Fall drinks

  1. Boozy Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte
    1 oz pumpkin spice liqueur
    1 oz coffee liqueur
    1 ½ oz 1% milk (or more, to taste)
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    Combine pumpkin spice liqueur and coffee liqueur in a rocks glass with a few cubes of ice. Add milk or cream to taste (I recommend starting with 1 ½ oz). Stir to combine.
  2. Caramel Apple Mimosas
    1 pitcher:
    1 cup apple cider
    8 oz caramel vodka
    1 (750mL) bottle of champagne
    caramel apple mimosas
    Combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Serve in champagne flutes.
  3. Ginger with a Soul
    1 oz Pumpkin Spice Liqueur
    1 oz Caramel Vodka
    4 oz Ginger Ale
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    Combine all ingredients over ice in a rocks glass. Stir to combine.
  4. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shooters
    1 ½ oz Rumchata
    1 ½ oz Fireball whiskey
    ¾ oz vanilla vodka
    web-cinnamon-toast-crunch-shot
    Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
    Shake, then pour into 2 shot glasses
  5. Sour Apple Soda

    2 oz Sour Apple Pucker
    2 oz Apple Cider
    2 oz Ginger Ale
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    Add equal parts sour apple pucker, apple cider, and ginger ale to a rocks glass. Stir with ice.

  6. Fall Backwards Shooters

    ½ oz caramel vodka
    ½ oz pumpkin spice liqueur
    ½ oz rumchata
    IMG_20170930_221921
    Shake in shaker with ice
    Strain into shot glass

  7. Snow White’s Revenge

    1 oz Sour Apple Pucker
    1 oz Caramel Vodka
    4 oz Sprite
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    Add sour apple pucker, caramel vodka, and sprite to a rocks glass. Stir with ice.

  8. 75 Pumpkins

    ½ oz Pumpkin Spice liqueur
    Champagne
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    Add liqueur to champagne flute. Fill the rest of the way with champagne.

What are your favorite fall drinks? Share with me in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Shout-outs!

Caramel apple mimosas inspired by http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49432/caramel-apple-mimosas-recipe/

Fall Backwards inspired by

http://www.mantitlement.com/recipes/pumpkin-pie-shots/

Cinnamon Toast Crunch inspired by Michael Anthony

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Dog Domestication

Scientists generally agree that dogs genetically diverged from wolves between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. However, the circumstances from which dogs became domesticated are disputed. Until this past July, geneticists and archaeologists believed that dogs were domesticated on two separate occasions: one domestication evolved into Eastern breeds and the other into Western breeds of dogs. However, recent genetic evidence suggests dogs were domesticated only once, and that the East/West split occurred after domestication.

dog-evolution.jpg

In July of 2017, a study was published which studied several dogs’ genomes (genomes are the map of all of an organism’s genes). This genetic evidence lead the researchers to believe that there was a single domestication event. “We really don’t know where dogs were domesticated and as far as we can tell it happened once,” Pontus Skoglund, geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. “The researchers estimate that dogs and wolves diverged genetically between 36,900 and 41,500 years ago, and that eastern and western dogs split 17,500–23,900 years ago. Because domestication had to have happened between those events, the team puts it somewhere from 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.” (Nature.com)

Atlantic-dog-origins-video-1.jpg

One earlier theory suggested that dogs may have begin to evolve alongside farms, developing the ability to digest grain. This theory indicates that wolves who could digest the grain stored on the farms were later domesticated by the farmers. However, the genetic evidence from the dog genomes studied this year suggests that they evolved the ability to digest grain after domestication. The ability to digest grain is marked by the number of copies of the AMY2B gene. The researchers found that dogs who lived thousands of years after domestication still did not have the genetic markers for the ability to digest grain, strongly suggesting that the previous theory (that wolves became able to digest grain, and were then domesticated by farmers) to be untrue.

wolf-dog.jpg

Archaeologists still believe that dogs were domesticated twice, due to archaeological evidence. In time, I am confident more research will be conducted, and a clearer picture drawn so that scientists can pin down what truly happened thousands of years ago. However, one thing is clear–dog has been man’s best friend for a very long time.

dog and baby.jpg

Did you enjoy this post? What future science topics would you like to read about? Let me know in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter, and as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Sources:

Science stuff:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/dog-domestication-happened-just-once-ancient-dna-study-suggests

https://www.nature.com/news/ancient-genomes-heat-up-dog-domestication-debate-1.22320

Photos: http://www.animalbehaviorcollege.com/blog/a-short-history-of-canine-origins/

https://www.timetoast.com/timelines/evolution-of-dogs

http://www.playbuzz.com/plrjiv10/wolf-or-dog

http://dog-milk.com/the-atlantics-the-origin-of-dogs-video/

International Festival

A few Saturdays ago, my husband and I were hanging out in our pajamas and looking through a local radio station’s list of local weekend events. “Oktoberfest with…” I giggled “wiener dog races.” Scrolling with my thumb, I looked over the list. “International Food and Music Festival!” I poked my husband “And it’s free!” After finishing up my blog post (“Sweet Baked Chicken” in case you were wondering) we threw on some clothes and headed out.

“Where are we?” I asked about half an hour later.

“Eastern Wake county” It felt like the middle of nowhere compared to our urban home. I began to feel trepidatious. Would a tiny town in the middle of nowhere have a good international festival, or would Wendell, NC disappoint us by presenting only a handful of stalls?

As we reached the main stretch of town, we knew we were in the right place. Cars lined the street and several hundred (if not a few thousand) people were gathered in the town square. After driving around for a few minutes we found street parking less than a 5 minute walk from the festival.

Live music was being played on the left and a temporary rock wall, inflatable bouncy castle, and various other carnival games were spread out to the right, with about a dozen food stalls in the middle. Each stall represented a different country. Honduras, El Salvador, The Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Ireland, Poland, the Philippines, and Louisiana were all represented. We walked from stall to stall, practically drooling, and tried to decide where to eat.

“Let’s just get it all.” My husband suggested. Instead of paying with cash, tickets were purchased at the entrance and food cost anywhere from 1 to 8 tickets. Pulling out a $20 bill, my husband bought 20 tickets and we headed back to the food stalls.

“Where do you want to go first?”

“Hmm…” I thought for a moment, overwhelmed by my options. “The Philippines” I decided. So we headed to the Filipino booth for some barbeque chicken.

“Three tickets please” The attendant said, and we dropped 3 tickets into a bright red box. She handed us a shish kabob with mouth-wateringly delicious looking chicken skewered on it. We moved into the shade, because despite being mid-September it was probably creeping up towards 90F and the sun was beating down on us. The chicken was heavenly. We devoured it in record time, and moved on to the next stall.

Our next stop was Poland for vegetarian pierogi, followed by plantains from Honduras, and veggie tamales from Guatemala. The sun was still beating down, so we went over to the boy scout’s tent for a bottle of water. A polite young man gave us an icy cold bottle of water for 2 tickets. We took turns gulping it down before returning to the food. After getting chicken and rice from the Dominican Republic, we decided it was time for dessert, so we picked up some Irish cream fudge from Ireland.

Standing in the shade near the Irish booth, devouring our fudge, I wondered aloud “Why isn’t there an Indian booth? There’s a huge South Asian population in this area.” Then it hit me: “Theses are all Catholic countries”

“What? No.” My husband countered.

“Yeah, yeah they are! Latin America, Poland, Ireland….”

“What about the Philippines?”

“I think they’re Christian too!” (They are, I looked it up.) “And I guess Louisiana too…” I looked at the map of the festival the smiling middle-aged woman at the entrance had given us. It said “Saint Eugene Catholic Church presents their 15th Annual International Food & Music Festival.”

“Perhaps the booths are run by church members” my husband suggested.

“Maybe so….”

 

Having spent the last of our tickets, we headed back to the car. We drove away from little Wendell, NC with full bellies, and discussions about how far Catholicism has spread, and different the cultures it has touched are. Even only including Catholic countries, this international festival incorporated so much diversity in culture and food. It was an interesting lens through which to see the international community in our area.

Did you enjoy this post?  What are your experiences with international festivals in your area?  What are your thoughts on the spread of Catholicism?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!  Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Photo creds:

Downtown Wendell: http://www.fabriciuslaw.com/photos/downtown-wendell-nc

Food festival photo: http://www.thefoodfestival.com

Halloween Drinks

Are you hosting a Halloween party this year? Your friends will love these Halloween themed drinks!

  1. Caramel Apple Mimosas

    1 pitcher:
    1 cup apple cider
    8oz caramel vodka
    1 (750 mL) bottle of champagne

    caramel apple mimosas

    Combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Serve in champagne flutes.

  2. Bloody Brain Shooters

    ½ shot peach schnapps
    ½ shot irish cream
    Dash of grenadine

    IMG_20170929_210351

    Fill shot glass halfway with peach schnapps.
    Pour in irish cream with pourer or use a straw to drizzle cream in
    Irish cream will curdle giving the “brain” effect
    Add a few drops of grenadine for “blood”

  3. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shots

    1 ½ oz Rumchata
    1 ½ oz Fireball whiskey
    ¾ oz vanilla vodka

    web-cinnamon-toast-crunch-shot

    Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
    Shake, then pour into 2 shot glasses

  4. Harry Potter themed shooters

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    1. Gryffindor
      1 shot of strawberry vodka
      dash of grenadine
      Combine in shot glass
    2. Slytherin
      1 part sour apple pucker
      1 part vodka
      Pour vodka into shot glass.  Layer on sour apple pucker.
    3. Ravenclaw
      ½ shot white Rum
      1 splash Lime juice
      ½ shot Blue curacao
      Pour 1/2 shot of rum into a shot glass.  Layer on blue curacao.  Add a dash of lime juice.
    4. Hufflepuff
      ¾ oz Malibu rum
      ½ oz lemon juice
      ½ oz pineapple juice
      Combine in shaker with ice. Shake and strain into shot glass
  5. Fall Backwards Shooters
    ½ oz caramel vodka
    ½ oz pumpkin spice liqueur (try my recipe for homemade pumpkin spice liqueur!)
    ½ oz rumchata

    IMG_20170930_221921

    Shake in shaker with ice
    Strain into shot glass

I love Halloween. I love dressing up, I love candy, I love stepping on crunchy leaves, and I really love Halloween themed drinks. I’ve hosted Halloween parties several times in my life and having fabulous themed drinks is always a hit (okay, so when I was 8 it was a little different). A lot of these drinks would be fun to have all autumn long, so enjoy!

Did you like this post? What are your favorite Halloween/Autumn drinks? Share your thoughts in the comments! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter, and as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Shout-outs!

Caramel apple mimosas inspired by http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49432/caramel-apple-mimosas-recipe/ (we also got the photo from them)

Bloody brain shooter inspired by

Fall Backwards inspired by: http://www.mantitlement.com/recipes/pumpkin-pie-shots/

Cinnamon Toast Crunch inspired by Michael Anthony (photo credit: https://www.liquor.com/articles/fireball-drinks/)

Harry Potter shooters inspired by the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Liqueur

Ingredients:

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 oz vodka
½ oz simple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Combine pumpkin pie spice and vodka in a small bottle
  2. Close and shake vigorously until spices are mostly dissolved (liquid will turn brown)
  3. Let sit at least 2 hours (for best results, let sit overnight). Shake occasionally.
  4.  Strain liquid through coffee filter (I ended up with about 1 ½ oz of liquid after straining) and discard solids.
  5. Add simple syrup to liquid and mix thoroughly

This recipe is pretty simple and perfect for fall drinks (or even coffee, we won’t judge). Enjoy!

Inspired by: https://www.tastingtable.com/cook/recipes/pumpkin-spice-liqueur-recipe

Destination: Pristina, Kosovo

Pristina: A Quick Look

Language: Albanian; Serbian spoken by a minority
Currency: Euro
Drinking Age: no minimum legal drinking age
Public Transportation: Buses and taxis are common in the city, and between cities
Passport: Required for US citizens. US Citizens may stay in Kosovo up to 90 days without a visa
Vaccines: Routine vaccines, plus Hepatitis A. Hepatitis B and Rabies recommended for some travelers

Before you leave:

  • Pristina is the capital city of Kosovo, a small somewhat disputed nation in Southeastern Europe. It would be wise to do some research regarding the Yugoslavian civil war, which is still in very recent memory for many Kosovars
  • Avoid discussing Serbia if possible. Serbia’s control of the region for many years is not a pleasant memory, and no matter what your opinion of the conflict is, it’s best kept to yourself.
  • Kosovars are very warm and friendly. You will find that many are genuinely eager to be your friend. It’s not uncommon to be invited into someone’s home shortly after meeting them.

Once you get there:

    • The easiest way into Pristina is to fly into the international airport, or to rent a car and driving up from either FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) or Albania. Keep in mind that in the past, people have had trouble crossing the border between Kosovo and Serbia due to the border not really being formally recognized by Serbia. It’s possible to drive across, but research the immigration practices before attempting or you could end up with fines and unneeded hassle.
    • Public transportation can be a little hard to figure out in Kosovo. The easiest way to figure it out is to ask a local! You might have to try a few people before you find someone that speaks English, but they will point you in the right direction. Pristina is also rather walk-able, if you so choose.

1. Bill Clinton Boulevard

This is always my go-to fun fact about Pristina: there’s a 10 foot tall statue of Bill Clinton along “Bill Clinton Boulevard.” It was built in 2009 to commemorate Bill Clinton’s support of Kosovo during the Yugoslavian civil war. I remember being caught totally off guard when I was driving through Pristina and happened across a giant Bill Clinton statue next to the road. Good times…

2. Newborn Monument

The Newborn Monument is a must see. Unveiled on 17 February 2008, the day that Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, it symbolizes Kosovo’s status as a new nation. The coolest part about it: It’s repainted every year, with the new design being unveiled on February 17th.

3. Skanderbeg Square

Skanderbeg Square marks the beginning of the pedestrian streets in Pristina. It’s also the site of a statue commemorating Skanderbeg, an Albanian hero. There are plenty of nice hotels in this area, and when the weather is good you can see lots of people out and enjoying themselves.

4. Kosovo Museum

The Kosovo Museum is full of artifacts found throughout the country. Its mission is to preserve the history and culture of the country. It is also the headquarters of the Kosovo Archaeological Institute. They’ve carefully preserved thousands of artifacts, some dating all the way back to the Ottoman Empire. It’s a good way to spend half a day if you’re into museums and history.

5. Natural Beauty

Travelling in Kosovo is not complete without also taking in the natural beauty. If you’re used to travelling in North America or Western Europe, Pristina might feel a little run down. If the city is getting to you, there’s tons of things to do in the surrounding countryside, oftentimes these things are also not in any guidebooks. All of the following are not more than a few hours by car from Pristina.

  • Summit Mt. Ljuboten
    At 8196 feet, Mt Ljuboten is the tallest mountain in Kosovo. Climbing the mountain takes most of a day unless you’re really fast, and in the summer it is nothing more than a steep walk and a casual scramble. In the winter, however, you’ll need proper climbing gear as it’s covered in snow and ice. The summit sits right on the border between Kosovo and FYROM. On a clear day, you can see incredibly far from the top. It’s a good place for a #kosovo photo op.
  • Mirusha Park
    Pictured above, exploring Mirusha Park is a great summertime activity. It’s a large canyon with all sorts of waterfalls and lakes to swim in. It’s a great place to cool off in the summer and meet other people. Don’t miss this one.
  • Brezovica Ski Resort
    Called “the most delightfully dysfunctional ski resort in Europe” by the New York Times, Brezovica is a fun place to learn to ski. If you’ve ever been to a ski resort in the United States, you might want to forget about that experience, as Brezovica Ski Resort is nothing like that. The lifts are rickety, the rental skis are well loved, and the kids will literally ski circles around you and laugh when you fall backwards on flat ground. If you don’t know how to ski, my recommendation is to just rent a pair, go up the slope right outside the hotel, and start riding down. You’ll figure it out!

In summary, Pristina (and Kosovo in general) is a good place to start if you’re looking to get off the beaten path in Europe. It’s safe, the people are nice, and the countryside is beautiful. Espressos and wine are fun, but there’s a whole other side to the continent most Americans never take the time to get to know. Kosovo is incredibly unique, you won’t find anywhere quite like it. After having lived there for 9 months, it sorta grew on me in a weird way. If you’re looking to break out of the old Paris-Berlin-Budapest route, hop on over to Pristina for a few days.

Many thanks to David Anthony for creating this guide to Pristina, Kosovo.

Did you like this article? Have you visited Kosovo? Tell us about it in the comments! Share via Facebook or Twitter, and as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Links:

Bill Clinton Boulevard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton_Boulevard#/media/File:Bill_Clinton_statue.jpg

Newborn: http://pages.kiva.org/node/10892

Skanderbeg Square: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g295385-d2476250-i131836377-Swiss_Diamond_Hotel_Prishtina-Pristina.html

Kosovo Museum: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosovo_Museum#/media/File:Muzeu_i_Kosov%C3%ABs.JPG

Mirusha Park: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirusha_Park#/media/File:Unseen_Mirusha.jpg

NYT Article about Brezovica: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/travel/kosovo-ski-holidays.html?mcubz=3

Pristina photo: https://sk.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pri%C5%A1tina

Sweet Baked Chicken Recipe

Who wants to read a lengthy introduction to a recipe? Let’s get cooking!

Servings: 2-3
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

¾ cup of cranberry-grape juice
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chili powder
Salt to taste
3 frozen chicken breasts
½-1 bell pepper
1-1 ½ cups of rice
Shredded or sliced cheese to taste

IMG_20170913_182210

Instructions:

  1. In a 7x11in (17.5x28cm) glass, oven-safe dish, combine juice, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and salt
  2. Add frozen chicken breasts (all roughly the same size)
  3. Bake at 375°F/190°C for 30 minutes
  4. Remove pan and flip chicken
  5. Return to 375°F/190°C oven for 20 minutes
  6. Dice bell pepper. Slice or shred your cheese of choice (I used sharp cheddar).  Cook rice according to package directions.
  7. Remove pan. Add bell pepper and cheese to taste. Cut chicken to check that it is thoroughly cooked. (For best results use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature is at least 165°F/75°C.)
  8. Return to 375°F/190°C oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted
  9. Remove and serve over rice. Use the remaining juices in the pan as a sauce.

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One day I was home alone for dinner. I wanted something easy I could just stick in the oven and forget about, but that wasn’t boring or pre-made. Thus, the sweet baked chicken was born.

We didn’t have any wine, so I subbed in juice, not really following a recipe. I grabbed some spices that seemed to go together, threw it all together and shrugged to myself, thinking it couldn’t be that bad. About an hour later I was enjoying a delicious mildly sweet chicken dish and kicking myself for not writing anything down.

Fast forward to this past week, when I tried to recall everything I’d added to my dish and how much I needed so that I could make this thing again. When I figured it out, I knew I had to share the dish with my readers. Enjoy!

Did you enjoy this post? Did you try this recipe? Tell me about it in the comments and share this post via Facebook or Twitter. And, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this.