Tag Archives: food and drink

Hibiscus Nectarine Tea: A Trip to Hawai’i in a Glass

4 Aug

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When I was attending college in LA I became friend with few ladies from Hawai’i. We were equally distant from home, each of us taking a six-hour flight to get to Scripps. More than just the physical distance, we felt culturally far from our origins. They were used to the slower and friendlier island life, where drivers rolled down their windows and signaled the shaka sign while saying “aloha” and everyone let them through. I was quickly pegged as a New Yorker thanks to my mostly black wardrobe, sarcasm, and the way I quickly walked through crowds, ignoring strangers who tried to engage me. I knew a hand gesture as well, but it was a lot less friendly.

One of my dear Hawai’ian friends had the corniest sense of humor. As we’d walk around campus, she would point to one of the beautiful blooms, and ask me, “Do you know what this was called?” She amazed me with the way she always seemed to know the name of every tree and budding flower, and I was glad to pass the test. “A hibiscus,” I answered. She pointed to another bloom just a little lower on the tree. “What is this one called?” I paused, confused. Was I missing something? This was surely the same flower. “A low-biscus,” she laughed. I groaned.

Summer calls for tropical drinks, and what’s more tropical than hibiscus? I decided to make a hibiscus iced tea infused with fresh fruit.

Hibiscus Nectarine Tea

This is not the sweetest of teas, so you may want to add sugar or honey.
Or, turn it into a festive summer punch by adding a splash of gin!
Brewing your own tea is a great money saver for the starving artist.
It’s also more healthy because it allows you to control the sugars and preservatives. Hibiscus is a natural source of vitamin C. It’s also believed to lower blood pressure. It’s like a trip to Hawai’i in a glass!

Jalapeno-Infused Lemonade

28 Jul
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In the early 2000s, my sister and brother liked a stand-up comedian by the name of Russell Peters, who used to do a routine on children of mixed heritage. Growing up with a Greek father and a mother of Swedish ancestry, we’d often joked if we were Greekish or Sweek. One of Russell Peters’ jokes was what do you call a baby of Dutch and Filipino heritage? A jalapeno!
That joke rang in my head as I mixed up jalapeno-infused lemonade. Zesty and tart, it’s a trip for your taste buds. Here’s how to make it:
Slice a jalapeno into rings (the seeds are extra spicy so keep or toss the seeds according to your tolerance)
Drop the jalapeno rings (and seeds?!) into your favorite lemonade (I used Newman’s but you can squeeze your own if you’re not as lazy as me)
You can drink it immediately, but it’s even better if you muddle the jalapenos and let the flavors infuse the lemonade overnight.
Really want to go wild? Tequila does the trick. It cuts the tartness of the lemon and pairs well with the spiciness of the jalapeno.

The Starving Artist Jazzes Up Her Tap Water

21 Jul

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I might be the only person on the planet who likes humidity. It reminds me of being a child. Growing up in New Jersey, instead of blasting air conditioning, we’d cool off by swimming at night. The sky would be so dark you could see the Big Dipper as you floated on your back in the pool. The lights in the pool would attract moths that would flutter and hover above the surface of the water, occasionally taking a dip of their own. I can still hear the sound of my father’s repetitive splash as he swam back and forth, back and forth.

These days I don’t have ready access to a swimming pool, and in New York City the lights of skyscrapers are so bright that seeing even a single star is rare. Still, muggy nights bring back all the memories of childhood summers for me. Instead of cooling off with the rattling air conditioner by my bed, I drink a beverage that brings me back to my roots.

Behind our pool ran a small brook, and alongside the brook grew wild mint. This refreshing herb is perfect for jazzing up one of earth’s most precious resources, water. It’s easy to grow, but you can also purchase it at almost any grocery store. Here are a few super simple variations:::

  • Simply wash the mint, put it in your glass of water (with or without ice), and enjoy immediately
  • Muddle the cleaned mint in your glass of water and enjoy
  • Store a large batch of water with fresh, washed mint in your fridge
  • Freeze the mint in ice cubes and plunk into your water whenever you want — as the ice melts the mint flavor will become stronger
  • Try pairing the mint with other flavors such as fresh squeezed lime

It’s so important to stay hydrated, but water sometimes gets boring. Infusing water with mint is a great way to drink more water.

Starving artist might enjoy these other summer food posts:::

Grillin’ Like a Villain: Sriracha BBQed Cauliflower

16 Jun

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BBQs can be the pits when you’re a vegetarian. Everyone scarfs down hot dogs and hamburgers, while you’re left with an ear of corn on the cob which you can’t possibly eat in a civilized manner in public and a heap of potato salad that’s been dangerously sitting out in the sun for too many hours.

When my friends at Christ Resurrection Church invited me to a BBQ, I decided to step up my game. Inspired by the buffalo cauliflower recipes I’d seen on pinterest, I came up with my own finger-lickin’ recipe: Sriracha BBQed Cauliflower.

The result?

I literally overheard someone refer to my sriracha bbqed cauliflower as “insane.”

Yeahhhhhh, it had quite a kick to it thanks to the sriracha sauce.

If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a mini lesson on what sriracha is: The legend is so mysterious that no one knows its exact origins, but the hot sauce takes its name from a city by the sea of eastern Thailand called Si Racha, where it is believed to have been concocted in the 1930s. A thick red paste, sriracha is made from chili peppers, garlic, distilled vinegar, as well as sugar and salt. Here in the states, it’s sometimes referred to as “cock sauce” because of the rooster on the bottle distributed by Huy Fong Foods.

My quick-and-easy recipe is essentially a whole lot of sriracha dumped all over a head of cauliflower:

  • wash the head of cauliflower
  • chop off the leaves and stem of the cauliflower
  • chop up the cauliflower into “florets,” those little tree-like nubs you often see on crudite platters
  • dump the cauliflower florets into a large bowl (if you don’t have a large bowl a large pot will also work)
  • next, chop up an entire onion and put the diced onion into the large bowl with the cauliflower
  • open a can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drain the water, put the garbanzo beans/chickpeas into the bowl with the cauliflower and onions
  • now comes the fun part: drench the contents of the bowl with sriracha and add soy sauce and garlic powder. I cook a bit like Jackson Pollock paints; I toss the ingredients together til I’m satisfied. I don’t have exact measurements for any of these, but you want the main ingredient to be the sriracha, and you want to make sure the food is evenly coated. It would’ve made sense to stir the sriracha, soy sauce, and garlic powder in a bowl ahead of time so they become a unified mixture, but I don’t have a dishwasher and didn’t want to wash another dish so I just made sure to mix and roll everything around real good in the bowl.
  • next, place a long sheet of tin foil horizontally over a plate or bowl (press it down to the bottom) and then a long sheet of tin foil vertically over the first piece of tin foil so it creates a cross shape (this is so that you have a tough and secure grill packet that you can move onto the bbq)
  • once the cauliflower, onions, and garbanzo beans/chickpeas are evenly coated, pour it onto the tinfoil and wrap it up. i let it marinade in the fridge overnight
  • when it comes time to bbq, put the entire tinfoil packet of food onto the grill. keeping an eye on it, let it grill to your desired level
  • you can serve it right out of the tinfoil packet!

The prep time for this under half an hour; the grilling is also under half an hour. The ingredients can all be eaten raw so don’t worry about having to cook it for any certain length of time.

This is a super budget-friendly BBQ recipe for starving artists. To get more bang for your buck, buy the garbanzo beans/chickpeas dried and soak them overnight instead of buying the canned version.

The Sriracha BBQed Cauliflower works as a main course or as a side. It goes great with black bean burgers.

Hashtag? #notyourgrannyspotluck

Pinterest Fail Version of Loaded Cauliflower “Mash” Bake

26 May

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Pinterest fail? I spotted this Loaded Cauliflower “Mash” Bake on Pinterest, and it looked so yummy! It’s kind of a “skinny” version of loaded mashed potatoes. Not necessarily “great” for bikini season but better than potatoes would be! As a vegetarian, I had to swap out a few ingredients. Instead of bacon, I used some sort of green pepper type thing that my mind is currently blanking on the name of. It tasted okay but wasn’t quite as photogenic. Oh well, a starving artist has to eat!

Springtime Champagne Pink Lemonade Punch

28 Apr

What’s springtime without a festive punch? When I had a little brunch soiree, I made these champagne pink lemonade cocktails. A splash of ginger ale made them extra bubbly! They had fresh strawberries and flower petals for garnish.

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My Easter Soiree

20 Apr

Easter was a special time in my family when I was growing up. And by Easter, I of course mean Greek Orthodox Easter. Every year, we’d pile into the station wagon and drive down to Baltimore to spend the most important religious holiday for Greek Americans with my father’s side of the family. There would be a whole lamb out on the spit, a symbol of Jesus Christ as the sacrificial lamb, and we’d crack red Easter eggs, a symbol of the crucified Jesus breaking out of the tomb and overcoming death.

I’m all grown up now, and my family is spread out between three different countries. Holidays can be a tough time for singles — especially those in the city, who don’t have family in the area and can’t get to their family. Protestants and Greek Orthodox believers follow different liturgical calendars, and since this year our Easter celebrations didn’t align, I decided to reach out to my American friends in the city who might not have family in the area.

After inviting friends from all walks of life, none of whom were native to New York (two of whom are not even native to this country!), I started to plan the menu only to begin panicking about what to serve for an American Easter. I certainly wasn’t going to roast a lamb out on a souvla on the city sidewalk! In the end, I made egg salad, which one friend said was the best she’d ever had! Secret ingredient: LOTS of mayonnaise! I also made cold carrot ginger soup with goat cheese and carrot curls. My friends said I saved the best for last: cheesy hash browns!

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The Starving Artist Toasts Ernest Hemingway with a Daiquiri Recipe

22 Jul

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“I drink to make other people more interesting.”

~ Ernest Hemingway

 

Starving artists know that birthdays mean free drinks at the bar. Today we toast to Ernest Hemingway, who would’ve turned 115 years old yesterday.

Hemingway had a bit of a reputation as a drinker. “I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure,” he wrote to the Russian translator and critic Ivan Kashkin. He and James Joyce used to toss back drink after drink together, though in that same 1935 letter to Kashkin he said alcohol wasn’t beneficial to writing. He was always a drinker, but after getting injured in a plane crash he drank even more heavily.

More than a few articles have been written about Hemingway’s drinking:

  • 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Ernest Hemingway’s Drinking Habits (via Food Republic)
  • The Passionate Affair Between Alcohol and Ernest Hemingway: The Paris Years (via Modern Drunkard)
  • How to Drink, the Hemingway Way (via Salon)
  • Why Do Writers Drink? (via The Guardian)
  • Hemingway and Me, at the Bar (via The Washington Post)

Being an alcoholic is probably not the reputation anyone wants. No one wants to be dependent on alcohol. It can destroy your life and the lives around you. If you drink, drink responsibility. But there’s no shame in not drinking either!

Hemingway’s favorite drink was a martini, but he was also closely associated with mojitos and daiquiris. I thought a daiquiri would make a great summertime drink, so here’s the Starving Artist Hemingway Daiquiri recipe:

2 ounces white rum

¾ ounces lime juice

½ ounce grapefruit juice

¼ ounce maraschino liqueur

Blend these altogether with a cup of ice. Who has time and money for fancy garnishes like maraschino cherries and lime wedges? Drink this sucker from whatever glass you have clean as you sit on your stoop, defining your own generation.

 

You might also like these other posts from my blog:

The Starving Artist Eats Watermelon Feta Salad

24 Jun

Yesterday I shared that summer was all about karpouzi at my house.

The other Sunday, after church, I had my friend Sandra over for brunch and wanted to make something special. I decided to try my hand at a watermelon-feta salad. This isn’t something I ever grew up eating, but when I attended the GABBY Awards a few years ago, one of the passed meze they served at Ellis Island before the ceremony was cubed watermelon with feta speared with a toothpick. Since then I’ve seen delicious recipes for it watermelon and feta salads. I decided to make my own version, topped with an exquisite dark chocolate vinaigrette my friend Rori gave me as a housewarming gift.

Lomogram_2014-06-08_04-34-41-PMHere’s my super-easy, super-quick recipe:

  • Cut watermelon into chunks
  • Cut Feta cheese into chunks
  • Mix the watermelon and feta in a bowl and top with pistachio meat (meaning pistachios out of their shell)
  • Drizzle dark chocolate vinegar over the salad
  • Serve!

See how easy that is?! You can prep ahead by cutting the watermelon and the feta into chunks the night before, but I recommend waiting until you’re about to serve guests to mix the ingredients together so that they retain their individual flavors and so the nuts don’t get soggy.

The ingredients are, admittedly, a bit on the pricier side, but when you make it yourself you save a lot of money. This is part of a new series I’m doing called “The Starving Artist.” I used to do posts called “Tasty Tuesday,” but I’m switching it up a little now to focus on budget-friendly recipes for writers. You might also like these feta-inspired appetizers:

I’m looking to get more fruit in my diet this summer. If you have any unique watermelon recipes, please share them in the comments below!

 

It’s All Karpouzi to Me

23 Jun

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That’s me as a kid eating karpouzi!

Last week I wrote about Feta burgers and how my family used to BBQ all summer long. Our BBQs weren’t complete without karpouzi—watermelon—at the end of the meal, so this week is all about watermelon!!

Now I may have grown up in a mono-lingual household, only speaking English, but there were a few words that for whatever reason (probably because my mom knew them) we always said in Greek—to the point that it felt more natural to say them in Greek than in English. “Karpouzi” was one of those words. Even when I went off to college, that’s the word I used, and my friends picked it up and used it too—just as I picked up words like “haole” and “okole” from my Hawai’ian friends and learned “hella” from my Bay Area friends. Funny how even when you live in one country your entire life, and even when your friends are American, regionalisms and ethnic identities can influence your language.

Tomorrow I’ll share one of my favorite recipes for karpouzi!

In the meantime, I’d be curious to know if any of you switch in and out between languages or if you’ve picked up words from a language that isn’t your own mother tongue?