Add a little crystal dish with a tablespoon or two of Rice Snacks in it, a conversation with our daughter about her day, hand watering our pot plants, picking a few fresh herbs for the evening meal, and you've got the perfect scenario for a peaceful evening.
Relaxing and winding down, doesn't have to mean drinking alcohol. When I was young, no-one we knew routinely drank alcohol in the evenings. We were aware that other families made it part of their routine, and their budget, but it wasn't on most families list of priorities. Things are different now, and these days, relaxing means a glass of wine. Socialising means a few glasses of wine. It doesn't have to be the case.
We're making a stand against this idea in our house. We love a nice cold glass of Sav Blanc as much as the next person, but it's a poor example to set for our 14 year old daughter, and we're determined to show her that 'relaxing' or 'socialising', doesn't have to mean 'alcohol'.
Our strategy is to have other options available. Most evenings it will be an iced herbal tea of some sort. Other nights, it might be a chilled soup in little teacups like a Gazpacho (chilled tomato soup), or a Vichyssoise (chilled potato soup) as a sort of early entrée`, which means we'll only want a light evening meal too. A light mocktail like a Virgin Mary or a fruity punch may make an occasional appearance. If we have guests, they'll be offered the same, and I actually think they'll enjoy the change.
As with everything, the presentation is important to make it really feel like a treat. So break out the fancy glasses, a pretty tray, a sprig of flowers and some serviettes.
Here's my favourite recipe for herbal tea, served chilled.
1-2 litre jug or container of some sort
Ice cube trays
1 lemon, sliced
1/2 small cucumber, sliced
(you can replace the lemon and cucumber with other fruits or herbs to enhance the flavour of your tea if you prefer)
Sprigs of fresh mint, or berries, or other sweet herbs or fruit
6 herbal teabags of choice. A combination is nice. Try mint and chamomile, or peach and raspberry
Sugar or Stevia
Pretty glasses or champagne flutes, and a tray or platter of some sort
How to do it:
First thing in the morning, or the night before, pick some fresh mint or hull some berries or halve some grapes, and add them to ice cube trays, filling the trays with water, and freezing them.
Then fill a pretty jug or container with water and add lemon and cucumber slices. Let that steep for a couple of hours.
At around lunch time or when you get home from work, get your six herbal teabags...all the same or a mixture, and make up the tea 'concentrate'. Add the six teabags to about 500mls of boiling water and allow it to brew for about ten minutes. Add 2-3 teaspoons of sugar or some stevia to the brew if you want a touch of sweetness, remove the teabags, and chill it well.
Remove the lemon and cucumber slices from the water, drink a glass or two of the flavoured water to make room for the tea brew, and add the brew to the chilled jug of water. Then it goes back into the fridge.
Get a tray ready with a little crystal dish of rice snacks or similar if you wish, a flower or sprig of herbs for decoration, and set up your champagne flutes or pretty glasses.
Then all you have to do, is add the ice cubes and pour out your herbal iced tea. Top up your glass as desired, guilt free.
You'll feel more refreshed and relaxed, and you'll be doing your waistline and your wallet a huge favour.