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Hello my Foodie Friends!  


Happy 248th Birthday to the greatest country on earth! Do you remember summers as a child? I loved summer time. Probably because there was no school and summer seemed to go on forever. Before technology, my parents were challenged to find ways to keep five children active during the summer months. 

Often times, we would find our own ways to stay entertained. 

Growing up in the early 1960s was a special time and having two brothers meant we were always up to something. Do you remember the rocket car called “Spirit of America” that broke the world land speed record? This was very exciting for the Reardon boys, inspiring us (naturally!) to break our neighborhood go-kart speed record. We had no idea how to do it, but we were not held back by something as trivial as that.  

During one Fourth of July afternoon, my brothers and I discussed how we could make this happen. Brother Dan (age 8) was our engineer, brother Billy (age 7) was the gopher and would gather the tools and materials we guessed we needed. Myself being the oldest (age 9), I was in charge. As we created a design, I knew we needed a long support beam because this go-kart had to be the biggest of all time. I asked Billy to recruit help and spread the word around the neighborhood. Also, we would need help to carry our support beam. It wasn’t long before the phone started ringing asking my mom what was going on?  Mom would look outside the window to see that her angelic little boys were very quiet and busy sawing and hammering away.  There was no one screaming, fighting or crying. Believing that all was well and under control, my mom invited all the other moms over for some cool cocktails to savor this unusually calm holiday. Billy went and recruited more friends, Johnny (Babs), Ricky (Smiley) and Karl (Sobie). While we accumulated our “staff,” my dad was at the hardware store picking up supplies for our new family room remodel. While looking around for items to build our kart, my brother Bill found a ten-foot-long oak beam in the back yard that we had not seen before, and we thought “How lucky!” He was the hero and he and the neighborhood boys helped us carry it, because boy was it heavy! My brother Dan decided that we would need three seats for this vehicle. The set-up was that I would be in front and steer, then Dan would be in the middle and be the brakeman. Billy would be in the rear and throw the parachute when I gave him the signal. We got the wheels from donations from other kids in the neighborhood. In the 1960s every little kid had a wagon and usually at least one wheel was broken leaving two or three for us to use for our cart. We needed six wheels; we got six wheels. We would borrow all the materials this way. We needed tools though, and there was only one Dad in the neighborhood that had every tool you could think of, and it was our Dad! One problem was that he had one big rule, John, Danny or Billy were never allowed to touch his tools. My Dad went to great lengths to make sure we didn’t take them. He would warn the three of us often about this, but there was one family member he never gave that order to, our little angelic sister Patty (age 5).  We sent her to grab the tools. She loved being included. 

Our house was located near the end of the street at the bottom of a very steep hill. Once we completed putting the go-kart together, we named it the “Spirit of America.” We pushed the “Spirit of America” (with the help of ten little kids) up to the top of the hill. We made sure we positioned it on the side of the road and not in the middle. It was safety first, and our moms who seemed quite giggly, were sitting in chaise lounges watching their boys make history. Billy was ready in the back with the parachute made from his pillow case. Dan was ready on the brake and I had the old bike handle bars ready to steer us to victory. Patty had a flag and called out “go!” 

With a big push from all the other kids who knew they would get their turns, we were off down the hill.  The “Spirit of America” was a lot faster than we thought it would be, and we were flying. 

Just then the only car we saw all day was slowly driving past us. It was my dad who seemed to turn his head in slow motion with a look of disbelief as he watched his handsome little boys careening down the street riding his new family room center beam.  We saw him and I thought that we were making him proud. As we were in sight of the end, I called out to Dan to “start braking.” The moms were raising their glasses, we were heroes. 

Then Dan tapped me on the shoulder holding the detached brake stick in his hand and said “sorry.”  I then called out to Billy to throw the parachute behind him, and he did. As the parachute bounced on the road harmlessly, we realized no one attached the chute to the cart. Our moms stood up in horror while I skillfully steered us through our front yard, through my mom’s flowers and hydrangeas, hitting my dad’s white picket fence which brought us to a halt. Glancing over at my dad, I saw his muscles were ripping through his shirt like the hulk as he raced to grab his boys. Dad asked if we were ok while I quickly responded, “we are awesome!” 

We were very lucky to be physically OK. For the rest of the summer, we were given very strict guidelines on what types of projects we were going to be allowed to work on. 

My mom did keep the other moms entertained with summer cocktails through the rest of the afternoon. This was a story for the neighborhood record, still being talked about today with my brothers and sister as we reminisce about summers of past. 

Summertime calls for delicious foods, amazing drinks, and wonderful company. Refreshing summer cocktails are the perfect way to stay cool. However, before you can entertain your guests with a refreshing pineapple margarita or a strawberry mint Moscow mule, you’ll need the right tools to make them. Be prepared this summer by checking out these must have tools to make the perfect summer drink!

An essential tool to make a Mojito is a “muddler.” The muddler is basically the stick you use to smash your ingredients in the glass.  It is used like a pestle to mash or muddle fruits, herbs, and spices. The classic muddler is a rod with a slight flare on one end and a flat surface or teeth on the other side. Both the flat surface and the teeth surface are appropriate for “muddling.” The purpose of “muddling” is to release fresh flavors to the liquid that will enhance your drink.  Bartenders use a muddler to crush ingredients such as lemons, limes, and mint against the glass before pouring ice in. The muddler can also be used to stir a drink.

Cocktails are fun to make, especially when it comes to the SHAKE. Cocktail shakers are crucial in crafting your summer cocktails as all ingredients need to be muddled, poured and mixed with ice inside. 

Another important tool is the bar spoon. With its tall handle, a bar spoon is specifically designed to stir and mix various drinks by fitting all types of cocktail glasses. Its spiral handle works well when layering drinks and makes for a classy look.

The presentation of your drink is just as important as the quality of its flavor. Pouring your summer cocktail into a stunning glass and adding the appropriate garnishes will make for a picture-perfect cocktail you can enjoy poolside.

To make any cocktail worth the sip, you must measure. Mixology is about precision, and you’ll want the proper ratios (whether you're looking to make a quick cocktail for one or a big pitcher of frozen drinks to share). This is where the jigger comes in— a double-sided measuring tool that measures your favorite spirits, before being added to your favorite cocktails. 

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are the perfect addition to any lazy weekend afternoon. There are plenty of options for every taste, depending on what you're looking for. Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place for the accoutrements you need for entertaining and having those delicious summer cocktails! Sit back and relax with something refreshing as you entertain this summer. Make summer memories that you can share for a lifetime. Remember my Foodie Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”