Tea for Tuesday – Relax…

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There is nothing better than sitting quietly with a good journal and fancy pen trying out a new type of tea. This was a tea service that I gave to myself one day, and it was everything. The tea was unique; the food was exquisite, and the journaling was productive.

Have yourself a unique, exquisite, productive day.

(c)2023
(c)2023

The Year of the Rabbit

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Today marks the first day of the Chinese New Year. As you may know, the Asian new year is based on the lunisolar calendar and celebrates the spring season. In reading up on it, it sounds a bit like our American Thanksgiving where you gather with family and friends and reflect with gratitude on our lives. In the Asian countries it marks the end of the winter season. The evening before is commemorated with a Lantern Festival and there are many cultural rituals and customs to be done to bring in a happy and healthy new year. I will suggest that you google some of them. I don’t want to give out the wrong information on a culture that I do not belong to. I can tell you, however how we, as non-Asian Americans celebrate the Chinese New Year in our house.

One fun feature of googlingChinese New Year” or “Year of the Rabbit” is there is an animated fireworks display across your screen with an accompanying bunny. It is very colorful and fun. Mesmerizing to watch.

I’ve done it three times now.

Typically, the New Year begins between January 21 and February 20 on the new moon. This year it starts today. It was first mentioned during the Han Dynasty which flourished between 202 BCE and 220 CE. It was written that the celebration included worshipping the ancestors and toasting their parents and grandparents.

We don’t go overboard in our house; we’re not of Asian descent, but we love to enjoy multicultural holidays and usually (if not always) celebrate with food. We’ll get take-out from our favorite Chinese restaurant. I think the last time we had take-out was for Christmas Eve which is our yearly tradition. One year, we took the kids to the local Chinese buffet – it was my daughter’s first new year – she had been born that year on the 5th of January, so she was a tiny baby, but cutely dressed in red with a bow on her head. They gave the kids red envelopes for luck and there was a dragon dance through the restaurant around the tables along with a train that traveled just below the ceiling. It really was a special time for the kids. They loved it.

At home recently, we’ve been enjoying barbeque chicken tenders in Hoisin sauce. It’s my version with Chinese spices and sauce. It’s funny because my daughter is quite picky and won’t really eat a lot of sauces or dressings, but she loves the hoisin sauce as well as the sesame chicken she gets from the restaurant. I also do a great fried rice, and now that I’m thinking of it, maybe I’ll whip that up some time this week. I’ll need sesame oil and I already have the eggs; those are probably the biggest expense.

The bunny picture that I’ve shared above is one that we’ve seen in our backyard. I think because we don’t have dogs, the rabbits tend to congregate in our yard. We even had babies in a burrow one spring. This one is probably the biggest rabbit we’ve seen locally.

Two customs that everyone can do is clean your house to sweep out the ill and welcome the good fortune. This is similar to our Jewish custom at Passover of cleaning and getting rid of any bread and crumbs to make ready for the unleavened matzo. Decorations in red are also fun to hang in windows and on doors.

For anyone wondering, my zodiac sign is the Horse.

Tea for Tuesday

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This advice from VeryBritishProblems may sound a bit peevish at first, but for tea, the microwave is very uneven. You’re likely to find the first sip warm, and then drink it faster only to discover the middle scalding. Best to boil new water and brew another tea bag for evenness. One thing I learned from Douglas Adams’s advice on the perfect cup of tea is to boil the water, fill your mug, and pour it out. Then refill the mug with the boiled water and a tea bag. Let it steep. This will warm the cup and keep your tea warmer longer. I’ve tried this method and it really is perfect.

We also invested in an electric kettle. It is very fast and does a great job, and by invest, we paid about $25, so it easily pays for itself if you start brewing your tea at home.

Proper British Tea. (c)2023

National Hot Tea Day

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My breakfast nook! My special place for tea preparation. (c)2022-2023

I finally broke down and created this special area for our breakfast needs. My husband works from home and makes himself coffee every morning. For myself, I drink tea, especially during the cold months, and I wanted a space that spoke to me and that I could find everything I needed for my cup of tea since tea is more than a drink – it is life-giving and life-sustaining. There is so much more to tea than drinking leaves steeped in hot water.

One of my favorite ways to make tea is the way Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy described in 1999. It really works well. It’s the using a hot cup that really does the trick. You can read his brilliant way to brew tea by clicking here.

Here is George Orwell’s take on it as well: A Nice Cup of Tea

What I’ve discovered about brewing tea is that the simple ways are the best ways.

  1. If you’re making tea one cup at a time, the cup should be hot.
  2. The water should be boiling.
  3. The tea bag should not be left in the cup once it has been steeped.
  4. And under no circumstances should the tea bag be squeezed.
  5. Sugar, honey, agave, your sweetener is your choice, but I prefer the tried and true sugar.

Enjoy.

Check out my instagram later today for the cup of tea I had this morning with my breakfast bagel!

Tea for Tuesday – National Tea Month

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There is never a wrong day to drink tea. I had two cups of hot tea myself on Sunday and one hot vanilla chai latte yesterday. January is National Tea Month, although I’ve seen several references to hot tea month. I’m not sure which is accurate, so pick your favorites and have a cuppa.

This coming Thursday is National Hot Tea Day, and that is when I will share my favorite missive on the proper brewing of hot tea from Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

In the meantime, to whet your appetite for the nectar of the gods, enjoy some of my favorite tea-related photos below:

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*waves to 2022* *Welcomes 2023*

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As I struggle to write this last post of the year, I think on the last few weeks. (Because honestly, I can’t remember much further back from then without looking at my calendar or camera roll.) My husband and I started watching Wednesday, the Netflix series. I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch it, but one episode later, and I’m hooked. We’re also finishing Derry Girls and tonight we’ll be watching Banshees of Innisherin for our New Year. This is the first year we are home alone with no kids, and I have a series of stress induced stomach flips thinking about where they are and if they’re safe. One is at a hockey game, and two are out with friends. They’re all responsible, but I still worry. That’s the nature of parenting I suppose.

So a few pictures:

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O Chanukah, O Chanukah

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Light the Menorah….

Today is the first night of Chanukah. It is also the fourth Sunday of Advent and the eighteenth year since my Mother died. I always say that she died intentionally on this day – 25th of Kislev. On the Julian calendar she died on December 8th, which was the 25th of Kislev. Her yartzeit will always be on the first night of Chanukah. I know she did this on purpose; there is no excuse to forget her candle. I’ve seen others with anniversaries on other important days have mixed feelings on the sharing of a sad day with a happy one, and I do feel the sadness from eighteen years ago, but I also think fondly and lovingly on this day, remembering my mother and her ways. I see her in myself especially as I get older. I said something to my daughter tonight, and I had to pause because I sounded exactly like my mother. I think when I was younger this would have bothered me, but today, it made me feel not only closer to her, but closer to my daughter. We used my childhood menorah tonight, which will feel like putting my hand in a fiery piece of the sun by the end of the holiday; it radiates heat when all nine candles are blazing brightly.

My husband managed to find some gelt. It’s nearly impossible in this area, and I did order a small batch online, but it won’t be here until later in the week. I really like to give the kids their dreidls and gelt on the first night, and we were able to. I even found colored (blue and clear) plastic dreidls (at Target) that I could fill with the chocolate coins and one Maccabee chocolate soldier each. I’d never seen those before (from Bed, Bath, and Beyond).

I also made the best latkes I think I’ve ever made in my life. They truly were perfect and that never happens. I eat them with applesauce and sour cream, both. Why should I choose between them?! I also fried up some chicken cutlets, which were also excellent. The whole house smells of oil: olive for the chicken; vegetable for the latkes.

Here’s to the light of the season, no matter where it’s coming from or what holiday you’re celebrating this month.

(c)2022

Friday Food. December.

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December is full of different types of food to fill the days of the different types of holidays we celebrate throughout the month of December. Recently, I went to a Festival Of Learning and had Latkes with applesauce (personally I love applesauce AND sour cream with my latkes) for Chanukah and Mexican Hot Chocolate with Molasses cookies for La Posada, and tonight (if it doesn’t snow) it will be something wonderful to celebrate Kwanzaa.

Our family Christmas traditions revolve around food and my husband’s traditions. Christmas Eve is Chinese take-out for dinner and Christmas morning breakfast is Dunkin’ Donuts. For dinner, it’s his mother’s tradition of a proper British carve up: roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, carrots & peas, plus a few of our own favorites. One year I made Yorkshire pudding which is both intimidating and easier than you think it is. She always made Trifle, which I have not even attempted.

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Friday Food. November. Leftover Pasta.

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Leftover Rotelli, also known by my son as that thing you do with pasta. This “thing I do with pasta” changes depending on the food that goes with it. This was just thrown together and it was good enough to take a picture and try to recreate the recipe.

I apologize for the lack of real measurements. You kind of have to feel this one, but you’ll be able to adjust as you go along. I have confidence in you.

  • In a wok, heat 1-2 TB sesame oil. Add nutmeg, orange peel, garlic powder and teriyaki sauce.
  • Add the noodles.
  • Then more teriyaki sauce, more garlic powder.
  • Add 1/2 to a whole bag of frozen mixed vegetables. Let them unfreeze in the noodles and warm up a bit, then add about 1/3 cup of hoisin sauce (our new favorite condiment) and 1/4 stick of unsalted butter.
  • Mix over a medium heat.
  • Cover until hot, mixing occasionally and checking the temperature for how you prefer it.

Everything is already cooked so it’s up to you to decide when it’s done.
You’ll know when it is.

Leftover Rotelli, Asian style.
(c)2022