This blog has little to do with anything. So, you might want to come back at a later post.
I made chai out of all local ingredients—local palm sugar, local cardamon, local cinnamon, local cumin, local cloves, local milk, and local teas. It was the best chai I've had in my entire life. And while I am sure customs will shake me down once I come back to the USA, I think I'm going to have to bring all the makin's back with me (sans milk, of course).
Your reward for reading this far is my chai recipe.
2 1/2 Cups Whole or Half Milk
1 ½ Cups Water
16-18 Cardamons (roughly crush in your hands, and you really can't have too many)
16-20 Whole Cloves
8-10 Whole Black Peppercorns
¼- ½ Teaspoon Whole Cumin Seeds
1 3” Stick Cinnamon
Unperfumed Black or Green Tea
3 Tablespoons Palm, Brown, or White Sugar
Combine milk and all spices and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer stirring so the milk doesn't boil over or form a skin on top. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the milk has a strong spiced flavor. If it begins to taste too much like cinnamon, remove the cinnamon stick. After the milk has a strong spice flavor, add your sugar, stir until dissolved, and remove from heat.
Separately, brew your tea (with the water) at twice or three times your normal strength. Combine with your spiced milk. This is great hot or cold. This makes about three small servings.
Traditionally, you'd reuse your spices at least once.
Maybe it is the hot chai and smell of cloves and cinnamon, maybe it is the occasional Christmas jingle when I go to the Western market, or the Christmas shopping that has been wrapped up already thanks to Amazon, but I've been thinking about winter and cold weather. Getting the latest issues of The New York Review, Current History, Foreign Affairs and The New Yorker (just one issue of the latter to “shake things up a bit”) made today feel a lot like Christmas, too. But it isn't Christmas that I am thinking of.
It is the cold. It is white landscapes and dead trees, their branches like gnarled fingers arthriticly reaching for the crisp blue skies. It is winterscapes, sparkling like a world wrapped in crystal, embraced in ice. It isn't, surprisingly, home that I miss. Kentucky is dark, wet and miserable in winter. It is mired in mud and discomfort. No, this sudden desire for winter, for the cold, for furs and boots, is the desire for somewhere else. It is a desire for Amarillo, Texas with its wide open spaces and white as far as the eye can see. It is the vapor of breath from reindeer and hot glögg in a country cabin, or the tracks of a wolverine across the snow. It is the Rocky Mountains or Siberia, it is Tibet or Alaska. Rice paddy and jungle is beautiful as is the blue ocean . . . but I'm ready for something else. Maybe the desert?
|I miss you old apartment, but have I outgrown you,|
contemporary modern couch so lovingly imported from Japan?
When I wasn't making chai, I was looking at winter clothes . . . fur coats and ushanka hats and leather leggings. Then, thinking about furs, I started looking at bearskin rugs and then cougar-skin rugs, and then taxidermy mounts and found myself daydreaming of an eclectic mix of a room, dripping with Byzantine excess, animal skins and Asian wood carvings, Persian rugs, Russian crystal and Tiffany lamps. And then I realized I pretty much have all of that, just not on one continent. After my rug buying craze last year (and now sort of glad of that since if I'd gotten a car instead where would it be right now?), I realized I'd have to have a pretty big apartment in Honolulu just to have the floor space for another rug. And that led me to look at O'ahu homes, but no way I'm tying myself down to a property--I was just thinking about longing for ice and desert expanses, not more palm trees and tropical beaches (grass is always greener, huh?).
Home will have to wait.
C'est la vie.