Thursday, June 26, 2008

Surprisingly delicious

by Lisa

Being a food blogger comes with its challenges. (Sometimes it's so much easier to write haiku that doesn't make any sense.) I mean, I feel like I always have to have some sort of theme, where I creatively and analogically tie it into the recipe, or something brilliant like that. And also I almost always feel like it's not okay to cheat on recipes, like calling for spaghetti sauce from the jar or using canned garbanzo beans. And even though I disclosed all in my last post, it's not without at least a little diffidence that I bring today's recipe, which doesn't even pretend to be gourmet.

I was actually quite caught off-guard when I found this recipe online which inspired today's. I wasn't looking for a recipe for instant chai. Even in the past I have had this discussion in my head: Should I make an instant chai? No, it wouldn't be fresh. But it'd be so easy. No, it's not as good as the real thing. But it's so easy. No, no, no. Yes, yes, yes. (Or something like that.)

[For those as neurotic as I and who may want to know how I "accidentally" found myself at this site with this chai recipe which threatened so my mental stability: I was actually looking up recipes for aloo gobi to try to figure out why the one I ordered had been so soupy - maybe it was something regional. One site suggested that there's a wetter version of potato cauliflower curry called aloo phulkopir dalna, but when I googled that, it didn't really seem to explain my soupy curry. But somehow I found the link to the instant chai, and it caught my eye.]

[For the not-so-neurotic, I proceed here:] Long story short, I decided, what the heck? why not try this instant chai? As lovely as it is to be able to boil chai at home with milk and with whole cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, etc., when you're at work with only the water "cooler," a good instant chai sounds a lot more attractive and reasonable than walking down the street to the dreaded Starbucks for a too-expensive,-too-sweet,-not-creamy-enough chai latte.

The recipe looked reasonable enough. I used it as a guideline, not really following the proportions, and it was surprisingly delicious. I think I've had three cups every day since.

I'm planning on making more and mailing some to a certain friend in Minnesota once she gives me her new address. (I can even throw in some instant coffee powder, too, if you'd like it dirty. Even more if you want it... um, nevermind. Eww for gross guy at Starbucks. Yay for Molly!])

The stuff is great 'cause you can have it hot or cold, although with the weather here the last few days, it's kind of hard to tell which way you'd want it. It's still good anyway; just be careful when you get to the bottom of your mug/glass, lest you end up with a mouth full of ground spices which have sneakily settled to the bottom.

So, here's to a lukewarm glass of chai! Cheers!

Instant chai tea
inspired by Sandi on RecipeZaar

The original recipe called for instant tea (have you ever seen it in the stores? I haven't); I didn't follow that. In any case, I still liked being able to keep my tea brewing separate from the powder, so my recipe basically makes the creamer/sugar/spices part for the chai. The recipe is really rough, and I really encourage you to modify it according to your liking. I couldn't have it any other way for you.

It's a bit awkward with some ingredients you may not have just lying around the house (like vanilla sugar; odd that I had some), but I did some quick and dirty calculations, and I think that even if you spent the money on it, it might work out to cheaper than instant chai from the store. (It's definitely tastier.)

I'm putting my original proportions, but I'd recommend doubling it; it goes fast. (I did two batches one right after the other.)

1/2 cup dry whole milk powder
1/2 cup non-dairy powdered coffee creamer
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (which Sandi says you can make by putting vanilla extract into the sugar, allowing to dry, and then breaking into clumps; you can also replace this with 1/2 cup regular sugar, plus 1/2 cup French vanilla flavored powdered coffee creamer - in addition to the plain powdered coffee creamer above)
1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
2 heaping teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 level teaspoon each, ground cloves and cardomom
*adjust spices to your liking, and also consider adding: white pepper, allspice, nutmeg, cayenne
tea bags (black, orange pekoe, darjeeling, etc.)

Pulse ingredients for a few seconds in food processor to blend ingredients.

To serve: Brew black tea in hot water. (Use less water if you're going to ice it.) Any tea (even Lipton) will do; my dad always sends me home with different teas from the Indian market which are in nice bags. (I am not tea snobby enough to say you must brew loose leaf.) Stir in 2-3 heaping teaspoonfuls of your newly blended chai. Enjoy!

Store dry mixture in airtight container.

[P.S. If you were looking for the theme in this post, sorry. I don't think it really got anywhere. I think I was trying to go for something like, how 'bout we give me a break? or Here's a cup of chai to make us all happy!]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

a poem

by Lisa

over vanilla milkshakes and smooshed "double" cheeseburgers
after minigolf
around 12 midnight

listening to camila
sitting in the parking lot

under the streetlamps

annie says,
"lis, i love how you can be such a food snob and yet still enjoy