Homemade Chai Tea

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It’s my favourite part of fall right now. The leaves easily detach from their branches and swirl around in the wind outside my window. The sun peaks behind the clouds and sends its rays through the trees, creating abstract patterns of shadows that creep along the interior of my  bedroom. Half the sky is a light blue with a few whisps of clouds, while the other half is a beautiful mess of different shades of grey clouds, darkening and blurring the further away they go.

Up high in the mountains the fog is thick and the snow is plentiful. The peaks are a crisp white and the rock faces are clenching onto snow inside their cracks and crevices. The hills are spotted with rust coloured trees that stand out against the cedars, firs and other coniferous trees which are a beautiful darkened shade of green.

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During many evening walks, my favourite green scarf is pulled off the hook and wrapped around my neck, and my long, black, fleece coat is buttoned up to the very top. During the walk I dig my hands into my pockets as far as they can go, shielding them from the evening chill. Lit up halloween decorations adorn many houses and amazingly enough, summer flowers can be seen blooming here and there.

If you looked through my window at this very moment, you could see me sitting on my bed atop a fuzzy blanket, sipping a cup of homemade chai and typing away on this post, all while surrounded by the aromas of spices from foreign lands.

This tea is best served after a long brisk walk or an afternoon of raking leaves. Anything where warming is needed.

HOMEMADE CHAI TEA

Makes 2 large mugs of chai, or 4 mugs if adding steamed milk

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons black tea, or 2 teabags of black tea. I used Dilma tea-bags.
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TB honey-add more depending on personal preference

Combine water and milk in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring often.

Reduce heat to low and add all the spices and vanilla.

Cover and let simmer for 12 minutes.

Remove from heat, add black tea, and let steep covered for 2 minutes or more.
Add honey, mix well and then strain.
Return to heat, depending on how hot you would like to serve it.
Enjoy!
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Fresh Cranberry Oat Bars

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I think I’ve sinned you guys. I haven’t made anything with pumpkin this season… I have definitely consumed many fabulous pumpkin delights, I just wasn’t involved in the creation of any of them…oh well, maybe I’ll throw something pumpkiny in here in spring just to mess up the alignment of the planets. I have also seen SO MANY pumpkin related ‘erythang around here, that I’m feeling pumpkined out.

So, in the usual Emma fashion, we’re skipping ahead to the cranberry! We cool cats are ahead of the game here at Emu’s Eats! Full steam ahead.

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I have had good and bad encounters with cranberries.

Bad encounters include: When I don’t think and pop a fresh one right into my mouth, followed by my face scrunching up into a picture day worthy expression! Sour/tart things just ain’t my thing.

Good encounters include: Cranberry juice, Cranberry sauce slathered on turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and these Cranberry bars! (As you can tell good reasons > bad reasons)

For a few moments, I was wondering if it was too early to get into the cranberry shtuff since cranberries are  usually directly associated with Christmas. Then I thought, “No! They are in season right now, cranberry bars are needed!” Now that I’ve told you what goes on inside my brain, time for cranberries!

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A friend of mine’s family grew these cranberries on their farm! They actually dry pick them, as opposed to the usual cranberry bogs we all see on juice commercials, where the farmers are in fishing trousers waist deep in water. No wet feet came with these cranberries!

Funny enough, the friend in discussion actually loathes cranberries. Like, with a passion. Which makes sense, cause if my mom made me help grow/harvest/sell them day in and day out for weeks on end, they wouldn’t be my fave either.

What makes these particular bars so awesome, is that they are made with fresh cranberries, that are first made into the same cranberry sauce we use for Thanksgiving dinner! So, if you have some leftover cranberry sauce, you can slather it between the oat mixture and it will work just the same!

FRESH CRANBERRY OAT BARS

CRANBERRY FILLING

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 TB water
  • juice of one orange

Stir together all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often.

Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes, just until the cranberries burst. Watch carefully and make sure it doesn’t over-boil.

Transfer to a heat proof bowl and cool for 10 minutes to let the sauce congeal.

CRANBERRY OAT BARS

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, lightly butter an 8 by 8 inch pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving some hanging over the edges.

In a small bowl, stir together everything except the butter.

Using your hands, massage the butter into the oat mixture, until it’s resembles crumbs.

Press two cups of the mixture into the bottom of the pan, making sure to pack it into the corners.

Spread the cranberry sauce evenly onto the oat layer, trying to leave a bit of space between it and the edge of the pan.

Scatter the rest of the mixture on top and lightly press it down with your hands.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Cool completely, lift out of pan, cut into squares and enjoy!

A Post-Thanksgiving Food Coma

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Currently in a post-thanksgiving food coma. Not to worry, it’s the good kind of coma! (If that’s even possible…) It’s the, “I’m high on Tryptophan from that delicious chicken”, kind of coma.

I actually didn’t have to help with any of the Thanksgiving dinner preparations this year, since I was working. Yay for the tourist industry! It was one of those arrive and sit down to eat situations. Upon walking in, Dad was carving the chicken, Mom was putting away clean dishes and the table was set. I was impressed!

I have to say, that it was a very successful weekend. The only ways I really contributed were whipping cream for the pumpkin pie, doing dishes and eating! Eating being the most important of course. Relaxing was it, says Yoda.

I am very thankful to my family and friends for such a great time!

Anywho, I’ll leave you with a few non-food related photos I took this weekend. Okay I lied, I may have slipped one in there. Hooray for the sun shining it’s beautiful face! I’m going to go lie face down on my bed now.

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Toasted Hazelnut Scones with Maple Glaze

Before we get into today’s story, I wanna have a little chat over some delicious Whole Wheat Apple Almond Blueberry Cake from Stella’s Virtual Cafe! A new foodie blog! (This is the time to jump for joy.) My mother creates the content for this delightful new blog, while I take part as the website designer and almost full time photographer! So, come in, sit down, and let Stella feed you! The atmosphere is humorous and not without comfort 🙂 Go and check it out here: http://stellasvirtualcafe.wordpress.com I recommend everything.

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Anywho, lets talk scones. But first, lets talk about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVZgqsnxifM This is how I’ve been feeling after school lately. Having Pre-Calculus and Chemistry back to back is NOT FUN boys and girls. Before midterms this year, I had never experienced the so called ‘brain hurts’ that others have complained about. Well, let me tell you, I have now experienced my fair share… My brain literally HURTS. I’ll just point out that math/science aren’t exactly my strengths.

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There is a cure though. Definitely scientifically proven. Firstly, we calm down the brain. It’s called sitting still, staring at the TV, and not taking in any information whatsoever, for 30 minutes at least. NOT looking up university programs…bad Emma. Do you feel the pain receding? Lovely! Now time for recovery! Post pain. You know it’s arrived when your head stops hurting and all you want to do is eat crackers and watch youtube videos, while covered in an excessive amount of fuzzy things. Feeling better? Fantastic. You know when you go to the dentist, but when you come home you feel like you’ve just climbed Mount Everest? You never would have thought lying down in a chair and getting your teeth brushed could be so exhausting. We have now reached that stage of recovery.

Stage 2 ALWAYS begins with toasted hazelnuts, otherwise known as the best damn smell in the entire universe. You could just stop here you know, and sit in front of the oven, still armed with an oven-mit, clenching the tray and savouring the hot hazelnuts, but why not go further? Why not completely recover by making Toasted Hazelnut Scones with Maple Glaze? We all know your tastebuds could benefit with a little bit of sweetness to counteract the salt of that entire box of Triscuits you ate…

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These scones came out of The Dalia Bakery Cookbook. I wish to visit this bakery at it’s home in Seattle one day, because if you took a look at this book, sweet Jesus you’d be salivating up a storm. Triple Coconut Cream pie and grilled cheese with tomato soup ON THE SAME MENU?!! I honestly don’t think it could be more perfect.

These scones are more of an old fashioned version, very biscotti like, and aren’t extremely fond of rising. (Due to the lack of egg, and small amount of baking powder). So don’t freak out over their shortness! We love them.

They will be perfect for this weekends Thanksgiving breakfast! Unless you aren’t true north strong and free, aka Canadian, they’ll still be a fantastic breakfast.

TOASTED HAZELNUT SCONES WITH MAPLE GLAZEfrom the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 TB all purpose flour
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cold butter (if using unsalted, add 1/4 tsp salt), cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 heaped cup hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar and baking powder.  Cut in butter using a pastry blender, until butter resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in hazelnuts.

Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl. Gradually stir it into the flour mixture until the dough just comes together into a soft and slightly moist dough. Turn onto a lightly floured mixture and knead until dough coheres, but do not over knead.

Pat into a circle, about 1 inch thick and cut into 6 equal triangles.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through. Transfer to wire rack and cool 15-20 minutes, then make the glaze.

MAPLE GLAZE

  • 2 TB melted butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 TB maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 2 TB heavy cream

In a small whisk together powdered sugar, butter, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until smooth. Whisk in heavy cream last. Drizzle over slightly warm scones using a spoon.

Enjoy!

Travelling Cookies

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Some foods pack well for when you’re on the go, and some really, really don’t…

Examples of foods to pack for a road trip: Sandwiches, fruit, muffins and THESE FANTABULOUS TRAVELLING COOKIES.

Examples of foods that don’t pack well: Smoothies, spaghetti, yesterday’s turkey dinner, homemade sushi…I’ve done this…not a good time boys and girls. By the time lunch came round, it was definitely a sushi salad… Unless of course you have one of those snazzy bento boxes, then go for it!

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If you couldn’t already tell, I recently went on a road trip to visit the Aunt and Uncle. It was quite great! Sometimes you just need to get away, forget what’s going on back home, and focus on hiking by the river and hanging with family. It’s good for the soul.

Not only were these cookies a hit while on the road, but upon arriving at our relatives in the evening, I brought the box in to share, which had 20ish cookies in it. The next morning there were three cookies left…I blame the 3 teenage male cousins. I refuse to acknowledge the fact that teenage males eat anything and everything ‘cookie’, no matter if it tastes good or not. I promise you, these cookies are wonderful.

Travelling Cookies adapted from Whitewater Cooks at Home 

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/3 heaped cup of desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit (I used raisins, cranberries and currants)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla, beat until well combined.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until well combined.

Mix in oats, coconut, chocolate and dried fruit.

Drop by heaped tablespoons onto cookie sheet, a few inches apart (They like to spread)

Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges and top, rotating pans half-way through cooking time. *Do not over-bake, these cookies are best when chewy!

Let sit on cookie sheets for 2 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!