Masala Chai

 

Yancey and I went to Vancouver last weekend for his birthday, and every second was divine. Including the Kashmiri Chai we drank from Vij's food truck in the middle of Olympic Village and the chai from Granville Island Tea, both drunk in the full-on October sun with the man I've been in love with for 26 years. (Nuts. We met on a school bus on his 16th birthday. So I guess the "in love" part is maybe 25.9 years. It didn't take long. Thank you, teenage self, for having a decent head on your shoulders. And thank you, sheer circumstance and fate.)

So when we came home this week to full-on wind and rain, it seemed a good time to make a batch to warm us up and hold on a little longer to our magical 24 hours in Vancouver. I'm not big on the chai served in most coffee shops--too sweet. Making my own lets me add as much fresh ginger and as little sugar as I want. And have some to give away.

I'm really feeling the changing seasons this year, marveling at how it happens despite global warming, despite not receiving an edict from the White House or a buyout from shareholders. We live under the shadow of Mt. Baker, and my favorite bumper sticker from the last few years is, "Vote No Eruption of Mt. Baker!" There are so many things we can't control, so I'm always coming back to what we CAN control. Creating microclimates of kindness around us, asking for forgiveness when we haven't, making the bed in the morning (have I already told you how revolutionary that's been for me?), getting back to people who ask something of us, remembering that we come from love and are born for love. So yes, more poetry. Lots of love to each of you.

Every Year at This Time

In last light, before dinner,
the oak is resplendent
with half-dead leaves,
full of spaces to hold
the autumnul glow.

A cat crosses the alley,
sure-footed on wet pavement,
and kitchen lights blink on. 

The season is turning,
as it does, as it should,
every year at this time.

I'm witnessing it
for the forty-first time,
finding again
that we--me, the cat, the tree--
were made for change,
to shine, let go, die
and be born again.

Spiced Milke Tea (Masala Chai)
I quadrupled this. As long as you're going to the work to grind spices and steep things, might as well make some for later. I store it in quart mason jars in the fridge, reading to be warmed up for a crowd in a saucepan or in microwaved mugs. This recipe is from "Gourmet Today," one of my big Gourmet cookbooks that I treasure. I subbed fresh ginger for dried, and you can use any "plain" tea. They call for loose tea, but I just throw some PG Tips in there. Lipton or English Breakfast would be fine. And I'm sure you could sub non-dairy milk. Serves 4.

10 green cardamom pods, cracked, seeds removed and pods discarded or 1/2 tsp. cardamom seeds
1 1/2 inch piece cinnamon stick
4 peppercorns
1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1" piece of fresh ginger, very thinly sliced
2 c. whole milk
3 1/2 Tb. packed brown sugar, or to taste 
1/8 tsp. salt
2 c. water
4 Lipton or PG Tips teabags

Grind together cardamom, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Bring milk just to a simmer in a heavy saucepan. Stir or whisk in brown sugar, salt, spice mixture and fresh ginger. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes to infuse flavors.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in another saucepan, add tea, and steep for a few minutes. (I like mine extra strong.)

Add tea to hot milk mixture and strain the whole thing through a fine-mesh strainer into cups or jars. 

Kale and Pineapple Smoothie

Today's Green Smoothie

Or I could have called this "Today's Green Smoothie" since it wasn't premeditated at all. Whatever is knocking around the freezer and produce drawer. (And mothers, no. My kids won't touch this. They get a fruit smoothie. We're working up to it.)

I'm trying to eat more vegetables earlier in the day. I find it reduces my cravings for crap later on, I have more energy, and my skin is softer, clearer. Could that be the case? It's not researched, just experienced. 

I just started what I know will be a life-changing book. No Ordinary Time by Jan Phillips. Thanks to Janet Ott for sharing so many resources with me, including this one. Jan tells this story:

I was in graduate school...on the verge of quitting, when I called [my good friend] for a consult. I told her how out of place I felt, how I was old enough to be everyone's mother, how the students cared more about spring breaks and Cancun than anything we were there to learn. I felt like an outcast.

She asked me three questions, and those three questions changed the course of my life. "Are you eating and drinking moderately?" No, I confessed, admitting to drinking lots of Chardonnay and having a stash of Almond Joy miniatures in all my pockets.
"What are you doing for your body--are you working out?"
"No, nothing."
"What about a spiritual practice? Do you have a spiritual practice?"
"No."
"Jan, don't make any decisions about quitting school right now. Your life cannot work right if you don't have those three things taken care of. Take two week to get it together, then call me back."

When two weeks was up and I called Paula back, I was like a new person.
"Paula, you're not going to believe it, everyone on campus has changed dramatically!"

And I'd add a fourth question: "How much sleep are you getting?"

I'm better or worse at it depending on the day, but these questions are so important! The trick is to let them guide my life without feeling guilty, and this is where discipline comes in. I'm trying to make morning meditation NON-NEGOTIABLE, but it's amazing how many ridiculous excuses I come up with. 20 minutes isn't a long time. I can easily pass 20 minutes reading stupid tidbits on Facebook that don't do one thing for my soul. When I am cultivating awareness of my body and spirit--eating vegetables, walking, meditating, sleeping instead of screen time--I don't crave the junk as much. I feel settled. I feel me. And I can't do my work in the world--let alone have a prophetic voice!--unless I'm me. This is the only sacred ground I have--the ground of my own being.

Smoothies won't accomplish all this. Ha! I wish. But I find they get me in good groove for the day, and that's pretty darn great.

Kale and Pineapple Smoothie
Into your blender, throw a giant handful of washed kale, some spinach if you have it, a couple stalks of celery with leaves, a big handful of frozen pineapple (or fresh pineapple plus a couple ice cubes), a wedge of lemon with the peel off, a knob of peeled ginger, and however much water you or your blender requires. My Vitamix just needs about 1/2 cup. (I can't resist another chance to mention it. Appliances make me stupidly happy.)

Almond Cocoa Smoothie

IMG_1032

Watch out, world. I got a Vitamix for my birthday.

Yancey coordinated with all our family members to go in on it. Thank you, tribe! I keep joking that someday I won't ask for kitchen appliances for my birthday, but that day hasn't come yet.

I will avoid devolving into an infomercial here, but it's true what they say about Vitamixes. They're amazing, and we're about to embark on the Summer of Pureeing. I love how no special prep is involved--nectarines with peel, whole oranges, half apples, a bit of juice concentrate from the freezer, a big handful of kale. I had briefly entertained asking for a juicer instead, but I'm glad I didn't. All that fiber, gone to waste! 

Of course I am doing the green smoothies (the kids love to gross out) and oodles of fruit. But I made this one for breakfast, and it satisfied that "I just did a good job by having some protein for breakfast" thing.

In other news, I walked the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon with my dear friend Molly, and they announced my name when I crossed the finish line. My first race, first medal of my life (everyone got one--don't get too excited), and it felt good. My favorite part was walking on the Alaskan Way Viaduct on a 75 degree day with no cars and looking out over Elliott Bay. I said to Molly, "I'm so glad we are here." And I was.

And I threw a birthday party for myself, invited some incredible women, and basked in their wisdom, their love for me, and the miracle of another year of life. My spiritual director told me yesterday there was "more of me" in the room than she'd experienced before, and that's Grace. Gift after gift.

Almond Cocoa Smoothie
Get our your blender and throw in one frozen banana, 3/4 c. almond milk, 2 Tb. almond butter, 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 c. old fashioned oats, and a dash of cinnamon. Blend until smooth.

Stone Fruit Sangria

Stone fruit sangria

This beautiful jar of sangria seems as fitting a symbol as any for how these days after the move have unfolded--abundance, color, sweetness, and lots of sharing with friends and family. Maybe I mentioned here that I was scared of being lonely. I am sure those moments will come--the kids in school, Yancey on shift, me missing all my Seattle connections. For now, though, this jar is full. 

Kelly joined us for dinner, and she helped us empty it. I've known Kelly (Yancey's sister) since she was twelve (!!!), but it's been a really long time since we lived in the same town. It's great to be together. If your sister-in-law is visiting (or friend, boss, neighbor, mother...), pour them a ladle-full of this.  The fruit doesn't need to macerate like this sangria, and it can be whipped up in a flash. Happy Summer, friends.

Stone Fruit Sangria
Empty a bottle of fruity sauvignon blanc 
into a pitcher or jar. Add 1 large, thinly sliced peach, a cup of pitted, halved cherries, and a thinly sliced apricot. Add 1/2 c. Triple Sec, 1 can. San Pellegrino limonata soda, juice of one lemon, handful fresh mint leaves, and a few Tb. of simple syrup. Taste, adding more lemon or simple syrup to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use, then pour over ice.

Negronis

negroni

I just finished Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones, and Butter. I can't quit the food memoirs. I enjoyed most of it very much, and she's one of the increasing few who have the material for an engaging memoir. A lot of the book, before she opens her restaurant, is about the crazy world of high-end catering. It's another reminder that there are so many kinds of intelligence in the world, and the kind that's delivering lunches for 800 doesn't get recognized very often. What I liked most about the book was that I could feel myself with her in whatever kitchen she was in--lifting giant pots of boiling water, making long lists, tipping beans, being bone-tired at the end of the night. 

And she mentions negronis so many times that I had to make them. When Yancey and I were in Italy--that pre-children, sweetest of trips that we still bring up weekly--we grew to love the bitter liqueur Campari and would order Americanos (Campari with sweet vermouth).  Add a good jigger of floral gin (Hendricks is my choice), a squeeze of lemon or lemon twist, and you've got the perfect cocktail for memoir-reading, narcissistic blogging, or sitting in the spring sun doing nothing.

There is so much change in our family's life right now--our house is pending after only 2 days on the market (miraculous!), we're furiously looking for a place to live in less than 30 days, the kids are leaving their schools, we're having a giant goodbye party next weekend, and I just got a bunch more work that I hadn't planned on for the month. At the moment, I am ignoring all of that, sitting at my sunny kitchen table, drinking a negroni, and happily imagining what you might be doing. Happy Memorial Day.

Negroni
Makes one. Certainly you could use another kind of gin, but I'd suggest springing for Hendricks. And you can top with a splash of soda if you like, too. The classic recipe calls for equal measure of all three liquors, but I like mine heavy on the gin. No surprise to some of you.

1.5 oz Hendricks gin
1 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
lemon wedge
ice

Put 3 or 4 ice cubes into a highball glass. Pour gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in, and stir to combine. Squeeze a wedge of lemon or drop a lemon twist in. 

Pimm's Cup

pimms cup

Clearly, I'm trying to extend our vacation. Pimm's Cup on a weeknight. More than one glass of it, too.

Yancey and I had a Pimm's Cup last week at the White Horse Trading Company in Post Alley. It's the sweetest, coziest, little pub, only open at night, and we've peered in there a million times, always meaning to go. We had been out for a delicious dinner, walking all night, and were back at the anniversary hotel room, eyes half-closed, when Yancey said, "We have to go to White Horse. Let's rally." It's incredibly hard to leave a Pokemon-free, clean room with the potential of room service. And The Food Network. But I rallied, and that turned out to be a wise choice. We cozied up to the bar, and I got their delicious version of this vintage drink, made with five kinds of wine, brown sugar, and fresh lemon juice. When the bartender learned it was our anniversary, he set a chocolate truffle in front of me and poured he and Yancey shots of sake. Yancey and I watched the probable first dates around us, wished them well, and were glad not to be enduring all the requisite angst. Give me soggy Pokemon cards and fights about laundry piles anyday.

This version is made with Pimm's Cup (available at your local liquor store), simple syrup, lemon juice, and lots of other aromatics. It is a Superstar Summer Refresher. One of the best I've ever had. Kind of a musky, more intriguing sangria, a drink that will make you feel like wearing your most floppy straw hat and learning to play bridge. Or maybe it will be just enough to get you off the couch, turning off Food Network, and having a little celebration of your own.

Pimm's Cup

Makes 4-6 drinks. The essentials here are the liquor, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Everything else is optional, though it looks so gloriously over-the-top all soaking together in the pitcher. I let it sit for less than an hour because I was impatient, but the original recipe on Epicurious says to let it sit for 1-3 hours. I imagine the all the floaty things would be more important in that case. I found this amount of sugar to be just right, but you can certainly decrease it to your taste.

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
2 c. Pimm's No. 1 (a blend of gin, liqueurs, and fruit extracts)
1 c. fresh lemon juice
1 thinly sliced lemon
1 orange, halved, and thinly sliced
1 6" long piece cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds
1 3" long piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced into coins
1/4 c. fresh mint leaves
club soda
ice cubes

Stir sugar and 1/2 c. water in saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Combine Pimm's and next six ingredients in a large pitcher. Mix in sugar syrup, mashing slightly to release flavors. Cover; chill at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

Fill glass with ice, then cocktail, leaving an inch at the top for club soda. Top with a splash (I don't like too much--just enough to make it fizzy).

Watermelon Lime Agua Fresca

agua fresca

Mary gave me a watermelon today. I put it on the front seat, stopped at the stop sign, and it bounced onto the floor, bruising all to *#!#. That means one thing: watermelon agua fresca.

Mary is the backdrop to my life--so much so that I hardly mention her. One thing I love about our relationship is that we are always giving each other little things. Today, when I picked up Milo, she gave me a Ziploc of blueberries and a mini watermelon. And she gave back a casserole dish that I had delivered food in last week. We like to debate about who has it harder. I say she wins hands-down. They just adopted a third child in January with a lot of medical needs, and she's a hospice nurse, often working the graveyard shift. She looks at my crazy days of meetings and Yancey gone so many nights and decides to do things for me, which I usually don't know I need until she does them. We have been chatting almost every day, in some form, for over seven years--picking Oscar and Wyatt up at the bus stop, rocking each other's babies to sleep. I know she's the reason I haven't been up in the middle of the night reading parenting books. She makes me feel normal. She tells me Oscar has an everlasting cough, too, and that I'm not a horrible mother if my kids still aren't sleeping through the night at 20 months. I can't count the ways she has kept me sane these parenting years. Mothers need co-mothers.

And, when the day is done--books littering every square inch of the living room floor, laundry still not folded, UNO cards permanently separated from their brother and sister UNO cards and soggy on the wet front steps--maybe you can sit down to a swig of this. It tastes like summer in a glass,  you'll have the satisfaction of rescuing a mushy watermelon, and you can take a minute to collect yourself before it starts all over again in the morning.

Watermelon Lime Agua Fresca
"Aguas Frescas" are "fresh waters," often found in Mexican restaurants. Like juice, but much lighter, less sweet, more refreshing. I like to make them with cantaloupe and strawberries, too. Take whatever leftover watermelon you have lying around. Chop it into big chunks, not worrying about seeds or mushy spots. Fill a blender 3/4 full with the watermelon chunks, and add about 1 Tb.  sugar (or to taste) and 1/2 c. water. Puree. Pour puree through a fine sieve into a pitcher, discarding solids when done. Repeat for remaining watermelon. Add fresh lime juice to taste to the watermelon juice--I juiced one large lime for two blender-fulls of watermelon. Serve with thinly sliced cucumber rounds and fresh mint, and maybe a shot of vodka or gin if you happened to slip on those UNO cards.

Cranberry Rosemary Punch + Dana's Dates

dana's dates

Last night's party was delicious--delicious co-workers (thank you, Priya and Emily!); guests (Organization Development professionals from around the world); and client--my friend Geoff who has a PhD in giving heartfelt compliments.  He knows how to make a girl feel appreciated.

In all my running around--taking dirty dishes, refilling crostini, fetching ice--I managed to promise guests that I'd post these recipes. They happen to be the two least labor-intensives nibbles of the night.  The dates are from Dana's blog, and I've wanted to make them for a long time.  Simple, quick, but "Give-me-another-one-of-those" scrumptious.

The punch was an accident.  In the prep kitchen, I pulled out my big punch jar and went to grab lemonade concentrate.  A thousand expletives.  In my freezer at home!  And no supermarkets downtown!  Emily walked  to Uwajimaya and called me from the frozen aisle--no lemonade.  We decided on cranberry cocktail, and she carried some back to the gallery.  I dumped the rosemary syrup in, floated a big chunk of ice and a bunch of thinly sliced lemons.  People were pining for it, and it looked so beautiful in the glasses.  It's a big joke on me--the thing everyone's begging for wasn't in the master plan. I'm sure you've got your own stories and metaphors where that's concerned.  If we had it all together and never did things like forget lemonade at home, there wouldn't be room for cranberry punch. And what kind of world would that be?

Emily and Priya will tell you I was definitely NOT all zen about the punch last night, though, or about the rentals arriving 45 minutes late.  Lest you think I can creatively solve kitchen emergencies and smile beatifically all the while.  Sheesh. I'm not that multitalented.

box of dates

Cranberry Rosemary Punch
This makes 5 quarts--a lot.  Halve it for a smallish party.  I often have simple syrups like this in the fridge, so you can just pour a little bit into a single glass of juice, too--taste, and adjust to your liking.  Not surprisingly, I like mine really rosemary-y.

For simple syrup:
2 c. water
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. chopped fresh rosemary

In a saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Add rosemary, simmer for a couple minutes, then remove from heat and cool.  Pour mixture through a sieve, discarding rosemary. Keeps in the fridge for a couple weeks.  This makes more than you will need.

To make punch:
Combine 4 cans frozen cranberry juice concentrate with 12 cans water and 1 1/2  cup of rosemary simple syrup. Add lots of ice (you want to dilute the punch a bit since you've just added sugary syrup), two thinly sliced lemons, and a couple fresh rosemary sprigs.  Serve confidently, acting like you planned this the whole time.

Goat Cheese and Pistachio Stuffed Dates
Makes 16.  Adapted from Dana Treat, who adapted it from
The New Classics by Martha Stewart.  You can make the goat cheese filling one day ahead and refrigerate it. These hors d’oeuvres can be assembled several hours before serving. Loosely cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to three hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.

4 oz. soft goat cheese
3 tbsp. shelled salted pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
1 Tb. honey
Pepper
8 plump, soft dried dates (preferably Medjool), pitted and halved lengthwise

Stir together goat cheese, pistachios,chives, and honey in a small bowl until smooth. Season with pepper.

Arrange dates, cut side up, on a platter. Using a small spoon and your fingers, fill each date with a small mound of the filling. Garnish, if you like, with additional chopped pistachios and chives.  Thinly drizzle a bit of honey over the whole platter.

Sanity Sangria

sangria

Raising a glass of Sangria to leaving town.  With my mom.  To Portland.  Where we can geek out on food, watch TV in bed, fill our hotel room with cooking magazines, and generally be responsibility-free.  This is my belated birthday present. Now that the day is here, I feel really tired.  It occurs to me that our family's been in a lot of transition these last six months.  We've weathered it pretty well, I think, but I need to get out of here. I didn't realize that until I started packing my suitcase.

If you are a mother, allow me to be preachy for a minute and say it doesn't do your children any favors to never leave them.  You need it, they need it, and it's worth all the coordinating and hassle.  In the middle of your tenth phone call, asking for your friend to pick up your son from preschool or your mom to come over, you'll think, "Why am I doing this?  Everything will fall apart without me." Coming home though, I'll bet you'll have missed your kids and be ready to see them again.  That's the best feeling in the world for me.  So much better than wishing I could be teleported to anywhere but this chaotic house with lethal legos lurking everywhere.

This is my quick, no-fuss, time-tested Sangria.  Unfortunately, I could drink a barrel of this stuff.  I'm not into sweet drinks normally, but this is a giant exception.  And I make it on the sweet side--I don't like Sangria that just tastes like wine.  I made this for Priya last weekend to celebrate the end of her summer quarter in school. Then I made it again a couple nights ago just because Yancey and I were home together with time to linger over dinner.

Here's to loving home, and here's to leaving so I can come home and love it again.  I'll see you in a couple days.

Sanity Sangria
Priya gave it this name--perfect.  I always have a bottle of Triple Sec around--the cheap kind.  It's around $7 at the liquor store, and it will last you through several batches of Sangria.  And I use cheap wine, too.  Once you've dumped all that sugar in, you'll have wasted an expensive bottle.

1 750ml bottle Merlot
juice of one small lime
juice of one small lemon
one lemon or lime, thinly sliced
juice of two large oranges or 3/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. sugar (+ more to taste)
1/3 c. Triple Sec

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and stir thoroughly.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge to let fruit macerate and sugar dissolve. If you can let it sit a couple hours, it's even better.

Pour over ice and toast the good things in your life.

Ginger Tea with Friends and Strangers


In addition to Mark Bittman, I have another new crush. It's on the poet Naomi Shihab Nye who Emily and I saw last night as part of this season's Seattle Arts and Lectures series at Benaroya Hall.  I am still basking in everything she said, her haunting poems, sweet smile (she signed my book), sense of humor, and the way she uses language to promote peace and reconciliation.  Emily and I have been exchanging little remembrances and bits of poems all day via email.  I just love that, in a world of tweeter (I know it's Twitter.  I was making a joke) Seattleites are still packing out halls to hear poetry.  I cut her picture from the program and put it on my bulletin board. Then I took a picture of that.  I'm leaving it up for awhile as a reminder of how I want to be in the world.



She read a poem called Red Brocade, and I knew two things immediately.  1) I had to have the book no matter what and 2) This poem was going in today's post.  Thankfully, 19 Varieties of Gazelle:  Poems of the Middle East was in paperback for just $6.99.  Also, thankfully, some of you now trust me enough to let me talk about poetry instead of food.  Don't worry.  This is still about food.  And so much more.

Naomi (we're sort of friends since she signed my book, so I'm dropping formalities) is Palestinian-American, and has lot of relatives and friends in Palestine who are suffering.  She writes about the human cost of war in a way that makes you put down the book and cry.  And yet she's not a pessimist--not even close.  She celebrates the smallest, most intimate beauties in everyday life, honoring people she loves and strangers she's never met.  

This poem praises the power of food to bring people together and the magic of hospitality. And it gives us a little chiding about the curse of busyness.  It's my new anthem.

Red Brocade
Naomi Shihab Nye, from 19 Varieties of Gazelle

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.

Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine Nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

-------------------------------

I refuse to be claimed!  I refuse to be claimed by a culture that says achieving is more important than loving. I refuse to be too busy to eat together, refuse to wear busyness like a badge of honor.  I want to lay out the "red brocade pillow" for friends and strangers.  I'm a long way from always doing it without hesitation, but I'm getting closer.

I love the line "We will snip fresh mint/into your tea."  Maybe because I just planted a little mint pot last weekend (and you know my obsession with mint).  Or maybe because offering a drink to someone is the first thing I do when they walk in the door.  Or maybe because it gives me a simple, delicious way to make this poetry posting into a food posting.



I've been noticing lately how many people in my life don't drink coffee, caffeinated tea, or alcohol.  This is something I can offer them that's still a treat, something that says, "Here--sit on the best pillow."  You don't have to use fresh mint.  I've made it many times with just lemon, ginger, and honey.  You can also brew peppermint or green tea and use that as a base instead of water.

This won't surprise some of you, but I'm tearing up as I write today because this blog has given me unimagined ways to lay out the red brocade pillow.  Thank you for sharing tea with me so often even if we can't be in the same kitchen.

Ginger Lemon Tea with Fresh Mint
(double if more than two people are drinking it)

3 cups boiling water
juice of one lemon + 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
one inch chunk of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
at least 4 Tb. honey (can make it sweeter if you want)
handful fresh mint leaves

In a tempered glass beaker or teapot, put lemon juice, lemon slices, ginger, and honey.  Pour hot water over and stir.  Add mint at the last minute.  It will get brown, but still look and taste delicious.  You can also let this sit around to cool and then pour it over ice later.

Julius! Julius!



"Julius!  Julius!"  My two-year old, Loretta,  still in her PJ's and soggy diaper (remember when, with your first child, you actually changed his diaper in the middle of the night?!), waits not-so-patiently for me to mix her morning cocktail.  Orange juice and soy milk, or "orange julius," as I generously term it.  If you were hoping for an inspiring recipe today, I'm sorry.  The good news is, you don't have to be close to kitchen-savvy to benefit from this little concoction.

Most mornings, I pull out two cartons and , in a 1/2 OJ to 1/2 soymilk ratio, shake up a batch in a Nalgene water bottle (you can also just stir it with a spoon) and pour it around.  For some reason, it always tastes divine.  I am not a big soymilk junkie, and since no one in my family is lactose intolerant, I haven't experimented with things like vegan mac and cheese or scones.  I appreciate the need some folks have to do that, but I suppose I'm still stuck in the soymilk-is-medicinal mode.  Call me an earth-hater.  However, I always have it around for this morning ritual, and I also enjoy its nutty flavor over oatmeal.

The orange-and-cream combination is a time-honored one.  Remember those little ice cream cups with the wooden spoons?  I had one recently at some potluck or other, and they haven't lost their luster.  In high school, I used to work at Nordstrom back when Bellingham had a thriving downtown with department stores.  The Nordstrom espresso bar was one of the first espresso bars in town, and it was quite a novelty.  It was staffed by the coolest female college students--snowboarders with hippie style and enough avant-garde sensibility to make them stand out in Bellingham.  Maybe I filled up so many punchcards there just to be around them.

Of course I wasn't drinking coffee at 16.  Only the Goth kids did that, and I was as straight as they came.  I did partake of the Creamsicle, however, and it's this drink that my lowly orange julius hearkens back to.  The Creamsicle was a type of Italian soda--if Italian sodas don't typify the '80's, I don't know what does.  It was made with vanilla syrup, fresh-squeezed OJ, seltzer water, and heavy cream, all over ice.  I'm salivating just thinking about it.  I have no idea if they still make that or if there's anyone in Seattle profligate enough to drink it, but my friend Heidi Harris and I spent many happy hours sipping those while we inventoried stock in the back room.

Once Loretta is sucking up her "Julius! Julius!" through her little sippy cup straw, I usually have a small window to make coffee and start reading the paper until the next demand comes. As you mothers know, that's priceless.