Three Things

Dry weeknights, a viral tortilla, a new weekend ritual

Greetings, friends. Let me say yet again, I’m so grateful you are here! I was really panicking about the transition to this new platform, and now I’m not sure why. I feel like I did when I launched Dinner: A Love Story in 2010: I can’t stop the ideas from coming. I spent the weekend focused mostly on editing pages for The Weekday Vegetarians (above), and I don’t want to give away too much here, but you can kind of get a sense of how much the designer, Laura Palese, and photographer, Christine Han, absolutely crushed it. Also, few things annoy me more than the phrase “tactile pleasure” to describe a printed book’s superiority over the kindle kind, but I will say that I very much enjoy the process of taking a red pen to paper like I did in ye olde magazine editing days. Anyway, I know you are wondering what that pretty pink drink is up there, so let’s get right to it, the first of today’s Three Things…

1. A Shrub for Dry Weeknights

Those of you who have been following me for a while might remember that I used to have a cocktail or a glass of wine almost every night, and then, for reasons outlined in this essay, I decided to dial back the drinking to weekends only. That was over four years ago, long before the phrase “sober curious” had its own hashtag, and though it was hard in the beginning, it became easier as soon as I realized something about myself: I liked the ritual of preparing a cocktail almost as much as I liked the drinking of one. Not surprisingly, it’s also when I became a fan of shrubs, the vinegary-based fruit drinks you top off with seltzer, that (crucially) require the combining and the mixing and the garnishing of things. They are tart and funky, and I enjoy them very much with store bought drinking vinegars (Som brand or regular old Bragg’s Apple Cider), but last week, when I discovered an almost-rotten container of decidedly off-season raspberries hiding in the back of the fridge, a shrub lightbulb went off in my head and I decided to go the DIY route. And when I say DIY, I mean pretty much the most hands-off DIY route you can imagine. To make a fruit-infused drinking vinegar, you really just need fruit (such as pears, stone fruits, berries, pomegranates), then sugar, distilled white vinegar, and a little more than 24 hours of patience. Here is deliciously sweet-and-sour result…

Raspberry Shrub
This makes enough drinking vinegar to round out into 3 or 4 drinks, but you can and should double it. You can also ignore this entire recipe and pick up a bottle of organic raspberry vinegar at Trader Joe’s.

1 6-ounce container raspberries (about a cup)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

Combine raspberries and sugar in a bowl that is not metal. Mash berries to release their juices and stir with sugar until it’s the consistency of a loose jam. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

After a day, stir in the vinegar, and cover with plastic wrap again. Chill for at least another hour, but preferably more. (The longer it sits, the tangier it becomes.) Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, preserving liquid in a jar or measuring cup.

When you’re ready for your shrub cocktail, fill your prettiest lowball, one that brings you pleasure in its own right, with ice. Add one part fruit mixture with 3 parts seltzer. (Or more, to taste.) Add a squeeze of lime if desired.

Two more related reads: 1) Good Drinks, by Julia Bainbridge, a collection of next-level mocktails from bartenders around the country. (Here’s a teaser.) And 2) Quit Like a Woman, by Holly Whitaker, if you’re in the market for a real eye-opener about women and alcoholism.

2. The Viral Tortilla

If you are thinking that doesn’t really look like a tortilla, you are correct. It is in fact the chili-glazed tofu-eggplant recipe I’m working on perfecting for my book that a bunch of you asked about when I storied it on Instagram. The recipe is pretty much there (the glaze had to be sweeter, the process had to be easier, and the whole thing desperately needed some crunch), but it’s definitely taken a few rounds, and if you lived in my house, you would be forgiven if you didn’t want to see another eggplant for a while or maybe ever again. (I think I audibly heard Andy’s heart sink when I tossed two graffitis into the shopping cart last week.) I try to remind everyone in the house that these are the best kinds of occupational hazards, and yet, I also get that maybe they wouldn’t mind if my “job” veered more towards, say, that tortilla trend that has been viewed on TikTok however many zillion times.

For those of you not among the zillion, here’s a quick review, but they’re not hard to envision without the video: You cut a slit in the bottom half to the midpoint of the tortilla, fill each quadrant with little piles of ingredients scrounged up from your fridge, then, working counter clockwise, fold it over on itself three times, and cook in a panini press or fry up like this…

If we get down to brass tacks (does Saul Goodman say that in literally every episode?), this is not really any different than a quesadilla, but I couldn’t not watch every possible spin-off on instagram, from pizza to burgers to eggs to Nutella and marshmallows. I think its mass appeal lies in those four quadrants, which make it seem like a dinner mad lib: The story is written, you just have to fill in a few blanks. So, because I am not an eggplant monster all of the time, last week, I filled the tortilla blanks with leftover rice, carnitas from the freezer, shredded cheddar, and fresh shredded cabbage. It reminded me of the kind of meal I wouldn’t have minded throwing together as a life-raft option for a picky toddler back in the day.

3. YESSS for Soccer Weekends

Someday I will write a book called How Soccer Saved Me During The Great Pandemic, but for now, I’d like to point fans in the direction of the All or Nothing 9-part documentary about the Tottenham Spurs, which, at bare minimum saved me from last week’s news cycle. It came out last summer, and follows the London-based Premier League team during their 2019-2020 season when famed Chelsea coach José Maurinho took over, and the behind-the-scenes access and personal back stories deliver exactly the kind of glimpse into this world that fans always want but never get. It’s nothing new in our house to have soccer games humming in the background on lazy Sunday mornings, but after watching the series, a Premier League game has somehow now become a major weekend event to plan around. And that is not something I’m saying about a lot of things right now, so I’m holding on to it for dear life.

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