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.

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?

A Toronto homecoming – what I ate and the supplies I brought back

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I recently scooped up a cheap flight to Toronto that happened to coincide nicely with Canadian Thanksgiving, although next time I’ll give myself a few more days recovering from jet lag before hitting the feast itself, so I will actually remember it properly. Note to self: over-tiredness and a generously poured Riesling do not mix. Unless you want to cement your reputation as the loopiest member of the family when you’re not falling asleep in your ham.

My reasons for visiting were to see family and friends, walk the mean streets of Toronto from the perspective of being away for over a year, and compare it to my new life in Leeds. Oh, and eat a few meals that I have been craving for ages:

  • Caplansky’s – haven’t been able to find Jewish deli food that tastes like home over here – it’s just different. My first bite of brisket on rye produced an “oh” sound that was half sensual, half heartache.

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    Brisket on rye, with fries, dill pickles and a Coke Diete (good ol’ bilingualism)

  • Banjara – I have two experiments going on right now. I know what curries in Leeds are like, and wanted to see how my old fave, Banjara, measured up. I also have a Yorkshire native heading to Toronto next spring and I want to see what he thinks too. Banjara did fine, but living in the Leeds Bradford area means I don’t need a ticket home for amazing curries.
  • Dim Sum at Kwan. Something all of my friends have in common is their ability to take me to restaurants that are exactly what I was craving, even if I didn’t know it. Went for lunch/brunch and noticed that I didn’t have dinner that night. That almost never happens.
  • Bagels and cream cheese – yes, I know there’s Bagel Nash in Leeds, and they are very good, but bagels and cream cheese are simply ubiquitous in Toronto, meaning I could get my fix in the morning pretty much the moment I craved one, owing to the afore-mentioned ubiquitousness. It would be a bit like a bacon buttie over here.
  • Despite a bit of effort, I didn’t make it to Terroni, and after a friend treated me to pizza at Mattachioni, I didn’t have to. Great pizza, fantastic wine list.
  • Deep-fried pierogies  – I missed the CNE this year, its Food Building and what I thought was my only chance at deep-fried pierogies, but my friend took me to the new Loaded Pierogi where I could simultaneously kill my craving for buffalo chicken and pierogi. You haven’t lived until you’ve had it deep fried.

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    Rommel delivers a home run for my final Toronto lunch 

I also returned home to pick up some much-needed supplies that I haven’t been able to find easily in the UK or were added to the list once I was Toronto-bound.

  • Indoor temperature and humidity reader – we were quite cold in our house last winter and we were curious as to whether it was the temperature or the damp chill settling into the very marrow of our bones. Now we’ll be able to tell much more easily!
  • Crest Pro-Health toothpaste – it was suggested that this was my only real reason for flying to Toronto, and well, they’re not wrong. Shopper’s Drug Mart even met me half way by having it on sale. Any friends or family heading over here, please pack some for me. It will become your rent for our guestroom. I hope you know I’m not kidding. And Crest – if you want to do a Tim Horton’s-style commercial of an expat’s aching need for your product, call me!
  • A small (200 ml) bottle of Grand Marnier  – as much as I love the fact that grocery stores, off-licences and little shops sell booze here, I do feel homesick for the huge selection and expertise the LCBO offers, along with a variety of bottle sizes for liquor. I use Grand Marnier in a few recipes at Christmas and don’t need a huge, expensive bottle of it.
  • Sale rack finds at Anthropologie and Banana Republic. Two stores where I always walk straight to the sale section, as the regular prices are just laughable. Others must think so too, because the sale selection is always great!
  • Girl Guide thin mint cookies (photo not available as I et them all). Synonymous with October for me.
  • MEC raincoat with an adjustable hood that makes an umbrella unnecessary. Ha – that model is tall; it’s pretty much knee-length on me.  I know there are similar stores to MEC over here, but they’re not MEC. You know?
  • Toothbrush holder – why can I only find cups here? Gross! Honestly – with the no clothes dryers and the lack of airiness to your toothbrush cups, I think you Brits create a lot of your own damp issues.

Regrets, I have a few

  • Didn’t make it over to Toronto Island
  • Most days were hot enough that I never actually craved slightly stodgy but utterly delicious poutine, but now I’m kicking myself
  • Didn’t visit The Caledonian (a Scottish whisky pub) but will console myself with another trip to Glasgow

I’ve gone native Brit-styles  Continue reading

A couple of new, well-paired obsessions

I’ve got two new hobbies that complement each other bee-yoo-ti-fully. Knitting and podcasts. Podcasts and knitting.

I realise podcasts have been around for ages, and I’d often tried to get into them, sometimes listening to a random episode of something during a long stint in the kitchen, but nothing really stuck.

Until I found a podcast I really liked: The History of English. Etymology, linguistics and British/European history have long been interests of mine, and as a word nerd, learning about the evolution of the English language has been absolutely fascinating. Especially when I discovered that I’m living in an area of England that used to be known as The Danelaw.

Now I had a riveting podcast with over 80 episodes (and counting) to listen to, but needed a secondary activity to keep me busy while listening. While I do like to cook and potter around the house, I would find myself running out of things to do before the episode had finished but also didn’t really feel like playing yet another round of 2048 on my phone.

Around the same time, a friend here in Leeds convinced me to give knitting another try. I mean, we are in Yorkshire, once the wool capital of the world, and a place where sheep and wool are still incredibly important to Yorkshire’s livelihood and cultural identity. My village, Chapel Allerton, even supports a wool shop!

She picked me up the first issue of Simple Stylish Knitting, the best way I could have possibly re-learned how to knit. Each issue of the magazine contains a ball of yarn and a pattern for a 15 cm square to knit for a quilt. Each knitted square teaches a new stitch or pattern. Every issue also contains other simple projects that are growing progressively more detailed as each square is mastered. If the detailed instructions and photos aren’t quite enough to go on, they even have a YouTube channel with instruction videos – the only way I mastered the bobble stitch.

I tried knitting as a teen, started a horrible scarf and quickly gave it up as a bad job. In general I have never been very good at most crafts and visual arts – I was the kid who always got a C+ in art class, and happily switched to music and drama in high school. I don’t draw, I don’t paint, I don’t sew, I don’t make jewellery, and in general I’m okay with that – nobody can be good at everything, and I’m happy to be a good cook, writer and somewhat flukey photographer.

But, I think precisely because I don’t really identify as a knitter, it has been a fun, low-key thing to try. And someday I’ll have a massive quilt to be quite proud of.

bobble!

 

Six months in Leeds

Six months have passed since I landed at Heathrow with more luggage than I’ve ever lugged anywhere. I’ll never forget the moment I pushed the trolly through the arrivals gate and there was Jeff – a week further along in his English adventure than me.

I celebrated my six month anniversary in a fitting way – two of my wonderful co-workers from my temp job joined me at a monthly cheese club, and afterward we popped into the pub where Jeff was taking part in a jazz jam so they could meet him. I thought it was a small turning point – the first time my work life, social life and Jeff’s music life intersected.

Coincidentally, the pub that holds the cheese night is two doors down from the short-term flat rental Jeff and I stayed in for my first week in Leeds. I hadn’t been to that part of the city in weeks and it was fun to remember how strange it was to walk around and think  “Holy shit – I LIVE here now”.

Six months in seems like a good time to take stock. Have I changed or am I still the same me in a different place?

  1. My accent is still the same, even though it’s the question I get most often from back home. And no, it isn’t a cliché, one of my trusted friends here assures me that yes, I do say “oot” and “aboot” instead of “out” and “about”. How I Met Your Mother and every other piece of pop culture making fun of us is right! We Canadians just can’t seem to hear it.
  2. I have a hard time saying words like “telly”, “cuppa” and “cheers” because I’m concerned I sound like a twat trying to sound English. And oh god, I still can’t get the hang of “Alright?” as a greeting.
  3. I’m living in leggings and jeggings and now normal jeans that aren’t super skinny jeans just look weird to me. I shouldn’t have let one upsetting peep in the 3-way mirror at GAP convince me that I couldn’t pull them off.
  4. Emotionally, I do feel stronger and more confident. I’ve always been a fan of my own company and, both in Toronto and here in Leeds, I choose it over people who don’t make me feel great about myself. No, I don’t mean I need to be showered with compliments, more just that if I come home happy and elated about who I’ve hung out with, rather than feeling uncool and/or uncertain that the other person liked me, it’s some food for thought about whether I want to seek out their company in future. Oh, and patronising insults are an instant way to make sure I “lose” your contact information.
  5. I’m not walking as much as I did in Toronto – everything is much closer together! Where I was routinely walking at least four kilometres a day in Toronto – one km walk to the subway station, another 900 metres from the subway station to my office, long walks at lunchtime, and then the return journey home, let’s just say that I am going to have to really press on those friends who’ve promised me long walks on the dales and moors of Yorkshire to get back into walking shape. Or stop eating anything sweet.
  6. I still get a kick out of living somewhere where I don’t know almost everything about it the way I did in Toronto and southern Ontario in general. I genuinely don’t know where things are, whether it’s the geography of Yorkshire or finding neat little shops and cafés. There’s always something new around the corner for me here.
  7. We still don’t know what we’re going to do once Jeff is finished his program in September, so I’ve had to make peace with the fact that life will be up in the air and unsettled for months to come. Will we be able to stay in Leeds? Will we be somewhere else in the UK? Will we return home? As a planner and a do-er, this is new territory for me and I’ve had to get comfortable with the not-knowing. So I’m trying to make sure I experience everything that living in this part of England has to offer and try to live in the moment more often.
  8. I miss how grounded our house in Toronto made me feel – our framed photos of people and places, furniture and home stuff acquired over time, shelves full of books and little objects. Whenever I’m in someone’s house that has that lived-in quality I envy it a little. Which is odd because I found the exercise of reducing our belongings and keeping the essentials incredibly exhilarating at the time. Let’s just say that the FBI Safehouse Chic look is wearing a little thin. And I should have chosen a sofa long enough to stretch out for proper naps. What are love seats good for anyway?

Haworth

My mother-in-law took this stunning photo of Haworth – Brontë country

I’m off t’werk, love.

Happy New Year!

2016 has arrived and so has my national insurance number. While England cleared away all signs that Christmas ever existed and returned to work, I registered with an employment agency. By the next day they had a temporary assignment for me, which means I’m back in pencil skirts and earning some pounds.

I absolutely adore where I am working and I’m sad that it’s only for a few weeks – it’s a great team of people who work hard, have each other’s backs and manage to power through a prodigious amount of work while simultaneously keeping up hilarious banter All. Day. Long.

Some observations (at this workplace, anyway):

  • True open concept – not cubicles, just a room with multiple desks – is surprisingly better than Dilbert cubicles for collaborating and keeping up with what’s going on. No more having to try and hear over cube walls and getting up and walking over to your neighbour’s cubicle, you already know what’s going on because you were there when it happened. I was thunderstruck when I realised I preferred it.
  • Tea is everything. The kettle is always on and people are very careful to not steal each other’s freshly boiled kettle, and you don’t put the kettle on without making sure you’ve asked everyone in earshot if they’d like a cup too. Sometimes a co-worker will even make my tea for me, even adding the milk and sugar. Even though my desk is about 3 feet away from the kitchenette. “It’s no trouble, love”.
  • People respect each other’s lunch time, even if they are eating at their desks. It’s sacrosanct and only the biggest emergency will force someone to ask a question of someone who is halfway through their sandwich.
  • The UK keyboard is different from the North American one – the @ symbol is over near the return key and a few other keys are in different spots too. Don’t try a typing test at an employment agency without practicing at the local library first.
  • Bar none, working has been the best way to really absorb Yorkshire culture and all the little things that you learn from locals – where the great restaurants are, which stores are having good sales right now, suggestions for day trips, the best place to do/get anything. Everyone is fascinated by our big adventure and eager to make sure we make the most of our time here. And supremely proud of The NORTH, as they jolly well should be.

Cups and Mugs

IMG_0137Don’t ever underestimate the power of a familiar mug.

What we have here are a couple of pretty cups I once picked up at Starbucks with a birthday gift card; a Van Gogh mug from Jeff on one of our first Christmases; and a souvenir from Strand Book Store in New York City in 2014.

These mugs were carefully wrapped in my socks for the voyage over here.

However, I have now rekindled my love of drinking tea out of bone china mugs and found suitably silly ones (all I could ever find in Canada were chintzy, dainty florals) from which to quaff my beloved darjeeling. I don’t know the chemical whys or wherefores, but tea really does taste better in bone china.

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So I’m going to say that with the benefit of hindsight, those mugs are going to sit on the sidelines a lot of the time, and maybe COULD HAVE been left behind. Until we have houseguests, when I’ll be happy to have enough mugs for everyone.