Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Heat of the Moment-- Red Sangria

 In my office, there's a sweet breeze. I'm at the table that serves as a desk having red beans and rice, and chilling a gift of raspberry vodka to make one twisted, perfect Cosmo.

 You have to have some way to beat the heat. Mine is throwing some easy food in the mini-crockpot and looking forward to a great cocktail in the yard later. In hot weather, a single, wonderful chilled drink does it for me better than a pitcher of cheap beer; but a pitcher of Sangria is not to be spurned.
 Below is one we tried recently, and enjoyed.

 I've always preferred Sangria made without soda of any sort, and this one fills the bill. It does require a simple syrup, which I made in the cool of morning, which is the best time to get any cooking done these days even if you, unlike us, have AC.

 By the end of a hot day, no one really wants to cook. Do all your chopping and such as soon as you get up, and by evening you'll feel like a genius for having made your own life so easy. You'll also love having a glass of this fruity Sangria with your easy dinner. If you need something stronger, hop over to the Cocktail Lady's blog, and look through her past year's cocktail recipe entries-- there's sure to be something you'll enjoy. Just reading through a week's worth of cocktails has a mellowing effect.

I have, of course, tweaked the original recipe a bit, just to suit my taste. It was overly sweet for me otherwise, and I like lots of fruit.

Red Sangria

Friday, May 3, 2013

Changing lanes-- grocery lanes! The Update.

  As foretold in past posts, I have shifted around my shopping habits, going into new stores for new foods, trying to look at our daily meals with a fresh eye. There's been some success and some falling back on takeout, though mainly that happens when I'm sick. But I've been sick often since January.

  One neat thing is, when forced by sheer necessity to visit my old stomping grounds at Aldi's and Dash early in the experiment, I found myself taking a new approach, buying different foods for different meals than usual. That makes rejigging your diet easier-- what is hard, is to let habitual purchases fall by the wayside so you're not buying new things at the same time as you stock up on all your boring go-to meals, which will end up displacing the fresh ideas you had, costing you twice as much weekly and eventually leaving you with a cupboard of expired inspiration.

 On the CLBB, we have ways of dealing with this cupboard. We have pantry cleanout challenges to use up the odd ingredients, or we each ask "What do I do with ---?" and collect the recipes that other experienced cooks share in sympathy. They've all been there, they know the drill.

 Problem is, I can't afford this leftover approach. I say this knowing there is a bag of raw peanuts and a jar of vine leaves lurking in my own cupboard, mocking me by their very presence. Not to mention the last of the green tapioca beads I bought in the Asian grocery, (which I have discovered are quite a pain to cook) and the mini-cupcake liners I never used for truffles after all.

 Staples like eggs, milk, bread or flour, cheese, juice, apples, carrots, nuts-- all of these items are higher priced now than they were when I moved back to Buffalo six years ago. Even for those who don't buy almond milk, cage-free vegetarian eggs, whole-grained or gluten-free flours, organic carrots. The prices will continue to climb, and what can we do? Try to make more and more money?

 Even that won't be enough, someday not too far away. There will be shortages, there is a need for a change in our food production systems. Right now, the cost of eating cleaner and more compassionately is being pushed onto those least able to bear that cost. You and I, the poor and infirm, the weak and helpless among us, the deliberately weakened animals born to a short life of hideous cruelty and a vile, protracted death. And the food we eat is less nourishing by degrees, more hurtful than helpful. This hasn't been going on for as long as it seems, either-- the same meals that nourished my grandmother to a sprightly 88, have caused or contributed to a veritable chaos of health in most of my generation of the family. And we ate fresh food, prepared from scratch, from childhood. Yet my mother and my two older sisters have had cancer. Myself, my younger sister, my niece, several cousins raised with us, all have chronic illnesses.

 The top six people at Tyson don't care, nor do the gods of Monsanto; and they don't share our burden. The people that live as vastly as kings, are also the people that run the media sources that make you and I feel terrible for buying juice we can afford for our kids. They want you to point to yourself when the question of where and how the fruit for that juice is grown comes up, they want YOU and I to identify with the hapless  growers and pickers and packers whose back-breaking labor is barely paid for, those countries full of people that cannot grow most of their own food anymore because our top corporations have purchased the land for us, spraying it indiscriminately with toxins that hurt everyone and everything. Those kings of industry, those top people, those media whores want you and I to shuffle guiltily between Walmart and the Co-op, making ourselves crazy and poor trying to solve the world's problems while they shovel images of the good life we can never have at us through the ads in Rachel Ray Everyday.

 And we have to do it; we have to stand against the worst that we see, we have to fight from a small base, making inroads as we can.

 I have my own plans for this, growing slowly and not-so-surely. But they won't show up much here in June, my friends. I'm having a hysterectomy at the end of May, and I won't be doing much cooking or shopping come June! So this blog will be on a limited hiatus, from June to sometime in July. Afterwards, it is hoped, my summer obsession with the farmers' market will spur me to inspired creations that I can post here to delight you.

 If you would like to write a guest post, though, during my off time or anytime this summer, please let me know! With recipes or without, it will be a welcome change. Meantime, expect a post or two before my June Hiatus.

 Have a lovely weekend!