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A BERRY GOOD IDEA  Monday, August 30, 2010

Berries and peaches abound during the summer, but sometimes the bounty you bring home doesn’t live up to your tastebuds’ expectations. All it takes is a quick steep with a sweetener, sugar or honey, and water to elevate them to an easy, elegant dessert topped with crème fraiche or frozen yogurt. Always start out with just a small amount of sugar or honey to ensure you don’t end up with a cloyingly sweet mixture—you can always add more and taste as you go. The goal here is to help coax out extra flavor and the fruit’s natural sweetness, while balancing out any tartness. Just a splash of cold, filtered water helps create a thin syrup to drizzle on top, and any extra can be stored in a container in the refrigerator or mixed with sparkling water for a homemade flavored seltzer.

TEA TIME IN THE SUMMER TIME  Sunday, August 15, 2010

There’s something soothing about sipping a hot cup of tea— unless you’re facing near 100ºF temperatures during a hot, city summer. When the mercury starts to rise, it’s time to rethink your morning routine. In fact, it means starting your tea the night before. Forget waiting for a boiling cup to cool off, or risk a watered down drink with too much ice. The answer is easily found in a method touted mainly for coffee drinkers: cold-brewed.

Using a glass measuring cup or pitcher, add one teabag per four ounces of cold water. Double it, triple it, use flavored teas—you name it. Let the mixture steep for 8 to 10 hours, and when you wake up, just pour over some ice and you’re ready to greet the day. And if you wake up to a suddenly cool break from the heat and humidity, no worries. This is double strength, so just add an equal amount of hot water instead of ice cubes.