Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer colds

SUCK! I've been under the weather for the past few days. Summer colds are worse than winter colds, IMO. Not only is it hot outside, but the usual hot soups and teas you would want to make you feel better only make you feel hotter and more miserable. Yech! But I've been drinking my spicy chai tea like a good little sick girl, and I'm on the mend. Here is what the Yoga Yoga website has to say about chai tea:

Yogi Tea is a health-promoting beverage and a tonic for the whole body. It strengthens the nervous system, energizes the body, clears the mind, and is both a remedy and preventive measure for colds, allergies, and other illnesses.

And here's my recipe, feel free to experiment with it. I like mine really spicy and strong, but you might be wimpier. Enjoy!

~Chai tea~

Add the following to 12 cups of purified boiling water:

  • 20 whole green Cardamom pods (you can put them in whole or crush the pods slightly to open them a little)
  • 20 whole Black peppercorns
  • 20 whole Cloves
  • 3 sticks of Cinnamon
  • 3 1-inch by 1-inch chunks of fresh Ginger (no need to peel them)
  • two regular size bags of black tea (or use decaf).
Any of the ingredients and the specified amounts are completely optional! You’ll know once you try this recipe out, if you want to alter it at all. But this one is pretty good! Simmer on low for 25 to 30 minutes (too high will make it dissipate!). Drain into a bigger pot or into a pitcher, pouring the liquid through a strainer. Pour some into your mug, then add some honey or Agave nectar (or sweetener of your choice, but try to avoid refined sugars) and soy milk. Bend your head over your cup, inhale deeply, then sip slowly.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Squirrelly Wrath!


Okay no wrath, just a rescue mission! Two of the cutest little baby squirrels ever fell out of their tree outside our office building today, and so my boss and I rescued them! We took them to Austin Wildlife Rescue and dropped them off for rehabilitation (as they term it). They were so adorable! I wish we could have played with them longer, but at least we know they are going to be taken care of until they are healthy enough to be released back into the wild.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Best Bruschetta

I made the Best Bruschetta Ever last night!! OMG it was so good I am still in heaven! I've attempted bruschetta before, but not until last night did I finally get it right. Here's what I did:

I used Artisan-style Roasted Garlic french bread, sliced thin (probably 1/4", I bought it in the bakery section). Butter each side of the bread, place it on a cookie sheet, and put in the oven at 350 degrees until it's toasty (not burned!) on each side. You want it to be really toasty before you put the topping on, so that it doesn't get soggy.

Make the topping: dice a tomato, remove the watery seedy part. Take some fresh basil leaves and chiffonade them. Splash a little bit of balsamic vinegar (a very little bit! again, we want to avoid soggy bruschetta!) over the tomatoes and basil, grind some sea salt over it. Using a fork (so that you don't spoon excess liquid on), put some of the mixture on top of each slice of toasty bread. Put it in the oven, under the broiler, just until the tomatoes start to brown. Take out of oven, turn off oven, put some fresh mozzarella on top and let it melt.

I'm sure there are other ways to do this, I have no idea if this is a 'traditional' way of making bruschetta, but whatever, it was great! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I finally update my blog

and no one's reading? argh! the nerve! Fine, fine. You just won't know what you're missing. So there!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A bevy of basil...

If there were such a thing as too much basil, then I surely am suffering from it.

I bought a huge bunch at the farmer's market last week, I just couldn't resist, and so this whole week I've been eating basil, cooking with basil, researching how to preserve and store basil... whew! My thumbnails are discolored from pinching leaves off the stems (I didn't realize that would happen, but basil discolors when left to dry or when it's frozen, so I guess it makes sense). After making a huge batch of fresh pesto and still having tons of basil left, here are some of the spiffy storage methods I've found:

Freeze whole basil leaves. Many websites will have you chop the leaves and freeze them in ice cube trays, but alternately you can simply freeze whole leaves: wash and dry the leaves, spread them out on a cookie sheet (or I used those flexible plastic cutting boards), and pop them in the frezer for 10 minutes. When they are stiff, put the leaves into a baggie and keep stored in the freezer. Three days later, my frozen basil leaves have turned darker but I can pluck single leaves out of the bag.

Dry-pack basil in salt. See this website for more info.

Puree 2 cups fresh basil leaves with 1/2 cup olive oil. Pour into a freezer-safe jar or container, leaving 1/2 inch room at the top, and freeze. The recipe I found only called for 1 cup basil with 1/2 cup olive oil, but I found that to be rather runny and more oil-y than basil-y. So I hope my adaptation works! You can use this basil puree later for pesto, or you can stir 2 tablespoons basil puree into 6 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing (or make your own).

Basil vinegar: combine 3/4 cup basil leaves with 1 pint red wine vinegar. Cover and store in the fridge for 2 weeks. Strain basil from vinegar before use.

I also placed leaves on a paper towel and left them on the table for a couple days, until they were dried and breakable. I then put the leaves into a jar. Of course, all herbs lose some intensity of flavor when they are dried, however basil that you dry yourself will still beat anything you buy at the store.

I would say I've got enough basil to last me a while, but if I come across the same deal this week at the farmer's market, I'm probably going to succumb to buying more! How can I resist?!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I am the epiphany of zen...

(poking fun at my boyfriend for using the word 'epitome' when he meant 'epiphany'!)

Well today hasn't started so well. I got a ticket for expired registration and inspection tags. A motorcycle cop was parked in the median checking out each car as it drove by. I had nowhere to go, I could see him checking out the stickers and as I drove by he turned on his lights and wheeled around to come get me. Sigh... so I pulled over like a good little girl and didn't make any excuses to try and get out of it, and got my ticket.

As I drove off, up ahead I saw a dreaded bus in my lane. It was the same bus I had already passed, but ended up behind it again when I had to stop for my ticket. Well I waited patiently behind the bus, traffic was steady in the other lane so I couldn't move over. Finally I could move over and pass it. Then I got to the coffee shop, I could tell I was gonna need a triple shot today. After I got my coffee and left, I was driving along, and what do I see in front of me, the SAME DREADED BUS! WTF mate! It was the 3rd time this morning. I passed it easily enough this time though. If the rest of my day is this bad... GULP!

But all in all, I have to say that I maintained my Zen this morning, when in the past, I probably would have turned into a gnashing, rude, wild-driving jerk. Big, out.

Monday, July 7, 2008

rain, rain, go away

It's pouring outside and while it is much-needed here in Texas, I'm also cursing it. I planted things yesterday and as I look out across the yard, I see a couple low spots just filling up with water. We haven't had much rain since we got this house, so I haven't been able to pay attention to any trouble spots. Are my plants gonna drown?! One of my favorites, a coconut-scented geranium, is in one of those mini-lakes!
coconut geranium

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I love mulch!

Got most of my plants in the ground today and realized that I love mulching! I thought it was going to be a pain to spread it out in the beds, but it was so easy and it goes so much further than soil does. I never mulched before so I didn't realize how much fun (what a dork!) it would be. Now I want to mulch everything! mwahahah!!!

And, I finally found my camera cord, so now I can charge it and take pics and start downloading them! This blog has been visually blah, but I am hoping to change that. As an aside, I can't believe it's already July!! Summer would be nearly over except that in Texas, 'summer' lasts until like, September or October. I still have lots on my agenda for this summer, and now I can photo-document it! yippee!!