by Kate Heyhoe
If you're not sweating or sitting pretty in a room of Freon-chilled air right now, you're probably wintering in the Southern Hemisphere. Where I sit, in the Sun Belt north of the equator, summer has evolved into a vicious, fire-breathing monster. Blistering days are tamed by icy chilled drinks, refreshing juices, and fruity smoothies. At night, when the sun's not looking, we dare to venture outdoors, rendezvousing at the cook's summer savior: the barbecue grill. And to set the mood, we spin out with a taste of cool jazz and rhythmic beats.
Iced tea is arguably the nation's unofficial summer drink, and here in Texas, it's drunk all year long, by all ages, at all times of day, from sunrise to midnight. When the temperature is too hot to even raise the blinds, boiling water can be a main deterrent for making iced tea from scratch. So most folks rely on instant ice tea powder, a modern convenience spooned from a jar but which just doesn't pack the flavor of fresh brewed leaves.
Good news: Making fresh iced tea without kitchen heat is no dilemma, thanks to the Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker. Simply fill water and ice to the lines on the machine, drop some tea bags or loose leaves into the brewing compartment (or ground coffee for iced coffee), and punch a button. In minutes, up to three quarts of fresh brewed tea are steeped to your preference, from light to dark, and instantly chilled. Plus, the insulated pitcher keeps the tea icy for quite a while, without taking up room in the fridge, and without heating up the kitchen.
Traditional iced tea tastes like a million bucks when freshly brewed, and specialty and herbal teas can taste even better. It's fun to play apothecary or mad scientist with teas, blending fruity berry ones with tart citrus flavors, and devising mildly caffeinated concoctions or high-octane jitter makers. Republic of Tea sells straight premium tea and its own blends, such as Pink Grapefruit Green Tea, Wild Blueberry, and Pineapple Ginger. For a grab-and-go solution, their White Iced Tea line (Honeydew Melon or Orange Blossom are two flavors) comes ready-made in plastic bottles to pack in car or picnic basket.
Consider, too, the Tulsi Tea Collection from Organic India. Made from an herb known as Holy Basil, the naturally caffeine-free tea is anti-oxidant rich and reputedly contains stress-relieving and energizing components known as adaptogens. It's a multi-purpose healing herb in India, and in Thailand, holy basil is cooked in stir-fries and soups, adding a peppery bite. I can drink it as iced tea all day long, and the Organic India folks offer it pure, or blended with ginger, Darjeeling, Chai and other flavors.
If you think of thermos bottles as just for hot beverages consider this: brew up a concentrated batch of ice tea, carry it in the thermos to work or play, and pour it over ice to keep that cold tea refreshment flowing all day long. Or, blend up a smoothie and take it with you for a mid morning or late afternoon cooler, no matter where you wind up in the day. The brushed stainless Mr. Coffee thermos bottles and travel mugs are particularly stylish and effective. Oh, and yes, they also work for hot beverages as well. (My favorite use: cold soups for picnics, like gazpacho or vichyssoise.)
Now, what goes better with chilled drinks than hot barbecue? I've assembled below some recipes for chillers and grillers. And to make the party really sizzle, check out some taste tingling beats from the good folks at Putumayo World Music. A few of their CD's even come with recipes, like Afro-Latin Party's recipe for Sofrito, or the Mali CD's Meat in Peanut Sauce. I'm stuck on one of their newest releases, Italian Café, which takes me back to Venezia, with songs like the throaty Cannelloni and the kitschy Un Bacio a Mezzanotte (A Kiss a Midnight). Buon Appetito!
Hot Grills, Big Chills and Cool Summer Cookbooks
Dozens of recipes from our archives for grilling and chilling
Copyright © 2005, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created July 2005
Copyright © 1994-2017,