So, it is looking more and more like spring around here. You can see the tops of some hopeful daffodils and tulips above, and the sturdy garlic shoots that came barreling out of the ground one warm Saturday. Matt and I decided to celebrate spring by going canoeing! Yes, this seemed to me a bit premature. All of my thoughts about canoeing involve some measure of bathing suits, sunscreen, and lazy summer days. Yet here we were, loading the Stillwater onto the roof of the car preparing to takeon some very fast water. While Matt had been looking forward to this all week (which I didn’t realize until Friday night), I tended to think that maybe our canoe was not going to take on the raging Hoosic too successfully….hence its make name above, the Stillwater. But Matt persevered, and I took precautions (extra change of clothes, lifejacket, leaving my valued camera at home) that in the event I accidentally, ahem, evacuated the canoe, I wouldn’t be a headline in the next day’s paper. To my surprise, it was a great trip! We cruised down the river in record time ( 2 hours this time compared with 3 hours last May) and navigated some decent rapids. It was easier since there was so much more water and, therefore, not as many rocks to worry about scraping. We broke in our new canoe rather quickly last year on the same trip. All ended well on Saturday, although I did take a few waves in the face.
Spice Experiment, Part 1 – This recipe was a bit of a cop-out in terms of using whole spices. What could be simpler than making great chai? Still, it was one of those things that I hadn’t made in awhile, and I do crave a good cuppa sometimes. I’ve never found a blend that I really love. Here’s what I threw in the pot with around 4 or so cups of water: 2 ½ star anise, pinch of Tellicherry peppercorns, pinch of allspice berries, 1 hibiscus flower, grated nutmeg, lightly crushed green cardamom pods, and some broken pieces of vanilla bean. I simmered the spices and water for around 10 minutes and then added 3 bags of Numi Rooibos tea. I actually made a test batch last week, where I made one batch with black tea and one batch with the caffeine-free Rooibos. I found that the earthy, vanilla notes of the Rooibos were much more harmonious with the spices than the tea I was using, which was too robust…and I added too much, making it a little bitter. I’ve really been enjoying my chai heated with milk (about half as much as chai), frothed with a little battery-operated Aerolatte wand, and sprinkled with vanilla sugar. Yum - I’m never going back to ground spices! Stay tuned for the next installment of the great Spice Challenge.