Monday, June 19, 2023

Ladies (Only) Night

My friends have full-time jobs, they are raising teenage children, are busy creating side hustles and managing households. They are masters at juggling their lives- making it all look easy but will admit that it is actually quite hard, on some days nearly impossible. There is a collective sense of humor and realness about it. Everyone is down to share it all: celebrate a win no matter how small (you paid off that credit card, managed to vacuum the basement?) and aggressively hug during the low points (the loss of family, jobs). They come to play and they know how to party.

By Friday night, we are completely burnt out from looking at computer screens, waking up tired teenagers to get them to school before the bell and all manner of workplace foolishness. The dog had diarrhea all over the house in the middle of night and your boss is a nincompoop. Doesn't matter anymore. It's Friday, we are off duty: none of us is cooking dinner-husbands, children and pets are all left to fend for themselves. It's only ladies-just us and our stuff, the way we like it.

"Cocktails and Hors D'oeuvres" is a phrase borrowed from my grandmother who turned stale crackers, processed cheese squirted out of a can, Fresca and vodka into an event. I am rocking that vibe for my ladies with a spread including port wine cheddar cheese from a tub, Triscuits, Cheetos and "Spinach Brownies", a recipe from "Simply the Best Course": the Woods Hole Golf Club Centennial Cookbook. Full disclosure: a gift from my grandmother.

The ladies who compiled this tome knew how to gather and party. They made hors d'oeuvres that were somewhat high end for their day, the kind of bites that guests talked about the next morning for better or for worse. The recipes for the most tasty snacks, were requested and passed around if the owner was willing to part with the secret to her hostessing success or better yet, they were kept secret and unveiled when a classic like this is published.

Spinach Brownies are likely not what you may think: a savory bite of sharp cheddar cheese baked with spinach. Cut into tiny, bite size pieces and served at room temperature. So easy to just pop into your mouth, no biting needed, no lipstick ruining moment and no need to cradle both a cocktail and a plate. I hope that Kathy Gillis, wherever she is today is proud that everyone at my ladies gathering truly enjoyed her contribution to the book.

I like to channel the feeling that I get when I read through this book. Just friends and fun, gossip and laughter. Keep the drinks flowing and the snack spread full. There is not really much else to tell: the outfits were fabulous (denim, heels, jewelry), the cocktails were divine (lime gimlets, vodka & Fresca) and I already mentioned the snacks. Suffice it to say, we had a great time, secrets were shared, confidences kept and no one needs to know who dropped her phone in the toilet.

Vodka Gimlet

For one:
2 oz. vodka
3/4 oz. lime juice
2-3 teaspoons simple syrup
lime wheel or wedge for garnish

 Chill a martini glass. Fill a shaker full of ice. Add vodka, lime juice, simple syrup. Shake until well chilled. Strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with lime wheel or wedge.

For a crowd (makes 10):
1 1/4 cups vodka,  (10 oz.)
1 cup lime juice, (8 oz.) if you want to be super accurate, measure out 7.5 oz.
1/2 cup simple syrup (add more to taste)
10 lime wheels

 Mix vodka, lime juice, simple syrup in a large pitcher or container. Taste and adjust flavors, if necessary. Chill until ready to serve.

 Chill 10 martini glasses (or as many for serving). Fill a shaker with ice. Fill shaker 2/3 full with mix. Shake until well chilled. Fill glasses. Continue with remaining mix. Garnish all drinks with lime wheels.

Spinach Brownies
"Simply the Best Course", 1998 
Original recipe submitted by Kathy Gillis

1 cup all purpose flour*
1 teaspoon salt**
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 (10 oz.) package frozen, chopped spinach (thawed and drained well)
1/2 cup minced onions***
4 cups (1 lb.) extra sharpe cheddar cheese, shredded****

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, salt and baking powder. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs slightly. Add eggs and milk to flour mixture. Set aside. Combine spinach, onions and cheese. Add spinach mixture to flour mixture and mix well. Pour into a greased 13" x 9" pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
Cool to room temperature. Cut into bite-sized pieces to serve. 

*I substituted King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour to make these gluten free.
**I use Kosher salt
***I omitted the onions
***It is a ton of cheese! I only used 3 1/2 cups...they came out great!