My perfect afternoon? Oh, how funny you should ask that! I was just sitting here daydreaming about that very idea, so I’ll happily share it with you.
The weather needs to be around 80°. Not the 80° that happens on the coolest nights during my Alabama Julys. I mean the glorious, humidity-free, 80° November afternoons that beckon you to skip work, throw a picnic blanket down in the park, and enjoy the weather that, I imagine, summers outside the Deep South are like. So, that kind of 80° outside, but a ceiling fan rotating on its lowest speed, giving just the right amount of a breeze to a screened-in sleeping porch.
While lying on said screened-in porch on this perfect afternoon, basking in the temperature, I’d also be reading a book. It could be any book, as long as it’s fascinating and has wonderful characters. Then, I like to have a refreshing, slightly alcoholic drink nearby, since it’s easy to get thirsty from all this idealized enjoyment. And if there were cheese straws within reach, I would not complain at all. But only if they were my grandmother’s.
Doesn’t that all just sound…perfect? Well, I was having these same thoughts over Christmas while in the relative cold of Tennessee. I came downstairs one morning, bundled in layers of sweat clothes, to find my mom’s Southern Living open on the breakfast table. A beautiful bottle of Satsuma-cello with light streaming through its liquid made me stop and stare intently at the small recipe that only warranted a half-page. Rosemary-Satsuma Julep? Well, that’s just a delectable combination of summer and winter flavors. Which meant it was perfect for my idealized daydreamed afternoons.
Makes 3 quarts
From Southern Living
Unless you have a soccer team needing snacks, this recipe will leave you with a good amount of Satsumas ready to be eaten. Store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and eat soon. You could also continue stocking your house with nice drinks, and make fresh-squeezed orange (Satsuma) juice!
1 handle of Vodka
4 cups sugar
5 cups water
Using a microplane zester, zest your Satsumas into a large, airtight pitcher. Pour vodka in and seal. Store the pitcher in a cool, dark spot, like a pantry, at least 8 days. You will know the citrus oils have infused the vodka when the zest is white-ish.
Wait to make the simple syrup until the vodka is ready. Then, combine sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. This should take about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Add the simple syrup to pitcher and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
Pour mixture through a mesh strainer or coffee filter into another pitcher. Discard zest. Store in refrigerator for 1 month.
Muddle 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves with 1 tablespoon sugar. Add 1 cup Satsuma-cello and let stand for 5 minutes. Strain into pitcher and stir in 2 cup ice and 2 cup club soda. Makes 4-6 drinks.