Within an hour of sampling my first bubble tea on a weekend trip to Georgetown, I jumped on my iPhone and started to search recipes so that I could replicate it when we got back home to Pennsylvania. I spent the next week “pinning” perfectly photographed tapioca-filled teas that linked to pages with the promise of easy DIY recipes that I couldn’t wait to try.
I ‘d love to tell you about how I made the MOST DELIGHTFUL BUBBLE TEA YOU’LL EVER TRY, but like most of you, I don’t live in a fairy tale world where everything works out. No magic wand for this one.
After a total strike-out trying to find ingredients locally, my husband, Rob, went online and ordered some black pearl tapioca and more jumbo straws than two humans could possibly use in one lifetime. Ready, set, tea time, right?
Easy Bubble Tea Recipe 🙂
The recipe I chose had four ingredients: black tea, milk, sugar, tapioca pearls, and ice. The tapioca pearls went into the sauce pot with some water. So far, so good. In the meantime, I brewed some black tea and waited for the pearls to get gummy.
After running the cooked pearls under cold water to chill them, I grabbed a handful to place in the glass. To say they were “sticky” would be an understatement. I tried flinging them off my fingers with the same idiotic motion that a 3-year old uses to flick off a booger. That didn’t release their hold, so I pulled a spoon out of the drawer and pried then off, ONE–by–ONE. Okay, hands free. Now to get the two cups of ice from the ice maker–the ice maker that is always overflowing with ice–EXCEPT FOR THIS NIGHT! I pressed the lever, and out popped two cubes. Two lousy cubes. Somehow the water line had become clogged, and unbeknownst to us, the ice maker had stopped making ice.
At this point in the EASY recipe, I had a two glasses of tapioca snot balls, some brewed tea, and the utmost determination that we would be drinking bubble tea by night’s end. Scanning the freezer for ice substitutions, I hovered between a bag of frozen peas and some whipped topping. Whipped topping won out. I threw it into the blender with the tea and hit “frappe.” This is what “creative” types call improvising. I poured the foamy tea mixture over the pearls. It tasted weirdly interesting, but it still needed something. Cinnamon Fireball Whiskey. Yes, that is what it was missing.
Am I going to write the Fireball people and share the recipe? I don’t think so. This probably wasn’t the best use of their product, but it did make a failed recipe a little better. Of course, I did update my Facebook status with a tea-teaser pic. Who could blame me? I’m sitting home on a Friday night making bubble tea. I have to glam it up because reality isn’t always pretty.
My grandmother had a passion for cleaning. Keeping her house spotless was like a career to her. Personally, I am not a fan of cleaning. I love a neat, organized house, but I hate to waste precious creative energy on household tasks.
I’ll admit that my husband does the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping us from living in squalor. He likes to point out that fact to our friends, family co-workers, and people we’ve just met. It is embarrassing, so I’m trying to help out more.
Part of the reason that I hate cleaning, is that I don’t like the chemical odor from harsh cleaning products. Two products make cleaning a little more pleasant for me are Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and Spiff Cloths. Both products are Made in the U.S.A.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
A friend of mine introduced me to this natural castile-based product. It comes in many scents, but my favorite ones are the citrus orange, almond, and peppermint. You can even use it as a body wash and shampoo. In fact, the label says you this “magic all-in-one” soap has 18 different uses. You can pick up Dr. Bronner’s soap in most grocery stores and certainly any store that caters to organic products.
My other favorite product is the Spiff Cloth. This streak-free, spot-free cloth is sold by Berit Hines, who is one of my fellow members in the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy. It really lives up to its claim to allow you to clean without glass cleaners or other chemicals. I love the way it gets rid of the cat hair that seem to stick to every surface in our home. You can pick them up online at www.spiffcloth.com.
Today was one of those emotionally draining days. I came home, climbed in my robe, and collapsed on the couch.
It was almost a “cereal for dinner” kinda night, but I decided to make one of our frequent comfort food dishes: Sweet Potato Fry Frittata. Making it commits few brain cells, yet it fools my stomach into thinking I really cared about its needs.
Here’s how it is done:
You bake the sweet potato waffle fries according to the package directions. As the fries near completion, you scramble a few eggs along with whatever you decide to throw in the pan. Tonight it was leftover breakfast sausage and a few fresh mushrooms. When the fries are crispy, you place the cooked eggs over them, throw on some shredded cheddar cheese and put everything back into the oven long enough for the cheese to melt.
No Martha wouldn’t approve, but we can’t all be Martha.
I live in a quiet neighborhood with nice neighbors and some rather obnoxious ones: four-legged ones. Deer are regular uninvited guests in my yard. Over the years, I’ve learned that it is better to just accept their destructive presence and plant more of the types of plants they don’t like in my deer resistant garden.
Plants I love that deer hate:
- Raspberry and Coreopsis: My vegetable garden, hit hard by hungry deer, has slowly been replaced with a thriving combination of raspberry bushes and coreopsis (Tickseed) flowers.
- Bleeding Hearts: These beauties greet me every spring. I love them and the local deer population doesn’t.
- Japanese Forestgrass and Ferns: One bed used to hold my beloved hosta collection. After three devastating years of spraying them down with deer repellants only to watch them get devoured anyway, I gave in and switched to Japanese forest grass and ferns instead.
- Boxwoods, Hollies, and Burning Bushes: There are a couple types of bushes that stand up well to deer traffic in my yard. Boxwood, hollies and burning bushes thriving for me.
- Little princess spirea is a royal success in standing up to my local herd of hungry deer.
Below is a slide show of these deer resistant plants in my garden.
I’m still exploring covering hollowed egg shells. This little black bird ornament is one of my latest iterations. I shared one of the candy-colored birdies that I made for my nieces and nephews for Easter earlier. This one has a more elegant feel.
This little one is listed in my shop. if you like him, pick him up before he flies away.
Finding novel treats for office birthday parties is challenging, but when I saw a recipe for pops made chocolate-coated nuggets of raw cookie dough, I knew I had a winner. Thank you Sally’s Baking Addiction.
I tried Sally’s recipe for the safe-to-eat-raw, egg-free cookie dough. The only thing I changed was using a gluten-free flour. I try not to eat too much gluten. I dipped a few in sprinkles and some in crushed cookie crumbles. I also used lollipop sticks instead of popsicle sticks because I prefer the smoother texture.
You can find her recipe here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/09/14/cookie-dough-truffle-pops/
So many of my favorite memories revolve around food:
- “rooting in the candy cupboard” at Grandma’s house
- sitting at the 50s Formica table sampling Great-grandma’s egg custard
- learning fractions with Mom using recipes to make math more fun
Many of those memories found their way into a recipe scrapbook that I gave to my Mom as a Christmas gift a few years ago. The book highlighted the women in my family (they do most of the cooking!) and the recipes that tell my family story.
The Project Overview: No Photoshop Required
Each page or two of the book was dedicated to a different woman beginning with my great-grandma and ending with my niece and nephew. Okay I cheated a little and included a couple guys: my nephew and my brother. Here’s a look at the elements I chose to tell each of their stories.
I scanned in my favorite family photos and printed them out so that I could cut them out in interesting shapes. Color photo copies would have worked too. I’m not fabulous with Photoshop so I did everything “old-school” scrap-booking style.
I also scanned in some of our recipes, like the old ones in my great-grandma’s handwriting. I typed up other ones that weren’t so visually interesting.
Family heirlooms made up the other major visual element . My sister and I each photographed things we had inherited that were iconic to us, things like Great-Grandma’s china, a Pillsbury DoughBoy doll, and the plastic Kool-Aid Cho-Cho-Cherry mug we used at Grandma’s house.
Written memories along with the visual ones accompanied each section. I typed up a little blurb including favorite food related memories.
Including the Kids
My sister staged a photo shoot with her kids (Mom’s grandchildren) baking. We included a “recipe” that my niece wrote in her 6-year-old handwriting. Of course, the kids didn’t know why they were doing it because kids have a hard time keeping a secret.