The Greens

So my job these days is, I am “The Juice Lady”.  Someone ought to embroider me a hat about it or something…no, I shouldn’t be so glib. Actually I think that having a bit of notoriety might be a good thing, especially after the feedback I have gotten today.

My drink du jour, (well – I make it every day) is The Greens – it is an expansion on a recipe I concocted while working at the Diner. The original purpose of this beverage, was to get my ass through an entire shift at work, while nauseatingly, brain-splitting-headachingly, hung the eff over.

It is, apparently, a green juice. Both the color and flavor are unerringly green, but unlike most other green juices, it does not taste bad, or bitter, not even salty. It is tangy and slightly sweet, with a spicy hint of ginger. Originally it was simply apple, cucumber, spinach, parsley, lemon and ginger – but it has since evolved. But first, let’s devolve, shall we?

Back we go in time, until we find young Rya, trying not to puke on her shoes, and grimly surveying the next 7 hours of dish-washing ahead of her. (By the way, I actually really prefer washing dishes over dealing with the public, nothing personal.) Little Rya knows she needs to hydrate, she is also vaguely aware that she could likely use some nutrients. She has tried every drink on the menu – as is she privy to all other off-menu drinks, one of the most famous being the elusive green juice. Everyone has their own spin on it, and so they should – it is my heartfelt belief that food and nutrition are very personal issues…

So when some one would ordere a green juice, I would simply and patiently (as I could manage) ask them what-all that particular term meant to them, & even jot it down, if they were being eccentric about it, and then juice the stuff up. But after a while, I began to wonder, why must this green stuff (oh healthiest of all health drinks! – excepting, of course wheat-grass, which is not actually a drink, but a shot) taste, like ass?

Especially when I had so many yummy things to juice? Now of course the availability of produce at the Diner was far below the luxury of what exists at the New Moon. & I really cannot stress enough, how hard it is to get fresh, organic produce, anywhere, really – but in Reno especially! There is nothing more antagonizing than some schmo moaning about how not everything on the menu isn’t organic. & now I have a set up where everything is – what thanks do I get? It costs too much. News flash kittens, even if money did grow on trees, you still wouldn’t have any because growing trees is really hard! & then you have to transport and store whatever grew on said tree, & all of this work is costly and time consuming, so organic food – cannot be quick and cheap. It is simply not in it’s nature.

So – while suffering through, and experimenting with, all of these factors – and trying not to drink myself to death over them, I came up with the afore mentioned recipe, though the cucumbers and parsley were not, organic – (gasp!). But it still tasted divine, I would juice up a big 20-ouncer, and throw it over ice in a 32oz. ball jar. Yes, I know, it’s a faux-pas to ice live food – it frightens the nutrients, and then they will not do your bidding! It is even a no-no to have a green drink all sugared up with apples! Selah.

This drink still saved my life on many an occasion, changing me from a shrunken, whiskey stinking, troll – so a somewhat passable human being, of the female variety, none-the less! So when the New Moon juice bar was born, ironically with the exact same model of juicer (Ruby 2000!), I started making the juices once more. Primarily as a mode of relief from the pressures of work. Certainly I do not drink like I used’ta-could, however I am still often quite tired, and I still get headaches, and sometimes I am just plain hung. But nine times out of ten it’s just being prematurely burnt-out.

Fortunately, I do now have the fabulous New Moon produce to work with, we don’t use spinach at the bar, but kale, and I only juice dino, or lactino kale (unless there is some limpy regular green kale that the produce boys bring me, then I will go ahead and use it, but it gums up the Ruby much faster, I think). Dino kale is the really dark green stuff, with leathery and bumpy leaves, like dino-skin, er… scales. I also now use lime instead of lemon, and I have added a few other ingredients, mainly broccoli, which is full of anti-oxidants, among other things (I am guessing, you look it up). That was an idea given to me by one of my favorite customers, Suki. She said she would cook the crowns of the broccoli, but not the stems, so she started saving them for juicing. At the Moon I just juice the whole thing, since broccoli tends to wilt on the produce rack pretty quickly. The broccoli itself is still perfectly serviceable, but no one will pay three dollars for a wilty broccoli, so the produce boys give me the least impressive of the bunches every morning (or so) and I prep it up. The last new and improved ingredient is, dandelion greens! These are apparently good for your liver, they are really bitter, and I was actually opposed to them at first, but people kept requesting them in random concoctions of their own, so I have added them to the repertoire.

So this drink is something of a creation at this point, a creation that I do not normally praise so thoroughly in public, but after the comments I received, I have decided to say a few words in it’s honor. There are a lot of tourists this time of year… the snow base is good, the weather is mild, and the Olympics are on, where Tahoe girls, are kicking ass and taking names, most notably Mancuso. So that just makes it a nice place to be, and I have noticed that it is the young mothers on vacation who are most willing to try the greens. They are hip to the whole health-food bit, and really it is their kids who amaze me, asking, “Mom, is this gluten free?” I didn’t even know what gluten was until my mid-twenties! Anyhow, there were two such ladies who tried my drink yesterday, one said that it was, like, the best green juice she’d ever tasted, and the other hadn’t tried hers till she got out to the car. When she got back to her cabin or condo or what have you, she called New Moon to sing the Greens’ praises, and asked me exactly how much of what went in it, so she could make it at home! She also asked me about juicers, and I recommended a cold-press model, if she cared to invest in one, and then she finished by saying how she was just so surprised at how good the drink tasted.

To which I agreed, and added that I often tasted tropical flavors (like coconut) or even floral notes, & while I was saying this, on the phone, back in the back-stock room, one of the boys interrupted me, saying, “Shut up, Rya” which I found vaguely amusing but did not falter in my exclamations. I am the wine buyer, I get shit all the time about how snooty it is to taste wines and try to discuss it’s properties. I find it fascinating and amazing, that there are so many nuances in the universe to be discovered, and if someone thinks I am being snooty about it, I really don’t give a damn, but I will say that that is why a fairly solid 80% of what goes through my head in thought never makes it out of my mouth. Because people are just too closed off and self interested to even try communicating with.

Later on I came home and made two pre-fab Indian dishes, Sukhi’s Chicken Tikka Masala (which comes with a nice piece of frozen naan), and Amy’s Matter Paneer. They are both delicious dishes, as far as pre-fab goes, and made with quality ingredients, the two of them side by side does, indeed make a fairly solid Indian style dinner with little to no fuss. I actually heated these up in the regular oven, it just seemed easier and bought me some time to sip on my Alaskan Smoked Porter – also a notable drink of integrity and history, probably even more so than my Greens. & in the end, I actually wished I had just nuked them, because they weren’t very hot in the middle, but I had already turned off the oven, my bad, I’m sooo lazy sometimes…


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