Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Berries and Beverages

Okay so we all know how important water is to our health and most of the time I love plain water, but from time to time I want something more. I love unsweetened iced tea more than life itself but I live in Texas and man does it get hot!!! At times I tend to get a little dehydrated which triggers migraines for me so I know I need just water. Here's a little trick I decided to try when one day I was craving some Kool-aid from my childhood days but didn't want all the sugar. I grabbed a handful of raspberries from my freezer and added them to the water with some ice. I just let the berries infuse the water and they naturally sweeten it just a hint.

Now a little treat later for my husband I'll be making some Italian sodas with some blueberries I have in my freezer. Back in high school I was on the school newspaper as a staff writer and Features editor and on my lunch break while out running errands for the paper I would stop at the local coffee shop for turkey on a croissant and a raspberry Italian soda. It's still one of my favorite meals but since I can't handle the calories now quite like I used to, it's an occasional treat.

Here's how I do it:

Blueberry Simple Syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup blueberries

I cook the ingredients together in a medium saucepan on the stovetop until the sugar is dissolved and the berries have mostly burst. Drain the mixture with a mesh colander to catch the blueberries. I store the syrup in a mason jar in the fridge for up to a month (although it never lasts that long!).

Italian Soda
8 oz Carbonated water
4 Tbs Blueberry syrup (more or less to taste)

Over the ice, I pour the syrup followed by the carbonated water (I prefer seltzer water, my husband likes tonic water). To make this a French soda add a little milk or half-and-half.

Some frugal tips for you:
*If you don't like the taste of tap water, try an under sink water filter which eliminates about 99% of impurities in tap water. Since we have poor quality water where we live we further filter the water in a Brita system and the water tastes clean and crisp after the dual filtering.

*This simple syrup works great for other dishes too. Try it on pancakes or waffles for breakfast and pound cake for dessert. Also make the simple syrup with only the sugar and water to add to tea or kool-aid and eliminate sugar granuals in the bottom of the pitcher. Hmmm... thinking about it, the fruit syrup would be very yummy with iced tea too!