Lemonpalooza

DSC01932I have a lot of lemons.  Beautiful Meyer lemons.  My tree is extraordinarily fecund (that always sounds a bit off color…) this year.  Truly an embarrassment of riches.  I have heard you can keep ripe citrus on the tree for 10 weeks, and the quality will not be affected (my tree is in a sheltered spot, so frost is not an issue).  That said, I do feel quite a lot of pressure to put all my fruit to use.  In the December issue of Food & Wine magazine, there is a recipe for a lemon Bundt cake.  I made it today. It was quite a project–zesting all those lemons takes a fair amount of time!  But it was well worth it, as the cake is delicious. DSC01936Actually, I didn’t have to zest all 10 lemons–I mean, look at the size of these!  The lemon on the right is the usual size of a Meyer lemon, and I have just a few that size.  Most of the ones on my tree, however, are the size of the one on the left!  Why this is is anybody’s guess.  Radiation from Japan?  Are they Three Mile Island lemons?  No, I don’t think so.  Just a happy confluence of growing conditions that led to this crop.  I was worried that the size would mean a thick skin, more like a Eureka lemon, but no.  Thin skinned and juicy as always. There would have been an even bigger crop, but we had some crazy wind in early fall that knocked a lot of the baby lemons off (which, upon further reflection, may have led to the bigger lemons).  Perhaps just as well! DSC01939Above are some of the ingredients for the Bundt cake–see how much zest there is?  DSC01940The batter is thick and creamy–can you see the little flecks of peel in there? DSC01944

See the finished product?  It’s pretty!  I pasted the recipe in here from the Food & Wine  website, just so you know.  Read to the end of the recipe–I made a few small changes.

Lemon Bundt Cake

Food & Wine Magazine, December 2012

cake

  1. Nonstick cooking spray
  2. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  3. 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  4. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 2 3/4 cups sugar
  7. 1/3 cup lightly packed finely grated lemon zest (from 10 lemons)
  8. 1/2 cup canola oil
  9. 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  10. 3 large eggs
  11. 3 large egg yolks
  12. 3 tablespoons dark rum
  13. 2 tablespoons pure lemon extract
  14. 3/4 cup heavy cream

lemon syrup

  1. 1/4 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  3. 1 tablespoon dark rum

glaze and topping

  1. 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  2. 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  3. 1 teaspoon almond extract
  4. 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional)
  1. MAKE THE CAKE Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously coat a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust the pan with all-purpose flour. Sift the 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and cake flour into a medium bowl, along with the baking powder and salt.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, use your fingers to rub the sugar with the lemon zest until the sugar resembles pale yellow wet sand. Add the canola oil and cooled butter and beat at medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. Beat in the whole eggs, egg yolks, rum and lemon extract until just incorporated, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the heavy cream and the dry ingredients in 3 alternating batches, starting and ending with the dry ingredients; be sure not to overbeat. Scrape down the side of the bowl and fold the batter until it is blended.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth the surface. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour, rotating the pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack for 30 minutes.
  4. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE LEMON SYRUP In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with the lemon juice and rum and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Let the lemon syrup cool slightly.
  5. Invert the cake onto a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Using a wooden skewer, poke holes evenly all over the cake and brush with the lemon syrup. Let the cake cool completely.
  6. MAKE THE GLAZE AND TOPPING In a medium bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the lemon juice and almond extract until smooth. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Sprinkle the almonds on top and let the glaze set, about 20 minutes. Cut the cake into wedges and serve.
I put 3 Tbl. of lemon extract in the cake, instead of 2 Tbl.  The Meyer lemons are so sweet, you can lose a bit of the lemony sharpness.  In the syrup I added a 1/2 tsp. of lemon extract, again for the same reason.  As far as the glaze goes, you can see it was a bit too thin.  Next time I’d add a bit more powdered sugar, so so much didn’t end up puddling underneath. And finally, it said to bake for 1 hour, which I did.  Next time, however, I’d check it at 50 minutes, and I bet that 55 minutes would be perfect. Now, go make some tea.  This cake begs to be eaten with a cup of tea!
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I’ve Got the World on a (shoe)String…

Okay, here.  Listen to Frank Sinatra crooning for a mo if you want to, and then come back.  Now, Frank has the actual world on a string, what with sitting on a rainbow and all.  I, on the other hand, have a shoestring.

Belts are extraordinarily tight in this house (and not just because I eat too many carbs).  Times are not so good (like I have to tell you this). If Barack Obama is re-elected, and we continue on this course, the deficit will be up to God knows what by the time he finishes his second term.  That makes me feel the way I feel when I open my credit card bill:  panicky. And horrified.  Yes, it was for stuff we needed (refer back to tight belts, above)–well, mostly anyway, but holy moly, it sure adds up.  I’m pretty sure this is what Mr. Obama says when he gets the deficit bill at the end of the month– “Well, it was for stuff that we needed–well, mostly anyway,  but holy moly, it sure adds up.”  But the problem is, I don’t think Mr. Obama feels my panic. Or my horror.

So maybe ask yourself how you are doing now, compared to four years ago.  Yes, Obama inherited a mess.  But boy oh boy did he make it worse.  Please, please, vote for Mitt Romney.  He’s good at this.  Our country needs a CEO, not a professor.  I feel so strongly about this! Well, okay, that’s the end of my stumping. I’d actually do more stumping if I got to wear a straw boater like Samantha Stephens did when she was trying to get a stop light on Morning Glory Circle.  And a sash.  I need a sash.

Moving on! Now, you know how much I love autumn, and my autumn decorations.  In fact you can read last year’s post on the subject.  It seems like every year (for the last, actually, four or so years) I have had to ramp up my thriftiness.  I have purchased no new fall decorations.  Any recent acquisitions I have I scrounged from nature.  There I was, in the park, a crazy lady picking up acorns from under oak trees.  But you have to see them–they are like little textbook symbols of autumn.  So perfect, and I couldn’t just leave them all there to be lawnmowered into oblivion.

And I love the big seeds from the California buckeye trees.  (By the way, the seeds are toxic, so don’t lick them or anything.)  In autumn, the tree produces this odd, pear-shaped fruit that is really just a husk for the seed.  The seeds look like burnished nubbins of wood. Very fall-y. You can also call the seeds “conkers.” Which we do.

Another natural decor item I’m putting to use are the rose hips from my garden.  I purposely did not deadhead the roses after their last bloom in the summer.  I wanted to see how all the rose hips would look, and they are so pretty!

Rose hips and Michael’s scented pinecones

They are perfect for standing in a vase or scattering in with conkers or acorns or, say, pinecones. In fact, I actually did buy one new autumn decoration, but it was cheap ($2.50!).  In Michaels they have mesh bags of scented pinecones.  I love how they smell, all cinnamony. The first day or two they are rawther pungent, but the scent softens pretty quickly and makes the area around them smell delightfully cozy.

While I was out foraging, feeling like a cross between Martha Stewart and Grizzly Adams, I came across these trees with the most beautiful berryish/seedish/flowerish things on them.  I picked just a few sprigs, came home, plunked them in a vase and, if I may say so myself, perfection!

So that, my friends, is this year’s autumnal decorating on a shoestring.  And I do kind of feel like I’ve got the world on a string when I have beautiful things around me.  And so much the better if my beautiful things were free!

And don’t forget–VOTE.

Desolation Field Trip

You have to believe me, I’m really not an active person.  However, I just went on another field trip. This time we went on a hike, up in Desolation Wilderness, at Echo Lakes.  You know, I always think that “hike” sounds a bit over the top.  Usually a “hike” is just a walk on unpaved surfaces, which is pretty much what happened.  That is, until we got to The Bad Part.  Then it really was a hike.  Not a “hike.”

Echo Lakes is a popular place to backpack.  The trailhead consists of a small store, some rawther dicey bathrooms, a boat launch, and some docks.  You have to get a trail pass (so they know who is on the mountain, I guess), but it’s free.  The parking is minimal at the trailhead, but there is plenty on the road. It was very busy when we got there, really not desolate at all! (You know I’m going to work the desolation angle in every chance I get, right?)

Really, it is beautiful up there.  The trail is easily traversed, although quite rocky.  One must keep one’s wits about oneself or else one will face plant on said trail. So I watched carefully as I walked.  The scenery is gorgeous.  This is the vista you see right as you begin the hike, not even breathing heavily yet.

When I hike, it turns out I have a tendency to bustle along.  I feel like I am trying to accomplish something, and when you accomplish things, you do them quickly and efficiently.  This is not, apparently, the correct way to approach hiking, and may well have contributed to experiences in The Bad Part.  Slow and steady is a far more appropriate tack, which I will certainly remember next time. I mean, the trail starts at about 8,000 feet, so I was already out of my depth with regard to the altitude, since  I struggle once I’m above about 5,000 feet.  (I know that sounds like I am constantly tromping through forests at high elevation, but really, nothing could be further from the truth.  I think this was the first time I’d actually hiked since 5th grade camp.)

Everything was going really well.  We were on a trail, moving through the forest, feeling the breeze off Echo Lake cool us.  I did find that I was getting a bit winded, but it’s not surprising, since we were at about 8,000 feet.  We’d stop, have some water and a snack, and keep pushing on.  It wasn’t super easy (remember, I’m not exactly Grizzly Adams), but it was very enjoyable.  Just enough of a challenge.

We saw many lovely cabins around the lake, and look–here’s the one I will buy as a vacation home when I am wondering what to spend that extra million on. It was perfect–unobstructed lake view, big deck, tons of firewood piled outside (I could have a fire in the fireplace probably almost year ’round!), and boat-only access, which I think would certainly keep the riffraff out.  Except, of course, for riffraff like me who stand outside and take pictures.

Okay, about The Bad Part.  Now, I don’t want you to think something horrible happened.  It didn’t!  It’s just that I am something of a tenderfoot, and I pushed too hard.  So we got to a place where two trails diverge, and we took the trail that led to Echo Peak, which is at about 8,900 feet. I was tired and I was huffing and puffing, since it was not only over 8,000 feet at that point, but it was also a very warm day.  The trail had been gradually becoming more and more rocky as we’d progressed, but at this point, all bets were off.  I swear, it looked like the Khumbu Icefall.  You know, on EverestOkay, that may be a teensy bit of an exaggeration.  But it was very steep, with big, loose, shardy cobbles that shifted and slid with every step.  I was struggling so much I forgot to take a picture! So we went about two hundred feet, and I had to stop.  Another hundred feet, stop.  And so it went, for about 300 yards, but I never really fully rested–I wanted to get The Bad Part over with!  Needless to say, I was not having fun.  We finally got to the end of the Khumbu Icefall, and I was kind of in a bad way.  I couldn’t catch my breath, which was scary.  And then I got a little weepy (dare I say desolate?),  which made it even harder to breathe and…and….  Yes, I am a big baby.  I know.  But we asked someone coming down from the peak how much longer, and she said about 45 minutes, and that this trail was a butt kicker.  So that made me feel almost cheerful, that it wasn’t me being completely a wimp. Maybe just partially a wimp.

We kept going for about another 15 minutes, and then we got scared about what would happen if I had a heart attack.  I mean, how embarrassing would it be to have a helicopter airlift me out!  No thank you. So, discretion being the better part of valor, we turned around and began our descent back through The Bad Part, down to lake level.

At the far end of the two Echo Lakes, there is a place to catch a water taxi that takes you back to the trailhead. It didn’t take us too long to get back to the water taxi, and by then I was much calmer and enjoying my hike again. Here is the view of the lake from the taxi stand.  It was shady and cool, and there was a bench.  Phew!  Taking the water taxi was fun.  Speeding along the upper lake was just the right way to cool down, and we got a good view of all the cabins.  The upper and lower lakes are connected by a narrow strait, so the boat slows way down to maneuver through, and then we were back up to speed. The trip took about 10 minutes, and we disembarked at the trailhead.

So tired!  I dragged my sorry behind to the little store, and lo and behold they sold individual beers!  So we sat on the seawall (lakewall?), enjoyed this view, and we each drank a Heineken.  It was delightful, and a perfect way to end the day.

I thought I was getting in a little bit better shape, due to my exercising, but we completely overestimated my fitness.  Or underestimated my lack of fitness.  So next time, I want to go in the fall, when it’s cooler, first of all.  Secondly, I will have been exercising a bit longer so I may be more able to climb to Echo Peak. But I’d like to take the water taxi to the far end of the lake, so that the peak is climbed while my legs and lungs are still fresh. Alternatively, we forget about Echo Peak and just hike around the entire upper and lower lakes. Although, if we did that, we’d miss out on the water taxi ride, which was awfully pleasant. Not sure how to play it next time, but there will definitely be a next time. I’m looking forward to it.

Dog Days of Summer

Stinkin’ hot (technical term)

The dog days of summer last from July 3 through August 11, which coincides with the rising of Sirius, the Dog Star (I didn’t just happen to know that–I read it on The Old Farmer’s Almanac).  The dog days also tend to be very, very hot.  As I write this, it is about 104 degrees out on my porch here in Vacaville.  The air conditioning kicked on at 7:00 this morning, which is never a good sign.  When it’s this hot in Vacaville, I always think it’s kind of the equivalent of getting snowed in, since you pretty much have to stay indoors.  For me, personally, having to stay inside is not a terrible hardship. Staying in the air conditioning, reading, sounds like a pretty good day to me.  The rest of my family, however, begs to differ.  So we went on a field trip.

First order of business was finding somewhere cool to go.  Thus, off to the beach.  Almost two hours from Vacaville, you will find Bodega Bay.  And if you stay on Highway 1 just past Bodega Bay, you come to Sonoma Coast State Park.  The park  consists of a series of beaches.   The

This would be the wine country…

drive is a nice one, not too windy (car sickness always an issue), through California wine country and California milk country. Rolling hills and eucalyptus groves, abandoned barns, tiny towns, and swanky wineries all nestle together in this part of California.

…and this would be the milk country

Before we went, we checked the Weather Channel, and they claimed it would be 80 degrees. We were suspicious, but since it was so hot here, okay, it sounded plausible that it could be that warm over there.  Usually when we go to the beach I pack just short of what I’d need for an arctic expedition, but this time I didn’t.  Well, long story short, I should have.  It was freezing!  And me only in a light little cardi!  But really, we didn’t mind.  It felt good to be cold!  We had long pants on, and when we were sitting we draped ourselves with the towels I’d brought to dry off after wading in the water.

Pebbly beach (different from Pebble Beach)

The beach we go to, and that my family has been going to for more than 40 years, is Wright’s Beach.  It’s got some sand, but most of the beach is pebbly, which I like. It’s got picnic tables out on the beach, as well as up by the parking lot (where it only costs $8 to park all day), and it even has bathrooms that, while not glamorous, are certainly better than, uh,  finding a big rock. You can camp there, too, but we’ve never done that.  Part of the charm of the Sonoma Coast is that it is easy to get to for a day trip, which certainly keeps the cost down.  And I think we all know how much I need to sleep in my own bed.  And not in a sleeping bag.  Ever.

We brought a picnic, which consisted of Ginger-Soy Marinated Spicy Steak Sandwiches, Confetti Orzo Salad, potato chips (you just have to have potato chips on a picnic, in my book), grapes (same), and molasses cookies for dessert.  It was all quite tasty.  After lunch there were strolls on the beach and a rousing game of paddle tennis. And then, just when the fog

Shortly after I took this photo, this rock completely disappeared in the fog!

usually starts to lift, around 3:00, it started to roll in!  About half an hour later, though, it rolled back out, and we could even feel a little warmth from the sun peeking though here and there. It’s a beautiful part of the

Look! Wildlife! A pelican!

state, and certainly

More wildlife! Seals!

worth the outing.  Driving back along the coast, the fog had completely lifted, and you could see the beautiful scenery.  And once we got back home, the heat didn’t feel quite so horrible.  I mean, you know what they say, “For sleep, riches, and health to be truly enjoyed, they must be interrupted.”  I guess that goes for weather, too.  Even the dog days.

Listen to Your Mother! And Make Lunch for Her on Mother’s Day!

Before I forget, I wanted to show you how pretty my Spanish lavender is–it loves Vacaville! You could plant some Spanish lavender for your mother in her garden for Mother’s Day!

Trust me, lady–I know how you feel

Moving on.  I had a bit of a hard day yesterday. No, in the scheme of things it wasn’t tragic.  Well, maybe a little.  I was in a store and I got asked if I wanted the senior citizen discount.  I wasn’t sure whether to punch the clerk in the head or cry. I did neither, but the whole episode certainly did provide fuel for thought.

I remember, when I was about 25, my mother told me that no matter how old you get, you never really feel very different inside.  That once you pass 30, you stop feeling like you are getting older.  That you don’t feel any different than you did when you were about 30, even if you are, say, 48.  Sure, I know that I’ve aged on the outside, but inside?  I still feel pretty young. Now bear in mind my mother died at 66, so I can’t vouch for how she would have felt at 83.  But it’s true–I don’t feel much different than when I was about 30, even though I am fast approaching 50. So I cannot tell you how dismayed I was when the clerk asked me about the senior citizen discount.  “What?? I’m not old!  How could you think I’m that old??” (No, I didn’t say that–I just gasped a little and shook my head.)  The whole thing kind of laid me low.  A little reminder that hell yes,  I’m getting old and looking it.

I know it shouldn’t matter, that every wrinkle and grey hair I have is a testament to the fact that, yes, I am much wiser now that I’m older (no, really, I am), a testament to the woman I have become, and to the life I’ve led, blah blah blah.  YOU get asked if you want the senior citizen discount and tell me how you feel about the life you’ve led and the woman you’ve become.

The age thing, on the whole, doesn’t usually bother me that much–but that was before I knew I looked old enough for the senior citizen discount.  Holy crap!  Am I wasting away my years bemoaning my waxing weight and waning looks? Maybe that’s what my mother was telling me, to appreciate whatever age you are, ’cause you’re only going to keep getting older, no matter how you feel inside.

Ava

Cyd

My mother was very pretty–when she was young she looked a lot like a combination of  Cyd Charisse and Ava Gardner. The shape of Cyd’s face, but with Ava’s eyes. So even when she was older, she still had men (who were a bit older still) look at her, and that’s what prompted our conversation.  We were out shopping one day and she was getting checked out by a man, and she said that you never stop enjoying that feeling of being noticed and appreciated. It was a little gift, really, to pass this knowledge on to me, to remember that the pretty girl is always inside the aging woman.

So here’s a few more of her tidbits:

1.  Stay out of the sun (can’t tell you how much I wish I’d listened to that one).

2.  Stop wishing your life away ( I was always wishing for things to be different than they were).

3.  You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear (all the champagne and chandeliers in the world won’t help–trashy is still trashy).

4.  Pay yourself first (I still have a hard time with this one–keep forgetting to save money).

5. Children (and pets, too, actually!) come to live with you.

6.  Put on a happy face.

I feel completely confident that your own mother has or had little sayings that crop up regularly, and that you still apply to your life.  So be good!  Be nice to her!  Mother’s Day is coming, so make her a nice lunch.  You could start with the Mother’s Day Punch I mentioned last year about this time, and then move on to this easy and very make-aheadable lunch. Oven-fried chicken, tortellini salad, followed by chocolate dipped strawberries?  Delightful.

Oven Fried Chicken with Tortellini Salad

The Chicken:

Water

3 Tbl. salt

8 to 10 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

2 Tbl. butter

1/2 cup flour

1 Tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

About 6 to 8 hours before you plan to cook the chicken, place the chicken in a large bowl. Toss in the 2 Tbl. salt and fill bowl with water, completely covering the chicken. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (or you could use a giant Tupperware, if you were so inclined) and place in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Remove the chicken from the bowl, and dry it well (I put paper towels on a baking sheet, put the chicken on the paper towels, and then dab chicken with more paper towels–it must be dry!). Put the butter in a large roasting pan and put the pan in the oven for a few minutes while it preheats–don’t forget it, though, or it will burn.  Put the timer on if you need to.  Remove the pan when the butter is melted.  Put the flour, remaining 1 Tbl. salt, and the black pepper in a plastic bag.  Add the chicken to the bag, a piece or two at a time, and shake to coat the pieces well with flour.  Shake the excess flour off well. Lay each piece, skin side down, in the butter in the roasting pan. Return the pan to the oven, and cook for 40 minutes.  Turn the pieces over and cook for 20 more minutes.  Remove chicken from pan and drain on paper towels momentarily, then on a rack set over a baking sheet.  Serves 4 – 5

The Tortellini:

9 oz. fresh or frozen cheese tortellini

2 tomatoes, deglopped and chopped

1/2 cup thin slivers of red onion

1/2 cup thin slivers of red (or yellow or orange) bell pepper

1/2 cup small black olives, halved

2 Tbl. chopped Italian parsley

1/3 cup olive oil

3 Tbl. red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, crushed

Cook tortellini according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cool water.  Place tortellini in a bowl, then add onion, bell pepper, olives and parsley.  In food processor combine oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic and whiz to emulsify.  Pour dressing over the salad and let stand about 30 minutes before serving, stirring occasionally.  Serves 4

The Strawberries:

You know how to do this–dip strawberries in melted chocolate!

A Mother’s Day Punch

“Punch” the drink, not “punch” the physical violence.  That wouldn’t be a very good Mother’s Day.  But “punch” the drink makes for a very nice Mother’s Day (or any other time you are having company for brunch or lunch).  This extremely quaffable libation  is not expensive, it is delicious, and it’ll keep both your minimal-drinker friends (and mothers) happy and your wino-in-training friends (and mothers) happy. It works well for a brunch or a lunch, which is perfect since you don’t hear a lot about Mother’s Day dinners (probably because Mom’s usually back on duty by dinnertime).  The fruit juice seems to eliminate the headache that can come with drinking early in the day,  and you can feel slightly virtuous because it is, after all, fruit juice.  And you can feel stylish, too, because punch seems to be turning up more and more as a cost-effective, but still delicious, way to get a large group of people liquored up (and of course I mean that in the most genteel way).

Confession:  this is not a picture of my actual punch (even though it looks just like it).  I didn’t happen to have any photos of punch lying around, and making a batch of punch just for a photo shoot seemed rather wasteful.  And if I had made it I’d have felt compelled to drink it, and…well, no good could have come of that situation. I mean, it’s Tuesday.  Morning.   So I cribbed this picture off the internet.  Mea culpa.

Here’s an interesting tidbit:  the word “punch” is from the Indian (or Urdu? I can’t remember) word for “five,” and a traditional punch always had five ingredients (and now you can see why a “punch” in the nose is called that–Good Lord, more physical violence!).

On to the task at hand.

First of all, a day or two before you are serving the punch, make an ice block.  I like to slice up a lemon and/or an orange (it looks prettiest with both, but use whatever you have), and then place the fruit in a small container ( a square 4-cup Gladware is perfect for the size of my punch bowl).  Put lots of fruit in–you want it to look like a block of frozen fruit, not like an iceberg adrift in your punch bowl.  Then fill the container with water. Place it in the freezer.  After about two hours, push the fruit down into the slushy water (but if the water isn’t “thick” enough yet, come back in a little while) so that there is fruit throughout the block of ice, not just floating at the top.  Freeze at least overnight.

Brunch/Lunch Punch

1 (6 oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate

32 oz. pineapple-orange juice  (I buy a half-gallon of Dole, in the carton, and just use half)

1 bottle well-chilled dry California white wine

1 bottle well-chilled brut California sparkling wine

Mix lemonade concentrate and pineapple-orange juice in punch bowl.  Add bottle of white wine. I usually use an inexpensive (but certainly not rot-gut) sauvignon blanc. (I specified California because hey–we live less than an hour away from one of the world’s greatest wine producing regions, and if that’s not being a locavore, I don’t know what is).  Add ice block. Gently pour bottle of sparkling wine down the side (the inside–do I have to say that?) of the punch bowl (helps minimize carbonation loss) and serve immediately.

Feel free to top up the punch bowl with more champagne and/or more pineapple-orange juice as  it gets drunk. I can’t tell you exactly how much this will serve, due to whether you use those funny little cups that come with the punch bowl, or some heftier, more, uh, thirst-quenching-size glasses.  At my house recently,  seven  people (with large glasses, not the little cups) were kept amply hydrated for the afternoon with these amounts.


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