The Arnold Palmer – Iced Tea Lemonade

iced tea lemonade

Yes, the clichés and jokes are true. An English ‘summer’, especially here in the North, is definitely something to get used to.

I had my suspicions over the years, when the Observer Food Monthly section would post hearty recipes that involved time in the oven or on the stovetop, even in July. I remember last year’s summer – I  wore a cardigan or a jacket a lot, on the many grey cloudy days that struggled to surpass 20 degrees (celsius).

In contrast, most Toronto and New York City publications are filled with no-cook or minimum-cook recipes and suggestions (even I had one published!), knowing that no city dweller in their right mind turns their stove on from June until September. It’s all barbecue, salads and cold soups. Or lovely picnic meals made up of store-bought potato salad, hummus and pita, cut veggies and maybe a few paper thin slices of prosciutto and ragged, torn buffalo mozzarella.

But we do sometimes get beautiful sunny weather here, made all the more special by its very rareness. I learned last year that May is often the very nicest month of all – the days start to stretch out like epic films, you can sit in a beer garden in a twilight that seems to hang around for hours, and everything green grows like crazy. And if you’re out on the moors, you can start to feel almost hobbit-like. Especially if you stop at a country pub for a little something to ‘fill up the corners’.

Roundhay Park

As a hardened veteran of Toronto heatwaves, the random ‘hot’ days we get here are easily met with my three-point plan:

  • Wear something linen
  • Eat cold foods
  • Drink Arnold Palmers (aka Iced Tea Lemonade)

I owe a debt of gratitude to Making Lemonade – Carrie perfectly cracked the formula for Starbucks’ Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade. My sleepy village in north Leeds doesn’t have a Starbucks, so I would have to go into town to get one otherwise.

The Arnold Palmer is named after the famous American golfer. It’s really a simple case of ‘I’ll have what he’s having’ – a woman overheard him ordering iced tea with lemonade and asked for one too, calling it ‘that Palmer drink’. If we want to get pedantic, The Arnold Palmer is actually 3 parts iced tea to 1 part lemonade, and when the two parts are equal, some Americans call it a Half & Half. There is something very American about this drink – it has that preppy East Coast, boat shoes, seersucker, Breton stripes and Wayfarers as you summer in the Hamptons feel about it.

While you do need to plan and make the components in advance, it will be well worth it when you’re sipping what’s, in my opinion, one of the most refreshing drinks on the planet.

The recipe

Start by making a simple syrup to flavour your lemonade, and if you like, your final beverage as well. There are many of detailed recipes out there, but really, it’s just heating an amount of water in a saucepan until it’s almost at the boil, then adding the same amount of granulated sugar (a 1:1 ratio) and stirring until it’s completely dissolved. Let cool and then decant into a clean jar, where you can store it, covered, in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I went with 1/3 cup of water and 1/3 cup of sugar, but that’s only because I ran out sugar.

Move on to the iced tea. Steep 2 bags of your favourite black tea (I’ve used Twinings English Breakfast) for 2 minutes in one litre of hot water, fresh off the boil. Let cool on the counter, then place in the fridge to chill.

Now for the lemonade. Mix 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice to one litre of cold water. Add in simple syrup to taste. I added 3 teaspoons, but I don’t like my drinks very sweet. Place in the fridge to chill.

Here comes the fun part. If you have a cocktail shaker, use it. My big glass measuring cup does just fine. Throw in some ice cubes, then pour over a 3/4 cup of the iced tea and a 3/4 cup of the lemonade. Shake or stir briefly and pour, ice and all, into a pint glass, or a Tom Collins glass if you’re fancy.

If you like your drinks sweeter, add more simple syrup to taste before pouring. I don’t bother – part of what makes it refreshing is that it doesn’t have a cloying sweetness like so many other cold drinks. If you want yours with a little kick, bourbon’s your dance partner.

In praise of an in-use kitchen

teacups with lemon

Dirty dishes next to the sink, clean dishes in the drying rack. Jars of cinnamon and toasted, chopped pecans waiting to anoint my daily bowl of oatmeal. Small, red tomatoes ready to be halved and tossed with shredded basil, extra virgin olive oil and a smidge of salt. A pudding basin filled with apples. All the half-drunk bottles of whiskies we’ve been collecting. A new type of cracker meant for my plan to recreate Starbucks’ Cheese & Fruit Bistro Box. Bottles of nutritional supplements that have at least a fighting chance of being taken daily if I can see ’em. Onions, garlic, ginger. A lemon. Salt. Pepper. A potbellied brown teapot I almost never use, despite the fact that everyone who crosses the threshold gets a cup of tea. Two-litre bottles of fizzy mineral water to quaff instead of Diet Coke. Foil, cling film and parchment paper on top of the microwave. A hand blender for smoothies that I never bother to unplug. Pillow-soft rolls just waiting to be packed with homemade chicken salad. A toaster that could be unplugged and put away now that I’ve forsworn Nutella. A row of bone-china mugs filled with steaming hot lemon water ahead of a scrubbing with baking soda to remove tannin stains.

A small table with cookbooks, wedding invitations, poll cards for the upcoming election, a basket of clothespins, and a 10% off card for my next visit to Ham & Friends. Everything shoved out of the way to make room for the laptop. A load of whites quietly swishing in the washing machine. A cat in my lap, now frightened of the jet-like noises emanating from the spin cycle but unwilling to admit it.

I’ve made my peace with the fact that my kitchen will never resemble something in a TV commercial. Oh yes, we make spasmodic attempts at getting the chaos under control, but hey – LIFE is being lived in here. And from doing silly online quizzes I’ve realized that I am visual learner, and ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is my truth.

Sticky pork belly

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With one or both of us rattling around the house more often than we would have done during our harried, hectic corporate life in Toronto, I’ve been able to explore different approaches to cooking. My small fridge and ridiculously tiny freezer mean I’ve given up my old weekend standby of cooking large portions of soups, stews and Bolognese sauce for freezing, but now I have daily access to a couple of good, if very different, local grocery stores.

In my grandest version of myself, I can industriously whip up this marinade for pork belly in the morning before starting work and eat these slow-cooked, succulent slices of heaven soon after logging off for the day.

I recommend counting up the hours necessary for this recipe – if you want to eat by 6:30 pm, start no later than 11:00 am.

4 hour minimum (or overnight) marinade +
2 hours roasting (baste at 1 hour mark) +
20 minutes (approx) to reduce marinade after roasting +
20 minutes blast in a hotter oven after brushing on reduced marinade +
20 minute rest, covered with foil (this is when I steam bok choy and cook rice) = 7 hours

Adapted from BBC Good Food, I’ve halved the amounts for the marinade but feel free to double them if you are cooking for a gang. Eat with steamed bok choy and a scoop of Thai rice for a simple, peaceful supper.

500 grams pork belly
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1.5 tbsp clear honey
1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
1 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated

In a large glass bowl mix together the marinade ingredients, add pork, making sure the marinade is coating it well, cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. You can also mix your marinade together in a glass measuring jug, place the pork belly slices in a large resealable bag and pour the marinade over before squishing and massaging and placing in the fridge.

Turning your oven to 160°C or 140°C fan (325°F), line a roasting tray with foil and transfer the pork and the marinade to the tray, pouring 50 ml of water over it. Cover with more foil and roast for 2 hours, basting at the 1 hour mark. Take pork out after 2 hours and increase oven temperature by 40°C – the new temperature will be 200°C or 180°C fan (400°F).

Remove pork slices to a plate, and carefully pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Cook the marinade until it becomes thick and syrupy (about 20 minutes). Place the pork back in the foil-lined pan and brush some of the now sticky marinade over it, and roast uncovered at the new high temperature for 20 minutes. The marinade should be caramelised in some spots. Take pork out, cover with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Venice

grand-canal-from-guggenheim

Oh Venice. I resisted you for so long, but a little voice told me to go. So we did. I’m glad I listened.

The resistance came from a lifetime of generalisations, of other people’s stories of a hot, smelly, overpriced Venice completely taken over by hoards of tourists disgorging from cruise ships. And Venice had always seemed like the biggest travel cliché, ever. How could it possibly live up to all the hype?

Then I watched the Venice episode of Travel Man. Richard Ayoade and Jo Brand were wearing coats, scarves and cozy, warm hats while eating cicchetti and gelato, or learning how to row gondolas. Wintertime. That was the answer. An answer this introverted misanthrope is almost loathe to share. But hey, my readership is miniscule so I figure any Venetians hoping for winter peace and quiet will continue unmolested by my rapturous praise.

We had a wonderful stay at Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo – a small, well-priced hotel I’m certain we’d never have managed to snap up in a busier season. In the San Polo district, it was a very short walk to everything, mere metres from the San Stae vaporetto (waterbus) station, and our hosts were friendly and anxious to make sure our stay was a blissful one. Our luxurious room’s decor wouldn’t have been out of place in the Doge’s Palace; golden green silk-panelled walls, a gilt headboard and heavy, opulent curtains over windows that looked out into an ancient courtyard.

Armchair Travel
For stunning photos, check out National Geographic‘s Venice Photos  and Harper’s Bazaar‘s 20 PHOTOS THAT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO BOOK A FLIGHT TO VENICE. (ALL CAPS necessary, therefore not removed)

We referred to Design Sponge‘s 24 Hours in Venice, Italy again and again. It steered us toward great areas that we might not have thought to visit.

Want more specifics on food, drinks and fun? Continue reading

Goodbye 2016

2016

I want to say “and don’t let the door hit you on the way out”, but I can’t.

While 2016 has truly been rotten in many, many ways, it’s also been a great year for me, personally, as long as I don’t think very hard about the twin mournful slumps I had after BREXIT and the US election. Or all the horrible things happening in Syria and the terrorism throughout Europe. Or the sad moments every time an icon died.

Is it even ok to talk about the good things? I feel like I have survivor’s guilt. But then, I’ve had enough shitty years over my life that I think it’s ok to have a good one, especially one in which some hard-won, deeply-cherished goals have been met.

So I’m going to be positive, and if you feel like sharing my happiness, stick around. I’ll understand if you don’t. But there’s an otter eating breakfast at the end…

  • Setttled into village life in Chapel Allerton, with easy access to the city centre of Leeds; the compact foodie and shopping heaven I’ve always dreamed of
  • Temped (very) regularly at one of the colleges in Leeds, where I’ve made some amazing friends
  • Sat, mute with tears of happiness, during Jeff’s final recital for his masters, which he (of course) smashed. I’m so proud of him!
  • Had a great Bonfire Night weekend
  • Pulled off a pretty boss Christmas dinner
  • Cried over every icon who died, but also rediscovered some amazing music and films in their honour
  • Learned how to knit
  • Took some amazing Yorkshire walks – but also feel like I’ve merely scratched the surface
  • Flirted with a Glaswegian after drinking whisky
  • Took three old-fashioned steam train trips; I’m good now
  • Visited London enough times to know my way around, but still feel the magic every time I step off the train at King’s Cross
  • Launched the UK version of my proofreading and copyediting business, heatherhewer.com (tell your friends and colleagues!)
  • Still can’t get the hang of “Alright?” “Yeah, alright” as a greeting. What is wrong with me?

Apple and berry crumble

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I needed the soothing feeling of crumbling butter into flour today. And with an average indoor temperature of 19°C, it was clear that my packets of frozen strawberries and blueberries were not going to see their way into an ice-cold smoothie anytime soon.

They, partnered with Bramley cooking apples, formed the fruity base of quite a wonderful crumble.

The crumble topping is from the consistently amazing Felicity Cloake’s How to make perfect crumble, in which she also suggests softening the apples by cooking them briefly in a bit of water and sugar.

I spread the frozen strawberries and blueberries on top of the still-hot apples to help them reach room temperature before sprinkling over a bit of granulated sugar mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg, the fridge-cold crumble topping and a handful of rolled oats.

The result is a homey and not-too-sweet panacea for all that is wrong with the world. Serve warm, pour over a little double cream, some custard, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. C’est-ça.

#NastyWoman in a pantsuit (aka trouser suit if you’re British)

Because Facebook’s newsfeed is so ephemeral, I’m going to start this post with the status update I wrote yesterday while processing the result of the US Election:

Eating all the things is what I am doing today, even though emotional eating is why I don’t fit into my awesome pantsuit in the first place. Today, I wallow. Tomorrow, I work harder at deserving a new, #nastywoman pantsuit, for my nieces and my friends’ daughters. I am sorry that I have sometimes been quiet in an effort to keep things pleasant. Sometimes there wasn’t a point. Sometimes it was easier to change the subject away from politics. Sometimes things I have defended created rifts. But I am still sorry for my silence and resolve to fight harder against racism, homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny. For everyone. We are all in this together.

While I ate impressive amounts of comfort food yesterday (nutella on toast, a Moroccan chicken and couscous salad, brownies and a ready-made chicken tikka masala) I also spent a lot of time online reading about other peoples’ reactions, trying to make sense of everything that has happened to make 2016 so resoundingly craptacular.

And one thing I’ve decided I can’t do anymore is NOTHING. OK,  I do research and place my vote in all Canadian federal, provincial and municipal elections, and Jeff and I were even able to vote (remain) in the EU referendum here in the UK earlier this year. But my daily life, with its work, cook, eat, watch TV, hang out with friends simplicity is no longer going to cut it. I felt this after Brexit and did nothing, and now that feeling is even stronger.

My approach is going to have a few avenues:

First, as mentioned in my Facebook post, the gloves will be coming off for anyone unlucky enough to do or say anything intolerant in my presence. I’m going to have to come up with some easy-to-remember responses because although I am a brilliant writer (har har) I am less brilliant in person and not very good at verbal sparring. I’m also crap at remembering facts and statistics so I don’t often discuss politics, especially with someone voting for the other side. I know in my heart why I vote and feel the way I do, I just have a hard time expressing it, especially if emotions are running high. And, sometimes you just can’t fix stupid. I figure the stable of stock responses I’ll develop will be kind of like my cheery “nope, just kinda fat!” response to people asking me if I’m pregnant. (try it, it’s almost worth the insult to see the look of horror cross a busybody’s face)

Second, I have to take some sort of action. I haven’t quite figured out what it will be, but with the amount of resources on the internet, I think the real difficulty will be choosing where my volunteer time and money will go. Here are a few of the websites I will be poring over as I decide, and I strongly invite anyone in Leeds who is having a similar sense of wanting to channel their feelings to join me.

Leeds for Change groups  – the phrase “think globally, act locally” comes to mind.

How to Channel Your Post-Election Anger, Sadness, and Fear Into Action –  Slate.com

A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support – Jezebel

Third, whenever I waver in a world that that seems to be so filled with anger and division, I’m going to re-read these pieces:

Calling all Nasty Women: The time to fight is at hand, again – The Globe and Mail

A letter to America from Leslie Knope, regarding Donald Trump  – Vox 

Even in the darkest hours, there are chances to be a force for goodThe Pool

With that, I’m off to buy a Nasty Woman t-shirt online and wear it proudly.

The pantsuit (trouser suit) might take a little longer to find, and I’ll have to remember to call it a trouser suit in Leeds in order to avoid raised eyebrows and giggles. I wish I still had my original awesome pantsuit – it was a summery beige cotton that I wore with a chocolate brown t-shirt and wedge sandals and I always felt powerful and fabulous while wearing it.

PS Canadians, we have Justin Trudeau in office right now, but let’s not get complacent – the same anger and divisiveness exists in Canada too. 

Update: PUSSYHAT PROJECT

pussyhat-projectI just finished mine the other day, and wore it to the #1DayWithoutUs event. I went alone, but my hat ended up being an amazing icebreaker with fellow peaceful demonstrators.