Thursday, December 01, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - TropicaliTea

Always willing to try something new - Soursop and Daintree

Governor's Estate Soursop Green Tea

Soursop is becoming more popular because of the claim it can reduce and slow the growth of cancer cells and it has Vitamins C & B, calcium and iron.  I just thought it was a nice tasting, tropical flavored tea.

It had a nice sweetness, further enhanced with a little bit of honey.  A splash of italian cream made it tasty, too.  I would get a couple more boxes - I also like that the tea bags are individually packaged so I can share with friends.

Rating:  3.5

T2 Daintree is an Australian black tea with a slightly floral and vanilla taste.  It is light and "dainty" and I think would be great for a little girl's tea party.  The leaves look interesting.

I actually found myself liking this more after each sip.

Rating:  3.75

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - Nerada Organics - Subtract the chill by adding chai

So hear it then, my Rennie dear, Nor hear it with a frown; You cannot make the tea so fast As I can gulp it down. I therefore pray thee, Rennie dear, That thou wilt give to me With cream and sugar softened well, Another dish of tea.
Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) Untitled

Nevada is another true Australian tea - this is their Organics line, Pure Organic Chai.   Australian's largest tea grower from Queensland.  And it is delicious!

The ingredients are not listed, but I can discern clove, ginger and cinnamon.  No pepper, whew.  I always thought pepper was a cheap way to get the heat going.  I also couldn't see brewing directions, so I kept the double flow-through tea bag in the mug for about 5 minutes.  Perfect!  (with added sugar-free Italian cream creamer.)  I hadn't seen a teabag like the Lipton's Flo-Thru in a long time.  It definitely brewed up the flavor strength.

You can see my beachy blue starfish pumpkin still holding court in the kitchen garden!
I can't wait to get more of this and try their other flavors.  Check out their website - doesn't their Royal Devonshire Tea sound divine?  In the meantime, I'm glad this is a box of 50 (now 49).  Chai definitely takes the chill off.

Rating: 5

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - Well, Hello! Or G'day Houston!

Look what I found near the checkout counter at TJ Maxx!  For $4.99 a box.  Fifty teabags each.  You can find Australia in Houston (Sugar Land, specifically).  Check the TJ Maxx stores in your area.  This is super fresh tea, the best by date is July 19, 2019!

Madura Green Tea and Jasmine, Pure Assam and Green Tea & Jasmine.
(I left behind the boxes of Organic Black, Organic Green, Premium Blend, Earl Grey and English Breakfast)

I was glad to have the opportunity to try these flavors before going back to Australia, so I could see which I wanted to bring home and save room in my suitcase.  This TJM price is basically the same price, given the exchange rate...and not counting the airfare and 17 hours nonstop flying.

All nicely in a row inside the wrapper

Beautiful colors!

When I go back, I will definitely look for the Green Tea & Mint and the Assam - bonus if I can find it in the loose version.

The Assam surprised me, not bitter at all.  And when you added cream and sugar, it had a wonderful slightly fruity taste and great full bodied tea finish.  A whiff of the pre brewed teabag was smoky/tobacco.  Rating: 4

The Green Tea & Jasmine is nice, I would give it a 3.  Wonderful scent of jasmine as you sip, but an odd slightly acidic finish.   It does taste better plain.  When I opened the package it had a grassy, not floral fragrance.  I have so many Jasmine green teas, I wouldn't take up suitcase space to bring back more.

Now the Green Tea & Mint - I was surprised and happy it was peppermint and not spearmint.  Very versatile and drinkable throughout the year...A Christmas seasonal and sinus soothing peppermint, and refreshing iced in the summer.  It has a very pleasant minty finish.   Delicious plain and if you want to add a little cream and sugar, it will taste like a candy cane!  Rating:  4.1

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Winter YummyLand - Mint Chocolate Delights

Let the Christmas Cookie 2016 tryouts begin!

I found this Nestle Toll House Winter Limited Edition Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels chips at Super Target, and at HEB for around $1.50-$1.70 a bag.  I thought I would use them for my tried and true chocolate chocolate chip cookie recipe, but when I flipped the bag over, I saw their recipe for "Mint Chocolate Delights"  There is also another recipe on the bag for "Magic Mint Chocolate Bark" -- I'm putting that on the try list, also!


2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (I always use unsalted butter when I bake, easier to control the salt - different brands use different amounts)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups (10 ounce package of chips)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and stir.
Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.
Add eggs and gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in morsels.
Drop by well-rounded tablespoons (or teaspoonfuls) onto uncreased baking sheets
Bake for 11-13 minutes (or 9 to 11 minutes) until cookies are puffed and centers are set.
Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen (6 1/2 dozen) cookies.

(I like to make smaller cookies - it is much easier calorie and mind-bending wise to be able to say to yourself or anyone/no one in the room, "I'll just have one or two cookies"...)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - Stringed and Tagged - Yorkshire Tea

More from my collection of Australian teas --
Taylor's of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea - a rich and refreshing classic black tea box of 100 string and tag tea bags.  I just noticed that tag line, haha!

I love the colors and artwork on the box, too.

When you first open the box, you get a whiff of a slightly astringent, yet hello there tea fragrance.  It brews to a gorgeous chestnut color and has a traditional earthy tea scent.
Ahhh, welcome home tea!
A good basic tea when you don't want the fuss or muss of flavored combination teas.  Just a good body, good flavor, nice aftertaste, all purpose tea.

I suggest drinking this with cream and sugar (fat free half & half and Splenda).  The sugar-free Italian cream makes it almost too sweet.
(My sugar/carb craving/sweetness desire and radar has dropped way down, thank goodness!  Stay with it those of you who are also trying to cut back your sugar and carb intake - it will happen to you, too.  God Bless my nutritionist.  And the wakeup call of getting my bloodwork down after last year's holidays - one of the dumbest smartest things I've ever done)

When I go back I will look for their other varieties...I do remember seeing some of them on the shelves.

Rating:  4.5 - Right on up there with Dilmah, Madura.  The Aussies and English sure know and love their teas!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Watercolor Wednesday - Artist Trading Card Swap - Bring out the light

My Artist Trading Card for an upcoming swap...the theme was Nocturnal Landscape.  Artist Trading cards measure 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", but you can get a lot of art on that small bit of paper real estate and therein the challenge and the fun!

This is the Port of Galveston before dawn, my room view from the Tremont House a few years ago.  I loved the yellow-orange glowing lights reflected over the rail cars in the water and bouncing off the clouds.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Sunday Suppers - Meatball Subs

New label - new recipes to try.  (this blog is nothing if not constantly evolving!)
Now that it is finally getting cooler (cough-cough - not going into the 90's and above), the kitchen friendly beckons me back in.   And the latest issue of Cook's Country October/November magazine.  And a 30-Minute Supper of Meatball Subs.

I have a meatball recipe already (Everyday Food #49), but it has ground turkey,  involves the crockpot and stove top splatter time pushing those balls around.  This one is beef, easy-peasy and is all done in the oven.

Here is the original recipe and my notations in ( ) for when I make it the next time.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef (I used Chuck and a one-pound package of Nolan Ryan Beef)
3/4 cup dried bread crumbs with Italian seasonings
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon garlic powder (may reduce it to 1/4 teaspoon since I later looked at the breadcrumb label and it had garlic already)
1 teaspoon salt (I left it out, see Italian seasonings bread crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
1 1/2 cups jarred marinara sauce (I just used the entire jar - saucy girl!)
4 thin slices deli provolone cheese (Definitely get it from the deli if you can, it was thinner.)
Package of 6" Italian sub/hoagie rolls (Sara Lee with the sesame seeds)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease a rimmed baking sheet with oil.
Mix beef, bread crumbs, eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper in bowl until well combined (I learned not to over mix or pack together too tightly from my Italian friends)
Form into 12 2" meatballs (I made mine closer to 1 1/2" and was able to get 18 out of one pound of beef, leftovers to freeze - hooray!)

Place on prepared sheet and bake about 15 minutes until meat registers 160 degrees.
Remove meatballs from sheet (and place into the saucepan of sauce, which has been simmering become of timing issues.  Plus it adds additional flavor.)
Place parchment paper on baking sheet (telling yourself you will or have hubby deal with bits of meat still on the sheet during clean up - surprise!  It actually wasn't that bad)
Place rolls on sheet and lay 3 meatballs inside and top with cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - T2 Two

Two more favorites from T2 - Earl Grey Royale and Creme Brûlée

First - Earl Grey Royale

This Royale version of Earl Grey has a nice, but not overpowering bergamot flavor.  Delicious plain and not sour at all.  Definitely the crowning top in my list of Earl Grey teas.

And Creme Brûlée - 

You can even see the tiny bit of caramelized hazelnut
Adding a bit of sugar free Italian cream turns this into dessert, but it also has a vanilla-overtone and sweet finish without any add-ins.  I'm definitely going back for more of this next visit!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Watercolor Wednesday - Artist Trading Card Swap - Passion for Purple

These were the Artist Trading Cards for another swap, "My Hometown"

This was the one I swapped

Growing up in Rochester, New York - The Lilac Capitol of the World - I loved the fragrance, the shades of purple and the lilac bush blooms( -- I used to work my way into the center of the ones in our garden and turn it into my playhouse)...and the Rochester Lilac Festival in May.  They added an extra weekend to the Festival, as some years they hadn't bloomed/bloomed too early, or there was a late freeze.   Well, there was always the Pansy Bed. . .

While there is nothing like the real thing, I had fun trying to interpret and paint lilacs.  I used multiple glazes, colored pencil, different brush stroke techniques, and even sprinkled some salt to help define the individual four-lobed corolla flowers.

Artist Trading Cards (ATC's) are addicting to paint and swap these 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" pieces of art.

P.S. If you are celebrating an 8th year anniversary in the Spring, the lilac is your flower to included in your bouquet.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween - Beach Bum-kin - Halloween Pumpkin 2016

This year's Halloween Pumpkin - "Beach Bum-kin"

Beach Bum-kin

In process. .  . I loved mixing all my beachy blues and greens and turquoises before adding the starfish and peel and stick rhinestones.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thursday Tea Time - Bonus Round

T2 Just Lavender -- one teaspoon Just Lavender to two teaspoons Blue Mountain.  Yummy, soothing, relaxing, sip by sip.  I love when they combine different teas.  And this one is exceptional.

Thursday Tea Time - Hold it!

This would be cool to find and useful - it holds your teabag!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How do you like them apples? Part 2

And here is a view of the branches of an autumn crabapple tree in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Autumn Santa Fe Crabapple Tree
12" x 18 1/2"
This was fun skill-building and patience-building to paint.  First a wash of Winsor-Newton Blue (Green), then layers of Auerolin and more yellows, mixing greens, Alizarin for the apples with more glazing of additional reds, and finally, finally the sepia, burnt umber, cobalt blue to create warm branches.  I had to redraw my branches figuratively and creatively, for I was having too much fun making all the different leaves and leaf shapes and background.

I also gave myself points for painting bigger -- this is 12" x 18 1/2"

I really like how the variety of colors played nicely together,  pushed forward and back, and the assortment of shapes.

My paper is  always up and ready for another pitch - of paint with brush in hand.

How do you like them apples?

An apple a day helps improve your watercolor skills!  Having fun practicing working wet in wet, and glazes, and the elusive shadows.  I actually painted them actual size!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Flight of the butterfly

The Giant Swallowtail butterfly visiting the Asclepias in the backyard this afternoon.
Because everything is bigger in Texas. . .

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thursday Tea Time, Madame

Two more tea hits from Madame Flavour and Australia --

Ginger Masala Chai (looseleaf) and Soothing Mint Lavender Tisane (18 pyramids)

First the chai. . .

One cup of water, one tablespoon (I suggest umping up the from the suggested two teaspoons) in a small saucepan, bring to boil, add milk (I used 2%, might be worth upgrading to whole milk for a creamier mug), two teaspoons of honey.  Adding a 1 cm piece of grated ginger to the water boiling stage would also be worth a try to the Ceylon and Assam leaf teas, cinnamon, cardamom pods, fennel, ginger, clove, red safflowers and Australian mountain pepper leaf.   Wonderful peppery ginger bite and finish.

Rating:  Grabbing more of these next visit!

Soothing Mint Lavender Tisane. . .

Never would have thought, nor have seen this combination.   But it is sensational.  Caffeine-free, too. Soothing to all your senses.

Perfect plain, it needs no other additions.

Nice paper lined packaging!

The fragrance is minty, lavender is subtle.   How good is this?  As soon as I drank my cup, I turned around and made more for my Hydroflask to take to afternoon watercoloring class.
Yup, grabbing this one, too!