Tea Time

Daily Prompt: Leap

~*~

“Leap’s a funny word, isn’t it, Aunt Sal?”

“Why do you say that?” I ask while brushing the mud off my boots before entering the house. We’ve been out at the barn feeding the horses. Such a mucky day as the seasons transition.

“Well,” Manda pulls off her boots and shoves them in the corner by the door. “It’s such a small word that can mean so many things. And it sounds funny. Leap!” She says it over and over as if to make her point.

I give her shoulder a playful shove as we move from the mud room into the kitchen. Manda flops down in a chair at the wobbly kitchen table while I put the kettle on.

“You really need to get Uncle Bill to fix this,” she says, annoyed that it’s still a topic of conversation after several months.

“Your uncle has other things on his mind … I’ll get around to it in due course,” I respond, my own annoyance bubbling. She’s right, of course, but it’s not a priority. I settle down at the wobbly table and plant a plate of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in the centre of it. We both reach for one. “Tea or chocolate milk?” I ask.

Manda doesn’t answer right away.

“What’s going on in that pretty little head of yours?” I ask, curious.

“Well, I usually have chocolate milk, but I’m wondering if I should try tea instead.”

“Oh,” I exclaim, “you want to take a leap and try something new, then?” Manda rolls her eyes. “What’ll it be?” I ask, “Earl Grey? Lavender? Peppermint?”

“What are you having?” she asks.

I get up from the table and head for the cupboard where the tea caddy is kept. Take it out and return to the table. I place the antique wooden box in front of me and carefully open its fragile lid. It’s really too delicate for everyday use, but if it’s not used it’ll simply gather dust and get forgotten in the interest of preservation. I prefer things to be used up in gainful employment. Then they always have a purpose.

Manda looks on and asks, “Why haven’t I seen this before?”

I smile. “Oh, you’ve seen it. You just haven’t seen it.”

“It’s beautiful!” my 12-year-old old soul exclaims as she examines its intricately carved details. “Where did you get it?”

“It’s been in the family a long time. My grandmother left it to me. She used to love her tea in the afternoon. We’d sit together, much like this, and shoot the breeze.” I sigh. It wasn’t quite like this. There was a lot more tension, but she doesn’t need to know this. “Would you like to see what’s inside while I deal with the boiled kettle?”

Manda nods and I slide the fragile box carefully across the table cloth to where she’s sitting. “Oh look,” she notes, “the packets are all pretty colours! Like jewels!”

I return to the table with my Royal Albert china tea pot and two matching cups and saucers.

“Oooh, those are pretty!” Manda squeals. “I haven’t seen you use them before.”

“Yes, you have, you just haven’t seen them.”

“Why do you keep saying that? What do you mean I haven’t seen them?”

“Your eyes are opening, darling, that’s all.”

Manda looks at me funny.

“A lesson for another day. Now, pick a tea,” I suggest. “Anything you like.”

“But how do I know what they are?” she moans, confused.

“Well, you don’t, and that’s part of the fun. This is a leap of faith moment, albeit a small one.”

“What’s a leap of faith?” she asks.

“I’m so glad you asked,” I respond. “Pick your tea.”

Manda surveys the 12 flavours all stored separately in little compartments, their fragrances commingling to a heady sense of well-being.

“How do I do that … pick a tea?”

“Well,” I lean over and pull my favourite, though I don’t tell her that, from the box. I bring the mauve and sage packet to my nose and take a big sniff. Hmmm … delightful. “Smell this.” I give Manda the packet and she takes a whiff. “No, not a whiff … inhale it’s fragrance.” Manda takes a deeper whiff. I guess that’s as much as she can commit right now.

“Oh, that smells sweet. What is it?” Manda turns over the packet. “Lavender.” She reads aloud. “What does it taste like?”

“Do you want to find out?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Well, smell them all, if you like. Maybe there’s something else you’d like to try.”

Manda scans the box ~ rose hip; Earl Grey; camomile, peppermint, roiboos, et al. She picks up each packet and sniffs it. Her face registers delight or dismay accordingly and she separates them on the table into two piles. This takes several moments.

“Come on,” I chide, “I’m thirsty.”

“These smell nice,” she points to four possibilities in a pile to my right. The lavender we started with, green tea, liquorice and a citrus blend.

“Okay, so which one?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” she moans.

“Okay, so this is where we employ a leap of faith. This is when you take a chance on something not knowing what the end result will be and hope with all your heart it turns out in your favour.”

“It’s make my mind up time,” she states.

“It’s make your mind up time,” I affirm.

Manda eeny-meeny-miney-mos it. The tiger in my tummy is rumbling in time. Finally she lands on liquorice.

“Is that the one?”

“Yes,” she responds with certainty.

“Let’s see then. Open it up and put the tea bag in the pot.”

Manda tears open the packet, takes another whiff of its sweet, exotic aroma and then drops the tea bag into the pot filled with hot water. “I like liquorice,” she declares.

“I know.”

“How long does it take?”

“To steep?”

“Is that what they call it?”

“Yes.” I smile. I love these impromptu life lessons, especially when Manda’s of a mind to engage. ” A couple of minutes, that’s all.”

We wait. Manda takes another cookie and puts it on her saucer in anticipation. “Do we need sugar or milk?” she asks, hesitating.

“Not with liquorice,” I smile.

The Victorian Regulator ticks and tocks in the hallway. Abbey, the collie, lies beside her food dish and groans. A nor’easter wails against the windows. More rain to come.

“There. That should do it …” I pick up the tea pot and pour some liquorice nectar into Manda’s cup. “Wait for it to cool just a little,” I warn, “and no dunking.”

Manda nods and waits for me to pour my tea. The tension is surprisingly high for this little leap of faith moment. She sniffs at the steam as it rises from her cup. “Smells good,” she admits.

“Okay, you ready?” I ask after a couple of minutes of thumb twiddling and worried looks.

With utmost care, Manda picks up her cup and draws it to her lips. Takes a sip. “Oooh, hot!” she squeals, but then takes another, this time more prepared. Her eyes get wide as she savours the exotic flavour of anise while it tickles her taste buds.

“How’s that for a leap of faith?” I wink over the rim of my cup while taking a sip.

“Hmmmmmm …”

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2016

Gelato Fantasy

  Daily Prompt: 32 Flavours

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Gelato Fantasy

Vari-coloured gelato

Tempting every taste bud.

What to choose?

Wha’d ever you want!

It’s a vacation.

It’s Venizia …

On the Calle dei Fabri …

A minute from our hotel.

Gelato twice a day.

Molto bene!

Molto delizioso!

Nuff said!

Yummmmmm ….

~*~

Honestly … ice cream will never taste the same again.

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

A Special Ring

Daily Prompt: Sliced Bread

Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread!” What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?

~*~

“Sliced bread” doesn’t have the same special ring to it that it once had. At least, not to me.

I recently found out I have a sensitivity to wheat, whole wheat and rye, which more or less eliminates most forms of delicious bread accept those, perhaps, derived from the more exotic, healthier flour varieties of which I still have much to learn.

It wasn’t much consolation at the time, but my food sensitivity testing person assured me I would find another flour that works as a suitable replacement for the intolerable.

Naturally, I was skeptical, but mostly I was disappointed.

Believe it or not, the first thought that came to mind after the nutrition lady told me about my body’s aversion was “Oh no! No more sour dough!” No longer could I happily languish in the aromatic embrace of baking sour dough with the expectation of a nice slice dripping in butter after the timer finally pinged. Not that I’ve ever made it, you understand, that’s just my bread-deprived imagination going to town. Basically, the new reality means I shall have to plug my nose every time I walk past a bakery the next time I’m in San Francisco.

(Sigh …)

Still, enough about sour dough.

Since I’ve developed the habit of sitting down every day around 5 p.m. to unwind with a cup of healthy coffee (prescribed by my hormone therapist) and two small cookies (of a triple chocolate chip, locally-made boutique variety ~ self-prescribed) I needed to address this flouring issue, and pronto.

No more store-bought cookies for me!

So, I began experimenting with spelt flour which, I discovered, can be used in equivalent amounts for any recipe requiring white. And you know, I can’t tell the difference. They’re delicious and reasonably “good” for me.

Which leaves me wondering if spelt would be a good option for sour dough.

Hmmmm … now that has a special ring to it and would be the best thing since … well, whatever …

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

The Much Maligned Vegetable

Daily Prompt: Embrace the Ick

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Interviewer: “Tell me, Ms. Doright, when do you first recall embracing the much maligned vegetable many of our readers would agree is icky? My notes don’t actually tell me what the vegetable is, perhaps you could elaborate?”

Ms. Doright: “All in good time … Honestly, I just made up my mind it was time to change my mind. Icky is as icky does. I am in no position to make such judgements. I imagine it all depends on one’s definition of ick. Mine was more about the texture, smell and taste of the thing, but I am beginning to see things differently.”

Interiewer: “Indeed, how have you learned to see it differently?”

Ms. Doright: “Oh, I went for food sensitivity testing and the nutritionist said that my body simply cries out for … it, so … you know … one must respect all aspects of the body’s needs, not just what one thinks it needs, which is often at odds with the truth. As well, this delightfully positive woman provided some scrumptious ideas for preparation. I found her enthusiasm for said icky veggie almost infectious.”

Interviewer: “Still, forgive me, after a life-time of loathing one simple declaration has the power to change your mind? I find this hard to understand.”

Ms. Doright: “Well, believe me, learning that I should make this particularly offensive cruciferous vegetable a staple in my culinary calendar came as quite a shock. I’d only ever experienced it as over-cooked, mushy and nauseatingly repugnant. The smell would be enough to push me over the edge. But then I recalled a visit to a Portuguese restaurant last summer where this icky veggie demonstrated surprising possibilities. Baked, or maybe it was stir-fried, with a delightful combination of other ingredients including, if I’m not mistaken, ginger and garlic and other things I love, it’s crispy texture and tangy taste tickled my taste buds in ways I’d never imagined possible … with this vegetable, you understand. But then, I forgot about it until this meeting with the nutritionist. And whereas my initial response to the knowledge that my body adored this veggie (full of vitamins C and K and B6 and dietary fibre and essential minerals) was to screw up my face and declare ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’, I’ve come to realize it may not be so bad after all. I simply need to learn new ways of preparing it. … Do you understand now?”

Interviewer: “Indeed, which brings me to my final question … what the hell are we talking about?”

Ms. Doright: “Why, Brussels sprouts, of course.”

~*~

A few weeks ago I went for food sensitivity testing and found out that the vegetable I loathed more than any other (found the most icky) was in fact one my body finds particularly beneficial ~ though how it would know this when I never eat it is beyond me.

Still, to honour my body’s apparent need for the icky Brussels sprout I’m looking for a few good recipes. Any ideas? (Nothing boiled, please … )

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015