Thursday, April 9, 2020

Chai, a revelation

OK, I drink tea, love the stuff.  I simply adore chai though, tea like you get it in India.  Sincerely, the first time this gorgeous nectar passed my lips in India in the 80s it was one of those moments in your life that was so astonishing and so delicious.  Ahhhh

I have tried the chai you get at Starf*cks, and meh to say the least.  It's mostly just sweet.  Meh.  I have occasionally bought chai teabags, which are honestly pretty good if you basically cook them straight up in milk with a lot of sugar, no water at all.  Not the same thing, but definitely tasty!  But then you have a pot that you've cooked milk in and all the resulting tidying up that has to happen, and that is simply not something I can see myself doing every single day.  Though I do have some very distinct and happy memories of drinking this. It is very good.

One day a couple of years ago a student brought me in some of the chai she makes every morning for her family, and lord above, I was transported back to those utterly insanely delicious moments in India. 


Then, as we are all here with covid, well, hopefully without it, but you know what I mean, and I have plenty to do every day, indeed, I rarely accomplish all I'm aiming at, but we all do need some more brainless moments of distraction, and I have been watching the Bon Appetit youtube videos.  (like that run on sentence?  It's a good one.  Glad my English students can't read this!!!)  Highly recommended!  (not the run on sentence, the Bon Appetit youtube channel)  The presenters are great and often laugh out loud funny and it's fun to see all the food I'm never going to make. 

One of the presenters is Priya Krishna, who has a new cook book out, Indianish, which I haven't read, but I am wildly tempted by.  I had actually heard her interviewed last Spring on a podcast and I was impressed.  ANYWAY, there was a video that got posted about her mom's chai.  It was so easy.  Her mom boils water, crushes a cardamom seed, drops it into the mug with the tea bag, pours in the hot water, lets it steep then adds milk and (maybe) sugar. 

*******MIND BLOWN*********

I can get close to the taste without all the boiling and straining and dirty pots??????

But just cardamom?  That seems a little distant from my memory.  So I looked up the recipe on Bon Appetit, and on that one, the full on make it in the boiling pot of milk and water version, it uses four spices:  pepper, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom.  Now we're talking my language, I adoooooore ginger!

So, today at the store?  Picked up the cardamom and ginger root.  (Imagine me rubbing my hands together gleefully!!!!!)  OK, and any British tea purists?  I don't want to hear your shade, I don't care, I am a colonial I can make my damn tea anyway I want.

So, I drink Yorkshire Gold decaf tea by preference, cause holy geez, it is so good.  But, I have to buy it in quantity in the UK and bring it with me, so it is a Precious. Commodity!!!  It is very hard to get decaf tea at all outside of anglo countries and to get good tasting decaf tea is like a miracle.  Please remember also that I live on a boat, so an electric kettle is just not a thing.  The man, the darling darling man, gets up in the morning and puts about 2 cups of water on to boil in a small pot, that is almost always used exclusively for my tea.  He then drops 1 tea bag in and it steeps for a long long time cause I like my tea strong.  Eventually I get out of bed, add milk and sugar (no haters you Brits) and I am a happy camper.  There is usually about a half to a third of a cup of tea left in the pot at the end of breakfast.  To this I add another cup of water, and put it away for afternoon tea, when it gets reheated and sugar and milk are added.  (LA LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING!!!)  (SPEAK TO THE HAND!!!)  And I am very very happy.  Since we got on the boat, we are also channeling Peggy and having a cookie (yes a cookie, I'm Canadian, live with it!) with afternoon tea, and I give a silent greeting and salute to Peggy with my cookie and tea every day.

But now, and this is when true greatness happens.  So, in the morning after drinking my tea I'm adding a pinch of cinnamon, a smashed cardamom seed, a slice of ginger and a grinding of pepper to the tea, and putting it away till the afternoon.  Reheat, milk, sugar.

OH my goodness.

Oh oh oh oh oh

Now, I have to admit, it still isn't as good as the boiled milk version, but it is, without a shadow of a doubt, completely and utterly worth it.  SOOOooooooo delicious.

If I come to stay with you in future, I may have brought a ginger root, cardamom seeds and cinnamon with me.  I'm assuming you'll have pepper. Not saying you should try it, but, if you aren't completely rigid and fixed in your ideas of what tea should be, this is a damn fine drink.

Love ya!  Byeeeeee.

Friday, April 3, 2020

This ride is making me sca-a-a-a-attered!

Well well,

Covid 19 is certainly taking all of us on a ride.  We're more or less stranded in the Netherlands on our boat waiting.  We're hoping that maybe we can spend a bit of time outside of the marina, and further from other people, but no one seems to know if the canals are going to be open or if they will be letting people tie up at the docks.

What is bugging me a little more is that I am finding myself constantly going to do something and not remember what I was going to do.  I am teaching two different courses, one with a university in Catalunya, with a bit less than 50 students, on tight police controlled lock down, with Covid running horribly amuck in their communities, and in some cases, their families; the other are student teachers ( a little fewer than 24)  in Canada where most of my students have been laid off work, and have been home for weeks, with increasing tension as Covid girds its loins there.  On top of that the course in Canada has some very very strict limitations put on it by the Government of Ontario and our industry specific governing body, so we're trying to tiptoe through these regulations and negotiate with those groups to try to create a situation wherein they can complete their practicums and complete the course.   Each and every student in both places, is struggling, and I am doing my very best to help them all get through their course work and pass, if they want to try.  But man o man, each and every one of them has their own challenges, which they don't have to and often are not explaining to me.  So every time I sit down to try and get some work done, I end up putting out fires, and everything I open, every classroom page, or forum or email sends me down a different rabbit hole, and then I come back and find a half-finished email from something I was working on 4 students ago.  I have so many tabs open on my window I cannot find them, and the little counter on the *four* email accounts I have to keep open for this keeps going up and up and up.  Then there is trying to plan for work this coming summer.  I currently have four separate potential schedules created, plan A, B, C, D and E. Plan A is pretty much written off, but not for sure.  I figure that the chance that any of those plans will come together is about 10%.  That feels optimistic.

So I am feeling scattered.  In fact that is running through my head to the tune of Bowie's 'Changes'. 'Sca-a-a-a-t-er-er-er-ed'

It's all good, and we are healthy, in a country that seems to be managing the illness reasonably well all things considered.  We can still go out for walks,  our family is doing well.  Chatting with lots of friends.  But focus is a thing of the past at the moment.

I am getting some painting done though, and it does let me sink in and focus, I am really enjoying that, even if I do have to force myself a bit sometimes.

Hope you're all doing well.

PS.  Just got a message from the marina that they're closing the bathroom and shower down.  Gonna shower tomorrow and that'll be the last hot shower, no the last shower whatsoever, till who knows when.

Ho hum.

PPS. And that also means we cannot get water!  Ho double hum.