The schpeel, some tea, and some good food…

tea & pumpernickel w/ strawberry jamI’m an avid hot green tea drinker, I like to have a cup of hot tea first thing in the morning… I like the zen-like quality of making tea, and then I really like sipping the hot liquid, I find it very comforting. I tend to turn to tea if I’ve had too much to eat and have a belly ache, perhaps it’s a placebo effect, but I think the hot liquid helps the digestion and then of course there is the comforting feeling I get preparing and drinking it. I mention this because I was just busy-bee-ing my way around the house doing chores, and took a break to make tea… a funny thing happened… this happens only once in a while… I started to pour the water into my cup with sugar (turbanado) rather than in my perfect tea maker full of tea leaves… about 4 oz of the 16 oz I was preparing before I realized my mistake. My first reaction is, “what the hell!?” But then I think, “oh, I need to slow down, I must need this break.” So that’s what I’m doing now, sipping my tea and noshing on some home-made pumpernickel bread (which I will talk more about later) slathered with strawberry jam and earth balance. Go make yourself a cup, I’ll wait, we can drink tea together. πŸ˜‰

While I’m just doing my ‘random musing’ here, I’ll tell you what kind of tea I like… Many years ago, I want to say 2001 or 2002, my SIL introduced me to Teavana, I’ve been hooked ever since! I didn’t live near a teavana back then, so I got into the habit of getting at least a pound of tea at a time (plus you get 10% off if you buy at least pound), it doesn’t have to be the same kind either, so I’d buy several different ones in 2 oz increments. Now that I live much closer to the city, there are two teavanas near me, but to get to them was sometimes a bit of a hassle, so now I just buy it online. Which turned out to be much better for me, because the tea comes in 2oz resealable bags and lasts longer than the tea I would get at the store from those big tins that are opened constantly and then sniffed by everyone (I have issues :?).

Anyway, my favorite flavors in order:

  1. Emerald Princess – Green ( I think it’s been discontinued, I haven’t been able to get it online for nearly a year πŸ˜• )
  2. Nine Treasures – Green
  3. Lemon – Green
  4. Mandarin Orange – Green
  5. To Life – White & Green (my taste-tester’s favorite)
  6. Queen of Babylon – White

I’ve dabbled in oolong, but I try to stay away from caffeine, the roller-coaster-migraine-headache-ride was too much for me. Three days of a ‘throw-up headache’ because of withdraw is no fun. Green and White Teas are much lower in caffeine than coffee, black tea, oolong tea, and soda, plus I drink relatively ‘weak’ tea since I like to drink it so often, I use 16 oz water for every 1 tsp of tea leaves.

‘Little-bit’ wants to go smell some fresh air, I’ll be right back, enjoy your tea. I have much to tell you. πŸ˜‰

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Ok, we’re back. πŸ™‚ Did you enjoy the tea?

‘Little-bit’ is a bit upset with me, because I went to the grocery store yesterday instead of taking him to the dog park, which he would like to be a daily thing. But what you may not know, unless you’ve met ‘little-bit’, is that he is a total mama’s boy… more so after his big brother died last February.

Let me back up a bit (since we are having tea, I might as well tell you a bit more about myself πŸ˜‰ ), I am currently unemployed… but I’m not hanging out watching TV all day, no, I am studying to get a better career. Better as in one that I will enjoy as opposed to my previous occupation of which I hated every second. You may have noticed the bit of geeky-ness to my blog over there in the right hand column… I’m working toward doing something in the computer science world, the problem is, as usual, I like to do so many things, I haven’t decided which direction to go yet. I started out studying for a second bachelor’s degree in computer science from an online school, I finished 8 classes ( with an A average πŸ˜‰ ) out of 16 when they changed their format from ‘learn at your own pace’ to ‘8-week classes’ (even with the shortened allowable time, I was still required to read a text book cover to cover WITHOUT lecture)… I didn’t like the new teachers or the new format, so I dropped it and started to study other stuff on my own. I had already been working through everything on my own anyway, I just had to turn in assignments and then take a proctored final, so why not pick up a book of interest and just learn it ‘for the fun of it’? I’m a big fan of programming ( C++, Perl, Assembly, PostgreSQL ), and I have been working toward getting certified in system administration of the operating system called RedHat ( RHCE for those of you who are in the know, I am currently a RHCT ). I also attended several classes/conferences and have several certifications in the computer security field ( from SANS — GCIH, GCFA, GCIA, GREM — hey this isn’t a resume! )… but sadly, I never feel like I know enough to get back out there. I was creating a program that was essentially a database where you could put in the ingredients you have on hand and it would tell you what recipes (according to the cookbooks you own, or your recipe box) you could make with those ingredients… cool, huh? Well it became a huge project and I had to revamp it several times, I decided to take a break and explore more Perl (Classes and Objects, if you are interested) or possibly learn Python to make the program more maintainable, when I decided to start this blog. I’ve had fun learning the HTML and being able to share my kitchen creations, but alas, I have not been studying or working on my project… oops. Not true… I’ve been studying HTML and GIMP (the open-source photo manipulation program I use), so I’ve just taken a different fork in the road than I thought I would, and that’s OK. My ‘taste-tester’ is awesome, he says, “do what you love, and the job will reveal itself”… what a great man. (I am so lucky. *blush*)

And then there’s the fact that, well, since I’ve been home for *covers mouth*five*to muffle word* years, things have changed on the home front. My ‘taste-tester’ and I have lost weight, we are healthier than we’ve ever been, and so did my boys (my dogs). Why, because not only did I have time to make better meals, I had time to research how and why some foods were better choices than others. So, we are in hog heaven in the food department! Which is great, and if you read my blog, hopefully you’ll agree. But then there’s the matter of my oldest little guy died, which made ‘little-bit’ very dependent on me. And now he barks constantly, no really, CONSTANTLY, when I leave him alone. He is capable of barking for hours! My neighbor complained, so I tried several things, from a citronella collar to day care. Even at daycare, he barks the whole time. So, I am positive that getting another dog won’t help, plus I’m still not ready. And before I get any guff about being too soft, he’s 13 years old for pete’s sake! As in, 91 human years old. Would you leave your grandfather in a room for hours alone freaking out because he is scared and confused? I didn’t think so. Sorry, didn’t mean to yell… I’m sure that most, if not all, of my readers are animal lovers, so I don’t need to defend my actions so strongly, sorry. So anyway, our solution is to play ‘tag-team’ with ‘little-bit’, when my ‘taste-tester’ is home, I run around doing errands, like grocery shopping, now you know why my produce delivery is so valuable to me. πŸ˜‰ And on occasion, we venture out together and take ‘little-bit’ to day care, because at least he has the opportunity to meet other dogs and be with humans… even if he’s barking.

So, where was I going with this long schpeel? I should have warned you that I like to blather on, before you accepted to have tea with me… Oh yea, “‘Little-bit’ is a bit upset with me, because I went to the grocery store yesterday instead of taking him to the dog park…”, so I promised him that we’d go today, which means that I may have to interrupt this post again…

I went to the grocery store because I needed to pick up a few ‘connector’ ingredients… I recently read in The Innocent Primate about Wild Rice Lettuce Wraps, they sounded and looked delicious! I received most of the ingredients in my delivery box, but I still needed cilantro, scallions, and fresh thyme. Since my ‘taste-tester’ was home, I ran to the store, during ‘little-bit’s’ play-time, mean mommy. While there I also picked up… kale and a mango… for a green smoothie. πŸ˜‰

So let’s get to the food!

wild rice lettuce wraps - the spread
First up, those wonderful Wild Rice Lettuce Wraps… check out that spread! Now that’s eating a rainbow! I even found something blue. πŸ˜‰ Clockwise from the top… outer circle; great northern beans with salt & pepper, salsa, romaine lettuce leaves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme, blue corn chips, wild rice, red pepper, roma tomato… inner circle; cilantro, roasted corn that once cooled was removed from the cob, then a splash of olive oil and a dash of each salt, pepper, and chili powder placed in the microwave until warm, and scallions.

The wrap assembled… amazing, awesome… mmmmm *mouth full*, thanks for such a great fest, Sara!
wild rice lettuce wraps - assembled

A promise is a promise… I’ll be back soon after ‘little-bit’ has tired himself out playing with other dogs…

Ok, I’m back, but I can’t stay long, it’s getting late and I still need to start dinner… I think I’ll be making a stir-fry with that pineapple, I’ve blogged about it before, but didn’t have pictures at the time… I’ll try to take pictures this time… but on with the dishes I wanted to show you today…

I whipped up a batch of pumpernickel bread dough, let it rise 2 hours, and then pulled out a 2-lb hunk and put it in a loaf pan to rise some more… then ran to the store… um, hee hee, I was gone a little more than an hour and, well, that dough had fun rising! I tossed it in the oven when I got home, giggling… here it is, I don’t know if the pictures really do it justice, but the bread rose up over the side of the pan…
pumpernickel bread - spill over pumpernickel bread - spill over - 2

here’s a shot of a slice… I cut off those over-the-pan-bits to fit it in the toaster, and eat them as-is…
pumpernickel bread slice - showing spill over

Hey, whatever, it tastes great. Btw, my recipe for the pumpernickel bread is the same as in the book, except I omit the chocolate and the coffee, I was trying to replicate the bread I’d get from whole foods which is more of a dark rye without the caraway seeds. Omitting those ingredients made the bread I was craving. As far as baking time I used the same method that I mentioned here, I baked it at 375°F for 60 minutes while I was making the wild rice.

And one more item, and then I must really be going…

Green Smoothie…

mango & kale 'green smoothie' - ingredients - top view mango & kale 'green smoothie' - ingredients - side view

Today I made a kale and mango smoothie, I used apple juice instead of water and more mango than kale… nice… I liked it… I put it in the freezer to get a bit colder while I cleaned up the vitamix… then I took it out and sipped it, put it back in the freezer, taking it out and sipping more while I continued to clean the kitchen until I drank it all up. Yea! I find it interesting that the smoothie made with two very strong tasting things made a better smoothie than the tippy-toe one I made yesterday… what can I say, I should have made this one first. πŸ˜‰

mango & kale 'green smoothie'

Wow what a long post… sometimes guts need spilling… so now you are just a bit more knowledgeable of who little miss nic – the auspicious squirrel is. πŸ˜‰ Come by again soon, we’ll have some tea.

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14 thoughts on “The schpeel, some tea, and some good food…

  1. Oh! My! Goddess!!! Your wraps came out sooooo beautiful – and I bet they were simply devine! Nice work on the blue chips! You get the Primate Star of the Week for eating the rainbow πŸ˜‰ The smoothie, oh…I love green smoothies!

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I believe you and I share the same love and philosophy for tea! So many times I’ve worked through tea-time because I’m so involved…then I start messing things up, so I have to stop and take a tea break πŸ™‚

    • Sara – The wraps were divine! Thank you so much for the idea… I think the spicy/sweet corn really added some oomph, plus it was yellow πŸ˜‰

      Eating the rainbow is my goal for my meals, I don’t usually achieve it on this level… I was missing orange though…

      I love tea, some days I drink 4-5 mugs (16 oz)… but like I said, it’s weaker than the package instructions suggest, and I don’t drink soda or coffee (unless it’s decaf… and usually in the winter). It’s hard to resist getting a cup of decaf from starbucks when you are out on a winter walk in the city… my ‘taste tester’ and I usually share a venti-soy-decaf-mocha when we take those lovely walks.

      • You know, you get the same goods from red foods that you do orange..so it was still a supremely rainbow-worthy meal πŸ˜‰ So glad you liked it!

        And, I’ve read studies that indicate those who drink tea actually consume more water in a day than someone attempting to drink their 6-8 glasses. I think it’s because we tea drinkers drink so much water on top of tea – which is water..delicious, comforting water… Yeah, I’m not a fan of sodas, and only drink coffee if it’s an emergency.

      • Sara – Cool on the orange/red factor πŸ™‚ Again, thanks for the really cool idea!

        Yea, I’m a fan of water too, I wasn’t much of a water drinker when I was a soda drinker, didn’t like the taste which seemed odd… perhaps because it wasn’t full of corn syrup, haha… now that I’m so into tea, I don’t even crave coffee any more… perhaps this year on our winter walks, I’ll just get a venti-soy-hot-chocolate. πŸ™‚

  2. Thanks for sharing your stuff there mama πŸ™‚

    Your food pics jump off the page they are so vibrant and awesome! And glad the Vita smoothie went better today than yesterday. Here-here for improving and tweakin and getting things right!

    p.s. did the white background on my blog ever resolve for you? Ive been thinking about it all day. It’s always got the brown/gray layout whenever i log on from diff computers and in safari, firefox, opera, etc….inquiring minds wanna know when you get a minute πŸ™‚

    • Averie – Yep, your background looks good now. πŸ™‚

      The apple juice made the difference, I think, adding a bit more sweet, plus changing the ratios a bit to lean more towards the fruit until I get used to the greens… the author says that in a little bit my body will crave more greens, so I’ll just listen to my body. As any good yogi should. πŸ˜‰

      Oh, and thanks for the kudos on the pictures!

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