My friend Denise recently turned 30. For this threshold birthday, she'd planned a big soiree, complete with a Spanish theme and a bonfire. Fate had other plans, it turned out, dumping a boatload of snow the day of the bash, rendering the roads into a treacherous, slick, ice-clad nightmare. She was disappointed, to say the least. I was saddened, too, as I'd made a honey Valencia orange cake for the occasion.
I had to wait for almost a week's worth of snow thaw before I could safely venture out of my secluded, shade-prone, one mile dirt road-sited mountain home to make it to Denise's similarly hard to reach outpost. High up a steep dirt road (I likened it the other day to driving in San Francisco), Josh and Denise's place is not for the faint of vehicular heart.
I finally made it over, though, with the remains of the cake (we couldn't let it go to waste during the wait!), and some goodies from my pantry. The infused vinegar you see before you was one of the gifts. It's phenomenally easy to make and is a great go-to birthday, host/-ess, housewarming, or "it's Tuesday and you're awesome" gift for the culinarily inclined folks in your life.
The possibilities for infusing agents are endless. To organic white wine vinegar, I added lavender springs (dried from my lavender plant last season), fresh sage and rosemary from my yard, peeled, whole garlic cloves, and dried bird's eye chilies from the summer's crop. It looked gorgeous in the bottle and will undoubtedly be delectable on the palate.
If you've got some empty bottles lying around (we keep almost every bottle we come across, our basement a veritable treasure trove of former olive oil, vinegar, and liquor bottles), and some vinegar, you can whip up infused bottles of your own. From berries to spices, from herbs to chilies, bottled bliss can be yours for a fraction of what you'd shell out for ready made.