Friday, October 31, 2014

My Cuppa: No tricks, just treats!

BOO! Okay I thought I'd do up a post in celebration of Halloween. Hopefully this doesn't scare you away! 

Every year around this time we are bombarded by all things pumpkin: pies, muffins, even scented candles. Something else we can’t get enough of is PSL or Pumpkin Spice Latte. I figured I could come up with my own concoction instead of having to fork over my life’s savings to the coffee houses each time just to enjoy this treat. Really, how hard could it be?

It really is not difficult at all. To make this popular beverage, all you need is a good spicy tea and some pumpkin purée. For my tea, I used the recipe from my Masala Hottie post I did a few months back. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of making the spices, no problem. Such spices are available pre-made at grocery stores. You can even use pre-made masala teas available as loose leaves and tea bags.

Pure Pumpkin

Using my masala chai recipe:

1.  Pour the brewed tea through a sieve to remove all the large solids of the spices.

2.  Add some pumpkin purée. I used 1 tablespoon for every cup. Mix over medium heat until purée is completely dissolved. 

3.  Pour through a sieve once more to remove any remaining fine particles and lumps. 

4.  Add your choice of sweetener and milk to taste. I used raw sugar and 2% milk. 

5.  Heat for another minute or so, then pour your pumpkin, spiced tea into large mugs. You’re done…almost! 

You could enjoy your brew as is, or you could kick it up and add whipped-cream for something extra special! I found a coconut whipped-cream at the grocers. OMG! I am a coconut freak! Then sprinkle some cinnamon or chocolate on top if you’d like. I used some nutmeg. The result was frightfully good!

With coconut whipped-cream! OMG!

There you go. Nothing spooky here! Have a Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

This Pom is the Bom!

As I proceeded with my weekly rituals of searching the flyers to make my grocery list, I came across an ad for a pomegranate drink by Pom Wonderful. I do like the Pom drinks, but because they are rather tangy, I cannot gulp them down like water. I need to sip them slowly like wine.

The advertisement was for a new line of Pom drinks that contained tea as an ingredient. Though the product is a bit pricey, I thought I’d give it a try. Four different tea types combined with pomegranate were up for grabs: Peach Passion White Tea, Lemonade Tea, Sweet Tea, and Honey Green Tea. 

A body to die for!

I went for the Honey Green Tea. The aroma was light and fresh with just a touch of fruit and floral notes. The colour was more that of watermelon juice. I wasn't sure what I was expecting in terms of the taste, but I needed to take several sips before determining if I liked it or not. It was not as tart as the regular Pom drink. This almost had a bubble gum taste to it. I could detect the green tea as well as the honey. The taste was unusual but not bad. Definitely something to enjoy during a backyard barbeque in the summer or used as an ingredient in a cocktail.

Pom touts itself as a healthy beverage, but I could care less if it’s true or not. It’s something I enjoy once in a while. Though I'm always a little suspicious of a product claiming to be healthy but uses an “extract” of one thing or “concentrate” of another thing then some “natural flavours” of some sort, and a little “organic” something. Really?

Just the facts!

As I said at the top, this isn't an everyday beverage for me. Just something I would consider when I want something a little different and purchase because it was on sale.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Steeped in History: A surprise in every box!

Did you ever get excited about cracking open a Kinder egg to see what treasure might be waiting within? Or how about the classic Cracker Jack? From my ever diminishing memories of childhood life, I recall always getting a crappy plastic ring! I always looked forward to opening sugar-induced cereal boxes and shoving my arm to the bottom in order to retrieve the toy give-aways. Another surprise I enjoyed getting was what was hidden in Red Rose tea boxes. Yup. Even tea had gifts. These came in the form of tiny ceramic figurines of animals, houses, nursery rhyme characters, holiday themes, and so much more.

Mom's Wade Whimsies.

These tiny treasures were created by George Wade Pottery in Burslem, England. The company began as a small shop in 1810 producing mostly bottles, pottery, as well as ceramics for industrial use. Later on, Wade began making Art Deco figurines, and then designs of various animals. Along the way, the company ran into obstacles concerning different moulds, colours, and glazes. Even World War 2 had on impact on the company. Ceramic production was limited to design for functionality only rather than a thing of beauty.

The ceramic small wonders were introduced to Canada by Red Rose in 1967 by offering them in their boxed-tea sold at a premium. In 1983, they were open to the U.S. market which saw their popularity rise even further.

On a more interesting note, because these mini-marvels had rough, unglazed, ridged markings on their undersides, they were used as strikers for matches in pubs and kitchens. I remember often colouring the bottoms with magic markers!

Humpty Dumpty.

Wade whimsies are collectors’ items today and are still given away by Red Rose in some countries. Sadly, they are no longer offered in Canada with distribution coming to a halt in 1983. Not in Canada!?! What a pity!

Friday, October 10, 2014

My Cuppa: Feeling good about getting stuffed!

In my opinion, October is the kick-off to eating season! Yup. Gone are the light eats of summer. It’s time to stuff your face silly with mashed potatoes, turkey, holiday goodies, and Halloween treats! This all comes at a price of course. The achy stomach, weight gain, and feelings of guilt. Can’t do much about the guilt, and there's always exercise for the added weight.  However, there is help for tummy troubles. Fennel seeds! 

Lovin' spoonful!

Fennel seeds are flavourful, aromatic, and have many medicinal properties. They smell and taste like licorice. Traditionally, they are used to as a remedy for digestion issues. If you've ever been to an Indian restaurant for their all-you-can-eat buffets, you may have been offered fennel seeds at the end of your eating extravaganza. They may be candy-coated in various colours or stark naked on their own. Either way, they help calm your stomach and freshen your breath. Just take a spoonful and slowly chew away your troubles.

You may also enjoy these seeds of wonder as a beverage. A fennel seed tisane is super easy to make and does not take much time at all. Just boil up some water and pour it over some seeds. I use 1 teaspoon for 2 cups of water. I also like to crush up the seeds a bit using a pestle and mortar to release some of the flavours. Allow 10 minutes to infuse. Then sit back and sip away. You can remove the seeds using a sieve, but I just let mine sink to the bottom of the cup to collect, and gather up to enjoy chewing once I've finished drinking the brew.

The colour of the liquor is a clear, pale yellow-green. The licorice taste is not overly strong as it would be if you chewed on the seeds straight. It’s soothing! Even the aroma is light and pleasant.

What's swimming in my drink?

You can find fennel seeds available in tea bags for convenience, albeit pulverized to dust. I recommend buying the seeds in bulk and preparing your drink as I described. Then, get in touch with your inner-chef and create all sorts of dishes using fennel seeds in both sweet and savoury goodies. Enjoy!