Springing Forward

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Time…one of the two currencies that we use to barter our lives away, is much more important, in my opinion, than money…the other. I am sure there are those who would disagree, but this is my blog, and I’ll spend my time here ranting about it if I choose.

See what I mean? We use the word ‘spend’ to describe all exchanges of either. Time and money really do seem to rule our world.

Today, a few confused weeks into Daylight Saving Time here in South Texas, it is pitch dark when I must wake to begin my work day and I am not yet accustomed to ‘light and bright’ when I should be thinking about ending it. Will I ever be? Is it just me; or isn’t it just easier to settle in and wind down around twilight? To my mind, a deliciously shrubby cocktail and a gorgeous sunset are the perfect way to end any day’s toil.

Count me among those who don’t get it. What are we saving daylight for? I find it both stingy and silly. After all, saving daylight doesn’t add one more minute to a day.  It only makes it difficult to know when to stop with one kind of activity and begin another. What’s worse, this miserly saving daylight obsession is encroaching on ever more months each year.

There, I feel much better now that’s said. Let’s move on to happier thoughts.

As you surely know by now, most waking hours, whether light or dark, are spent lost in “shrubbery” here. Choosing fruit, chopping fruit, stirring fruit or obsessing about what fruits are now the ripest and most succulent, takes up every minute…not even dreams are safe.

Loquats 2
Loquats

Here’s the happy news. These early spring days, dreams are full of sweet promise and inspiration.

Loquats are set and plentiful. They’ll be fat, golden and ready to pillage by late May. There’ll be berries of every sort to crush, in just short weeks. Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit still abounds at market. The heady perfume of fuzzy, juicy, luscious peaches will fill our kitchen soon. Springtime is here, and no matter what the clock says, in the shrubbery, it’s our kind of time!

More soon, as chopping and stirring allow…

Weather, or not?

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The last time I started a blog post, the temperature was well below freezing here in San Antonio, and I was sipping a steaming cup of our Apple Spice Shrub. (Yes, each blog post is sure to have multiple starts. Life always seems to find a way to intervene between first and last lines.)

Shrub Drink 6

Since then, we’ve had just about every sort of weather you can imagine. Bathing suit weather, icy weather, gorgeous sunny days, dark and dreary days, rain…and just this past weekend, winds that threatened to blow us right away. You name it weather-wise; we’ve enjoyed it already in 2014.

Today, the weather forecast includes ‘wintry mix’. A peek through the shutters reveals an almost imperceptible mist that could be flurries or simply nasty wet stuff. Good day for writing.

So, here I am again, attempting another blog post and remembering my father, who was well-loved for his ability to spout uniquely appropriate aphorisms at every occasion, in a wonderful Tex-Italian accent.

One of his favorite weather related ones was: “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, stick around; it will change.”

Seems that life and the weather have that in common. The one sure thing is change. How we deal with it makes all the difference. Smile, learn and adapt…that’s our golden ticket to Happyville.

Here in the shrubbery, we’ve learned that our Shrub Drinks are as good hot as they are cold.
Folks love them in hot toddies or tea, with or without a drop of the hard-stuff. What fun we’ve had exploring and pouring, but that’s another story.

The beautiful photo above was taken by our friend, Bonnie Walker of San Antonio’s savviest foodie site, SavorSA, who says she served and sipped hot Shrub Drinks, all through the holiday season. If you haven’t checked out her site, you really owe yourself a visit.

You’ll also want to check out the “Recipes” section of this site where you’ll surely find a few concoctions to fall for.

Try some of the other recipes, too. Soon, warm and sunny climes will return and perhaps you just won’t mind the wait.

More, soon…

Took all year to get here

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GSCS Shrub DrinkOkay, so it’s not infernally hot anymore. Actually, we’ve been busy trying to stay warm these past few days. Yes, we are painfully aware this post has been a long time coming. Let’s imagine that the delay was deliberate, so that our news might coincide with this joyful season, shall we?

Oh yes, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas here in the shrubbery; the holiday hustle and bustle is in full swing. Count us among those who feel that this is truly “the most wonderful time of the year.” It just doesn’t last long enough and it takes all year to get here.

What’s been happening in our Shrub Drinkskitchen while we waited? Well, our newTomatillo-Lime -SerranoConcord Grape,Apple Spice and Prickly Pear shrubs have occupied countless hours of our time. No complaints, we’re proud of each one and hope you’ll love them as much as we do. Deciding how to showcase the glorious citrus from our Texas Valley has kept up busy, too…Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit anyone? Cranberry Tangerine is ready to bottle, and it’s a beauty.

Of course, we’ve stirred up batches of every flavor that you already know, provided the fruit was primo; you know we are oh-so picky.

But the real story here in the shrubbery has been our Life-Changing Pineapple.
In the last few months, we’ve carefully chosen, patiently waited for perfect ripeness, then cut up, spiced and tended a gazillion pineapples and here’s why:

Shrub Drinks has a beautiful and slightly unusual arrangement with an amazing organization here in San Antonio, Good Samaritan Community Services. Good Sam is an outreach of the Episcopal Church that for several decades has been serving a diverse and deserving community of all ages, here on San Antonio’s Westside, and at several satellite locations around South Texas. Want to know more? Here’s their site:www.goodsamaritancommunityservices.org

The words “Changing Lives” appear under their logo, and we can tell you first hand that they truly do.

We knew from day-one that we wanted to do something in addition to serving board lunches every other month, and teaching cooking classes to the “seniors community” at GSCS  to help them to make the most of the ‘commodity bags’ that the SA Food Bank delivers.

So…we created a special Shrub Drinks, using the fruit that symbolizes friendship and hospitality, just as Good Sam does every day. Since we feel strongly about context, we added Guajillo chile and swaths of lime zest to approximate the flavor, and all the tangy spice of the snacks so popular with kids of all ages in this part of the world.

Long story, short, we’re donating all profit from the sale of this spectacularly scrumptiousShrub Drinks to Good Samaritan Community Services. It hardly seems enough for all the inspiration they provide. You really should try some; we hope you’ll taste the love that’s in it.

Peace and Joy!
The Shrubettes

Lost in Fruit-opia

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Mercy, it’s HOT!  Summer, gloriously steamy, infernal giver of gorgeous fruit, is making a last slow-dance across Texas, as we bid August farewell!

There is a certain panic in our air here in the Shrub Drinks kitchen. Have we processed enough peaches? They’ll be a memory, soon. Cherries, gone already, and even though it feels as though we crushed tons and tons between our fingers; we wish for more. Kiss them all goodbye!
 Begin thinking about what comes next!
We try to take it as a ‘life lesson’ in the joy that comes with more awareness of the seasons and their changes. But, summer still makes us dance as fast as we can, to capture its overflowing bounty of perfect specimens, and turn them into Shrub Drinks.

All life is fruit, in our world these days…ripe, fragrant, and perfectly beautiful to look at, smell and touch…and process!  We remember well the fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper”.  We’re working hard. We know that if you want a shrub to be wonderful, you’ve got to start with the very best fruit…and this has definitely been the season for that!

More, soon…after the pineapples.

Hello World!

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You cannot imagine how happy we are that you landed here, and found Shrub Drinks, or… how very pleased we are that our website is ALIVE at last.

The great sportswriter, Red Smith, once said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” I imagine if I did so these days you’d find some version of a shrub flowing through mine.
As the company’s appointed scribe, from this day forward, I will put down the knife and spoon at least once a week and hit the keys to give you a more personal peek at what goes on “behind the shrubs” here at Shrub Drinks. It is my great hope that it will become more dialogue than monologue…your input is always most cordially solicited.
This is blog post #1, so let’s get some of the basics (things you may also learn about us elsewhere on our site) out of the way:
  • Shrub Drinks is a partnership of two, well-seasoned female chefs. Yes, really, only two of us do it ALL, well…almost ALL. One of us is blessed with a dream of a life partner. To make this long story short…without his help, we’d be in a pickle most of the time.
  • Though our lives, experiences and temperaments are as different as salt from pepper, the two of us play beautifully together in the kitchen…probably because we share similar palates, and similarly high expectation of ourselves. Our partnership works, literally and figuratively.
  • You should know that cooking is like breathing to us, we dream in flavor and color. It is even our recreation. We simply can’t help it!
  • Our business has a uniquely philanthropreneurial bent. There will be much more to tell about that in a future post.
  • Well Seasoned LLC, our umbrella company, allows us to satisfy our primal culinary urges by producing a line of fine fresh prepared foods, when we aren’t practicing the art of shrubbery. See www.wellseasonedcuisine.com to learn more.
  • Call us “old school” if you like; we’d consider it high praise. We heartily subscribe to timeworn gustatory traditions; including starting with the very best ingredients, and coaxing every gorgeous bit flavor from them with love and care. Yes, it is a double edged sword.
  • Creating each Shrub Drinks flavor gives us a priceless opportunity to do what we love, which is to delight and surprise palates. We just can’t seem to stop the ideas for more and more flavors.
  • We truly are blown away at how easily Shrub Drinks become indispensable at the bar and in the kitchen.  Why, oh why, have they languished so long in back of the pantry obscurity?

Okay,  it’s back to the “shrubbery” now, and on to apples, more glorious peaches, perhaps plums…and we really do want to get more of those sweet, crisp almost black cherries….so, more next week.

c.