A Feast

Recently I was honored to be treated to a feast of grilled pizzas whipped up by my dear friend, Judy. You can read about the adventures of “2 Girls and 11 Pizzas” here.

Not only is Judy the mixed media queen extraordinaire, she is a marvelous cook. Ideally, the pizza should be cooked on an outside grill, however, if you don’t have access to that type of grill, you can always make your pizza in a grill pan on the stove. You don’t even have to make your own dough. You can get the frozen kind from the grocery store along with pizza sauce, cheese and your choice of toppings. I can’t wait to try it.

Yum.

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Saturday Morning Tea

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It has definitely been a rainy spring here in New England. As I look at the 10-day weather forecast, there are more clouds than suns and some of those clouds have lightning bolts coming out of them. Being an admitted doppler radar geek, I do love a good thunderstorm. But I digress from my cup of tea…

This morning’s tea is a black Ceylon tea from the Adawatte estate. Located about 1/2 – 3/4 mile above sea level on the eastern slopes of the mountains in the Uva district of Sri Lanka, this estate is a tea, rubber and forestry estate.

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You can read about how tea cultivation came to the island of Sri lanka in one of my previous posts here. Originally, coffee was grown there.

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The tea grown in the higher elevations of Sri Lanka tends to have a brighter, brisk quality to it. This tea is very characteristic of a high grown Uva.

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I steeped the dark, chunky leaves for 4 minutes in 212 degree F water. The dark amber liquor has a minty, citrus aroma that carries on into its flavor notes. This tea would make a very refreshing iced tea with slices of juicy lemon and crisp sprigs of mint for garnish. Mmmm…now if the weather would just cooperate with some hot, sunny, iced tea drinking days…

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Today I am attending a Garden Tea Party at the home of a dear friend. She has asked each guest to bring a plant to swap and also something chocolate to share. I was going to stop at my favorite local candy shop to pick up some dark chocolate creams. I especially love the ones filled with orange and raspberry cream. But then I came across this recipe in my blog wanderings. Made with melted milk chocolate, cocoa powder and milk chocolate chunks, it is sheer decadence in cookie form. In a recent issue of Vegetarian Times, I was so happy to see that cocoa was listed number one on the anti-oxidant list.

Tea and chocolate – what more can anyone ask for?

Giving chocolate to others is an intimate form of communication, a sharing of deep, dark secrets. ~Milton Zelman, “Chocolate News”

Saturday Morning Tea

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My daughter gave me a lovely bouquet of tulips for Mother’s Day. This morning I was cutting the stems down and rearranging them in a vase when a petal fell onto the kitchen counter. It cradles this morning’s tea, a Tie-Guan-Yin Oolong called Special Tribute.

There is a legend regarding how this particular Oolong came into being. Many years ago in Fujian Province in China, a poor tea farmer named Mr. Wei would walk by a temple everyday on his way to the tea fields. As each day passed, he noticed that no one cared for the temple so it was becoming quite run down. Inside he found a statue of Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. He did not have the means to fix up the temple but he felt that something needed to be done. One day he brought his broom and some incense. He lit the incense as an offering to the Goddess and swept the temple clean. That night Guan Yin came to him in a dream and told him of a cave where he would find a beautiful treasure for himself and to share with others. The treasure turned out to be a tea shoot which Mr. Wei planted and nurtured into a large tea bush, producing the finest tea in the region. He shared cuttings with all his neighbors and started calling the tea produced from this bush Tie-Guan-Yin. Mr. Wei and all his neighbors prospered and were able to restore the temple to its beauty and many came to gather there. Now Mr. Wei felt joy everyday as he passed the temple on the way to his tea fields.

Isn’t that just a lovely story?

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I steeped the rolled leaf for 3 minutes in 180 degree F water. It relaxed a little after steeping but, for the most part, still kept its curly appearance.

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The pale yellow liquor is smooth and slightly sweet with nutty, woodsy notes and a hint of floral in the finish.

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I enjoyed my cuppa with the last of the blackberry crumble I made the other evening. Crumble is so easy to make and you can substitute your favorite fruit. Mix 1/2 cup each of rolled oats, brown sugar, and flour with a teaspoon of cinnamon. Then cut in 1/4 cup of butter until it’s crumbly. Place your choice of fruit (about 2-4 cups, soaked in sugar beforehand, if you wish) in a baking dish and sprinkle the crumble over it. Bake at 350 until browned. In my oven, it took about 25 minutes. Mmmmm….

“Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people.  Forget yourself.”

~Henry Miller

Saturday Morning Tea

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The air felt very still and heavy with moisture this morning as I walked out onto the back deck and greeted the morning. The birds darted through the trees, twittering and chirping, happy to be back home. I was so glad to see a tiny hummingbird preening itself on the weigela bush, its iridescent back flashing green in the morning light. Two male orioles chased each other through the trees in streaks of brilliant orange. It’s mating season and I’m sure this flying dance was all about territory and one certain lady bird. As I headed back inside to put the kettle on, the sky opened up and let forth a deluge. Perfect timing for a hot cuppa.

In honor of the magnificent green unfolding of spring, I am sipping a beautiful green tea called New Season Top Lung Ching. The flat broad leaf has a silky texture and a slight nutty aroma. I’ve written about and reviewed Lung Ching teas before here and here. The flat shape of the leaf is caused by the motion of the pan when the leaf is heated to stop oxidation.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 170 degree F water.

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Some of the leaves open slightly but most retain their “pea-pod” shape. The pale yellow color of the tea liquor is so light that it reminds me of a white tea. Everything about this tea is gentle, from the whisper of vegetal in the aroma to the smooth buttery corn flavor note. Very soft, very ethereal.

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I’ve been reading A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. Molly is best known as the author of the marvelous blog Orangette. With each chapter, Molly shares a life story and then a recipe. I love her chatty writing style and I feel like she’s sitting next to me sharing a cup of tea and a piece of cake from one of her mouthwatering recipes. Anyone who knows me well knows about my cooking phobia. So, as this year in my life seems to be all about standing up to my fears, I am taking the plunge and experimenting with baking. My work colleagues are quite pleased as they get to taste and enjoy the results of my efforts.  Since my experience with H.H. the Dalai Lama last weekend, I am thinking more and more about what life is all about and what gives me joy. I am discovering that I really like to create something with food.

A couple of evenings ago, I made the recipe found on page 20 for Blueberry-Raspberry Pound cake. I substituted blackberries I found on sale and added some orange and lemon zest. It came out quite wonderful and this morning I am savoring the last piece with my cup of tea. The blackberries lend a moist, jammy quality which I think balances wonderfully with the dense pound cake.

Hmmm, now what recipe shall I try next?

When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone.  Whether we know it or not, none of us is.  We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten.  Food is never just food.  It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.”

~Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life