Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Edible Delights

This post probably belongs up on my other blog, Elegant Domesticity. But I had to share.

It's not Thanksgiving right now, in fact, it's ages away from Thanksgiving. But today I made cranberry sauce. In Brazil. From craisins. If you've lived overseas for any length of time, you probably understand what a big deal this is. Kind of like saying it was a cinch to make the green bean casserole, or you just picked up a container of fresh milk on your way home. I know people who bring cans of cranberry sauce back with them from holidays. But cans are heavy. And they take up a lot of valuable suitcase space. So if you're traveling to countries with better-stocked grocery stores between now and October (for the Canadians) and November (for us Americans), pick up some craisins. They'll handle the journey much better than those silly cans, and if you boil them until plump in some passionfruit juice...oooh. Wow.

(I used about 2 cups of cranberries, 3/4 cup of juice, a couple candied orange peels, a pinch of salt, a pinch of citric acid, and 1/4 cup of sugar. Next time, I'll use less sugar. Also, I thickened it with a litter arrowroot powder, but you could use cornstarch in water too.)

With the heat, I'm having to get a bit inventive with culinary escapades. Leaving the oven on for hours is just not doable when the ambient temperature is 36 degrees C. It's not fair to my fans and air conditioner. So I've channeled that creative energy into teas, infusions and the like. Some of the tastier concoctions I've had in the last week:

Lemongrass syrup as a sweetener for a Thai mojito at Sawasdee Bistro on Rua Dias Ferreira. Just as soon as I can get my hands on some lemongrass, I'm going to be bottling this syrup left and right. It would be phenomenal with sparkling water, with green tea, as a mix-in for drinks--the possibilities are without end!

Homemade ginger "ale." A friend made this for a baby shower I attended. I copied it, shamelessly, and drank most of it alone. Poor hubby didn't get much more than a half glass! Basically, peel ginger, chop, boil the heck out of it, add sugar until it dissolves (hello syrup!) and let cool. Then strain (or blend, depending on how you feel about ginger chunks) and add to freshly squeezed lime juice and a bottle of sparkling water. Glorious bright cool refreshingness.

Iced green tea. I'm appalled at how many different kinds of boxed teas you can now buy at the grocery store, complete with the requisite sugars and sweeteners and nasty chemicals, not to mention the environmental waste in all that packaging. Is it so hard to boil water? The only physical wastes involved are some tea leaves, a little string and that silly paper they glue to the string. I boil up a liter or so of water with several tea bags, let them steep, then dilute it well with regular water, add a little honey if needed and throw it into old plastic bottles and into the fridge. I would use glass bottles, but we don't have enough yet. And sparkling water only comes in plastic. Unless you're willing to pay for Perrier. I am not.

Today's tea will be a ginger-peach green tea, which will accompany me as I buzz around the house making it ready to meet my mother in law. :)


anne said...

you're having company soon? how fun! enjoy!
(loved the beverage recipes. how much sugar to how much ginger, for the ale?)

--jenna said...

I did it like the simple syrup we use for limoncello, that seems to be the best way. 1:1 ratio or pretty close will give you a nice syrup (I think mine was two cups H20 with a good dump of sugar right out of the container) and if you use enough ginger (a finger-sized or larger chunk) it should be strong enough that it can be diluted according to your preference. The lime is essential...adds a wonderful kick!