Photo by Sarah Shatz
As a little girl shopping with my mother in the grocery store, I often wanted whatever sugar cereal offered a prize. The variety of cereal made no matter. It was all about the featured toy pictured on the box at a magnification of at least three times its actual size. On occasion, I was lucky enough to persuade my mother to buy the cereal. I recall rushing home to fish around in the box, rainbow-colored cereal up to my armpit, trying to find that magical plastic package worth at least five minutes of entertainment. After a few uneaten boxes of prize-robbed cereal, my mother required that we work our way down to the prize by actually eating the cereal. Not as fun.
Adulthood offers a chance to make one’s own rules. Dessert before dinner? No problem. Out late on a “school night?” So be it. We learn to live with the choices we make. This brings me to RebeccaP’s Ginger Sangria. Something told me I’d want to gobble up the luscious peaches before drinking the beverage. And that would be okay because no one would stop me.
I happily accepted an invitation to a neighbor’s backyard barbecue and offered to bring a drink -- the perfect excuse to whip up a batch of the sangria. As the ginger syrup simmered gently on the stove, I sliced the peaches to prepare them for their alcohol-laden bath. I used ripe yellow peaches, but confess to not having peeled them, as RebeccaP suggests. If you prefer your peaches peeled, simply score them with an X on the bottom, then drop them into boiling water for about a minute. Remove them from the water and plunge them into an ice bath. When they are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to slip off the skin.
While the ginger syrup cooled in the refrigerator, I let the peaches soak on the counter. The sweet smell of the mixture wafted through my kitchen, giving me the slightest buzz (most likely a suggestive one). I needed to transport the finished drink and could not imagine how to do so with my limited enclosable pitcher collection. So, I placed the ingredients in large mason jars -- one for the ginger syrup and one for the peach mixture -- and easily transported them along with the chilled bottles of wine. A friendly Whole Foods Market staff member steered me to an $8 bottle white table wine (Domaine De Pouy, Côtes de Gascogne) when I told him I had planned to make sangria. Since the recipe calls for three bottles, I was pleased with this wallet-friendly choice.
Once at the barbecue, I mixed the syrup and wine, along with the peaches and their fortified liquid, in a large pitcher. It sat in the fridge for about an hour, at which point we couldn’t stand it any longer. To the delight of thirsty adults, the sangria was poured into ice-filled glasses along with a generous spoonful of peaches.
As I sipped the drink, which was faintly scented with ginger and just sweet enough to counter the brandy, I couldn’t help but think that there was a prize waiting for me at the end. But could I actually wait until the end? As I sampled the first of several boozy peaches bobbing about in my glass, I was rewarded with a juicy and potent surprise. In fact, a friend suggested we fish out the peaches and serve them with pound cake and ice cream. Not a bad idea if there had been any peaches left over. Once the sangria was gone (and it was gone in fairly short order), so were those drunken peaches. There are indeed some perks to making the rules. And the next morning, my head reminded me that there is a price to pay for adulthood when it leads one to make a meal out of booze-soaked fruit.
Ginger Infused Simple Syrup:
2 pieces ginger about 3 inches long
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
6 ripe peaches
1 1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup Triple Sec liqueur
3 750 ml bottles of dry white wine
1 cup ginger infused simple syrup
Alicia writes the blog Weekly Greens, where she gives busy families healthy recipes for everyday farm-to-table eating.