The Hoppy Okapi

A 2012 Pacific Crest Trail Adventure

Sangria Drink-Through #5: Persimmon, Pomegranate, and Tangerine Sangria December 28, 2008

Filed under: 101Things,sangria,wine — Amanda @ 14:18
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This winter fruit combo was our Christmas sangria, paired with baby back ribs in a coffee-barbecue sauce.

Persimmon, Pomegranite, Tangerine Sangria

Recipe: Persimmon, Pomegranite, Tangerine Sangria

It was the first time I’d ever had a persimmon, so that was the exotic part of this sangria – I got two Fuya persimmons, orange fruits that look like firm tomatoes with leafy tops.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Liberating the pomegranite seeds was the most time-consuming part of the sangria. Last time I had a pomegranate, I followed the recommendation from The Joy of Cooking to soak the pomegranate pieces in water and let the seeds separate from the skin and the little white connective pieces float to the top. This time, I just cut the fruit into sections and plucked out the seeds, and I think it was actually faster and less messy – only a few drops of scarlet juice found their way onto the floor!

Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate Seeds

The recipe said that the persimmons should be peeled, seeded, and quartered; but when I cut my first persimmon open, I found that it had more of a core than a seed, and when I checked Joy of Cooking for more info I learned that Fuya persimmons don’t need to be peeled unless the peel is bitter-tasting, so I tasted my persimmon (mildly sweet, like a slightly astringent pear) and decided to just core and slice them before adding to the sangria.

Pomegranates, Tangerines and Persimmons

Pomegranates, Tangerines and Persimmons

I mixed the fruit together, trying to crush some of the pomegranate seeds so they added more flavor to the sangria, then added the Triple Sec (the recipe called for Mandarine Napoleon, which is apparently a Grand Marnier-like tangerine liquor, but I went with a more basic liquor) and the red wine, a very dry Spanish red that I found in the organic wine section at Trader Joe’s.

Fruit and Wine

Fruit and Wine

When it was time to serve, I added the sparkling water and piled each glass with tangerine slices and pomegranate seeds. This was a really good sangria, and paired well with our barbecue ribs. It was dark and dry, with the tangerine flavor coming through to add perfume, and combining with the pomegranates to bring a hint of sweetness to the drink.

sangria_finiI’m not sure if the persimmons added much flavor to the sangria – maybe my persimmons were poor examples of the fruit, or just not ripe enough, but I felt like the sangria would be just as good without them.

 

Kittens’ First Christmas

Filed under: holidays,kitties — Amanda @ 11:25
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Athena and Zephyr eventually learned to stop playing in the Christmas tree, but they had a lot of fun on Christmas morning with both our presents and theirs!

Zephyr checks out the curly ribbon

Zephyr likes the curly ribbon

Athena examines the presents

Athena examines the presents

Athena tries to open an umbrella

Athena tries to open an umbrella

Athena runs off with her new toy

Athena runs off with her new toy

Zephyr finds the toy, abandoned in styrofoam peanuts

Zephyr finds the toy, abandoned in styrofoam peanuts

while Athena plays with a ribbon...

while Athena plays with a ribbon...

Zephyr attacks!

Zephyr attacks!

 

Sangria Drink-Through #4: Limonada Espana December 22, 2008

Lemons and Peaches

Lemons and Peaches

I’m trying to make the sangrias for my drink-through when the required fruits are in season, but sometimes it doesn’t quite work out. I wanted to make a sangria for my Christmas cookie baking party, but the seasonal sangrias that I hadn’t already tried (grapefruit sparkling, pomegranite/persimmon/tangerine) seemed a little too risky to make for the first time for a party. (Well, the grapefruit sangria seemed to risky, and I just didn’t feel like messing around with pomegranite seeds that weekend!) So instead I chose a semi-seasonal sangria instead – Limonada Espana.

Limonada Espana recipe

Limonada Espana recipe

I stocked up on fresh lemons – the recipe takes two lemons plus a half-cup of lemon juice! – but I had to settle for canned peaches from Trader Joe’s instead of fresh.

Sangria Ingredients

Sangria Ingredients

Since the peaches were preserved in white grape juice, I cut down a little bit on the added sugar. The featured liquor in this sangria is Liquor 43 (Cuarenta Y Tres), a Spanish vanilla flavored liquor with 43 ingredients in its top secret recipe.

Lemons, Peaches, sugar, Liquor 42, lemon juice

Lemons, Peaches, sugar, Liquor 43, lemon juice

Adding wine to the fruit

Adding wine to the fruit

Since we did our grocery shopping on the same morning as the party, this sangria had only about six hours for the flavors to meld before serving. it turned out well, but I think the lemon flavor overwhelmed the peaches, and I probably should have added the full amount of sugar because it was still pretty tart – I think Chuck added extra sugar to his.

The finished sangria

The finished sangria

Eating the wine-soaked peaches was fun, but I suspect that  fresh peaches would have lent more peachy flavor to the finished product. Overall, there are other red wine sangrias that I prefer over this one, but I’d be interested in trying this fruit combination with a citrusy white wine sometime in the summer.

 

Adventures in Sourdough III: Pizza December 19, 2008

Sourdough pizza was actually Chuck’s ulterior motive in buying sourdough startes for my birthday, and I, armed with newly purchased Italian-style flour from King Arthur, was happy to oblige. I made pizza on the same weekend as the sourdough pitas, so my starter was active and ready to bake. The recipe in the booklet that came with my Italian starter called for an entire kilo of flour to make six thin-crust pizzas; since we were only going to have pizza for dinner for two nights I meant to make only 2/3 of a recipe, but I forgot to scale my measurements and ended up making the whole thing (and we got to have pizza for an extra night!).

The Italian 00 flour (which I ended up using nearly all of with just this one recipe) was ultra-silky to the touch. The King Arthur version is also low protein (8.5%), but I did some research afterward and learned that the numeric rating for Italian flours actually refers to the grind. “00” is the finest grind, and it actually comes in diverse protein levels – I saw one online with 11.5%, similar to an all-purpose flour, and I have no idea what the protein level is of the brand that I found at a local Italian deli (hooray for living in Little Italy!).

Here, the giant blob of about-to-be-kneaded sits on my kneading mat. It was very soft, and although it got more elastic as I kneaded, I suspect that I should have kneaded it even more.

pizza dough, before kneading

pizza dough, before kneading

After one proofing once, the dough for the two pizzas we made on the first night was shaped and left out to proof again. (The dough for the other pizzas was put into the refrigerator imediately after kneading to keep it from over-proofing.)

after kneading and rising, the dough was formed into rounds (proto-pizzas!)

after kneading and rising, the dough was formed into rounds (proto-pizzas!)

After stretching the dough into shape and proofing again, we started topping the pizzas – since these were thin crust pizzas, a light hand with the toppings worked well. Here we used light layers of pepperoni and fresh mozzarella (dry thoroughly first if using water-packed cheese!), plus roasted garlic and drained canned tomatoes.

fresh mozzerella, pepperoni, roasted garlic

toppings: fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, roasted garlic, tomatoes

We then put on the final touches – parmesan cheese and herbs – and put the pizza in the oven – heated to 500 degrees F, with baking stone.

after sprinkling with parmesan - ready for the oven

after sprinkling with parmesan and herbs - ready for the oven

One of the key things we learned about this dough is that it’s very delicate after shaping and proofing. the first night, we didn’t think to shape the pizzas on parchment, and the second round ended up sticking too it’s rising surface too much to be transferred to the baking peel. It had to undergo an emergency re-shaping, and the texture of the baked pizza suffered as a result. The second evening (when we baked all four remaining pizzas), we let the pizzas rise on parchment, and then transferred the parchment to the stone along with the pizza. This worked well – with the caveat that it’s important to trim the parchment to just about the same size as the pizza; otherwise the corners of the parchment will start to singe and you’ll be on oven-fire-watch until the pizza has finished baking. (Or perhaps a Super Peel would solve my pizza transfer problems…hmmm, it would be sad if my current peel had an unfortunate accident…)

Here’s the pizza from the first night that turned out well – the crust was thin and wonderfully crispy, with a little chewiness at the edges.

Baked to crispy perfection!

Baked to crispy perfection!

We had a lot of fun making the pizzas, despite the frustrations with the fragile crusts. Chuck made a barbecue chicken pizza that turned out really well, and I made a delicious one with kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes. Chuck actually prefers a chewier crust for his pizzas, so next time we do sourdough pizza it will probably be from a different recipe, but I’m looking forward to getting another bag of 00 flour and giving this another try.

 

Christmas Christmas Time is Near December 15, 2008

Time for Toys and Time for Cheer!

We got our Christmas tree just over a week ago – we’ve been away from home for the past few Christmases, so it’s been three or four years since we last put up a tree. We had some concerns about the kittens attacking the tree this year, so we got a small one and decorated it with only non-fragile ornaments. It was fun (and a little overwhelming!) to get all of our Christmas decorations out of storage and go through them to pick the ornaments for the tree. We struck a good bargain though – I decorated the tree, and Chuck packed up the ornament boxes back and took them back down to storage!

our Christmas tree with its purple lights

our Christmas tree with its purple lights

We have a fun mix of our childhood ornaments and newer ones, but the most fun thing for me was finding all of my Madeline ornaments – I have five different kinds! They’re mostly visible (if kind of small) in this picture:

Christmas tree - how many Madelines do you see?

Christmas tree - how many Madelines do you see?

Trying to keep the kitties out of the tree has been challenging! Most of the time they don’t mean to attack it, but it’s a convenient hiding place to attack each other from, and so we hear the bell on the bottom branches ring a lot when they’re feeling playful. Other times though, their curiosity gets the best of them, and so every evening I do an ornament check to see if they’ve knocked anything down. Last week a Madeline took a dive:

xmas_tree_madeline

Poor Madeline and Genevieve!

I’m happy to report that Madeline and Genevieve were unharmed in their fall! Unfortunately I think the kitties are becoming immue to the squirt-of-water deterrent method – they keep going back to the tree no matter how many squirts they get!

This weekend I had a Christmas cookie baking party, where we listened to The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas and When My Heart Finds Christmas, and made some old favorites:

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies:

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies

And Buttermilk Sugar Cookies:

Colorful Sugar Cookies

Colorful Sugar Cookies

They’re not the most stylishly decorated cookies, but they do have bright colors and sprinkles. Plus I added some crushed candy canes to the white frosting to turn it into peppermint frosting – it was the hit of the evening!

Merry Christmas!

 

 
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