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Susan and Ted Axelrod

Susan and Ted are a writer and photographer team who met while working for a magazine — Susan reviewing restaurants and writing food features, Ted photographing them. When Ted left the magazine for a freelance career, they launched their blog, Spoon & Shutter in 2010 as a way to keep doing what they love, together. After many years in Northern New Jersey, they are thrilled to be living in Maine, where Ted's clients occasionally include restaurants and food businesses. When they're not working, cooking, rehabbing their old farmhouse or hanging out with their two cool dogs – Ella and Dixie – they're having a blast exploring this spectacular state. To reach Susan, email saxelrod [at] or follow her on Twitter: @susansaxelrod To reach Ted, email ted [at] or follow him on Twitter @TedAxelRodPhoto .

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Posted: January 9, 2015

The Skinny Russian: A drink for resolution season

Written by: Susan and Ted Axelrod


The Skinny Russian. Photo by Ted Axelrod

The Skinny Russian. Photo by Ted Axelrod

Like many of you, I’m starting this new year determined to exercise more and eat healthier — in the interest of feeling better and, to be honest, looking reasonably good in a bathing suit by the time it’s warm enough to wear one again.

I’m fully aware that if I completely eliminated all sweets and alcohol from my life, the weight would practically fall off. But I also know it would be far easier for me to swear off the occasional Holy Donut or treat from Standard Baking than to give up beer, wine and cocktails.

So I’m trying to cut back: Mixing my recent favorite drink — The Manhattan — to sip slowly before dinner, instead of pouring a glass of wine, which always turns into 2, (or who’s kidding who, 3). As for Ted, he’s switched to bourbon, neat.

There are plenty of clever ways to lower the calorie count of your favorite cocktails (just Google it), including cutting the tonic in your G&T in half and replacing it with seltzer or club soda — an idea that appeals to me, not a fan of diet tonic.

The book, “Skinny Sippers,” published in October, is full of excellent ideas, and sobering facts, such as: the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories; as a cocktail sweetener, agave has half the calories of sugar syrup; and if you’re a vodka drinker, try Japanese sochu, which has about half the calories. All the recipes in the book come in at less than 150 calories and as you might expect, generally make smaller-sized drinks.


We were intrigued by the recipe for The Skinny Russian, a treat at 140 calories. Like a standard White Russian (a whopping 375), it includes coffee liqueur and vodka, but instead of milk or cream, calls for almond milk. We used a generic label coffee liqueur, Cold River vodka and Oakhurst’s new Unsweetened Almond Goodness milk, but if you wanted to go all-Maine, Allen’s Coffee Brandy would be just the thing.

The Skinny Russian

1 ounce coffee liqueur
1 ounce vodka
2 1/2 ounces unsweetened almond milk

Measure all ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake well and pour into a tall glass.

Adapted from “Skinny Sippers” (Spruce Publishers).



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