Maya Angelou spoke of “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” That’s a pretty good way to go through life. Well, maybe not the part about being unsurprised, that sounds a bit jaded, which I have been trying to avoid, but it happens. I am all for hoping for the best,but too much of a realist to not prepare for setbacks and disappointment. I figure we’ve had enough of those lately. So let’s look forward, toward better days to come. The pendulum swings from unity to division, hopefully it will swing back sooner rather than later and we can once again work toward a world where we focus on what we have in common and not our differences, which are mostly imagined anyway. So, let’s get together and feel alright, as we stand and make, One Love.

It’s Tiki time again and I have high hopes for this one. It’s got some ingredients that ought to play really well together and I have been looking forward to it for a while. This drink was created by Shannon Mustipher, famed bartender and author of “Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails”. This is one of those, if you want a drink Tuesday, start on Sunday drinks, that I love. It calls for coconut infused vodka and I am all about a good infusion, even if it does take some pre-work. It is super easy though, just heat up a little coconut oil till it is liquid and put 1 part oil into 2 parts of vodka in something sealable. Give it a good shake and let it sit overnight. The next day, shake it again and pop it in the freezer to solidify the oil. Once you have solid oil, skim that off and strain the vodka into another container, I usually use a coffee filter for this part. Now you have coconut fat washed vodka, look at you and your culinary expertise.

Take that coconut infused vodka and pop 2 ounces into your tins, with 1/2 an ounce of creme de cacao, 3/4 ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice, 3/4 of an ounce of Honey syrup and 1/2 an ounce of pineapple juice. 2-3 drops of Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters and some ice and you are ready to shake. Shake it to the beat of Bob Marley’s “One Love”, naturally. It’s got a great beat for shaking and it will help you get your head right. While you are shaking, ponder whether or not there is “a place for hopeless sinners, Who has hurt all mankind, just to save his own.” Try not to get caught up in tense and number agreement problems in this philosophical conundrum. Hey, I don’t write the lyrics, I just quote them. When your tins are good and cold, strain into something fun over pebble ice. You may have a fancy pebble ice machine on your counter, I personally, have a Sonic on the way home from the office, so I get mine there. However you acquire it, pack your vessel full and garnish with a pineapple frond crown, paper straw and maybe an umbrella, people love drinks with umbrellas. 

This is so good. A dessert tiki drink. Coconut and pineapple but chocolate forward, it’s kinda crazy but it works. It gets even better with a little dilution. A proper after luau sipper. 

Remember that properly researched and correctly attributed quote from way back in the first paragraph? It comes from “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and if you haven’t read it, you should. It is a story that we may not be able to completely appreciate or understand, but we should try. It shares experiences that we have all had, growing up, trying to figure out how the world works and what our place is in it. It also shares many things that should be completely alien, but sadly are all too familiar for far too many. You may not get it, you may not see how it applies to your life in 2020, but you should still read it. Try to get inside and see things from a different perspective. To feel the discomfort when Maya Angelou shares her pain with you as her words soar, thankful that for you, some of these experiences can be avoided simply by closing the book. Don’t close the book. Have the courage to view your world through the eyes of another. It may change the way you see things. It may not, but I have hope for you. I have hope for all of us. She wrote to share, to remind us of the way things were, to encourage us to look toward how things may yet be. It is noble work. The title was inspired by Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “Sympathy”, which says, in part: 

“When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings –
I know why the caged bird sings.”

Paul Laurence Dunbar

We are all caged in our own ways and we all need to sing. For all of the discomfort and the pain that led her to write this autobiography, there is great beauty in the simplicity of the quiet moments. When I first saw this recipe I thought of her. Early on she talks about her favorite things in her Grandma’s store, tin foil wrapped Hershey’s Kisses and canned pineapple, just like this drink with its pineapple and cacao flavors. These were special treats she gave, or denied, herself, depending on how she felt she had done. That always stuck out to me, canned pineapple was shared at Christmas and other celebrations, but the Kisses were introduced not as a thing she loved and deserved, but as a thing she denied herself when she didn’t live up to her own expectations. It’s subtle, but it speaks volumes. I feel that. The work is heralded as a “coming of age” story that explores overcoming racism and trauma through strength of character and a love of literature. It’s got some ugly moments, it is not always easy to read, which is why you should. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, but do your best to take care of others. Live that one love with one heart, cause, as Bob said, “there ain’t no hiding place from the father of creation.” Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.