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You’ll have to try to get yourself in a tropical frame of mind today, to celebrate National Margarita Day. With the help of some of my nearest and dearest, we spent yesterday evening exploring a few way to enjoy the combination of tequila, lime and Triple Sec. With no further ado, allow me to present: Margarita’s Three Ways!
#1: The Classic!
There is some argument as to the proper proportion of a classic on the rocks margarita.
Our recipe stuck to simple proportions and used a LOT of fresh limes (and owing to our lack of a citrus press or reamer – lots of man power!).
2 ounces tequila
1 ounce Triple Sec
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt for garnish
Combine tequila, Triple Sec, and lime juice in cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Moisten rim of Margarita or other cocktail glass with lime juice or water. Holding glass upside down, dip rim into salt. Shake and strain drink into glass and serve.
This margarita is surprisingly smooth given that there is very little mix in it. I enjoyed the fresh lime flavor. Personally I might have given it a little bit more triple sec, to just give it a hint of sweetness.
While most of the jokes and *ALL* of Ian’s double-entendre’s do not bear repeating, the best line of the night goes to Michelle: “I like it on the rocks – it’s just more efficient.”
This party pleaser has been a favorite of my friends for many summers now. It’s a great way to make a pitcher of cocktails for a party. It has a nice fizz because of the carbonation in the beer–though I miss the hint of orange.
1 can limeade
1 cup of tequila
2 beers (something light like Coronoa or Pacifico)
Combine ingredients in a pitcher and serve over ice, in a glass with a salted rim.
#3: Tourista Classic–The Frozen Margarita
My friends Michelle and Teddy were recently in Phoenix Arizona for a holiday, and they learned that most margaritas there are made with what our American friends call “sweet and sour mix”. S&SM is basically just lime and lemon juice, water and a simple syrup mixed together, and if you can’t find it to buy it, you can make some of your own. I have to admit I was a little concerned by the rather lurid yellow-green color. If you’re going to use this mix, make sure you read the bottle carefully-from a quick review of different brands on the internet, it seems it comes in a variety of strengths and concentrations.
Our bottle of S&SM recommended ratio of 4 oz mix to 1oz tequila and 1 oz triple sec for one (largish) drink. We scaled this up to serve four, and whizzed it in the blender with 2 cups of ice cubes. Again, serve with salted rims.
The sweet and sour mix was Ok – not cloyingly sweet as I had feared, but lacked the fresh citrus punch of the classic margarita. I’ve always enjoyed blended drinks… they just kind of scream “I’m on Holiday!”. And isn’t that what we’re all really looking for in a cocktail??
Yours, in search of water and aspirin,
I’m exercising my monthly wild card today. Technically, it’s actually National Molasses Bar Day. What’s a Molasses Bar you ask? Remember National Blonde Brownie Day? Yeah, well it’s basically that with molasses and ginger – so like gingerbread fudge with icing. Probably delicious, but here’s the thing. It was just Superbowl weekend (Yeah Saints!!!!) which means we just ate an excessive amount of really fatty bad for us food while sitting on our asses for 4 solid hours (probably more). My ass did not need me to make molasses bars. My thighs begged me not to. So instead I am choosing today to Shape Up With Pickles (noting, of course, that we have just concluded the official Shape Up With Pickles Week). What better way to recover from the gluttony of Superbowl than with a pickle diet?
Pickles, if you will recall from National Pickle Day, are one of my favorite foods. Oops. Maybe I should feel guilty for taking two pickle blogs. Whatever. It just goes to show the extent of my dedication to these briny beauties. I certainly consider them to be one of nature’s perfect foods (ok, not exactly nature but whatever). And they are absolutely FAT FREE. Which is why you can use them to “shape up” with. I remember when I did weightwatchers once (or several times) and discovered that pickles are zero points. That’s right. Zero. Look at the labels on my Bick’s jars. See that? NO FAT.
So what that almost any pickle you eat is likely to have more than your monthly allowance of sodium in one bite. It’s got no fat and it’s a vegetable so it’s got fiber and vitamins and stuff. It’s good for you. This article says so. I actually googled “pickle diet” to see what would happen. I found a lot of crazy stuff, like the poopreport and people who bragged about losing 30 pounds eating pickles and drinking pickle juice. I suppose anything’s possible.
Here is my favorite Pickle recipe book:Actually, it’s my favorite book for preserving anything. It’s brilliant. If you like preserving, I highly recommend it. On p. 130, you will find the best recipe for Pickled Beans. On p. 123, you will find the best recipe for the classic dill pickle. On p. 152, you will find … you get the picture. Not only is it full of great recipes, but it is also full of great “how-to” information on the whole preserving process, from hot water canning to microwave preserving to freezer jams. It’s my pickle bible.
Here are some of the pickles I have made using the recipes in this book:All kidding aside, it appears that there is growing consensus about the health benefits of pickles generally. I found an article from the BBC which sums up the history of pickles and all the different kinds of pickles quite neatly. The claims in this article were corroborated by many others I found by googling “pickles health”. And I believe everything I read on the internet. If you don’t feel like buying my recommended reading (the book above) you can go to this article to get enlightened. But, for my parting shot, I leave with this quote from that article which sums it all up quite nicely:
Although some may be put off by the role of salt in the pickling process, pickles need not be regarded as unhealthy. There is considerable controversy over whether reasonable levels of dietary salt are harmful to all, or only to those pre-disposed towards cardiovascular disease. In any case, life is short, and we may as well get some pleasure while we’re here.
In fact, there is increasing interest in the potential health benefits of pickles. The most obvious benefit, especially in undeveloped economies, is that pickling fruit and vegetables allows crops to be preserved to supply a valuable source of vitamins over the scarce winter months.
There is also some evidence that pickles can promote digestive health and lower cholesterol. All manner of claims have been made for kimchi as a preventative for diabetes, cancer and even SARS.
Just as importantly – tasty food promotes well-being and contributes to a healthy and happy life. Eat pickles and enjoy!
Did you know that Old Dutch Corn Chips and Coca-Cola are the world’s best cure for the flu? It’s true. I know this for certain because my mommy told me so. In my family, corn chips and coke is the sick day comfort food de rigeur. People are often shocked when I share this information with them. Especially since I come from a healthy eatin’, gourmet cookin’, organic growin’ kind of family. But we all have our dirty little secrets. My mommy had a mild (read: major) M&M addiction. Me? Chef Boy-Ar-Dee Beefaroni. Yep. For real. Dad? Fried chicken liver and onions (let’s hear it: “EWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!”). My sister reports a varied series of junk food faves ranging from Captain Crunch Cereal (“I loved to eat [it] until the roof of my mouth was all cut up”) to fudgsicles and kraft dinner. My brother hasn’t reported back on my enquiry, but I have this recollection of him really liking corn dogs. I could be making that up.
Anyway, the point is, junk food is often comfort food and in my family, corn chips are one of the ultimate comfort foods. And no, not corn tortilla chips, though those are also good. I’m talkin’ the classic corn chip of Old Dutch and Frito’s fame (I should note that although I grew up with Old Dutch, that may be a Canadian thing. By all reports, those being the ones found on Wikipedia and at the Frito’s website, the Frito’s Corn Chip is the All-American Original). These chips are made with corn meal and … um … corn meal. It gets mixed with some water and salt and then fried.
In the good ol’ US of A, corn chip recipes abound. A classic dish found at county fairs across the country is a bag of corn chips with some chili dumped in it. I kid you not. You open the bag, add the chili and some shredded cheese and eat the mixture out of the bag with a plastic fork. A home-cooking variation on the theme is the corn chip casserole. Of course, there’s always the nice and simple dip it in some french onion dip you bought at the same 24 hour convenience store where you found your corn chips.
A big reason that there are so many corn chip recipes, or corn chips at all for that matter, is the history of corn agriculture in America. I learned this in a course I took on globalization and indigenous peoples a few years ago. I think it may have been in an essay by Ralph Nader, though I could be mis-remembering the exact source of my information. In fact, I caution that this information should be taken with a grain of salt (preferably atop a corn chip) as I may have some of the details wrong – but the general idea is right. Which is that back in the depression, crop prices were so low, the Feds enacted legislation forcing the farmers to keep production low so that prices would stay high. This lasted through the New Deal era and McCarthyism and Beaver Cleaver, but eventually things changed and in the 1970s, people got worried about weather-induced crop failure and suddenly crop restrictions vanished and were replaced by massive government subsidies. Add to that the advent of hi-tech large-farm production and you have a massive glut of corn on the market. The subsidies are still in place, turning organizations like the National Corn Growers’ Association and the American Corn Growers’ Association into massively powerful political lobbies, almost as big as the NRA.
All this means a lot, and I mean a LOT of excess corn on the market. Which is why you find corn in almost every snack product marketed in the United States. If you’re interested in this topic, I can’t give you the reference to the essay I read ’cause the book is packed away somewhere, but I can send you to this PBS site which has tons of information about King Corn and will shock you with a wealth of facts to support the theory that the nefarious corn growers are in a conspiracy with Washington to keep Americans obese and suffering from malnutrition, diabetes and possibly, niacin-deficiency induced pellagra, otherwise known as “redneck disease”.
I still love corn chips and lots of other corn products besides. For today’s blog, since I didn’t have the flu, I couldn’t buy my usual fave, Old Dutch. Instead, I decided to try my hand at making corn chips from scratch. Without access to a deep fat fryer, my options were limited, but I came across this recipe which looked uncomplicated and potentially tasty.
In fact, this was one of only a very few recipes I could find that was for a true corn chip, not a corn tortilla chip. [An aside: corn tortilla chips are made by frying wedges of corn tortillas. They have a very different flavour because they are made with masa harina, a nixtamalized corn flour, and not corn meal. I'm sure there's a taco day coming up sometime and I'll tell you more about that then. I love to make my own corn tortillas].
My only concern with this recipe was that it didn’t seem greasy enough so I decided to use an excessive and gross amount of oil on the cookie sheets which amounted pretty much to deep fat frying the chips. My first batch, I chickened out because my cookie sheet didn’t have a rim and I was worried about the oil running off the sheet as it heated up and starting a grease fire in my oven. So after the first batch (pictured), I switched to a pizza pan with a nice high rim and poured a disgusting amount of oil into it. It worked out fine. The chips were a little tough and chewy, but the flavour was nice and they scooped salsa well. My sister-in-law preferred the chewier ones. I liked the ones that I left in the oven longer than the recipe said to leave them in for and they got a little over crunchy. Still, over all … *meh*. Next time I’ll just buy Old Dutch.