Saturday, September 14, 2013

la paloma rosa

often in a relationship you're exposed to new things because of your partner's enthusiasms. i'm pretty sure that without me, mike would not have acquired quite so much information about weird animal facts, food, or health care policy (and he might have been better off for that). 

similarly, i wouldn't know as much about the horse-race intricacies of local and national politics or the publishing world, and i certainly wouldn't be watching football on a saturday afternoon. yet here i am. 

i grew up in small-town/rural texas, where high school football really does rule the scene on friday nights (surely you're familiar with Friday Night Lights, right? if not, FIX THAT IMMEDIATELY. you're welcome.). as a disaffected and contrarian teen, i only went to one football game in my entire high school career, and spent plenty of time bemoaning football's prominence and the lack of local culture (i was kind of a jerk about my hometown. although i live 30 minutes from it now and haven't been there in like 10 years, so i guess i haven't really changed my mind about it, actually. see you in hell, bastrop!). my undergrad years were spent at southwestern university, which at the time didn't even have a football team. it just reinstated football this year, actually, which is weird but i'm getting used to the idea.

anyway, my point is that despite being a native texan, i'm not much of a football person. but mike went to texas a&m, which has a ... robust football heritage. they take it seriously and they're very good at it. so thanks to his influence, i've started semi-watching games once in a while. i still don't really know what's going on (really, soccer's more my thing), but i'm happy to hang out and cheer when the aggies score and yell at the tv when the other team does something mean.*

*technical term

of course, all this moral support is thirstifying, so it's never a bad idea to have ingredients for a paloma rosa at hand. palomas are gaining a following here, after long enjoying popularity in mexico. they're dead simple and very tasty and just might become your favorite refreshment in the waning days of summer (at least, i really hope they're waning. it was like 100 degrees yesterday. IT IS MID-SEPTEMBER, WEATHER. COME ON.).

the paloma rosa differs from the original in that it includes pink grapefruit soda and some fresh grapefruit juice, instead of the regular grapefruit soda (squirt, fresca, etc) that normally goes into it. i found this pink ting (!) at our local liquor/food/awesomeness center, spec's, but i think similar things are found pretty much wherever. or use fresca, etc! then it wouldn't be rosa, but it would still be a paloma. 

and that's the important thing. that and spending quality time hanging out with your loved ones and learning more about the things they like. or at least getting more adept at nodding sagely when people talk about "incompletes" and "sacks."

** i had to include my la paloma magnet, which my friend beth gave me years and years ago and which to this day i cannot look at without saying out loud, "que maravilla de tortilla!" which i think is the best slogan ever. 

also, you may have noticed the ro*tel, velveeta, and chips in the background. i may not be as football-crazy as some, but by god i'm a texan and i know how to make queso. 

-ingredients- one drink
  • 1/2 - 2/3 bottle pink ting (!) or 6 oz or so of your grapefruit soda of choice
  • 3 tbsp or so fresh pink (or other) grapefruit juice
  • 1-2 ounces tequila (i don't know much about tequila aside from that you absolutely have to get one that's 100% agave. i used a blanco one, but probably the more aged ones would be good, too - maybe a little more intensely flavored?)

stir gently, add plenty of ice and maybe a curl of grapefruit zest, if you think of it. 

listening to: explosions in the sky, now that i started thinking about Friday Night Lights. also lots of yelling from kyle field. gig 'em! i don't know football, but i  know that much.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

israeli breakfast salad

we've already established that salad for breakfast is totally delicious and great, right? right.

this israeli salad is my new favorite weekend breakfast, though i also sometimes bring it for lunch. it's versatile like that.

it's also cold and refreshing, which is nice since texas hasn't gotten the message that it's supposed to cool off post-labor-day. stupid texas. when it's 100 degrees one doesn't necessarily feel like having a hot plate of migas. oh, who am i kidding - one always feels like having a hot plate of migas. but alternating them with breakfast salads will make you feel extra virtuous and clever.

anyway, it's stupid-easy and you get to practice your knife skills (which is why i usually make this on the weekends - it's a lot of chopping for a weekday morning when you haven't had coffee yet). you want to make all of the pieces as close to the same size as is reasonably possible, so a little concentration pays off.

for two largish servings, just cut up some cucumber, sweet onion, tomatoes, herbs, and any color of bell pepper except green because they are disgusting. toss them with some lemon juice or vinegar, salt, and pepper and ta da! you can also add bits of cheese (feta, goat cheese, or manchego are all good), other vegetables (grated carrot, some zucchini, maybe jicama??), spices (sumac is good, and/or za'atar) or a bit of olive oil. it's good with toasted pita or flatbread, which you could also add to the salad itself to make an ersatz fattoush (that's a freebie for those of you who are always on the lookout for good band names, by the way). the only rule is that there are no rules!

actually, i think there are some rules (the main vegetables, the trying-to-make-them-all-the-same-size), but perhaps you're the type for whom rules were made to be broken, in which case do whatever. i'm no snitch.

the last warm weeks of summer are when this salad's ingredients are at their best, so make sure to try this before we're all bundled up and talking about roasted squash soup or whatever. jk, it will never again be cold enough to turn on the oven. we are doomed to eternal summer - might as well roll with it.

there are probably a million versions of this and i've never been to israel. this is just how i do it.

  • 1 large or 2 or more small cucumbers (those little persian ones are good here)
  • 1 red, orange, etc bell pepper
  • 1/2 a large sweet onion (like 1015, vidalia, etc)
  • 1 large or several small tomatoes (i used two big romas this time, but the fancy heirloom ones would be aces)
chop all of the vegetables into small and similar-sized bits (i usually try to a fairly small dice, like 1 cm or less). toss together with
  • 1-2 tbsp sherry vinegar, lemon juice, or other mildish vinegar (probably not a strong balsamic, for instance) - start small and taste until it's to your liking. i like it pretty tart.
  • a handful of herbs, chopped (parsley, basil, oregano, mint, tarragon and other more exotic herbs are all good in here. today i didn't have any parsley and my herbs aren't doing that well, so the pictured salad is not as herby as i would prefer)
  • salt and pepper to taste (maybe 1 tsp salt, but start smaller)
optional: sumac, za'atar or other dried spices, to taste (maybe 1 tsp?), olive or maybe some kind of nut oil (i don't care for oil here, but some do!)

i like this best right after it's made, but it will keep for several hours in the fridge just fine.

listening to: songs mentioning john berryman - okkervil river's "john allyn smith sails" and the hold steady's "stuck between stations" (i think the hold steady is tied with yo la tengo as the band that looks most like they could your high school science or english teachers)

looking at: this "romantic real life comic" is adorable. also this tumblr is great for finding new art if you enjoy modern stuff but are lazy about seeking it out, as i am.