Happy Blogiversary!!

Turning 3 is something special.  You're old enough to enjoy your cake and end up with most of it in your mouth, not on the floor or smeared all over your face.  I'm hoping that we are civilized enough to meet up to these standards.  But really, who are we kidding?

Pickled Rose's 3rd year has been a great one, and we can't thank you enough for continuing to tune in to what we've been conjuring up in the kitchen.  So raise your forks, and celebrate another fantastic year of recipes and ramblings!  

Bittersweet Champagne Cocktail

We may be a day late with this post, but it's never too late to pamper yourself or your loved one with a champagne cocktail.  Pick your favorite bottle of bubbly, add a splash of Campari, and voilà!,  your champagne just got a pair of rose colored glasses.  Campari is slightly bitter and also quite sweet, so you only need to add about 1/3 of an ounce.  You don't want to overpower the champagne, just enhance it.  

So whether your Valentine's Day was bitter or sweet, cheers to you! 

xoxo, Pickled Rose  

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This past October Pickled Rose took a little trip to Las Vegas and did the unthinkable, GOT MARRIED!  The amount of love felt from all our family and friends was overwhelming in the best possible way, and is a day neither John or I will ever forget.   I have to apologize that in the midst of all the planning the blog took a backseat to invitations, gift bags, and vows.  Pretty lame, I know, but I promise that this recipe will make it up to you.

One of the best and most special wedding gifts I received was a stack of family recipes from my Aunt Chris.  I come from a long line of great cooks, and have learned so much about food from the matriarchs in my family.  I will cherish their wisdom, recipes, and memory forever.  This recipe comes from my Grandma Ebeling and does not disappoint.  Not only is the coffee cake easy to make, but it is so moist and delicious that you will want to keep it all for your self.  Every. Last. Crumb.

The secret ingredient in this recipe is sour cream.  It keeps the cake moist and balances out the sweetness of the filling.  Chopped walnuts add a wonderful crunch.  The inside of the cake is soft with swirls of cinnamon and brown sugar, and has a nice crumb to it.  The top is crunchy and sweet like any good coffee cake should be.  This is best served warm with a hot cup of coffee and is guaranteed to brighten even the dreariest of days.  

Sour Cream Coffee Cake


1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a 10" tube pan with non-stick cooking spray or good old fashioned butter.  I used coconut oil cooking spray.  Next prepare the filling by combining brown sugar, nuts, and cinnamon in a small bow.  Set aside. 

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Next, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined.  Sift dry ingredients together.  Add to creamed mixture, alternating between dry ingredients and sour cream.  Beat until batter is smooth.  

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Pour 1/3 of batter into bottom of the tube pan.  Smooth out until there is an even layer.  Top with 1/3 of the filling.  Repeat 2 more times, so that you finish with the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until the top is crusty and brown and a knife comes clean from the cake.

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Beautiful Possibility Tour: an ingestible travelogue

Picture this: driving cross country, windows down, trailer strapped to the back of your car, and a jug full of apples fermenting in your trunk.  This may not sound like your typical road trip, but for artist Alison Pebworth, this was her life for 3 years as she traveled around the United States and Canada in search of the histories of post-industrial cities, literally and figuratively distilling the cultures of "Lost America" into an ingestible travelogue.  During her tour across the country, Alison collected stories, surveys, and edible ingredients all culminating in what she calls her "Beautiful Possibility Elixir".       

Last week I had the opportunity to hear Alison speak about the Beautiful Possibility Tour at Southern Exposure, where the project launched back in 2010.  The event began with a slide show where Alison talked about the last twelve months of her tour. Her epic road trip began in the Dakotas, where she spent time on an Indian reservation.  Next she drove through the Midwest stopping in Minneapolis, Detroit, and Cleveland, then traveling to the East Coast where she lived with the last living Shaker Community in Maine for a month.   Alison then headed down to the very tip of Florida, through parts of the deep South, and then finally back to San Francisco where her journey began.

Most of the places on the Beautiful Possibility Tour were urban farming communities, or other groups of people that were actively engaged in their local landscape.  At each stop along the tour an infused tonic was made on site at the location where the ingredients were gathered.  All of the tonics were infused in a clear alcohol base that was either locally produced or distilled by the artist herself.  Over the course of 3 years more than 200 ingredients were used to make tonics that were blended into the Beautiful Possibility Elixir.  

At the end of the slideshow, Alison did a final and ceremonious blending of the last few tonics to be added to the elixir.   She stood behind a long table that was decorated with a collection of glass bottles filled with individual tonics, all glimmering under the gallery lights.  Each tonic had a different hue and some still had the original infused ingredients in them, acting as a reminder of the place the flavor came from.  In the center of the table there was a large glass decanter/serving apparatus that the elixir was poured in to for the tasting.  As Alison stood behind the table meticulously mixing and pouring, she transformed from an artist to an apothecary, to a shaman bartender mixing up a cure-all cocktail.

Once the elixir was mixed just right, Alison walked around the room pouring her potion from her decanter into our mouths one at a time, in a ritualistic fashion.  The elixir tasting felt almost spiritual, as if we were taking holy communion in a speakeasy, ingesting the artist's travels, filling us each with hopefulness and beautiful possibility.  

It was the ultimate moonshine, and each flavor was as distinct as the story behind it.  Notes of citrus, licorice, dirt, and flowers all flooded my tastebuds at once.  The elixir was slightly sweet at first, then bitter with a medicinal aftertaste, but surprisingly smooth.  It was the most complex, deliciously-horrible shot of booze I have ever taken in my life.  I think I'll stick with bourbon.    

More information about Alison Pebworth's project and her travelogue can be found here.