Saturday, April 23, 2011

this calls for some chai.

No. No, no, no. You have got to be kidding me.
Hang in there, little guys – this is already melting. I took myself out for a walk anyway, on the theory that I lead a surprisingly sedentary lifestyle for someone a few weeks away from a half-marathon.
Robins guarded the edges of the driveway, holding the worms at bay.  I used the super-duper zoom button and then cropped the hell out of it, so yeah, it’s blurry. Let’s call it “deliberately impressionistic” and move on.
Most of the willow buds I saw are at this stage now.
More Vlad the Impaler action.
A drizzly, foggy day. Remind me – why am I out here? Shouldn’t I have a cat on my lap?
I espied Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and snuck a few shots of them before they noticed me and took off.
Elm tree buds have popped.
Ditto the quaking aspen, commonly called “poplar” around here or if you’re a trained, professional, multi-generational New Englander, “popple”. (Populus tremuloides) Looking a little bedraggled. It’s all good – May flowers, right?
Oh, so here’s something interesting. There are other ways, aside from trapping, to limit the effects of beavers. One way is to prevent the impounded water behind their dams from getting too high. What you do is sneak a pipe through the dam. We have this in our own pond, but it’s easier to see at our downstream neighbor’s:
Big picture. Here’s the dam.
Zooming in, there’s the pipe.
The pipe extends for quite a ways back from the dam, and is protected from being filled in by enterprising beavers by circular fencing, for lack of a better word.
I’m about ready for the cat, the mug of chai, and book 2 of the “Song of Ice and Fire” epic fantasy series I’m reading.
Chai Recipe
As it’s made in coastal Kenya, with some slight tinkering around by yours truly:
You’ll want the following on hand: Two, 32 ounce containers. We use Nalgene bottles. You’ll want a funnel, and a strainer about 4 inches in diameter. Two saucepans, one big, one medium-ish. 
1. Fill a 32 ounce Nalgene water bottle with cold tap water. Pour about a cup or cup and a half of that water into a small sauce pan, and the rest into a bigger sauce pan.
2. Into the small sauce pan, add the following:
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds. Not pods, not ground seeds, but whole seeds.
  • 2 cinnamon sticks. Do not, repeat, not, use ground cinnamon. You’ll regret it later.
  • about an inch of ginger, say, 2 tablespoons, sliced little inch-long julienned match sticks. You don’t have to peel it first.
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • a pinch or two of whole cloves, if you have ‘em.
Bring all that to boil, and let it boil for about 5 minutes. You want somewhere between raging full boil, and barely perceptible simmer. Then turn down the heat and let it barely simmer/steep while you proceed with the next part. 
Now fill the Nalgene bottle with milk. I use a combo of 1% (mine) and 2% (the dear boy’s). Dump it in with the water in the bigger sauce pan. Add 4 tablespoons of Kenyan black tea. See below for what we use. Use a whisk to get the loose tea swirled around in the water/milk mixture, and crank up the heat.
By the time the water/milk/tea mixture is getting close to hot enough, your smaller saucepan with all the goodies in it should have had time to boil for 5 minutes and steep for several minutes more. Dump the smaller saucepan, goodies and all, into the water/milk/tea mixture. Stir it around. Keep heating it up until steam starts to rise up as though it wants to boil.
Before it gets a chance to boil, turn off the heat. Put the funnel into the mouth of one of the Nalgene bottles and set the filter into it. Fill up the bottle, dump the contents of the filter into the compost (but save the cinnamon sticks – you can get a couple of uses out of them), and repeat with the second bottle.
Serve it sweetened – we use stevia, that we get in bulk at the Coop where we get all the rest of the goodies, with the exception of the tea. As for the tea: we use this stuff:
Ketepa Safari Tea. You can get it online, you can get it at the Nairobi airport, duty-free; you can get it from your friend Mary who runs Amu House, a bed and breakfast on the island of Lamu, Kenya. See how many options you have?
We’ll go through 64 ounces of chai in a couple or three days. Mmmm, delicious.

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