Those little watermelons you see everywhere in grocery stores this time of year? Turns out they make the perfect vehicle for fancy patio drinks for one. I watched Alton Brown juice a whole watermelon with a hand-held immersion blender, and the next time I saw a stack of mini watermelons I envisioned a coconut or pineapple-style cocktail, only it’s far easier to access the innards of a watermelon, and being 94% water, it blitzes up into juice in a few minutes. So we gave it a try at Camp Hoo-ha this weekend, and it worked beautifully – we made watermelon-mint mojitos with rum and fresh mint, although you could do margaritas or really any other cocktail you can dream up. I made them again in a segment on BT Calgary on Monday, along with a snacky kind of patio nibble made up of cubed watermelon, olives and feta in a smear of garlicky yogurt.
In summer, a proper iced coffee is a beautiful thing. It can also be an expensive thing. Very often, it’s a necessary thing. I wrote about cold-brewed coffee eons ago – the kind you make in a jar – which is smooth and not at all bitter, and intended to be used as an iced coffee concentrate. And then I came across a similar version on Food 52 that was sweetened as it brewed with dark brown sugar, and spiked with cinnamon. They call it magical coffee, contributed by someone who had it at her local coffee shop. I embraced the opportunity to use my instant-filter method, in which I mix up the water, coffee, sugar and cinnamon in a jar with a chopstick (or whatever), then cover it with a double layer piece of cheesecloth and screw on the ring. That way, it lives in the fridge and can be poured directly into a glass filled with ice, rather than rummaging around for aContinue reading
It’s really just patriotic of me to mix up a big (red!) pitcher of sangria to warm us up as we sit planted in front of the TV this weekend, right? Sangria is my go-to when we have friends over – it’s like mulled wine, minus the heat, which leads me to conclude that sangria isn’t actually a summer drink – although my mind might change mid-July – it’s for the bleak midwinter, when there’s citrus aplenty and it’s just too chilly for a bubbly cocktail. The first batch was all oranges and lime, and I replenished it with sliced apples. (This is another great (dangerous) thing about sangria – the pitcher is bottomless if you replenish it over the course of the evening.) About ten years ago, when we lived in Vancouver, we made sangria using cheap wine and Five Alive. I’ve only slightly upgraded my choice of wine, and haven’t stopped the Five Alive part. Usually I upend a bottle of red intoContinue reading
It’s pouring rain outside as I write this, but we’re hoping for a sunnier weekend, and even if that doesn’t happen this week (and it likely won’t, due to the fact that we have both our community parade of garage sales AND W’s very first soccer tournament AND an outdoor birthday party to attend) inevitably there will be some sunny occasion over the next few months that calls for a cocktail. And so for our series of posts on easy/fun/totally doable gatherings, Jan and I decided to round up a few simple drinks that will make your stoop the one on the block to hang around on. (I’m trying hard not to resort to the phrase “easy summer entertaining”, but you get the gist.) And speaking of casual summer parties, there’s a reason they call it a mixer – the idea is that you mix things up, and mix people up, and mix drinks up… right? and the same goes for the mix tape, doesn’tContinue reading
I’ve always wanted to make my own Irish cream – and now I have, thanks to the dregs of the whisky bottle left over from a pre-Christmas party. It took about five minutes, as I made dinner – you just dump everything into a blender and hit blend. A good thing to have in the fridge over the holidays to add to your coffee, or save to sip over ice on New Year’s Eve. May as well get that chocolate and cream into your system while you still can.
In honour of the winter solstice and a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar wrapping up and starting anew (my youngest sister -not the one across the street- and her family were actually at a the ancient city of Tikal for the sunrise this morning), I made a drink – not a boozy one (although it does have potential) but a Mexican rice-based beverage that tastes like liquid rice pudding, and works as sort of lighter version of eggnog without the thick heaviness. You whiz dry rice in the blender, cover it with water overnight and then strain it to make a ricey base – the whole process took about 5 minutes of actual kitchen counter time, and I’m certain it will be on our regular holiday rotation from now on. It has the consistency of milk, and yes – tastes just like rice pud. Sorry to have skipped out on documenting the process, but it would have required me to shoot dry, blended riceContinue reading
When I was 15, my family went to Europe. Belgium, mostly – which is where my Dad was born and lived until he was about as old as W is now. I was smitten with it – mostly the white sand Belgian beaches and Italian boys – and the warm buns and hot chocolate that was typical for breakfast totally trumped the Muffets we got back home. While the grown-ups sipped coffee and tea, we kids got mugs of warm, drinkable chocolate unlike anything I had experienced in Canada. Because at some point someone decreed it was simpler to stir a packet of mix into boiling water to make a brownish beverage that tasted somewhat of chocolate, with or without dehydrated marshmallow bits, and that became the North American standard. I realize I’ve already gone on a rant about the stuff, listed the nasty ingredient list and how to make your own real hot cocoa mix. I’ve shared the recipe for salted peanut butter hotContinue reading
Bit of a gloomy last day of the year-looking forward to a drink tonight after a dry-ish holiday season. It was weird this year, with Christmas on a Sunday. It came up quickly, without a buffer of days between between the busy week before and Christmas Eve. I had made a vow to get cozy with Bailey’s on ice or boozy milk punch before bed on the last few nights before Christmas, but only managed one glass on account of the arrival of our Christmas stomach bug. The last of a bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey had been left behind after our polyester & cheese Christmas party, and a slushy milk punch seemed like a good use for it. It couldn’t be simpler – milk, with a generous dose of cream, powdered sugar and whiskey, stirred together in a pitcher and chilled or partially frozen, then topped with a dusting of nutmeg. I made this last Thursday night for Friday, the day itContinue reading
I planned all sorts of things for this summer’s trip to Tofino. Beaching! Sobo! Tacofino! Kayaking! Books! Long healthy runs on the beach (maybe)! A monster head cold was not part of the plan. It moved in, set up camp and is showing no signs of budging. I have produced enormous quantities of phlegm and gone through boxes of Kleenex. At the beach, I’m the one with wads of damp Kleenex in the pockets of her fleece. Fortunately, my mom is here. She’s making me poached eggs on toast, and ensuring I drink lots of water. But there’s only so much water I can muster, and so I started drinking her summer bevvy of choice, the one she brings out to the garden with her: a key lime, which are those little round ones the size of a large marble and come by the bag, squeezed over ice and then topped with green tea she steeps once in awhile and then pours into a pitcherContinue reading
Cook, cookbook author, writer, eater. Food columnist on CBC radio, contributing food editor for the Globe + Mail. ❤️ feeding people.