Thursday, June 1, 2023

Herb Infused Cocktail ~ Watermelon Basil Margarita


    Summer is the perfect time to sip an ice cold drink on the patio or outside deck.   Watch nature change and adapt as you sit back and relax with a tasty beverage.  This month the Oaks Bed and Breakfast, presents a Watermelon Basil Margarita, as the herb infused cocktail of the month.  A thirst quenching treat with amazing summer flavors for those of age to enjoy.

    This drink has just the right amount of sweetness, between the watermelon and the basil simple syrup.  Just add in some lime and tequila and you have a summer drink ready for the deck.  Grab some ceviche or chips and salsa to enjoy with your margarita.

    The simple syrup is easy to make.  A one to one ratio of sugar to water, plus add in your basil and bring to a boil on the stove top.  Let the mixture simmer until all the sugar has melted.  Set aside to cool and then place inside an air tight container until ready for use. 

    I did pick up a seedless watermelon, that had seeds, so I had to pull those out while making the drink, no one wants to have seeds in their margarita.  I guess I need to select a better option next time.  Here are the details for you to enjoy this drink.

Watermelon Basil Margarita

1 1/2 ounces Tequila Silver

1 ounce Lime Juice

1/2 ounce Basil Simple Syrup

2 ounces Watermelon Juice

Add everything to a shaker cup filled with ice.  Give it a vigorous shake and pour over a sugar and chili rimmed glass.  Garnish with a slice of lime and basil.

    Be sure to check out our simple video of how to make the

Watermelon Basil Margarita on our YouTube channel.  You can also explore our past drinks there as well.  

    You can rim your glass with just sugar, sugar and chili or nothing at all it depends on what you want to taste.  The simple syrup brings out the flavor of the basil but is subtle in the tasty of the drink.  While you can savor the watermelon flavor with each sip.

    We hope that you will enjoy the Watermelon Basil Margarita this summer.  Stop by the Tipsy Oak Lounge to taste one this June.  As always please remember to drink responsibly and have a designated driver. Cheers!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Your Garden ~ House Hold Fertilizers


    Now that you have your garden planted and it's starting to grow, you need to make sure the fruits of your labor are realized.  There are multiple ways for you to fertilize your garden from items you can find around your home.  The three we are going to focus on today are coffee grounds, banana peels and egg shells.

    I recognize that not everyone drinks coffee and even if you don't, you can still use grounds from your local coffee shop or diner, just be sure to ask them to collect them for you.  Before we closed our coffee shop, we did this for a patron and ourselves and it worked out great.  Now we just use the grounds we create from serving guests at the bed and breakfast.  We have a collection bucket outside that we toss the used grounds into everyday.  That way it's ready to use when we need it.  

    Why use coffee grounds on your garden?  Coffee grounds work as a natural fertilizer.  Applied directly to the garden area, it can help with drainage, adding microorganisms and the attracting of helpful earthworms.   If you have gone so far as to start your own compost pile to create your own "brown gold" the addition of coffee grounds will help introduce nitrogen to the material as it composts down.  Be sure to place your grounds around the appropriate plants, not all plants like the acidity of coffee grounds, especially tomatoes, sunflowers and carrots.  You can also use the coffee grounds to create a pest repellant for pest such as slugs.  I have noticed some slugs around my greens, so we will be adding grounds to those plants.  

    Egg shells are another very easy option to add to your garden.  Almost everyone eats or cooks with eggs in one way or another.  We collect the egg shells in an old mushroom container and let them dry out, squash them down and add more.  Once they can no longer be effectively squashed down and are dry enough, we grind them up to make an egg shell powder.  The egg shells add calcium to the plants and can help prevent rot on the blossom end of tomatoes, for example.  

    We also used egg shells on our indoor plants to help keep away little flying bugs.  The shells worked similar to diatomaceous earth and collect on the exoskeleton of the bug and kill them.  We blend up the shells to create a powder because they break down into the soil quicker than whole shells do.  You can add the ground shells directly to the soil as an amendment or to your compost pile to add calcium back into your soil.

    Banana peels have some many wonderful uses in the garden and I think are one of the most prolific of choices for fertilizer, insect replant and overall soil health.  Our first choice and how we prepared our banana peels for this is a banana peel tea.  We soaked our banana peels in water for at least 48 hours, and then discarded the peel, into the compost pile, and watered our plants with the new banana peel tea.

    But wait there's more.  You can directly sow your banana peels into the soil.  Chop them up into smaller pieces and mix into your garden bed directly.  The peels will break down and release the nutrients into the soil for your plants to use and flourish.  Why is potassium important to your garden's health?  Potassium is important for root and seed production, as well as support to tolerate extreme temperatures. With that Texas heat right around the corner, be sure to add in some peels to help your plants out with the change in temperature. 

    Our favorite and most effective way to use banana peels is to create a spray, using dried banana peels, egg shells, and Epson salt.  The banana peels are for potassium, the egg shells calcium and Epson salt is for magnesium.  Add your dried ingredients into a spray bottle and then top with water.  This spray is a step up from banana peel tea and can utilize fewer bananas but cover more plants.   You can quickly dry your banana peels in a 140 degree oven, set on a cookie sheet without the pieces touching.  Leave the oven door slightly open and the peels inside until dried.  

    Either way, don't throw your left over items into the trash but make something out of the waste from your kitchen.  No matter if it is egg shells, coffee grounds or banana peels, help Mother Nature out with a little bit of kitchen recycling, and watch your garden grow even better.  Just remember a little bit goes a long way and not every plant will enjoy every choice, so be sure to know which plants need what for optimal growth.  

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Let's Eat Food Trucks ~ Shave Shop

    You may have seen Clay & Kendall Hansford around Sulphur Springs or other local cities with their mobile shaved iced truck at an event or two since they opened. Now you can enjoy their shaved iced without the hunt.  With two Shave Shop trucks they are ready and able to attend special events, and park at their new spot at The Rail Yard.  The flexibility of having two trucks allows them to serve their customers in more ways than one.  

    With the addition of the a second truck Clay and Kendall are still able to participate in school fundraisers, where they give back to the school that books their truck as well as company parties, and events.  They hope that their spot at the Rail Yard, will give them additional visibility during the summer months while schools are no longer in session. 

    When they started with the school fundraisers, the Shave Shop found that they have to abide by the low calorie snack rule and changed all the syrups to fit the needs of the new snack guidelines.  The best part about them attending a school event is that they give back 30% of their profits back to school.  Who would not want to host the Shave Shop at their next big school event.  

   If you are not a school don't worry the Shave Shop has you covered, for all your corporate events and parties.  Treat your employees to a cold summer treat or wow your guests for your next party by having the Shave Shop attend.

    While it might seem like all fun and games, running a mobile shaved ice business it does take a lot of work and planning to adapt to customer needs and find the correct supplies.  They drive once a week to Keller to stock up on ice to fill up the deep freeze and be ready for all those events and parties.  They have even discovered on their travels new flavors to share with their customers, that will be coming out soon.  
    Menu options will change and adapt based on location and event.  Be on the look out for new cream based flavors coming soon.  In the mean time stop by their spot at the Rail Yard to enjoy some fresh shaved ice.  I had the new cold brew coffee shaved ice and let me tell you, I'll be back to order that one again.  It definitely hit the spot and I know the kids will want to visit soon.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Herb Infused Cocktail ~ Rosemary Paloma


    As we enter into the summer months a cold and refreshing drink on the patio or deck hits the spot after working in the garden, watching sport games or just because.  This months herb infused cocktail is a Rosemary Paloma.


    Grapefruit is a winter fruit but can be made into a refreshing drink at any time of the year.  Since our rosemary grows well all year round, why not take advantage of the delicious flavor it provides walking into the summer months.  

    This drink can also be made for a crowd ahead of time for those patio parties or summer bar-b-ques.  We chose to use a darker tequila for this drink to really enhance the rosemary flavor.  The more oaky flavor of the Anejo tequila pulls the rosemary notes from the homemade syrup.  For a lighter version you can use a Silver or reposado tequila.  

    Rosemary Paloma

1 - 1.5 ounces of Tequila

3 ounces of grapefruit juice

1 ounce of rosemary syrup

dash of lime juice


    Fill a shaker cup with ice.  Top with all the ingredients for the drink and give it a good shake.  Pour into an ice filled glass.  Garnish with a wedge of lime and rosemary sprig.

    This drink is easy to make for a crowd or just a few people.  Of course if you choose to make it a mocktail just eliminate the tequila.  You might even consider adding a splash of grapefruit soda, to add a few bubbles.  

    The rosemary syrup is the standard simple syrup of sugar and water, with rosemary added in from the start.  Let it cool and infuse the flavor longer into the syrup, for a stronger rosemary finish.  The simple syrup will keep in your fridge for up to two weeks. 

    As always please drink responsibly and have a designated driver.  We hope you will enjoy this drink and let us know how you liked it.  Cheers, from the Oaks bed and Breakfast. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

Let's Eat ~ Reba's


    Right on the Hopkins County line is Reba's, located at 1004 Hwy 154, Yantis, Texas, a little bit of homestyle cooking to feed the soul.  Tara and Steve have built their business from the ground up focusing on creating dishes from family recipes to bring people together to enjoy a good meal in a comfortable setting with quick service.  Named after her Grandmother, Reba's strives to help others. 

    The goal behind Reba's is more than just feeding the public.  Eventually they want to help disadvantaged, single parent families get back on their feet.  Reba was a women who worked up to three jobs while trying to raise a family and keep her children fed.  She did this while working in the food service industry after her husband passed away early in their marriage.  Tara took her grandmother's work ethic to heart and wants to help mother's and father's who are alone re-enter the workforce with help from other local restaurant owners and develop a ranch where the children can be cared for and tutored while also helping the parent gain workforce skills.  With a future for growth, Reba's is more than just a place to drop in for breakfast or lunch but also a place with a mission to help those who in need.

    As a former school teacher Tara witnessed first hand the impact of a broken home in the students.  Her desire to start a ranch and help these families begins with the children in mind.  The restaurant is a stepping stone to reach their ultimate goal of purchasing a ranch and impacting the lives of local families in need. 

    Reba's is open six days a week.  The dining room is open weekdays from 8 a. m. to 4 p. m. and Saturday from 7 a. m. - 2 p. m.  While their take away and bakery options are open until 7 p. m. on weekdays and 2 p. m. on Saturday.  While it might seem like a bit of a drive, Reba's offers quick service and weekly specials.  There is plenty of time to head out there and back on your lunch break. Enjoy the whole menu and specials all day.  Two breakfast specials, and four lunch specials come out each week along with their regular menu.  

    All their bakery items are made from scratch.  Which also includes special services such as wedding and birthday cakes.  Sugar cookies, breads and fried pies fill their case daily and you don't want to miss out.  At least ten fried pie options are on the menu each day, with a monthly special to tempt your taste buds.  This months special is a snickerdoodle fried pie.  The flaky, crust melts in your mouth upon first taste.  You won't want to miss this treat on your visit. 

    On your way out after enjoying breakfast or lunch, be sure to grab a pre-made dinner.  Their take and bake options are great for those busy  nights of sports and dance.  Or just because you don't feel like cooking, let Reba's do the cooking, all you have to do is heat, serve and enjoy. 

    Not only can you enjoy their cooking at their brick and mortar store, you can have them come to you for your next event.  Since Reba's started out as a food truck, they can cater at your location.  Their food truck helped to grow their inside location while remodeling.  Be sure to call and ask about catering your next function.

    No matter if you dine in, order out or pick up a take and bake be sure to tip.  The tip jar at Reba's goes to help feed people in need.  Tara pays her workers a daily wage so that the tips can be given back to the community.  No matter what you should always tip, but at Reba's its even more important and impactful.  

    We hope that you will take a trip out to Reba's to enjoy some homecooked meals for breakfast or lunch.  Tara and her staff are ready with a smile and conversation for when you stop by next.  



Monday, April 17, 2023

Graduation Party


    Graduation is right around the corner and there is no place better than The Oaks bed and breakfast in Sulphur Springs, to host your party.  With an outdoor space for games and fun, while visiting and conversations can happen inside.  We hosted another great party at the last Saturday and more to come in future weeks.  The graduate wanted a crawfish boil and we delivered.  The food and party were a hit.  How you do you like to boil your crawfish?  We always have our boils loaded.  Shrimp, sausage, veggies and more fill the pot along with the crawfish. Add some spice and you have a great dinner to help celebrate the graduate or another family holiday. 

    Decorations were made easy since the grad wanted to feature images and team jerseys that she wore throughout her youth.  A beautiful balloon arch from Paris Party Rentals and flowers from Sulphur Springs Floral rounded out the d├ęcor.  With the jerseys displayed around the car port you could see she stayed active.  We displayed her photos on our moveable wall, with fishing line and paper clips.  The remaining photos were placed on the tables inside so that they would not blow away in the wind. 


     Our favorite part of the decorations the grad put together was the photo backdrop.  All those college brochures finally came in handy.  A photo backdrop made from all the brochures that college sent over the years.  They really show off how much waste colleges spend on attracting students. Either way it also creating a talking piece to see where your student actually applied or you could find your alma mater in the mix. So creative and fun!

    Since you never know what people will want to eat and there were little kids attending, we had a grazing board and desserts inside for everyone to enjoy.  Kid friendly drinks and of course apple sauce and fruit salad, go a long way into making everyone feel like they have something they can enjoy.  

    The weather could not have been more perfect for an indoor/outdoor graduation party.  We hope the graduate feels the love and appreciation of those who came out to support her.  Good luck on your future endeavors. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Herb Infused Cocktail ~ Ginger Rosemary Lemonade


    Ginger is widely used in Asian foods as a garnish for dishes, to add flavor and to aide in digestion.  As a root plant one would not think that ginger would have such a complex flavor, but in fact it does.  A little spicy, ginger is a compliment to sweet and savory dishes and make a wonderful addition to this cocktail. Although not an herb, but rather a spice, we find our herb for this particular cocktail is rosemary.  

    Rosemary is the garnish for this cocktail but if you let it sit in your drink for a small amount of time the oils from the fresh cut stem will seep into your drink and add a woodsy flavor.  Which is not at all unwanted.  

    The only part about this drink that is time consuming is the use of fresh lemons.  Make a big batch and save time that way.  If you do not want to use fresh lemons, that is up to you.  There is always store bought lemonade, just look for one with a low amount of sugar.  The smallest amount of sugar is best since we are making a ginger simple syrup to feature in this recipe.

Ginger Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup ginger slices

Ginger Rosemary Lemonade

1 cup fresh squeezed lemonade (5-8 lemons)

1/2 cup ginger simple syrup

2 cups water

4 oz bourbon

Fresh rosemary, for garnish

Cook the simple syrup and let it set for about 30 minutes.  In a large carafe, mix together the simple syrup, water, and fresh lemon juice.  Add the bourbon.  Pour into glasses over ice and garnish with a spring of fresh rosemary.  

    As summer approaches this is a great thirst quenching drink from after working outside or just taking sometime to relax after a day at work.  If you want to make this a mocktail, just leave out the bourbon and enjoy.  

    You might think the spicy ginger would make it hard to drink the but it really adds to the flavor, and helps to mellow the fresh squeezed lemons. Be sure to check out our

YouTube video on how to make this drink.   As always drink responsibly and have a designated driver.  Until next month Cheers, from the Oaks bed and breakfast.

P.S. we want to hear from you, drop us a line on social media or send us an e-mail to let us know how you are enjoying your cocktails each month.  Have a favorite you want us to feature, send it over and we shall put it together.