Morning Juice

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Am I weird for wanting to bro out every so often? Go camping for 4 days without showering, call everyone “dude” and let them call me that right back?

Girls do that, right? Because I definitely do that. Often.

For one thing, I’m a sucker for action movies. Give me a pair of 3D glasses and a fistful of popcorn and I’m all set for the next 2.5 hours. This is the first summer since childhood that I’ve made it a point to watch nearly every blockbuster that comes out.

Except Fast & Furious part 1289494. Why do those exist?

I think bro-ing out is important to keeping a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Sure, there’s running a 5K, practicing yoga, and cutting out processed foods — but sitting down for a few evenings with a cheap can of beer, a blazing fire and conversations amid farts? It reminds me that there’s a chunk of me that doesn’t care about nail polish, brushing my hair, or that parachute pants are back in style (Seriously, when did that happen?).

But don’t worry guys, I’m still here. By Sunday morning, I’m looking up recipes for kale salad and pulverizing vegetables into juice.

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Kale, celery. I’m really sorry for what I’m going to do to you. It’s going to be loud. It’s not going to be pretty. It’s borderline plant murder.

Also, hey, I know not everyone has a juicer. They’re expensive, bulky, and you really have to be willing to deal with a single-purpose contraption, unlike blenders, which make smoothies, margaritas and salsa. But the juicer I just bought was $100 and it’s probably the best thing I’ve bought all year. Actually, here’s a list of my favorite kitchen things.

So nix that end-of-summer clothing shopping spree and invest in something with a little more sustenance.

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I’ve made four different kinds of juices thus far without using a recipe. I’ve yet to make a bad batch because a) vegetables taste delicious and b) it’s all about balancing the greens with the sweets.

For example! If you’re packing in 4 cups of spinach or kale, make sure you complement it with sweet beets and pears. Apples are also spectacular sweeteners and give you an energy boost in the morning similar to coffee.

Oh, and ginger. In everything. Please.

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I should paint my nails in that color.

Morning Juice.

4-5 stalks lacinato kale
1 large pear
2 large carrots
1 chunk ginger, about a 1″ cube
2 small beets
6-7 stalks cucumber
1 large cucumber

Shove the ingredients in the blender in the order listed above. It’s always good to start juicing with leafy greens.

Serve with ice or at room temperature. You can make a large batch at night and drink it in the morning so you don’t wake up your roommates with what sounds like an alien spaceship hovering in the kitchen.

Makes about 20oz of juice.

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Beet Smoothie

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Never have I ever gone skiing.

Never have I ever shaved my eyebrows (People do that, right?).

Never have I ever slipped on a banana peel.

Never have I ever done a cartwheel.

Never have I ever run a marathon.

And never have I ever thought I would ever call myself a runner, but after demolishing one pair of shoes and successfully killing a 5K with a time of 24 minutes, I’d say it’s about time I put away the notion that my bones are “too weak” for running or my body “isn’t built” for a marathon.

I mean, I’m not doing today’s Boston Marathon. Because that’d just be crazy. But maybe this time next year, my Never Have I Evers will be a little different.

You know, “Never have I ever ridden a unicycle” or “Never have I ever done a triathlon” or “Never have I ever hung out with a sloth.”

Oh my god why haven’t I hung out with a sloth yet?

Start to cross off your nevers.

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That’s it. Beets, bananas, flax. And some almond milk. Maybe some honey if sweetness is what you crave before a run. Or after? This could be a great recovery drink, too.

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Blender, where would I be without you? My mornings would be smoothieless and filled with other breakfast things like cereal and donuts. Thanks to you, I’ve made coworkers drool and effectively woken up my roommates at 7 a.m. to the sound of your engine.

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Yes, that’s a sparkly pink straw.

Beet smoothie.

1 medium beet, roasted or boiled and chopped into cubes
2 ripe bananas, sliced and preferably frozen
1 tablespoon ground flax
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon honey, to taste

Blend it together and what have you got?

Enough for two runners-but-not-marathoners on a Monday morning.

Not Your Average Salads and White Wine Sangria

Five things I did this weekend (that you may or may not want to do, too):

Slept in until noon. Oh, the joys of light-blocking curtains and quiet neighbors.

Learned “Something” on the ukulele.

Took a walk despite having to wear a brace.

Found a treasure trove of heirloom tomatoes and kale with a sign reading “These are all free! Please help yourself!”

Succumbed to a Martha Stewart recipe for quick pickled cucumber.

It wasn’t a moment of weakness. She had the easiest recipe for a salad I first tried ages ago during a Fourth of July barbecue. Let’s not talk about this ever again? Thanks.

Oh wait. Guys. I also made white wine sangria with infused mint simple syrup. That one’s all me.

Above-average salads start with a mandolin slicer and crisp cucumber. And if you’re like me, here’s a word of advice: Use those little hand protector things that hold the vegetable you’re slicing. It’ll save you from getting nicked when you get too close to the blade. I…let’s not talk about it.

Thinly sliced onions. Apple cider vinegar. Salt and pepper. Tossed and marinated overnight. Martha, you got me on this one.

Oh wait, I made this, too. Am I going too far? Am I just spewing out photos of things I whipped up? It’s okay, I have some catching up to do. This bean salad doesn’t even need dressing. That’s how good it is. And yeah, those are baby heirlooms from the vegetable angels.

Of course, what Labor Day weekend would be complete without some white wine sangria? More nectarines means more reasons to cling to every last sinew of summer. And pinot grigio means fewer excuses to run to the bathroom to brush your teeth because of wine teeth. Crisis averted.

Hi. My name is Mimi. You look like a refreshing summer beverage. Let’s be friends.

Quick pickled cucumber salad

adapted from Martha Stewart

4 cucumbers, thinly sliced with a mandolin or steady hands
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

Chuck everything into a bowl, toss lightly and cover before putting into the fridge to rest over night.

Black-eyed pea salad

adapted from Didi Emmons

4 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
6oz mozarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8 large sticks of celery, chopped into 1/4 inch sections
handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

Throw everything in a bowl and toss. Eat immediately.

White wine sangria

2 bottles dry white wine, such as pinot grigio or chardonnay
1 litre club soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup hot water
4-5 sprigs of mint, de-stemmed and rinsed thoroughly
1/2 pint raspberries
1/2 pint blueberries
1/2 pint blackberries
1-2 nectarines, sliced

In a small sauce pan, bring the water to a near boil before turning off the heat and adding the sugar. Stir constantly until all of the sugar crystals are dissolved. Add the mint leaves and let infuse for at least 30 minutes. Sieve through a wire mesh to get the leaves out before adding to the sangria.

In a large bowl, pour in the wine and all the fruit. Add the infused simple syrup and stir gently. Let sit for at least 4 hours so the fruit soaks up the wine and vice versa.

Just before serving, add club soda and garnish each glass with fresh mint.

Ramos Gin Fizz

I get excited about little things.

Little things that, to me, are actually big ol’ things. Like finding a park near my new pad that has countless sprinklers spraying from about 3 p.m. to dusk. Making incredible batches of iced jasmine tea. Rediscovering The Shins. Or learning that even the smartest minds in the world are just as curious about outer space as we are.

Despite being a big kid, I want to play in those sprinklers. I want to have singalongs with The Shins and The Doobie Brothers. I want to taste flavors that remind me of my childhood home, like the jasmine scent of the upholstery at my dad’s old theatre.

It’s the itty bitty things that keep me from pressing snooze, and the curiosity in me that leads me to a bottle of orange blossom water that makes Ramos Gin Fizzes absolutely perfect for what might be one of the last few remaining beautiful summer evenings left in Boston.

Nectarines and peaches might be in season, but citrus will never be out of style. Especially in a zinger of a cocktail.

The beautiful thing about a Ramos fizz is that it doesn’t require mulling, crazy contraptions or outrageous flavor combinations. Just all of the ingredients, in a shaker, frothed with the power of your wrists and poured, quite generously, over a few ice cubes.

It’s perspiring. And my pupils may or may not be dilating just looking at it.

Ramos Gin Fizz.

makes 2 buzzworthy beverages

6 ounces gin
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 ounces fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 ounces heavy cream or milk of your choice (I used 2%)
2 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon orange blossom water
ice
club soda, to taste

In a large shaker, combine all of the ingredients except the ice and club soda and shake vigorously for at least a minute. Add several ice cubes and shake for another 30 seconds. Pour into two glasses over a few cubes of ice and top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with thinly sliced lemon and lime.

Hibiscus Lemonade with Blueberry Ice

Listen, summer.

Remember the time I said, “Dude, I’m so ready for you?”

You kind of called my bluff.

Well, yeah, duh, I’ve had swimsuits at the front of my dresser since February and dresses at the ready since the sun first started peaking out. But I haven’t gotten a grill yet. I don’t have skewers or charcoal. I don’t have glittered sandals, and my sunscreen stock is pretty low.

Memorial Day is all up in my face with the smell of barbecues and sound of splashing pools.

And lawnmowers. So many lawnmowers.

But look, summer. I’ve always been a procrastinator, so just hold your horses until I cram in a much-needed Hibachi into my life, okay? There’ll be cross-hatched vegetables everywhere.

This morning started with some blueberry ice. The ingredients are in the name. Do it with strawberries, blackberries, whatever-erries, and use them to flavor water or any alcoholic beverage of your choice. Drink responsibly.

Lemonade starts with lemons.

Hibiscus lemonade starts with lemons and dried hibiscus leaves. You can get these at Turkish markets or any natural foods store.

Maybe I should become a beekeeper and call it a day.

Seriously, mix this with rum or gin. Or vodka, if you’re into that kind of stuff. No drama.

Pink lemonade should always be made with hibiscus syrup. Who on earth was the guy (girl?) who invented pink lemonade and didn’t think about hibiscus? Missed a golden opportunity.

I spilled. Does burlap stain? Ugh, I hope not.

Hibiscus Lemonade with Blueberry Ice.

For the blueberry ice:

Throw in some blueberries into an ice tray. Cover with water. Freeze for at least six hours before using.

For the hibiscus lemonade:

2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried hibiscus
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 cups water (adjust for taste)

Bring first 2 cups of water to a boil and pour into heat-resistant bowl with hibiscus leaves. Steep for about 6 minutes before straining. Add honey while the tea is still hot and mix well.

In a large bowl, pour in the sugar before adding another 4 cups of boiling water. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Add the lemonade to the sugar water and stir, adding more water to suit your taste buds.

Let lemonade and hibiscus tea cool in the fridge before adding to plain or blueberry ice.

Makes about 7 cups of lemonade.