Is My Blog Burning? #17: Tea

The theme for the 17th Is My Blog Burning? foodblogging event is tea. The hostblog for this round, which will post a list of links to blogs that contribute entries on the theme by July 31st, is A La Cuisine.

I'm one of those barbarians who doesn't like the taste of real tea. But I do like an occasional herb tea. And my usual herb tea of choice is Celestial Seasoning's Bengal Spice. The ingredients for the Bengal Spice blend include:

"Cinnamon, roasted chicory root, roasted carob, natural spice and vanilla
flavors with other natural flavors, ginger root, cardamom, black pepper, cloves,
and nutmeg."

If I were a true-blue food purist, I'd mix and grind my own spice blend. But back when I was trying to do my own curries and other spice combinations, I was never able to get consistent or predictable results. So I've tended to stick with commercial blends.

I decided to try using the Bengal Spice blend as the base for a sorbet and ice cream. (I got one of those dandy no-ice, no-salt ice cream machines a few months ago.)

My first step was to brew up a large (4 cups) batch of extra-strength Bengal Spice tea. I used six bags, instead of the four I'd have used for a regular-strength batch.

I decided to make the ice cream version first. I looked up some recipes online for various coffee and green tea ice creams, to get some sort of guidelines for ingredients and proportions. (I'd been using the ice cream machine mostly for sorbets -- the fruit trees in the side yard were harvest-ready right about the time I first got the machine -- and am still finding my way to the best ingredients and proportions for ice cream.) This is what I finally settled on:

Bengal Spice Ice Cream

2 Cups whipping cream
1¼ Cups brewed-extra-strength Celestial Seasonings' Bengal Spice tea, chilled
¼ Cup sugar
½ Cup egg substitute (or 2 large eggs)
¼ tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients thoroughly, and pour into container of ice cream machine. Churn for appoximately 20 minutes. (This actually took a few minutes less to freeze solidly enough to bring the machine to a stop.)

Results. A more-than-subtly but not boldly flavored spiced ice cream. The 2 cups of whipping cream make it very rich; I think on a second try I'd use half-and-half instead. It's also fairly light on sweetness; the sugar should probably be increased to half a cup.

After refreezing the churning container, I used the remaining Bengal Spice tea to make a simple sorbet:

Bengal Spice Sorbet

3 Cups brewed-extra-strength Bengal Spice tea, chilled
½ Cup sugar

Mix tea and sugar. Pour into running ice cream machine. Churn for 20 to 30 minutes, until proper consistency.

This produces a mahogany-colored sorbet with bold flavor.

Having a scoop of each, with a good cookie, would be nice.

Bengal Spice Ice Cream & Bengal Spice Sorbet Posted by Picasa


It's been a week and a half since the last post here.

Howcum? Primarily, overtime at work. Lots and lots of overtime.

Which, from a financial point of view, is good news. The overtime money means paying a little extra on long-term debts (the mortgage, especially), and will hopefully mean being able to retire a few weeks or months earlier than previously expected.

But the extra work, especially in the middle of 110+ degree days, leaves one feeling like a stepped-on dog turd by the end of the workday. And you still have to do all the things that need doing at home, but now you've got a couple less hours available in which to do them. As for the things you want to do... those are pretty few and far between.

So that's why my words have been scarce here lately.


A Short Review of THE ISLAND

(I had a pass to an early screening):

LOGAN'S RUN crossed with THE MATRIX, with a dash of BLADERUNNER's DNA. Two clones on the run from the secret clone-factory/hidden-city. Lots (LOTS!) of car crashes, gun fights, mano-a-mano fights. Plot holes you can drive a 40-ton truck through. (But don't worry, the 40-ton truck crashes too.) "Science" that has fudge as its primary ingredient. Obligatory romance. ("What is sex?" "Oh, THAT's sex!") Featuring Steve Buscemi taking an expository lump.

Definitely a "check your brain at the door" movie.

(There's a hint left early on that leaves potential open for a sequel. Maybe that sequel will actually have an island in it....)


Enough Said

From Reuters News Service:

Time correspondent Matthew Cooper said he told a grand jury last week that [Karl] Rove told him the woman worked at the "agency," or CIA, on weapons of mass destruction issues, and ended the call by saying "I've already said too much." [emphasis added]

Update: Links For IMBB#16 Posted

Downblog, I posted about the monthly Is My Blog Burning? foodblogging event, where a hostblog collects links to various food-themed (eggs, this time around) posts on other blogs and provides a complete listing.

Seattle Bon Vivant has the links to other entries posted now, here in Part 1 and Part 2. (81 entries in all.)

A lot of the entries are from Asian/Pacific contributors. Some traditional, some untraditional, some very untraditional. Worth a browse.

ALSO: The Seventeenth edition of IMBB, hosted by A La Cuisine, is now open (until July 31st) for entries. The theme this time around is tea.


Self-Improvement, Part 4

Time for another update on my diet/exercise program. Part 3 was posted on 5/27/05:

I've lost more weight, dropping from 167 pounds to 159. A total of twenty-one pounds since my starting weight of 180.

The exercise portion of the "Eight Minutes In The Morning" program I've been following has produced some fairly significant muscle definition as fat is replaced by increased muscle mass. And yes, I really am getting close (well, kinda sorta close) to the "six-pack abs" I mentioned in the last update; the outline of the "abdominal shield" you see on Greek statuary is pretty clear now and I've started doing some extra ab exercises for further definition.

The weight loss has also made my face appear slightly thinner. Enough that several people have expressed concern: "Uhh, did you mean to lose that much weight that quickly?"

Let's go straight to the subtext of that question: "You don't have... CANCER!!... do you?"

Now isn't that an interesting commentary about getting old, that actually looking better can make people worry that you're sick? When you're in your fifties, and losing weight, that one of the possible explanations that come to people's minds is that you might have cancer?

I feel good. I can even look in the mirror and think that I look good. (This is not a minor accomplishment. When you grow up always, always, having "Husky"-sized clothing bought for you, even after you're a reasonably fit adult it's difficult to look in a mirror without automatically flinching.)

Even when my weight was last down in the 150's, over twenty-five years ago, I was still pretty soft-bodied. So here I am in my fifties, and I'm probably in the best-looking shape of my life so far. Who'd have thought?

Does all this sound a bit on the narcissistic side? I'm trying not to be. But there's one thing I can definitely say:

This is... Pretty Fucking Cool.

(I'm planning to post photos in a few more months. So you'll all be able to judge for yourselves.)


Kids' Games, Updated For A New Generation

Back when I was a kid, our family had a swimming pool. One of the games frequently played in there was "Marco Polo".

Pretty simple game. The person chosen as "It" kept his eyes closed. When the It-guy shouted the word "Marco!", everyone else in the pool had to respond with the word "Polo!" The It-guy then tried, still with eyes closed, to use the sound to guide his attempts to grab or touch one of the other people (who all had their eyes open, and were trying to avoid being touched). The first person grabbed or touched became the new "It". Continue until exhausted.

So I'm out in the front yard this afternoon, and I hear kids' voices coming from the backyard of one of the houses across the street. And as I listen, I realize they're playing "Marco Polo", but not using the traditional words.

What I hear is:

"Frodo!" "Polo!" "Frodo!" "Polo!"


Quick Thoughts On O'Connor's Resignation

The announcement today that Sandra Day O'Connor intends to retire from the Supreme Court leads to a few thoughts:

Likely result: a battle royal over the Bush Administration's nominee for a replacement. Almost certainly will be a strongly right-wing conservative, with the unstated (very, VERY unstated) but virtual assurance of voting to overturn Roe v. Wade at the earliest opportunity.

This may, in turn, lead to the re-criminalization of abortion.

This would not be a good thing.

Criminalizing abortion does not stop abortion. It just makes it dangerous for women who can't afford to travel to an abortion-friendly country for the procedure.

My wife Hilde, before she became disabled, before Roe v. Wade, worked as a hospital x-ray tech. She saw women come into the emergency room with raging septic infections from self-induced and back-alley abortions.

Not a sight she wants to see come back. Not a sight she wants anyone to ever see come back.

And that's an opinion I have no hesitation about sharing.