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Entries in chai (2)

Sunday
Nov112012

Chai Pear Scones

Chai Pear Scones

I've scarcely seen the sun in the last month. Thick clouds obscure the light, turning day into reflections of night. Even though my body aches for a good dose of vitamin D, the overcast skies and foggy mornings lend a beauty all their own. Mother Nature's dreary mood makes it easy to stay at home, buried underneath blankets, sipping hot black tea. Comfort food fits the character of the weather. Earlier this week I made a batch of homemade chicken noodle & barley soup; half a dozen hot meals later, I can say with certainty that I'm glad to have used the biggest pot.

Though the leaves have left the trees bare long ago, fall weather is still in the air.

Chai Pear Scones

With gloomy skies outside the window, it has become increasingly difficult to pull myself out of bed in the morning. In the summer, when the sun rises bright and early, I feel awake and ready for the day, afraid I may miss out if I linger in bed any longer. In the fall, I'm lucky to see the other side of eight in the morning. The dark, sunless skies make me want to bury myself in the warmth of the blankets and stay in bed for hours, cozy and comfortable. Despite how I'd rather spend my mornings, responsibilities never stop calling. I allow myself to hit the snooze button once or twice, using it to prolong the inevitable first steps out of bed.

With sleepy eyes and an aversion to brightness, I slowly find a way to face the day.

Chai Pear Scones Chai Pear Scones

The long, dark weather makes it difficult for me to get any real work done. In between watching television and reading books, I'm drawn to the warmth of the oven and sweetening the air with the scents of autumn. Dark, moody days are my favorite for photography. I know most photographers prefer to shoot by the bright light of the sun, but I adore how the somber light brings sharp shadows and a rough texture to the food. The food somehow feels more raw to me, making the food appear less overdone (but no less appetizing).

These scones were photographed on the dreariest morning of last week. With a rain streaked window and only a hint of light coming in through the panes, I feel like I managed to capture the essence of the morning.

Chai Pear Scones

Chai Pear Scones is where the love of scones meets the enchantment of a cup of tea. The chai spices complement the complexity of a ripe pear in this simple breakfast pastry. A good sprinkling of sugar on top of the scones before they go into the oven ensures they will develop a thin, sweet crust which adds great texture to an otherwise tender scone. The scones themselves are not very sweet, so the subtle nature of the pears is truly able to shine through. I've said it before and I'll say it again—scones and overcast skies are meant to be enjoyed together.

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Thursday
Oct042012

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

Chai Spice Rice Pudding

As young children, misconceptions run rampant in our lives, laughable to the adults entrusted with our care. As we grow older, however, the misconceptions become less endearing and more worthy of an eyebrow raise. These misunderstandings are tricky, slipping under the radar, lying low for years until an offhanded comment is made and the truth is suddenly revealed.

I used to believe that when someone "ran for president," they physically had to run a race. I can still picture it in my mind. Dressed up in fancy suits and ties, the candidates would race across the White House lawn towards a finish line strewn with red, white, and blue streamers. The track would be lined with important officials, cheering for the candidate they wanted to win with posters and loud whistles. The rules were simple—the first to cross the line would become the new president.

My poor third grade teacher had to sort that one out.

Chai Spice Rice Pudding Chai Spice Rice Pudding

When I was fourteen years old, I brought up at dinner one evening that I did not understand why the Disney logo was spelled with a backwards capital G instead of a D. My mother stared at me in disbelief, letting her fork full of food hover over her plate. A long discussion followed, but it wasn't until she traced out the D in the logo on the television screen that I understood I was in the wrong. Logically, it made sense that Disney would begin with a D instead of a backwards G, but I had never questioned it until that moment, however disconcerting that fact may be.

(For the record, I still struggle to see that elusive D to this day.)

Chai Spice Rice Pudding

I also used to believe that gray hair grew in all at once. After reaching a certain age, I imagined a person simply woke up one morning and could only grow gray hair. The original hair color would still exist, but new growth would leave hair two-toned—gray on top, color on the bottom. I surmised this is why most older women had short hair; who would want to wait for that gray hair to grow all the way out? It turns out I had just witnessed several women with overdue dye jobs and drew conclusions too quickly.

My mother had the privilege of enlightening me on that one too.

So how does all of this relate to chai spiced pudding? While standing in the spice aisle hunting for a little container labeled chai, it seemed strange to me that I couldn't seem to find it in any of the three stores I had visited throughout the week. I had assumed that chai was a spice all its own, perhaps coming from a tree, like cinnamon. It wasn't until I sat down in front of the computer that the internet softly informed me chai was, in fact, a lovely mixture of several Indian spices.

After twenty-four years of life, I would think that most of these misconceptions would have sorted themselves out by now, but they still pop up when I least expect it.

What are your biggest misconceptions?

Chai Spice Rice Pudding

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding is just as it sounds—creamy rice pudding spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves. A pinch of black pepper is added to give the pudding a little spice, which defines this pudding with a unique signature. I used (and recommend) Arborio rice for this pudding because it retains its texture well. While rice pudding can be served warm or chilled, I find the soft warmth of the pudding and spices fill out a chilly fall evening quite well.

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