Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Tis the season for warming drinks and I have just the thing – Krupnikas, a Lithuanian honey-spiced liqueur made in Durham NC by the Brothers Vilgalys.

“Krupnikas was created in 1593 by Benedictine Monks in the abbey of Niaśviž. It quickly became popular among the Lithuanian and Polish nobility. At the time, the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth was one of the largest powers in Europe. However, during the Soviet occupation all production of spirits was shut down. The traditional drink has survived in Lithuanian and Polish communities through a variety of homemade recipes. Some you can find on the internet, while others remain closely guarded secrets.”

I first tasted viryta, another name for krupnikas, at the Baltimore Lithuanian Festival. When I lived in the DC area, my brother and I went every spring to get our heritage on – we’re one quarter Lithuanian but it’s our strongest quarter. The Baltimore Lithuanian Athletic Club sold Lithuanian food, beer and homemade viryta at the festival. We always did a few shots and I always bought a few bottles to bring home. Now, I can pick up a taste of my heritage down the street at the ABC store. That makes me very happy.

Krupnikas | Grabbing the Gusto

Krupnikas | Grabbing the Gusto

Actions speak louder than words, we all know that. Recently, on a TV show, I heard President Bush (43) say, “Preach the sermon daily and, if necessary, use words.” Love that.

Did you know you can toast nuts in the microwave? At first, I thought “why would I want to do that?” But after reading an article by J. Kenji López-Alt in Serious Eats, I’m going to try this technique the next time I need to toast nuts. He also reminded me that I should pull out my copy of Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking and keep it handy for little reading breaks.

Speaking of nuts, have you ever made a nut butter from scratch? I haven’t yet but I am putting it on the list of 2015 kitchen resolutions I’m working on. Until then, I might have to seek out the nut butters from Big Spoon Roaster, a local company in Durham, NC.

I love listening to podcasts while I cook. One of my favorites is Food Talk with Mike Colameco. A longtime chef and restaurateur, Colameco usually has two or three guests on each show: chefs, cookbook authors and food writers, fishermen, butchers, sommeliers, and other food and wine people. I love hearing the chefs tell their stories. Many of them rose up in the kitchen the same time Colameco did — back in the day when Americans were finally breaking the French monopoly on good jobs in quality NYC kitchens.

One of my daily reads is Next Draft, a newsletter from Dave Pell. It’s survived many merciless email subscription purges. He’s a great curator of “the day’s most fascinating news.”

I pulled Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens off the bookshelf and started reading it again last weekend. I forgot how much I love reading the classics. Maybe this will kick me back into that habit.

What’s been grabbing your attention lately?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: