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Con Azucar

El Salvadorian sugar for my coffee

It might be considered sacrilege to have a coffee picture posted on this site but if you think so then you don’t know me. It is possible to be both a tea and a coffee snob. Ok, I am not really a snob when it comes to coffee but I do like myself a good cuppa every now and then.

This picture shows some of the most amazing sugar ever…or at least its better than what I normally buy at the regular grocery store. Its sugar from El Salvador. I bought a couple pounds of it for about $1.

In El Salvador, in spite of the fact that it was ridiculously hot, we would still have coffee every morning. I am allergic to milk so I usually drink mine black when I do not have a non-dairy creamer on hand. I am not a huge fan of black coffee with sugar, I prefer either cream and sugar or simply black. But in El Salvador all that changes. I drink coffee with sugar every morning. In spite of the heat. I sweat through it because its that good. Some days they would have ice, then I would make and iced coffee which was heavenly.

Pastor Pat making coffee in El Salvador

This kettle is the largest I have ever seen. We used this for our coffee. We would pour the grounds right into that kettle full of boiling water and let it steep for 4 minutes then we would simply pour ourselves a cup. The grounds would settle nicely at the bottom. Well…mostly settle. You always had a little bit of sludge at the bottom of your mug when you were finished.

The bag of sugar was one of my best souvenirs that I ever bought there. In fact I plan to buy more when I return, I might even buy some as Christmas presents. I was very proud of myself for thinking of this idea on my previous trip. I could not wait to come home and have some of my El Salvador style sugar in black coffee. I was feeling so nostalgic, missing all my family in El Salvador. I brewed the coffee, I put the sugar in, I took that excited first sip…

It wasn’t the same.

I haven’t quite put my finger on the difference but there is a difference. The sugar itself is great. I think my brand of coffee is different. Perhaps its the fact that I am not drinking it out of a giant kettle with the grounds still loosely floating around. Or maybe I need to run hot water in the bathroom for ten minutes and take my cup in there and sweat while I drink it. That must be it. I am missing the heat and the humidity.

Excuse me, I have to go put some coffee grounds in my mug and turn on the shower.

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Dinner Meeting

It begins!…again! I had a goal a while back to have a dinner and a tea once a month. I have decided to start this once again. This month I chose to host a meeting at my house over dinner. So I spent yesterday cleaning (hence the lack of posting), and today I will be putting the finishing touches of a lovely dinner.

My goal, anytime I have someone over for tea or for food is to make them feel welcomed and blessed by the experience. It is a lot of work but it is so rewarding.

The menu is a roasted chicken dish that has chicken, potatoes, and carrots. Very home comforts style food. My guests are bringing the salad and dessert. I do plan on making iced tea and possibly a hot tea to go with dessert. I haven’t decided on the flavor of either yet but here are the choices I have narrowed it down to:

Iced:
Green tea with fresh mint and lemon balm
Mixed fruit teas
or my expensive but favorite iced tea: Strawberry and Blueberry Iced Tea

The last one is expensive because it is a Teavana blend of Strawberry Lemonade (not actually lemonade) and Blueberry Bliss Rooibos. When making iced tea you need to use twice the normal amount of tea due to the fact that you will be adding ice to it, so when I make iced tea I usually use my less expensive brands.

Hot Tea:
I have found this fantastic tea from the Spice and Tea Exchange called White Rose Tea, it is one of my favorites. But I may also make a fresh herbal, due to the late hour it will be, out of mint and lemon balm (my specialty homegrown tea).

Now I just need to figure out how to decorate the table!

A Pointless Post About Home Grown Tea

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It occurred to me, while sitting here drinking a cup of home grown Lemon Balm Spearmint tea, reading freshly pressed, that I haven’t actually posted about tea in a while.

I steeped it in one of those teapots that has the strainer basket inside the pot. Every time I use this I end up getting up at least three times in the night to go to the bathroom. For some reason I feel I must drink the entire pot that night. Either that or the tea is so good I can’t stop until its gone.

What makes my tea so good? Well I am so glad you asked…I grow it myself. Its not a true tea, its a tisane, which is simply a fancy word for saying herbal tea. I started something last year and it has become a slight obsession for me. It is called edible landscaping and I have now gotten the bug. I do not plant anything unless I can eat it, steep it, or bake it and then eat it. I am not sure why this fascinates me so much other than the wonderful satisfaction I get from eating, drinking, and cooking with food that I have grown myself. That and fresh food is crazy good.

So, back to the tea, I planted quite a few Lemon Balm plants this year, along with some Lemon Thyme, Lavender, and Jasmine. I prefer Lemon Balm over Lemon Verbana simply because I have compared the flavors and I do not care for Lemon Verbana…I have no explanation beyond that so don’t ask.

Every now and then I will cut a bunch of clippings of these plants and dry them. They are producing enough leaves to let me have a nice supply all through winter. But in the summer, mostly, I will use fresh. Tonight I used dried leaves, however, because I was being lazy tonight. I like being lazy sometimes.

Small Comforts

The email was short and and to the point. No return questions, not even real answers to my questions. That was when I knew…he wasn’t interested. I kept telling people that it was better to be disappointed than heartbroken, but lets be honest, I was slightly heartbroken.

For the past two days I have been feeling it more than ever. Not just because this guy wasn’t interested, but because God’s plan for me is SO different than what I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I know His plans are for my best. I don’t doubt that. I sometimes just wish my best was different. But I am choosing to trust, I am choosing to praise Him.

Its the little things that bring healing and comfort. Yes, the cup of tea. A hot comfort drink, be it tea or (dare I say…) coffee, or even hot cocoa or cider, are always soothing to the heart as well as the body. It really doesn’t matter if its tea, a book, or blogging, its these small things that cause us to slow down, quiet ourselves, and remember what really matters.

So he’s not interested. All I can say is:

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
And I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship
– Hillsong “Desert Song”

An Amateur Tea Snob’s Disclaimer

It all began with a young teen’s desire for money. That is fairly common, you become and age where making money outside of pleading and begging it off of your parents is a possibility. It was my first job. I was cleaning and babysitting for a woman a couple of days a week. The one area that she told me not to worry about dusting was her collection of teacups. That was, as far as I can remember, my first fascination with tea things.

She had an amazing collection. Larger cups, tiny dainty cups, exotic cups, typical cups. Always just one teacup with saucer. No two were alike. And she had hundreds (at least my exaggerated memory remembers hundreds, perhaps it was dozens).

I do recall having another fascination with miniature tea sets as well. I am not sure what started this one, perhaps it was The Little Princesss. In there they describe a tea set that was used for Emily’s doll that was a real working tea set. It must have been this because I was picky with my miniature sets. The teapot had to work. It couldn’t just be tiny, it had to actually have a hollowed out inside and a spout that poured.

These are my early memories along my journey of becoming a tea snob. This journey, however, has been much like tea reminds us to be, slow, taking it all in, enjoying every moment, which leads me to my disclaimer…I am still on my journey, I am still learning all the benefits, all the amazing flavors, all the intricasies of the leaf.

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