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!
Yes, Chris, I pray for you!
Thank you Beverly!🙏🏾
Awesome news all way around . 🤗🤗Thank you. Belated Happy Birthday Birt! Prayers always!
The only prayer we ever need utter is Thank You. So grateful for you on planet earth! Keep blogging, keep cooking, keep being you, all are so perfectly perfect and divinely unique, yes you– Chris Birt! Happy Belated Birthday!!!
Thanks Kimm! You’re very kind and very supportive and I appreciate it so much. ❤️
Hey Chris, belated happy birthday. I missed it! No excuses but many apologies. I cannot say that I have ever tasted Hibiscus tea however, you have really gotten my interest up. Looking forward to trying this mouth watering elixir. Thought I knew a bit about June teenth but I am learning a lot from your blogs. Be encouraged, keep it coming. Remember, most things of value come with a price. Love you, Uncle Floyd.
Thanks Uncle Floyd! Love you too!
So good! Thanks Chris! Omg, the memories of my childhood you invoked with the kool aid! I do remember doing that too! Dumping so much cool aid in the glass, it was a syrup! It took literally minutes to drain the sludge from the tilted glass into my mouth. Quite disgusting of me now that I look back on it.
That art work is awesome!
Thanks Mike. Nothing like good ole Kool Aid red syrup to give you that rush as a kid, disgust as an adult!😂
Aww, a very Happy Birthday to you, Chris!! Remember the days of being kidnapped and taken to breakfast at Coco’s in your pjs?!? LOL. That was a sweet and somewhat unsettling (for the celebrated) tradition we had 🙂 Wishing you every happiness forever, hon. Know that you have a fan base – albeit sometimes quiet – and you still make me laugh with your fun blog here. A disturbing flashback just came to mind of you making me laugh way too much and me being booted from the choir room…the Christmas concert…and I’m sure other classrooms/venues…all worth it. LOL. I LOVE hibiscus tea and so LOVE you’ve shared this recipe and all of the valuable context. XXOO
Wonderful , Chris. Thanks for spreading joy. And some bonus wisdom from Uncle Floyd! Happy birthday, Juneteenth and Father’s Day. You are spectacular.
Thanks Noreen! Much appreciated.
LOL! Hilarious! I totally remember those days. Definitely an 80s only thing. Thanks for the memories and laughs!❤️
Happy happy B’day Birtie Chris!
May you have a classically wonderful day. May a little gin find its way into you Hibiscus. And may you take a couple of weeks off of blogging. We’ll always still be here!
Thank you Miche!
Love the picture. I am encouraged by your tenacity in keeping up the blog. I was inspired to create two paragraphs on my Storyworth book after your last blog. This time I hope to do better.
Thanks Gayle. I hope that you feel like you’re doing better. To me, you’re already doing great!
Dear Chris, I’m so embarrassed! You always remember my birthday before it occurs. Here I am several days after the “happy event”. HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, CHRIS. I LOVE YOU. H.M.
No worries Mrs. Muci! Thanks so much!
Always fun, informative, entertaining and your charm comes through like a meteor. Happy belated birthday. July 4th for me isn’t as exciting as it used to be, and may yet be again. Thanks for sharing video of the infamous block party. Always a joy.😊
Thanks Adrienne! Happy belated to you too and Happy 4th!