Tag Archives: drinks

Hibiscus Mint Iced Tea Lemonade

7 Aug

I am so glad to be back!

There she is! Will find that contact info soon!

There she is! Will find that contact info soon!

We were just in Puerto Rico for a month, which was fantastic and wonderful (especially for my son’s Spanish; he spent his days at a summer camp fending for himself  and emerging victorious!). But for those of us sitting home with nothing but fans blowing hot air around while he frolicked in the pool, it was ridiculously hot.

Putting it together was easy!

Putting it together was easy!

We headed for Rincón’s Famer’s Market a couple of Sundays (Rincón is higher elevation where it is not beachfront, so it is cooler), and we found a young lady selling iced teas…with a twist (now I can’t find her card or I would tell you who she is…).

How pretty is that?

How pretty is that?

Leandro fell in love with the Hibiscus-Mint Iced Tea Lemonade which she said is very popular for kids’ parties. So, of course I had to recreate it at home and I too emerged victorious. This stuff is super-refreshing and delicious, has no caffeine and looks beautiful. I used agave nectar, so I didn’t even have to fuss with sugar syrup….You could try honey too!

 

So refreshing!

So refreshing!

Hibiscus Mint Iced Tea Lemonade

6 Cups hibiscus tea, cooled (I used Tazo’s Passion – 5 teabags to 6 Cups hot water, then steeped for ten minutes)

½ generous Cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (strained to remove seeds and pulp)

¾ Cup agave nectar (you could also make a simple sugar syrup and start with 1/2 Cup)

Several sprigs mint and 1 Tbs chopped mint

Mix all the ingredients in a large pitcher until blended. Remove mint sprigs, stir in chopped mint and serve over ice, with additional sprigs of mint for garnish, if desired.

 

Coquito: Puerto Rican Egg Nog (this one without eggs!)

22 Dec

2015-12-26 17.16.25In Puerto Rico, as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is scraped off the plates, our collective thoughts turn to what we are going to eat for Christmas. But we are not just talking about Christmas Eve or Christmas day, oh no.We’re talking about every day for the next two months.

Recipes written by by late, great-aunt Titi Amida for my mother.

Recipes written by by late, great-aunt Titi Amida for my mother.

Christmas lasts from the day after Thanksgiving well into January, with the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings Day on January 6th, followed by octavas (the eight days after Three Kings Day) which are then followed by octavitas, which last for another eight days. And since we’re practically into February by then, you might as well keep celebrating until Valentine’s Day on the 14th….We have to do it this way, to give everyone who wants to have a Christmas party the opportunity. Twelve days of Christmas are just not enough to give everyone a turn at hosting.

Tasting in progress

Tasting in progress

That’s a lot of menu planning. We are helped by our Christmas songs, which are sometimes paeans to the birth of Jesus, but more often they are odes to the pig…that is.. lechón or spit-roasted suckling pig.

In small servings this homey cocktail can look quite elegant

In small servings this homey cocktail can look quite elegant

Some folks serve it on the rocks. I do like it a bit diluted. You could also top off with a bit more rum.

Some folks serve it on the rocks. I do like it a bit diluted. You could also top off with a bit more rum.

When it comes to beverages, the Queen of Christmas Toddies is coquito, a sweet and sometimes lethal combination of rum, cream of coconut, and condensed and evaporated milk in its more basic form, but which can also include egg yolks, different types of alcohol, more or less cinnamon, vanilla, and much more.

These bottles from IKEA look great for hostess gifts

These bottles from IKEA look great for hostess gifts

Today’s recipe (thank you to my former San Juan Star colleague Todd Michael Jamison for sending me the original that this is based on several years ago) is quite basic and contains no egg (in the recipes from my great-aunt Titi Amida in the images, she used loads of egg yolks, but she used to get farm-fresh eggs. Now most of us don’t have that kind of access). I like to make a big batch and portion out some into decorative bottles for gifts. When I actually serve, I add a bit more cinnamon and froth individual servings up with some ice in a cocktail shaker – coquito should be served really cold and the ice thins it a bit too, which I like. Continue reading

A Sustainable Wedding (and the recipe for Maple Mint Tea)

17 Aug

There is something profoundly sensible about a sustainable wedding celebration. After all, the idea that this unit of two (or in this case, three!) is meant to be self-sustaining, sustain each other, create a balanced environment where each member thrives…well, the symbolism is fairly obvious.

So when my dear friend Hatti, my classmate in my first year of college at The New School for Social Research in NYC (yes, I was always this bloody liberal and lefty, those of you who are familiar with the institution) and the first vegetarian-by-choice I had ever met, and Chris Moratz, inventor and climber and ceramics wonder, decided to get married, a sustainable wedding was in the works. We’re talking no waste, totally local, even the music was self-generated. It was glorious.

Stone Church

They live with Hatti’s daughter, Emma, in Gardiner, NY, near New Paltz, where the climbing is outstanding and the local agriculture is strong.

The view from the churchyard

Chris is German, so while the couple had married in a civil ceremony last year, they didn’t do the church wedding and the celebration until later, something done by many cultures around the world. They spent this past year doing all the house projects that needed doing in order to host the party at home.

The Stone Church up in the mountains in Cragsmoor was the ceremony site (Leandro and I were so very pleased with ourselves – not only did we get there without help from the GPS – Cragsmoor’s zipcode couldn’t be found! What is this? Brigadoon? — but we actually got there on time!)

Emma and Leandro

Yes, they really rode miles and miles home!

The party followed, later in the afternoon, once the happy couple had bicycled their way home (in 90 degree heat, mind you….I suppose it is zero emissions, but sweet Jesus, I couldn’t sustain that!).

The Party set up

The yard was quilted in tables and chairs and the odd tent, with local flowers in jam jars on every one. Folks arrived, many bringing local beers and wines, or food they had made at home. The buffet table was a massive spread of chicken and sausage from Old Ford Farm, vegetable and egg dishes from local farms (Oh My God, the coleslaw from Evolutionary Organics in New Paltz – coleslaw? yes, coleslaw – I had to pile my plate with it a couple of times, I kid you not). I don’t have too many of my own photos, because I was in charge of getting pictures onto Hatti’s camera while they mingled!

Lemon Raspberry Wedding Cake by Jennifer Vehaba

The lemon raspberry wedding cake was made by the caterer, Jennifer Vehaba, with ingredients from Wild Hive Farm, Clinton Corners, and again, Old Ford Farm, and it was just gorgeous all around.

It seems that every other person in their families and among their friends is some sort of a musician, so the jams sprang up all over the yard…

A note on the waste stream…all the plates and glasses were real, there was just one bag of trash at the end (and there were something like 150 people eating and drinking all night!), there was a bin for recyclables and another for food waste that the chickens would dispatch with.

The tea kept well overnight outside in this container!

The one recipe I came away with was for the astonishingly refreshing maple mint tea that Hatti and Chris invented. I must have drunk a gallon of it on my own, so I got the recipe and here it is, first as Hatti told me and then slightly more formalized.

“When I make the maple mint tea; I dry the leaves from the garden and then I make tea with boiling water and let it cool and I put in about a cup of maple syrup per gallon.”

Maple Mint Tea (remember that inspiration for drinking sangría out of jam jars? This was it)

Maple Mint Tea (Hatti Langsford and Chris Moratz)

1 Gallon peppermint/mint tea

1 Cup maple syrup

When the tea has cooled, add maple syrup. Mix well. Serve chilled over ice, and garnish with mint leaves, if you are so inclined.

Hatti and Chris’ tea was still delicious the next day, after spending a very warm day and night outside in a beverage cooler, so it’s safe to say that a smaller household amount will keep in the fridge a day or two. If it lasts that long!

A Sangría Celebration (Three Varieties, One Delightful Party)

8 Aug

Robert Frost once said “Good fences make good neighbors.” He was absolutely correct; the better defined the boundaries, the easier it is to get along.

However, there are times when border crossings become extremely attractive and even critical to survival – such as when you’re home alone with a toddler during a hurricane, or when it’s been sweltering hot for days and on the other side of the fence there is a sparkling pool.

Fortunately for me and Leandro, our next-door neighbors have come through in the clutch on just such occasions. We spent a hurricane with them as well as a couple of heat wave days and not only were they lifesavers, but they were totally fun.

So it was time to show our appreciation. And what better way than to pass several gallons of several varieties of refreshing home-made sangría over the fence for an impromptu sangría-tasting pool party?

We did just that a couple of days ago, serving the sangría in honking big pickle jars (I was inspired to use them by a recent wedding in New Paltz that I’ll be blogging about soon, but the observant reader will quickly surmise that I have a lot of empty pickling jars because I haven’t been on the Ball about preserving and pickling this year…).

Each of the following three varieties had its fans among the tasters. My personal fave was the Pimm’s blend (Hail Brittannia), Allen and Lynne liked the tartness of the cranberry blend and Alyssa and Barbara demolished the white wine and Limoncello. Big plus about neighborly imbibing? No driving involved!

But I knew I had really made the grade when the college kids started sending instagrams of their drinks to their friends from their smart phones! A couple of said friends actually turned up at the house, having abandoned their barstools where they were actually spending their own money on sangría that was apparently not as good….

Red Wine and Pimm’s Sangría (a salute to Team GB and the London Olympics)

3 Litres light-bodied red wine (12 cups or 3 quarts) such as Pinot Noir or Chianti

7 Tbs mango orange juice

3-6 Tbs Pimm’s or orange flavored liquer like Grand Marnier

3 Tbs sugar

Mixed sliced fruit: apples, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, oranges, lemons

½ -1 Cup ginger ale or seltzer

In a large bowl or two pitchers, mix wine, juice, Pimms and sugar. Add fruit and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, top with ginger ale or seltzer, or let each individual top off their cup with their choice of fizzy drink. Use loads of ice!!!

 

Red Wine and Brandy Sangría (tart!)

1.5 litres red wine such as Pinot Noir or Chianti

4 Tbs cranberry juice

3 Tbs brandy or orange-flavored liquer

2 Tbs fresh-squeezed orange juice

1 Tbs sugar

Orange and lemon slices

¼-1/2 Cup ginger ale or seltzer

Mix everything except the orange and lemon slices and fizzy drink in a large bowl or pitcher. Add fruit, refrigerate for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, top with ginger ale or seltzer, or let each individual top off their cup with their choice of fizzy drink. Use loads of ice…in the glasses.

 

Fruity White Wine and Limoncello Sangría

2.5-3 Litres dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc (I can’t drink Pinot Grigio because of headaches, but if you like it, it would work here)

4 Tbs Limoncello/limoncini

6 Tbs orange mango juice

Sliced peaches, nectarines, strawberries, apples, oranges, lemons

¼-1/2 Cup ginger ale or seltzer

Mix everything except the fruit slices and fizzy drink in a large bowl or pitcher. Add fruit, refrigerate for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, top with ginger ale or seltzer, or let each individual top off their cup with their choice of fizzy drink. Pour over ice!

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