Infusing new ideas

Let’s talk infusion. Most of you do it on a daily basis, but you probably don’t realize it. Coffee and tea are both examples of infusions. Delicious, delicious examples. But recently my wife and I have taken to more exotic forms of infusion. The first involves booze, specifically vodka. I hate vodka. It’s the drink of people who don’t know what they like, or of people who want their booze to taste like this:

I liked this juice at one time, but that was well before I could drive. Honestly, the only time I like vodka is when it’s in a  Bloody Mary. That’s why we infused some vodka with flavors that would compliment that brunch drink. The first infusion was strait ginger. We chopped up the root, threw it in a blender with the vodka, pulsed a few times, threw the mixture in a jar and set it on the counter for a week. After a week of infusion we ran the vodka threw a fine mesh strainer. The next infusion was a mixture of vodka, ginger, peppercorns and jalapenos. Same procedure as above.

For those that prefer a lighter brunch drink, we dumped a pound of strawberries, ends trimmed in the blender and combined with vodka. This is by far the most fragrant of the three, and the prettiest. When the strawberries were removed they looked like ghosts of their former selves — pale and kind of sickly. Curious as ever, I tried one. It was pretty bland. Tasted more like someone soaked a paper towel in vodka than a strawberry. Throw this in a mimosa for a supercharged version of the drink.

We also did a coffee vodka infusion with whole coffee beans. That took all of 2 days to become fully infused. But it’s not just booze that you can infuse. You can do it with vinegar too, which is great news if you love salads, or braises, or brines. Since we’ve had such great weather here, I decided to halve some key limes and combine them with 1 1/2 cups of vinegar. I figure it will make a great salad dressing when the mercury hits 90 plus. What’s more, infusions are so easy! It’s combining herbs or anything with oils and flavors that you want to capture. It’s how they make vanilla extract, or almond extract. Think of anything that has a pungent flavor. Add it to booze, vinegar or oil and bam, you have a whole new concoction. It’s part of the best of kitchen alchemy.

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