Saturday, November 23, 2013

Indian Spiced Tea (Masala Chai)


2 teaspoons loose tea, or two bags of unflavored tea

6-10 whole cloves

2 inch piece of cinnamon stick, broken

6-10 green cardamom pods, opened

2 teaspoons ginger peels, or four 1/10th of an inch ginger slices

2 teaspoons lemon grass(optional)

1 cup water and 1 cup milk (substitute water for milk, if you don't drink milk)

4 teaspoons of sugar

Put all ingredients in a pot that will allow for the mixture to come to a full boil. Bring to a full boil and then use a fine strainer to strain into teacups.

Makes about two 8oz cups of tea.

Note 1: Chai means “tea” in Hindi. If you ask for chai, you are asking for tea made with tea leaves, water and milk, sometimes sweetened.

Masala Chai, on the other hand, is tea made with tea leaves, water, milk and what we might call baking spices in the US, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom. Green cardamom and lemon grass can be found in Indian and Chinese grocery stores. Use the spices you have handy, it is not necessary that you have all the spices every single time.

Note 2: I tend to drink Masala Chai without milk because I am lactose intolerant, so this recipe might be milder and sweeter with milk added. I sometimes use plain non-dairy creamer, if I want that traditional feel.

Note 3: I use ginger peels in my tea. I buy a hand of ginger from the store and wash it thoroughly. Then I peel it. I save the peels on a plate, in a place where I won't disturb it. It takes about 7 days for the peels to air dry in Oklahoma's dry weather. Then I put them in an air tight container. If the container starts showing droplets of moisture, the peels are not completely dry. I take them out again and air dry them for another 3-4 days. Depending on the moisture in the air, the peels should take 7-10 days to dry.

You can substitute fresh ginger slices for the peels, if you like. Use about two 1/10th of an inch per cup of tea you plan on making.

Especially when I have a cold, I increase the ginger in my tea. It helps to open up stuffed nasal passages.

Note 4: I don't throw away my tea ingredients after the first tea of the morning. If it turns out to be a cold day, I add more water to it and make more tea, that I drink through the day. I only throw them out the next day and start with a new batch of tea leaves and spices.

If making a new batch in the evening, start out with decaff tea or you are likely to be up late into the night.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Book Review A Light in the Window by Julie Lessman

18 year old Marceline “Marcy” Murphy returns to Boston after five years to be courted by her best friend’s older brother Sam O’Rourke and his best friend, Patrick O’ Connor. Both men are “rogues” in Marcy’s eyes but she finds herself attracted to both in spite of her reservations. Will Marcy’s dream of marrying Sam come true or will she pick Patrick instead?
Of the two men, Patrick appealed to me the most. While Marcy judges him based on her prejudices, Patrick decides to be generous and sacrifices his love for her happiness.
With such wonderful family background, Sam should have made better decisions. (I saw too much of myself in him.) I hope the author has a feisty heroine in the works for him.  
The characters are written well, with real dilemmas, real virtues and real faults.  While I didn’t feel preached at, I did continue to think on the applications to my own life. What I realized about myself made me decide to work harder to make the necessary changes. 
This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I will be reading her other works as soon as I can. 
I first read this as a judge for the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America’s (OKRWA) 2013 International Digital Awards (IDA). I was glad to see Julie Lessman’s A Light in the Window  win the first prize in the Inspirational category.