Necessity breeds ingenuity: Introducing the Marietta Mule.

Marietta_MulePeach vodka, ginger beer and a squeeze of lime juice.
In honor of Georgia being the Peach State, I have dubbed
this drink the “Marietta Mule” (instead of Moscow Mule).

Today while I was putting away groceries, I decided to clean out the refrigerator, starting with a leftover bottle of ginger beer. (Ginger beer, like root beer, is nonalcoholic; it’s like a more potent-flavored version of ginger ale.) “What would be good with this?” I thought, and began reminiscing about the Moscow Mules we had at Wang’s in Palm Springs. So tasty … and served in copper mugs for multisensory enjoyment. Could I re-create?

componentsI had lime juice in the fridge, and while I was perusing the contents of our bar cart, I spied a travel-size bottle of Absolut Apeach vodka. Ginger and peach? As it turns out, the components at right (plus a generous heap of ice) were exactly what was needed to fill a big ol’ tumbler to the brim. (For proof, see photo at top.) The only bad thing about this drink was that I couldn’t make refills, because I had just that single bottle of peach vodka.

“Shopping the house” is the theme of this weekend, which has been tough on the wallet. The hard drive on my beloved iMac gave up the ghost, and Friday night we exited the car to be greeted to a rather vicious hissing noise. At first we thought “flat tire,” but when I had turned the wheels back to normal the noise stopped, so … maybe not?

Nonetheless, I spent most of the night obsessing about it — figuring out how I could logistically change a flat on a tire up against the curb in the middle of the night — but when we left the bar everything was kosher. And it continued to be the next day, too; the hairtrigger-sensitive “low air pressure” alert didn’t even go off. So I was thinking I was safe … until I got to the parking garage when I was stupidtiregoing to drop off my Mac, and noticed the view at right: “What the WHAT?!” Say hello to my little friend the nail, which at least was kind enough to act as a plug until I went to Discount Tire.

It’s hard to say “I love a tire store,” but really I’ve never had anything but good experiences at Discount. Even if the tire isn’t theirs, they’ve fixed flats for me for free, no doubt relying on the “good karma” plan that, in this case, worked like a charm. Even if they couldn’t fix it this time — the nail was in the shoulder — I couldn’t think of another tire place I’d rather spend my money at.

But still, between the tires and the hard drive, I had a bit of unexpected sticker shock. So last night rather than heading out to eat, I scoured the cupboards to come up with something to make for dinner.

ditaliniDitalini with Chickpeas and Garlic-Rosemary Oil
(Photo by Ditte Isager, from the February 2013 issue of Bon Appétit)
Click on the photo to go to the recipe on

A long time ago I had planned to try a recipe for pasta with chickpeas and garlic, which meant I had all the aromatics (shallots, onions, garlic) and tomato incarnations (sauce, stewed, paste) to create an ersatz version of the recipe. I sauteed the aromatics and some diced carrots in olive oil, then plunked half a can of chickpeas and all the various tomato sauces to simmer.

The sauce needed some extra oomph, so I crumbled in some dried shiitake mushrooms for that umami, and added some shots of — don’t laugh! — Worcestershire sauce, because I felt like it was missing richness that might normally come from meat. And I read somewhere that if your sauce simmered long enough, you could add your pasta right into it, instead of boiling in a separate pot. So I added whole-wheat rotini and stirred in extra water, then covered and let it simmer.

The end result was surprisingly good. I do wish there was some service where you could bring your dish to a professional chef who would taste it and say, “THIS is what you could have added to take it over-the-top,” because I feel like it could have been even better but I’m not sure how.

shirt060213 shorts060213 shoes091011
The shirt: Gray cotton V-neck tee, from Uniqlo in New York.
The shorts: Jersey workout shorts, also from (a separate trip to) Uniqlo.
The shoes: Jack Purcell sneakers by John Varvatos for Converse,
from Nordstrom Rack in Scottsdale.

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