Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beat the Heat - Lemonade

Anyone in my home town of Vancouver (and apparently those over on the Island too) is all too familiar right now with a little something we call "summer". Now I don't mean the piddly, mild and breezy summer we Vancouverites are used to. Noooooo - I mean SUMMER - East Coast style, Prairie Style, LA Style, heck this is even (gasp!) Sydney style summer. I mean, I'm wearing a boob-tube for god's sake. A BOOB TUBE! It's that hot, you know what I mean? Which brings us to that eternal question: how early is too early to crack open a beer? 10am? 8am? Personally, I can't drink during the day unless I'm prepared to forsake all productivity until the next morning. But then again, there's just something so thirst quenching about beer. Water just doesn't seem to work as well. What is a hot chick to do? The answer? Lemonade. Yes, real old fashioned lemonade, made with real lemons. No powders, no bottles, no lemon flavored "drink", real lemonade. Something our grandmothers hand made nearly every summer day. Ahhhhh. Still, that seems like an awful lot of squeezing on a hot day. Well take heart, thirsty friends and get out that blender you bought yesterday, for here is the easiest most deliciously drinkable home made lemonade you will ever taste on a hot summer's day: 1. Take a whole lemon, peel and all, quarter it and drop into blender. 2. Add a cup and a half of ice 3. Add a cup and a half of cold water 4. Add 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of sugar or Splenda. (use less than you think you need, you can always add more later) 5. Blend on high until all lumps are gone. 6. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer. You will need to mash to get all the juice out. 7. Serve over ice and enjoy! Note: you can add a few strawberries or raspberries for color and flavor, or just red food coloring to make pink lemonade! Kids not only love drinking this, they love making it!

Monday, July 27, 2009

First challenge - Iced Coffee

This may seem like a small thing, trivial in fact, but how many of us spend up to five, ten, even twenty dollars PER DAY on coffee drinks? Think about it - that's three to six thousand dollars per year. On coffee. Just to put it in perspective, with three thousand dollars here are just SOME of the things you can pay for: -ten cleft palate operations in developing countries -Up to 100 investment micro-loans with something like Grameen Bank -Up to two semesters at a state or public university in Canada, the US or Australia - Two kick-ass electric bikes -100+ months of birth control pills.

So, start grinding, people.

 1. Make the strongest coffee you can manage. I used an espresso maker, but a plunger or drip filter will work as long as you make it STRONG!

 2. Pour half a cup of this super strength coffee straight over at least a half a cup of ice. The ice will melt and you'll have room temperature coffee.

 3. Fill a tall glass halfway with ice, add the room temperature coffee.

 4. Add coffee cream, whipping cream or half and half (milk is OK too, I guess, but it's not very good) and your preferred sweetener to taste.
 You can blend this mix for a frappuccino - if you have a blender. If you don't, buy one.

While you're buying your blender, buy a sewing machine.

Day One - Iced Coffee

This is my first blog post - EVER. I'm been meaning to blog for years. I mean, I AM a writer, writers write right? So I should be blogging. But about what? Another blog about writing? Forget it. Some kind of review blog - maybe book reviews? Who cares what I think? (BTW All books are great - you should be reading one now). What else do I care about? Atheism? I would only get into trouble blogging about that. The environment? I couldn't keep up with the true believers - I'm a green wannabe. Abortion rights? Oh dear God no... 

 Then my mom asked me to make a quilt for her charity - Grandmothers to Grandmothers - so I invited a few women to help me; to make it a community quilt. Many of the women I asked said they would love to help out a great cause but they "don't have a sewing machine", "don't know how to sew," or were "hopeless at making things". Now this didn't really bother me - I can make the quilt by myself - I was just surprised and kind of depressed that these wonderful creative and intelligent women don't sew. How do they hem pants, I wondered, or fix a torn seam? Most of my friends love fashion and are snappy dressers, so why don’t we sew our own clothes? For all we wax poetic about the environment and sustainability, about re-use, reduce, re-purpose, re-cycle, about changing our thinking to save our planet, only about 10% of my friends own a sewing machine! This shocked me.

Then a Facebook friend invited me into a kind of “I’ll make you something/Pay it Forward” challenge, which of course I accepted. I think I’ll make some re-usable grocery bags – there are many patterns online. This got me thinking: we don’t make things anymore. We don’t even fix things. Many of us rarely cook.

I remember watching my mother darn socks. I understand the theory of darning socks, but I’ve never actually done it. Have you? Has anyone you know under the age of 50 ever darned a sock? When my socks get a hole, I throw them into the rag bag, from whence they often end up in the trash. A lucky sock might go to a rag dealer via a charity bin and thence to an industrial rag maker – a recycling of sorts, if a somewhat ignoble one.

My mother and my grandmothers all knitted and crocheted and sewed, not because it was trendy (as knitting has of late become) but out of necessity and a sense of purpose and thrift. My mother sewed her own wedding dress for crying out loud! My mother-in-law, a formidable knitter still, also dabbled in furniture making.

It’s not just women and “women’s work” of course. Those traditional men’s hobbies/responsibilities: building a table or birdhouse, tuning the car, installing a light switch have also fallen into memory. My husband is handy, as are my brother’s in law in their own ways, but many men don’t even own a hammer these days. How can they live?

Then there are the foods we no longer make – preserves, jams, jellies, pickles – my mom made all of these back in the day (so did my dad believe it or not). Cookies and cakes now come from Safeway, or maybe from a mix. Juice comes from a can, candy from a machine. Dinner, for many, is prepared with a telephone.

So thus, this blog. I’m going to challenge myself and my friends and readers to make stuff – hand made stuff – on a regular basis. I’m going to try to make one thing a week. I’m also challenging myself and others to make things we would normally buy – food included – hence a few minutes ago, I made myself an iced coffee. So it begins.