So here we are.   Winter is here once again, with its snowy sleepy landscape outside our windows.  I am once again breathing life back into this blog.  (Sorry it went on such a hiatus…I had some things happen this past season that made life a little, er, hectic).   But we are back and getting excited for growing in 2011!

This winter we are doing some heavy reading, and I am doing a lot of food reading.  This includes books on food politics (currently: Diet for a Hot Planet by Anna Lappe) as well as on cooking (currently:  Mark Bittman’s Food Matters).  I always think about food a lot this time of year, because the question of “what should we eat for dinner/lunch/breakfast?” is always a part of our day, and because it is winter, it is limited.   We barely ever go to the store, so before winter hits, we do our best to preserve as much as possible.  This fall we: froze broccoli.  Canned tomatoes.  Made saurkraut.  Made kimchi.  Froze pesto.  Stashed away a lot of winter squash.  Froze some bread from the market.  Froze sliced bell peppers.  Dried hot peppers.  Made pickles.  Stashed away plenty of frozen meat from the market.

We are running low on some of these things now, however.  We are down to our last bag of frozen broccoli and almost out of the hot peppers.  And I am trying not to get antsy about having a salad anytime soon!

Breastfeeding has also made me think a lot about food.  Everything I eat I think of Huck eating.  I try to get the most nutrition possible for him.

Over the holidays we stayed with my parents, who grocery shop a lot.  My mom and sister happen to really like Trader Joe’s, and I was offered to have some chai tea from a mix.  It was Trader Joe’s brand.  I knew when my sister offered it to me she was testing me, because I’m known as a sort of food snob among much of my family.  “There’s nothing bad in it!” she told me, somewhat defensively, before I even gave my answer.  I picked up the cylinder of mix and read the ingredients.  They included: nonfat dried milk, powdered black tea, malodextrin, sodium something or other, dy-glycerides, dextrose, corn syrup solids, and more.  A lot more.  “What do you mean there’s nothing bad in it?” I asked back.  And cue my family’s collective eyeroll.

I do really love chai tea.  Here is my very basic recipe that I make at least three times a week:

Cooking Chai

And just so you know…I am a cook that never measures.

Cinnamon Sticks

Ginger (chopped into slices or chunks)

A few cloves

A few cardamon pods

A little bit of black peppercorns

Black tea bag

Take all herbs (except for tea bag) and cook with some water in a pot with a lid.  Let it come to a boil and then lower it to a simmer.  Instead of tea, it is making what herbalists call a “decoction”.  (Really just a fancy word for soup.)  Simmer on low for up to an hour, then shut it off and leave it steeping for as long as you like.  Ladle some in a cup with the black tea bag for a couple of minutes.  Remove tea bag and sweeten with raw honey and organic milk.

I usually make a medium pot and just keep ladling it out for myself and whoever else.  It’s full of very warming herbs for the winter, and also great for the onset of sickness.  (The cinnamon and ginger, while anti-inflammatory, are also anti-viral and work as diaphoretics, so they will make you sweat it out.)

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Dreaming of Greens,