Tag Archives: tea

Beat the Heat with an Electric Kettle

20 Jul

It’s just a tiny help, but when it is really hot, like today in Downstate New York, and you’ve spent the whole day driving home from Upstate New York (we’re talking about nine hours with stops and traffic) so that even your eight-year-old agrees it’s too hot to cook and almost too hot to eat, well,  macaroni and cheese from a box (nominally organic, but I cannot fool even myself on how stupid that it is to think it is any better than Kraft) is a good option.

However boiling water is a hot operation, so I use the electric kettle to boil the water then transfer the water to a pot on the stove. Electric kettles are common in England (my dear friend and kitchen co-conspirator, Kate, turned me on to them) for tea and such and they generate a lot less heat than a stovetop kettle or pot. I also love that they turn off automatically when the water boils; in my current life full of distractions I often forget I’ve put water to boil, so it is much safer!


Electric kettles shut off automatically when the water boils, so they are safer than stovetop boiling!

Electric kettles shut off automatically when the water boils, so they are safer than stovetop boiling!




Strawberry and Jam Mini-Muffins

8 Feb

Here is a quickie recipe that my son and his friend from across the street helped make on a recent playdate. They did a great job. Kids love wearing aprons to cook, so try to have enough available for everyone. And set out all ingredients ahead of time. Measuring is a great way to talk about fractions!

They are the cutest little tea muffins and we used some organic strawberries I had got on sale and frozen in season. I freeze these and then toss a couple in the kid’s lunchbox for school. They thaw out and warm up in time for snack!

Easy and delicious!

Easy and delicious!

Strawberry and Jam Mini-Muffins

1 egg

½ Cup plain yogurt

¼ Cup coconut oil (or any neutral vegetable oil)

1 ½ Cups flour (mix of white and whole wheat)

½ Cup sugar (mix of brown and white)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 Cup strawberries, chopped (frozen is fine!)

1 Tbs strawberry or lingonberry or other berry jam


½ Cup sugar

1/3 Cup flour

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ Cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 400° and line mini-muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the egg with a fork. Add the milk and oil and continue to stir. Add all dry ingredients. Mix the batter well, but do not over mix (which would toughen the muffins). Fold in strawberries and stir in jam.

Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full. Then start making the topping.

In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients for the topping and crumble together with your fingers (if you are baking with children, expect to be abandoned midway when they are grossed out by the stickiness. Also expect to find bits of this topping on the floor and all over the bathroom sink as they try to get it off). Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of topping.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until plump and golden brown. Let stand for a minute, then remove from trays. Serve warm or room temp. They freeze well too!

A Sustainable Wedding (and the recipe for Maple Mint Tea)

17 Aug

There is something profoundly sensible about a sustainable wedding celebration. After all, the idea that this unit of two (or in this case, three!) is meant to be self-sustaining, sustain each other, create a balanced environment where each member thrives…well, the symbolism is fairly obvious.

So when my dear friend Hatti, my classmate in my first year of college at The New School for Social Research in NYC (yes, I was always this bloody liberal and lefty, those of you who are familiar with the institution) and the first vegetarian-by-choice I had ever met, and Chris Moratz, inventor and climber and ceramics wonder, decided to get married, a sustainable wedding was in the works. We’re talking no waste, totally local, even the music was self-generated. It was glorious.

Stone Church

They live with Hatti’s daughter, Emma, in Gardiner, NY, near New Paltz, where the climbing is outstanding and the local agriculture is strong.

The view from the churchyard

Chris is German, so while the couple had married in a civil ceremony last year, they didn’t do the church wedding and the celebration until later, something done by many cultures around the world. They spent this past year doing all the house projects that needed doing in order to host the party at home.

The Stone Church up in the mountains in Cragsmoor was the ceremony site (Leandro and I were so very pleased with ourselves – not only did we get there without help from the GPS – Cragsmoor’s zipcode couldn’t be found! What is this? Brigadoon? — but we actually got there on time!)

Emma and Leandro

Yes, they really rode miles and miles home!

The party followed, later in the afternoon, once the happy couple had bicycled their way home (in 90 degree heat, mind you….I suppose it is zero emissions, but sweet Jesus, I couldn’t sustain that!).

The Party set up

The yard was quilted in tables and chairs and the odd tent, with local flowers in jam jars on every one. Folks arrived, many bringing local beers and wines, or food they had made at home. The buffet table was a massive spread of chicken and sausage from Old Ford Farm, vegetable and egg dishes from local farms (Oh My God, the coleslaw from Evolutionary Organics in New Paltz – coleslaw? yes, coleslaw – I had to pile my plate with it a couple of times, I kid you not). I don’t have too many of my own photos, because I was in charge of getting pictures onto Hatti’s camera while they mingled!

Lemon Raspberry Wedding Cake by Jennifer Vehaba

The lemon raspberry wedding cake was made by the caterer, Jennifer Vehaba, with ingredients from Wild Hive Farm, Clinton Corners, and again, Old Ford Farm, and it was just gorgeous all around.

It seems that every other person in their families and among their friends is some sort of a musician, so the jams sprang up all over the yard…

A note on the waste stream…all the plates and glasses were real, there was just one bag of trash at the end (and there were something like 150 people eating and drinking all night!), there was a bin for recyclables and another for food waste that the chickens would dispatch with.

The tea kept well overnight outside in this container!

The one recipe I came away with was for the astonishingly refreshing maple mint tea that Hatti and Chris invented. I must have drunk a gallon of it on my own, so I got the recipe and here it is, first as Hatti told me and then slightly more formalized.

“When I make the maple mint tea; I dry the leaves from the garden and then I make tea with boiling water and let it cool and I put in about a cup of maple syrup per gallon.”

Maple Mint Tea (remember that inspiration for drinking sangría out of jam jars? This was it)

Maple Mint Tea (Hatti Langsford and Chris Moratz)

1 Gallon peppermint/mint tea

1 Cup maple syrup

When the tea has cooled, add maple syrup. Mix well. Serve chilled over ice, and garnish with mint leaves, if you are so inclined.

Hatti and Chris’ tea was still delicious the next day, after spending a very warm day and night outside in a beverage cooler, so it’s safe to say that a smaller household amount will keep in the fridge a day or two. If it lasts that long!

Blueberry-lingonberry muffins (or mix and match berries and jam)

14 Jun

A favorite for tea, lunchbox or thoughtful treat for neighbors, caregivers and friends

Nothing makes people happier than a fresh baked treat, except a fresh-baked treat that isn’t too sinful and comes in small enough portions to make sense rather than create guilt.

Such are these blueberry-lingonberry mini-muffins that I adapted from a Stonyfield Farms strawberry muffin recipe. This recipe I first started doing with my beloved niece, The Incomparable Sofía, when she was just little (she is now a gorgeous and grown-up six-and-three-quarter-years-old). Whenever she comes home for a visit, we bake them up too. I miss her goofy little concentrated self and her beautiful long fingers in the kitchen. It is now Leandro’s favorite thing to bake. It is slightly more complicated than my banana bread or banana muffins; just make sure to lay out all your ingredients, measuring spoons and cups, and bowls before calling the kids to the work table and you can easily do it with a three-year-old maniac (or two!)

We prefer blueberries to strawberries (although to be honest, blueberries do lend a greenish tinge to the final product that is a bit weird, though no one ever, ever complains) as I think they have a punchier flavor when baked. I’ve done it with mixed berries, but early on some kids objected to the seed bits in blackberries and raspberries, so I fell out of the habit of using them.

The real key to good berry flavor, though, I learned from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, which suggests adding berry jam. Blueberry jam might be the obvious choice for blueberry muffins, but as a non-jam eater, I just used what I had in the fridge the first time out, which happened to be lingonberry (shout-out to Sofía’s mom, Annika from Sweden; you’ll find it at IKEA) and we liked the tart sweetness so much, we’ve stuck with it. If you are not familiar with them, think red currant or a softer, gentler version of cranberries.

I prefer mini-muffins, because they allow me to divide and share them more easily and because you can feel good about popping just one or two. Leandro’s caregivers really appreciate getting a batch, and it makes a perfect element to a good fika (Swedish coffee break hang out session – coffee klatch to New Yorkers!).

Blueberry-lingonberry/Any-berry muffins (makes 48 mini-muffins or 12 standard)

1 Cup all purpose flour

1 Cup whole wheat flour

½ Cup sugar (white or light brown)

1.5 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 Cup plain yogurt (I use nonfat, lowfat is also fine)

¼ Cup butter (unsalted preferred, but salted is okay) melted and cooled

1 tsp vanilla

1 Cup chopped/mashed blueberries or berries of your choice (frozen are very convenient. Thaw first)

1-2 Heaping Tbs berry jam (I use lingonberry, but use whatever red/blue/purple berry jam you’ve got)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease your muffin tins ahead (especially if baking with children – Be prepared!)

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

In another bowl mix the eggs, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla (if your butter is still very hot, you may get crusty bits when it comes in contact with the cold yogurt. Just break them up as you mix and don’t worry).

Fold berries into the dry mixture. Fold wet mixture into the dry mixture. Swirl in the jam. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, filling about 2/3 up. Bake for 12 minutes (mini-muffins) or 20-25 minutes (standard size). Cool for a minute, then remove from tins and let cool completely on wire racks (if you’ve got; otherwise any cool, clean surface will do). These keep well tightly covered in the fridge for a week.

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