Saturday, February 6, 2021

Self Care


It's so God damned cold today I can barely make it through my morning workout. I pushed it from the usual 7am to 3 hours later allowing for the outside temperature to rise from 12 degrees to a tolerable 20 degrees. But 20 degrees has proven to be less than bearable, and I dragged myself through the neighborhood all in the name of getting some fresh air.

I've been popping vitamin D pills and trying to remember to take fish oils after each meal to lower my cholesterol. Going to bed at a decent hour, avoiding stress, eating pretty well and exercising. All of the things that one is "supposed" to do in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But honestly, I don't know how well all this is working. The only thing that truly feels like self-care is my daily dose of vitamin C shaken with vodka and ice and served in a chilled martini glass. 

You may think I am joking, but I am not. I come by this healthy advice honestly. My grandmother, a retired nurse who lived into her nineties, notoriously hated salad and I never once saw her eat a piece of fresh fruit. But she enjoyed good health throughout her years which must be somehow attributed to her daily ritual of a cocktail before dinner. Vodka and Fresca (a carbonated soft drink made with grapefruit juice) later gave way to vodka and lemonade which she enjoyed served in a tall glass with ice, gently stirred. 

My grandmother began her evening this way whether at home, dining out on the town or attending a family gathering, of which there have been many hosted by Val. My mother taught us our manners well. Upon our guests' arrival, we took their coats and offered a beverage. Of course, we knew Grammy's choice and had the ingredients ready. She didn't mind a heavy pour but always admonished us when we attempted to stir her drink with a table knife, for lack of proper bar ware, "Don't stir with a knife, you will stir strife!", she warned which left the junior bartender charged with making her drink to stir it with a fork or her finger when Grammy wasn't looking.

While I was growing up, my grandmother escaped the harsh New England winter months to her condo in Florida. We went sledding, made snowmen and shoveled driveways while she golfed and swam in the pool. Then, eventually, she pointed her Cadillac north and made her way home. I anticipated her arrival with excitement. She always brought gifts for each of us along with bags of fragrant smelling Florida oranges and juicy grapefruits. I didn't like the grapefruit, but my sister devoured them for breakfast sliced in half and caked in granulated sugar. I preferred the oranges, quartered and served in a small bowl, juices running down my forearms as I sat on the floor after school and watched re-run episodes of Gilligan's Island until my mother made me shut off the t.v. and go outside to play.

My taste in assorted citrus fruit has expanded along with the offerings in local supermarkets. Blood oranges, Cara Cara, Ruby Red grapefruit and more can be found on any day during the frosty winter months. I look forward to their arrival in the produce department and grab bags of them for various recipes: Sweet Orange Marmalade, a favorite fancy citrus salad and of course, cocktail experimentation. My new favorite: Blood Orange Margarita. Not only is it beautiful to behold, bright and welcoming while the snow is falling outside but it is also tart, not too sweet. Mixing one puts a smile on my face. The same feeling, I get when I see the sun shining bright in a clear blue February sky. I know that the arrival of springtime isn't far behind. And I pat myself on the back for taking pretty damn good care of myself at the end of a cold, harsh winter day.

Blood Orange Margarita

(makes one)

1 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed juice f(rom one medium sized blood orange)

1 oz. lime juice (from 1/2 medium sized lime)

2 teaspoons agave 

1/4 oz. triple sec

2 oz. tequila

lime wheel or 1/2 orange wheel for garnish (optional)

  Fill a martini or margarita glass with ice and water. Set aside to chill.

 Add all ingredients except garnish to a shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously for 15-30 seconds. Empty ice water from chilled glass. Strain cocktail from shaker into chilled glass, garnish and serve.

Blood Orange Martini

(makes one)

1 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from one blood orange)

1/2 oz. lime juice (from one 1/4 lime)

3/4 oz. St Germaine elderflower liquor

1/2 teaspoon agave 

2 oz. vodka

lime wedge or wheel for garnish

Fill a martini glass with ice and water. Set aside to chill.

Add all ingredients except garnish into shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 15-30 seconds. Empty ice water from chilled glass. Strain cocktail from shaker into chilled glass, garnish and serve.