Well-hydrated

It’s been an interesting month. Between the neverending panic that I feel when I look at the news and the similarly-paralyzing fear that sets in when I try to write my dissertation, I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to figure out what I need, and how to get it. I’ve instituted evening moratoria from the internet, regular baths, and semi-regular yoga. I’ve spent a lot of time cuddling with my cats and watching my favorite comfort-TV. I’ve read (for leisure! A real delight in grad school), and laughed until I cried with friends, and planned my life so tightly that I can’t help but get things done.

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I shouldn’t be surprised, though, that the only place I’ve found real comfort has been in the kitchen. I think what I love most about cooking is the combination of rote and meditative (chopping onions, peeling vegetables, kneading bread, creaming butter) with the creative. (The dirty dishes that provide a source for my insomnia-driven stress cleaning are just a bonus.) There are parts of my time in the kitchen that I don’t love—chiefly when I need to cook something 2-3 more times before the recipe is ready for the blog, and I’ve mentally moved on to something else, but for the most part, I plan my time in the kitchen around my mood as much as I do what’s in season. In recent weeks, there’s been a lot of bread, a lot of puréed soups … and a lot of cocktails.My most recent obsession began a week and a half ago, when my best friend popped onto my Facebook timeline with a sentence that immediately haunted me: “I came here to say ‘Celery Tonic.'”

I’ve had a complicated relationship with celery over the years. As a child, I detested ants on a log, and the only way I’d ever eat celery is cooked to oblivion in soups. My obsession with Thanksgiving stuffing started our reconciliation: over the years, the amount of celery kept inching up like it was going to counteract the amount of butter I use.

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Next thing I knew, I found myself occasionally grabbing a bit of raw celery. I can’t really explain the way I feel about it. I don’t like it, exactly. It has an astringent quality that I find, frankly, unappealing, and at the same time, celery has the freshest, greenest flavor possible. Celery tastes the same way to me that freshly cut grass smells. Making that drinkable is almost too good to be true.

The recipes below started as a Collins, but after more experimentation, I ended up with a trio of celery-citrus beverages that are perfect for, so far as I can tell, any occasion.

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Celery-Lime Tonic
The base of all these recipes is very similar. I’ve made both of them with lime, lemon, and a combination, and they are equally good!

½ lime or lemon
1 small stalk celery, chopped
½ ounce (about one tablespoon) simple syrup, or 2 teaspoons sugar
2 ounces gin

Squeeze the lime into a cocktail shaker and add the peel. Add the celery and the simple syrup or sugar and muddle well. Add the gin and plenty of ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass or coupe and serve up, with a twist of lime or lemon peel.


Celery Collins

½ lime or lemon
1 small stalk celery, chopped
½ ounce (about one tablespoon) simple syrup, or 2 teaspoons sugar
2 ounces gin
chilled sparkling water (lemon, lime, or plain)

Squeeze the lime into a cocktail shaker and add the peel. Add the celery and the simple syrup or sugar and muddle well. Add the gin and plenty of ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a Collins glass, top with chilled sparkling water, and add a twist of lime or lemon.


Celery-Citrus Cooler
We are having a freakishly mild winter in the midwest, so celery water is refreshing enough, but I will be drinking this all summer long.

½ lime or lemon
1 small stalk celery, chopped
½ ounce (about one tablespoon) simple syrup, or 2 teaspoons sugar
chilled water or sparkling water (lemon, lime, or plain)

Squeeze the lime into a cocktail shaker and add the peel. Add the celery and the simple syrup or sugar and muddle well. Add plenty of ice and shake until well-chilled. Pour over ice and top with water or sparkling water; serve with a twist.


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