Monday, January 23, 2012

A Wind in the Trees

There's nothing like a hot cup of tea when you come in from a blustery winter walk.  The Ernster cat went with me and ran ahead and back, but we both stopped at the spinney to hear the secrets the trees were telling on the wind, the groaning of old limbs, and the rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker.  This morning's songster was silent, probably nestled in a hole somewhere to keep warm.

Once again I am having some Christmas present tea, something called Mim from a local shop.  It comes from the Metropolitan Tea Company, which is a wholesaler, but I am sure they would tell you a store you could purchase it in.  I did my usual 1 teaspoon, 212 degrees, 3.5 minutes that I use for new teas.  I have read in a few places lately that official tea tasters push that to 5 minutes for all teas because no off flavors can hide that way.  I've had some that were fine at 3.5, but awful at that longer time.

Th dry leaves were mostly short and black, with a few long, twisted ones and some gold leaves or buds.  There was a faint, sharp aroma.  However, by the time  it got in my cup, it was an autumn woodsy scent of dry leaves and wood.  It is a clear soft amber.  It is woodsy tasting and somewhat astringent.  Milk softens that edge.  It is pretty bland, but seems to get heartier as it cools.  This might be a good breakfast tea, if I made it stronger or indeed brewed it longer.

Just a small German garden I liked.  The plaque on the left indicates this house survived the 1698 fire in Durlach.  I was very impressed there, as everyone had these little gardens, often carving out a bit of street so they could put in a wisteria vine or something else pretty.  I was also impressed that their houses were over 300 years old.  Mine is almost 2.

Food hint for the day.  If your spaghetti sauce is somewhat sharp, there are a couple things you can do with it to cure that.  One is add a pinch of baking soda and stir.  This is ok, but not optimal. The other is add a pork chop, with the fat, please, or some lard.  My mother-in-law always said the pork sweetened the sauce and she was right.  I know some of you will be having conniptions about lard, but have you ever read what is in margarine?  You don't need much and if you can get some that doesn't have a bunch of chemicals in it, so much the better.  Sometimes a teaspoon of sugar helps, but be careful not to use so much you get sweet and sour sauce - it's very weird.

I am loving the snow on the branches - they are so well defined.  The evergreens have their own character; some look like lollipops, some like the spoon dancers in Beauty and the Beast, some have gawky stances, some are just naturally the shape we like for Christmas trees.  They're all lovely.  I am reminded of the old carole - "O Tannenbaum, oh tannenbaum, how lovely are your branches...."


Steph said...

Oh, yes - I love going out in less-than-ideal weather. Something very empowering about that, to go out anyway!

Denise said...

You write beautifully. Your description of the MIM was right on spot. Metropolitan is our main supplier here at Culinary Teas.