An Inauguration Day Project

Already tired of the wall to wall coverage of the US Presidential Inauguration? Do you feel that this is the beginning of a long four years of insane tweets and the mangling of the English language? Not interested in celebrating a man with low values and no integrity? Well turn off the television, switch off the radio and toss the newspaper in the recycle. Stay away from social media as well today. This may be history in the making but I am still having a hard time with acceptance.

If you are like me and want to keep your blood pressure in check and stay sane, today is the day to organize a closet, clean the garage, chip more ice off your driveway or get your Tupperware in order.

I bet most of you have a cupboard or drawer or shelf where your plastic covered containers live. Mostly in a big jumbled mess. Mine take up one whole shelf in a lower kitchen cupboard and for a long time now it has been a real treasure hunt to find the correct corresponding lid for the chosen bottom. So, needing a mind-numbing project I took every piece out and piled them all on the dining room table. I suggest you put on some music in the background but definitely keep the television off.

jumble

 

 

About an hour later, I had tossed the broken ones, the yukky ones, and all the parts that didn’t match anything. Organized all by size and nested all the similar containers.organized

Then neatly back into the cupboard with all the lids organized by size and type in separate baskets.back

 

lids

So there you go, a nice positive activity for you while the man with the orange head drones on or rants or tweets or whatever goes on today.

Now that only killed about 90 minutes and I made the mistake of doing this two days ago. But there are always those closets or sorting my tax papers. And this container cupboard will probably only last a month before I have to start over. On a positive note in four years I’ll have the most organized and clean house in the world. Good luck to all, we are going to need it.

Cookie Book Cookies: Savory

img_0014For Christmas my son gave me Dorie’s Cookies by Doris Greenspan. It is a cookie recipe book. It was an especially nice gift because he had heard about it while listening to a podcast on Public Radio. Yes! I knew I had raised him right. The book itself is quite beautiful, great cover, lots of pictures ( my kind of recipe book!) and it weighs a ton.

bookThat poundage is because there are 160 cookie recipes in this book. While my son was home he mentioned that he was interested in the savory cookies and sure enough Dorie has a section called Cocktail Cookies that looked pretty interesting. So since the weather outside for the last week or so has certainly been nasty I decided it was time to try two of the savory selections. Half for us and half to be mailed to Nathan.

 

My first choice was Cranberry Five Spice Cookies. Chinese five-spice powder is a blend that includes star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and fennel. Dorie loves this spice and says it is equally good in sweet or savory dishes. She likes it best when paired with something tart or tangy so that’s why she has put cranberries into the mix. Here’s the recipe:

Makes about 50 cookies

5 Tbls sugar
1/2 C fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 C flour
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut in chunks, room temperature
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 large egg
1/2 C salted peanuts ,coarsely chopped

Coarsely chopped cranberries and nuts

Coarsely chopped cranberries and nuts

Mix 1 Tbls sugar and cranberries in a bowl, set aside.

Whisk flour and five-spice powder together.

In another large bowl with a mixer or by hand, beat the butter, remaining sugar and salt together till smooth and creamy. Add the egg and beat for one minute. (The mixture will look curdled, that’s ok.) Add flour mixture all at once and mix till it becomes a dough. Spoon the cranberries (drain off any liquid first) and the nuts into the dough and mix just to incorporate. You can do this with a spatula or with your hand. I found my hand worked great. Turn dough out onto counter and knead gently. Divide in half and pat each into a disk.

Put disks between parchment paper and roll to about 1/4 inch thickness. She says then freeze for about an hour. I found this too long. You need the dough firm to cut out cookies but if it is frozen you have to wait till it softens enough to get your cutter through it. Use your judgement.

Preheat oven, 350°, line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using approx. 1 1/2″ cookie cutter, cut and place cookies on sheet. Bake 12 -14 minutes, rotating sheet half way. Cookies should be lightly brown on edges and just firm to touch. Mine needed about 18 minutes.

Cutting out Cranberry Five-spice dough

Cutting out Cranberry Five-spice dough

Repeat with remaining dough and don’t forget to use the scraps as well.

Recipe #2 was Smoky, Cheesy Cookies.

Makes about 45 cookies.

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
4 ounces cold smoked Gouda, cut into tiny cubes
2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly grd black pepper
pinch of cayenne
1 1/4 C all purpose flour

Put the cold butter, Gouda, Cheddar, salt, black pepper and cayenne in a food processor and pulse until butter is in bits and mixture forms small curds. Add the flour and with long pulses mix until dough is moist and forms large popcorn-like curds. (Should be noted, mine took forever to get large popcorn-like curds. They never really were large but the dough finally started to combine and it felt moist so I just turned it out and scrunched it together and then kneaded it.)

Shape into ball, divide in half and do the same rolling, freezing and cutting as above with the Cranberry Five-spice cookies. Put on parchment paper or silicone sheet.

Almost ready for oven

Almost ready for oven

Bake 350 degrees. Bake 16 -18 minutes, rotating half way through. Mine went a little longer here too.

The verdict?

In the Cranberry Five-Spice, I couldn’t detect the five-spice flavoring that Dorie gets all excited about but the nuts and cranberries come through nicely, especially the nuts. She suggested sprinkling salt on the tops before baking and I did this for half. Both are good but my husband prefers the ones with salt. I also think they were better on the second day.

Left: Smokey-Cheesy Right: Cranberry 5-Spice

Left: Smokey-Cheesy
Right: Cranberry 5-Spice

On his initial taste of the Smoky, Cheesy ones my husband said, Cheez-its. Oh no! I went to all this trouble and they taste like Cheez-its. But not really. Yes, they may give you that at first bite but then the smokiness of the gouda comes through. These are quite nice with a little sausage and a glass of red wine or with eggs and bacon for breakfast.

I will definitely be trying more of Dorie’s recipes.

My son’s share went into the mail today. Hope I packed well.

Another Turn of the Page: Last Books of 2016

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
Edith Lovejoy Pierce

ruthsbookshelfWe ended our year with ten readers. Some were heading out to warmer points south soon and others were planning to leave after Christmas. All will continue to read but won’t need hot chocolate and thick socks. The rest of us will gather throughout the winter and share our literary finds with each other. It is good to come together and leave most of the crazy world behind and bury ourselves in the books. One of the reasons I continue to blog about our books is so the Snowbirds can keep up with the group. The other reason is everyone likes to get a suggestion for their next good read. So, eclectic as ever, here is what we read in December.december1. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham (2015) 344 pages. This is a story of Lawyer Sebastian Rudd who represents people who no one else will touch such as drug dealers and murderers. The novel follows his life and the cases he is working on. Feels more like a short story collection than a novel.

2. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2016) 342 pages. On the way home from the local bar, Jason Dessen is kidnapped by an unknown assailant in a mask. After being injected with something, Jason wakes up in a world he does not recognize. I have to quote a review from Goodreads which sums this book up perfectly: It is the perfect balance of suspense, action, sci-fi, romance, and WHAT THE HECK!?!?” Best SF I’ve read in years.

3. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson (2009) 194 pages. Based on rare archival material, obscure trial manuscripts, and interviews with relatives of the conspirators and the manhunters, this book is about the twelve day pursuit and final capture of John Wilkes Booth.

4. The Mistletoe Secret by Richard Paul Evans (2016) 320 pages. Our charming Christmas book of the year, this is the third in Evan’s Mistletoe Collection. The first two being The Mistletoe Promise and The Mistletoe Inn. All standalone stories.

5. True Crime in Titletown, USA: Cold Cases by Tracy C. Ertl & Mike R. Knetzger (2005) 203 pages. Mike, a Green Bay, Wisconsin police officer, and Tracy, a police dispatcher, offer profiles of three historic unsolved crimes including a 1931 bank robbery, an extortion case and a restaurant murder.

6. The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron (2016) 356 pages. Spanning the years from 1885 to 1929, this novel reveals the true nature of life “Under the Big Top’, behind the sparkle and glitz of the performances.

7. Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom (2015) 512 pages. Music, the narrator of this book, tells the story of Frankie Presto—the greatest guitar player who ever lived—and the six lives he changed with his six magical blue strings.

8. Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst (2016) 408 pages. Chloe Ellefson is a Curator at Old World Wisconsin and her supervisor wants her to plan a major Civil War battle enactment.  However, when a reenactor’s body turns up on one of the farms the celebration becomes more complicated.

9. Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly (2010) 551 pages. A historical fiction tale about what the Irish went through during the Potato Famine, and what led many to emigrate to America.

10. Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray (2016) 400 pages. A fictional story of Picasso’s stay in the French Riviera in the spring of 1936. In those few months he had a lasting impact on Ondine, the seventeen-year-old who cooked for him, and the generations that followed.

Birds or Beans: Follow-up

crows

Crows. They all took to the air as I pointed my camera their way.

Well New Year’s Day was just beautiful. Sunny, mid-thirties but a bit windy. Still we bundled up since we were headed to the Green Bay and Lake Michigan shore. Always cooler by the water. We always start our birding at home (New Franken on the map) since we have a ton of feeders and we also do the Cornell Feederwatch count. So before we even left for the road we had 11 species.

We got out of the house at 9:15am and our First Stop was the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. There we picked up three more birds. You can always count on Mallards, Canad geese and Black ducks there. Next Stop, the Mouth of the Fox River. A Peregrine Falcon was a nice surprise. He was sitting up near a box where a pair will nest later in the year. Stop Three, Starbucks for coffee.

In the neighborhood

In the neighborhood

After we had our coffee we tried to find a Snowy Owl in an area where we had seen them earlier but no luck today so we hit the highway. The plan was to drive down to Sheboygan and then slowly make our way back north along the Lakeshore. Before getting to the lake we got a few hawks and some wild turkeys along the highway and then stopped for a fast lunch.

MickeyD is quick and they are running a great promotion: Buy one sandwich and get second for price of yesterday's temperature, 40 cents.

MickeyD is quick and they are running a great promotion: Buy one sandwich and get second for price of yesterday’s temperature, 40 degrees = 40 cents.

birds2

Whoops! Almost forgot we also got a whole group of Wild Turkeys while we headed down the highway to Sheboygan. Forgot to list them on the map.

In Sheboygan while we were looking for gulls, the Polar Bear Club was getting ready to dive into very cold Lake Michigan. We did not stick around for the shivering. Ducks and gulls were abundant. Best sighting was a Glaucous Gull. Surprising how tiring birding from the road can be. It’s a lot of driving and a lot of scanning rafts of birds in some cases. We tried to stop and just stretch our legs once in awhile but you really have to keep going if you want to cover a lot of territory.

These are the masses of gulls one has to scan at times. We were lucky to get a Black-backed gull and a Glaucous today. This bunch are mostly Herring Gulls.

These are the masses of gulls one has to scan at times. We were lucky to get a Black-backed gull and a Glaucous today. This bunch are mostly Herring Gulls.

We got home by 4:00 pm and ended up with 33 birds for the day. A great start on our year list. But the best part was we knew dinner was done and waiting for us at the end of the trip. Here is my bowl of Red Beans and Rice ready to eat.beans

Clash of traditions: Birds or Beans?

cardinalWe have two traditions that clash with each other on New Year’s Day.

We’re birders and we keep a life list (all the birds we have ever seen in our lifetime) and a year list of all the birds we have seen in a calendar year. Obviously, the life list is on-going and cumulative. And obviously, the year list re-sets each year on January 1. It’s exciting to get up on New Year’s Day and see what birds are visiting our feeders. Of course, most are the same birds that were here yesterday but today it’s as if we haven’t seen them before. Every bird has the chance to be the first bird of the year, though, not all are contenders. Cardinals get up early and often are at the feeders before first light. They’re followed by the juncos, mourning doves and sparrows. Later in the morning, well out of contention for “first” honors come the various woodpeckers, finches, nuthatches and chickadees. We welcome them all but honor the first arrivals by naming each year the “Year of the ______” in our journals.

After breakfast we bundle up and head out for some field birding; usually along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Sheboygan, north to Manitowoc, east to the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay with field and forests along the way. Depending on the year, the weather and our aging eyes we may total 20-30 species for the day – not a championship tally but a respectable way to start off the birding year.

The Clash!

Beans and Ham Shank simmering

Our other tradition is to eat Red Beans and Rice, a traditional southern dish, to herald the New Year and which you can read more about here. The clash? Beans and Rice take a long time to cook – 3 to 4 hours. It’s hard to stay around the house cooking beans and rice when birds beckon outside.

The solution? Beans and Rice are even better the next day, so we cook up a batch of Beans and Rice on New Year’s Eve day and when we get back from birding on New Year’s Day all we have to do is reheat the beans and cook some fresh rice and enjoy.

We’ll let you know how things turned out.

I’ve Graduated

Yes they set me free from Outpatient Physical Therapy. No more forced marches, no more time on the rack. Kelly, my therapist, who initially said that I’d hate her but then love her was right. She forced me to get my new knee to a -3 extension but just making me do it. Not minding if I whined or groaned. I’m still shooting for 0 but that’s on me now. She handed me a sheaf of papers full of exercises that I now must do on my own to get that knee to straighten out. And I have to learn not to listen to my whining.

This one below works with gravity. You just hang there as long as you can stand it. Looks easy? Try it, gravity can be your friend or not. Ankle weights optional. knee-stretch She told me to get a strap to tie around my foot so I can pull my leg back and work on the other half of what your knee should be able to do, that is, bend. Can’t you just hear me groaning? and cursing? and swearing?using-strap-for-knee-rehab All I need is a willow switch and I’ll be ready to join a secret society of fitness monks.

Medieval Marginalia. Probably depicting 14th century physical therapy for knee extension and bend.

Medieval Marginalia. Probably depicting 14th century physical therapy for knee extension and bend.

All joking aside, this is really all good stuff. Bending my knee before the replacement, I was lucky if I could get it 45 degrees before extreme pain from bone spurs brought me, literally to my knees. On graduation day I got it to 123 degrees, 125 with a strap, woo-hoo!

So, where do I go from here? Lots of home work and a membership in a health facility. Mostly because it is winter and too cold and probably too slippery for me right now to do much walking. But also they have bikes and ellipticals and weight machines. Cause this baby is going to get straight. After all there are only 94 days till Spring!

Another Turn of the Page: Back to Sanity, Back to Books

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS.

Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
Mark Twain

A book for every state.

A book for every state.

It’s been a pretty tough week and I still can’t watch the news or open the newspaper but as I promised at the end of my last post, we are going back to the books. The November gathering was just this past Thursday so I’ve got two months of titles. October will be the main entry and I’ll give you a brief summary of the November titles at the end. Yes, another two-fer. What can I say? The Cubs, politics, working the Big Book Sale at my local library, plus still doing all that physical therapy on my knee just put the blog posts way down on the priority list. Well except for the ones I had to write to clear my head.  My quote this month is from Mark Twain. I felt it very appropriate for where I am right now and then I found the book map. Sorry about the tiny states, that is as clear as I could make it. However this link will take you to the source page and a list. A book in every state. There is fiction, nonfiction and children’s. Books will bring us together.

Here’s our October.

sept1. The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska’s Arctic Wilderness by James Campbell (2004) 320 pages. James Campbell, Heimo’s cousin, writes an amazing account of the family’s nomadic life in the harsh Arctic wilderness.

2. Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole (2013) 290 pages. Elspeth, a published poet, receives a fan letter one day in 1912 that leads to correspondences with a young man that spans World War I and World War II.

3. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (2011) 359 pages. Christine, a middle-aged woman wakes up every morning with no memory of her life, she has a rare amnesia; every night she falls asleep and forgets everything. The husband she doesn’t know when she awakes helps her through the day, but what if he can’t be trusted?

4. Luck, Love & Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert (2016) 320 pages. When MJ’s husband starts spending more time at the casino than with her, she decides something needs to be done. That something is taking up gambling herself. But soon she gets pretty good and is the one spending more time at the poker table.

5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985) 311 pages. Atwood’s terrifying dystopian novel where pollution and man-created viruses, have caused fertility rates to be so low that the few fertile women (the Handmaids) are now communal property. They are moved from house to house to be inseminated by men of power under the watchful eye of their wives. A future where women can only be the Wives, domestics (the Marthas), sexual toys (the Jezebels), female prison guards (the Aunts), wombs (the Handmaids), or, if they are unsuited for any of these roles, Unwomen who are sent off to the Colonies where they harvest cotton if they are lucky or clean out radioactive waste if they aren’t.

6.Gray Mountain by John Grisham (2014) 368 pages. Not one of Grisham’s best. His heroine, a young Manhattan lawyer, takes on the dangerous world of coal mining in Appalachia.

7.14th Deadly Sin (Women’s Murder Club #14) by James Patterson (2015) 384 pages. The return of SFPD Homicide Detective Lindsay Boxer and her friends that call themselves the Women’s Murder Club. If you follow this series, you’ll want to read it. Otherwise it is best to start at the beginning with 1st to Die.

8. The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (2016) 304 pages. It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens in the real world but the contestants are made to believe it is all part of the game.

9. The One Man by Andrew Gross (2016) 416 pages. America is in a race with Germany to develop the atomic bomb. However the Allied effort is lagging behind in their so-called Manhattan Project. The one man who has the necessary knowledge to complete this task is a Polish physicist, Alfred Mendl. The only problem, he has to be rescued from Auschwitz first.

10. A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell (2004) 442 pages. A moving story of Italian resistance during WWII, including the incredibly brave efforts of Italian Catholics to save Jewish refugees.

11. A Famine of Horses (Sir Robert Carey mystery #1) by P.F. Chisholm (1994) 268 pages. The first in a series of historical mysteries based on Sir Robert Carey, a real life character who was a courtier in Queen Elizabeth I’s court. Set along the English/Scottish Borderlands in 1592.

12. Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1) by Janet Evanovich (2016) 336 pages. The first in a new series of thrillers by Evanovich complete with her quirky sense of humor and unique characters.

 And now a quick recap of November:

Nonfiction: Indians of the far West (1891), The Erie Canal, an artist and sequel to The Final Frontiersman.

Nonfiction: Indians of the far West (1891), The Erie Canal, an artist and sequel to The Final Frontiersman.

Mysteries & Thrillers: Talking sheep, Walt Longmire, Survival when all electricity is gone, Adventure, Buried treasure

Mysteries & Thrillers: Talking sheep look for missing shepherd, Walt Longmire, Survival when all electricity is gone, and Buried treasure

Novels: From the author of "A Man called Ove", a Romantic comedy drama, and Characters in a small college town

Novels: From the author of “A Man called Ove”, a Romantic comedy drama, and Characters in a small college town

One more Thing before I Go

Me, yesterday.

Me, yesterday.

Me, on the right, today.

Me, on the right, today.

Well as I sit here sipping my camomile tea, knitting a few rows on a warm winter shawl and then reading a some lines from Emily Dickinson, I’ve had time to reflect on some of the things I wrote yesterday. I am not going to make any excuses, it was how I felt less than 24 hours from the presidential election. Some of the comments I received said I was wrong to call people who have a different opinion racists, bigots, misogynists…etc. That’s all it is? A difference of opinion?  I was accused of stereotyping the Trump supporters and I was the hateful bigoted one.  I call them labels but that’s beside the point. What I said was “the bigots, the racists, the misogynists, the haters, the fools, the naive, the idiots, had won the night.” I didn’t say all of the people who voted for Trump fall into those categories. And they don’t. But all the people who voted for Trump voted with those people. And it doesn’t change my opinion when I hear some really bad rhetoric coming straight out of the mouth of the candidate. For example,some people voted for him because they are pro-life, and I respect that, but then I hear The Donald say, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Such respect for life. Thus my confusion. Thus my prejudice. Thus my stereotyping.

Time has helped lessen my shock and depression. Some excellent essays by Garrison Keillor and Michael Moore and Annie Lamott have helped me see Trump’s ascendency and final achievement in a new light. And before you scoff at these authors, take a look. Moore was actually saying before the election that Trump will win and why (point #4).  And it is all very logical. After my other post my sister called, my cousin extended a voice of reason and my mother pretty much worried about me. My cousin said this reminded him of Jesse Ventura, a wrestler, who became the governor of Minnesota in 1999. Why did he win? Because people were mad and weren’t going to take it anymore.  So I get it. You stuck it to us. Shocked our smug little faces. Huzzah! You’re not all idiots, many of you have just  “had it” with government and many have really good, honest reasons for voting the way you did. But he was your candidate. All 59,535,522* of you. When he does good stuff, take the credit, tell the rest of us, “I told you so.” But when he screws up, and he will, don’t cry about it. You get what you pay for. Now the other 59,755,284* of us ( yes, Hillary won the popular vote), admit, reluctantly, that he will be our president but he ain’t the boss. This is our America, our country. And we will be watching because we love our country as much as you do. We feel the rights of all need to be protected. Yep, the black, the white, the gay, the straight, the weak, the poor, the rich, the liberal, the conservative, the Muslim, the Christian, the Jew and even the bigot. We are going to call him on every “f*ck up”. ( Oh don’t be a prude I put in an asterisk ). I think some Republicans in Congress will be watching closely too, just a hunch.

So next time I say something you don’t agree with, explain your side of the issue. Me and my other 59,755,283 liberals will be waiting. We are the ones who have all our closets clean and all of our leaves raked. Gee, this camomile tea has really soothed my nerves. Does anyone have any tea cakes or crumpets to go with it?

Next post: No more politics, back to books.

*CNN, as of Nov. 10, 2016

The Morning After

mourning-buntingI went to bed last night depressed. It was only 10:30pm and as I watched my state of Wisconsin go down like the Titanic I knew what the outcome of the presidential election was going to be. So I tossed and turned and once in a while my heart said, “maybe, you’re wrong.”  But my brain knew the absolute truth. The bigots, the racists, the misogynists, the haters, the fools, the naive, the idiots, had won the night.

So I woke up in a very sad mood. I checked my iPad quickly to see the result and it seemed worse than I imagined. As I made my way down to the breakfast table I decided I could not bear to watch acceptance speeches and endless analysis. I already was at my wit’s end after almost 2 years of political ads and primaries and anonymous phone calls and debates. So most of my morning was spent on a very low key. A cup of yogurt, a few pieces in the jigsaw puzzle. Once I took a shower and got dressed I did what I usually do when I am anxious or depressed, I clean. I tidy up. Kitchen floor, check! Bathroom, check. Vacuuming, check!

8055885

“Buck up, kiddo, tomorrow’s going to be another day.” – a little known Master Yoda quote

As I worked my mood started to change to fear. Fear of those who think this victory will give them freedom to bully, discriminate, assault and abuse anyone they don’t agree with or don’t like the color of. Because that was what some of this election was about. It wasn’t only those who were getting a raw deal on their health care or haven’t had a decent job in years who voted. I can accept those complaints. But those who think hate is now the acceptable status quo are the ones I fear. That voting for The Donald now gives them that right. However, the wise Jedi Master Yoda once said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” No, I didn’t want to go there. That just makes me like them.

I am sure my social conscience will rise up again and I will get involved in some way. But I am weary. I became an Independent Deputy in January and have been registering people to vote at libraries, high schools and local colleges in my area. I have been answering questions about voting, I have been encouraging people to vote, I’ve been putting signs in my yard….I am tired of it all. So, for now I am going underground, to decompress. I need to read and knit and work on my art. I need to concentrate on my physical therapy and get this new knee running like …a knee. It is going to take a bit to shake off the yuk that I feel from this election and Donald Trump. I also plan on avoiding as much of the inaugural hoopla as possible. Watching him and his family party just seems wrong. Getting away would be nice and Canada always seemed a possibility but I think it is closed right now. So I will be staying put, and damn! after four years of this new administration I’ll have the cleanest house around.

I am a bitter(s) man: Preamble

I am bitter over the loss of Bitter Lemon.

bittersYears ago I used to be able to buy Schweppes Bitter Lemon.  It was sold in most stores alongside the mixers like Tonic Water or Club Soda, but a lot of people drank it straight as a less sweet, decidedly bitter adult lemonade.   For some obscure reason Schweppes no longer makes or distributes their Bitter Lemon in the U.S.  Apparently it is available in the U.K. and some other markets but not here except as an imported item.

I bemoan the loss of Schweppes Bitter Lemon.  It was a refreshing, pleasantly tart (but not diet) summer beverage.

At some point it occurred to me that I might be able to “hack” an ersatz bitter lemon.  Most carbonated drinks are mostly carbonated water – seltzer or club soda.  The basis for the Schweppes Bitter Lemon is, in fact, tonic water which contains quinine where the bitter component comes from.  The lemon flavor comes from lemon, of course, which contributes tartness.  I like the bitter edge of Bitter Lemon and would welcome a little more (like I said, I’m a bitter man)  So why not add some real bitters, like Angostura – that’s its announced role.  So the juice of a fresh lemon, a half-dozen good shakes of bitters, some ice and top it up with tonic water (yes, Schweppes).  No chance of displacing the original but a pretty easy and quite refreshing hack for a bitter man

bitters_orangNote:  After making this the first time I was a bit disappointed with the color the bitters gave the drink.  But then I remembered that I had once bought a bottle of Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters.  It’s in the citrus family and all but colorless so in subsequent iterations I used Orange Bitters instead.