Friday, January 27, 2017

Thoughts about tea and culinary delights ~ and how loss fits in

I don't remember if food tasted so vivid and often so very enjoyable to me,
years ago... some things fade, but today again I was struck at lunch and dinner
at how much I enjoy culinary things, even those things that appear simple,
like the perfectly toasted Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin with
Natural Peanut Butter or salad with ginger dressing,
or a sweet clementine, juicy and perfectly ripe,
or a few grapefruit slices with contrasting kiwi slices... 
(note: I am hoping to make this grapefruit pound cake soon)...
I am not sure when or how I started loving tea,
I am sure my friend M. was a big influence; I remember having flavoured
teas from celestial seasonings back when I was a young 20's something undergrad.
Actually, when I was 21, I remember how I drank lots of tea, I think I had some
sort of plastic tea mug even, for it; but then my spiritual mother
at the Bible Camp I worked at died.
I did not drink tea for months I think, and instead drank cup after cup of hot 
chocolate, I am sure the cheap powered kind that you add hot water too.
It was because Aunt E. (as we all called her, that is the Aunt part) had given me a 
warm mug of hot chocolate when I came to help her in May the summer before,
as I figured she needed the help, with the cancer treatments she was having.
I can still remember that mug of hot chocolate; it's hard to describe, it was a nice
chocolate that was not overly dark, in terms of chocolate, but somehow has this
memory of grains melted, as if it was somehow malty like a perfect
hot milk shake, not that this makes perfect sense, but it is hard to 
describe that mug of hot chocolate, how comforting it was then, and how having hot chocolate
comforted me so much in the months after her death,
a death that left me so confused, so lost and with such a strong sense of absence of her;
I remember going to my mailbox on campus, always hoping for a letter from her; 
I remember how it felt that my Mother had died,
even though I called my Mother to tell her that Aunt E. had died.
When we came back to Camp the next year, missing her so deeply,
we found that she had put things where we could find them, 
so that we can do Camp again that year;
I had an old foam egg create that I kept there (I worked there 6 summers,
4 with her living) and I remember how it was in the nurse's closet where
we could find it when I returned, as she knew I would....
Well, somewhere later I began drinking tea again....
I don't remember when really, but it took a while.
I remember having tea with my sister-friend, she introduced me to 
Rooibos tea that she knew from living in Holland and I thus
knew of it way before many did, back in 2001 or so... 16 years ago!
So, by the time I was in Ottawa I had tea; I loved Bridgehead tea;
it was there that I first met the tea that I made today,
it's so simple; mint and rose petals... that Bridgehead,
an Ottawa-only coffee shop chain, called 'Minty Love'...
So you can get 1 lb bags of tea on amazon; it's quite astounding
and it's a lot of tea and usually a pretty economical way to buy tea,
but you have to have room and jars to store it in, so it's not something
everyone can do... but thankfully I have a Father-in-Law who built us an
incredible food pantry in a large closet that my dear friend N.,
when she saw our condo while the Inspector was there, said of the closet
that I could have shelves built in there for a pantry.
And so it is and it's such a gift to us, to have such space for food.
So I jarred up Spearmint and Rose Petals today, organic culinary grade.
And I had a tea pot of the newly mixed 'Minty Love' and it was 
just so delicious. Such a full tea, deeply satisfying;
it's incredible to me how much 'body' this tea has.
I am hoping to make other tea blends later, I have cinnamon, lavender, vanilla 
and various teas waiting!
So today Mr Husband and I took a short walk,
he took another walk later,
I took care of the Spearmint and Rose Petals
and then made dinner...
I fried up onion in coconut oil and then added mushrooms
and when it was all soft and fried nicely,
I had salad, nuts, fruit, Indian Junk Food, all waiting for dinner.
I have had a lot of simple losses this past month,
with not being at services for Christmas or Theophany.
And a lot of time alone at home with Mr Husband,
trying to recover our health and strength.
But in the midst of this, I found
such delight in simple things,
like setting a nice table, enjoying tea and food.
It's been an honest excitement to think about
what tea I could have the next morning.
It's a simple pleasure but it is compounded by
the many gifts of tea I have been given and that I have
such a wide variety to choose from. 
And so I find myself seeing how food,
whether hot cups of cocoa, a hot cup of tea or
the perfect clementine can help
give one the strength and braveness for the 
moment at hand and even moments of delight
in times of sickness and loss.
And for all of this, 
I am grateful! 


Gloriade said...

Hello Elizabeth, I think so much of life and hospitality both to ourselves and to others is associated with food. I know I don't feel I have given anyone a true welcome into my home without some kind of a food or drink offering. I had my first rooibos tea when I was on a mission trip to Namibia in 2008. Now I always keep some in the house. And I think everything tastes so much better when it is served on pretty dishes. I really enjoy seeing what lovely pieces you will have on your table next. Those blue serving trays are quite beautiful.

elizabeth said...

hi Gloriade, Yes, I think so also! I never thought of being hospitable to oneself, but you have a point there and I do like to have a nice table setting for even my own breakfast with a book at hand! That is so neat about how you first had Rooibos tea!!! I still remember my sister-friend telling me, back when we lived in BC, how it came 'from a Red bush in Africa'... :) I am so glad you enjoy seeing my table settings and I am so grateful for the serving trays I have!!

Elizabethd said...

One of our favourite teas is Lapsang Souchong, a very pale China tea ith a slightly smoky flavour. I also drink peppermint, or green tea. I think I might try making my own teas, you have inspired me.
Thank you for your kind comment, for the prayers and for the candle.

Rachel said...

Lovely post, I love your connections to tea. I wish I had more of a taste for it, but maybe I haven't found the right one yet.:) Beautiful pictures as usual, everything looks so cozy.

Becki said...

I'm not much of a tea drinker, but your pictures and words make me want to be. I did recently discover Tiger Eye tea at a local tea house and bought a little bit to bring home with me. I just don't think to drink it often. It's reminiscent to me of Chai Tea without milk or being sweet. I loved reading about Aunt E. and your sweet memories of her. :)

Tracy said...

Oh, this was a most delicious post, Elizabeth... thank you! I feel so hungry and thirsty now... LOL! LOVE all your lovelies for serving tea and meals--and love tohse porcelain tea trays! And sooo VERY glad you and your husband are both doing better these days and gaining a bit of strength back. Your closet-pantry is a brilliant idea. We have something similar, though much smaller, and I don't know what we'd do without it as our kitchen doesn't have lot of cupboards for storage. Sweet to hear about your history and relationship with tea. I've always been a tea person. When my sister & I were young and times we were sick, Mom would make us a weak tea to have with toast, or sometimes ginger ale. Nice memories, as my Mom is a big tea drinker, so I get that from her. :) But I began drinking tea and exploring different teas in my late teens--and continuing to explore! At the moment I've been trying a green tea with rose petals. Such a lovely, delicate tea! I like fresh leaf mint tea--so uplifting. But I'm inspired by your dry mint leaf mixes here. We made a roast chicken and vegetables this weekend. I have its carcass in the slow cooker right now making bone broth...mmm... Nice to catch up with you today. It's been some busy days just now, and even more so during the weekend as we've been preparing to welcome a new fur-friend home to us this evening--a little girl cat we're naming Luna! I've just posted a quick photo at my place...but there will be more soon! ;) Here's to the blessings of home comforts, good health, and LOVE In, Christ! ((HUGS))

karen said...

I became a tea drinker after I decided that coffee was to harsh by midday. I've cut back considerably on caffeine and it makes me a much happier person. I'm glad you both are feeling better and sometimes the simplest things make gratitude easy.

elizabeth said...

Hi Elizabethd: thanks so much for your comment here! I hope your husband is better again soon! I have not had Lapsang Souchong but maybe one day I will be able to try it! I have heard of it! :)

Thanks Rachel! I am sure there is a tea out there that you would like! :)

Becki: how nice about that tea, sounds lovely!

Tracy: thanks so much for your comment! always lovely to hear from you - I am very thankful for our pantry! green tea with rose petals would be really good! :) It's so nice to have memories of tea, and your's are really nice! The trays I have, you are right, they are an old porcelain Spode pattern... good eye! :) The actual trays I have are made out of melamine, a really durable plastic basically! The big tray is strong enough to carry tea things on it, so great! and the smaller one is so handy for many things! I am really thankful for them!

Karen, thanks for your comment! Wonderful to find ways that make one's day and self better! Yes, I agree, it IS the simplest things that make gratitude easy. I think that if one cannot find joy in the small things, then the big things won't really make joy (or even happiness) come or stay for long. It's the every day small things that sustain thanksgiving which can lead us to joy...

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