Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In a jam!

The local grocery store has been having some odd sales this week. They have been selling containers of brand name hummus for 99 cents, as well as containers of fresh ricotta cheese for 99 cents. We usually make our own hummus but for 99 cents, I'm willing to give it a try - this stuff's almost as good as homemade. One ricotta has been made into an Italian cheesecake, which will be dessert tonight and other two have been earmarked for lasagna.
But the best buy of all have been containers of raspberries for 99 cents. Last week, the same size container was $4.99. One container has been consumed and the other five have just been turned into homemade raspberry jam - six bottles and a bit leftover for bread at lunch. With sugar, it averages to about $1 per 250 ml bottle - pretty good price, I think. I might even top tonight's cheesecake with a little drizzle of raspberries - yum!
Gotta love sales!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The big melt

The snow is quickly disappearing around these parts thanks to some fairly warm (for this time of year) temperatures. Just the day to be drinking Upton's Baker Street blend which combines a small amount of Lapsang Souchong with black tea, giving it a mild, smoky flavor. The perfect late fall cup since it reminds you of wood fires and frosty days. Someone once asked me about Lapsang Souchong and how it tasted and I described it as bacon in a cup - you either love it or hate it. Needless to say, that puts off a lot of people but a small amount of smokiness can be quite pleasant and I would recommend this tea. Of course, it tends to go rather well with a freshly made croissant that's been heated with some extra old cheddar melting on top ...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Snowed In!

And 40 cm later, guess where I spent much of the day? In the driveway, shovelling for just over three hours. It's either that or spend a fortune getting it done. If I'm home, it's not so bad - I can take my time and do it at my own pace. I do hate it though when I'm working and it still has to be done - and yes, I will hire someone if necessary!
Drinking Upton's China Jasmine right now which is one of the few jasmines I enjoy since it's pretty mild and you can still taste the green tea. Just put in an order for my farmers market tea stall - the holidays are coming up and hopefully, everyone will be buying some tea - makes a nice gift, I think.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Well, I bit the bullet on Tuesday. I got up at 6 am, had breakfast and at 7, I waited for the tire store's doors to open at 8.
I was first in line and am now the proud owner of four new winter tires.
And undercoating. Even with a misquote, my tires were still $150 cheaper than getting an appointment - and that paid for the undercoating.
I am ready!

Hot Chocolate Weather

Some seriously nasty winter weather is expected this afternoon and the first flakes of winter have begun falling in this neck of the woods. It's a perfect day for hot chocolate and this year, there's some new ones to try.
The most obvious are those peppermint hot chocolates from McDonald's. This is seriously bad news for those of us who are trying half-heartedly to keep the weight off. Hot chocolate, mint flavor, whipped cream and candy cane bits - what's not to love? It doesn't help that they've given away free coupons either - I could seriously drink one or two of these each day. There's also a peppermint mocha but for some reason, it's the peppermint hot chocolate for me - seriously good stuff.
The Bulk Barn has also started carrying some holiday hot chocolates - plain, mint and candy cane which is a minty white chocolate. I've tried the first two and they're both good, the peppermint especially. Besides the fantastic flavour, it's one of those few hot chocolates that dissolves well and doesn't leave you with a mouthful of floury lumps. I've also bought the candy cane white chocolate and haven't gotten around to trying it yet. I'm not as big a white hot chocolate fan but it does smell wonderful.
The Bulk Barn has also been selling apple cider and it's pretty good as well.
Have you ever tried chocolate mint tea? If you get a chance, you should. These tend to be black teas with chocolate and mint leaves added in. Metropolitan Tea does a wonderful one if you prefer loose and Stash does a great bagged one (I think it's an oolong) that's also worth trying. And for those who can't take the caffeine, Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane is available again - it's a decaf green tea that's flavored with a peppermint creme flavor.Also very good.
There's nothing like something hot, chocolately and/or minty on a chilly, damp wintery day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tires, Where art thou?

It's been a while since I purchased new winter tires - about four years - but I had no idea how much they went up in price. The only place that is affordable doesn't take appointments and when I showed up this morning at 9 am, they said to leave my car and they might get to it by 3 pm.
Er, no.
So I went to other places and got pretty much the same story - wait all day or make an appointment and pay almost double. The first place I mentioned is charging $435 - the place with appointments want $749. One guy told me when he shows up to work at 8 am, there's a crowd in the parking lot waiting - in lawn chairs. Are we talking winter tires here or tickets to a pop concert?
So what's a thrifty tea-drinker to do? I guess tomorrow morning, I'll be rolling out of bed at 6 am, having a bowl of oatmeal, dressing warmly and filling a thermal mug full of chocolate mint tea or maybe apple cidre to take my place in line at 7 am.
The things I'll do to save a pile of money!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Three for three!

When you try new teas, it's hit or miss and all too often, miss. A friend arrived home from a trip with a bag of teas for me to try from Teaopia and I'm thrilled to say all three were a hit! I had Caramelissimo, Lady Earl Grey and Coconut Cream Green tea and all were delicious. In fact, I'll probably order all three again when I run out. I'll be making a pot of the coconut cream green when I get home from the library book sale later today - mmmm, I can taste it now!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Garden Confessions

I'll admit I am not the greatest gardener in the world but every year, I do try to raise something edible, mainly in an effort to see if I can actually do it, if pinch ever came to shove. Over those years, I have made a startling discovery and one that will not sit well with the do-everything-yourself-naturally brigade.
Home-grown produce does NOT taste better than the stuff you buy in the stores.
There, I've said it. And I can say it honestly. This year, I have harvested garlic, onions, various herbs, lettuces, chard and several varieties of tomatoes. And not one of them tastes any better than similar vegetables I can buy at the farmer's market or the supermarket.
And before anyone gets snarky and questions me on this, here are the facts: everything I grow is 100 per cent organic. All of the above was grown from seed or bulb. And because of being involved in the tea business and doing my own blending, I have a pretty sensitive palate - I can taste differences pretty easily.
Is it worth the extra effort? Honestly, I have to say no - you can get better deals from farmers or the supermarket since they grow in quantity or buy in quantity. However, it is pretty neat to be able to make a salad at the end of the day with everything grown by yourself and harvested only minutes earlier. Also, you do know the history of the plant and what it's come in contact with and for many people, just knowing for sure no pesticides have been used is comfort enough. A taste difference though? Uh, no.
And I have to say the same about eggs and other organic products. One of the biggest myths surrounds blueberries - that the wild ones taste better than the farm-grown ones. Close your eyes and taste the two - there's really no discernable difference. In fact, you might be surprised to find the farm grown ones are tastier.
Now I'm not saying give up the organic products or home-grown ones but consume and grow them because you want to and because you enjoy the effort that goes into the harvest.