Thursday, December 31, 2009


No, it's not the ingredient in a cocktail, not even if I were serving Scott Hartnell or Martin Brodeur. Nor is it the name of a drink. However, it occurs to me that Penguins fans need something to cheer us up, and the Winter Classic might just be rain-delayed tomorrow, and we'll be putting up with the idiocy of NBC announcers regardless of the weather. As a lifelong NASCAR fan, I know how to cope with both rain delays and irritating announcers. This is one of the ways I do it. (Won't be trying it tomorrow, though--it's our wedding anniversary! NBC will provide lots of other opportunities to play later this season.)

Cyanide is a verbal game that my wife and I learned from A., who is a NYC cab driver. He learned it from a group of tipsy partyers in the back of his cab one night a few years ago, and shared it with us. We do not know its original name. I named it "Cyanide" because the poison plays a large role in it. It can be adapted for a number of things. We got through Election 2008 by playing a political version of it, for example. (Cyanide got picked a *lot*.) We've played it during movies. We play it during any boring parts in NASCAR races. Obviously it is not to be played around children or in an arena, and the NHL version will probably not be played by straight men or lesbians.

Questions are asked of the group in this format: Would you have sex with Person A, have sex with Person B, or take the cyanide pill that you keep handy for such an occasion? These are your *only* choices.

Example: "Jay McKee, Bill Guerin, or cyanide?"

The rules of Cyanide are simple and finite:

1. You don't have to stick to celebrities or public figures, but it's very helpful for avoiding hurt feelings in the group.
2. Keep it to pairings of people in somewhat similar positions or who have something in common. For instance, "Eric Staal or Jordan Staal" works because they're brothers, and "John Tortorella or Dan Bylsma" works because both are coaches, but "Eric Staal or Dan Bylsma" is too random.
3. When using dead people, act as if they are still alive and in their prime.
4. "Both" is not an answer.
5. "None of the above" is not an answer.
5a. When the "Crosby or Ovechkin" pairing comes up--and don't kid yourself, it will--anyone who answers "Malkin" may be punched in the shoulder or otherwise punished.
6. You may not hypothetically force-feed one of the people suggested your hypothetical cyanide pill, no matter how bad you hate them.
7. Defending your choice is not only permitted, it's encouraged. But if you feel like holding out on the group, you don't actually have to defend your choice.

Believe me, you will learn lots of interesting new things about your friends playing this.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Worst Coach in the NHL

Now, everyone in Penguins Nation is upset about that loss to the Buffalo Sabres last night. I still can't believe it. I mean, at first intermission I felt compelled to belly-dance because the guys were doing so damn good, and it even looked like Fleury might get his first shutout of the year, and then...ugh. Just ugh. It's obvious that the Pens will have to make some changes and step up their efforts. But not even the fairest of fair-weather Penguins fans is willing to say that Dan Bylsma is a bad coach, let alone the worst in the NHL...right?

Puck Prospectus' writers are probably not Penguins fans. They went there earlier this month. Hooks Orpik gave that idiotic article a good old-fashioned fisking at PensBurgh today. Unlike Hooks, I can't wield statistics. What I've got is alcohol.

New Years' Eve is tomorrow, which brings to mind champagne and champagne cocktails. My friend A. wanted the recipe for a champagne cocktail I fixed last year anyway. I think it has a name now. I would recommend using cheap, sweet, and cheerful champagne for this.

Worst Coach in the NHL

One sugar cube
Angostura bitters
1/2 ounce orange liqueur
About 4 ounces champagne

Soak the sugar cube with bitters. Drop it in a champagne flute, then pour orange liqueur over it. Fill flute with champagne. If you want, garnish with a twist of orange peel or a clementine wedge.

Enjoy it in good health, Dan, and next time, let those big, strong, young players of yours push their own damned tour bus!

New Jersey Devils again tonight. Here's a bit of psyche-up music for a team that better come in firing on all cylinders. THE MEN CRY OUT THE GIRLS CRY OUT...LET'S GO PENS!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hummus for Hockey at Home

It's a wonderful experience--and for us, a rare one--to see hockey games at the arena. Most of the time, our seats are Center Ice. That's a good thing, too. Watching at home means we don't have to worry about lines to the bathroom (which is clean), and we can kiss to celebrate goals, and we have a much wider variety of food and drink available.

I actually kinda missed hummus at Mellon and Joe Louis, seriously. Our friends like it lots when they come over to watch. With pita chips, pretzels, or cut-up vegetables, it's a lot healthier than other snacks we could have. We appreciate this. I don't know about y'all, but I can't have straight-up junk food for every hockey game. After all, L'Ailee and I each love a different team. Factor in a NASCAR race (a/k/a my first sports love) every weekend for nine months, and I could quite easily become one of those people on Discovery Health who needs to be taken out of their home with a crane if I'm not careful about what I eat.

So, tonight we'll be having hummus while we watch the Penguins versus the Buffalo Sabres. It seemed to me like my favorite hummus should be the first of those occasional food recipes I promised. You can get it pre-packaged, but it's so much cheaper to make it, and you can tailor it to your tastes. Stick tap to Saad Fayed from Middle Eastern Food, because he has a world of variations on hummus and he makes it really easy. I adapted this from one of his recipes. Mine's a bit thicker than the original, though.

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Hummus

1 can of chick peas/garbanzo beans (15 oz)
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup -3/4 cup roasted red peppers (depending on taste)

Drain and rinse chick peas (this will reduce sodium slightly and eliminate any tinny taste.) In a food processor, combine chick peas, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add red peppers and garlic until desired consistency.

Garnish with parsley. Serve warm with hot pita bread, toasted pita chips, pretzels, or vegetables.

Roasted red pepper hummus can be made up to two days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Heat up in microwave or on stovetop to serve.

Hopefully tonight's game will have me adapting another element of Middle Eastern culture at home--namely, belly-dancing during intermission to celebrate how awesome the Penguins are doing! Let's go Pens!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Geno's Hat Trick

"Please notice when you are happy."--Kurt Vonnegut. Also, the tattoo I got on my wrist yesterday.

I wasn't going to post any recipes for a while. I was going to wait. Once again, I just have to jump the gun.

This is a recipe I sat on for a while. I can't take credit for it. My brother invented it and shared it with me on Thanksgiving weekend. What I can take credit for is always having chai-flavored tea bags and vanilla vodka around the house...oh, and the fact that I taught him enough about Penguins hockey that he's perfectly okay with my naming it after Evgeni Malkin, or any player but Jordan Staal. (My SIL said that Staal is, quote, "fine as hell." She's very glad that his face will heal up okay from its meeting with the puck on December 21. So am I.)

Anyway. December 23 found me at Joe Louis, suffering through the Chicago Blackhawks' shutout of the Detroit Red Wings with the only Wings fan I'll ever kiss. Meanwhile, over in Pittsburgh, Malkin was roaring back to life with a vengeance, scoring a hat trick against the Ottawa Senators. Of course. I think it's time to bring this out for him, and perhaps try to fix a couple of them in my hotel room.

Geno's Hat Trick

1 bag Bigelow Vanilla Chai, or other chai-flavored tea
1/4 cup milk, more or less
1 ounce cinnamon schnapps
1 ounce vanilla-flavored vodka
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Use a large coffee mug for this. Steep the tea bag in 8 ounces of very hot water for 3-5 minutes.

When tea is done, take bag out. Slowly stir in milk, then brown sugar, then liquors. Drink warm.

This is good for sipping and contemplating things like our new tattoos, why our timing sucks so badly that we haven't seen either of our favorite teams score even one goal in person this week, whether we are jinxes to our favorite teams, and whether I can put together a warm cocktail that does not involve cinnamon schnapps.

Oh, and it's Christmas Eve! Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates, and a good weekend to everyone else!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Locking up the liquor cabinet

I know, just as I opened it, too! Well, it's only temporary. I'll be back and posting around the 29th. I have a good reason. I'm a Penguins fan, but the reason I got into hockey in the first place is my wife L'Ailee, who loves the Detroit Red Wings. (To answer the inevitable questions: Yes, we're both women. I'm bi. I meant every last word I said about Bill Guerin's doability and Sidney Crosby's back porch...and wouldn't those be good names for cocktails? Yes, the last two Stanley Cup Finals were kinda hard on us, but we got over it.)

Anyway. We usually go home to my family in Florida around Christmas, but we decided we'd really rather, you know, enjoy our money, vacation time, and each other. (Since you probably have plenty family drama of your own and use hockey and/or cocktails as a means to escape, I won't bore you with mine.) We live in NYC. We hit on the idea of seeing our teams play in their home arenas. So we're leaving for Pittsburgh on Sunday night, if the weather allows it. I'm sure Monday morning, at least, will be go.

Our schedule is New Jersey Devils at Pittsburgh, go to Detroit, Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit, Christmas Day at *her* family's house for once in Ontario, Columbus Blue Jackets at Detroit, go back to Pittsburgh, Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh, then go home. There won't be any cocktailing for me unless I can sneak in an airplane bottle of bourbon to doctor my overpriced Diet Cokes, but that's not really the point of going to the arenas anyway. I feel kinda bad for L'Ailee. Just as she gets to go to Joe Louis for the first time in eons, the Wings are as decimated by injuries as, um, the Penguins were quite recently. Yeah, I know I'm a bad Pens fan for saying that.

I'll be watching the Penguins against the Buffalo Sabres (of course!), but probably won't have time to post a cocktail recipe of my own even if everybody's played out of their minds and the score is 20-0. However, of the ten I've already posted, some might be pretty decent for your own holiday parties. I was told by several of our guests that the Lucky 13 went well with Thanksgiving dinner. I also recommend the Penguins Power Play, the Super Duper Slapshot, and Staal's Shorthanded Breakaway.

I'll leave you with someone else's cocktail recipe. I wish I could be this creative and I'm very glad I'm not this creative, all at once. (What I post are recipes that can be made during commercial or intermission.) I'm finding a way to make this happen at my house, or perhaps L'Ailee's uncle's house. It'll make a real impact at yours. Just get your Stanley Cup Champions cap to protect your hair, your thickest leather gloves, your safety goggles, and, of course, your red hot fireplace poker, then see how to make a Red Hot Ale.

Happy holidays to all y'all, and let's go Pens!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Penguins Power Play

As a Penguins fan, I hate the phrase "Penguins power play." Oh, it should be good. We have some of the best offensive talent in the entire NHL, after all. Yet the surest way to keep the guys from scoring, it seems, is to give them a one-player advantage, which somehow prompts them to keep passing...and passing...and passing the puck. Thankfully, the team has been retooling the power play, and it paid off against the Philadelphia Flyers on December 17. In fact, the only two regulation goals were power play goals (scored by Bill Guerin and Sidney Crosby).

As a woman who loves cocktails, I hate the phrase "cranberry and vodka." Oh, they're both great, and the flavors play nicely together. But the inevitable combination is the Cosmopolitan, and from there, it's a short leap to Sex and the City. I hated that show, all thirty minutes or so of it that I could manage to watch. I'm more into bad sci-fi, Animal Planet, music videos, the Office, and, of course, sports. So I felt insulted when a bartender who I could out-mix any day of the week thought I'd want a Cosmopolitan because some fictional bimbo drank them. The drink itself got dumbed down with the kind of cranberry "juice" that's mostly corn syrup and, worse, ready-mixes. I liked them when I first became legal, but now, I'd rather drink PBR. And I hate beer, which is why I make cocktails to watch hockey with instead.

Whew, that felt good! Anyway, I've been fascinated with caipirinhas lately, like the basis for Staal's Shorthanded Breakway. I had fresh cranberries at the house recently. I decided to try a tropical preparation for a very un-tropical fruit. Technically, if you make it with vodka rather than cachuaca or rum, it's called a caipivodka. If you make it with fruits that are not lemons or limes, it's called a caipifruta. That means this drink should be called...very, very good. Like the Penguins' power play, it just took a little thought and a little tinkering to start rehabilitating cranberry and vodka's reputation.

Penguins Power Play

1 ounce vodka
handful of fresh, thoroughly washed cranberries
2 teaspoons sugar
crushed ice

Get an old-fashioned glass. Put just enough cranberries in to cover the whole bottom of it. Muddle the cranberries with sugar. (Wooden spoons work best for this.) Fill the glass with crushed ice. Pour in vodka; don't shake or stir. You'll taste the cranberries when you drink.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Under time and budget!

Are those not the most beautiful words in the English language? I really thought I couldn't get this blog together until January, but I was so wrong. "Unexpected free time" is another beautiful phrase. Now I can post all the cocktail recipes I come up with for the Penguins (or anything else hockey-related) here. Welcome!

There are things I want to do with this blog (for one, learn how to position tags to the left), but for the most part, I'm satisfied. I welcome feedback. I'd especially like to know if everyone considers this color scheme readable. I'm still happy I found the hex code for Vegas Gold.

So. Philadelphia Flyers tonight, and the Penguins will be in their house. I don't like to get too overconfident. The guys are most beatable when they feel unbeatable, and the Flyers can always be counted on to be, well, themselves. But win or lose, we can always toast the fact that we're not Flyers fans anyway. I personally will have my very favorite creation so far, Crosby Sucks. I've come to consider that yet another beautiful phrase, especially when a goal horn quickly follows it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By popular demand...

There will be commentary. There will be celebration. There will be complaining. There will be a few recipes for actual food, like lucky black and white cookies and borscht made in honor of Evgeni Malkin (and also to get rid of the beets from my farmers' co-op box.) There will be inappropriate jokes and comments about the players' bodies. There may actually be a little hockey knowledge someplace, too!

But most of all, there will be two things I enjoy a lot coming together: The Penguins and cocktails. Over at the Pensburgh and Puck Huffers blogs, I have posted several cocktail recipes in honor of individual Penguins players and their achievements. Those will go here. There will be others, too, like something red, white and blue for Team USA and frozen drinks to be made during NBC intermissions, when nobody minds running the blender. While I drink one drink a day or less--all too often, I'm sipping on herbal tea on my couch--I do love cocktails as a creative medium. Some people can draw, some people can edit video, but I can mix drinks. This will primarily be a site that corrals all those recipes in one place.

I'll be working on it here and there, but please don't expect much before January. For the moment, I will be backdating the recipes I've already come up with and posting them here when I grab the chance. Soon enough, I'll have it right. I'd be happy to take suggestions and requests from other fans.

Staal's Shorthanded Breakaway

The Pittsburgh Penguins' power play may still need work, but we've got a pretty awesome penalty kill, and we've got Jordan Staal. His shorthanded breakaway was the third Penguins goal in the first period of the December 15th game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers would never recover from that two-goal deficit. Staal further dashed any hope they had with an even-strength goal in the second period. It was beautiful, and so is this cocktail.

Actually, this is a personal favorite of mine that didn't have a name. I fixed it again for myself last night because a NYC winter had me feeling a little homesick for Florida. (That's right--a Florida Cracker in New York City. The Penguins have a reach far beyond Pittsburgh!) It is a spin on the classic Brazilian caipirinha, twisted and twisted again until it squealed. I think the blue curacao really adds something--like, you know, blue color and orange flavor. Some of you may not like tiki-ish blue drinks, and that's okay. But what Penguins fan doesn't love the sight of something orange getting crushed?

Staal's Shorthanded Breakaway

1/2 ounce blue curacao

1 ounce light rum

2-4 orange wedges (depending on your taste and the size of the orange)

2 teaspoons sugar

Place orange wedges and sugar into an old-fashioned glass and muddle together. (A wooden spoon works best.) Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add rum, then blue curacao. Stir the liquids together.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Super Duper Slapshot

It was easy to criticize Pascal Dupuis for his inability to score goals last season. Fun, too. But he's worked hard to improve his scoring, and it shows in the 2009-10 season. During the December 10 game against the Montreal Canadiens, it was none other than Dupuis who scored the game-winning goal, a killer slapshot. Over at Pensburgh, we joked about him having hand-reattachment surgery. It seems to have paid off!

This happens to be what I drank that night. I combined cinnamon schnapps and hot coffee simply because I was cold even in my burqa-fit powder blue jersey, flannel penguin-printed pajama pants, and fluffy panda slippers. (Sometimes you have to pick comfort over style, and oh, I'd made my choice.) This is a little harsh, but not at all bad. In fact, I thought it was pretty decent. Like Duper's slapshot, it gave this Penguins fan exactly what I needed.

Super Duper Slapshot

1 ounce cognac

1 ounce cinnamon schnapps

brewed black coffee

dash of cinnamon

sugar or Splenda to taste

Pour cognac and schnapps into coffee cup; stir. Fill cup with black coffee. Add cinnamon and sugar if desired; stir again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Noted Goal Scorer

Before he came to the Pittsburgh Penguins this year, Mike Rupp was known as a big guy who wouldn't back down from a fight, but never as a goal scorer. This began to change when he put on the sweater with the hockey playing penguin. His young son wanted Rupp to score a goal for his birthday. On a weird, wild November 30th, while other players were injuring their own goalies and taking themselves out with knee-on-knee hits, the man who is now known as noted goal scorer Mike Rupp got his first-ever career hat trick and broke the Penguins' Madison Square Garden curse. Since he didn't get to do it on hat night at his new team's home arena, he deserved more of a celebration. This, the result of my brother and I wondering why iced tea isn't used as a mixer more often, just seemed right.

The Noted Goal Scorer

1 shot Tanqueray Rangpur or other lime-flavored gin

About 6-8 ounces brewed Earl Grey tea

Teaspoon of lime juice

Sugar or Splenda to taste

Combine ingredients in a tumbler half filled with ice, stir. It gets no easier.

As you can imagine, the lime flavor is strong in this one, and we meant it that way. You can always use plain tea or gin, or leave the lime juice out.