Friday, December 7, 2012

Drink Your Dried Fruit

Life is not all about dogs, although sometimes the dog seems to think so. Sometimes it is about warming up and refueling after a long romp/training session on a cool winter morning. And that, of course, means a hot cup of tea...and a little something.

I love dried fruit, but it's so easy to eat a lot. And with the amazing home-dried locally grown fruit that Mom makes for the whole extended family, there is a limited supply. And dried fruit stuck to your teeth is not a whole lot healthier than candy stuck to them.

On my Canadian adventure, I was given a gift of uniquely Canadian tea. It was composed of dried Saskatoon berries, dried blueberries, etc.: all real chunks of fruit. You put a couple teaspoons in a pot, poured on boiling water, stuck it under a cozy for awhile, and presto! Canada summer in a cup! Add a little cream, and it was like ice cream only warm!

Lately I realized I could do the same thing with Mom's dried fruit. I still use a tea bag, but then select a few pieces of complementary flavored dried fruit, and put the big chunks in before pouring the water. When I get to the bottom of the cup of fruity tea, the fruit chunks are delightfully soft and warm to scoop up with the spoon. I get the most enjoyment possible out of a few pieces, and nothing stuck to my teeth.

My winter tea corner now occupies the whole end of the kitchen table, double decker: electric tea kettle, mugs, boxes and bags of tea, tea strainers, homegrown honey (not needed with bit of homegrown stevia or a slice of dried pear) and jars of Mom's dried fruit. Also a jar of candied ginger, because one of Mom's favorite "teas" is just a slice of candied ginger in a cup of hot water. Refreshing and warming.

In the refrigerator, there are more tea fixin's: jars of jam...many flavors, but especially strawberry. Somewhere when I was a child we read about "Russian tea"--plain black tea with a spoonful of strawberry jam mixed in. Also cream or half-and-half.

My current favorite combo is dried home-grown figs in a cup of peach-flavored herbal tea, with a little half-and-half. Hopefully next year we will get a supply of frozen sheep milk/sheep cream laid by, for even more luxurious homegrown winter tea.

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