Posts filed under: ‘Tea‘

Moment of Zen, Green Tea Cupcakes

So its been awhile!!  I should mention first and foremost Aunt Penny is doing well.  It was a little rough to be honest in the beginning but her spirits are high and things are good on the road to recovery.  I saw her last week in the hospital and she said she couldn’t wait to read the blog again soon and was so thankful for everyone’s wishes of good health.  So from Aunt Penny and Me thanks you for stopping in and thinking of her in the last few weeks, and sending all that good energy.

I’m finally starting to fit into a groove at my new job.  This is a pretty big transition for me consider I’d been working full time at my last job almost 9 years.  Its crazy when I think of where the time went?!

I started working at the Performing Arts Center as a college student, when the campus was in fact my home, and given the sheer time committment my job at the PAC required, my emotional investment was great.  I’ve been thinkng of all the great experiences and people I’ve come across in the years I spent there.  The growing I’ve done, both good and difficult.  One of the biggest parts or perks of the job was all the great performances.

Just last year The Performing Arts Center became the set of Black Swan.  Lincoln Center gets top billing of course, but truly every scene in the dressing rooms, backstage, on stage and the rehearsal areas in the film was shot at the Performing Arts Center.  Yes I saw (Academy Award winner!!!!) Natalie Portman, and Mila Kunis around the “dungeon” as all the PAC staff affectionately call the backstage areas where the offices are.  Can’t say I really had much interaction with actors, lets be honest I just took advantage of Craft Food Services, but nonetheless its a cool thing to have been around for.

One of my favorite performances was watching Savion Glover, tap dance, or hoof as its called, the several times he’s taken the stage at the PAC.  It has always been an inspiration to the part of me that spent so many years studying tap dancing as a kid.

I’ve seen groups like The B-52’s, Joshua Bell, Matisyahu, Chuck Berry, The Righteous Brothers, Regina Spector, and the Legend James Brown. And comedians like Kathy Griffin and George Carlin.  I’ve gotten to experiences some world class entertainment!!!

One of my favorite memories is of a young concert pianist by the name of Lang Lang (pronounced Long Long) who has performed many times at the Performing Arts Center.  Lang Lang is kind of a rockstar in his own right.  Hes in his 20’s, wears leather jackets, and pattened leather sneakers when he performs, so I think he’s trying to at least be himself, and both old and young people are always in attendance.  Hes also a total prodigy and a completely rare talent and has been playing since he was 3 years old.  And if you still don’t know who I’m talking about– he was part of the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics last year. OHhhhh that guy…

As time passes and my memories become more rose colored, I will still always recall how just about anything in theater can go wrong at the last minute. Its actually one of the things I liked best about my former job– having to problem solve at the last possible second.  Un/fortunately for me I’m pretty good at finding a remedy for a last minute crisis, and putting out fires and its taxing to say the least– always operating on full throttle but totally rewarding.

On more than one occasion I’ve found myself inside the theatre while Lang Lang was rehearsing.  The first time, I went in for a standard walk through of the theatre a few hours before the show.  I walked across the back of the first balcony as he rehearsed.  I didn’t know if it was Mozart or Beethoven.  But it didn’t matter, I took a couple moments to enjoy my secret concert.

The last night Lang Lang performed there was lots of chaos.  Between ticketing issues, technical issues, and lots of important people in the building, my staff and I were running all over the place.  Just as we were about to open the theatre to begin seating for the show, I stepped inside.  I was one of the few people inside the big Concert Hall.  It seats more then 1300 people.  I quietly moved inside towards the seats, the door shut behind me and all the noise and choas of people waiting to get in became quieter and quieter. As I stepped into the seats the melodic sounds of the solo piano grew.  Lang Lang was warming up, and I was the only person in the audience.

This moment didn’t last for more than a few minutes as my staff began to take their positions at the doors inside, but for a moment, a moment, a brief moment of zen, I sat captive in my last private concert, given by Lang Lang at the Performing Arts Center.

In reverence to the phase of my life that have ended and all the great things I learned, and to all the great things in the future….

Zen Green Tea Cupcakes

"E" for Ella, and Eccentric

This recipe is from my favorite (often referenced) cupcake cookbook: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World! by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero.

I’ve made many different versions of green tea cupcakes and these take the cake (pun intended).  They are always super moist and fluffy.  And I think Oscar winner Natalie Portman would also appreciate the lack of diary and eggs.

You will need:

1/2 c soy yogurt

2/3 c rice milk ( I’ve used regular yogurt and buttermilk if you aren’t concerned about keeping these cruelty free)

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/3 c canola oil

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/4 c all purposed (unbleached) flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3-4 tsp matcha green tea powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 c granulated sugar

Green tea powder can be a little hard to find. I’ve found it near the cafe section of Whole Foods.  Its what they use to make those yummy green tea fraps at Starbucks.  Its a little pricey, but let me mention its about $10 for a few ounces.  I’ve been to culinary fairs and festivals where its sold at $100 for a few ounces!!! So if you find yourself shopping online, don’t break the bank.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients (obviously sugar doesn’t count this time) whisk soy milk and yogurt, vanilla, oil and almond extract until smooth. Sift in flour, baking soda and powder, matcha green tea powder, salt and sugar.  I recommend using only 3 tsp of matcha powder, unless you really love the flavor. Its great in more mild amounts, too much?? taste like sea weed if you ask me. Mix until smooth.

Fill lined baking pans 2/3 full. Bake for 18 min
utes approximately or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Vegan Cupcake Take Over the World recommends a Matcha Green Tea Glaze, but this time around I flavored a couple cups of Swiss Merignue ButterCream with a tsp of Rose Water, and 1/2 tsp of blackberry extract I found at specialty culinary store.  A little burgundy food coloring made for a beautiful and exquisite flavor profile.

3 comments March 7, 2011

Campaign Season

Its an election year, midterm for the President of course but nonetheless those smutty, dirty, nasty campaign commercials have been all over the TV Stations for months.  And I’m going to take a minute to place my support in my candidate of choice:

Chrissy Hennessey.

All goofy analogies aside I will shamelessly plug the fact that my best friend Chrissy has entered a contest. The Grand prize is a role for 6 months as the “Good Mood Blogger” for Sam-e ‘s suppliments, a whole buttload of money, and a labtop.  Well if you haven’t already decided to enter the contest for yourself here are the reasons you should vote for my dearest friend:

Photo of, and by Chrissy Hennessey

She’s a freelance writer, has a bachelors in creative writing, having focused in both Fiction and Poetry once upon a time in college…where we also happened to meet and become great friends.

Shes been blogging for years and years, she publishes  witty, engaging, inspiring post, with awesome pictures almost everyday… which is alot more than I can say for myself.

She is always in a good mood, and not in a perky annoying way, just a laid back happy kinda gal. In short: she is perfect for the job.  And if you don’t believe me check out her blog. The New Me

Or take my word for the fact that Chrissy loves to travel, raise her 2 lovely shelter-adopted dogs, is a vegan (but not in that weird preachy-vegetarian kinda way), does yoga, runs races (including a marathon just last year), is a big foodie, takes great photos that grace her well-written posts, organizes poetry readings, is an avid crafter and a lovely inspiring person, who I happily call a friend.

And if her attributes don’t sound saintly enough already, she also sends fabulous birthday gifts, one of which came to me a couple of years ago containing my all time favorite cake baking book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, which soon inspired me to start a blog of my own.

VOTE HERE!!!! (Ohhh and just click the link and then click vote, no sign ups, no log ins, no surveys, no fees, just click and click!)

I’ll be back shortly with a give away associated with my friend Chrissy’s campaign to rock the blog.  I’ve got lots of cool decorator’s stuff to send out: piping tools, fondant flower presses, and a nifty piping bag holder, and cake tattoos!! So stay tuned!

With the topic of campaigning inevitably comes mud slinging so heres a recipe inspired by the forementioned Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Photo by Chrissy Hennessey

“Dirty” Chai Latte CupCakes


A “dirty” chai if you’ve never had one is a chai latte with a shot of espresso, and its ohhh sooo good!

One of the ingredients this recipe calls for is cardamon–a spice which is pretty expensive. Should you not have it, can’t find it or can’t afford it You can add chai tea bags t0 the black tea.

1 cup Soy milk

4 -6 black and/ or chai tea bags

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup vanilla or plain soy or regular yogurt

3/4 c granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp instant espresso

1 1/3 c flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cardamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp ground pepper (optional)

Photo by... you guessed it Chrissy Hennessey

Heat soy milk in a saucepan until almost boiling.  Add tea bags and remove from heat.  Let sit for approximately 10 minutes.  Remove tea, squeezing out bags.  Measure remaining soymilk, adding additional milk if boiled milk has reduced to less than 1 c.

Combine: yogurt, oil, sugar, vanilla, expresso, and soymilk.  Sift in Dry ingredients: flour, soda, powder, salt and spices.  Whisk until smooth (some small lumps are okay).  Pour into baking cups.  Bake a 350 and voila!

Finish these off with powdered sugar, buttercream, or even a dollop of whipped cream when you serve them. Chocolate Fudge Frosting would also be a great compliment too.

Variation: Don’t have instant espesso Powder?  Try a 2-3 Tablespoons of Kahlua…or add a shot of Kahlua anyway and you can render these cupcakes “filthy” chai latte cupcakes.


2 comments October 22, 2010

Two for Tea

I’ve been pretty busy this week with a dear friend’s birthday, and another dear friends wedding…more to come on this.   Someone told me recently that they often picture me in my kitchen hovering over a caldron, so for that I give you this:

Pomegranate Iced Tea with Orange Blossom Water


My cauldron...

My cauldron...

I came across some Yogi Pomegranate Green Tea in the supermarket today.  You’ve got to love tea that includes a yoga pose, or sana if you want to get fancy.  I like yogi teas, for all those little sayings on the tag of the tea bag–like fortune cookies.  Experience is Wisdom or Its not Life that is important, but the courage we bring to it. It like having Yoda in every steamy cup.  


Being that its summer I enjoy making homemade ice tea from time to time and there is nothing that brings a fresh zest to tea like Orange Blossom Water.  Like Rose water its made from distilling the petals of orange blossoms in water.  Both Rose water and Orange Blossom water can be found at Whole Foods, or any grocery store with a decent eastern foods selection.  Orange blossom water is a flavoring featured in many eastern dishes from India, to Iran as well as France and here in the US.   

I like to pair Orange Blossoms with other fruity teas, raspberry being one.  Pomegranate in this case seemed like the proper pair as not only is Orange Blossom water and Eastern treat, but pomegranates are as well.  Some historians think that the “apple” Eve picked in the garden of Eden was a Pomegranate…in short this tea will make you smarter…or get you and your boyfriend kicked out of a great party.

To make the Tea:

Steep 6-8 bags in 2.5 liters of hot water.  The more the tea the stronger the drink.  The ratio is up to you.  

Steep for 10 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon (or more if you really love the taste) of Orange Blossom Water. 

Place in the fridge when at room temperature (putting hot stuff in your fridge makes it have to work harder to keep the temp cool–aka huge waste of engery.)

I like to pour the cooling liquid over ice and shake (take that Starbucks!) and add a teaspoon or two of sugar or agave nectar to add a hint of sweetness.



1 comment August 8, 2009

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