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Beefed Up Brown Mary #LitHappens #FoodieReads

We are kicking off 2021 in our online Lit Happens book group with Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore.* And though it's not a cook-from-the-book kinda group, I am almost always inspired into the kitchen after reading a book or watching a movie. 

On the Page
image from

I honestly can't even remember what made me pick up this book, or choose it for the group, but it was a diversion for an evening or two. The ensuing online discussion with the other readers has been much more interesting in my opinion.

The premise of this book - that Oona time-travel every year on her birthday and lives her life out of order - is intriguing. And having seen the rave reviews, I was excited to read it. But I struggled through this story because I didn't care for the protagonist. 

Oona is selfish and though she’s aware she’s living her life in random, one-year segments, she’s remarkably uninterested in any kind of introspection. Her main goal in life seems to be having fun, regardless of the consequences to herself and her loved ones. And though she tries to caution herself with post-it notes in jacket pockets to avoid pitfalls, she ignores those warnings and repeats her same mistakes to the same disastrous ends.

All of this led to a discussion about fate or pre-destination in Lit Happens. I am looking forward to hearing the gals' thoughts on this more when we meet virtually this week. But overall this book fell flat for me. If you're interested in a time-traveling novel, I highly recommend The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.*

Foodie Inspiration

There was plenty of food inspiration on the pages though. I almost remade éclairs after reading this passage, but I had just posted Simply Irresistible Chocolate Éclairs for this month's Food'N'Flix. "She took a sip of the warm liquid: surprised delight allayed her suspicion. 'Yum.' 'I know, right?' A conspiratorial grin as he held up a plastic bag. 'I also got us éclairs. It’s impossible to hate life after a good éclair, and these are the best. Let’s get our coats.' The sweetness on her tongue turned sour." 

I almost  pulled my aquavit off the shelf to make Gløgg (Danish Mulled Wine) after reading this...  "On New Year’s Eve, she made mulled wine with Kenzie—piercing oranges with cloves and setting them afloat in a sea of red wine, brandy, cinnamon, and nutmeg ('the chai of boozy beverages,' they agreed). They took turns stirring the pot, adding amber dollops of honey until the mixture was just right, then sat in Oona’s library beside the fireplace, drinking mugs of the stuff."

Her marriage to Edward was filled with lots of food mentions as he struggles to open a restaurant and she bankrolls it. He introduces her to Toad-in-the-Hole, promising, "no amphibians will be harmed in the making of this dish." His restaurant concept is "British meets classic French. Chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce and Yorkshire pudding. Shepherd’s pie with dauphinoise potatoes instead of mash. Bouillabaisse with a side of bubble and squeak. That sort of thing." So I almost made my Bouillabaisse, but I liked the character of Edward even less than I like Oona and felt as if I were condoning his bad behavior by making a dish inspired by his timeline. Silly, I know.

Of course Oona's time in Vietnam got me thinking about all sorts of our favorites. "And there was the food: plentiful, inexpensive, and delectable. She ate and ate and ate street food—skewers of meat, bowls of noodles, crunchy papaya salad—her taste buds soaking in the key flavors of the native cuisine: sweet, salty, sour, and spicy."

But, in the end, I went with a cocktail...  

Beefed Up Brown Mary

"'I come bearing bagels. You don’t bring bagels to a fight. Why don’t you go change while I lay out the food and make coffee. Nice outfit, by the way. Never saw a dress made of duct tape before.'"

"'I already ate breakfast.' Two Bloody Marys, but surely the tomato juice counted as nourishment.

There are lots of  variations on a bloody cocktail. And, no, I didn't have mine for breakfast. I knew that if I used vodka, it was a Bloody Mary and using tequila makes it a Bloody Maria. But I learned that pouring in sake makes a Bloody Geisha and substituting rum makes a Bloody Pirate. 

I was most intrigued by the Brown Mary, which uses whiskey, and the Red Snapper, which uses gin. Those are usually my cocktail bases of choice. Jake and I tested three different alcohols and settled on the whiskey version.

Ingredients makes one cocktail

  • 3 ounces Bloody Mary cocktail mixer
  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • juice from 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 to 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 drops lemon bitters
  • freshly ground pepper
  • ice cubes
  • Also needed: mason jar and cocktail glass

  • lemon wedge
  • Bloody Mary cocktail rimmer (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2" wide strip of peppered beef jerky
  • 1 each of pickled carrot cube, pitted green olive, pickled green pepper, pickled red pepper, gherkin, and pickled pearl onion


Thread the pearl onion, green olive, pickled carrot, pickled green pepper, pickled red pepper, and gherkin onto a toothpick or small skewer. Use kitchen shears to slice your beef jerky into a strip.

Rub the lemon wedge over the rim of your serving glass. Dip the glass in the rimmer, if using. Invert and fill with ice.

In a mason jar, stir together the bloody mary mixer, bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, lemon bitters, and hot sauce. Add in one to two grinds of black pepper.

Carefully pour the cocktail into the prepared glass. Garnish with pickle spear and beef jerky.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in January 2021: here.


  1. I learned lots of new things about Bloody drinks this morning. I am not a huge fan of tomato based drinks so I probably won't make them for myself but I may make them for guests if/when our world opens again.


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