Damn It, Why Did I Have Cereal This Morning? or…

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How I Learned To Love Coconut Milk Even More.

Before the events of this post, I already loved coconut milk and keep several cans in the house at all times. Big cans, for when I’m making rice (it’s soooo good) or little cans, to toss into a smoothie. By the way, the little cans are Cool Runnings brand, because apparently my kitchen needs a bobsled team.

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Tea Cooking Day! Santa’s Secret Divinity

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Ah, it felt good to be back in the kitchen, experimenting with recipes again…it’s been far too long! And everything turned out beautifully, which makes me incredibly happy. Christmas is coming up and I usually do a massive amount of baking around this time of year. This year I decided to limit myself, since no one really eats the massive amounts of cookies I make anyway. But since Drew (my partner in crime over at Cooking Simplicitea) had suggested a Christmas-themed Tea Cooking Day, I decided to use it as my Christmas-cooking day, limiting myself to two recipes and a batch of Chex Mix. Because, really, what’s Christmas without Chex mix?

I started with the divinity, since it takes 2 hours to set and because the butter for the cookies needed to re-set. In researching divinity to try and explain it to Drew, I discovered it’s primarily a Southern thing, especially pecan divinity. When done right, divinity is a little sugary cloud that dissolves on your tongue….yum. I have a great amount of love in my heart for this candy and because it can be so fussy, Mom only made it rarely, so it’s always a treat to have.

The humidity outside is going to affect this candy. If it’s raining out, or if it’s the middle of summer, this candy likely won’t set up. Last year, my wife would chuckle at me for checking the weather every morning, looking for a cold, clear day. This year, starting in mid-October, every time we had a crisp fall day, she’d declare, “Ooooh, it’s good divinity weather!” I have taught her well. A good rule of thumb I discovered online the other day was that if you press your chin to your chest and it sticks a bit, it’s too humid for divinity. A bit crazy, but it works!

If you’ve never made candy before, divinity can be a bit daunting, but it’s really just science. I’m using my mother’s recipe with a few tweaks and changes, but this is the divinity I grew up with. Traditionally, divinity is to be piped into logs, but the idea of trying to clean that sticky goo from a pastry bag haunts my nightmares. I just use two teaspoons to plop a bit down on to wax paper or aluminum foil and go from there. Traditionally, a pecan is pressed into the top of the candy before it sets, I tend to leave that out, but in a few of these, I added some crushed peppermint…yum. On to the recipe!

You’ll need:

A non-stick pot (trust me, when cleaning up, you’ll thank me for this)

A candy thermometer

1/2 c. light corn syrup

2 1/2 c. sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c extra strong tea of choice (I used Santa’s Secret, it was amazing.)

2 egg whites (save the yolks for Alpine Punch cookie press cookies!)

1 tsp peppermint (or vanilla or almond or whatever flavor of extract compliments the tea you’re using)

1 c chopped nuts (or, in my case, crushed peppermints!

Mix corn syrup, sugar, salt, and tea. Cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Then cook without stirring, to firm ball stage (248 degrees F) Beat egg whites until stiff. Pour half of the syrup over egg whites, beating constantly. Cook the rest of the syrup to thread stage (272 degrees F). Add slowly to other mixture, beat til it holds its shape and loses some of its glossiness. Add vanilla and nuts, drop onto wax paper or aluminum foil. Move quickly, as it starts to set pretty fast and then it’s not nearly as pretty. Still tastes good, though! The tea flavor really comes though but not overwhelmingly so. I want to make more, but this stuff is incredibly sweet.

Hope you enjoy this recipe, I know it’s one of my favorites. If you try it, let me know how it turns out! Stay tuned, my recipe for Alpine Punch cookie press cookies will hopefully be up sometime today or tomorrow!

Cherry Potion Upside-Down Cake

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Oh man, this turned out tasty. It was also a very good test of how much the tea flavor comes out when used in something like this, as I was unable to find maraschino cherries at my corner store. It was delicious! And fitting! The day after I made this, we saw “The Help”. Pineapple Upside-Down Cake was very popular in that era (1960s), and even gets a mention in the movie! So it felt very fitting that I made this cake the day before, and I even wore my polka-dot apron.

And it’s quick! If you make the butter ahead, it takes about 20 minutes to get this cake in the oven. And the butter…oh yes, I made tea butter. Well, tea margarine. A note: for all of my recipes, butter and margarine can be used interchangeably. We’re on a diet, we just can’t afford real butter! But if you were to make tea butter for something that needs solid butter (for creaming and such), you would want to use butter, not margarine, because the latter doesn’t resolidify so well.

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Zing Me Scones (From Cooking Simplicitea)

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Oh my goodness. These scones…I made them the first time around with Earl’s Garden (which is Earl Grey with berries, my wife’s favorite) and dried blueberries and cherries as payment to my wife for letting me have yet another trip to DavidsTea. They turn out light and fluffy and while on their own they can taste a bit dry, pair them with your favorite tea or a big glass of soy milk and I promise, you’ll be in heaven. This time I paired Zing Me Tea, which is a black tea with ginger, peach, and apricot, with dried peaches…as a good Southern girl, I love me some peaches. I think these scones will always have a place of honor in our home.

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Vanilla Oolong Blueberry Pie (From Cooking Simplicitea)

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When DavidsTea began following us on Twitter, we were so very excited. Then we noticed that we were the 314th account they followed and, well, of course we had to make pie! We asked them which tea we should use, and they chose Vanilla Oolong. My immediate thought was of blueberries! Mostly because I love blueberry pie. So we made a blueberry pie with Vanilla Oolong in the crust and in the filling and it was delicious! This was part of a tea cooking day, with Forbidden Fruit Chicken, Pouteane, Vanilla Oolong Blueberry Pie, so be sure to watch for those other recipes as well!

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Forever Do-Nuts (from Cooking Simplicitea)

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This recipe is an oldie but a goodie, my mother and I have been making these donuts for as long as I can remember! The original recipe came from a Salvation Army cookbook.They made these donuts to feed the homeless and as a result, it makes a ton! I’m only using a half recipe here, and I still managed to get 3 dozen donuts and 6 dozen donut holes! The Forever Nut adds a nice nutty, almondy flavor to it…don’t worry if it’s not as obvious at first, it’s coming! Best when dipped in milk!

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Cocomama Fantasy Pie (From Cooking Simplicitea)

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When the spring collection came out, we were so excited! New flavors to play with and experiment on. Two of the new teas contain coconut, and with Pi day (March 14 or 3.14) just around the corner, well…how could I not make a coconut cream pie? Or in this case, a Cocomama Lime cream pie with Fantasy Island meringue. Cocomama is a tasty black tea with a hint of coconut and lime, and Fantasy Island is…well, it’s amazing. It’s basically Buttered Rum with raspberry. It is delicious and easily one of my favorites.

This is kind of a mish-mash of several recipes: Coconut Cream Pie, Flavored Meringue, and my mother-in-law’s crust (thanks again!)

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