It’s Juneteenth Y’all!
A Well Needed Refresher
The struggles are real. Some self-inflicted. I have a few friends who blog or put out something ‘weekly’ on the internet. Recently, I mentioned to one how I find this never-ending process of blogging so challenging that I want to quit, literally every week. Their reply was comforting. How they totally understood. How sometimes it feels like one does these things for one’s own entertainment. How it feels like no one is reading. It reminded me why I started this and why I was well-trained as an actor on how to perform. 100 percent for an audience of one or a thousand. So, we press on.
Hibiscus Tea is steeped in History
This Sunday, June 19, is both Juneteenth-America’s 2nd Independence day, and Father’s Day, 10 Great Movies about Dads. It’s also food blog week. Don’t get me started. While editing the video yesterday, once again I ran into a snag and had to call customer support. It’s happened so often, they know me by first name. This young rep, Shubham, from Jaipur, India, was the most pleasant I’d ever encountered. He asked me how the weather was and I shared with him that I had been to his city in India, years ago, and how it was my favorite. This led to the current conditions of each of our respective countries. He told me this ironic, but not surprising, story..
Jaipur, India. The Pink City.
“I was speaking to a woman from your country earlier. Somehow the conversation turned to vaccines. She asked me if everyone in my country was vaccinated. I told her that now over 70 percent of the country has had their jabs,(population over 1.1 Billion), thus virtually mitigating the virus from recurring in a deadly way. She then said to me that, in her country, USA, (population 327 million), most people believe that, if you take the jab, you’re going to become a pedophile.” (US vaccination rate, 66 percent)
Lowers Blood Pressure
Firstly, it’s great to live in the Southwest. While most of the country smolders, we still have June gloom. As a result, the mornings and evenings are cool and the peak of summer heat is still a ways away. Fingers crossed. I don’t do well in the heat. I lose all my congeniality. Thus, I spend most of my day trying to stay cool. I can remember making Kool-Aid as a youngster. I’d dump half the bag of sugar in, eagerly anticipating the rush from the red or grape elixir. It was so thick, all the sugar couldn’t dissolve and some would settle at the bottom having reached max saturation. Success. A diabetic slushy to put me over the edge was my childhood summer aperitif. Good times. Is it any wonder?
Iced Tea or Sweet Tea?
This beloved Juneteenth drink is a modern take on traditional African Hibiscus ginger tea, CB style. Thankfully, I’ve learned to limit or even omit the sugar and appreciate the flavor. Tradition tells us that, this tea, is often used to revitalize the mind, body and soul. Yes, please. From the Juneteenth blog, you’ll remember that the color red is a feature of the food at celebrations. The symbol of bloodshed and resilience in enslavement. Foods like red velvet cake, red beans and rice, watermelon and strawberry soda are favorites. Hibiscus tea, or Bissap, comes from West Africa as it did on the slave ships during the slave trade. The Roselle flowers are easily found online or in your local grocery store. I’m told the fresh flowers yield delicious floral accents. The dried, used in this recipe, I loved.
Hibiscus Tea - CB Style
- 1 Large saucepan or dutch oven
- 1 funnel
- 1 gallon water (3.78 liters)
- 1 cup dried roselle hibiscus flowers or fresh roselle flowers
- 6 whole cloves
- 3 green cardamon pods, folded in parchment papaer and gently crushed by tapping with a heavy bottle or knife handle
- 1 whole star anise, broken
- 1 1/2inch cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
- 6 whole allspice, crushed
- 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
- dash crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp agave or turbinado sugar or honey (optional)
- 1/4 tsp whole coriander seeds
- fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
- In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over high heat, bring the water to a vigorous boil. Add the hibiscus flowers, allspice, ginger, star anise, allspice, cardamom pods, peppercorns and red pepper flakes. Stir and bring back to a rolling boil for 15 minutes. The liquid will evaporate some.
- Remove from heat, add lemon juice, vanilla and agave or preferred sweetener (optional). Stir, cover and let steep for at least 15 and up to 30 minutes. The longer the drink steeps, the deeper red and more flavorful it will become.
- Remove aromatics with a strainer. Stir well and strain the drink through a funnel with a bit of cheesecloth or coffee filter to remove the small bits, into a one gallon pitcher.
- Taste to adjust sweetness, easier to add than take out. Refrigerate until well chilled. At least 1 hour. Stir well before serving, and pour into ice-filled glasses or jars. Garnish with mint sprigs. The drink can also be served hot, if preferred.Enjoy!
I celebrated another birthday this week. Well, more like survived than celebrated. I received many well wishes from those that know the actual day, which are few in number. I spent most of it filming and editing this food video and doing laundry. Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve made it a tradition and something I’ve been doing for decades. The laundry, I mean. Above all, I try to be grateful for being ‘above ground’ and aware that many whom I’ve known are no longer. Perhaps that’s why I really wanted to quit blogging this week. The “what’s it all for?”, theme running through my head as I continue further down the YouTube rabbit hole, spurring lethargy and lack of desire. I try to end these with hope, but, as previously stated, the struggle is real. OK. “Spread Joy!” There, I did it. Phew. Gotta go and lay down now. Pray for me. Thanks for reading.
Robert Risko drew this for my birthday and posted it on social media. He’s an artist for Vanity Fair! How cool is that! He only draws like, really famous people! WTH!