Monday, July 15, 2013

Zucchini Snack

I'm not a chef, but sometimes it's fun to pretend. The other night I made this tasty dish with a zucchini purchased from a small farmer's market down the street. All I did was cut it in slices and sauteed it with some olive oil. In another pan I sauteed chopped onion and garlic to garnish the zucchini. I added a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for a savory flare and voila!

Have it as a side or as the main course!
Depends on how hungry you are...

Sensational Sangria

Several years ago I had my first taste of sangria at a Peruvian restaurant in New York City. I immediately fell in love with this dangerously delightful fruity beverage. It was a spicy and sweet concoction that mesmerized me with a secret potency I could not detect until I was falling sideways in the restaurant booth. Over a week ago I decided to make my own sangria with a very simple recipe since I only had a few ingredients on hand:

1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 Thinly Sliced Orange
1 bottle 750-ml Red Wine
A splash of brandy

Make the sangria on a night you're making red sauce. Pour some of the wine into the sauce. Pour the rest into a mason jar and add remaining ingredients. Shake it up to combine ingredients. Forget about it and leave it sitting in the fridge for a week. Open it up and pour yourself a refreshing glass of fruity deliciousness.

Side note: My version is pretty potent. Add water if needed. The key thing is to let it sit at least over night whenever possible. If you give the flavors some time to merry, you will be rewarded with a phenomenal batch of sangria.

The jar was full before pouring two glasses

Animal Cruelty on Corn Hill

Yesterday marked the final day of the Corn Hill Arts Festival in Rochester. This mid-July festival draws thousands to explore the artistic wares, funky food and thirst quenching drinks largely produced by locals artisans and small businesses. This festival often takes place in some of the hottest weather experienced in Upstate New York, and this year was no exception. Sunday produced temperatures in the mid-nineties. One-dollar bottles of water flew off the tables at church fundraisers and lemonade stands. Grey-bearded biker dudes donning black t-shirts quietly praised their death metal gods for their outfit choices which shielded their grotesquely sweaty shirts clinging to round beer bellies protruding from fitted leather vests (sorry I couldn't snag a picture of THAT).

My grandma worked at the festival this year. More than trying to persuade passersby to sign up for free home energy audits, she encouraged them to enjoy the sprinkler system set up in the tent next door to us. I watched miserable, red-faced children as their eyes lit up after passing through the sprinklers. It's amazing how a little water can create a huge attitude adjustment on such a hot, sticky day.

I also had the misfortune to watch festival goers drag their over-heated, dehydrated dogs through the screaming hot paved streets. My jaw hung to the ground as a small chihuahua mix frantically danced from foot to foot to keep his feet from burning as his oblivious owner chatted casually with friends. An Irish Wolfhound walked by our tent and I was so happy to see his owner lead him beneath the sprinklers to help him cool down. As soon as they returned to the dry pavement, however, the owner stopped to make small-talk with strangers and the wolfhound methodically shifted his weight off each of his feet to give them each a chance to cool. The icing on the cake had to be the labrador mix who limped beneath the sprinklers and immediately collapsed to the cool, wet ground and rolled around to coat his fur. After a few minutes of relaxation the owner tried to coax the dog from beneath the tent, but the dog wouldn't budge.

There are plenty of compassionate and well-meaning dog owners who sometimes overlook the fact that dogs don't wear shoes. Humans have protection from the hot summer sidewalks because we wear protective footwear. When I say it like that it seems like a no-brainer, yet I watched countless dog owners ignore that simple fact. So here is a simple message to all of you who love your dogs and want to keep their interests at heart. Leave them at home when the weather is too hot for you to walk down a paved road without shoes. That way your dogs won't have to suffer.

"Now that I'm here, I"M NOT LEAVING!"

Panting pup back for round two

Stepping on the pavement to see how it feels.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Alcohol Experiments

One of the privileges I have looked forward to most with turning twenty-one is my new and exciting ability to go out for drinks with friends. As enthralling as this new experience will surely be in the many late nights to come, it is also quite enjoyable to experiment making my own crazy cocktails at home. It definitely helps to have a mixing guide, which my boyfriend wisely chose to give me. Below are the first few cocktails we attempted to make. If any of them sound like the perfect drink to wet your whistle, try making them at home. Since we were working with limited supplies and artistic talent, our creations aren't exactly picture perfect, but it's the taste that counts.

Alexander No. 1
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Creme de Cacao (White)
1 oz. Light Cream

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh grated nutmeg on top.

Notes: Drinking this is like swallowing a mouthful of Christmas! Then again, I think any gin drink reminds me of the holidays with that distinct conifer taste. That piney aroma combined with the sweet, chocolate taste of Creme de Cacao is a unique but delicious combination. We also didn't have light cream on hand so we used skim milk instead.

Banana Cow
1 oz. Light Rum
1 oz. Creme de Banana
1 1/2 oz. Cream
1 dash Grenadine

Shake ingredients with crushed ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a banana slice and fresh-grated nutmeg on top.

Notes: This drink has a much more mellow taste than the Alexander No. 1 cocktail. I didn't have grenadine so I replaced it with triple sec since both ingredients possess fruity characteristics.

Alexander No. 1 on the left, Bana Cow
on the right, The Rolling Stones in the back

Alexander No. 2
1 oz. Creme de Cacao (White)
1 oz. Brandy
1 0z. Light Cream

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh-grated nutmeg on top.

Notes: Although this drink is similar to Alexander No. 1, swapping gin for brandy makes all the difference in the world. The brandy pairs more nicely with the Creme de Cacao.

2 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Light Rum
1/2 oz. Milk
1 tsp. Sugar
1 oz. Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel

Notes: This drink is very tart! It is lemonade with a serious kick, somewhat reminiscent of an astringent. The sugar doesn't add much sweetness so you might want to add a little more.

Alexander No. 2 on the right, Bikini
on the left, U2 poster in the back

Bikini with a lemon garnish

The most important thing we've learned so far is when it comes to making cocktails, experimenting is half the fun! So what if you don't have every single ingredient for a certain recipe. Try substituting something else or see if you can get by without it. We didn't garnish any of our drinks with nutmeg because we just didn't have it, but still managed to concoct some tasty beverages.