Friday, September 30, 2011

the spicy chai blues

spicy chai latte autumn drink 001

I have been experiencing a chai obsession the last week or so. Grey cool weather naturally makes me crave creamy, aromatic drinks. Earl grey has been a long time favorite, and London Fogs have always served me well too, but I think that this year will be the autumn of chai.

I've been brewing large batches at home so I can have a cup to take to work and a cup when I get home. Do you ever make chai at home? What mixture of spices is your favourite?

Here's what usually works for me (although sometimes I add extra spice):

Masala Chai

Fill a small pot with three cups water and bring to a simmer. Add to your pot 4 heaping teaspoons black tea leaves (I use a basic Darjeeling) and add the following, according to your tastes:

- a 3 inch long cinnamon stick
- 5 cardamom pods
- a 1.5-2 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
- 4 peppercorns
- 6 cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated (or 1/2 tsp ground) nutmeg
(I am usually too lazy, but you could grind these all together before adding to your pot)

- sugar, to taste (approximately a couple teaspoons)

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and slowly stir in two cups milk and allow this to simmer for a few minutes. (Or as long as you want! -but your volume will decrease)

Pour through a strainer and into your mugs. Serves 2-4.

If you want to be extra fancy, traditionally chai would be poured from one mug to another, back and forth in a steady, tall stream until the tea is frothy. mmm... froth.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

weck canning jars

weck canning jars 001

I made the mistake of stopping at kitchen supply store the Gourmet Warehouse the other day and I ended up coming home with these two boxes. How could I pass up Weck jars at a reasonable price?

Now what should I use them for first?!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

my first real photos in a long, long time

holga prints 001
I picked up what you could call my first real photos in a long, long time the other day. These are in fact the first film prints I have had developed since high school. This is my trial run roll from my holga camera which Joseph gave to me last year. The expense of getting these developed really does force me to pick and choose my shots very carefully, but after seeing how much fun the finished product is I want to bring this baby with me everywhere.

holga prints 002
I'm still figuring out how to use the holga properly, deciding where I want to block out the light and where I want to leave it and other minor exposure details, but the best thing about this camera is I don't have to know what I'm doing! The more imperfections, the better.

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And yes, I would have to agree that taking photos of photos is a silly thing to do, but so what?

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Monday, September 26, 2011

chai clouds

chai focaccia

When Joseph and I first moved to Vancouver I used to explore the town on my days off of work. One or two days a week I would take the bus out or walk to a place of the city I had never been to before. There is still so many corners of Vancouver I haven't seen, but I don't investigate as much anymore. Days off are spent running errands, cleaning up, or best case scenario visiting familiar spots and soaking up some sun. The latter is how I spent my day off on Friday. I ventured down to Granville Island to pick up some photo prints and browse through the shops. The sun poked out from the layers of cloud and I was left steaming on a damp bench with my chai in hand looking out at the boats.

There should be more days like that.
(By the way, Granville Island Tea Co. makes a very delicious cup of chai.)

granville island marina

Friday, September 23, 2011

happy friday tidbits

mingus sunset 002

Has autumn officially started where you are? It seems Vancouver is being forced to face the facts this week: fall is here. We've had high winds and buckets and buckets of rain the last few days. I've been keeping busy this week making soups, staying in with the cats, and investing in some new 'winter' boots.

green heirloom tomatoes

I was so taken with these heirloom tomatoes that I bought all the green ones my grocer had and set out to make a green minestrone with pesto. At the Italian importer, Bosa Foods, I was so completely overwhelmed with pasta options for my soup that I had to take home three varieties.

pasta varieties

palladium boots

These are my new everyday winter boots which are so comfy and feel like they will last me for years (fingers crossed!)

How has your week been? Any great soup or stew plans I should keep on the radar?

mingus sunset 001

Thursday, September 22, 2011

friendship bracelets, for adults

pink black friendship bracelets 002

As you can see, I've been keeping busy. During summer so many blogs were talking about revisiting friendship bracelets and I couldn't resist making a few myself. My sister and I made some while watching movies during her visit a couple months ago, but I wanted more! The last couple weeks have seen me tie-dyeing and buying embroidery thread — what's happening to me?!

pink black friendship bracelets 001

psst – there are some good tutorials here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

little baby currant tomatoes

currant tomatoes 001

Are these not the cutest tomatoes you have ever seen? My co-worker's wife stopped by the shop yesterday to show them off and after tasting them I had to go spend my own 93¢ on a handful. They are perfect little plump and juicy tomatoes, they just happen to be the size of pennies.

currant tomatoes 002

I'm trying to think of a really good way to incorporate them into my dinner tonight. Perhaps a soup garnish? Any ideas?

currant tomatoes 003

Monday, September 19, 2011

drying summer herbs (sage and thyme)

drying herbs sage thyme 001

When putting so much time and effort into a summer garden, whether it be several acres of land, or just a few pots on the balcony, like mine, it is so bittersweet when harvest time comes. As a gardener, body and soul, I know that autumn is an important part of the natural cycle of most temperate and northern climate plants. I know that in order to be our best we must all stop and rest from time to time and plants are no different. Even our houseplants go into a quiet slumber at certain times of the year. 

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My garden is aphid-eaten, wind-ravaged, sun-starved, and just plain tired of having to work so damn hard. I don't blame her. Every year I try to work a little harder for her by planting earlier, strategically positioning pots, releasing lady bugs, watering diligently as I eat my breakfast just to give her that extra boost to dig her roots and extend her leaves. By the time September hits we are rushing to hang onto the tiny bounty of all our hard work.

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Herbs can be such a delicate beast to harness some years. I was quite lucky this year, even through aphids and cool temperatures the majority of my herbs have come out of summer most gloriously. With the rain and short days quickly approaching I wanted to gather all the bounty I could to be used throughout the winter months. My basil I made into several batches of pesto alla Genovese, my mint I pureed with a bit of water and filled ice cube trays for winter teas and cocktails. 

The beautiful sage and thyme plants you see here were on sale for 50¢ a pot at a local plant shop (another benefit of the season) so I grabbed several while out for a walk one day with the sole intention of immediately preserving them before winter could take its toll. Sage and thyme both dry very well by hanging: simply shake off the dirt (or wash and allow to completely air dry) then group into small bundles of 3 or 4 branches and tie with string. Hang these bundles upside down in a warm, dry spot out of direct sunlight.Once the herbs have completely dried (as quickly as a few days, depending on the location) transfer the leaves, crushing if desired, into air tight jars for storage. Always keep your dried herbs and spices out of direct sunlight and away from moisture.

drying herbs sage thyme 004

My herb book (Harrowsmith Illustrated Book of Herbs) describes sage as springing back to life after a deep freeze and using this logic one could also place sage leaves in a plastic bag directly into the freezer to then be used as needed in soups and stews. This book has not yet led me astray, so I figured I would give it a try — I'll let you know how it goes.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

smoothie, final day: pineapple and avocado

pineapple avocado smoothie
A smoothie to make Joseph happy: pineapple.

And all in a day's work: creating and photographing a miniature cardboard city for the day job. (And then watching the cats investigate and ultimately destroy it.)
mini cardboard city skyline

Friday, September 16, 2011

smoothie day 5: strawberry & blueberry

smoothie blueberry strawberry

echinacea flower 001

These echinacea flowers have faded quite a bit since I took these photos. The first wave of rain has hit Vancouver and although I think many of us have breathed a sigh of relief, there is also the unavoidable truth that we now have many days and many months of rain ahead of us. C'est la vie.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

smoothie day 4: peach and raspberry

peach raspberry smoothie

Summer in a glass.

west vancouver playground 001

We stumbled upon a park at the top of the mountain in West Vancouver. There were a couple tennis courts here too, you would basically be playing with a view of the entire Lower Mainland and the ocean. I felt pretty invincible and teensy all at the same time.

west vancouver playground 002

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

smoothie day 3: spinach and avocado!

spinach avocado smoothie
Green smoothie time! This one had the flavours of bananas, avocado, and frozen spinach. Just clean and refreshing tasting, not sweet.

mingue cat with plants 002

mingus cat with plants 001

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

A week in smoothies, day one {apricot and blueberry}

apricot blueberry fruit smoothie

I have a fruit smoothie for breakfast almost every morning, which is such a delight in the summer with so many fresh local options for changing the flavours. Today's smoothie highlights fresh local apricots, blueberries and also banana. I'll post a new smoothie every day this week!

Sorry for these particular photos — I was in a bit of a rush to take them and didn't quite pay attention to my camera's settings. Below is a special poached egg, gruyere, bacon, heirloom tomato, and basil breakfast I made for Joseph and I on Sunday.

poached egg heirloom tomato breakfast 001

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