How to Make Chai Like MacGyver

March 11, 2013 11:39 by rob

If only I was an expert craftsman in woodworking. I've got a solid mustache, if I do say so myself, and an even more handsome beard to go along with it, and I definitely do say so myself. I've even got a cynical eye for wasteful bureaucracy, a strong sense of personal independence, and would probably marry Lucy Lawless in a heartbeat.

What I'm trying to say, is I'm almost but not completely imbued with a Ron Swanson-esque vibe, and I'd really like the whole kit & kaboodle to really give this the sturdy DIY toughness I want… but I don't have a quick enough montage to become a carpenter, so close will have to be good enough for horseshoes, hand grenades, and homemade chai blogs.

 

Having worked at a company, quite serious about its chai, for a year and a half without trying more than a glimpsing taste, it's odd that it was an audiobook called Shantaram that incited my personal chai investigation.

I mentioned my favorite [at the time] recipe in my last entry, but things have progressed quite a bit since then. Of all Shantaram's descriptions and portrayals of Chai that pushed me to reexamine the spiced sweet tea, the biggest impact was from the focus on how it was made from scratch, by hand for each cup.

 

Stirred steadily in a copper pot over a low flame so that savory aroma seasons every inhale, made by your own hand and served into an earthen mug straight from the steaming pot.

 

It calls to mind the feeling of cooking your own dinner over a campfire; it's that rustic, hearty, and independent sense of making something amazing for yourself.

If ol' Duke Silver drank Chai, that's how he'd make it.

 

If you love Chai but have never made it for yourself from scratch, I encourage you to try it once and see if it isn't extra satisfying.

 

I've been making mine with Coconut Milk lately, mostly for the health benefits. Coconut oil was long vilified for its high content of saturated fats but, as we've come to understand this tropical drupe a bit more, we're learning that virgin coconut oil (like what is in coconut milk) has a high lauric acid content which contributes to an overall better cholesterol profile and has medium-chain triglycerides which may not carry the same risks as other saturated fats.

           

           Pour coconut milk into a pot (same amount as you would use for water in preparing the same amount of tea)

           Heat over medium flame until lightly simmering

           Lower flame a bit and pour in loose Chai Tea (like these whole leaf options! In a re-sealable pouch or the Novus Tea Sachets which become loose leaf tea with a simple pair of scissors)

           Stir slowly for 1-2 minutes, reduce flame to low and stir another 2-3 minutes.

           Add sweetener (I often use a Vanilla Coconut Milk so I add only the tiniest bit of raw honey. No matter what, keep in mind Coconut Milk's natural sweetness when adding sugar/honey/agave)

           Turn off flame (additional stirring if your sweetener hasn't mixed yet)

 

I don't have any of the professional… or even any of the adeptly prepared amateur… tea drinker's tools, so getting the loose tea and spices out of my cup of awesome called forth a bit of my inner MacGyver. If you also find yourself with a pot of awesome mixed with tea flotsam and no fancy tea making equipment… or even a basic strainer… then try this simple trick:

 

            Works best with a big mug, I actually use a beer stein (teacups and coffee mugs are too small)

           Place a piece of tin foil over cup and crimp down around the lip to form a slight bowl shape inside the cup

           Poke about a dozen or so small holes in the lowest part of the tin foil bowl

           Pour contents of pot slowly through your homemade strainer

           Remove tin foil

 

Don't forget to take a moment to admire the result of your efforts; a handcrafted cup of sweet spiced tea. Also take a moment because it is probably super super hot!

 

If you prefer the dairy route, the process is relatively the same. I prefer whole milk, 2 parts milk 1 part water, heat on medium flame till simmering (stir frequently) and proceed as listed above.

 

Can you mix whole milk and vanilla coconut milk to have all the creamy consistency of whole milk with the sweet flavor and health benefits of the coconut for the cup of Chai of destiny?

I don't know. I only thought of that idea while I was writing this, but I'm going to try it!

Has anyone else tried this, any thoughts on how it might turn out, do you want to know the results? Reach us by comment, email, smoke signal*, or carrier pigeon**.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

 

*Smoke signal reception depends on wind speed and direction, weather, and if our lookout brought his binoculars.

 

**Carrier Pigeons should be able to out-maneuver this seriously stoic fella


Crispy Chewy Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

December 6, 2012 11:14 by kelly

3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

3/4 cup vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance organic), melted

1/4 cup corn starch
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
--
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking soda


In a large bowl, combine all but the last two ingredients. In a smaller bowl combine the baking soda & water, then add to the rest of the ingredients, stir well. Cover & put in the freezer for 1/2 - 1 hour (until dough is stiff). Preheat your oven to 375F & cover a cookie sheet or two with parchment paper. Spoon out frozen dough into small balls and press down slightly - cookies will flatten quite a bit while cooking. Bake for ~10 minutes until flattened & lightly browned. As they cool, they will flatten a bit more. Edges will be crispy and the center is soft - perfection! (makes 3 - 4 doz cookies, depending on size)

Serve with your favorite cup of tea and enjoy! 


Hot Drinks are Delicious - It is Known

October 24, 2012 12:34 by rob

Winter is coming.


Short and often gray days, long and cold nights, and the way-too-dark-to-be-awake-yet frigid mornings, it’s all just around the corner and getting closer with every day. If there is one thing that can dull the bitter edge of a Winter’s morning – other than simply staying cocooned in my sufficiently warm bed, of course – it’s a steaming hot drink. Whether it be coffee, tea, cider, hot chocolate or maté, it’s all good to me as long as it’s hot!

 


(image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grggrssmr/)

 

 

I love hot drinks, and I drink them year round despite what the current weather may be, but the colder months make a hot drink much more than just a tasty beverage! Picture this:

The sky is heavy with dreary clouds, so little sunlight cracking through that the dew on the grass will still be frosted by mid-afternoon, and the morning wind must be blowing out of the North because there is a chill on the breeze – a notable feat considering the already freezing temperatures. You sit inside, peering out at the beginnings of the frigid day, and try to guesstimate how many layers of hoodies and thermals and jackets it will take to keep you warm just on the walk across your yard to your car.

Then the teapot whistles, the coffee machine emits a final bubbling sputter, the iron kettle over your traditional fire pit begins to boil over as you rush to scoop the water into a hollowed gourd filled with dry yerba maté. With a toasty ceramic mug, or a hollowed gourd bellowing steam, cradled in your hands, spreading its warmth to your skin, the world outside looks a bit less cold, take a sip and the heat spreads through your core.

Let frosty winds blow, let the snow fall, let the Sun get away with lazy hour days for the next few months, as long as you’ve got a steaming mug of delicious beverage... Let Winter Come!

 

 

Whatever your taste, whatever your preference, chances are we’ve got the tasty beverage to fill that steaming mug every icy morning of the Winter months. We carry a whole range of Lavazza brand Coffee and Espresso, featuring whole beans or ground, 100% Arabica specifically selected for each roast from key climates around the world, or even bold blends of primarily Robusta coffee for that extra dark and extra strong kick.

Maybe coffee isn’t your speed, but with Autumn in full swing – treetops aflame with the vibrant colors of leaves dying for the season – who can turn down a piping hot and easy to make cup of Apple Cider? If you could take a roaring campfire, an apple orchard, and a crisp fall breeze, and concentrate them into a beverage, I’m fairly positive the result would be Apple Cider.

 


(image source: applecreekorchards.com)

 

Or, perhaps you still want the caffeine but in something less brash than coffee; what about high-quality, finely cut, fair trade, and organic whole leaf tea? Whatever your flavor preference, however bold or light you like your leaves, no matter what your caffeine requirement, loose leaf or in their easy to use and 100% biodegradable tea sachets, there is a tea here for you! Add a bit of Old World elegance to your morning proceedings with a spot ‘o Earl Grey.

If all of these delicious, but arguably mainstream, beverages sound too cliché to you than perhaps a bit of maté is up your alley. Derived from the traditional South American drink that is, in fact, served in a hollowed gourd from which one drinks through a silver filtered straw; Pixie Maté concentrates pack the punch and bring the flavor. Take the original route – a flavor laced with cardamom, vanilla & cloves – or find bliss in the Chai infusion, either way you’re on the quick route to the “gentle hum of an awakened mind and a vibrant body.” Unlike a caffeine buzz, jittery and peaked with highs and lows, Maté provides a balanced current of energy supplied by the potent and unique blend of xanthines as well as a ‘llama-load’ of antioxidants!

 


(image source: voxxi.com)

 

Whatever your preference, we’ve got the liquid heat to fill your mug this Winter…

What’s that? A drink that tastes like coffee, but it can’t be coffee it has to be made from tea, and it can’t have caffeine?

Okay, we don’t have Coffee-Flavored Decaffeinated Oolong tea. Yet. (You got us there.) But have you seen our Chai selection?