Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday Night Adventures

I had a hankering for scones earlier. As with a lot of my baking endeavors, I usually decide to attempt to make something or make a favored recipe because something piqued my interest in it. In this case, it was a comment I saw on an online community about currant scones. In lieu of the fact that I don't have currants close at hand (well, I wasn't looking for them in the stores either), I decided to go with a favorite of mine- cinnamon apple.

Now, the recipe (click here for recipe) I use doesn't call for apples and cinnamon. No, it calls for toffee bits, chocolate chips, and walnuts. Tasty, however, that's not what I wanted tonight. And that's one of the things I love about cooking and baking—— making something my own.

First, I start by mixing my dry ingredients. Some flour (I used a combination of wheat flour and all purpose), baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix them together real well and then toss in some chopped dried apple slices——about a cup—— and mix again.

Next comes the only wet ingredient you need— whipped cream. I know. It's definitely not what you'd expect to see in there, but it makes them light and fluffy.

Now, fold the whipped cream into the dry ingredients dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead until you have a soft dough. Pat into a disc, cut into slices and ta-da you have scones. :D Make sure you line your pans with parchment paper, not wax paper. I have smoked my house up a bit before when I grabbed the wrong paper one time. LOL.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dream a Little Dream

"Speak softly and carry a big stick" --Theodore Roosevelt

I was born and raised in Montana. What brings this topic up? Well, that answer to that, dear friend is that it's nearing May. I used to work at a remote guest ranch in the summer and we always headed up there about mid-May. For nearly three full seasons I'd go out into the middle of nowhere from then until the end of September or beginning of October. I loved it. Some of my best memories are from up there. It was pretty much manual labor-- cleaning rooms, doing dishes, cooking food, serving guests-- but I really did enjoy it. There was a sense of accomplishment when the day was done. Granted it was a long day, but it was still fulfilling. Sadly, it's seasonal work and the time came when I needed something other than seasonal work to keep my bills paid. ::lol:: It doesn't look too great on an application when it shows that you leave in the summer and are looking for something to hold you through the winter until next season.

I'm not sure why it has been weighing so heavily on my mind lately. I decided to finally write about it when I happened to glance an old bookmark in my bookmarks folder. Oddly the bookmark wasn't working, but I came across the Flickr photoset with the pictures when I was randomly searching google for the parent site. ::lol:: Funny how that goes sometimes. (The photographer was one of the guests up there my last season, hence, how I know the site.) The scenery was incredible. Many of the guests were fascinating and kind. The experience unforgettable. I really do miss it, even though it drove me nuts the majority of the time. Although, maybe I am nuts for wanting to spend my summer in the boonies and only have 5 days out in the "real world" during the season. ::lol:: I learned a lot up there though. I can set a table with a full dinner service (basically a crapload of plates and silverware), cook breakfast on a Majestic wood stove for 15 people, stuff a fridge so full of grocery items that you get bombed almost everytime you open the door, and a vast majority of other odd things. Some of those useful, others not so much. Most importantly though, it helped shape me into who I am now. I have close friends from working up there and I've lost close friends up there. I learned how to use Windows XP, what spyware scanners are, and how to set up and solve most wireless internet issues. I pretty much left home for the first time when I went up there. Little did I know that that would help prepare me to move from Montana to Nebraska, knowing no one other than a few coworkers. Despite the fact that I haven't worked up there in almost three years, the memories and lessons that I carry will stick with me for a lifetime. Maybe that's why it weighs so heavily on my mind. This time of year marks an important time in my past. A renewing. A blossoming. Life.

Morning Cuppa, Kukicha and Windows Live Writer

   OK, that sounds a bit Pok√©mon-ish, but that’s alrkukicha2ight. LOL.

Kukicha is a Japanese green tea, just in case you were wondering. I’m not sure how to describe the flavor of it, but here  it goes: a bit “grassy” with a chestnut and cream undertone is about the best I can do. It’s a pretty looking tea. The leaves are a nice light, bright green and there are some twigs in it. Yeah, you read  that right twigs. Kukicha is also known as “twig tea.” I’m not sure why the twigs are in there, but it does add a different flavor to it. I’ve seen one site say:

Land is a scarce resource in Japan, making all agriculture a pricey endeavor. So it became essential for the Japanese farmer to extract as much value from each tea bush as possible. Necessity being the mother of invention, the Japanese have been ingenious at devising tea varieties that are unheard of in countries more land-endowed. One such product is Kukicha. Twigs are an unusual tea ingredient. However, combined with green leaves they form a serendipitous mixture, with a unique taste and aroma. Well worth a try.

I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but whatever the reason for the twigs, it still makes it interesting. 

   I’m currently writing this out on Windows Live Writer. I’m not sure what I think of it right now. I’ll say this though- it’s a lot easier to add pictures and links to it and previewing the post as I write it. I’m a huge fan of being able to see my posts real-time. I can fix errors or possible errors ahead of time, rather than after I post it. :D Excellent in my case. Now let’s see if I can get it to post onto here. LOL

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Morning Cuppa: Tea for a Captain

   It's not surprising given my blog title, that I'd review a tea on occasion. After all, that's my general drink of choice. Different brands have a different idea of certain blends or flavours and it's kind of interesting to see how one compares to another.

   One of my favourite places to get tea --especially since I'm in the middle of nowhere and the tea selection can be sparse-- is Adagio. They have a plethora of loose leaf teas and accessories in a variety of sizes. One of my favourite features by far though is the custom tea blend option. There are a lot of neat ideas to fit your mood. Everything from the Zodiac series to Birthday Tea to Velvet. Just rummage through the list or watch a few Adagio TeaV episodes and try a few!

   The one I'm drinking right now is a nice little blend called Tea for a Captain. The blend consists of chestnut black tea to give it a bit of an "outdoorsy-in-the-woods-or-at-sea" feeling, a bit of cinnamon black tea to complement the chestnut, and a touch of rum (also a black tea) to warm you up on a chill winter night. I might have overdone the cinnamon tea a touch though. Maybe. Even if there's a tad too much cinnamon, the flavours complement each other nicely (no, I'm not saying this because I made the blend) and you can still taste that hint of rum and the chestnut isn't overwhelming. The aroma of it is freaking amazing as well. I could sit and just smell the danged tea. All in all, a great tea that I'm definitely going to enjoy. Good thing too since I now have 4 oz. of it. LOL. If you try it, let me know what you think.