Food: Owning a teapot is one of life’s simple joys
The little blue teapot on my stove brings a smile to my face every time I look at it. This gem was given to me by my son, Jake, and his girlfriend, Dani, for my birthday last week.
I was pretty surprised when the kid asked me what I wanted a few days before the big day arrived. While Jake has a lot of talents, remembering the day his momma was born (at least in past years) is not one of his fortes.
And so, taking full advantage of the situation, I informed him my heart’s desire was a teapot. “Nothing fancy, just one that’s functional,” I told him.
I have to admit that the reason I wanted a teapot was to fulfill a recent hot drink kick I’ve been on. I usually go through one of these phases every winter, about this time of year, when cupping my hands around a warm mug containing a steaming beverage brings a certain amount of balm when the cold is unrelenting and bites so deep it takes my breath away.
In addition, heating up the water in the microwave wasn’t cutting it for me. In fact, I was down right scared out of my wits a few weeks ago when I put a tea bag in a cup of water and it nearly exploded, creating a loud bang in the process. I thought the appliance was shot until I looked at the tea bag, which was closed with a staple. Microwaves and metal don’t mix.
But even more than that, making tea is about the process. The filling of the kettle, the shrill whistle from the spout and then the slow pour of steaming water over the tea is a ritual that gives me a certain amount of comfort.
Another way I like to use teapot water is in such quaffs as hot buttered rum or even Tom and Jerrys, which I drink until the temperatures outside stay at a consistent 40 degrees. Then there are Ramen noodle nights, instant oatmeal breakfasts and hot cocoa mixes that also benefit from steaming water from a tea kettle.
And while I suggested something functional, Jake and Dani really put a lot of thought into my gift. This little appliance is described as “robin egg blue,” and it’s a good description. It does remind me of the color of these eggs, and warms my heart when I look at it, because in its own way, it instantly takes me to days when real robins wake me with their sweet chirping on warm spring mornings. It also casts a certain amount of class into my somewhat eclectic home decor. Just sitting on the stove, it looks like a masterpiece.
I have been taking advantage of my new toy, though. My latest craze is a hot cocoa mix my grandma used to make for us when the really cold weather set in. It has cayenne pepper in it, which you can’t actually taste in the mix, but it does lend a hint of heat that warms to the bone.
And with the flu season upon us, I’m sure somewhere down the line I’ll be brewing up hot toddies to ease a sore throat or quiet a pesky cough.
So thanks, Jake and Dani, for a wonderful birthday gift. Not only does it warm up my food, but my heart as well.
Hot Cocoa Mix
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa (Dutch-processed preferred)
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until they are mixed evenly. Fill a mug one-third full with the mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine. Seal the rest in an airtight container.
1 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 shot whisky or brandy
Mix the first four ingredients in a mug. Pour in hot water and stir with the cinnamon stick.
Instant Chai Tea Mix
1 1/2 cups instant
2 cups powdered
1/2 cup dry milk powder
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. vanilla powder
In a food processor combine tea, powdered creamer, milk powder and sugars. Process for a minute. Add the spices and process two minutes. Store in an airtight container. To serve, place four teaspoons in a mug and fill with hot water.