When Doing It Yourself Isn't Always Easier (And You Don't Care One Little Bit)

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It's satisfying to make things in your own kitchen for several reasons, but often just knowing that you can is all the satisfaction you need — gaining that new cooking merit badge for your sash is enough on its own. Recently, I had the chance to make the hibiscus-laden drink jamaica, and even though it ultimately cost more to make than to buy, when the zombie apocolypse comes, I'll be sipping pretty. 

Although jamaica has been a favorite drink of mine for the better part of the last decade of my life, I've never attempted it at home. I've always lived where it's readily available and never felt the need. Upon moving to Chicago last year, I've become a frequent visitor to Rick Bayless' establishments. Although anything that comes from one of his kitchens is a tasty treat for sure, I have a serious soft spot for that sweet red drink. 

There are many store-bought mixes you can buy to mix up jamaica in your own kitchen, but they've all proven to be too much sugar or without a certain tartness that feels lost in the packaging and processing of it all. 

Last week, I was determined to make it from scratch and gathered all the necessary ingredients: hibiscus flowers, sugar syrup, lemon grass. The drink came together beautifully. I made a tea from the flowers, added homemade sugar syrup, and cut the drink with water and iced to taste. 

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Store-bought mixes require the easy addition of water and alleviate the concern that you might stain the daylights out of your countertop (thank you, hibiscus). But making it from scratch was far more satisfying, fun, and tasty. 

Some days you don't care that you made a mess, stained your fingers, and ate up time that always feels so precious. For me, entertaining doesn't always have to be a big dinner party, it can be friends standing around a kitchen island trying something new.  

Have you made somethng recently that was a bit time consuming, but you were proud you tackled yourself? Let us know below!

Related: Recipe to Feed a Crowd: Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

(Image: Sarah Rae Trover)


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Sarah Trover has lived all across the Midwest and currently calls the hot dog-laden city of Chicago home. She rides scooters and seeks out kitchens that make the best pie.