Sunday, May 30, 2010


Just because the Penguins' season is over doesn't mean the NHL season is over. Like me, many of you have probably decided that you may as well keep watching and see who wins the Stanley Cup. I knew the Chicago Blackhawks versus the Philadelphia Flyers was going to be difficult to watch. Game 1 last night proved me absolutely correct. NBC was at least considerate enough to bring in Ryan Miller as a commentator to balance the Flyers' collective ugliness. But as both goalies became sieves, the teams traded leads, and Scott Fucking Hartnell* scored, that wasn't quite enough.

When NBC broadcasted Penguins games during the regular season, I responded by posting recipes for blender drinks, mostly high-octane. The cocktails I post here are meant to be quick beer alternatives that can be fixed during intermission or right before the game. But nobody minds if one runs the blender while Pierre McGuire or Mike Milbury are talking, right?

A favorite high-octane drink of mine is the classic Zombie, which I based Salvaging the Game on during a particularly miserable game against the Vancouver Canucks. It certainly seemed appropriate for suffering through this series. However, I also wanted something cold and slushy. Also, I didn't want to track down a bottle of apricot brandy which I'd have to blow the dust off of before I could open it. Also, I had, as usual, lots of good fresh fruit and half a bottle of bourbon in the house . So I tweaked the basic recipe once again and made a...zombie-rita? Zombie-quiri? Either way, it's gonna get me through the rest of this horrid series just fine. The name reflects the reason to drink it.


1 apricot, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup cubed pineapple, fresh or canned
2 ounces orange juice
2 ounces light rum
1 1/2 ounces dark rum
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce Bacardi 151 (or other 151-proof) rum
2 handfuls of ice

Put the fruit and juice into the blender with 1 handful of ice; blend for about 15 seconds. Add all the liquor, excpt for the 151-proof rum, and the other handful of ice. Blend another 15 seconds. Pour into a tall glass. Float the 151-proof rum on top. Take a sip whenever a Flyer scores or NBC *sniff, sniff, sob* shows footage of Sidney Crosby hoisting the Cup.

* Isn't it amazing how, despite their varied ethnicities, Scott Hartnell shares a middle name with Chris Pronger, Alex Ovechkin, Martin Brodeur, Jimmie Johnson, and Carl Edwards?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Closing the bar for the season

I don't know what to say that many other Pittsburgh Penguins fans haven't said already, and probably better and with more knowledge than myself. If you're actually interested in reading my feelings about the Penguins, the season, and what hockey in general has done for my life, take a look at this entry in my personal blog.

I don't know if I'll be updating at all this summer, either. I'll probably do things like clean the house and go to museums and surf. And, of course, there's NASCAR. It's all up to Tony Stewart (who really needs to figure out what his problem is soon) and Kevin Harvick (who's leading in the points, yay!) to satisfy me and my wife's sports jones.

What I do know is that the Penguins' core players are young, and ungodly talented, and have a lot of exciting games left in them. It won't hurt them any to enjoy just one long summer, and they'll probably be all the better for having gained some perspective. I know we'll be saying goodbye to a few players, probably including ones we've come to like such as Bill Guerin (gonna miss looking at him!) and Sergei Gonchar. We'll be saying hello to some new players, too, and hopefully we'll come to like them as the 2010-11 season progresses. We'll say hello to the Consol Energy Center, too. As I thought real hard at Sidney Crosby during his exit interview last night, "They built a new playground for you and the rest of the team. Play like you own the place next year, 'cause you kinda do."

I couldn't help thinking of this song. It's one of my very favorites, has been since I was a little girl. Indulge me one more time.

"Hard Candy Christmas," Dolly Parton

Hey, maybe I'll dye my hair
Maybe I'll move somewhere
Maybe I'll get a car
Maybe I'll drive so far
They'll all lose track
Me, I'll bounce right back.

Maybe I'll sleep real late
Maybe I'll lose some weight
Maybe I'll clear my junk
Maybe I'll just get drunk on apple wine
Me, I'll be just...

Fine and Dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down.

Thanks to all the terrific people who made this blog happen. See y'all next fall!

Cleaning out the Lockers--the Ukraine Train

I wish I had more to say about Alexei Ponikarovsky and Ruslan Fedotenko. Really, I do. If either or both come back, I look forward to the opportunity to get to know them well. If not, well, safe travels.

Watermelons and cucumbers are some of my favorite things about summer, and it's gonna be a long one. The watermelon one's named after Fedotenko 'cause it matches his cheeks.

Tenk Top Margarita

1 cup cubed, seeded watermelon
1 1/2 ounces gold tequila
1 ounce triple sec
1 teaspoon lime juice
Handful of ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender until good and slushy. Pour into a chilled margarita glass.

Pittsburgh Poni Daiquiri

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 ounces vodka
Handful of mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
Handful of ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender. Serve in a tall glass.

Cleaning out the Lockers--the Shot Blocker

What else for Jay McKee but something that will have you taking lots of shots in one go? Those familiar with this blog know that when I want to get more than lightly toasted--like, oh, if the unthinkable happens and the Flyers are contending for the Cup, knock on wood--I head in the direction of the tiki bar.

The Shot Blocker

3 ounces pineapple juice (fresh if possible)
3 ounces orange juice
1 1/2 ounces Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (NOT blue curacao)
1 1/2 ounces dark rum
3 ounces bourbon
Crushed ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender for a few seconds, or shake if your shaker's big enough. Fill a big glass about three quarters of the way with crushed ice. Pour the liquid into it. Make sure the number of the local cab company's programmed into your cell phone.

Cleaning out the Lockers--the Backup Goalie

It's over. Damn it. But there are still a few items of business. I intended to name a cocktail after everyone who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2009-2010 season. I am missing four: Ruslan Fedotenko, Brent Johnson, Jay McKee, and Alexei Ponikarovsky. (I do not recognize Chris Bourque.)

This is a drink I made out of necessity. It is similar in execution to my SIL's "Punch in the Mouth," which was her way of dealing with half a bottle of sub-par syrah. What I had was sub-par New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a lot-lot of strawberries. Due to weather conditions, the market is awash in good, cheap strawberries, plus this had to be the year that I first successfully grew some myself in my container garden. The puckery-citrusy white wine and the strawberries played pretty nicely together, actually, so much so I want more this spring.

As a backup goalie, Brent Johnson was by definition called upon to help salvage a sub-par effort and keep resources from going completely to waste. He did a pretty decent job of it, including last night against the Montreal Canadiens. This therefore seems to fit.

The Backup Goalie

1 cup strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced in half
1 cup cheap New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
1 teaspoon sugar or Splenda
Handful of ice

Blend all ingredients to a puree in the blender. Pour into a tumbler. Easy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Grilling is good for your hockey team

I haven't posted a single recipe during the semifinals, and we've already seen the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens play Game 4. (I'd prefer to just wipe that from my memory.) A lot of it is because nobody's really stood out yet. In some ways, this is a good thing. Versus had a cool statistic Thursday night--the 11 Penguins goals during this series so far were scored by 11 different Penguins players. This means we have some depth and most everyone on the ice is doing what they need to most of the time. In other ways...well, there are some issues that need to be worked on, including giving the Habs too damned much space. Also, Sidney Crosby has been as bottled up and frustrated as a teenage couple at a church youth group retreat.* As Penguins fans, we know that won't last forever. There's absolutely no reason why the Penguins can't take the Habs to school. Determination is a wonderful thing, but it can only go so far, and the Penguins have some, too.

My mother hasn't watched much hockey since she left Michigan for Florida in the early 1970s. Last year, she found it strange-sounding when I mentioned that I was grilling before a Penguins playoff game. Apparently hockey never used to be played when the weather called for grilling. Things have, of course, changed significantly since the 1970s. I decided then and there that a fan's grilling before a hockey game is a very good sign for their team. It means they're going deep into the playoffs and that much closer to the Cup. (Or else it means you're a Florida Panthers fan. Whatever.) The even better best thing is if your team keeps it going into June, so you wind up making salsa out of good fresh tomatoes and peppers before the game.

Anyway! Should the rain leave Brooklyn in time before Game 5, I'm grilling all kinds of yummy things this afternoon. The people who like to come to my house to watch games and races have varied tastes--meat eaters and vegetarians, those who love spicy things and those who can't stand them, Penguins fans and Red Wings fans. But everyone agrees on this recipe. It's not a cocktail, but it is sweet and involves a splash of rum. I hope to be making this before a few more Penguins games this postseason.

Grilled Pineapple Skewers

1 fresh pineapple
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
12 wooden or bamboo skewers

Cut the pineapple into 1 inch square chunks, or get it done for you where you buy it. (I try to do the latter whenever I can.)

Stir the rum, spices, lime juice, and maple syrup together. Lightly coat pineapple chunks with the syrup mixture. Wet the skewers some, then thread the pineapple chunks onto them. After you've licked and washed that yummy syrup off your fingers, brush the pineapple skewers with the syrup mixture one more time. Grill on a clean grill (or aluminum foil) for about five minutes, until it gets soft.

These are terrific on vanilla ice cream, or Greek yogurt if you're trying to healthify it a little. Spoon any leftover syrup mixture on top of that.

Ingredient notes: If you can't afford to use maple syrup that way, try a maple/agave mixture, mixing maple with honey, or just plain orange blossom honey. The honey will give it a different (but still very good) flavor. Whatever you do, please don't do like one of my friends and use that travesty sold as "breakfast" or "pancake" syrup!

*Yes, I used that simile on another forum. Like I'm gonna let it go to waste.