Keeping things simple in a not so simple world

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winter and spring

The thing about winter in New Jersey is that it seems like forever.  While it gets cold in November, we usually don’t get snow until January, which makes one think that 2 months of winter can’t be that bad.  But, but, we get dumped on.  It’s never a gradual inch or two, it is two months of winter at its finest.  New Jersey roads can’t handle snow – the state is completely unprepared for it, the potholes never really get fixed from the previous year or the year before that, and schools have two-delays or snow days at the first “winter storm watch”.

Can you tell I am anxious for spring?

We are lucky.  By the second or third week of March, we have reasonable temperatures and large amount of snow is usually gone – at least most years.  This year happens to be one of those years.

My seeds are bought.  My garden is plotted out.  The kids were able to ride scooters.  And I can take a walk outdoors to feel sunshine on face that actually feels warm.

I think, however, that my body plays tricks on me.  I always think 50 degrees is much warmer than it actually is and so, I don’t always dress as warmly as I should.  So while the key lime pies I’ve been making are treating me to a taste of summer, I still end my days wanting a warm cup of tea.  Or maybe chai.

Below is my favorite basic chai recipe and new one, incorporating turmeric – a recent Western-world discovered superfood.    I keep a pot on the stove for a day or so – not even taking time to store it because it goes so quickly.  But it can be kept in the freezer or fridge – served warm or cold (in the coming summer days!)
It can easily be adjusted. My kids like less ginger, my partner, more anise. Make a batch and then adjust to your preferences.

Basic Chai

10 cups of water
3 cinnamon sticks
4-6 star anise
5 green cardamom pods, cracked
4 1-inch peeled pieces of ginger (organic preferably)
4-6 whole cloves
6 black peppercorns
thin peel of half of a large orange – make sure not to include the pith (the white part)
6 black tea bags, preferably high quality (may use decaf)

Fill a pot with the water, the spices and orange peel. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, submerse tea bags and leave to soak for 8-10 minutes. Strain the liquid. Reheat to serve immediately. When ready to serve, add 3/4 cup of chai to 1/4 cup of warm milk. Sweeten with honey if desired.

Turmeric Chai****

10 cups of water
4 1-inch peeled pieces of ginger (preferably organic)
5-7 green cardamom pots, cracked
6 black peppercorns
4-6 star anise
1 3-inch piece of fresh turmeric root peeled (preferably organic)

Fill a pot with the water and all the spices but the turmeric. Grate the turmeric into the water using a large-size grater hole. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain the liquid. Reheat if serving immediately. To serve, use a 1:1 ratio of chai to milk – preferably coconut or almond milk.

****NOTE!: Turmeric is a root that is very dark orange in color. It does STAIN! I recommend using some sort of gloves when cutting and peeling. Also, turmeric is anti-inflammatory and has properties that can give some people a numbing sensation when consumed in large quantities or in a more potent recipe like above. You are not allergic to it. There is no known allergy to turmeric.
Turmeric can be found fresh at Whole Foods, Wegmans and most asian markets.