Category Archives: Cynthia

BEETS ME – Bacon and Vodka Heartache

The best thing about Valentine’s day is that once you get there its only 30 days to St. Patrick’s day.  When its OK to drink and cry and fight.  (You gotta hand it to the Celts)

424943_1890568879606_1008300844_nSo here it is February already and the big V-day is coming up soon.  This is the day when some of us still put on that hopeful attitude tempered with a hefty dose of reality.  I’ve had a number of husbands and a few more mad affairs but really …  has ANYONE you’ve ever known done this right?  EVER?  I think not.

The trick is to lower those expectations.  If you expect ZIP and you get a bag of those red wrapped bite sized Snickers…. BOOM! You got something!  STOP waiting for that blood diamond.  It’s not coming.

So put on those widows weeds – (I always dress in BLACK on V-Day) make yourself a vodka with BEETS AND BACON – its sort of complicated, but it will take your mind off your troubles.  Stay focused.  SMILE!

The “Beets Me” Bacon and Vodka Heartache

I cant take credit for making his up it came to me via the internet and Igor Zukowiec, NYC Mixologist and a founder of Alchemiq Catering  (no kidding IGOR) .

Italic comments are mine. 

What the hell is a bar spoon Igor?  We are not “NYC Mixologists” here at the Rusty Nail – we will use a basic kitchen teaspoon.  And an ounce is basically a regular sized shotglass

  • 1 1/2 oz Polish or Russian Vodka (you gotta go with ethnic for that truly existential ambience)
  • 2 oz Beets & Bacon Essence* (make this up ahead of time – there will be enough to store for later when you want to impress your friends)
  • 1 Bar (tea) Spoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 5 Fresh Basil Leaves (+5 For A Garnish)
  • 3/4 oz Full-Bodied Red Wine such As Malbec
  • 2 Bar (tea) Spoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 5 Black Peppercorns & Whole Allspice

Muddle peppercorns (muddle=smash up and stir) and allspice in a cup.  Put the muddled stuff into your cocktail shaker or a tall covered jelly jar – with some ice –  add remaining ingredients and shake. Double-strain into highball glass filled with ice and basil leaves.

*Beets & Bacon Essence: Slowly boil 1 lb. of peeled & sliced red beets and 1-2 lb. of sliced naturally smoked bacon in 4 pints of water until water evaporates to 1.5 – 2 pints and the beets are soft. Remove and muddle beets. Mix with the essence again. Strain through a fine strainer. This amount is good for 12 – 16 cocktails you can save it for later.  You might try canned beets if you are adventurous and you don’t want to peel and slice.  Since the canned beets are already soft and mushy…. You might not have to add so much water and you wont have to muddle as much.  Just be sure you get that bacon juice in there. 

So now you have a blood red cocktail in a tall glass.  Infused with bacon which will go straight beets-and-vodkato your heart.  Sip or gulp depending on the mood while pondering past and present loves.

Click the link and listen to this one!  And imagine these guys at YOUR cubical!  Im in love with all of them.  Alcohol -Thanks to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts.  AND if you’re ever in NYC you can look up Igor.  Tell him Cynthia from Milwaukee sent you and have one on me.


The Losers Lime Rickey

Valentines Week Special #2


Come on admit it…. You’ve sent yourself flowers at work.  Haven’t You?  There is no shame in this.  Once, I sent myself a pajama-gram.  I was the envy of the entire workforce at that soul crushing day job – BOTH genders.   I signed the card – “From you know who”  Well THAT wasn’t a lie was it? 

So here is my very own take on a refreshing limey cocktail that’s so easy to make.

AND it’s LO – CAL! so you wont feel bad about your New Years Resolution to get into that one size smaller swim suit come July.

Here’s all you need:    lime-rickey

  • Low Cal Limeade
  • Diet Tonic Water
  • Vodka – a nice strong Russian or Polish will get the job done just fine.
  • Ice or not who cares.

Mix everything together in the amounts that suit you

Drink while destroying photographs of cheating former sweethearts. and listen to James Darren doing the best loser song ever.

Here’s to the Losers


cocktail-hat-vintageValentines Week Special #1

This past weekend, I was talking to the youngster who works part time in the kitchen at the VFW and by this I mean a 30 something (which in some quarters is not so young at all) and the conversation turned to regrets. This poochie had a regret but I cant remember what it was. The conversation took a turn that gave me pause and I forgot what his sad little regret was. Like he wished he was an astronaut or something…

Now I’ve lived a pretty big life here and actually I don’t have a lot of regrets but I said, “Yeah I got a few regrets – I regret throwing out those boots in 1998 and I regret not punching the Bumf@*k that broke my heart in 01″…. But mostly, my code is to soldier on,  bloody but unbowed as they say.

This dandy cocktail is a great regret eraser.  It comes from the Burkes Complete Cocktail and Tastybite recipe book Copyright 1936 – Indeed the golden age of Cocktails.  They called it the “Loop the Loop”.   I have renamed it in honor of the greatest no regrets song ever.

Miss Otis Regrets

One part each over ice in a cocktail shaker

whiskey rum gin

  • Whiskey
  • Dry Gin
  • Rum

15 shakes.  Strain and Serve.  Click on the link below and drink while listening to the song:

Miss Otis Regrets


1420-REMOTE-34-Cabin-FeverDoes it seem like the cabin (or the trailer) is getting smaller and smaller as the winter drags on?  Are you in the kitchen trying out Ruthie’s Nutella Roll recipe?  Are you  all cabin-fevered out with kids and dogs biting and fighting?  We had a big-dog/little dog face off yesterday night. And little nephew Bob-Dean got in the middle.  He’s OK but that big dog is in the cone of shame – the little dog beat the pants off him.  

I digress…. 

Give yourself a break and slide some Jameson or Jack or Great Lakes Local Kinnickinnic into that coffee cup and have yourself an Adult Nutella Hotsy-Totsy treat.  Its better than Valium!

Serves 2 – if the neighbor lady is over: share – otherwise use a bigger mug

  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • 1-1/3 cups milk
  • 2 jiggers whiskey – (what the hell just whiskey to taste).
  • Cynthia’s rule: the more dogs and kids in the kitchen – the bigger the jigger.
  • Garnish: Whipped cream and cocoa powder

Put the Nutella and 1/3 cup milk in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir till blended.
Add the rest of the milk, increase heat to medium-high, and whisk until hot and frothy.

Pour into two 8-oz. coffee mugs. Pour 1 jigger (shot glass) of desired spirit into each glass and stir well. Top with heavy cream and sprinkle lightly with cocoa powder. Serve immediately.

BOBBY-DEAN! Put those dogs outside and bring Auntie the BIG Mug!Nutella-Hot-Chocolate

Whine. And Cheese-Spread.

wine cheeseSo you are going to make up a batch of Ruthie’s Cheesy-Spread Crescents and of course, you want to serve the CORRECT wine.  HA HA.

Try googling wine and spreadable cheese… you will get more hoity-toity advice than you can shake a stick at.  I mean, like THIS:

“As with any wine and food pairing, there are a number of considerations, such as texture, acidity, fat and tannin. Rather than complicating the topic with exotic matches like Garrotxa and Meursault, we have broken the art of wine and cheese pairing down, so you can create your own”.

Well that’s just fine then – I will.  –   But if you must continue to listen to the internet experts, they go on to say::

“The wine-cheese pairing possibilities are endless, but to simplify the strategy, we can divide cheese into four major categories:

  • Bloomy: Creamy, decadent cheeses, with a soft rind.
  • Hard: Stiff cheeses, which are often sharp and/or salty. They can also be aged.
  • Blue: Pungent, often salty cheeses, with a blue tinge.
  • Fresh: Soft, often spreadable cheeses that can be tangy or mild. They are not usually aged.”

This is simple?  Let me tell you the closest I could get to a figuring the PROPER wine pairing for a good old Kaukauna veggie spread which is about as fancy as THIS girl gets… was:

In the Category FRESH you have your:

  • Ricotta: (That’s for Lasagna) and its Pinot Grigio (What?  What happened to Cianti?)
  • Mozzarella: (That’s for Pizza) and its Sauvignon Blanc (Is that Red or white? Beats me… )
  • Goat: (Thats just crazy – have you ever SMELLED a goat?) but yet, they tell you to serve Chenin Blanc
  • Feta: (That’s for your Greek stuff) and they tell you to drink Beaujolais (I think that’s a good semi pricey red – At least that’s the section I see it in at Discount Liquor.)

And last but not least is

  • Burrata:  I don’t know what that is and they tell you to drink Tocai Fruilano and I don’t know what that is either.

Bottom line here: If you are making quick and easy crescents with good Wisconsin Kaukana Club stuffing….. you can drink whatever the heck you want – red or white wine or beer, brandy Old Fashioneds, diet coke what have you.  This is Wisconsin and we do not stand on ceremony.  Especially if you are in front of the big screen TV at the Rusty Nail Trailer Park community room.

Super Sunday Drinking Tips:

long statue

Yes we are sad this year  But inevitably.  Superbowl Sunday is upon us and God knows this winter we need something between New Years and ST. Paddys….. Here’s some tips on how to enjoy and stay upright till the end of the fourth quarter without embarrassing yourself.  Well maybe just staying upright.

1.  Alcohol: Volume = Effect

The lower the VOLUME the better of course, but this is Wisconsin and as Lewis Black attests, we are professionals here.  Beer is a good choice but whatever your poison, you should not gulp…. Sip.  Take your time, you have all day and most of the evening.  Now you didn’t hear me say this, but shots are probably a nono.  You’ll peak too soon and you’ll be all blurry before the half time show.  If you must – you can include ONE or two shots in there somewhere…. As a toast to the fallen Packers but space them out and then be done.  Make those Brandy old Fashioned’s light on the Korbel.   Which brings me to the next tip:

2. Pace Yourself    

Superbowl Sunday is a marathon, not a sprint.  Experienced drinkers like myself usually get to a point where that little voice says…. You better stop now or you will throw up on the cat.  At this point STOP.   Take a break.  Have something with carbs and drink some WATER.  If you are in that space where moving your eyeballs causes them to go all out of focus its probably too late.  Be sure the pets are out of the way and stay away from the fish tank.

3.  Eat


EAT.  Eat Ron Swanson style before you start. This is Superbowl Sunday.  Ruthie has posted all sorts of delicious snacks and buffet items.  thats why Im posting in advance…. Browse the website…..make up enough to get you through the day…. and EAT.  NEVER drink on an empty stomach.  That is for amateurs and WE are not amateurs are we?  NO.  Don’t just nosh on chips and salsa.  EAT REAL FOOD. Carbs are best they soak up the juices.  Lay down a base, as they say.  Carbs are good. Breakfast style foods are chock full of carbs.  Potatoes, ham, proteins and fats – CHEESEBURGERS – and keep grazing.  Salty stuff is not the best as it dehydrates you….


4. Drink Water

“You only rent beer” as they say, for good reason as alcohol makes you pee more.  Getting dehydrated also creates the hangover.  Drink WATER not soda or bubbly water… STRAIGHT SINK WATER.   One glass for each drink.  You’ll spend more time in the bathroom but don’t worry – all the commercials will be on You Tube.  And lest we forget – the next day is MONDAY -unless you took a vacation day you have to get up and go to work. Screenshot2011-09-18at101639AM

Can You Drive to Hawaii?

You can if you drive to the store and buy a dvd of Elvis in Blue Hawaii. 

Then put on extra layers, because its FREAKIN cold in here – get out the Tiki mugs and whip up this Classic Tiki-Tocky.  7-SAV146-TikiBandit-400x572

  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz. gold Puerto Rican rum
  • 1 oz. coconut rum

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice; shake well. Pour, unstrained, into a tall glass.  At this time of year you need the vitamin C but not the extra ice.  Garnish drink with a cherry an umbrella and pineapple or what have you.

Sing along with Elvis.  Rock a Hula BABY! 

And while you’re on our YouTube site Check out our other videos.   Stay tuned… There’s more to come!  Click HERE and Subscribe

Cynthia’s Small Scale Chicken and Dumpling Soup

unnamed  –  OK I know its not alcohol but its HOT and yummy and I made it up.  Seriously… I cook this every winter.  Gramma S. showed me how – She used a whole chicken!  I hit upon the Game Hen angle long about 1978 after one of my divorces left me single again in the middle of a Midwest winter.  SO If you are like me and you don’t need to cook for an army here is a small-scale soup recipe that will warm the cockles of your heart…. What the HECK is a COCKLE anyhow?

Soup Ingredients

  • 1 frozen Cornish game hen (be sure there are NO GIBLETS)
  • Carrots ( I like to use baby carrots — less chopping)
  • Celery
  • Chicken bouillon cubes
  • Onion


  • Egg
  • Flour


This will make about 3 – 5 servings depending on whether you like a cup or a big bowl)

  • Unwrap the FROZEN game hen.  Do not thaw.
  • Put it in a deep cooking pot and cover with water.  Put it over medium to high heat on the stove.
  • Add 3 – 4 bouillon cubes big hunks of chopped carrots and celery and onion.
  • Bring to a boil and cook till the game hen is fully cooked and very very tender – like falling off the bone.  This will probably take more than an hour.
  • Remove the whole game hen from the stock with big tongs – put it in a big bowl or on a plate– don’t try to take it out with a fork or it will fall apart.
  • Remove all the meat from the game hen and put it back in the stock.

You can do this with chicken breast to but it has to be BONE IN- you need those bones for flavor.  Chicken breast does not have to be frozen… that just seems to be the way Game hens come these days. 

If you are not going to eat all the soup at one sitting put a serving in a smaller kettle and store the rest in the refrigerator (keeps for a few days) – or freeze.  Keep cooking on low to medium while you make your dumplings.


If you are not going to eat all the soup at one sitting make the dumplings as you eat the soup.  Dumplings tend not to store well.  Use more egg/flour mix if you want to go heavy on the dumplings.

  • Whisk up one raw egg in a bowl or cup
  • Add flour and stir until you get the consistency of lumpy pudding
  • Drop egg / flour mixture into soup and boil again until the dumplings are cooked (they will firm up and rise to the top of the soup).

Serve with hot buttered garlic biscuits and a nice white wine.

Click for PDF: Cynthia’s Small Scale Chicken Soup

Stay warm!

Cynthia’s Winter Getaway

Look out the window.  If you see MORE SNOW…. Close your eyes – turn away – open them again – If you have a quartz heater move it close and crank it up to full  OR walk over to the thermostat  and crank it up to 80. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil and to throw out some humidity.  Put on your shorts and a t-shirt get some sandals. 


Make this drink (or two – or three)

  • 1 oz. high powered rum
  • 1 oz. pineapple rum
  • 1 oz. blue Curaçao
  • 1 oz. melon liqueur
  • 1 oz. each of pineapple juice and orange juice
  • 1 oz. Sprite

Mix in a big glass with ice. Stir, garnish with an orange and a cherry.

Get a comfy lawn chair put it in front of the TV.  Sip while watching one of the tons of great summer movies or try one of my personal favorites featuring sun, ceiling fans or sweaty people.

  • Dog Day afternoon
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Rain
  • Inherit the Wind
  • Falling Down
  • Barton Fink
  • 12 Angry Men
  • Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • Anything from Australia

So it will cost you a little more in utilities next month for two to four hours of extra heat.  But hey  – its WAY cheaper than airfare to Hawaii and you don’t have to do all that laundry when you get back.  Invite your friends and have a Midwest winter beach party. 

Whiskey Stones!

No, Ruthie … NOT Kidney stones WHISKEY stones!

So you have some great high-class or fine and dandy bargain brand liquor in your rocks glass. Either way, why water it down with melty ice.  Why would you do that?  I’ve been drinking whiskey neat for many a year for just this reason.  (I had a bartender ask me once- “what’s neat?”  I think he was filling in for his cousin the real bartender…..).

Anyhooo…. Here’s a way to cool a straight drink without diluting it with the watery glacial melt of ice cubes. 

You can buy natural soapstone cubes that you pop in the freezer for just an hour or two.  They call them Whiskey Stones. 

whiskey stonesSoapstone is a soft stone that will hold the cold temperature.  And they won’t scratch the glass…. Just in case you are using grandma’s fine crystal or those highly collectible Flintstones Jelly glasses.