Refreshing Mint Tea to Beat the Heat!

I don’t like the heat. I’m one of those crazies out there that loves SNOW and RAIN and ICE! I do like the sun, but only in the spring or fall.  One of the reasons why I don’t like the heat is because summer = air conditioning season.  I have a love-hate relationship with the A/C.  I love it after spending an entire day teaching in a hot and sticky classroom. It’s also great when the humidity is so bad that my hair underneath my hijab is calling for mercy. But I hate it when I have to wear a sweater inside because the A/C is on full and the room feels like it’s 10 degrees Celsius. Or when my joints start to hurt because of the freakishly cold air. Or when I sweat like crazy after going from an air conditioned place into the sweltering heat. and hate!

In my home, I usually have all the windows open so there is good cross-ventilation and sometimes a fan that’s on rotation.  I really only turn the A/C on when there is no breeze outside and when the thermostat inside my home reads 30 degrees Celsius. 
I was searching for some interesting recipes and came across one on Dawnaara that is supposed to help you naturally beat the heat without any A/C.  I made a huge jug full of this Sun Mint Green Tea and it was amazing!!  There is a lot of mint in this recipe- 2 cups to be exact- and according to Chinese medicine mint is spicy and cooling at the same time.  Mint helps push sweat out of the surface of the skin and this helps cool you down.  Make a jug of this and keep it in your fridge for those hot, sticky summer days!
Sun Mint Green Tea
2 cups of fresh mint leaves, thoroughly washed
1 tbsp of loose Japanese Cherry Blossom green tea leaves (you can use any kind of loose leaf green tea)
2 litres of spring water
sugar (optional)
In a large glass jug toss in the mint leaves, green tea leaves and spring water. With a wooden spoon, stir the mixture while at the same time bruising the mint leaves. This will help the leaves release their flavour.
Cover the top of your jug with its lid or a piece of plastic wrap and place the jug in a sunny spot for a few hours and then put into the fridge to chill.  Once refrigerated, strain out the mint and green tea leaves and pour yourself a glass of sun mint green tea.  You can add sugar to your tea if you like.

Reflections and Cashew Cookie Revamp

My father passed away at the end of 2009. His death was a shock to my system and for a really long time I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  From the moment I got the phone call, I began to relive some of the moments I shared with him, all the while trying not to break down and cry. 

 My father had a thirst for knowledge. He read books on tax law, general business and accounting procedures to stay up to date in his profession. To increase his vocabulary, he would read pages from the dictionary and always carried a pocket-sized dictionary and thesaurus in his briefcase.  He would read magazines and the newspaper from front to back and would make note of articles on current events that he wanted us kids to read. He would even take the time to point out and clip newspaper articles that were relevant to our professions: health care for my sister, business and taxes for my brother, and education for me. My dad knew I was fond of cute animals and the like, so whenever he saw something like that in the paper, he would be sure to save it for me.

A few days after the funeral, we began to sort through the paper work in my dad’s office.  We came across a few things that really surprised me. In my father’s wallet were little pieces of paper with inspiring quotes and prayers that he had collected over the years from cards and newspapers.  It was only after he left this world, that I realized I shared this passion of quote and poetry collecting with my father!

Throughout high school I would decorate my school agenda with poems and quotes that resonated with me. For those five years (back then high school in Ontario was from grade 9-13), anytime I, or my friends were bored or needed some inspiration, we flipped through my agenda.  I wish I had known back then, what I know now about my father and his quote clipping habits. Maybe we could have traded a few quotes with each other.

The recipe that I’m going to share with you is something I know my father would have loved eating since he was fond of nuts!  This cookie is a revamped version of my cashew butter cookies that I made a while back. 

Cashew Cookie Revamp

1 16 ounce jar of natural cashew butter with the natural oils

2 tsp baking powder
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp cocoa powder
Dash of instant espresso powder
Whole cashews or any nut for decorating (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix in all of the ingredients in the order presented above, except the whole cashews. Using a small cookie scoop (1 1/8″), scoop out the cookie dough and place it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet a few inches apart. Place a whole cashew on top of the cookie and press down gently. In my picture, you can see there are a few almonds on top….I started using almonds until I realized that I had cashews in the fridge!
Bake for exactly 10 minutes (use a timer!) and remove and cool for at least 10 minutes. DO NOT TOUCH them until at least 10 minutes are up, otherwise they will fall apart.

Cold Quinoa Salad

Slowly but steadily, quinoa is making its way onto my kitchen table more and more these days. It’s not a daily staple because right now my husband won’t touch it. And I don’t think it will take over the staple white basmati rice that we eat.  I can’t imagine a quinoa biriyani or a chicken fried quinoa. Just even saying it (or typing it) feels weird.  Nonetheless, I think quinoa has its place in cold and warm salads, porridge, and some baked goods.  
I haven’t had any experience baking with quinoa flour as yet, but I have been inspired by some of the recipes in the Quinoa 365 cookbook that is sitting on my shelf.  One of these days I WILL get to it and bake with quinoa flour and share my success and/or failure with you.
This quinoa salad was inspired from 101 Cookbooks blogger Heidi Swanson’s Quinoa with Currants, Dill and Zucchini recipe that made its way into my inbox a few weeks ago.  As soon as I saw her beautiful pictures, I knew I had to make a version of it right then and there.
I improvised her recipe by using red quinoa instead of white, swapped the dill for coriander, used green zucchinis instead of yellow, added kalonji or black onion seeds instead of the sesame seeds,  and removed the currants completely. 
Cold Quinoa Salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3/4 teaspoons table salt
1 cup  red quinoa, well rinsed and drained
2 cups water
3 key limes
2 small green zucchini,washed and grated on a grater
2 tablespoons kalonji or black onion seeds
half-bunch of coriander, washed thoroughly and drained
Heat up the olive oil in a medium-large sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add in 2/3 of the green onions and cook until the onions have softened a bit. Add in the quinoa, and salt and “toast” the quinoa kernels. Add in the water and bring the mixture to a boil, while stirring occasionally. Let the mixture boil for a minute or so before turning the heat down to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the quinoa until all of the water has been absorbed. This can take from 12-15 minutes. 
While the quinoa is cooking, grate the zucchini, zest and juice the key limes and set aside.  When the quinoa is cooked, remove from heat and add in the zucchini, lime zest and juice, the black onion seeds and coriander.  Scoop out the quinoa salad into a serving bowl and sprinkle the rest of the green onions, a few coriander leaves and some black onion seeds on top. You can serve it immediately or put into the fridge to cool before serving.