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Sorry for the hiatus - I was experiencing what you might call technical difficulties in France, and since I've been back I've been experiencing time flow issues. (Translation - vacuuming up cat hair, deadheading the perennials, putting together programs, etc. - all the stuff that backed up while we were gone.) Well, it's hotter than a pistol here in Pittsburgh, and so to help any of you that are dealing with the same problem, I'm going to tell you about Jamaica.
I discovered this, thanks to Edmund, whilst visiting him in Mexico City. We ate at a little restaurant in more or less a strip mall which was very much local - style food - no Tex-Mex for the tourists. He suggested that I order a local drink that he called "Himakah". (It turns out that is the correct pronunciation, at least for the drink - I don't know about the island.) I said, okay, but what is it? Edmund didn't know, although he said that it was a) made from flowers, and b) I would probably like it. I did indeed order it, and yes, I liked it. So I started trying to get more information out of my son, but he didn't know any more than he had already told me, except that he thought you made it by boiling the flowers. This sounded exceedingly unlikely to me, but I held my peace, and I'm glad I did, as you will see.
When I got back to Pittsburgh I embarked on a Google search for information, and discovered that it is good old hibiscus. However, it isn't actually the flowers, but the pods that hold them. The next step was locating a source, and good old Amazon came through - I ordered a case, and I was in business.
So here's how you make your very own Jamaica - first you boil water (the package says 2 cups, but that makes a super concentrated liquid - I prefer a recipe I found online that calls for 6 cups for the same 2 oz. of pods.)
When your water is boiling you chuck in the package and boil it for a couple of minutes. It looks rather mysterious, don't you think?
Then turn off the heat and let it steep for 10 or 15 minutes. After that you strain it, mashing the pods a bit to get out all of the hibiscus-y goodness. Here's how the pods look:
Once you've strained it, it remains only to consume it. You can sweeten the whole lot at this point, or sweeten each glass as you make it - my preferred method. It takes a lot of sweetening, so I use one of the stevia products, which is indistinguishable from sugar in this stuff. Fill a glass with crushed ice, pour it half full of concentrate, squeeze half a lime in (not strictly necessary but really nice,) add sweetening if you haven't already, and fill the glass to the top with either plain or seltzer water. Prepare to be refreshed!