Hail to the victor

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So here I am sitting with my award-winning chai with nothing much to say. I have been considering whether—

–what’s that? What? Oh, I see, you want my to clarify what I mean by “award-winning.” Well, that’s easy enough to do: my chai won an award.

As I was saying, I have been considering whether I should talk about—

–I’m sorry, what’s the matter? You want to know what award my chai won? Fair enough: my award-winning chai won second place at the library’s slow cooker competition. The first place contestant later confessed to me that all she’d done was dump some frozen meatballs and a bottle of teriyaki sauce in her crock pot. Not that I am sore.

Where was I? Right: I have been considering whether I should talk about the books I’ve been reading lately, because—

–Can’t a woman write in peace? What is it this time? Okay, fine, I will give you the recipe for my award-winning chai:

  • Eight tea bags of a black tea such as darjeeling, or oolong if you’re feeling wild. Or use loose tea.
  • Five slices of fresh ginger
  • Five cinnamon sticks
  • Lots and lots of cardamom seeds. I use about ten pods’ worth
  • Sixteen whole cloves
  • one cup, maybe a touch less, of sugar. Except I use Splenda. Or sometimes Brown Sugar Splenda.
  • Eight cups water
  • Optional: a dash of vanilla extract; a dash of black pepper; ten or so allspice berries

Put everything in a 4-quart slow cooker. If you have a 6-quart cooker, you can also add the milk at this point—up to eight cups (a half-gallon), though I usually do about six cups. I use skim. You can use whatever you like; I suspect almond milk* would be good.

Cook on high for 2.5 hours. Strain out the solids. If you’ve already added the milk, it’s ready to drink. Otherwise add milk to taste and heat on the stove. Or don’t heat. It’s very good cold, too.

*To make almond milk at home, instead of spending a week’s salary on the stuff at the grocery store, soak a cup of almonds in water overnight. The next day, blend the almonds with up to five cups of water. Strain out the pulp (not very tasty by itself, but decent when mixed with yogurt) and you’re left with a rather bland beverage, good for cooking, not so exciting for drinking straight. If you want a yummy almond milk, you can go crazy blending it with bananas or dates or figs or chocolate or cinnamon powder or what have you.

So that is how you make my award-winning chai. If you try this yourself, I’d like to hear back. It’s my own recipe (!), initially based on a one found in Make It Fast, Cook It Slow, which is the best cookbook ever, which is to say it is a cookbook with recipes that even a dimwit such as myself can follow. I’ve deviated a bit from the recipe, and borrowed extensively from other recipes I found online, but there are just enough tweaks that I can call it my own.

As you’ve probably realized by now, I did not actually have anything else to discuss and, basically, I just wanted to announce that I had developed an award-winning chai. My usual standby, talking about books I’ve been reading, is not so useful at the moment because my reading time lately has been consumed by a writing project for NoveList. Don’t worry, it’s not too awfully stressful and it pays decently and it’ll be finished by Friday. And then I’m going to respond to a hand-written letter I received from a friend a few days ago. A hand-written letter, for you youngsters who don’t recall, is a sort of antecedent to email. It takes more effort to compose but is curiously more satisfying.

So unless anyone wants to hear about my trials with a vacuum cleaner that refused to pick up kitty litter today, or about my video game character (she recently joined the Assassain’s Guild), you will have to wait till I’ve come up with some new material to discuss, most likely in the form of books I’ve read. I promise to get to that right away; I’m about to crack open The Hunger Games, and I won’t have to get up or anything because, see, I have everything I need right here, that is, I have my award-winning chai.

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