i went to 3 different star markets in search of schweppes seltzer on sale (4 for $11) and none of them carried any flavors other than plain and something else: beacon street, porter square, mt.auburn street. is there a seltzer shortage or is star market trying to get rid of their schweppes seltzer inventory? good news is i caught my first pokemon bouffalant.

after searching in vain at two supermarkets for seltzer, i put the cover on my motorcycle (heard there might be a chance of rain later in the afternoon) then took the bicycle to belmont. i ran into my mother on her way back from her daily walk. the weather was cool this morning but got progressively hotter and more humid as the day wore on. i had some rice porridge for lunch.

酸梅湯 (sour plum drink)
1 gallon

25g roselle flowers (洛神花)
120g hawthorn slices (山楂)
50g dried smoked plums (烏梅)
5g chinese licorice (甘草)
400g yellow rock sugar (冰糖)
20g dried orange peels (陳皮)

4L water (1 gal)

rinse first 4 ingredients and soak in water for 30 minutes. add to 4L of water in pot and cook on high heat. once boiling, lower temperature and simmer for 40 minutes. add rock sugar to taste. soak dried orange peels and add to liquid, boiling on high for 5 minutes. separate out liquid from solids with a strainer. serve hot or cold.

my parents were making sour plum drink (酸梅湯). earlier in the week my father had weighed out the ingredients and mixed everything into a ready-to-use package. we were essentially following this particular recipe we found on youtube (chinese language only). they already had the roselle flowers and orange peels, i got everything else from chinatown on wednesday morning. they already left the dry ingredients to soak for 1-1/2 hours, more than the recipe's 30 minutes. next came the boiling. my mother strained the solids and poured the red-tinged soaking water (full of flavors) into the pot with a gallon of water. she didn't need to do that since the ingredients were supposed to be added into the pot anyway. once it started boiling, we turned down the heat and left it to simmer for 40 minutes. we ended up simmering for a far longer time, as i accidentally turned the heat too low and it stopped simmering, before my mother caught my mistake.

while waiting for the sour plum drink to finish simmering, my father and i watched another youtube video where a taiwanese woman tried 5 different recipes and let her 3 children decide which one was the best. that one was interesting because it shows the interplay of the 6 ingredients and how adding more or less of one thing could change the flavor. what we got from that video was adding more dried smoked plums increased the flavor (unfortunately dried smoked plums is the most expensive of the ingredients) and upping the sugar content makes it more palatable and delicious, especially for kids.

our originally recipe called for 130g of rock sugar. we tried it with that amount but found the drink too bland and too sour, hardly taste any sugar. so we added another 130g and gave it a second taste. it was slightly sweeter, but still wasn't at that sweet spot where all the flavors coalesced together. so we decided to add 140g - essentially the entire 400g packet of rock sugar. that definitely made it sweeter, maybe even a bit too sweet, we probably don't need that much next time. but sugar is key. without the sweetness, the sour is too overbearing. the sweetness also seems to enhance all the other flavors, and without it the drink tastes bland. with the proper amount of sugar, you tasted the sweetness, then the sour, followed by the smokiness of the dried plums, and that after note of lingering sweetness from the licorice. the roselle flowers gave the drink that distinctive red color, as well as contributing to the sourness. the hawthorn slices as well adds to the tartness, plus imparting it's own sweetness. we didn't taste the orange peels though, it can probably be left out altogether.

my father likes to drink it hot while i prefer cold. sour plum drink isn't something you guzzle down, but more to be enjoyed in sips, so you can taste the complexity of the different ingredients.

i watched playoff game 4 between the celtics and the 76ers. boston was already up 3-0 in the series, philadelphia was in danger of being eliminated in a sweep. celtics ended up winning. 76ers just couldn't get a break. at one point tobias harris landed on his head, hard enough to see it bounce and then lie on the ground bleeding as trainers ran out to see if he was okay. he left the game but surprisingly came back (do they have concussion protocols in the NBA?), but boston already smelled blood by that point and philly couldn't stop the onslaught. the celtics will now face the toronto raptors, game 1 on thursday.

in the afternoon my father and i went to the cafe to put some meats in the freezer. coming back, we stopped by the mt.auburn star market so i could look for my schweppes seltzers. they only had plain and black cherry, both my least favorite, so i didn't get either. my father got a bottle of mead after i told him it was honey wine.

i finally ventured out into the backyard today, primarily to take photos, but also refill the lotus barrels. summer is almost over and i've yet to see a single aerial leaf. i was outside right when the weather started to change. my father was busy relocating some foxglove plants when it started to rain, fat drops that quickly increased in intensity. i ran inside not to get out of the rain but to grab an umbrella so i could see how fast the rain barrels were filling up.

not only was there torrential rains (we got almost 2 inches, judging from the rain amount in some empty containers), but there was also a lot of thunder and lightning, to the point where i thought we'd get electrocuted. the barrels didn't have time to fill as rain began pouring out of the overflow tubes. i filled a few buckets what i was outside, so we could have some additional water besides the barrels. there was also brief periods of strong winds, powerful enough to topple the gardenia plant as well as the A-frame ladder.

my clothes were soaked afterwards. fortunately i brought a spare t-shirt (thinking i might be sweat soaked from cycling), but didn't bring an additional pair of shorts so i spent the rest of the day in my boxers, waiting for my shorts to dry. they never did, and i ended up having to wear an old pair from my high school days. it barely fit, and i couldn't close the button without feeling i'm wearing a girdle so i wore it unbuttoned for breathability.

by 7pm i was ready to head back home after dinner, but it was still thunderstorming outside. i decided to wait it out, see if the weather cleared up. by 8pm it was still raining and thundering, but not as badly as before, so i decided to gut it out and return home.

it wasn't too bad, but my t-shirt and shorts were soaked by the time i got home. luckily i had that clothes rack a few days ago, which came in handy. after a shower and changing into some dry clothes, i watched episode 2 of lovecraft country. it was a strange episode, crammed a lot of content in an hour, and made changes from the book, including the death of a character (maybe he would've died eventually in the book, i never got to that part).