Category Archives: Holidays

A gorgeous front porch for Autumn

While walking along the river I was delighted to see bright orangeoutdoor entertaining and tablescape leaves dance through the air and land on the path in front of me.  As my feet crunched through the drying leaves, I felt a familiar chill run through me.  Autumn is just around the corner.

The air has a tinge of mist in the mornings and it cools quicker in the evenings.  The sun still graces us with its warm rays during the heat of the afternoon and shopping malls and local shop keepers are stocking up on the back to school supplies.  This is the time of year the berry fields are full of people reaping the season’s bounty and kitchens are filled with the aromas of jam cooking and fruit being prepared for canning.

The explosion of color is one of the best things about this time of year and it is an energizing time to begin planning the fall decor.  After all, making your own scarecrow to grace the hay bale on the front porch can take some time.  Choosing the right color of mums, coordinating containers and placing them in the perfect location with your other autumn decorating treasures can be pretty detailed task and if you are a wild decorator like me, creating a bluepring in advance is an absolute necessity.

I have a fascination with black outdoor rockers.  I don’t feel the vignette for fall is complete until it is placed on the porch with the autumn hued mums.  Add the hay bale, get the family together and create a brand new scarecrow for the year. Basil & Salt’s version of the perfect front porch decor.

Choosing the color of mums to accompany your new brilliant scarecrow is always the exhilarating portion.  Mother Nature provides us with such a clever and colorful palette this time of year, it’s time to think about removing brights and pastels to replace them with the gorgeous deeper hues such as browns, oranges, reds, yellows and greens.  Color coordinate the clothing of your scarecrow with the mums and their pots, position the rocker, throw the hay bale out (perhaps two) close to the rocker, place your new exquisite scarecrow in your rocker, standing behind or sitting on the hay, place your mums strategically on and around your porch and perhaps put out some fun and inspiring fall items.  With that in place, phase I for Outdoor Fall Decorating is complete.  What is Phase II?  Why, Halloween of course.


Stay for the slideshow – I hope this inspires you.

Boating Tips to Safely Navigate Busy Fourth of July Festivities Including Fireworks Shows, Group Raft-Ups

The Water Sports Foundation recommends the following tips to maximize boating fun and safety this Fourth of July weekend, and beyond

Throughout the country, boaters are expected to cruise to popular gathering spots this Fourth of July weekend with friends and family, with plans to raft up, drop anchor and swim, enjoy barbecues and cap off festivities with spectacular fireworks celebrations.

“After a year of Covid restrictions, boaters are out on the water in force, soaking up plenty of sun and fun,” said Water Sports Foundation Executive Director Jim Emmons. ”With the addition of 415,000 new, first-time registered boat owners since 2020 who are now enjoying their first full season, we felt it was especially important to welcome them to the water and to share important safe boating strategies as we approach the busy holiday weekend.”

Photo | Linda Lindquist-Bishop

The Water Sports Foundation recommends the following tips to maximize boating fun and safety this Fourth of July weekend, and beyond:

  1. Important Basics: Plan Ahead & Be Prepared
  • Boaters should conduct a thorough inspection of their vessel and trailer to ensure everything is in working order. Check with the local Coast Guard auxiliary or Power Squadron for free vessel safety checks.
  • Conduct a pre-departure check to make sure all required safety equipment is secured on board and operational.
  • Top on the list: ensure life jackets are available and properly fit for weight and size for every passenger, especially youngsters. Life jackets save lives!
  • Check weather conditions and plan accordingly. Be prepared to find shelter or return home if inclement weather is approaching.    
  • Never overload your boat. Check the capacity plate and follow all weight mandates.
  • If you are operating a boat 26’ or smaller, make sure to comply with the new federal law requiring boat operators to wear and engage ECOS: Emergency Cut-Off Switch. Worn by the captain, this safety lanyard will shut off the engine immediately in the case of an overboard fall.  
  • Make sure VHF radios, phones and EPIRB transponders work. Consider carrying a portable cell phone battery charger as back-up.
  • Pack sunscreen, first-aid kit and a basic toolkit.

2. File a Float Plan

  • Create a simple document that includes the names and contact information of all those aboard the boat, along with planned destinations, expected departure and return times.
  • Leave the plan with marina personnel and/or responsible emergency contacts.

3. Pre-Departure Communications

  • An important and often overlooked boater safety strategy: the captain should always gather the crew prior to departure to fully review safe boating protocols and practices.
  • This may include instructions for passengers to remain seated when the boat is underway; to keep arms and legs within the vessel; to wear life jackets; and to review pre-appointed assignments such designated observers during watersports activities, etc.

4. Designate a Sober Skipper

  • Don’t drink and drive. Boating under the influence is the primary cause of boating-related deaths in the United States.
  • The serious effects of sun, wind and water when coupled with the consumption of alcohol is a dangerous cocktail and recipe for potential disaster. 
  • Besides safeguarding family and friends from the effects and consequences of alcohol use, keep in mind marine law enforcement will be heavily patrolling waterways and issuing citations for those who are impaired and operating vessels under the influence.  

5. Raft-Up Tips for Large Boat Gatherings 

  • If you’re an inexperienced boater, avoid navigating in large boating hotspots until you’ve gained more experience operating in crowded conditions. Even seasoned skippers should exercise extra precaution when joining a big boating bash.
  • If you plan to raft-up with other boating friends, meet in advance to discuss strategies prior to departure so everyone knows the game plan.
  • Choose your spot carefully. Remember, if you’re positioned in the center of the action, don’t expect to make a fast or easy getaway.  
  • As you approach the destination, slow down to idle speed.
  • Designated observers should be engaged to look out for anchored and moving boats in your path along with swimmers, paddlers and tubers in the area. Approach carefully.
  • Once you’ve selected your location, the largest boat in the fleet should anchor first with appropriate line lengths, along with fenders extended on both sides.
  • As the raft-up ensues, consider use of a boat hook to help secure boats together. Once hooked, the captain is free to cut the engine, throw dock lines and connect.
  • Where possible, tie off at least two dock lines to each boat’s cleats, preferably at the bow or midship, and one at the stern.
  • The same slow and deliberate approach should be taken at departure. 

6. Night Moves & Fireworks         

  • Novice boaters should minimize their exposure and risk after sunset, especially when considering the large crowds expected for holiday and fireworks festivities. Experienced boaters should also exercise extra precautions when operating at night.
  • Prior to departure, be sure you know approved anchoring locations issued by area marine authorities; comply accordingly. Chart your route in advance and map positions for navigation markers which may be difficult to see at night. Where possible, deploy GPS electronics to aid in navigation. 
  • Check in advance to ensure your boat’s running and anchor lights are working. For extra safety, carry a spotlight and flares.
  • Be sure your fire extinguisher is aboard and easily accessible. 
  • Give yourself adequate time to reach and/or return to your targeted destination. Due to enhanced visibility concerns and distractions, travel at slower speeds.
  • Be patient and expect delays at busy marinas, boat ramps and docks.  
  • Keep your boat safely distanced from the fireworks barge, as well as from other boaters.
  • NEVER ignite fireworks of any type including sparklers from your boat.  
  • Report illegal fireworks activities. 

7. Paddle Safety

  • Always wear a life jacket. Three-quarters of people who died while paddling in 2019 were not wearing a life jacket. Don’t be a statistic—buckle up.
  • Dress for the weather and the water temperature.
  • Know and follow the local boating rules. Like it or not, you’re the little guy. Be careful around other boats and avoid the crowds when you can.
  • See and be seen. Wear bright clothing and keep a whistle in reach (pro tip: clip it to your life jacket). This is especially important in busy waters.
  • Choose your location carefully. Make sure your skill, experience and craft are a match for the waterway you choose.
  • Practice re-entering your kayak, canoe or paddleboard from the water.
  • Don’t drink alcohol and paddle.
  • Share your float plan (see Number 2 above)

“We want boaters to avoid becoming a boating statistic over this holiday weekend by practicing a few safety measures to keep everyone safe,” said Emmons. “We believe safe boaters are happy boaters, so let’s all have fun by being well-prepared and safe on the water.”

Recipes for a Night of Romance

Valentine's Day
Valentine’s Day

The history of Valentine’s Day is obscure, and further clouded by various fanciful legends. The holiday’s roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day.

Today, Valentine’s Day is a multi-billion dollar industry and according to an article by CNN, Americans alone will spend over $18 billion, indicating how much we adore love.

This year, for a more intimate evening with your partner, consider spending the night in. Creating a romantic ambiance for your love nest calls for a bit of imagination and preparation and I am sharing two of the most delicious and sexy desserts on the web to inspire your Valentine’s evening or weekend.

Red Velvet and Strawberry Mousse Verrines
Red Velvet and Strawberry Mousse Verrines

Red Velvet and Strawberry Mousse Verrines ~ Tempting layers of crumbled red velvet cake with lighter than air strawberry mousse and fresh strawberries.  Although this recipe is a bit involved,  it is sinfully delicious and will be a delight to both you and your Valentine.

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients List: Cake flour, caster sugar, vegetable oil, baking soda, cocoa powder, sea salt, vanilla extract, white distilled vinegar, eggs, buttermilk, food coloring and butter

Strawberry Mousse Ingredients List:  Crème Yvette Liquor or water, frozen strawberries, caster sugar, powdered gelatin, egg whites and heavy whipping cream.

Garnish Ingredients List: Dark chocolate for shaving and strawberries

Chocolate Meringue with Strawberries
Chocolate Meringue with Strawberries

Chocolate Meringue with Strawberries ~ If you are looking for a recipe for love, you have found it. Melted dark chocolate with currants and almonds have been folded in the beaten whites to create a sexy flavor that dances in your mouth.  Bringing it all together is a Greek yogurt whipped cream mixture.

Meringue Ingredients List: Egg whites, caster sugar, cornstarch, white wine vinegar, vanilla extract, dark chocolate with currants and almonds and a pinch of salt.

Whipped Cream Ingredients List: Heavy cream, Greek yogurt and confectioners sugar

Valentine Decor

“What comes to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day?—I say, of course Champagne! But make it a little extra special by simply freezing thin slices of strawberries, whole raspberries, small rose petals or whatever speaks Valentine to you in ice cubes. Serve the bubbly in the bucket covered with the ice for a stunning celebratory presentation. -Art de Fete”

For more decor ideas and recipes please follow the link to Art de Fete, Recipes:  Chocolate Meringue with Strawberries and Red Velvet Strawberry Mousse Verrines

Garnishing Ingredients List: Strawberries, chocolate shavings and cocoa powder

Tips for finding and cutting the perfect Christmas Tree

Foraging for and cutting your own Christmas tree is a fun, rewarding experience for the whole family. If you have little ones, this can quickly become a new tradition. We have a few tips and tricks for finding the perfect tree this year.

Before you go

Boots: Dress warm and watch your feet. Once you hit the outdoors, whether it’s the woods or a Christmas tree farm, the ground can be unpredictable. Dry weather doesn’t mean it won’t be wet and muddy in the field and tractor lanes become muddy from heavy use.

Gloves: Always a good idea as both branches and trunk can be prickly.

Large piece of cardboard or plastic:  If you’re cutting the tree yourself, you’ll be down on the ground. This will help keep you dry.

Bungee or rope and an old blanket: If you’re going to tie the tree to your car, you’ll need an old blanket and rope. Call ahead to see if you need to bring a saw or if the tree farm has those on hand.

Do your research

All evergreen trees are beautiful however if you are envisioning a specific type of tree, note the following:

  • Short needles: Junipers, spruces, cedars and firs.
  • Stiff, medium length needles: Scotch pines
  • Long, soft needles: White pine
  • Long needles: Red pines

Take the time to find your perfect tree
Take your time and walk the field. Most trees are traditionally shaped as they’ve been pruned regularly, but if you’re looking for an irregular tree, look long enough and you’ll find one.  Remember, even the perfect tree will look smaller in the field than it will in the house.

Cutting your tree
Cut low to the ground and straight across.  Leave enough trunk to fit in the tree stand. You can always trim off the lower branches later. To keep the saw from binding, have someone pull the tree slightly way from the side you’re cutting. It will make the work much easier.

Carrying your tree out
If it’s muddy don’t drag it. Wait for a wagon or bring one with you. If the ground is frozen, dragging it a bit won’t hurt your tree.

Taking your tree home
Shake your tree to remove loose needles. If the tree farm has a baler, it will make it easier to fit your tree in the trunk or truck, as well as bringing it through the front door.

If you’re tying the tree to the top of your car, an old blanket will help cut down on scratches. You don’t want the branches to catch the wind so aim the butt end forward and tie it securely so it can’t move. If you have a luggage rack, tie it twice to each side. Another option is threading the rope through the car doors or windows.

Bringing your tree inside
If you can’t put your tree up right away, place it a bucket of water in a cool place. When you’re ready to place it in the tree stand, saw a thin slice off the base. If your tree was baled, leave it in the netting until it’s securely in the stand. Your tree will soak up a lot of water in the first few days, so keep watch. You want your tree to stay green and full through Christmas day.

Take a look at Basil & Salt’s new online cooking classes and workshops!

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The Origins of Trick or Treating

halloween happy halloween 3 kids in costumeThere are many ways we celebrate Halloween today and trick or treat is the most popular choice.

As a child, I remember flying through my front door after school, donning my ebony witchy costume, blacking out a tooth or two with wax and pulling my pointy hat down hurriedly on my head. Grabbing my orange plastic pumpkin, I relished that deliciously wicked feeling when I stepped out onto my front porch and into the chilly night air.

The night of October 31st seemed it was made for us children to take to  the neighborhood streets with all the other ghosts and goblins that were my school mates by day.  I still have that  same feeling when I take my own children out on this spirited night, and also when I open the door and find little skeletons and witches with their candy bags wide open waiting for treats.

Our children today don their costumes and run out the door with the same feeling we had as children running amok in the neighborhood on that spooky night.  They eagerly search for their friends to walk with, they knock on and ring the doorbells of our neighbors and excitedly yell “Trick or Treat” in anticipation of hitting the mother load of skittles, licorice and fun sized candy bars.  But Halloween has not always been about getting the the biggest load and watching thirty days of slasher movies and scream fests on your favorite cable channel.

halloween pumpkin with webOur modern-day Halloween is a combination of festivals, ceremonies and customs that for the most part have been long forgotten.   In researching this holiday there are so many versions of how our modern Halloween came to be, it is difficult to weed out fact from fiction.  There are so many traditions to our present day holiday I am going to write a small series to highlight each one.  Obviously this first one is about Trick or Treating.

The Celts celebrated Samhain. This celebration marked the end of Summer and the beginning of the dark days, the colder winter months that lie ahead.  It was believed that on this night at midnight, it was the one night during the year that the veil between the two worlds was the thinnest and those among the spirit world could intermingle with the living.  Because of this, people believed they were able to communicate with their family members that had passed.  They would ask for advice for the coming year and ask them to watch over their home and families.  It was commonplace to have a setting at the  table for these ancestors that had passed on, to tell stories about them and entertain them with their favorite music, food, drink and festivities.

halloween little kids in costume with pumpkinBecause they believed the veil was the thinnest at this time, people were concerned about evil spirits coming through on this night as well as the good ones. Often they would wear costumes to confuse those spirits that might bother the living.

As time moved forward this night became associated with All Saints Day, on the 1st of November and with All Souls Day on the 2nd of November, when beggars would move from house to house asking for Soul Cakes. Soul Cakes were square pieces of bread with currants and the beggars would receive these cakes when promising to say prayers for the souls of the dead.  The more cakes given to the beggar the more prayers were promised for the soul  that had passed on to expedite their journey to heaven.

In The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), Shakespeare mentions  this practice when Speed accuses his master of “puling (whimpering) like a beggar at Hallowmas.”   The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even (“evening”), the night before All Hallows Day, or mass-day of all saints.

In Scotland, a tradition called Guising is still practiced today.  In the 16th century children going door to door “guising” in costumes and mask carrying turnip lanterns and offered entertainment of various sorts in return for food or coins.  Sound familiar?  Add that to the scary costumes to ward off evil spirits and stir in some souling to beg for cakes to say prayers for the dead and we have a great brew for Trick or Treating.

Bonfire Celebrations and Halloween

person-woman-night-fire-largeI have always found it interesting to reach deep inside a custom and pull it up and out by the roots.  When we do this we have the ability to peer back to into a different age and catch a tiny glimpse of our ancestry. And if we are really fortunate we will learn something new and perhaps even be surprised by what we find. 

There are customs we practice today for fun, frolic and perhaps a bit of mayhem that were very serious business to our ancestors.   They did not have the luxury of the scientific explanations we have today.   Ghosts, spirits, good and bad, vampires, witches and other ghoulish creatures were a very real belief in many cultures.  The long dark cold days of winter struck fear into the hearts of many and people took whatever precautions they could to protect themselves, their homes and their loved ones.

fireThe Celts celebrated Samhain, which we now call Halloween.  I touched on this in an earlier article, “The origins of Trick or Treating.” 

A short recap, Samhain celebrated the end of long, warm summer days and signaled the coming of the dark, cold winter days ahead.  It also marked the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.  This night, they believed, the veil between the worlds was the thinnest and good and evil spirits would crossover to the mortal world.  People would welcome the good spirits, who were their family members that had passed on and would ask for guidance and protection and divination.   Keep in mind, to them it was not a tale or a spooky story.  This was a firm system of daily belief.

On this night they would celebrate with a huge bonfire and the lighting of this flame was  sacred.  Young people would travel inside the community from home to home to gather food and kindling for the festival.  The fires in individual hearths were extinguished and everyone gathered together to celebrate.  Since the belief of spirits crossing over to the world of humans was so prevalent they were fearful of evil spirits that might cause them harm or trouble.  Some people went so far as to cover themselves in animal skins or disguises to confuse the spirits that might otherwise bedevil them.

People young and old brought a symbolic or personal item to be burned in the fire with the belief the sacred flame would offer protection, give guidance and bring good luck.   Crops and the bones of the animals that had been culled were burned in the blaze as well, giving it the original name of bonefire,  meaning fire of bones, which brings us to today and the term bonfire.

fireAt the end of the celebration it was considered good luck for the coming year and protection of the family, to take home a burning ember from the sacred fire to relight the hearth  in their own homes.  They hollowed out gourds or turnips in which they carried this burning ember as a guiding light in the dark night. ~ Sound familiar?

On the following day, the ashes from the sacred fire were spread over the fields for luck and to protect against any misfortune that would cause the next season’s crops to fail.

I appreciate you taking the time to read the snippets of history about Halloween.  We practice many customs throughout the year without knowing why or where they originated.   This is an ongoing series to bring you a bit of history on each holiday in hopes of entertaining as well as inspiring you to look deeper into your own roots and family customs.  If you have ideas or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


party perfect harvest cocktails

Maple, caramel, apples ~ the flavors and aroma of fall.

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Harvest parties, Halloween and Thanksgiving are all just around the corner and of course it’s never too early to begin planning your cocktail menus. Over the next couple of weeks we will share our favorite fall cocktails with you and of course you can always find more in our printed page.

All of these work well for small gatherings or large groups and if you are having friends over to watch the game on the big screen or even just kicking back by the evening fire, these autumn-inspired cocktails are perfection.

Below are three recipes to help get you in the mood for fall whether it’s a drink for one or cocktails for 25. Enjoy!

Spiced Apple

  • Difficulty: Sinfully Simple
  • Print


  • 1 ounce Tap 357 Maple Rye Whisky
  • 2 ounces Ginger Beer
  • 2 ounces Apple Cider


Build all ingredients in a rocks glass with ice and stir.  Garnish with a wedge of apple.

Caramel Apple Sangria

  • Difficulty: Sinfully Simple
  • Print

Serves 25-30


  • 1 (750ml) btl Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka
  • 2 btls sparkling wine or champagne
  • 1 quart fresh apple cider
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Cinnamon sticks


Combine vodka, apple cider and cinnamon in a punch bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes. Add an ice block and apple slices. Pour into glasses and top with chilled sparkling wine.

Plymouth Punch

  • Difficulty: Sinfully Simple
  • Print

Serves 25


  • 1 (750ml) btl Van Gogh Wild Appel Vodka
  • 1 (750ml) btl Tap 357 Maple Rye Whisky
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup lemonade


Add all ingredients to a punch bowl with ice.   Stir well to chill and dilute.  Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Garnish with cranberries, apple, orange, and lemon slices**.  Serve out into punch glasses.

**Optional – Stud fruit with cloves.

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smoked salmon, cream cheese, horseradish and dill on rye

I first shared this recipe with my Basil & Salt Magazine readers over the last holiday season. It’s a rich, delicious appetizer that my guests and I have enjoyed each cocktail season.

I enjoy all the recipes I’ve added to Basil, however in light of a recent health concern, it’s necessary I drastically modify my diet. What’s a food writer to do? My answer was quick and simple. Add, subtract and modify each recipe without sacrificing an ounce of flavor.

Along with the occasional indulgence, fresh and delicious recipes are always on the menu. I thought it would be a great idea to pick up a few of my recipes from my other publication to modify and share them here with my new recipes. When you see Slim it Down inside on the ingredients list or in notes, this means it’s a modification of one of my original, full fat, full flavor recipes. I may post the original ingredients and then a “slim it down” version, or you may simply see here, my new and improved “slimmer” version. I loved this recipe so much I wanted to share it with the all of my readers!

This appetizer is gorgeous in presentation and your guests will love the flavor combinations. This is a simple recipe with plenty of room for improvisation. For example, pictured, I presented the salmon and cream over rye bread, however you can easily nix the bread and serve as a spread with crisps or crackers. However you choose to present, it’s delicious. Enjoy!

A couple of tips 
Before creating your spread, taste the salmon you have chosen, as some is packaged with more salt than others. Adjust your salt accordingly.

Drain your salmon of any oil or liquid before adding to your spread.

Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Dill & Horseradish on Rye

Servings: 8        Difficulty: simple

Salmon App IIIngredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened | slim it down 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream | Slim it down 1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, we use LaBaleine Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, minced (as pictured)Slim it Down: instead of mincing the salmon and adding to the spread, spread a thin layer of cheese mixture on light crackers and place a larger strip of salmon on your cracker. More protein, less cheese. The cream cheese still imparts a rich flavor while the horseradish gives it that delicious “kick”.


  1. Using an electric mixer, cream the cheese until smooth.
  2. Add sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt, pepper and mix.
  3. Add smoked salmon and mix well.
  4. Chill and serve.

*Note: To save time prepare, cover and chill overnight. Use a small cookie cutter to create the shape you desire for bread. We used a rye bread cut into small rounds, however feel free to create the flavor, color and shape of your choice as your base.

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Elysian Brewing’s Iconic Pumpkin Beer Lineup has Arrived!

September 2017 •  basil & salt

It’s that time of the year again! Fall is quickly approaching and Elysian Brewing’s iconic pumpkin beer lineup has arrived!

As the founders of the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival (in its 13th year!) with over two decades of brewing pumpkin-infused brews, Elysian is not only obsessed with pumpkins but committed to brewing the perfect recipe. With four pumpkin-infused beers, Elysian remains committed to innovation and reinvention, as showcased in its two decade history of brewing unique, pumpkin-infused ales. The lineup is as follows:

  • Night Owl Pumpkin Ale (6.7% ABV; in 12 oz; 22 oz, draft) – A very drinkable pumpkin ale —brewed with seven and a half pounds of pumpkin per barrel and spiced in conditioning with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.
  • Elysian_GREAT PUMPKINThe Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale (8.4% ABV; in 22 oz, draft) – Pours deep copper with ghostly white head. Intense pumpkin, sugar and spice on the nose with a nice bready and malty backdrop to tame all those autumn spices into a remarkably smooth, balanced and delectable fall treat. Extra pumpkin and roasted seeds are added to the mash, kettle and fermenter. Spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.
  • Dark O’ The Moon Pumpkin Stout (7.5% ABV; in 22 oz, draft) – This pumpkin stout pours dark as night with a creamy tan head. A slight smokiness on the nose with malty bittersweet chocolate and a little coffee with subtle earthy pumpkin and spices for an overall nice and creamy mouth.
  • Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale – (6% ABV; in 22 oz, draft) – Beer and caffeine. Why not? A pumpkin ale with the attitude of a world-weary barista, Punkuccino packs a short shot of Stumptown coffee in your pint with just a shake of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Each will be available in select markets starting in September, as well as on-site at Elysian’s 13th annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival.

Save the Date!!  Friday September 29th and Saturday September 30th at the Seattle Center. Purchase tickets here.

In addition to loads of pumpkin brews, local food trucks, Chaotic Noise Marching Corps, KEXP DJs Riz Rollins & Stevie Zoom, pumpkin carving, and fall festivities scattered throughout the event – New to GPBF this year (drumroll please…) we are partnering with FRED HUTCH!

What is Elysian’s Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, you ask?

The annual celebration of pumpkin brews will showcase over 80 unique pumpkin beers from brewers across the country, including 20 or more from Elysian’s pumpkin-crazed brewers and their collaborators. For those who haven’t been to GPBF – we have a giant, several hundred pound pumpkin that is scooped, scorched, filled with Elysian pumpkin beer, sealed, conditioned, and then tapped at the fest for all to enjoy.


Five Ways to Take Your Easter Party to the Next Level

By Steve Hansen, of


Easter is one of those holidays that is steeped in tradition. Donning fancy hats or bonnets, enjoying delicious family feasts and, of course, discovering hidden eggs – sometimes weeks later. But sometimes it is fun to break tradition, just a little bit. So we’ve put together a list of great ways to build on your family’s Easter traditions – five things you can do this season that will thrill both adults and children.

Eggstravaganza1. Ensure a confirmed sighting of the Easter Bunny
For so many, the Easter Bunny has always been like Santa – a visitor who comes and goes without being seen, leaving clues in the form of filled stockings or hidden Easter eggs. (For the rest of us, it often means a late night before the big day!) With AtmosFX’s latest digital decoration, Hoppy Easter, you can be certain the Easter Bunny will make an appearance at your party that will have everyone talking. In the case of Hoppy Easter, you can project onto a window or wall a high-spirited computer animated rabbit who’s getting ready for the Spring season, planting flowers, decorating eggs, and performing magic tricks. With a confirmed sighting of the Easter Bunny at your gathering, it is sure to be the talk of the neighborhood. Just make sure to buy some extra Easter candy ­– you’ll need it!

peepshi2. Carve up those Peeps to make ‘Peepshi’
Over the years, there we have seen some pretty masterful projects utilizing the fabulously fluffy fowl of Easter, Peeps. But we are particularly taken with Niki Achitoff-Gray’s creative genius at Serious Eats, where she turns Peeps into sushi. Achitoff-Gray dissects peeps to create inside-out rolls, nigiri, maki – she even adds Nerds to make a Technicolor tobiko. And using Rice Krispie treats as sticky rice? A masterstroke! The many colors of Peepshi are a joy to look at and great for a party – plus, it might just be the only way to get the kids to sample this Japanese delight. Just make sure to order the real stuff for the adults.  Find it here

Egg Pinata3. Ditch the plastic eggs and make egg piñatas
Sure, the plastic eggs of Easter are useful and reusable – but soooo boring! We like the South-of-the-Border flair of Easter egg piñatas. With just some leftover paper streamers and a little glue, you can use blown-out eggs to create something a little more magnífico. Stuff the hollowed-out eggs with dollar bills, Peeps or other lightweight surprises, and you have a festive take on the Easter egg. Heck, you can even let your guests take a few swings at the eggs in true piñata fashion – and even decorate a few un-blown-out eggs to create a little mischief.  Find it here Consider a late-night Easter egg hunt
If you’ve made the egg piñatas (above) and now wonder what to do with your empty plastic eggs, consider this unusual egg hunt that works great for both kid and adult parties. Do it in the dark! Grab a bag of small glow sticks, put one in each egg, and then scatter them indoors or out. Outfit your guests with flashlights if you choose – or just let ’em bump into things. To continue the theme, you can also decorate Easter eggs with fluorescent paint and replace a few incandescent bulbs with black-lights. And for those who want to really take it up to a notch, the dark environment is a perfect place to display AtmosFX’s Hoppy Easter (above).  Find it here

ham5. Leftovers that turn Easter brunch into a two-day event
For the Sunday feast, we won’t presume to provide the perfect Easter Ham recipe – we all have an uncle or grandmother who has passed-along their prized family recipe from one generation to another. We can’t top that. But what of the leftovers? That’s what Thanksgiving is known for, but we’ll take the post-Easter brunch possibilities any day. We love the many sandwich ideas at Food Republic – particularly the ham and gruyère waffle tartine. They’re so good, your guests might choose to make the Easter brunch a two or three day event – depending on how long the leftovers last.  Find it here


By Steve Hansen, of AtmosFX
AtmosFX is a digital decorating company that helps people customize their homes for holidays and celebrations with fun and entertaining animated characters and stories. There are currently 23 AtmosFX Digital Decorations on the market, as well as additional peripheral products. For more information about AtmosFX, Visit here.
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