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Iced tea and related cold beverages, at home and cheap

By Christopher Allan Webber on Mon 01 May 2017

In spring through fall, we always have a couple of pitchers (one decaf and one caffeinated) of "iced tea" in the fridge (though it's not necessarily the tea plant, if you care about that term... personally I think people are a bit snobby about having only one plant be The Acceptable Drink Herb). It's easy enough... just get a pitcher, add some tea bags to it (or loose tea in some sort of reusable loose-tea-holder or something, but honestly I'm too lazy for that) and some sweetener if that's your bag (we've been using stevia + erythritol sweetener stuff, sold as Truvia or whatever) and fill it with water, stirring once.

Now put it in the fridge.

You're done! You now have a delicious cold beverage that you can drink whenever and which costs about as little as a flavored beverage can.

"Tea" I like to drink:

  • Celestial Seasonings makes a lot of "fruity" herbal tea things that are pretty good in combination with black tea. I put in half black tea bags and half peach/raspberry/mint/whatever.
  • Chai, caffeinated or decaf. If you make this with Stevia or whatever, then pour it into a glass with a tablespoon of creamer, that's 1/5 or less the calories of the "iced chai" sold at a common coffee shop.
  • Some combination of: cucumber slices, lime wedges, lemon wedges, mint leaves.

Takes up some space in the fridge, but IMO it's worth it. And hey, better than filling it up with soda probably...

Vegan Strawberry Vanilla Rose Black Tea Shortbread Cookies

By Christopher Allan Webber on Fri 25 June 2010

I've never foodblogged before, but today I am compelled to start. For today is Morgan's 25th birthday, and in honor of that I've created something so delicious it must be shared with the world. Behold:

Vegan strawberry vanilla rose black tea cookies

Morgan's favorite tea is Celestial Seasoning's Vanilla Strawberry Rose Ceylon Black Tea. Also, Morgan alleges that her "favorite food group is cookies". (I'm pretty sure she's confused, as last time I'd checked cookies weren't a food group, but I guess I won't argue the point on her birthday.) I figured that a good gift this year would be to combine her two favorite tea with her favorite, *ahem*, food group. The result? Strawberry vanilla rose black tea cookies!

I adapted the recipe from the recipe for shortbread cookies from the excellent Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar's shortbread cookie recipe (so yes, these cookies are vegan too). I'm actually no good at baking, but these came out perfect, even despite the fact that I accidentally spilled a little bit of water into the dough (I had to bake them for a few minutes longer and I added about two tablespoons more flour to the mix, but they turned out just fine). I'm going to assume you aren't going to spill water into your cookies, so here's the recipe without that detail. (A good portion of the text is from VCIYCJ, which is a good book so far and is really what makes the recipe so awesome and idiot-proof.)

Strawberry Vanilla Rose Black Tea Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, slightly softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rose water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup dried strawberries, chopped, plus a dozen or so whole ones for decorating
  • 1/4 cup loose black Ceylon tea (or 1/3 cup if you want a stronger tea flavor)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour and cornstarch. Set aside.
  3. In a spice mill or small coffee grinder, grind the tea until it becomes a fine powder.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the margarine and sugar together with an electric beater or even a standing electric mixer. Scrape the sides of the bowl frequently with a rubber spatula and beat the mixture until very light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and rose water.
  5. Add half of the sifted flour and cornstarch to the beaten margarine mixture, using the rubber spatula to fold in the flour first so that it doesn't fly all over the place when using the mixer beaters. Beat until mostly combined, then add the rest of the flour mixture along with the tea powder and chopped strawberries, using the spatula as before. Continue to stir until all the flour and cornstarch are absorbed and dough is crumbly yet soft and moist.
  6. Knead dough together with hands for about one minute. Roll golf ball sized portions of the dough in your hands. Put a whole strawberry on top of each and press gently with your hand onto the greased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for about 10-14 minutes, until the shortbread begins to puff and the edges begin to turn a golden color.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes. Then use a spatula to transfer cookies to cooling rack to complete the cooling process.

And you're done! Delicious cookies await!

Mushiki Love

By Christopher Allan Webber on Sat 27 December 2008

Miro 2.0 is shaping up pretty fast, but I'm actually working on the Miro Guide presently. New versions of both should be launching pretty close to each other, if not at the same time. I'm pretty confident in a super-awesome-release. But between that, the holidays, the upcoming wedding, and my efforts to improve my Blender skills, things are pretty busy.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with the title of this post. I am going to go on a bit of a random rant.

I've recently been playing with food dehydration, fermentation, pickling, and other forms of food preservation that don't require refrigeration. (No reason other than it's just a really interesting thing to learn about.) In the process of experimenting on how to make my own vegetarian teriyaki jerky using tofu, tempeh, and seitan (the tofu and tempeh turned out to be the most interesting... seitan was a bit too brittle for my taste, though it was the one that looked most like beef jerky) I ended up wandering the aisles of the local asian grocery store to refresh my supply of those ingredients. I ended up impulsively picking up a bamboo steamer (a Mushiki). I didn't know how it worked... I just bought it. It was only 6 bucks. It may have been the best impulsive 6 bucks I ever spent.

I had a pot that it fit perfectly over. I put some water on to boil, chopped up some vegetables, tossed in some extra firm tofu and vegetarian fake duck (really just seasoned, canned Seitan). Put it over the pot to steam for 5 minutes. I was surprised at how fast and effortless it all was. Anyway, put the food into a bowl and poured some teriyaki sauce over top. Mixed it up, dug in.

I was totally astonished at how delicious the vegetables were. I have never enjoyed vegetables so much in all my life. It wasn't a complex meal, it was healthy, and it was totally delicious. And oddly enough, I was full.

The next night I chopped up a banana and an apricot, threw in a raspberry and a cherry, and steamed it all for 5 minutes. I almost fell over. It was the most delicious desert I had ever eaten. No added sugar or anything.. was just fantastic on its own.

Since then I have also steamed and eaten: a leek bun, a red bean bun, and some edamame. All fantastic.

Not really much more to this post than that. I am just astounded that I have never played with this form of cooking until now.