Sunday, April 1, 2012

Have Mercy, not a hangover

Drink your tea, quinoa and wine, then have Mercy
Today’s column covers some unusual beverages, and a way to sooth potential problems with some of them. Let’s begin with a cup of tea:

Tea for pleasure and health
“Ten Healthy Teas” covers ginger, lemon, peppermint, goldenseal and even garlic in the tea cup. It’s a thin little idea book from Valerie B. Lull, and tea sippers could build weekly gatherings around the different recipes until it was time to start at the beginning again.
This author is not alone in the theory that different teas can promote weight loss, relax the pelvic and uterine area and help with diarrhea and yeast infection. Here are a couple of quick ideas you might not have tried:

Chocolate Peppermint Tea
1 peppermint tea bag
2 teaspoons chocolate chips or chocolate milk mix or 2 squares from a candy bar
1-2 cups boiling water
Pour boiling water over the tea bag. Add the chocolate. Stir and let steep 5 minutes. Drink and enjoy.

Peppermint Lemon Tea
1 peppermint tea bag and ½ lemon squeezed
Sweetener to taste
1-2 cups boiling water, depending on how much tea you want
Pour boiling water over the tea bag and lemon Let steep 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Fun with quinoa
My family just likes saying the word quinoa. It sounds like KEEN-wah, and Incans apparently called it gold, or the mother crop, because it is so healthy and life giving. Quinoa mixes can be pricey, but I buy it in bulk for pennies a serving. A little goes a long way, and “Quinoa Cuisine,” by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser will go a long way to help Americans get into this tiny grain with so much possibility.
Shrimp with Pimento Cheese Quit-Cakes is a variation of Southern shrimp and grits. Go figure. Spinach and Black Olive Calzones gives children a chance to play with dough and you can even get the stuff into a triple chocolate bundt cake and other desserts.
While my husband, who is currently just quasi-quinoa tolerant has his eye on banana pancakes, I think I’ll try another breakfast item:
Tri-Berry Smoothie
1/3 cup white quinoa, rinsed
2/3 cup water
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons honey
In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Turn the quinoa out onto a rimmed baking sheet, spread into an even layer and refrigerate to cool completely.
Combined the cooked quinoa and the milk in the jar of a blender and puree until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add he berries and honey and puree until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Thin with additional milk, as needed. Pour into four glasses and serve cold.

Eye on the VOGA
To spy the cylindrical VOGA bottle on the shelf begins one’s curiosity. This is unique, the bottle tells you. The cap re-seals itself. I was pleased with my old favorite, merlot, but the award-winning Italian line also offers pinot grigio, moscato, Quattro and sparkling from $10.99 to $15.99. Once you unleash it, don’t stop there. Try one of these easy, colorful concoctions to entertain guests:

Spring Sparkler

2 ounces VOGA Sparkling

½ ounce vodka

½ ounce Raspberry Liqueur

½ ounce Soho Lychee Liqueur

Combine vodka, raspberry liqueur and soho lychee liqueur in the bottom of a champagne flute. Top with VOGA Sparkling Pinot Grigio.

Life’s A Peach Sangria

1 Bottle of VOGA Moscato 

1 12-ounce bottle of Peach Beer (VOGA recommends using Dogfish Head’s Festina Pêche or Lindemans Pêche Lambic)

3 ounces triple sec

2 sliced peaches

2 sliced apricots

1 sliced Granny Smith apple

1 sliced lemon

1 sliced lime

1/2 liter club soda

Pour VOGA Moscato and beer in a large pitcher and add sliced peach, apricot, apple, lemon and lime. Next add triple sec and stir gently. Chill mixture for at least one hour, and top with club soda and stir before serving.

A trim little can of Mercy comes with a sexy, winged “angel” from a sailor’s tattoo, and a warning to drink alcohol responsibly. That said, the idea behind this clear libation of amino acid, antioxidant and vitamin supplement is designed to consume during your night out, to counter the after-effects of up to four alcoholic beverages. For you, dear readers, I tried one on a night I had nothing stronger than tap water. It tastes much better than the energy drinks those kids seem to love. I’d have Mercy again. I just saw “The Rum Diary” with Johnny Depp. His character certainly could have used Mercy so he wouldn’t have to wear sunglasses his first day on the job after a night of wrestling the hotel mini bar.

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