This weekend, the universe saw fit to reward us Minnesotans for putting up with yet another craptacular winter filled with snotcicles, butt-breaking ice slicks, temperatures so low that our thoughts froze, and near 24-hour indoor isolation by throwing a little nice weather our way. Knowing that the winter has crushed our souls and lowered our expectations considerably, the fact that it was 60-ish degrees the past few days was enough to inspire things like "outdoor activities" and "good moods". We realized that sometimes the sun is warm- who knew?
Saturday was so lovely that we (by "we", I mean "the Mr.") decided to wade through the 5 foot-high pile of styrofoam and cardboard in the garage and attempt to find the grill. We needed to celebrate the day properly with charred meat and fruity alcohol concoctions. A few friends were invited, we half-assed cleaned the house, and I donned my finest halter top and hot pants like any good hostess would (kidding. Everyone knows that BBQ = thong.)
First I made white sangria. I love red/traditional sangria, but it doesn't love me back, unless you call pounding headaches and the feeling that angry ferrets were battling it out for the title of "ferret king" in your belly the next day "love". If that's the case, I think I know a few people I could set you up with- just say the word.
Basically, my sangria goes like this- I cut up a bunch of citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit), put it in a big container, add about 1/2-2/3c. sugar and a 1/2t. vanilla. Then I pound on it with a wooden spoon to extract some of the juice and some of the citrus oils from the rinds. I then let this sit for a few minutes so the sugar dissolves.
Then I add about a 1/2 can of frozen lemonade concentrate (for this size batch) and about 1/2 to 2/3c. brandy. I usually use cheap apricot brandy, but as I didn't have that on hand, I used the only version of brandy we had in the house. Oh well, if I must:
Then I added one of the big (1.5 liters) bottles of some sort of light, dry white wine (pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc or a dry riesling will work fine- if you use regular riesling, cut back on the sugar or you'll give everyone diabetes). Right before I serve it I add a can or two of plain sparkling water. You can adjust any of the ingredients to suit your taste, and this is best if it has a few hours to sit and develop the flavors.
Make sure you taste it often so that you are 100% sure it is delicious enough to serve to your friends. In fact, I recommend making one batch to serve, and one for "quality control" purposes:
We grilled flank steak, and I forgot an "after"picture, so I guess you have to use your imagination. I rubbed it with lots of garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, chili powder, a bit of lemon, olive oil and S&P. I let it sit at room temp for an hour so that the flavors could penetrate and it wouldn't be so cold when it hit the grill. I served it sliced thin with a roasted red pepper/jalapeno salsa (loosely based on this recipe) and it was tender and delicious, much like I imagine making love to Richard Marx in 1987 would have been like.
I served it with grilled asparagus and this potato salad. It has baby reds, corn, tomato, tons of fresh herbs, bacon and feta cheese on it (very loosely based on this recipe- I added parsley, chives, mustard & lemon to the vinaigrette and substituted feta for blue cheese). It was so freaking delicious I wanted to be alone with it in a dark room with barry White playing softly in the background.
Nothing fancy for dessert- just my fucking awesome chocolate chip cookies (recipe here), which we all know are THE BEST FREAKING COOKIES ON THE PLANET.
Proof that it was, indeed, sunny this weekend. I went for a walk Sunday and the sky was perfectly blue and it was 66 degrees. Shortly after this I started sweating profusely from both my face and misc. crevices and had to take my coat off. I haven't been outside without a coat since June of '97, I think.
This morning it was gray and cool, so I threw on an ugly nylon water-repellent tarp and went for a walk along the Mississippi.
I ran into a monkey and we had a chat.
"You from around here?" I asked.
"Nope. I'm lost. I live in Baltimore with a sexy barfly and I was kidnapped many months ago by a crazy drunk lady who looks a lot like you but usually smells like Doritos. Can you help me get home?", he replied.
"Sure, silly monkey. I can do that. I'll mail you out tomorrow and you'll be home before you know it."
"Thank you, kind lady", he managed through his tears of joy. "If I had to spend another day with that broad I surely would have gone mad. She's always trying to make out with me and she sings songs to me that I probably should recognize, but mostly it sounds like someone is strangling a flock of geese. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Here he is with some river boats in the background. The one on the left is where I had my first cooking job- an old tugboat that was converted into a B&b/restaurant. We cooked in an actual galley- it was the best job ever. Though, cooking on a boat was a wierd feeling- it moved very subtly, and I usually didn't notice how that affected me until after work when I would step on the dock on the way to my car and start wobbling like every day was St. Patrick's day.
Oops! I looked away for a second and Mr. Monkey was almost swallowed whole by a giant bird! After much wrasslin' and disposing of the bird's body in the river (shhh...you can keep that secret, right?), monkey was fine.
On the way back, I looped through downtown and accidentally fell into the St. Paul St. Patrick's day parade. Should I feel bad that in the 10 years we have lived here that I have not once witnessed this?
So. Much. Green.
I've never seen such a large concentration of people who were completely schnockered before noon. I wandered through the undulating mass- many, many blocks of it- I was particularly confused by the large numbers of kilts in the audience. I guess what we lack in actual knowledge, we make up for in enthusiasm. One guy had spray-painted his whole body green, hair & all, which was impressive. He ran off before I could get a picture, sorry.
I'm not Irish at all, so I don't really get into the whole concept, but this video could make even someone like me feel a little "Irish" for a day:
Now I'm off to drink some Jameson and Baileys (maybe together, maybe not) in honor of the day, I guess.
Happy Tuesday, my drunken little leprechaun monkeys. Happy Tuesday.
P.S- Your requested posts are coming- no real excuse, I've just been lazy and devoting much of my week so far to quality "magazine" time. I do that sometimes.