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Oh Betty! So beautiful, so miserable, so much denial. Is she likable? Not really. Is she a good mother? Hell no. She lacks Joan’s competence and Peggy’s ambition, so why of all the wonderfully crafted and acted women on Mad Men do I adore Betty the most?

I adore Betty because we witness her struggle to find herself. Cold, lost, and tenaciously flawed, much like my own mother, Betty struggles in the dichotomy of what she was told would make her happy (housewife/mother/arm candy) and what might actually give her fulfillment. Tragically, unlike Joan or Peggy, Betty is too far removed from her emotional self to know what she wants.

So where does that leave Betty now? Apparently eating away her misery – losing the beauty she learned to depend on. Oh Betty! What will happen to you? Will you discover what brings you joy? Will you develop compassion for your children? Will your world expand from the frozen, self-absorbed universe you’ve trapped yourself in? Wait, am I still talking about Betty?

Anyway, in honor of my favorite dysfunctional mother on television (Lucille Bluth comes in a close second), I offer Betty’s favorite cocktail (the vodka gimlet) in gelatinous form. Tart, sweet, and fruity, this gelatin was a hit at my Mad Men cocktail gelatin party.

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming)
  • ¾ water
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • Juice of two limes (approx. 1/2 cup) with zest reserved
  • 1 ½ cup vodka

Put ½ cup of water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the 2 packets of gelatin on top.  Set bowl aside. Put water, sugar, and lime juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lime zest. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lime syrup, and return to saucepan. Reheat the syrup, and pour over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in vodka.

Put mixture in refrigerator (or freezer) until thickened to a soft gel consistency. It should be easy to stir but thick enough to suspend the strawberries. Stir in (or place) strawberries into mixture, and the mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

To remove gelatin, put mold into a bowl or sink full of warm water for a few seconds. After removing from water, gently shake the mold side to side. When the gelatin jiggles away from the edges of the mold, put plate on top of mold and flip over. If gelatin does not come out, try repeating the process or run a knife around the edge. Be careful not to melt the mold in the process.

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A few weeks ago my friend Lynda requested a special recipe for her grandmother’s 100th birthday – a vodka tonic. According to Lynda, her grandmother credits her longevity to the daily consumption of this classic cocktail. How great is that?! I credit my occasional poor decision making and sluggish weekend mornings to cocktail consumption. Lynda made this recipe for her grandmother’s 100th birthday party, and it was a hit. I couldn’t be more honored.

In an attempt to try something new, I added candied limes to Grandma’s Vodka Tonic. This recipe for candied lemons from Real Simple magazine inspired me. Unfortunately the results were mixed: Boiling limes turns them brown (not very pretty), but they tasted sweet and limey! Oh, lemons can easily substitute limes in this recipe.

Recipe for 7 cups

  • 4 packets Knox gelatin
  • ¾ cup water (for blooming gelatin)
  • ½ cup water (for syrup)
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime (approx. 1/4 cup) with zest reserved
  • 1 ½ cups tonic water
  • 2 cups vodka
  • Berries of choice, or candied limes

Put ¾ cup of cold water in a large bowl and sprinkle 4 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put remaining water and sugar and in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lime zest. Cover and let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lime syrup, and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in lime juice, vodka, and tonic.

Put mixture in refrigerator (or freezer) until thickened to a soft gel consistency. It should be easy to stir but thick enough to suspend the berries. (Length of time varies.) Stir in berries (or whatever you’re using) and spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

This strawberry margarita gelatin mold was inspired by the favorite cocktail of one of my favorite people, Tim Inklebarger. Tim is a fellow Okie and music junkie, former Austinite, brief Alasakan, and now Chicagoan journalist who misses the fantastic Mexican food and margaritas of Texas. Can’t say I blame him…

Now, I realize I say this often, but this gelatin mold may be my new favorite. The fresh pureed strawberries combined with lime juice, tequila, and quality orange liquor created a delightfully sweet and tangy gelatin like none I have experienced before. It tasted like a gelatinous citrus-strawberry aqua fresca, with tequila. The key to a margarita gelatin mold is “Top Shelf” booze. Here I used Hornitos Resposado and Paula’s Texas Orange Premium Liqueur. Enjoy and Cheers!

 

 

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ water (for blooming)
  • 1 ¼ cup water (for syrup)
  • ¾ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • ¼ cup lime juice (approx. 1 or 2 limes, depending on size) with zest reserved
  • ½ cup tequila
  • ¼ cup triple sec
  • ¾ cup pureed strawberries, seeds strained

Put ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put water, sugar, and lime juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lime zest. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lime syrup and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in tequila, triple sec, and pureed strawberries. Spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

The margarita – a killer combination of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice – is the best of Texas in a glass. And as a Texan and cocktail enthusiast, I take margaritas very seriously. When making them for parties (or just for myself with homemade tortilla soup), I use fresh limes, the best quality alcohol I can afford, and classic margarita proportions (1.5 oz tequila, 1.0 oz triple sec, 0.5 oz lime juice). For booze, I am presently enjoying Hornitos Resposado – it’s spicy, sweet, and affordable. And instead of cheap triple sec, I prefer Paula’s Texas Orange Premium Liqueur. All this creates a lovely sweet and sour combination with no yucky cheap booze or sour mix aftertaste.

I was originally weary of creating a margarita gelatin mold – cocktail-based gelatin molds are a tricky (and expensive) ordeal! I typically experiment with two or three recipes before creating one worth eating. Shockingly, this mold turned out great after just one trial. (I believe the key to cocktail-based gelatin molds is decent quality alcohol – use poor quality booze, and the gelatin mold will taste like a sweet, sticky, cheap boozy mess.) Along with “Top Shelf” booze, the strawberries provided visual interest and sweet fruity tastiness. Honestly, my friends and I were surprised how good this turned out!  Given it’s versatility, I plan on several more margarita-inspired gelatin molds in the future.

Recipe for 3.5 Cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming)
  • 2 cups water (for syrup)
  • ¾ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • ¼ cup lime juice (approx. 1 or 2 limes) with zest reserved
  • ½ cup tequila
  • ¼ cup triple sec
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (or other fruit of your choice – except fresh mangos, see Gelatin Tips and Tricks)

Put ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put rest of water, sugar, and lime juice in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lime zest. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lime syrup and add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in tequila and triple sec.

Put mixture in refrigerator (or freezer) until thickened to a soft gel consistency. It should be easy to stir but thick enough to hold the strawberries. Stir in strawberries and spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

This creation is the latest installment in my series of herb-infused boozy gelatin molds. The unique fusion of rosemary, limes, blueberries, club soda, and gin proves irresistible as a cocktail; and even yummier in gelatinous form. I adore the delightfully sweet and sour combination of berries, citrus, herbs, and booze.

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets Knox gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming)
  • ¾ water (for syrup)
  • ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
  • Juice of one lime (approx. ¼ cup) with zest reserved
  • ½ cup 100% blueberry juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • ¾ cup gin
  • ½ cup club soda
  • ½ cup blueberries

Put ½ cup of water in a small bowl and sprinkle the 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put water, blueberry juice, sugar, and lime juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add lime zest and rosemary leaves. Let stew for 10-minutes. Strain the lime/rosemary syrup, and return to saucepan. Bring to boil, remove from heat, and add the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in cold gin and club soda.

Put mixture in refrigerator (or freezer) until thickened to a soft gel consistency. It should be easy to stir but thick enough to suspend the blueberries. Stir in berries and spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours.

The mojito is one of my favorite summer drinks. Sweet, sour, minty, and bubbly. Here I suspended strawberries and mint leaves for visual interest, and added blueberries to create a patriotic theme for 4th of July.

Making cocktail-based molds from scratch is a challenge! I finally decided to steep lime zest and mint leaves in a hot lime syrup (water, limes, sugar). The lime/mint combination tasted great, but I was heavy handed on the rum. Even my alcohol loving friends admitted it was strong.  A bit more practice and I’ll hopefully unlock the secret to cocktail-based gelatin molds.

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