Playing With My Food

My love affair with food is relatively new. For the longest time, food was sustenance and, besides the joy of ice cream, it brought very little value to my life. Then I moved overseas. It was probably the exposure to cuisines from France, Spain, the Netherlands (yes, believe it or not!), Thailand, Japan, Argentina, Italy, Greece, and India that sparked the interest. The fun of pairing wine with different foods (because wine is more diverse and cheaper in Amsterdam than here) added to my awakening. But I owe a lot of that interest to my own cooking experiences. I mean, one HAS to get creative when one has a stove, a toaster oven and a microwave/convection oven with which to work. Have you ever tried roasting a turkey in a microwave- sized convection oven? Have you ever baked the stuffing in a toaster oven? The local Albert Heijn grocery store just didn’t carry the same kinds of basics as our overstocked American stores. Moving to Amsterdam meant it was time to move beyond meatloaf and roasted potatoes (although there was that one dinner party when we invited our French neighbors up for a “typical American meal” but that’s a whole different story).

And so, food became a creative outlet… a chance to explore, experiment, enjoy, and mother. I love making a meal for family and friends, trying new recipes, tweaking old ones. I actually get excited about the flavors and colors and the organic goodness of what comes out of my kitchen these days. Two years ago, Matt challenged me even further. He brought home 40 lbs. of venison, a meat I had never tasted let alone cooked! Suddenly, we had a freezer full. Last year, it was pheasant. This year, it was 60 lbs. of antelope. Thank goodness for the internet!

And thank goodness for Compassion Tea! About a month ago, Aunt Anne gave me a packet of Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose tea, a green tea found in the regular offerings. As I took a whiff of the tea, I began to envision cherries (frozen from our cherry picking days back in June) mixed with tea and antelope and decided to give it a try. First, I sautéed some onions and garlic in butter and put them in the slow cooker. Then I dredged the antelope pieces in flour and lightly browned them in the butter. I put the antelope and the defrosted cherries (I think a can of cherries would work well too) in the slow cooker and poured about 2 cups of Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose tea, leaves included, over the top. 8 hours later, I dished it out and my family devoured it! The stew was delicious with just a hint of sweet cherry goodness and an earthiness from the tea leaves and the antelope itself. I think this recipe would work for any kind of wild game. And as Clara would say, “It’s easy peasy, lemon squeezy!” (For dessert, try a cup of Almond Rocker, a lovely herbal that truly is like “marzipan in a cup.” The tea has a hint of cherry mixed in with the almond to make it a delightful end to a very cozy meal.)

Here’s the point to my ramblings. Tea is great to drink. But it has other functions too! Cooking is just the beginning! And when your tea is Compassion Tea, you know that you are helping a great cause beyond enjoying a great cup of tea, or recipe, or bowl of potpourri, or….

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