Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't Worry...

From Mark Twain: "Don't worry. Providence protects children, and idiots."


Well, maybe I can get under that umbrella with the Child-of-God dodge. But since we can ALL use that out (even folks who believe that Hawaii is not a part of the United States), it's going to be a crowded umbrella. And I'm not feeling especially childish today.

I'm feeling old. I've spent the last week worrying about the bat infestation in my Aged Parents' house (hundreds of 'em--no shit!), my mom's heart medication, and my poor kitty, Molly, who spent the night before last in the local animal hospital. The bats are gone, though, and the Aged Parents OK. Molly's a limp dishrag, poor kitty, but on the mend thanks to some powerful antibiotics (drugs!! It always comes down to drugs!!). Molly's beating stress by crashing out on her favorite pillow under a lamp that shines down warmly upon her.

I, however, am feeling it. Funny thing about a nuts week. It doesn't just go away all by itself. You have to give it a shove.

In my own doc's office this morning, in for my standard check-up, a colorful but NUTS street-gal type jumped into the middle of everything. I happened to be the talk of the waiting room: the receptionist had asked me about the bats (I live in a small town). Street-type gal took me to task for allowing my Aged Parents to live independently. As if that were my choice (try telling my parents to do anything they don't want to do. Go ahead. I dare you).

And then I got to have my blood pressure taken.

Owing to a newfound ability to feel like I want to yell SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP in someone's face while smiling like the properly-brought-up Episcopalian I am without spiking my vital signs, the BP was good. But today, I don't just want to do a cocktail show. I want a cocktail.

We'll meet at 4PM, on, and have a Manhattan, OK?

What's your choice of bitters?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pineapple Cocktails...

Well, there are Singapore Slings, Mary Pickfords...and a tasty confection from the NY Times Mag a couple of weeks back called a Pineapple Swizzle. Here's a link to the recipe for that last thing:

We'll be talking about the Pineapple Cocktail on Cocktails with Chris today--and do a brief salute to a listener-suggested Death In the Afternoon. Tune in! It's music & chit chat for a sultry day!

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Drink Recipe: Erdbeer-bowle

A note, first, on my crappy German

Anyone following this blog with the slightest ability to spell or write in German has probably discovered an important fact: I lack even the most basic ability in the language. I do my best when I'm over there, and I am vastly grateful for the good nature and patience of the German people.

This is a punch that was served at our local green market in Prenzlauer Berg, and I've attempted to reproduce it here, back home in NY, with the best strawberries I could get my hands on. Sadly, they weren't the perfect little German berries--so fragrant and yummy. I had to settle for some not-so-ecologically correct organic ones jetted in from our West Coast. This punch is still worth making--pleasant and light.

I'm not sure whether the proper name is Erdbeer-bowle (strawberry bowl) or Erdbeeren-bowle, which I think would pluralize the berries (seems logical--you use more than one fer Heavens sake). But you'll forgive me when you sip this. The only challenge is keeping it cold enough for American tastes. Make sure you keep the wine really chilled before you put it out, and if it's a hot day, defy esthetics and put in some ice inside a sealed Zip-Lock. Don't ice it otherwise--diluted wine is icky, I think.


A punch for a good-sized party

LOTS of cubed strawberries (I used two boxes of organic Driscolls), but on-season from the local farmer’s market is what you really want

2 bottles of not-too-dry white wine--German preferred--chilled

1 bottle of decent sparkling white (American Chandon is fine)--also chilled

A few spoons of simple syrup or bar sugar, or Agave syrup, to taste

Hull & cut up the berries--not too big; you want them to exude juices. Sprinkle with sweetener if they aren’t super-amazingly delicious (American ones won’t be). Let ‘em sit for about ten minutes and then pour over them the chilled white wine. Keep cold.

When ready to serve, put in a punch bowl and pour over the mixture of wine and berries the champagne. Taste and drip in a tiny bit of sweetener if needed--this shouldn’t be white-Zinfandel yucky sweet, but it should taste like a punch.

Ladle into glasses, giving everyone berries and punch both.

If it’s a hot day, you may have to sit your punch bowl on ice, or use some ice inside a plastic zip-lock bag right up until guests arrive. Germans don’t serve things as cold as Americans, but this shouldn’t be luke warm.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

There's No Place Like Home...

If only you could get back from Europe by clicking your ruby slippers together!!  We flew in last Friday, and had an eight-hour flight turn into an almost-twelve hour ordeal.  Headwinds made our usual non-stop have to refuel in Labrador, and we proceeded to circle the NY area for so long that we almost had to divert for more fuel again.  Gads.  My back is almost OK now, but I was Advil girl this weekend; much of the time we were circling the good old seatbelt sign was on and the plane was bumping along like a car with bad shocks.  Ick.  

When I look back over the pictures I took there, it feels like I should still be in Berlin.  The whole experience washes over me again--and then I look up and I'm in New York.  I guess that's the magic of flight, really, turbulence or no.  You get to change channels on your life easier than using a DVR.  

I'm still thinking about the things I saw in Germany, especially in the parts of Berlin that were formerly DDR.  Our nabe was so Brooklyn Heights-esque that you could easily forget what used to be there if you wanted to (until you got down to the Communist Hero statue at the park down the street, that is).  But just a few stops on the tram away was the Karl-Marx-Allee, the grand, Soviet-style showcase lined with what were supposed to be awe-inspiring buildings.   Here's a link to it in the old days:

Now, tiles are peeling off those steroidal buildings, and they're thoroughly decorated with swirls of the usual spray paint at street level.  I guess some of the apartments are occupied, but they don't look really inviting; the neighborhood is loud with trams and traffic, and the whole feel of the place is gritty.  We walked through on a hot day just before we left for home.  

It's easy for Americans to forget what really brought down the DDR, and the old Communist system (much as Russia seems to be drifting back towards what it once was).  Folks wanted more freedom, yes.  In Germany, the movement against Stasi (the secret police) came out of a few very brave churches.  But it was the economy, stupid, there as much as anywhere.  People wanted rights--and a more comfortable life.  The DDR was bankrupt.  Russia's economy crashed in a way we can't even imagine here.  Guards that had worked at the Berlin Wall were stranded without enough money to get home or even buy food.  Those same churches that took a stand against them ended up feeding them--for real.

The dinosaur bones of a place like Karl-Marx-Allee remind me of What Can Happen if too much power ends up in the wrong hands.  Folks being sold a Republican bill of goods and trying to derail the health care that our country so vitally needs should consider who WANTS them to disrupt the town halls.  The German people managed to shake off a tragic abuse of power when the Wall came down, and if they can do that, for whatever reason, we should also keep our brains engaged as our country changes.  Whoever actually believed that the medical/insurance/big pharma industry was just going to roll over and play dead?  

Interesting side note: I learned this summer that when Reunification took place, there was a bit of a fight over women's reproductive rights.  It was the Easterners who had more, and they fought to keep them.  Another lesson: it's always a mistake to look at big words like Socialism and Democracy let them define any discussion.  Seems to me that two little words might be more important: What Works.

I'm back on the air Friday at 4, and I'll be talking about Germany, giving out the recipes I adapted for food and drink, and playing my usual mix--spiced up with a little DDR-era psychedelia.  See you there, comrade!