We are creatures of habit. I don’t even have a day job anymore, yet I still fall into many of the same routines that I had when my schedule was “up at six, home at six”. Coffee, work, eat, drink, sleep, repeat. Thankfully, I no longer get up at six a.m. to face an hour commute in brutal traffic. I have time during the day to balance my sedentary behavior with activities such as exercise class, chores, and shopping. But just like my days as a cubicle dweller, I drink coffee while typing furiously on my computer for a few hours, hoping to be productive.
Sometimes we’re mindful of creating a new habit and do so with preparation, planning, and intention. Other times a new habit is born out of impulse or necessity, and we only realize afterward that a routine has been established. As a self-proclaimed Boozy Lifestyle guru, I’m not about to suggest cutting out alcohol completely. Keeping in mind the balance between staying healthy and elevating the ordinary with booze, our solution was to reduce our weekly consumption by going dry two days a week. My drinking buddy threw out Tuesday and Thursday as the sacrificial lambs and we purposefully created a new weekly drinking habit.
Over the course of months of practicing Dry Two Days A Week (like #DryJanuary but with 73 more days per year of righteous abstinence), Wednesday became an oasis in which to nourish our hump day blues in the “Dry” midweek desert. With complicated drink lab experiments often performed on the weekends when I take time for planning cocktail recipes and gathering spirits and other ingredients, Wednesday’s drink of choice gravitated towards an easy to open bottle of wine. Our Wednesday wines tend to be budget-friendly; sometimes an old familiar favorite and other times something new.
As wine naturally found its place in the middle of the week, so did an accompanying cheese plate. No matter how cliché, wine and cheese will always belong together. Like peanut butter and jelly or spaghetti and meatballs. Although not as wide-ranging as a specialty store, our local supermarket’s deli department has a decent selection including brie, chevre, Havarti, Boursin, cheddar, gouda, and various Italian cheeses. My favorite new cracker is a store-brand, gluten-free sesame rice crisp. We add a couple of slices of pepperoni and the cheese course is complete.
Filling up on wine and cheese isn’t a good precursor to a big meal, so we gravitated towards a small plate to complete dinner. A salad with avocado and feta cheese is one of our healthier choices. Sometimes we treat ourselves to extra-large shrimp from the seafood market for shrimp cocktail. If I haven’t prepared ahead of time, frozen mini quiches or mini spanakopita can be cooked in the oven in no time. Pre-made hummus from the grocery store is acceptable but I also like to make my own now and then with this recipe.
- 1 can chickpeas (about 15 oz.), rinsed in a colander
- 1/8 cup tahini paste
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
- Pita bread or chips for serving
- Add all ingredients except water to the food processor and pulse to chop.
- Add water a little at a time until consistency becomes creamy.
- Remove to a serving bowl and top with sun-dried tomatoes.
- Serve with warmed pita wedges or pita chips.
Another small plate I can pull out of a hat is crostini with bruschetta or eggplant caponata. I usually have a baguette in the freezer that can be sliced and toasted, then topped with spreads from a jar or homemade. If I’ve got some decent tomatoes and fresh basil on hand, I make bruschetta with this recipe.
- ½ pound of tomatoes, hand chopped and strained
- 2 cloves of garlic, diced
- 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon of red onion, diced
- Several torn fresh basil leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
- Splash of olive oil or balsamic salad dressing
- Sprinkle of Italian herbs or oregano
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- Bread for serving
- Chop, salt, and strain the tomatoes for at least 15 minutes.
- Gently mix the tomatoes, garlic, parmesan cheese, onion, basil, and herbs in a bowl.
- Drizzle the olive oil or balsamic dressing over the mixture. The balsamic vinegar adds tang, but a good extra virgin olive oil works just as well. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Cut a French bread loaf on a diagonal for larger pieces. If serving on a long roll, cut it lengthwise and then in half.
- Brush the top side of the bread with olive oil and toast in the toaster oven.
- Top the bread with the bruschetta and consume immediately, while the toasted bread is still warm.
Our dinners vary from week to week; we’ve never been ones to eat a set meal on a specific day. But we’ve unintentionally formed a new habit with wine and small plates on Wednesday that’s both satisfying and reasonably healthy.