Holm Family Cookbook

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Cowgirl's Foodie Blog

The Knockout Martini and Infusing Spirits with Fruit & Herbs

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 28, 2013 at 12:20 AM

Our "classroom" for the infusing spirits class

Several weeks ago some friends and I went to an infusing spirits with fruit and herbs class at the restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore. The class was interesting and the cocktail we got to drink after the class, a Knockout Martini, was simply incredible. 

Although I have not yet taken the time to try it on my own, infusing spirits with fruit appears to be very simple, as you use the amount of alcohol it takes to cover the fruit in the glass container you will be using to store the fruit and alcohol during the infusing process. I think infusing spirits with herbs may be a little trickier and may require some trial and error to get the flavor right.  A couple of important things that I took away from the class was that you should always use glass containers to infuse the spirits and that the staff at Wente store their infusing spirits in the refrigerator as a food safety precaution.

Below is a list of the types of spirits and the fruits and herbs that the Wente staff recommends for infusing.  

Vodka: Hot peppers, basil, citrus fruits, watermelon, ginger, rosemary, thyme, pumpkin, cucumber, sage, berries, green tea, pears

Rum: Pineapple, tropical fruits, mint, herbs, ginger, mango, kumquats, quince

Bourbon: Peaches, apricots, citrus fruits, mint, cranberries, cinnamon, spices

Gin: Lavender, citrus fruits, cucumber, mint, basil, roses, grapefruit, green tea, sage, elderflower

Tequila: Hot peppers, melon, cilantro, kiwi, pineapple, berries

In addition to Wente's ideas, here is a Danish website with instructions for making schnapps with fresh fruit:




The Knockout Martini


Knockout Infusion (to be used to make Knockout Martini)

1 liter Pinnacle Orange Vodka

1/3 liter Absolut Mandrin

1 pineapple

Cut the ends and the skin off of a whole pineapple. Slice away the core of the pineapple and then cut the remaining pineapple into one or two inch chunks. The chunks don't have to be perfect. Place the pineapple into a large glass container (a Mason jar would work very well for this). Do not use a plastic container as the plastic can adversely change the taste of your end product. Pour the vodka into the glass container over the pineapple. Place the pineapple in the glass container in the refigerator for approximatley five to seven days. After the five to seven days, strain the liquor into a large container. Place the pineapple pieces into a blender and puree. Use a strainer with fine holes to strain the pureed pinapple into the liquor (you may even want to use cheesecloth). Use a spatula to press all of the juice out of the pureed fruit. Once this process is complete, it is ready for mixing drinks.

Knockout Martini

To make the Knockout Martini, the staff poured a few ounces of the Knockout Infusion into a cocktail shaker with ice and added some simple syrup. After shaken well, the drink was poured into a glass with a sugared rim.

I think when I finally get around to making my own Knockout Infusion, I will hold back some of the infused pineapple to use as garnishes on the martini. 


It's All in the Name

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 10, 2013 at 2:55 AM

My daughters Laina and Whitney at a San Jose Sharks Hockey Game

On Saturday my sister Susie and I took my daughters to our annual San Jose Sharks game and I realized that Susie and I have been going to Sharks games for almost 18 years. I attended my first San Jose Sharks hockey game in 1995. I went to the game with my sisters and a busload of Wente Winery employees and their guests. The Sharks had been at the San Jose Arena for about two years and the arena was clean, modern, had gourmet food concessions and plenty of women's restroom facilities (which was really great because you didn't spend half of the sporting event waiting in line to use the restroom). And, because the Sharks play in the Silicon Valley, in those days it was a common sight to see Silicon Valley execs in suit and tie at the game and a few of the high profile CEOs and their possees cheering on the Sharks. 

That bus trip to the arena and the game were pretty wild. Beer and wine were flowing in the bus on the way to the game and the partying continued at the game--for everyone but me.  I happened to be nearly nine months pregnant when I attended that game. For weeks my husband and I had been trying to agree upon a name for our baby who would soon be making her debut. Finding a name that we would both like was constantly on my mind. That night as I watched the players swirling around on the ice, the name on the back of one player's jersey caught my eye. Whitney. Ray Whitney was playing for the Sharks at the time. I liked that name, Whitney.

On the bus ride back to Livermore my sister Susie asked me if I had considered the name Whitney for the baby. As a matter of fact, I said, I had thought of that name for the baby. When I got home I ran the name by my husband and he liked it too.  So, Whitney it was.

Whitney is seventeen years old now. She is very sweet, empathetic, considerate, and likes to attend San Jose Sharks Hockey games. She is polite to people when they ask if she was named after Whitney Houston.

A few months ago I was getting my hair cut and the gray "sparkles" removed when Whitney called and asked me when I was coming home. She said she was cooking something for me and she didn't want it to get cold before I got home.  What she made me was a honey cloud pancake. It was like a custard or flan, but also a bit like a soufflé. The honey cloud pancake was really very good. Just like the name, it was like eating a honey cloud. The recipe is below. 

The honey cloud pancake

Honey Cloud Pancake - 1 single serving pancake


1 large egg and 1 egg white

1/4 cup of warm milk

1/4 cup flour

1 pinch of salt

2 teaspoons of honey and more for drizzling

1 dash of vanilla extract

1 tablespoon of butter

Soft fruit, such as sliced strawberries, peaches pears, blue- or blackberries


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a small 6" oven proof frying pan. In a small bowl whisk one egg white until it is white and peaky. In a medium bowl, mix the whole egg with flour, salt, honey, and vanilla then whisk in the warm milk.  Gently fold the whipped egg into the batter with a metal spoon. Melt one tablespoon of butter in the hot pan. Pour the batter in and cook on the stove for a few minutes until the pancake starts to set at the edge. Sprinkle some fruit on top. Place the pan in the hot oven for 7 minutes until puffed up and golden. Drizzle with honey. 


The Best Strawberry Ice Cream Ever

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on November 4, 2012 at 10:15 AM

We were invited to participate in the Sunol Pioneer Folk Festival that was held yesterday at the Sunol Regional Wilderness Park in Sunol.  Our Great, Great Grandmother Caroline Arnett's family moved from Missouri to Sunol and she lived there until her marriage to Daniel Teeter in 1870. Unfortunately, Caroline died twelve years later at the age of 33.

Here is a copy of Daniel Teeter and Caroline Arnett's wedding certificate. I have transcribed what is written on the certificate below. Apparently spelling was not a strength of the person that did the writing.

THIS CERTIFIES THAT The RITE of holy Matrimony WAS CELEBRATED between Daniel M. Teeter of Pleasanton Almeda, Co. Cal and Caroline E Arnett of Sunole off the Same Co. on the 27 day off June at Sanleandro Almeda Co. Cal by Gor. Smith Justis off the pese in the year off our lord 1870

We had a great time at the festival and have been invited back again next year. It appeared the other people at the festival had a great time too. The setting for the festival was just beautiful and the weather was just perfect. There were craft booths where at no charge people got to make stick horses, clothes pin dolls, stamped leather accessories, and they got to plant seeds to take home in a pot.  Cousin Wendy and my sister Nancy happily went home with stick horses and clothes pin dolls. There were food booths, again at no charge, where the attendees could make their own lemonade, taste horehound candy, apple fritters and biscuits made in a Dutch oven, and hand cranked ice cream.

Nancy cranking the ice cream maker at the Sunol Pioneer Festival

We manned the hand cranked ice cream booth. The ice cream was a hit.  Men, women, and children were excited to take turns cranking the handle of the ice cream maker.  Many of the people came back for seconds and some came back for thirds and fourths. Several of the people said the strawberry ice cream was the best strawberry ice cream they had ever had (however, some of the people had just hiked five miles, so anything cool would have tasted great).

A few people from India stopped by and told us about making hand cranked ice cream in India where there is either no electricity or electricty for only three hours a day. The ice cream flavors some of them made was mango, cardamom, or saffron. Other people visiting from India that had not seen or made hand cranked ice cream were very interested in how it was made and where they could buy the makers to take back to India.

Some of the leftover hand cranked strawberry ice cream

We used our grandmother's recipe that we have posted in our blog before, but this time we made some changes. The recipe below reflects those changes.  You can use this recipe with other fruit, such as peach, which is one of my favorites.

Granny’s Pumped Up Strawberry Ice Cream - Makes 5 quarts

Ice Cream Ingredients

6 pints ripe strawberries, cleaned and hulled

2 pints heavy whipping cream

1 pint half-and-half

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

Needed for the ice cream maker


Rock salt


Mash the strawberries until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the fruit with the cream, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the freezer canister and insert the dasher into the canister. Place the lid on the canister and put the canister into the bucket.

Pack the area between the canister and the bucket with ice and rock salt. Add a 3- or 4-inch layer of ice and then pour a layer of salt, at least a few handfuls. Repeat the layering until the ice is about an inch or two below the cannister lid. Don't go above the lid and take care not to get the salt into the canister.

It will take about 1/2 hour to an hour for the ice cream to thicken in the hand crank maker.  The ice cream thickens in about 15 to 20 minutes in an electric maker. With the electric maker, be sure to turn the maker off as soon as the ice cream is thick or the motor can burn out.


In our family homemade ice cream was a tradition at birthday parties and summer events. Why not make it one of yours?


Apple French Toast Casserole with a Surprise Ingredient

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on November 27, 2011 at 8:00 PM

Apple French Toast Casserole with apple syrup spooned over the top

If you are like me and like to entertain, you are probably always looking for the perfect recipe to feed to guests. Last week I found the perfect breakfast/brunch recipe on the Tasty Kitchen Website (you should check out the Tasty Kitchen Website, there are a lot of great looking recipes there). The ingredients, description, and photo of this Apple French Toast casserole made the recipe sound and look fantastic, so I made two batches of it the Wednesday before Thanksgiving just to make sure it was as good as it looked. I took one batch to work and left the other for my kids and their friends to eat. I received rave reviews from both groups. We were leaving on Thanksgiving Day to stay at my cousin Becky's house in Yuba City for a couple of days, so I made another batch before we left. I figured we could pop it into the oven when we got back from our early morning shopping escapade on Black Friday. 

The two batches that I made the day before Thanksgiving were made with pre-sliced Texas toast. The batch I prepped on Thanksgiving was made with sourdough bread. While the casserole was good with the Texas toast bread, it was exquisite with sourdough bread.

Now about the surprise ingredient . . . It's Jack Daniels Whiskey. The original recipe called for bourbon, which I did not have, so I used the closest thing to bourbon that I had on hand. Just in case you're thinking Jack Daniels is bourbon whiskey, it's not. The Jack Daniels website set me straight: Jack Daniel's is not a bourbon - it's a Tennessee Whiskey.  Anyway, about the Jack Daniels in this recipe--it complements the butter and adds richness to the flavor. However, if you don't have or can't have whiskey or bourbon, I think the recipe would be fine without it.

Jack Daniels is the surprise ingredient in this decadent French toast casserole

This dish can be made the day before and refrigerated overnight or you can make it the day you plan to serve it. You do not need to serve it with syrup; the apples and brown sugar make a syrup that you can spoon over the top of each serving.

On Black Friday when we returned from shopping we did pop the casserole into the oven and it sure hit the spot for us hungry shoppers! By the way, I want to set the record straight about the shopping--Becky, Laina, and I were not some of the bad shoppers you might have seen in the news on Black Friday. We were on our best behavior and did not shoot, pepper spray, push or shove, or rip anything out of the hands of any of the other shoppers . . .

Apple French Toast Casserole - Serves 6 to 8


½ cup butter (one stick)

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons Jack Daniels Whiskey

4 to 6  baking apples (e.g., Granny Smith), cored, peeled, and sliced

1 loaf sour dough or French bread, cut into 1 inch slices

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1½ teaspoons cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Dash of salt


If you are making this dish the day you are serving it, preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Melt the butter and sugar together over medium heat in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine. Cook until slightly thickened. Add the whiskey and whisk again. Continue to cook for about 1 minute.

Spray a 9″ x13″ pan with cooking spray. Pour the butter and whiskey mixture into the bottom of the pan. Arrange the sliced apples on top.

The butter, brown sugar, and whiskey mixture covering the bottom of the pan

Sliced apples arranged in the pan

In a medium or large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Dip each side of the bread into the egg mixture and arrange the bread on top of the apples. Pour the leftover egg mixture over the bread. 

Sour dough cut into 1-inch slices works best for this recipe

Dip both sides of the bread into the milk and egg mixture

If you plan to serve this dish the following day, cover the dish and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the uncovered casserole dish in the heated oven. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until apple slices have softened and bread is golden brown (one of my casseroles took about 70 minutes to cook). 

The casserole is cooked until the bread is browned and apples soft

To serve, use a large serving spoon or spatula to remove a slice of the bread and the apples below. Flip it over onto a plate and spoon some of the apple syrup from the casserole over the top.

I'm planning on serving this Christmas morning.


The last time I turned down a whisky, I didn’t understand the question.  ~Unknown

July 17th is National Ice Cream Day - Get Ready!

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 13, 2011 at 8:46 AM

In preparation for National Ice Cream Day on July 17th, we wanted to share our Granny’s famous ice cream recipe. Our cousin Lori and her family came out from Texas this 4th of July and she whipped up a batch of the strawberry ice cream for the family reunion on the Circle H Ranch.

A good time was had by all, and the ice cream was quickly inhaled.

Taking a dip in the cement pond - holding water since 1938!

Granny saved ice cream making for special summer occasions—such as birthdays, Father’s Day, or the Fourth of July.


Before she got an electric ice cream maker, the cousins would all get to take turns turning the crank on the old ice cream machine. I can remember all the cousins fighting over who would get to lick the dasher from inside the ice cream machine.


The famous ice cream dasher

Here are my favorites from Granny’s ice cream recipes.

Granny’s Strawberry Ice Cream

6 pints ripe strawberries, cleaned and hulled

2 pints heavy whipping cream

1 pint half-and-half

3/4 cup sugar

11/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a food processor or blender, process 5 pints of the berries until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the fruit with the cream, sugar and vanilla and mix well. Mash the remaining pint of strawberries with a potato masher and stir into the cream mixture. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Makes 5 quarts.

Granny’s Peach Ice Cream

8 ripe medium-size peaches

2 pints heavy whipping cream

1 pint half-and-half

3/4 cup sugar

4 tablespoons amaretto

Drop the peaches into a large pot of boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and cool. Slip the skins off of the peaches, cut in half, and remove the pits. Process 6 of the peaches in a food processor or blender until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the fruit with the cream, half-and-half, sugar, and amaretto and mix well. Cut the remaining 2 peaches into 1/4-inch dice; stir them into the cream mixture. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Makes 4 quarts.

~ Lori Neely South

Before Farmer's Markets, There Were Fruit Stands

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on June 20, 2011 at 2:05 AM


A flat of peaches from The Fruit Bowl fruit stand

I am so fortunate to live and eat in California! Having moved to San Joaquin County in 1999, I was excited to be amongst the agriculture, which supplies all the fresh fruits and vegetables one could want. Among the top ten commodities in San Joaquin County are: grapes – both table and wine, milk, cherries, tomatoes, walnuts, almonds, apples and asparagus.

Along many of the country roads and highways in San Joaquin County you can find fruit stands. Some of the stands are specific to one crop, but others have many fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and preserves. Fruit stands have been in existence long before Farmer’s Markets.


The Fruit Bowl fruit stand

One of my favorite fruit stands is The Fruit Bowl on Highway 88, between Stockton and Waterloo. This one has been in business over 60 years! Today I volunteered to bring fresh baked pies to our family’s Father Day gathering. Those of you that know me realize pies are not my forte, but they do have the VERY best pies at The Fruit Bowl, and it is right on my way to Livermore.


Boysenberry Pie

Peach Pie

I ordered a boysenberry pie, which tastes just like Granny used to make, and a peach pie. When I arrived at the Fruit Bowl, the counter was full of pie orders. The peach pie had just come out of the oven and remained warm until it was time for dessert. As I was purchasing the pies, my husband Troy was perusing the fruit stand. He found a flat of peaches, picked fresh this morning that we could not pass up. They were beautiful!


The Fruit Bowl Bakery

Should you happen to be driving along Highway 88, stop by! The Fruit Bowl offers a light lunch, delicious quiche, and gelato among a host of other baked goods. Some of the local wines and olive oils are featured. They have picnic tables in the shade and an air conditioned bake shop where you can eat. This is their 64th year in business – I encourage you to help them celebrate and support San Joaquin County’s largest industry – agriculture. Buy Fresh, Buy Local! I’ve included one of the Fruit Bowl recipes for Peach Salsa that you may find refreshing.

Fresh Peach Salsa

This salsa is a good accompaniment to grilled chicken, pork or shrimp; or mixed with crab meat; or as a topping on bruschetta spread with brie.


2 cups firm diced peaches

3/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup diced green onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, or to taste

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Dash cayenne pepper

Salt, to taste


In a bowl, gently toss together all ingredients.  Best if used the day salsa is prepared.  Keep refrigerated.  Yield:  Approx. 3 cups.

-Susie Calhoun

"An apple is an excellent thing -- until you have tried a peach."  ~George du Maurier (1834-1896)

What the Heck Is A Pummelo?

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 5, 2011 at 11:35 PM

For the last few years, my daughters and I have seen pummelos at our local grocery store during the winter months and have marveled at the size of them. Last weekend I finally bought one and we were all pleasantly surprised by the sweet fragrance and taste of the fruit.

So what is a pummelo? According to essortment.com, the pummelo is a large exotic citrus fruit that is an ancestor of the grapefruit. It originated in Asia and is now grown in eastern countries, the Caribbean and United States. The pummelo tree can grow up to heights of 50 feet and produces very attractive white, fragrant flowers. When purchasing a pummelo, select only those that have a fragrant scent, is firm to the touch, and do not have any bruises. Pummelos can be safely stored in the refrigerator for about a week.

The pummelo is much sweeter than grapefruit and does not have that bitter taste that I find with most grapefruit. Even though the pummelo can reach 12 inches in diameter, the fruit inside is much smaller in diameter. Under the rind is a thick spongy pith. The spongy pith in my pummelos probably averaged 1 inch in thickness, but were much thicker in some areas.

To help illustrate the size of the pummelo, on the left of the pummelo is an orange, and on the right is a grapefruit

The inside of the pummelo. Notice the thick spongy pith between the rind and fruit.

A citrus salad I made with a pummelo and other citrus fruit

We really enjoyed the pummelo that we bought last week, so I bought another one this week and made a very refreshing citrus salad with a few other citrus fruits.

Pummelo Salad - Serves 6


1 pummelo

1 ruby red grapefruit

2 mandarin oranges

2 naval oranges

2 tangelos

(any combination of tangarines, mandarine, blood, naval oranges will do)


Reserve excess juice from the fruit

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


Peel the fruit. Cut the fruit in to bite size wedges. While cutting the fruit, reserve the excess juice from the fruit. Remove the membranes from between the pummelo segments. Put the reserved fruit juice, lemon juice, honey, and ground ginger into a small saucepan. On medium high heat, bring juice mixture to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer to reduce the liquid for about 7 to 10 minutes. Allow the dressing to cool. Once the dressing is cool, mix into the fruit salad and serve.


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