Friday, March 30, 2012

Homemade iced chai latte-- Starbucks-style

I've been a chai latte fanatic for a long time. In fact, when I first started working at Starbucks, that's all I would drink. That, my friends, is how you get fat. I quickly switched to coffee drinks, graduating to quadruple shots on ice with a bit of half and half. And that, my friends, is how you get through that opening shift beginning at 3:30 a.m.

I've never cared for the overly-sweet, underly-spicy chai concentrates that most coffeehouses serve. And the Starbucks chai concentrate that they sell in their stores isn't great either.

Everyone I've ever served this drink to has really liked it-- so I thought I'd pitch my own version of the chai latte into the web, although there are already so many. I'm pretty partial to this one though.

Step 1: Get an awesome glass from an awesome friend. Steve Holt!

Step 2: Insert favorite chai tea bag. I stay loyal.


Be patient.

Eat some Barbara's Baked Cheese Puffs while you wait. Or, shove them in your mouth by the handful. Whatevs.

Take out your tea bag. If you're lucky, your mom will have gotten you a sweet little tea bag rest.

Some honey. About a tablespoon.

Add 6-8 drops of stevia. If you don't have stevia around, go get some. Or, add one or two tablespoons of regular sugar, or a sugar substitute. Stevia, like other sugar substitutes, is much sweeter than regular sugar. The point is, honey doesn't have enough sweetness on its own to get it to the sweetness level that I like, although I love its flavor.

This is the brand we buy. Notice the filthy bottle? This was Elias' FAVORITE toy for most of his life. He still grabs it when he sees it in the cabinet and takes it all over the house with him.

So you've got tea 1/3 of the way up the glass, plus honey, plus stevia.

 Milk 2/3 of the way up. We use raw milk; that's why it's in a fancy jar.

 Getting there. Get some ice, and fill up the rest of the way.

Drink it. :-) It's good stuff. I try to wait until 3 p.m. to make it-- the caffeine and sweet kick help me run the last lap of our day before Jeremy comes home. Lately though, since Elias decided to become a toddler and whatever, I just try to make it to 1 p.m. Crazy kid.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sleepy Sunday

Literally. Both boys are sleeping right now (actually, all three! The little one in my belly is taking a nice break from kicking, after wearing himself--and me--during church).

This little guy grew this week: my belly is making it hard to put on shoes, cross my legs, and walk up the stairs with Elias.

Elias had another trying week... Although this one was a little better than the last one where he wasn't feeling well. I guess it's just the stage we're in: he wants to be more independent, but he's also a little more emotional, sensitive, and energized. So much energy. Speaking of which, he's learned to climb up chairs.

Lord help me. Seriously.

So right now, I'm enjoying that we're all home together, the cool breeze through the window, and our full bellies after lunch. (No, silly--Elias didn't eat lunch. Haven't you been paying attention? He ate 4 bites of a doughnut at church, 2 bites of a banana, and a cup of milk before going down for his nap.) Mama and Dada, however, had pulled beef and provolone sandwiches on some lovely whole wheat rolls. Thank you, slow cooker.

It's going to be another busy week--it always is--and I'm thankful for this quiet moment in the day. Quiet for the next moment or so at least--the little boy in my belly is now awake, and I'm sure the other two will follow suit soon.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

anniversary cookies

We celebrated our four year anniversary the same way that--I imagine--most married couples with young kids do: in stages, over a few days, whenever we could. That meant that we went out to dinner the night before (Jeremy surprised me with a babysitter!), sat on the couch the actual anniversary date (I was sick from my pregnancy-related glucose test that morning), and then had cookies and pizza the day after.

If cookies don't sound that special to you, I understand. But listen: I don't make a real dessert very often. And when I do, I make a Sweet Potato Cake, or something like it, and cut down the sugar and use whole grain flours (and in the recipe above, I added more sweet potato). But I made these from the recipe, just as it was written. I didn't sneak any whole wheat flour in or skimp on the sugar. This is the kind of thing that alerts Jeremy to a real celebration, a gift just for him.

Anyway, I used this recipe because I had all the ingredients (except chocolate chips, which I don't keep in the house because I'll munch on them instead of cooking with them), and they looked easy. They really were fabulous--so easy to put together and bake, and really, really good (we may or may not have eaten the whole batch without sharing any with our toddler). I'll be using this recipe for years to come, I think, although next time I'd like to put some chopped pecans in. And maybe some whole wheat pastry flour ;-)

Try them out the next time you have a chocolate cookie craving-- you won't be disappointed.

Orangette's Chewy Cocoa Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

4 years old

Our marriage turns four tomorrow. I can't really believe it-- not only does it just not seem real that we have lived as a married couple for four years, it also seems like, "Dang. We're kind of getting old." We're so beyond the single thing and firmly entrenched in this couple thing.

I don't know that I'm any better at being married than I was in the beginning. I was definitely a mess at it at first. Oh, boy, I was a mess. Learning to be two instead of one is a hard thing to do, and a hard concept to grasp. Selfishness is not easily dispelled in a person. Apparently its worked out, with difficulty, over many years. ;-)

It hasn't been an easy four years. We've had a few things go on that were extremely difficult, and we had to work on our marriage because of these outside stressors. But, and I'll just speak for myself here, I would do it all over again, and then again and again. I'm constantly surprised by what a tender-hearted, fair, hard-working man my husband is, and I couldn't ask for anyone better suited to me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

cooking for a toddler

Before Elias was born, I made breakfast for myself-- usually a scramble of eggs, spinach, and whatever else looked good. I knew that was a privilege that I wouldn't have much longer-- the luxury of time-- and so I made the most of it. And yes, when he was born, that stopped quickly.

It's been nice lately, as we've moved into the house, and I've gotten over this current pregnancy's bout of nausea, to get into the breakfast routine again. I usually make a banana bread the night before, or set up the materials for pancakes so that the morning goes smoothly (and quickly-- Elias likes to eat very first thing). We usually have some scrambled eggs on the side; since the kid won't really eat meat, I have to make sure he gets his dose of iron somehow!

I also make the point of preparing a hot lunch for us everyday. I want E to know what it's like to see someone preparing food: watching me cutting up vegetables, listening to sizzle of oil in the pan, checking the doneness of hot bread in the oven. In a day where so many children are so far removed from the simple task of cooking, I want to make sure that Elias, and any other siblings that follow, is always aware of good food and how to prepare it.

That being said, I have a son who is a "picky eater". I know that to many it may seem normal that a toddler wouldn't put chicken in his mouth, or will spit out spinach or zucchini, but my friends' kids do it, and so I've been pretty horrified at what Elias won't eat. I'm attempting to take it in stride though, knowing that this, as with all things Baby, will pass. Everything at this point is a phase, and so I just keep putting all that good stuff on his plate so that he knows what real food looks like. I rejoice when he eats it, and sigh when he doesn't, but I try to keep both of those emotions off my face. I do not want food to become a war.

Today at lunch I made a stir fry with soba (buckwheat) noodles, scrambled egg, red bell pepper, carrots (blanched first), and rainbow chard, and he ate every bite of it. And I told myself to remember this-- and perhaps even blog about it so I remember it well-- because tonight, when he spits out whatever I make and refuses to eat even bread, I can recall that the kid ate his weight in veggies and whole grain noodles, and gloat.

I thought about putting my basic recipe up here for anyone to try, but it's really loose, and mostly adapted from Heidi Swanson's cookbooks Super Natural Cooking ("Otsu") and Super Natural Everyday ("Kale and Coconut Salad"). She has really great recipes that I consistently use (and also a fabulous blog). I will say, though, that if you haven't tried soba noodles yet, I really encourage you to do so. They are my favorite kind of noodle, and Elias' too, although the kid hasn't met a noodle he didn't like. So far. They are soft, mild, and perfect for little ones. I usually make up a quick sauce of soy sauce and sesame oil, and add whatever else sounds good-- brown rice vinegar, minced garlic and/or ginger. Then I'll put whatever veggies I have around in the wok, cook them for a sec, and call it Lunch.