Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Sip of Autumn

So I know I have been like the worst blogger ever, randomly posting, having no schedule at all and telling everyone that I'll be more on top of it. But as it would turn out, my personality doesn't really support these promises. So I have decided to let go of any kind of "holding myself to it" and have decided to embrace the fact that the beauty of blogging is not being on any kind of schedule. The other reason I have been so held back from writing besides the fact that I'm awful at following routine is that I only ever want to write about truly mouth watering treats. Things that impress and inspire me and my foodie-ness. And it just so happens that this is one of those very foodie occasions.

And while I know that we are not exactly out of the summer heat yet (unless of course you live where I do and have been in mostly winter this summer) I am starting to have cravings for fall and all the wonderful food surprises it brings.

To me autumn feels like a point of renewal, a time to take a look at yourself and re-evaluate how you live your life. I have been having such thoughts of renewal as I contemplate my move back to the east coast to go back to school. I've made goals for myself: eat better, more veggies, exercise more, practice more, work more, care more about school and myself. And while I find it is absolutely fantastic to have so much free time in which to bake wonderfully sweet treats, I feel it is time to go back to the goodness of healthy, natural, simple eating.

Watching the food network a lot lately, I am inspired by the fact that they make everything from scratch. Things that I wouldn't normally make in order to save time such as broths and ice cream and pasta and mayonnaise. But making it from scratch ensures you are using wholesome ingredients, that there is no trans fat (which is the only fat with sufficient evidence that it can cause CHD, coronary heart disease) and that it is made, although perhaps with a side of frustration, from the heart. 

Today's recipe is still a little sugary but it definitely brings to mind the essence of autumn and renewal and the feeling that I can do anything (especially in cooking). Chai tea is one of my most loved warm brews to be sipped on crisp autumn mornings. I particularly love chai lattes which combine creamy and spicy together to make a richness that I imagine some princess in a snow castle drinking with Turkish delight up on a brightly colored cushion.

Homemade Chai Tea
adapted from the Earthbound Farms Cookbook

You will need:
-1 cinnamon stick (4 inch)
-6-8 whole cloves
-fresh ginger (3 inch piece) peeled and sliced thinnly
-1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
-6-8 cardamom seeds (or 1/2 tsp. ground)
-zest of one lemon or orange in thick strips (use a peeler)
-3 cups water
-4 black tea bags (I used Lipton and it turned out great)
-1/2 cup low fat milk
-1/2 cup half n half
-1/4-1/3 cup sugar

1. Crush the cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, and cardamom by any means you have into pieces. It doesn't need to be a powder, just crushed enough that everything is in small pieces. I used a plastic bag and one of those kitchen hammer things (I don't know what it's called) and that worked fine.

2. Add your newly crushed spices to a medium saucepan and add your zest. Bring the mix to a boil and then turn the heat to low and cover for 10 min.

3. Take off the heat and add your tea bags. Steep for 5 min. with the lid on.

4. Remove the tea bags. Add your milk, half n half, and sugar and stir on medium heat until the sugar dissolves.

5. Strain the tea into whatever you want to store it in and discard of the solids. Serve immediately or let it sit out covered with plastic wrap with some holes in the top until it reached room temperature before storing it in the fridge.

6. Feel free to add whipped cream if you wish to serve it as a dessert. It is excellent!

I hope you enjoy this little sip of autumn. Happy Cooking!

-Kristin

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