a couple of feet of open air away from others.”

Another change is the implementation of two ticketed sessions. Beer lovers can choose to attend and receive unlimited beer tastings either from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., or from 2 to 4 p.m.

An eclectic lineup of brews will be represented, Bisson said, from multiple styles of IPAs to sours, stouts and many seasonal releases. Festival organizers partner with the social network app Untappd to provide an online list of what you will encounter.

Beer purveyors will range from big names like Sam Adams to breweries right in Exeter or surrounding towns. In some cases they may showcase some harder-to-find offerings.

“The Exeter Brewing Co. will bring its Swasey Daze [New England IPA], which only drops in a few stores, so that’s a bit of a unique situation,” Bisson said. “We always get the variety of pumpkin beers, being in the fall … [and] we’ve been seeing a trend in hard seltzers as well.”

Truly Hard Seltzer, for instance, will be there pouring its lemon iced tea, tropical punch and strawberry lemonade. As an alternative to hard seltzer but without the carbonation, NOCA Beverages is a company founded by three University of New Hampshire graduates — they will be at the festival too, pouring multiple flavors of their spiked still water.

As it is Oktoberfest season, you can expect a fair share of Märzen-style lagers or festbiers, including those from Woodland Farms Brewery of Kittery, Maine, Long Blue Cat Brewing Co. of Londonderry, and Sawbelly Brewing Co. of Exeter, to name a few.

Cabot Creamery will be giving out cheese samples to pair with your beers, while options from the featured food trucks will include burgers from Lexie’s Burger Bus and sweets from Clyde’s Cupcakes, both of Exeter. Chubba Wubba’s Sweets & Refreshments, a Seabrook-based mobile kitchen converted from an old Manchester Transit Authority bus, will be serving ice cream and other treats, while Chubb’s Fries & Dough will provide fair food.

“I think there’s a lot to offer in Exeter … and we hope, with the short two-hour blocks, it offers people the opportunity to enjoy downtown,” Bisson said.

Powder Keg Beer Festival

When: Saturday, Oct. 2; two ticketed sessions are offered, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: Swasey Parkway, Exeter
Cost: General admission tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door ($10 in advance and $15 at the door for designated drivers). Attendees can also purchase a commemorative pint glass at the festival for $10.
Visit: powderkegbeerfest.com
Event is 21+ only. No children or pets are allowed. Free parking is located around the festival’s entrance off Water Street, as well as at the Main Street School (40 Main St.) and the Lincoln Street Elementary School (25 Lincoln St.).

Featured photo: Photo by Allie Burke Photography.

A bite of the apple

AppleFest returns to Nashua

For more than a decade the Salvation Army of Nashua has partnered with Sullivan Farm to present AppleFest, an annual outdoor event marking peak apple-picking season with local foods, demonstrations, family-friendly activities, games and more. After a year off, the two-day festival will return to the farm on Saturday, Oct. 2, and Sunday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

“We are so excited to be back doing it again this year. We all really missed it,” Salvation Army of Nashua administrative assistant and AppleFest coordinator Amie Groff said. “It’s a great fall family event, and it’s something that the kids look forward to all year long.”

A rainy summer season has helped produce a bountiful crop this year for apple orchards across the Granite State, including at Sullivan Farm, which is also open for pick-your-own daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Kathy Williams, who owns the farm with her husband, Bob, said there are several apple varieties grown on the orchard, from McIntosh and Cortland to Macoun, Mutsu and Red Delicious. This year Lull Farm has also opened a small satellite farm stand at Sullivan Farm, selling its fresh fruits, vegetables, mums, cider, eggs and more.

“There’s a good crop,” Williams said. “All of the rain was definitely helpful in sizing up the apples. … They are not overly big, but bigger than they have been in some previous years.”

Courtesy photo.

AppleFest will have two ticket booths set up at its entrance, Groff said — tickets are either $1 apiece or 25 for $20 and are used to purchase foods or gain access to featured activities.

Fresh apple crisp and apple pies will be available for sale, using mostly Sullivan Farm-grown apples. According to Groff, culinary students from Nashua Community College and Nashua High School North respectively prepare each dessert, both of which can additionally be ordered with vanilla ice cream. The Salvation Army of Nashua will provide additional food options, like hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and popcorn.

“We’ll also be doing a little chance raffle, so we’ll have some baskets set up and you can put your name in there to win,” Groff said. “We have lots of gift cards from local restaurants, a watch from Cardin Jewelers, and a huge painting from the Art by Nonda gallery on Main Street.”

Throughout both days there will be live music, face painting and pumpkin painting, plus demonstrations from local groups and businesses, like Tokyo Joe’s martial arts studio. Kids will have the opportunity to make their own scarecrows or go on a hayride throughout the apple orchards. Pony rides, a petting zoo, and a touch-a-truck event with members of the Nashua Fire Department are all also expected, Groff said.

AppleFest

When: Saturday, Oct. 2, and Sunday, Oct. 3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days
Where: Sullivan Farm, 70 Coburn Ave., Nashua
Cost: Tickets are either $1 apiece or 25 for $20, and are used to purchase various foods and activities offered during the festival
Visit: nne.salvationarmy.org/nashua/applefest
Event is rain or shine.

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

The Weekly Dish 21/09/30

News from the local food scene

May the best chili win: Join Goffstown Ace Hardware (5 Depot St.) for its annual Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-off,set for Saturday, Oct. 2. Chili entrants are welcome to bring a slow cooker of their best batches by 10:30 a.m., with sampling beginning at 11 a.m. Prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners for each chili at 1 p.m., as voted by all attendees. Pat Barss of Goffstown Ace Hardware told the Hippo that all chili varieties have been known to be featured at the cook-off, from beef and venison to white chilis and vegan chilis. No cost is required to enter your chili or attend as a taster. Find the event on Goffstown Ace Hardware’s Facebook page @goffstownhardware for more details.

A taste of Germany: Head to Mile Away Restaurant (52 Federal Hill Road, Milford) for an Oktoberfest celebration on Sunday, Oct. 3, from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. The event will feature dinner plates available for $17 per person, with options like sauerbraten (German pot roast), schweineschnitzel (pork schnitzel), hunter’s stew or spicy beef and sausage chili with cheddar cheese, along with two sides (German potato salad, sea salt chips and sauerkraut, braised red cabbage, pickled beets or applesauce). There will also be a dessert and pretzel station with additional a la carte items, like pumpkin pie, Black Forest cake, flourless chocolate cake and more. Live music will be featured from the TubaFrau Hofbräu Band, a Waltham, Mass.-based German oompah band. There is a $20 parking fee per car. The event is cash only and first-come, first-served. Visit mileawayrestaurantnh.com. For more details on Oktoberfest celebrations and a full list of upcoming events happening in New Hampshire, check out our cover story in the Sept. 23 issue of the Hippo, which begins on page 18.

Flavors of fall: Tuscan Market (9 Via Toscana, Salem) will hold its Toscana Fest, an annual Italian street festival and fundraiser, on Sunday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition to multiple flavors of gelato and other options from local food vendors, this year’s Toscana Fest will feature a variety of family-friendly activities like face painting, pumpkin painting, carnival games and a bounce house, plus crafts, live music and more. Admission is free and foods are priced per item. Proceeds from the event benefit Lazarus House Ministries in Lawrence, Mass., a nonprofit that helps people in need by providing transitional housing and educational and work preparation programs. Visit tuscanbrands.com.

From vines to wines: LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst) is hosting the fourth and final session of its Walks in the Vineyard series on Sunday, Oct. 3, at 11 a.m. Vineyard manager Josh Boisvert and wine educator Marie King will lead participants on an educational walk throughout LaBelle’s Amherst vineyard, focused on the vines’ overall life cycles. You’ll also have the opportunity to taste four different types of wines throughout the session. No previous knowledge of wine or attendance of previous vineyard walks is required. Admission is $27.25 per person and includes tax. Visit labellewinery.com.

Pumpkin time

Why these seasonal brews are hard not to like

I know I get all indignant about pumpkin beers, specifically that they arrive too soon each year, but the reality is, I like them. Labor Day hits and wham, it’s pumpkin time.

OK, honestly, I usually make it until later in September, but this year I was ready early. It was a strange summer and I think I was ready to turn the page.

When it comes right down to it, the complex, sweet, earthy flavor of this giant squash actually does go well with beer.

Yes, I do think you can run into pumpkin beers that are too sweet, too syrupy and maybe more pumpkin pie spice than pumpkin, but I also think you’re starting to see a greater array of really good pumpkin beers, particularly as craft brewers jump on board with this style.

While I dare to say the cinnamon-sugar-rimmed glass shouldn’t be shunned as it so often is by beer enthusiasts, there’s just more to pumpkin beer now than simply sugar and spice. Brewers are roasting locally grown pumpkins — or using fresh — to develop a rich, sweet, complex flavor that creates delicious, interesting beers.

You are seeing pumpkin beers run the gamut, from big, heavy stouts and porters with a pumpkiny, malty backbone to super light, crisp brews that accentuate the sweetness of pumpkin — and everything in between. So you have plenty of choices.

Despite being awfully sweet and syrupy, the Southern Tier Pumking is an explosion of flavor. Shipyard has taken a step past its popular Pumpkinhead with its Smashed Pumpkin, which is, well, a lot more intense with its 9 percent ABV.

Local craft brewers are experimenting with pumpkin, not satisfied with the more mass-produced beers, pairing pumpkins with yams, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, molasses and more. They’re pairing pumpkin with an array of seasonal flavors and many are experimenting with barrel-aging and souring.

As beer drinkers, we’re the real winners here. If you do like pumpkin beers, it’s an exciting time. Here are four pumpkin beers to enjoy this fall.

Pumpkin Ale by Smuttynose Brewing Co. (Hampton)

This is a longtime favorite of mine: hearty, not too sweet and just a little spicy. Although, honestly, I haven’t had it in a few years, more by accident, so I’m looking forward to it this year to see if its taste or my palate has evolved. My memory says the pumpkin is very present, but not so overpowering.

Toasted Pumpkin Ale by 603 Brewery (Londonderry)

I love this beer. The brewery makes this with real organic pumpkin and then ages the brew on Madagascar vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks. This is just exploding with flavor.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale by Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, New York)

I think this is a perfect pumpkin brew: pumpkin-forward with just a little spice, it’s warming and sessionable. I grabbed one of these recently after a long day of yard work and, well, that was just the right move.

Pumpkin Patch Ale by Rogue Ales and Spirits (Newport, Oregon)

They grow their own pumpkins. That’s just pretty cool and indicative, again, of brewers’ commitment to this style. Vanilla, orange peel, cardamon, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg together make this a spice-forward pumpkin beer. If you’re going to go spice, you might as well not hold back. This beer certainly doesn’t.

What’s in my fridge

Islands IPA by Mast Landing Brewing Co. (Westbrook, Maine)
I’ve got to say I’m yet to try a beer by this brewery that I don’t love. I feel like they’re just meeting me on my level time and time again. I find an inherent drinkability with all their beers. This is a double dry-hopped IPA brewed with Azacca, Simcoe and Centennial hops that delivers a fresh, clean and tropical punch. This is one you’re going to return to over and over. Cheers!

Featured photo: Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale is a classic. Courtesy photo.

Thyme and brown sugar apples

It’s fall in New Hampshire, which likely means you’ve been apple picking or at least stopped by an orchard. You now have more apples than you know what to do with. After you’ve made apple pies, apple muffins and caramel apples, I have a recipe that will use those apples for a dinner side dish.

This recipe is perfect for a dinner on a busy fall night for a multitude of reasons. First, only four ingredients are required. Second, from start to finish these apples are ready in 10 minutes or less. Third, between freshly picked apples and thyme, this dish smells and tastes like fall.

I have a few notes about the apples in this recipe. As you may notice, I don’t specify the type of apple. This recipe is pretty flexible, so you can use whatever you have on hand or whichever you prefer. Also, these apples don’t need to be peeled for two reasons: It streamlines the recipe and saves time, and the apple peel adds a nice amount of texture to the dish.

You need to keep a careful eye on the apples while you cook them. You want to saute them until they are fork tender, but you don’t want them to become soggy. Be sure to stay attentive. Once they get just the least bit tender, add the thyme and brown sugar, saute quickly and transfer to a serving dish.

If you haven’t been to an orchard yet, this recipe is all the reason you need.

Michele Pesula Kuegler has been thinking about food her entire life. Since 2007, the New Hampshire native has been sharing these food thoughts and recipes at her blog, Think Tasty. Visit thinktasty.com to find more of her recipes.

Thyme and brown sugar apples
Serves 4

2 apples, approximately 1 pound total
1 Tablespoon salted butter*
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Slice the apples into quarters, and remove the core from each section. (Do not peel the apples)
Cut each apple quarter into six evenly sized slices, so that you have 24 long slices per apple.
Then cut all of the slices in half.
Place a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat.
Melt butter, and add apple slices.
Saute for 4 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Sprinkle the apple slices with thyme and brown sugar, and cook for an additional minute.
Serve immediately.

*If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt along with the thyme.

Photo: Thyme and brown sugar apples. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Cheri Coco

Cheri Coco of Londonderry is the owner of Feed Your Fitness (feedyourfit.com, and on Facebook @feedyourfitnessofficial), a meal prep business she launched last October that offers a rotating menu of locally sourced options. New meals are posted to her website on Sunday night and usually feature dishes with chicken, beef and fish, as well as a breakfast item like overnight oats. Recent meals have included Buffalo ranch chicken stuffed peppers with brown rice; a barbacoa beef burrito bowl with rice, beans and homemade salsa; and pistachio-crusted salmon with broccoli and quinoa. Everything is made fresh out of Creative Chef Kitchens (35 Manchester Road, Unit 9, Derry), with online ordering available from Monday through Wednesday at 2 p.m. In addition to curbside pickups at the commercial kitchen space, meals can be delivered on Thursdays within a few-mile radius.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

I would have to say my pressure cooker, or my garlic press.

What would you have for your last meal?

Pizza. Probably just a plain cheese pizza, a garden salad with Italian dressing, and definitely a nice red wine.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

It depends on the meal. If it’s breakfast, then it’s Talia’s [Breakfast & Eatery] in Londonderry, and if it’s dinner, it’s Sabatino’s North in Derry.

What celebrity would you like to see trying one of your meals?

I would have to say Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

What is your favorite meal to make?

I don’t offer anything I don’t like to eat myself, but I think right now the chicken cacciatore is my personal favorite. I serve that with zucchini and brown rice. I rotate it out — it pops up probably every five weeks.

What is the biggest food trend in New Hampshire right now?

Not necessarily just right now, but in the last couple of years, food trucks have been huge. I’d love to have one myself.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

Definitely marinara sauce, [with] meatballs, sausage or pasta and Italian bread.

Pumpkin spice overnight oats
Courtesy of Cheri Coco of Feed Your Fitness

½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup almond milk (or own preference, dairy or non-dairy)
3 ounces Greek vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar or bowl with a lid. Refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to eat it, give it a good stir and enjoy either cold or warm.

Featured photo: Cheri Coco. Courtesy photo.

The Weekly Dish 21/09/23

News from the local food scene

Crushing it: Join Black Bear Vineyard & Winery (289 New Road, Salisbury) for its annual Harvest Weekend, happening the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 25, and Sunday, Sept. 26. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about how the vineyard’s grapes are destemmed and crushed before its juices are used to make the wines. Food trucks will also be on site, as well as live music performances outside between 1 and 5 p.m. each day. Reservations are not required, but bringing your own chairs is recommended. With seven wine varieties grown on site — four reds and three whites — and about 18 acres of rolling hills, Black Bear is one of the largest vineyards in the Granite State. Visit blackbearvineyard.com.

Italian festivities: Tuscan Market (9 Via Toscana, Salem) will host Passeggiata: Walk of Wine, an annual festival, at its newly unveiled location on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. The event will feature more than 40 Italian and world wines available to taste, along with several stationary and passed appetizers and live music. Bottled wines of featured selections at the festival will also be available for purchase. Tickets are $30 per person. Tuscan Market will also be holding its annual Toscana Fest on Saturday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., featuring local food vendors, face painting, pumpkin painting, carnival games and raffles, with all proceeds to benefit Lazarus House Ministries in Lawrence, Mass. Visit tuscanbrands.com.

Brothers Cortado coming to Concord: True Brew Barista recently announced the sale of its shop at 3 Bicentennial Square in Concord, which will reopen under new ownership as Brothers Cortado. Brothers and Loudon natives Ian and Chuck Nemiccolo plan to open by October, and their shop will feature a variety of coffees and espresso drinks. Renovations are currently underway — follow their progress on Facebook and Instagram @brotherscortado.

WineNot Boutique reopens: Specialty wine retail shop WineNot Boutique reopened on Sept. 15 in its new space at 25 Main St. in Nashua, it recently announced. The newly renovated location is less than a half mile up the road from its former storefront at 221 Main St., with all of its weekly complimentary wine tastings and special events transitioning there. WineNot’s temporary hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from noon to 7 p.m. Visit winenotboutique.com.

Brews for a cause: Red, White & Brew, a craft beer and wine festival presented by Veterans Count, returns to Funspot (579 Endicott St. N., Laconia) on Saturday, Sept. 25, with a VIP hour from noon to 1 p.m. and general admittance from 1 to 4 p.m. In addition to multiple craft beer and wine options, the festival will feature local food vendors, a classic car show, raffles, an auction and live music from The Bob Pratte Band. General admission is $35 and VIP admission is $50. Admission for all attendees includes sampling tickets and a commemorative glass while supplies last, and proceeds benefit local service members and their families. Military discounts are also available. Visit vetscount.org/nh/events.

Boxes and cans

Eye-catching packaging, tasty wines

Traditionally grapes were picked, vinified, sometimes aged, and then bottled and sealed with a cork and foil or wax. The bottles were finished with simple labels identifying the vineyard or blender, grape varietals and vintage. The bottles were loaded into cardboard boxes or wooden crates and sent off to distributors for sale.

While the bulk of the wine industry still operates this way, the marketing of wine has evolved to appeal to a larger and younger market. There was a huge outcry when vintners started to put screw caps on bottles. There were claims that the screw tops would fail; they would not keep the wine from spoiling. Fact is that screw tops have replaced corks on many wines. Next came “box wine” — the wine that can be loaded onto the shelf of a refrigerator and tapped when one wants a glass of chardonnay. Then came “wine in a can.” A can is a perfect way to keep a carbonated beverage; why not make that beverage a wine?

The packaging and marketing of wine has become an industry unto itself. Several years ago, some vineyards commissioned artists to create labels for them. The label of the 2019 Navigator Sauvignon Blanc of Napa Valley (originally priced at $32.99, reduced to $14.99 at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets) is a fine example of graphic artistry. The front label is very simple — just the wine’s name. The back of the bottle has an array of constellations, printed in white, with a sailing ship, printed in black, above blue scrolling ocean waves. This entire image is meant to be viewed through the bottle, magnified by the straw-colored wine. What a marvelous idea! The wine has a slight fruit nose, along with herbal lavender. To the mouth it is citric — a favoring lemongrass. A perfect wine to pair with seafood.

Another direction in marketing is to appeal to basic pleasures. The label of the 2018 Michael David Winery Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel (originally priced at $15.99, reduced to $12.99 at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets) is an example of simplicity. The label refers to “Zinfandel grapes sustainably farmed in Lodi, California.” Modestly priced and presented, this wine is bold. The dark purple, opaque color and fruit-laden nose lead to notes of black raspberry, vanilla, some cinnamon and a touch of pepper. This wine is designed and marketed for a “kick-back” barbecue with friends.

Australian Thomas Angove invented boxed wine in 1965. Improved upon in 1967, with the creation of an air-tight tap welded to the plastic bag, his invention became salable. The science behind this packaging is simple; the wine is removed from the bag without adding air, thus removing the potential for oxidation of the remaining wine. The original large box containers have evolved into single-serve sizes. The Woodbridge Limited Edition Mondavi California Chardonnay (originally priced at $4.99, reduced to $3.99 at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets) is packaged in 500 ml boxes. This results in three and a half 5-ounce servings. The packaging notes this has been proclaimed the “Official Wine of Major League Baseball.” The color is the classic gold color of a California chardonnay, with aromas of apple and pear. The nose carries through to the tongue with a toasty finish, perfect for pairing with roast chicken, eaten on a picnic.

Wine in a can? Why not? Beer has been put into cans since the mid-’30s! The House Wine Limited Edition Rosé Bubbles, 3.75 ml (originally priced at $5.99, reduced to $4.99 at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets), was conceived in 2004 by ex-rock ’n’ roll manager and wine maker Charles Smith in Walla Walla, Washington. It is marketed as a “serious wine made by not so serious people.” The wine has a pale pink color and aromas of fresh berries with lively citric notes on the tongue. This is a light wine that can be paired with soft cheeses or enjoyed by itself on a warm afternoon.

19 Crimes 2019 Red Wine (priced at $11.99 at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets) appears at first to be a novelty. Each bottle in the miniature four-pack is 187 ml, or a six-ounce serving. Produced in Australia by Treasury Wine Estates, it is a blend of mostly shiraz, with traces of other grapes. This is a bold red wine with a dark red color, dark cherries to the nose carrying through to the tongue, with firm tannins on the mid-palate. The packaging is novel, as it identifies the 19 crimes punishable by transportation from the U.K. to 19th-century Australia. Several criminals and their crimes are identified on the packaging!

The packaging and marketing of wine have indeed evolved with our changing world of marketing. Try some of these alternatives.

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

De-simplifying tomatoes

You kind of knew what you were letting yourself in for in February when you started all those tomato plants.

You knew you were supposed to get Darwinian by May and cull the weaker plants, but you let yourself get attached, and yes, in retrospect, it was probably a bad idea to let the kids name them, so instead of planting the five strongest tomatoes, you got guilty about killing off Trixie and Leon, and planted all of them.

And as the summer went by, you’d invested so much into each of the plants that you fell into a sunk-cost fallacy situation and you didn’t want all that work and worry to be for nothing, so here it is September, and the upshot of all this is that you are up to your eyebrows in tomatoes.

If you really wanted a simple solution to the Tomato Situation, you’d make a lot of bloody marys. They’re simple, elegant, you know you like them, and you can make them in bulk.

So clearly, simplicity is not what you’re after.

Let’s redefine what you’re really looking for: some sort of cocktail that is new and interesting. It has to use up some of these tomatoes, yes, but it also needs to be something that you can kick back with on the deck, day-drinking, but not feeling like you’re day-drinking. Remember, if you really wanted something simple you’d be bloody mary-ing it up, so realistically, you’re willing to put up with a bit of a project and some complications.

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.

A tomato spritzer.

Yes, I know; it doesn’t sound that promising. I think you’ll be pleased with it, though. The good news is that each step gets easier.

Step 1 – Making cucumber-infused gin

Ingredients:

Cucumbers

Gin

Wash and weigh your cucumbers.

Place an equal amount, by weight, of cucumbers and gin in your blender. Don’t bother to peel the cucumbers.

Blend them on your lowest speed for a minute or two, until everything is chopped up and it looks like hot dog relish. You aren’t looking to puree it, just chop it up finely enough for the cucumbers to have a lot of surface area to interact with the gin.

Pour this slurry into a wide-mouthed jar and store it somewhere cool and dark for a week, shaking it once or twice per day. I like the laundry room in our basement, because I find myself there a couple of times per day and I can shake the jar and ask, “How ya doin’, buddy?”

After a week, strain and bottle the gin. If you’d like a very clear gin, you can run it through a coffee filter.

Step 2 – Tomato shrub

Ingredients:

128 g. roughly chopped cherry tomatoes

125 g. sugar

3½ ounces white wine vinegar

¾ ounce raspberry vinegar

1½ ounces dry vermouth

1½ ounces sweet vermouth

Over low heat, simmer the tomatoes, sugar and vinegars until the sugar is dissolved and the tomatoes have softened, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Blend with a regular blender or an immersion blender.

Add the vermouths, and chill the mixture.

Strain and jar the mixture.

Step 3 – Juicing your tomatoes

Wash as many tomatoes as you want to get rid of use up.

Cut out the stem and any suspicious-looking cracks or welts. (It should be pointed out here that the objectively uglier the tomato, the juicier it is likely to be. Just sayin’.)

Throw the tomatoes into the blender. Actually throw them, if it makes you feel better.

Blitz them at any speed you like. You’ll get more juice out of them if you really go to town, but if you use a lower speed, your final juice won’t be as thick.

Strain your tomato glop.

The glop will turn into beautiful juice.

The actual cocktail – Tomato Spritzer

Ingredients:

1 ounce cucumber gin

2 ounce dry vermouth

1½ ounces fresh tomato juice

½ ounce tomato shrub

2 ounces cold prosecco

2 ounces cold, extra bubbly club soda — I like Topo Chico

Stir all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass.

Pour into tall glasses.

This cocktail has a surprising complexity. A lot of spritzers have a watered-down sweetness to them. This one is very light, but it has a savoriness that will make you raise an eyebrow as you drink it. The key to it is the cucumber gin; the background flavor of cucumbers highlights the tomato/vinegar acidity. This drink starts out a delicate pink color but after a few minutes will separate into two layers, with the tomato layer rising to the top. It is complex and a little hard to wrap your head around, and very nice to spend time with.

Much like you.

Featured photo: Photo by John Fladd.

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