Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Ideal Cocktail

Oh damn.

I guess, I need to get down to it.  It is the day before T'day.  I have been poking the sleeping bird in the fridge, not to wake it as much as to determine the extent of frostbite.  DH bought a frozen turkey.  2 days to defrost in the refridgerator, the label reads.  Today is day #3 and it's still a solid avian iceberg.   So this morning, cup of coffee in hand, I figured today is going to be turkey spa day.  I filled the sink with cold water, as the label directs and hoisted Mr. Tom into the sink for a long, long soak.

I am a turkey virgin.  I normally find making reservations the best cure for the stress of holiday cooking.   But this year, I couldn't make up my mind: the gorge-til-you-drop buffet at our Favorite Indian restaurant.  I know, it's vegetarian, but the paneer is to die for.  Or should we aim the $200 fancy-dancy formal black tie restaurant up in secluded Marin. I would have loved to get all dressed up, but I know DH, he'd rather stick red hot pins in his eyes than don a suit and tie and drive for 2 hours and pay $200 to eat would be too tired from work, and deserved a day of football on the TV. So, good wife that I am (plus, I am going to be sure that the $200 we save, will be put to good use on Friday),  I suddenly morphed into Suzy-where's-my-drink-Homemaker.

Cooking all day tomorrow fills me with an odd combination of awe and dread.

Doesn't this just make you wanna pour a stiff cranberry ('tis the season!) and vodka martini?

I wish. Silly me, I gave up cocktails after my last job.  Or more precisely, I gave up drinking many, many cocktails at one sitting.   I've been good too, not a drop of vodka has crossed the transom since my decision to face life sober.  If it's in the apartment, it's mine, all mine, to drink.   Actually, my decision to limit my drinking was hardly based on anything as noble as wishing to be sober.  The quest for sobriety played nary a factor in my decision.  Not at all. My choice was based on vanity born from the shock of a double digit dress size.

I swore off buying vodka one day after DH had to help me zip up a dress.  Pliers should never find a place among your beauty tools.  I figured 'twas time to go on a diet.  Calculating that I was consuming enough calories to support a small island inhabited with natives who only thrived on pie and fried chicken, I figured I would forgo the greasy lunches, forage like a bunny on salad for dinner, but give up my cocktails?  My math surely was off.

I actually spent the next week obsessed with googling low-cal or ever the optimist, no calorie vodka.  There's nothing out there.  Organic vodka, artisnal small batch vodka, vodka flavored with exotic fruits or even chocolate or jalapenos, but calorie-free vodka?  Believe me, if ever there was a niche market, there it is. One could make billions.

Vodka, it seems has the least calories of any alcoholic beverage.  It's super fat packing properties, as with all alcohol, comes from its ability to turn into sugar once ingested which circumvents the liver's ability to metabolize the stuff.  Sugar = fat.  Thus, the stuff packs on the pudge like nobody's business and a lot quicker than a month of evenings spent in front of the TV while eating boxes of Ding Dongs and planks of chedder cheese and peanut butter crackers. Drinking cocktails with a devil-may-care abandon has the same effect as injecting bacon fat directly into your butt and thighs and (for me) arms and belly and face (everywhere, except, unfortunately, my hair--fat hair would be nice). 

This sad, lard dripping realization is as traumatic as finding out that Santa Claus is a fraud or that Prada can sometimes be found at TJ Maxx (I mean, if you can buy a Prada purse at a discounter, then everyone else can, making it democratic not special).  Besides, if I really had my choice, I'd prefer my caloric excesses to be chewable.

What I soon discovered was that besides missing inches, I missed that constant jagged fuzziness called a hangover. Mother Nature is a cruel and horrible shrew at times.  One of her best and perhaps cruelest of jokes is that once you pass 30, hangovers seem to last a lot longer. An eternity longer. Now, mornings are no longer things to fear.  I can now put on mascara and not feel as if my eyelashes are bruised.   More importantly, after a bit, my skirts suddenly zipped without help from tools from the garage. Stoked by less of me, I figured I could hasten my shrinkage if I actually got up and moved as well. 

I discovered that moderation and movement make the ideal cocktail.  I am serious about never saying no to anything that tastes good or makes me feel good.  Pleasure  rocks!  I don't kill myself running, and I never turn down a cocktail.  I just turn down the 3rd and 4th! and I make sure to put movement somewhere into my day. To me, this seems the most healthy.  I can never understand people who derive smugness from self-deprivation.  Where's the fun in that?  I think I'd rather have the chocolate and the chance to share it.  

In fact, the other night, DH and I stopped for cocktails and I had a mojito made not with the traditional mint, but cilantro.  Yeah, cilantro...pretty cool.  But since DH ordered a plate of crab puffs, I had only the one drink in favor of half of the crab puffs.  With the caloric save, I didn't feel the urge to pick up a spoon to check my reflection to see whether or not I had suddenly grown pointy ears and a piggy nose. 

So for Thanksgiving, I have am anticipating a glass or two from wicked bottle of Shiraz DH picked up last night and just a healthy serving of everything!

Besides the turkey...I'm making a red wine and cherry reduction to glaze the bird:

Here's an easy recipe--it's good on almost any meat:

Red Wine & Cherry Glaze

2 cups of good red wine
1 12oz  bag of frozen cherries (unsweetened)
2 tbl of honey
1 tbl minced garlic
1 tbl minced ginger
a dash of thyme and red pepper flakes

Simmer until the wine reduces by 1/2.  Use a pastry brush to baste the glaze on the turkey, chicken or pork.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with lots of good things--if ya gotta pig out, pig out on the love and warmth of family and friends.  If that doesn't work, go ahead, pour yourself a stiff one!  But just one or two!

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