A Farewell to Summer: Cole Slaw and (Hemingway) Cocktails

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I’m alive! Were you worried?

I have been running around every single weekend for the past two months and it does NOT lend itself to photographing meals or blogging. So I’m a bit behind and playing catch up now. Though it’s now technically autumn (yesssss), I’m here to finish up this year’s A Pinch of Summer series.

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About three weeks ago, I was on my way to family vacation #2 to finish out the summer. We skipped on down to Key West for a very different vacation than Vermont, full of roosters, humidity, and so much cole slaw.

My parents, my brother (Ian) and I got down to Key West a day before my grandparents did, which gave us enough time to settle in, rent a bike, and realize that Key West beaches are super rocky due to being off the world’s third largest coral reef. While it’s a cool fact and all, turns out our feet are too dainty to handle rock beaches, so Ian and I spent about half an hour at the beach on the first day before retreating to the small but perfect dipping pool in the backyard of our rental house. The shortest beach trip ever gave me plenty of time to run to the market to pick up the basic necessities for a simple cole slaw and it gave Ian enough time to discover our backyard friend, who we came to call Tennessee. (Tennessee Williams frequented the island back in the day and he also happened to write a short play called “A Night At The Iguana.” The more you know.)

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I love cole slaw, which is good, because this would be one of four times I ate it all week. It was a looooong and dutiful farewell to summer.

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I didn’t make any sort of fancy cole slaw. We just needed a side for burgers and fries, and since we were in a rental house, we had limited ingredients to work with. We bought ingredients we knew we’d use again during the week and the resulting dish was perfect in its simplicity.

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The critters in Key West are so different from what we have in the Northeast. Instead of squirrels and pigeons, you have iguanas, tiny little lizards, and roosters and chickens everywhere! Roosters, as it turns out, don’t only cock-a-doodle-doo in the morning. It’s pretty much a 24/7 thing. Luckily, there weren’t any directly outside of our rental house. They do hang out residentially in some areas, though, as seen below.

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(^ see? there he is, just hangin’ out on the lower right, like he owns the place.)

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Above and below: Two different parts of the insland, two different kinds of tracks.

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Yet another form of animal life found on Key West is, of course, the six-toed cats at The Hemingway House. This was my favorite part of the trip. Well, besides the kayak trip I took with my parents. My dad fell in the water. So I guess that and the Hemingway House was a tie for favesies.

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I would tell you everything I learned about Hemingway and his four wives while on the tour, but I’d rather tell you about all the cats I met. (I really enjoyed reading The Paris Wife and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. Two fictional works based respectively on Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, and F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda.)

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Almost all the cats are polydactyl cats, meaning they have extra toes on their front paws. They are all descendants of one cat, Snow White, who was given to Hemingway by a ship’s captain. Though they’re not all polydactyl, they all carry the gene. What they all are is cute. So instead of taking photos of Hemingway’s furniture and grounds, I mostly took photos of the cats.

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^ Just me and a great new friend.

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My mom and I even got to feed two of them! Throughout the tour, a few of them were so bold as to nudge and lightly paw at our tour guide for treats. They’re my kind of cats.

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They have vets come in on at least a weekly basis and the cats are very well taken care of. That’s why I couldn’t steal a companion for Marlowe –they’re just too well looked after.

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^ Some other cool cats hangin’ around the Hemingway House. Nana and Papa.

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After visiting Hemingway’s house, I had no choice but to whip up some Hemingway Daiquiris. I forget when I heard about these, but I knew I’d want one as soon as we were down in Key West. I thought the island bars would be inundated with them, but as it turns out, I didn’t go to many of the island bars. Key West is definitely a party island. Its main industry is tourism, and with that comes a plenty of cocktails. However, as often happens on my family vacations, going to be early is kiiiind of a priority for me. So I made us a pre-dinner round of daiquiris instead!

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After he lived in Key West, while living in Cuba, Hemingway became known for having his favorite drink, then called El Papa Doble. It was white rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and maraschino liqueur. Most people serve it straight up now, but I wanted it over crushed ice, the way Hemingway always had it. And whaddya know? The rental house had a blender, so it was meant to be.

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I couldn’t find any maraschino liqueur, so I just got come cherries to add as an homage and for a pop of color. I made some simple syrup to balance the tartness, but next time I’d definitely add more. It’s not a perfected recipe, but let’s not forget what A Pinch of Summer is all about – chill, summer recipes for which you may or may not use measurements.

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Though our daiquiris were a bit tart, they suited me well enough and I would definitely try them again in the right setting. Especially if I could try them with the liqueur I was missing.

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Finally, on the last night in Key West, we took a sunset sail with the best crew. The boat was called Blue Ice (highly recommended if you’re down there) and after a dinner of burgers and cole slaw (yes, juuust like the first night), we boarded the boat, grabbed some beer and wine from the cooler, and were sailed around for two hours.

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^ New Jersey makes an appearance at the docks.

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September is a very rainy month in Key West, and it rained most nights of the week. We were doubtful when booking our sail, but the last night turned out to be lovely. There was a spot of rain, but the sun stayed out the whole time. The sun set behind teh clouds and created some of the most beautifully colored clouds I’ve ever seen. We even got a rainbow, awwwwwww.

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And that, friends, was how my summer came to a close. Now it’s October. I’m in a sweater and boots. I’ve already gone to a pumpkin patch and I’ve already made a few soups and a batch of chicken stock. Farewell #beachvibez and hello #fallvibes. I’m glad you’re here.

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Basic Cole Slaw

Serves: 6-8 people

Ingredients:

1 large head of cabbage, green or purple (or two smaller heads, one of each color)

1-2 carrots, or a handful of baby carrots, thinly sliced

Red, orange, and yellow peppers, thinly sliced (as many as you want)

About 1 cup of mayonnaise

1-2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard

1-2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Cut the head of cabbage in half, vertically so that you cut through the tough, stalky bottom. Peel off a few of the touch layers then cut out the tough core. Shred the cabbage with a knife or put it through a food processor fitted with shredding blade.
  2. Combine the shredded cabbage, carrots, and peppers in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the mayonnaise and mustard in a smaller mixing bowl and whisk together. Add the vinegar until you reach a smooth, creamy, pourable texture. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Add the dressing to the cabbage mixture and mix together. Plop a spoonful down next to a burger or hot dog and dig in! 

Hemingway Daiquiri

Roughly based on this recipe

Yields: About 6-8 slushy bevs

Ingredients:

Bacardi white rum

Freshly squeezed lime juice

Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

Simple syrup

Maraschino cherry, to garnish

Lime slice to garnish

Ice, to shake with or to crush 

General Instructions:

  1. Combine all liquid ingredients with ice in a blender, blend, and serve with a maraschino cherry and a slice of lime. Or you can combine over ice in a shaker, shake, and strain into individual glasses.

Gonna be honest. I hardly measured this at all. I used an actual drinking glass to make relative measurements. My favorite person ever, Ina Garten, makes big batches of cocktails that generally serve around 8 people. In that case, an ounce of liquid will then jump to a cup. So, in this case, I feel relatively confident is laying out the following measurements:

2 cups of white rum, ¾ cup of lime juice, ½ cup or grapefruit juice, and ¾ cup of simple syrup.

No promises! (But isn’t a little risk always fun when making cocktails? Yeah?!)

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