Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This is for the lover in you . . .

The tea lover, that is . . . 

It's no secret that I love tea and my very favorite type of tea is chai.  Many tea companies (including my favorite company Not Just Tea) now make chai and you can pay a pretty penny for a box of twenty tea bags.  But really all traditional chai is is a spiced black tea.  

I've thought about making my own chai for a while not but never really got around to it.  Until today when my sister, who loves chai as well, called me to ask for the ingredients to make it at home since paying $5 a cup for it at Starbucks is not a good look.  So I googled and came up with this:  Awesome (and Economical) Chai concentrate.  Now, I have lots of black tea around here which I don't like to drink because it's pretty bland on it's own so I was excited to give this recipe a try.  

Awesome (And Economical) Chai Concentrate Recipe #34713
by rsarahl
1 day | 5 min prep

SERVES 30 -40, 14 oz concentrate

1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or grated nutmeg
1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
strong black tea or herbal tea (regular or decaf)

  1. Pour condensed milk and spices into the blender and blend on high speed for a few seconds until the milk looks evenly "flecked" with spices.
  2. Pour mixture into a clean jar or container with a lid.
  3. Refrigerate at least 24 hours.
  4. Alternatively, pour mix into ice cube trays and freeze.
  5. To use concentrate: Brew a strong black tea or strong herbal tea of your choice.
  6. Stir in 1 frozen concentrate cube or 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of chai concentrate mix per cup of freshly steeped tea.
  7. Frozen cubes will keep up to one year in the freezer if you pop them out of the trays and store in a freezer bag.
  8. Concentrate will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Okay, admittedly, I didn't wait 24 hours.  I just shook it up and put some in my tea.  (I used two tablespoons but I'll bet that by the time I let it sit for the recommended 24 hours, I won't need as much).  It was delicious!  It tastes *just like* some of the brands I've tried at a fraction of the cost.  And had I actually used condensed milk, I'm sure it would have been a little piece of creamy, wonderful tea heaven.  :D

Photo Credit:  "how about a heavenly cup of Chai this Sunday afternoon" by uteart on Flickr.com

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Hat for Z1

One key difference between making hats when crocheting versus knitting is the direction.  The vast majority of knitted hats are started from the brim and worked up to the crown.  Most crocheted hats, on the other hand, are worked from the crown down.  I prefer this top down construction for a number of reasons but most especially because you can control the size of the hat a lot more.  Also, if you're not sure if you have enough yarn to complete a project, it doesn't matter as much because you can stop wherever and have a finished hat. 

The vast majority of patterns for knit hats are bottom up.  A while back I found Karlchen, a pattern for a top down hat.  Well, it's not really a pattern but a schematic for making a top down hat.  I decided to give it a try to make a little quick hat for Z1.  I had this lovely red yarn lying around--the hubby lost the yarn label (this is what happens when a guy takes up crochet--he has no idea what's so important about the label) so I haven't a what it is but I have 2 balls of it.  It was wonderful to knit with--really lovely.  I used one ball for this hat.  

I did a very simple stitch alternating between 5-6 rows of stockinette and 5-6 rows of moss stitch (a sticth which I really like).  I had wanted to do some kind of cables but I had a very hard time figuring out how to do it.  I will admit that when it comes to designing in knitting, i.e. creating my own stuff without a pattern, I have a really difficult time.  This was one of those instances where my inability to design was frustrating and so I went with something basic and simple that wouldn't stress me out.  One thing that my knitting needs to be is relaxing. 

But I'm still itching to do some cables. 

And just like I refuse to knit sweater's flat (i.e. in pieces) I refuse to go back to knitting hats from the bottom up.  It just doesn't make sense to do it that way . . . well, at least not to me.  So since there are precious few hat patterns incorporating cables that are knit from the top down, I have to bite the bullet and learn at least rudimentary design in knitting or at least figure out how to convert some bottom-up patterns I like to top-down construction. Shouldn't be too hard, I hope. 

I think I hear Elizabeth Zimmerman calling but I don't want to answer!!

Oh, btw, Z1 loves the hat and is wearing it right now.  :D
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