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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jack the Pirate's Mangria

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. Mine has been both ridiculously fun and blog inspirational.

Yesterday my friend Deborah drug me out (all but kicking and screaming) for a tubing adventure with her Meet Up group. This is because occasionally I suffer from InARut syndrome. The day ended up being perfect -- sunny but not too sunny, water was cool but not too cool, fellow floaters were friendly and fun, so just the right of everything for a relaxing afternoon.

Many of our co-adventurers brought along adult beverages to make their afternoon float more even relaxing which made us sincerely regret our lack thereof. Yeah, that one's on me...I had a wagon moment before the weekend that left us "unprepared" for our water adventure. 

Then Jack saved our day. We were very happy to make friends with Jack, the awesome guy who shared with us his OJ jug of "just thrown together this morning" homemade sangria. YAY! This was not your everyday sangria, it was not too sweet and packed a bit of a punch that earned it the nickname "mangria" by one of our fellow floaters. 

So now, for your future floating adventure enjoyment, may I present Jack the Pirate's Mangria.


3 cups orange juice
1 bottle red wine
2 oz. tequila
1 medium apple, cored and sliced (peel optional)
1 cup fresh blueberries

Mix. Drink. Nosh. Enjoy.


For easy mixing and sipping, I highly recommend the Jack the Pirate method of using an empty or near empty orange juice jug (as seen in photo above). Has an easy-to-hold handle and is plastic (read: floatable) in case of mangria overboard.

FYI, Jack isn't really a pirate, we started calling him that because he reminded me of a pirate drinking from his grog jug and it just made sense at the time.

Mangria is best when sipped and shared, but make sure lid is securely fastened before passing from tube to tube to avoid spillage because it is only fun and games until someone spills the mangria and then it's no fun for anyone.

Orange juice, red wine and tequila brands are left entirely up to you. Pick your faves and make it happen.

The apple and blueberries are best consumed after they have been soaking for a while. My blueberries were not handpicked from a bush by my mom like Jack's were, but I did handpick the container from the grocery store collection. Close enough, still delicious.

And always, please please please, Remember to Float Responsibly. Thank you.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Jumpy Monkey Java Juice

Want to get your party jumping, here's a magical concoction to get things started on the right foot.  If you plan to get any sleep though, make sure you use decaf espresso!

Jumpy Monkey Java Juice

1/2 cup espresso, room temperature
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup dark rum
2 scoops frozen yogurt
1 banana
2 tbsp. coconut flakes
1 tsp. honey
1 cup crushed ice

Mix all together in a blender.  Garnish glass with a banana slice or two.  Enjoy your wall bouncing!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

All Hail Mighty Coffee!

Today's post was inspired by my lack of post on Wednesday.  I was four days deep into a five-day event stretch for work.  As an event planner, when working back-to-back 13+ hours days for a week, you come to depend on that magical combination of adrenaline and caffeine to see you through to the end.

I love coffee.  I make no claims to being a coffee snob, I'm more of an addict if I had to label it.  I don't need to frequent the monopolistic empires to get my fix, any cup of Joe or aromatic Java will do as long as it has that homey warm coffee smell, I'm happy.

Since I'd not done a write up on it before I sat down to do some research and let me tell you, there is a lot to talk about.  But since I'm more into history than process, I'll just share some of the things I found interesting and thought you might too.  Though who knows, maybe this will be the start of a TCC mini series.

COFFEE -- The Legend

According to legend, the story of coffee began with monastic goats.  Yeah, I said goats.

There was a monastery in Yemen, in Arabia, that kept goats that grazed on the hillsides nearby.  After grazing in a particular field, the goatherd complained to the head holy man that the goats were exceedingly keyed up and frolicky and did not settled down for the night.

Upon investigation, they found some unknown shiny-leafed bushes with bright red berries that the goats had been nibbling on.  So the head holy man thought to try them out himself.  While goat bellies can handle raw berries, he thought to boil them and see what happened.

The concoction was nothing to write home about, but he knew that the taste of some cereals improved after toasted so he thought to try the same with the red berries.  He crushed the toasted berries, added some water and a touch of honey to sweeten it and voila...the first cup of coffee!

The head holy man found that consumption of the beverage made him more lucid and alert.  He found he was able to stay at prayers longer than his brothers and felt more awake than they in the matins.  So he shared this magical elixir with them.  And they called it kawah meaning "that which excites and causes spirits to rise." And it was good.

COFFEE -- The History

In other non-legend findings, it was discovered that in the high central plains of Ethiopia, tribes would crush the coffee beans and mix then with fat to eat as a high energy treat.

Ancient Africans would ferment the ripe coffee fruit (the red berries) and turn it into wine.

As with many early versions of popular foods and beverages, coffee was used medicinally as a tonic as well as a religious ceremonial beverage.

Eventually it became a popular social drink and coffee houses cropped up in Constantinople, Mecca, Medina, Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus, and all the capitals of the Islamic world.  Coffee houses became a place to gather and talk about your affairs as well as the affairs of state which became a politically dangerous pastime that led one sultan to ban the sale and consumption of coffee under penalty of death.  This would not be the last time coffee houses became a hotbed of political consternation.

Gradually people made their way back to coffee under the hand of the next ruler and the business of coffee houses began once more. 

For a long time coffee was a close-guarded commodity among Arab nations.  Only boiled coffee beans were allowed to be exported to prevent cultivation of the plant elsewhere and to maintain their monopoly on the product.  But as with all well-kept secrets, it eventually got out.

In the 17th century, it is said that a seedling was smuggled to India and then to the Dutch East Indian island of Java, where coffee plants thrived.  So successful was the cultivation there, that to this day "java" is synonymous with a good cup of Joe.

In 1714, the French were able to obtain a live cutting which they transported to the West Indian island of Martinique.  It is historically rumored that the seedling is the ancestor of all coffee plantations in the West Indies as well as Central and South America.

The 1800s saw the rise of the mass consumption of coffee. 

Throughout the Enlightenment, coffee houses sprang up throughout England and Germany.  Once again they became the intellectual centers, where people gathered to exchange thoughts and ideas.  In England they were known as "penny universities" where anyone could come to fill their craving for intellectual conversation for the penny cost of a cup of coffee.

As was wont to happen when people gather to share thoughts, politics made its way back into the coffee house.  In the New World, the Green Dragon Coffee House in Boston was deemed by Daniel Webster to be the headquarters of the revolution.

Throughout the Industrial Age, coffee became the beverage of choice for factory workers, for what other beverage would help them survive the long grueling work day (remember, this was when 16-hour days with only the Sabbath off was common practice). 

There really is so much more to say, but I'm tired of writing so will leave you with this, perhaps to be continued another time.  I have a couple of coffee recipes coming up that I think you are going to like.

So I am signing off here, but want to leave you with this, that when you enjoy that hot cup of brewed aromatic goodness in the morning (or whenever), you aren't just drinking coffee, you're drinking in history.

Thank you monastic goats.


Cup of Joe -- origin (1) because coffee is the everyday Joe's beverage of choice; (2) Josephus Daniel, Secretary of the Navy under Woodrow Wilson, in 1913 abolished wine in the officer's mess leaving coffee as the strongest drink on board, earning it the nickname

Cup of Jamoke -- origin, referring to a blend of Java and Mocha coffees

Bean Belt -- the area on Earth between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn where all coffee is grown; Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee

A Hot Commodity -- coffee is the second most common traded commodity, the first being fuel oil


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Kale Corn Risotto

Okay, it's not exactly like the cheesy rice-corn-kale dish that my caterer friend makes, but it runs a close second.  Very tasty and filling.

Kale Corn Risotto

1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
4 cups vegetable (or chicken broth)
1 cup water
1 cup chopped green kale
1 cup canned corn
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Melt butter in a large deep-sided skillet.  Add in olive oil, toss in uncooked rice and stir until rice is well-coated.  Continue stirring and cook for 2 minutes.

Add in 1 cup of broth.  Stirring occasionally, cook rice until the broth is absorbed.

Repeat this process 3 times, adding 1 cup of broth at a time, cooking until it is absorbed.

Stir in your corn and chopped kale.  Add in 1 cup of water and cover.  Let the rice dish cook until the rice is cooked through.

Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan.  Cover once more and let sit for 2-3 minutes.

And then your dish is done!