Hint-Drink Water. Not Sugar.

Did you know that an estimated 50 billion bottles of water are consumed per year in the US and around 200 billion bottles globally? We are addicted!  I know we didn’t have it as kids and I can remember having a tupperware square water bottle in highschool. weird. I don’t really remember drinking bottled water on a regular basis until I lived in France…then Evian water. It was so chic to walk around with a bottle of Evian water (that was to rehydrate after consuming bottles of wine the night before).That was in 1996. There weren’t many choices. Today there are millions of choices…flavors, sizes, types, bottle shapes, etc. Can you believe that sales of flavored, non-carbonated drinks surpassed soda this year?

A few weeks ago I read an article about how detrimental our bottled water habit is to our environment. From the production of the plastic to the waste that the bottles produce, this consumer product is leaving its mark on the world’s environment. Though recycling rates are up about 3% and the bottle weights are down, our consumption increases daily to offset the positive strides being made.

I actually promised myself that I would STOP drinking bottled water….actlually I told myself I would stop consuming all beverages that come in plastic containers. But being the LAZY, overindulged American that I am, I can’t seem to stop.  And especially not since  today I discovered a wonderful new flavored water by Hint- mango-grapefruit (with the tag line- Drink Water. Not Sugar. That’s some powerful marketing right there). Lightly flavored, no juice, no sweetener. No calories. It really did have a fruity essence that was smoothe-not overpowering. Quite tasty. I mentioned this discovery to a friend and she said she loves to use these flavored waters for a cocktail base in the summer- adding vodka and a lime or lemon or other fresh fruit. interesting. Just when I was ready to throw in the towel on bottles, she had to give me a new cocktail idea.

So- about my resolution to be more environmentally conscience. The first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem. I have now become more educated and am conscious of the problem. Next step is to take action. I can’t give up bottled water cold turkey. No addict ever succeeds cold turkey. So here’s what I will do. I will re-use this water bottle for several weeks and promise myself not to buy another until I have used this one to the point that it is embarrassing to carry it around. Then maybe I can ween myself into an aluminum bottle or perhaps maybe just another fresh plastic one without such a guilty conscious.

Quintessentially Southern

Doughnut peaches. Does it get anymore southern than this?

That’s right- a little round flat doughnut shaped peach! Found them at the Saturday market downtown. They were so interesting in shape and size that I just had to try them. 3/$1 – Can’t beat the price. The woman working the produce stall told me that someone created this fancy little peach for high browed southerners. Ok – I’ll buy that and three peaches please.

Compare the differenence in size between a doughnut peach and a regular peach!

Mother Nature’s Summer Treat

What a weird day.As the dogs and I took our morning stroll, I was greeted this morning by a huge full moon sitting just on the horizon. The tree lined street framed out a huge glowing moon. Mind you…the sun was up- I think the moon was a little confused. It looked like a harvest moon in broad day light. So began mother nature’s work on a bizarre day.

There were strange nuances throughout the day like a weird delay on my keyboard that made typing a little off.

My evening yoga class was a bust as I received a last minute call from my boss. Then as I started to drive home, it began to rain-SIDEWAYS! How is that possible?

So it was no surprise to arrive home to a power outage. What is a girl to do with no power? I have managed to find some candles and a flashlight. Oh and a can of tuna for dinner…

Todays freaky events are just a reminder that we can’t always plan things out. And sometimes the best things are not planned. Like tonight…I brought home all kinds of work..but without power, I have no internet which means no work for me! How am I writing this blog you ask…its my something new- I am trying out word press’s email feature using my little pink crackberry! I’m digging this little break from the norm. Thanks mother nature!

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When the weather heats up, what better way to cool off than to enjoy a little cool, sweet watermelon. I can’t imagine summer without the luscious flavor of watermelon. The dog days of summer are here. It’s terribly hot outside. Too hot to do much of anything outside …a perfect time to stretch my culinary knowledge.

Here’s the skinny on watermelon- a delish summer treat: 92% water, mild diuretic, great source of vitamin C. Entire melon is edible, though most Americans only eat the pretty pink part…except in the south where we sometimes pickle the rind (perhaps I’ll try this one day). Have you ever noticed how we southerners will pickle anything? I digress. In Asia, they use the rind in stir-frys . Also notable, the green fleshy part between the skin and the pink is very high in nutrients, though we usually don’t eat this part because of the strange flavor.

I bought a huge watermelon at the market today and  needed to find a fantastic recipe that would highlight this summer treat. Bingo- Watermelon Pork Tacos in Lettuce Wraps. The ingredient list was long and full of asian delights that I have never cooked with: oyster sauce, toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar. A perfect way to stretch my culinary vocabulary.

The prep time was a bit lengthy…chopping, dicing and peeling, but pair the prep with a summer cocktail and some fun toons and the work seems quite minimal. In addition to the toasted sesame oil and the oyster sauce (yes this is a sauce made by an oyster reduction- very rich), the pork marinade had garlic, ginger, serrano chiles, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce. The result was a fantastic asian flavor. The salsa included watermelon, cucumbers, an avocado, olive oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil. TASTY. Tangy and sweet.

Though the prep was a bit lengthy, the actual cook time was quite quick. The pork was sliced into medallions and quickly grilled. After grilling, I diced the pork and created a do it yourself buffet to fill the lettuce wraps with this delish combination of pork and watermelon. I can’t even believe how much the wraps tasted like PF Changs….but more fresh and actually much better. A wonderful way to combine Asian, Mexican and American flavors and a nice, light summer dish to be enjoyed in a casual setting with a good beer and great friends.

The Knitting Cirlce

I’ve always wanted to learn to knit. It’s been on my bucket list for about 5 years. One year, I even bought the needles and yarn, but never made the move to learn how to use them. I dream about the beautiful scarfs I would knit and the colors I would blend together. It’s rare that a day passes, even on the hot summer days, that I don’t accent with a scarf (after all it’s an igloo in my office!).

I began reading The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood today. Within the first 20 pages, I was hooked…no pun intended. As cliché as it sounds, this is a story about love, loss and the power of friendship. The story centers around a woman who is struggling to overcome the grief brought on by the loss of her daughter. Her whole world is turned upside down and she turns to knitting to help fill the void she feels within her heart. It’s going to be a quick read. Though the subject matter is very serious, it is a light story and moves quickly. The characters are quickly developed and I can’t wait to read more.

I am inspired. Perhaps one day soon, I’ll be able to report a knitting class.

Just add a little ginger

Though I love the flavor of ginger, I have never cooked with fresh ginger. In my attempts to encourage C to join me on my asian adventure, I am trying to cook a few asian dishes. Tonight, Ina Gartner’s Indonesian Ginger Chicken. The recipe called for 1/2 cup of shredded ginger. Off to the grocery store I go. C’s been traveling for over a week so I have big plans to welcome him home with a fab dinner.

Of course I know what ginger root looks like…sort of like a flat potato with arms and legs. I pick out a rather small piece with about 6 small arms and legs. I didn’t want to purchase too much. Ginger is rather expensive. So I got home and  began attempting to peel the little root. In all of the cooking that I have done and all of the reading I have done…no one ever told me to avoid ginger roots with arms and legs. So I am here today to tell you- avoid the arms and legs. They are a waste. They can’t be peeled and they break off easily. So I was down to the body and barely had a quarter cup. So I halved the recipe…which was fine because I was only cooking 1/2 the amount of chicken.

I forgot to add, I was preparing this the night before so we could just pop in the oven and presto dinner for two! Because I wouldn’t get home until late, I sent C EXPLICIT directions on how to cook this. It did involve changing the oven temperature and REMOVING the tinfoil covering. So when I got home, he said it would be ready in about 20 minutes. Perfect.

The photos on the website looked like chicken with a rich, thick sauce. Tangy from the soy sauce, sweet from the honey and a bit of zing from the ginger. The reviewers on the website RAVED about this delicious easy chicken. I just knew this would be a home run- a new go to recipe for busy nights. So you can imagine my surprise when out of the oven comes shriveled up chicken in a watery sauce. This was not what I expected. I even bought free range chicken for the occasion. I realized as C. was removing the tinfoil….a mistake had been made. He assured me he followed my instructions…but I knew something was amiss. This was not what the Barefoot Contessa would ever serve to Paul.

You’ve figured out the mistake I am sure….C was so happy to be home…he forgot to remove the tinfoil. So…. although  the Indonesian flavor was exoctic, it lacked that thick, rich sauce that was supposed to make it WOW.

I’ll try this one again. On a day when I can control the oven.