Favorite Tea

When cold weather arrives, I drink a lot more tea.  I do drink tea when it’s warmer outside, too, but I gravitate more toward hot drinks when the temperatures dip below 55.

Some teas are nicer when it’s warm out.  I like light, fruity tea in the spring and summer.  But when the leaves turn and I consider pulling on my long underwear, I like richer teas with warmer flavors.

This Lemon Ginger tea by Stash has an almost spicy warmth to it.  The ginger causes a slight burn in the back of the throat.  I like this one especially when I’m starting to feel a little under the weather, but it’s nice any time I want something that’s not too heavy but plenty warm.  It is really good with some honey in it.

The Meijer Gold Red Tea is darker and richer.  It doesn’t have a heavy taste at all, but still feels almost like it’s coating my tummy with a nice warm blanket.

Thanksgiving and Christmas make me think about cranberries, and this year I really discovered how much I really love cranberries.  This Trader Joe’s tea combines cranberries with green tea.

“Candy Cane Lane” from Celestial Seasonings pairs green tea with peppermint.  I didn’t think I’d like it.  I’ve not been a huge fan of green tea over the years, and while I’ve come to appreciate it, I didn’t think I’d like it with peppermint.  I was very wrong!  This tea is great with a little bit of sugar.  Perfect for drinking while watching Christmas specials on TV.

This cinnamon tea from Harney & Sons is the heaviest of the teas I’ve got today.  It’s a loose leaf tea, and you actually have to be careful not to get too much in your tea ball, or the taste will be overwhelming.  It’s a black tea with plenty of cinnamon.  It’s so dark it almost looks like black coffee.  Because this one is so rich and warm, it’s the one I choose on the coldest days, before the fire in the wood stove has heated up the house.

Do you have any favorite teas for fall and winter?  Please share!  I’m always looking for good, new flavors in my cup.

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Monday Meal: Let’s Hear It For the Boyz

Monday was a meal of Monte Cristos and Apples & Onions.  Monte Cristos are one of David’s favorite meals, and he had asked Chef Sunday if he could help make them because he wanted to learn how.  Of course, Chef agreed.

But when Monday came, David had homework he wanted to finish.  Plus, Malachi, our nephew and one of David’s good friends, showed up.  David and Malachi don’t get a lot of time to hang out, so David was hesitant to pass up time with his friend in order to help Chef.  But then Malachi agreed to work in the kitchen, too, so they got the best of both worlds!

They started with the Monte Cristos.  Chef lined up the bread, and David was responsible for slathering on the mayonnaise while Malachi took charge of the mustard.

While those were cooking, they moved on to Apples and Onions.  Malachi used the Apple Corer-Peeler-Slicer.

David worked on sauteeing the apples and onions with the bacon.

The meal, of course, was wonderful.  And I bet the boys enjoyed eating even more because they knew they’d helped.

Well, that’s what I like to think anyway.  And if I convince them, then maybe they’ll take over the cooking altogether!

Creme Brulee

Chef was gracious enough to tell me (again!) the recipe for his creme brulee:

Ingredients:

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 quart of heavy cream

6 egg yolks

Method:

mix ingredients, pour into ramekins, bake in a water bath for 40 min at 350 or so. For chocolate I melted a couple of milk-chocolate bars and mixed them into half of the above mixture.

Note: if you want the crisp topping, sprinkle with sugar and burn with a small propane or butane torch.

Monday Meal: Pre-Thanksgiving

A couple of weeks ago, our housemate Lisa came home with a frozen turkey in her arms.  “Do you think this will thaw by tomorrow?” she said, that Sunday afternoon.

“No,” Chef and I both replied.

“Oh, shoot.  I was thinking you could use it for Monday dinner,” she said.

Chef answered, “Well, we already have Monday dinner planned.” (that was Camp Miners’ Pie Miners’ Camp Pie week.) “But we can use it next week.”

“Okay,” Lisa said.  “I was just hoping to have some for my lunch this week.  I need a little more protein in my diet.”

I won’t try to understand the logic of a woman who buys a thirteen pound turkey to get “a little more protein” — instead of buying, oh I don’t know, lunch meat.

Anyway, that meant we had turkey for our Monday Meal.  And the most scrumptious mashed potatoes with fabulous gravy.  And some lovely sauteed red cabbage.  And hot, spiced apple cider to drink.

If only I had a photo that wasn’t blurry.  (My friends Rajeev and Karen fixed my camera — it was on manual focus instead of auto focus — but that was after all the lovely food was in our lovely bellies.  So while I could post a photo that I took, you would see only colors and question the prescription in your eyeglasses.  Next week should hold better photos.  I hope.)

However, I can give you a few tips.

Chef’s secret to a yummy turkey:  bake it inside a paper bag.  You know, the kind you get at the grocery store.  He says it makes all the difference in keeping the moisture in the bird.  And fear not, the bag won’t catch fire.  Paper burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit, after all (anyone remember Ray Bradbury?)

Image courtesy fantasticfiction.co.uk

And you won’t be cooking your turkey at such a high temperature.

The secret to amazing gravy?  Use the drippings from the turkey.  Avoid packaged gravy mixes! They are yucky.

The secret to fabulous mashed potatoes?  I didn’t ask Chef about this one, but my guess is lots of butter.

And for the cabbage, just slice it and saute it in hot oil.  Once it’s slightly caramelized (brown), cover and let it steam until it’s just slightly crisp.

And for dessert, we had creme brulee.  The funny thing is that Chef said he couldn’t remember the recipe so he looked it up on my blog.  But when I just looked it up, I found where we had creme brulee one night, but I didn’t list the recipe!  So I’m not sure where he found it.  I know he used egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk, and probably some vanilla.  He also made some chocolate creme brulee.  There was much debate over whether the vanilla or the chocolate was better.  I wholeheartedly voted for the vanilla.

I know, you want recipes.  I’ll do my best to get them from Chef.  But he’s in Tennessee right now, so they will have to come in another post.  Along with pictures, which I don’t have from Monday due to the camera trouble.  Oh, darn, that just means we’ll have to make creme brulee again so I can get photos, doesn’t it?

So, this pre-Thanksgiving didn’t have all the trimmings of most traditional American Thanksgiving meals.  What does your Thanksgiving meal contain that you just can’t do without?

Crock Pot Roast Sticky Chicken

It’s the time of year when I like to pull out my crock pot more often.  I’m not sure why I do this more in the fall and winter.  It seems that it would make more sense in the summer because the crock pot does not heat up the house like the oven or the stovetop does.  Maybe it’s because I’m thinking of soups and comfort food, and those things cook so well in the crock pot.

Also, Chef has started to have soccer games on Friday nights.  His games start at 6:00, so we don’t want to eat before (it’s too early, plus he doesn’t want to play on a full stomach), and afterward we’re both ravenous and tired and don’t want to cook.  The solution?  The crock pot, of course!

Today I’m sharing one of our favorite crock pot recipes.  Chef loves it, and so do all our Monday Meal friends.  I’m a fan, too.

Crock Pot Roast Sticky Chicken

4 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 large roasting chicken
1 cup chopped onion

In a small bowl, thoroughly combine all spices. Remove giblets from chicken, clean cavity well and pat dry with paper towels. Rub spice mixture into chicken, both inside and out, making sure it is evenly distributed and down deep into the skin. Place in a re-sealable plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate overnight* When ready to cook, put onions into cavity and put the bird into the Crock Pot (do not add any liquid). As the cooking process goes on, it will produce its own juices. Cook on low for 8-10 hours and it will be falling off the bone.

*The only time I do the overnight thing is if I know I’m not going to have time in the morning to get it done.  Sometimes I pre-make big batches of the rub, so it’s easy to just prepare in the morning and stick the chicken in the crock pot.  But if I don’t have any pre-made or if I know I won’t have time in the morning, I’ll do it the night before.  I don’t think it makes a big difference in flavor, though.

Monday Meal: Miners’ Camp Pie

Okay, I teased you a little last week.  I told you that Chef was going to make something really yummy with lamb again, but I wouldn’t tell you what it was.

Hey, a girl’s gotta try to increase her blog readership however she can.

This week was a dish called Miners’ Camp Pie.  Except for some reason, Chef and I always call it Camp Miners’ Pie.  I’m not sure why we get it turned around like that.

Essentially, it’s a lamb pot pie.  He found the recipe years ago in a cookbook called something like Heritage of America or American Heritage. It’s an old cookbook, and I tried to find the book on Amazon or someplace so I could link to it, but I couldn’t tell if I was finding the right one because Chef has used his so much that he loved the cover right off of it.

Anyway, the recipe, as I mentioned, is basically lamb pot pie, but it has cream cheese in the filling, which makes it very rich and tasty.  The crust is very flaky, as well.  It is so delicious, and it’s comfort food for sure.

Chef says that he’s glad it tastes so good, because he doesn’t think it looks great.

You can be the judge, though.

To go along with it, he made brioche, which are kind of funny looking rolls with a knob on top.  They are always made this way, though I don’t know why.

The rolls were kind of heavy, and therefore not my favorite.  But this was the first time Chef had ever tried making them, so maybe they’ll be better next time.

In addition to the delicious meal, we had some unexpected guests this week.  The Bankers, friends of Chef’s family from forty years ago.  The Bankers were a fun addition to our regular guests.

Rita and Donna talked about old times.

Dennis and Aaron had some in-depth discussions.

And Mike apparently didn’t want his picture taken.

Then we had dessert: an original creation featuring the brioche dough, glazed pears, and fresh mozzarella cheese.

After he finished making dinner, Chef regaled us with his story, told in a Wisconsin accent, about the five-point doe.  We all laughed and laughed.  It was a good time.

And what was even better was that there was leftover Miners’ Camp Pie.

Garden Surprises

I’m continually surprised by our garden.  I just kept thinking that because we started so late and because we’ve not gotten much rain, that we wouldn’t have much produce at all.

But I came home the other day to find a whole basket full of green beans on the kitchen counter!

I mixed half of them into fried rice that I made one evening, and we at the other half as a side dish the next night.  Yum.

The lettuce has been doing quite well, also.  We planted two kinds: Black Seeded Simpson and Buttercrunch.  I think we prefer the Buttercrunch because it’s heartier, and we’ll probably plant more of that next year.

Since it was going to frost the other night, we knew we needed to cover some things and bring other items inside.  So we’ve got a bowl full of green tomatoes, too.

There are a couple of tomatoes big enough to make Fried Green Tomatoes, I think.  Chef suggested making a green tomato salsa with the little ones.

Plus, Chef pointed out to me that we’ve got some little broccolis growing, and the turnips look like they are doing very well.  So maybe I was wrong when I said that we didn’t save any money on our groceries this year.  We’re really getting a lot more produce than I thought.

And that extra money?  Toward the debt, of course.

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