What’s In My Journal

Seven years ago I started keeping a journal. While other folks may be pouring their hearts out and expressing their inner-most thoughts and feelings in their journals, I’m recording what I eat and drink every day. My journaling began with wine tasting notes. It proved an efficient way to keep track of different wines we tried and ultimately which ones we liked enough to buy again. After a few dozen bottles, I started adding the wine notes to a spreadsheet for ease in searching for a specific winery or varietal.

Shortly after starting the journal, I began blogging. My early blog posts, which were mostly just wine tasting notes, quickly became repetitive. Wine needed to be appreciated in the context of a story. By year’s end my posts included related topics such as choosing and buying wine, visiting wineries, and easy recipes for food pairings, as well as information about varietals, winemakers, and regions. Little by little, the focus of my writing developed into an integrated story of wine and life.

Tasting notes from my journal don’t end with wine, we’re always trying new spirits as well. A spirits throwdown is an especially favorite pastime. We’ve just returned home from the liquor store with a bottle of Courvoisier XO and are eager to see how it compares to the Remy Martin XO we have on the shelf. Pouring a small amount of each in a snifter, we swirl, sniff, and sip as I make notes in my journal on each cognac’s nose, palate, and finish. Reviewing my journal notes encourages me to go online to discover fascinating stories of cocktail and spirits history and culture (whether fact or folklore!)

Another fun activity that’s recorded in my journal is drink lab. A familiar cocktail recipe may be tweaked more to our liking. Or we’ll test different brands of a particular spirit, such as rum, in a recipe. Many of our cocktails are created by way of substitution; if we don’t have a specific bottle on hand we try something else in its place. The trials (and errors) of the testing are recorded in my journal and, hopefully, end with a drink that goes down the hatch instead of down the drain.

I keep a daily log of what we ate for dinner. Since we cook at home at least several nights a week, the journal is helpful in keeping the cooks from falling into a rut. There’s always a dish we’ve forgotten that deserves to be revisited. Do you ever find leftovers in the fridge and wonder how long they’ve been there? Or find an open jar of sun-dried tomatoes or roasted peppers but can’t remember when you opened it? Looking it up in my journal is a great way to decide if I’ll use it or lose it (along with smelling, tasting, and checking for mold.)

I don’t usually have complete food recipes in my journal. They are typed, saved on my computer, and printed. Handwritten notes are added as the dish is prepared over time. However, there was a recent instance that I was glad I took notes in my journal. A few weeks earlier, we cooked filet mignon to perfection. I didn’t use a recipe per se, just suggestions from various websites for meat prep, cooking method and temperature, and tenting with compound butter. I was very relieved to find I had made notes in my journal so that it turned out just as well the second time!

My journal entries are the basis for most of my blog posts and many of the tasting notes, drink labs, and cocktail recipes have found their way into my soon to be released book, Boozy Lifestyle: Elevate The Everyday With Booze As Your Muse. I hope you’ll try some of the cocktail recipes and use the tasting notes to help you discover favorites of your own.

Published by J Reilly

Boozy Lifestyle: Elevate The Everyday With Booze As Your Muse by Julia Stacey Reilly is available on Amazon.com. Follow J Reilly @boozy_lifestyle on Twitter and Instagram.

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