A New Name and new Direction

Over the last year, I have fallen in love with tea, drinking it, learning about it, cooking and baking with it. You name it. I have fallen in love with tea and it has become my passion.

While I still love to cook and bake and am still adapting small batch recipes, it’s not where my passion lies anymore.  You can kind of see that in the frequency of my posts over the last year or so.

Over the last few months, I have had to make some decisions on whether or not to continue with A Solitary Feast and incorporate my new love of tea or shut it down and start a new blog completely about my tea journey. I have decided to give A Solitary Feast a new name and a new direction rather than shutting it down completely.

Going forward, A Solitary Feast will be known as, A Cuppa and Conversation. It will still have small batch recipes, for tea related drinks, treats and food but you will also see educational posts about tea, tea unboxings, tea of the week, tea ware and other tea related topics.

I love and appreciate all of you who have followed A Solitary Feast over the last 8 years, and I hope you will join me in this new tea adventure. My first tea post will be up soon so stay tuned as I make many changes over the next few months.

ps All the recipes from A Solitary Feast will still be accessible from A Cuppa And Conversation. They aren’t going anywhere.

Nomtastic Grilling Powder

This is a dangerous time of year. I am not talking about the bitter cold temperatures or blizzards that seem to blow in once a week around here. I am talking about the Girl Scouts and their dang cookies. They are everywhere.

Tonight, they got me as I was walking to the food court in the mall and made me by 5 boxes of cookies. Then they gave me a slip of paper with a website I could go to and enter to win 5 cases of Girl Scout cookies. In case you didn’t know, a case of Girl Scout cookies is 12 boxes of cookies so 5 cases are equal to 60 boxes of cookies. I would have Samosas and Thin Mints for the whole year. Be still my beating heart.

What do Girl Scout cookies have to do with today’s recipe? Nothing. They are just on my mind. So is this fantastic, wonderful and totally awesome seasoning blend. I have been using Nom Nom Paleo’s Magic mushroom powder on just about everything for years, I thought I would never find a better spice blend. I was WRONG!! A few months ago, Nom Nom Paleo come out with a new cookbook called Let’s Go with three new recipes for spice blends. All three are good on everything but Nomtastic Grilling Powder is the best.

Nomtastic Grilling Powder

From Nom Nom Paleo Let’s Go cookbook

1/2 cup kosher salt

1 1/2 TBS dried parsley

2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp ground mustard powder

1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 1/4 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground allspice

Place all the ingredients into a small food processor or spice grinder and grind into powder.   Store in an airtight container, in a cool dark place for up to 6 months.

My Favorite cookbooks — Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes–Seaweed Salad

Recently, a friend asked me for a recommendation of a good cookbook to give her mom for her birthday. You would think, with the amount of cooking I do, that would be a fairly easy question to answer but it isn’t easy to answer at all. What makes a cookbook good is so subjective, the question is almost impossible to answer.  What makes a cookbook good for me may make it the worst cookbook ever for you.  There are so many variables in why constitutes a good cookbook I am not even going to try and recommend cookbooks for you.  Instead, I am going to share my favorite cookbooks with you and let you decide if they would qualify as a good cookbook for you. 

First up is Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes.  One thing I thinks qualifies a cookbook as good is it makes you want to get in the kitchen and cook. 101 Easy Asian Recipes does that for me in spades. Every time I look through the book, I find another recipe I want to try.  So far, I have tried 17 recipes.  The food tastes good.  The recipes are reliable.  Most of the recipes are quick and easy.

One thing I usually hate in a cookbook is when the recipes use a lot of ingredients I can’t easily find at my local grocery store.  In this cookbook, almost every ingredient is something I had to go to the Asian market for or order online.  I am lucky to have two incredible Asian markets in my hometown that I visit frequently that had the majority of the ingredients I needed for what I wanted to try.  If you aren’t as lucky, and don’t like ordering things online, you may want to skip this cookbook. 

Okay, for most of us, the idea of cooking with seaweed is a little strange but I was looking for a side dish for the dumplings I was making for my Christmas eve dinner and knew I could get the ingredients for this recipe fairly easily, so I tried and loved it. If you are wanting to step outside your comfort zone and try something new, it is definitely worth the hunt for the ingredients in this recipe and many others in the book.

From The Lucky Peach Presents

1 oz Wakame seaweed

2 TBS rice vinegar

1 TBS sesame oil

1 TBS sugar

1 TBS soy sauce

1 tsp grated ginger

2 TBS toasted sesame seeds

2 TBS minced scallion

1/2 tsp chili flakes

Soak the Wakame in cold water for 5 minutes or until tender, drain and pat dry. Slice the Wakame in 1/4-inch strips.

In a mediuml bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce and ginger. Add the seaweed, sesame seeds, scallion, and chili flakes and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dry Chimichurri Rub

Whenever I help someone start a blog, I tell them one of the most important things to do is to pick a posting schedule and stick to it. Over the last year, I haven’t taken my own advice. I have put a lot of pressure on myself to post my 3 recipes a week and then felt horrible when I only managed to post one recipe a month. It was a vicious cycle that was robbing me of my joy in blogging which is sad because I have always said that when I don’t enjoy blogging anymore, I won’t do it anymore. Yeah, there were several times in 2021 where I thought about permanently shutting down A Solitary Feast.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, my friend told me not to make any decisions while I was grieving the loss of one of my best friends and culinary companion, Audrey. She said to give myself time and grace and come back to regular blogging when I am ready. How did I get such smart friends? She was absolutely right. I spent time missing Audrey, pursuing some interests outside of cooking and blogging and lots, and lots, of reading all the books I could get my hands on. Eventually, I found my way back to the kitchen and the peace and calm I feel when I am there which helped me find my joy in creating recipes and writing posts for the blog again.

So I won’t be shutting down A Solitary Feast. I am making some changes to my publishing schedule, though. I will no longer be publishing 3 recipes a week. I will now be publishing one recipe every week. The day of the week might vary but I will publish once every week.

Dry Chimichurri Rub

Adapted From Epicurious

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp basil

1 1/2 tsp parsley flakes

1 1/2 tsp thyme

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

3/4 tsp black pepper

3/4 tsp savory

3/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flake

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients.  Mix well.  Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dark place.  To use:  heavily sprinkle all over chosen protein or make a marinade of 2 tablespoons rub, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.  Add protein of choice and let marinade at least 30 minutes before cooking. 

Cranberry Mango Green Tea

I am starting 2022 with recipe that combines my longtime love of cranberries with my new found love of tea in all it’s forms for a delicious hot drink. If I am honest, I have been drinking this tea since I found the recipe in late August and will continue drinking it until I run out of cranberries to make it with. Which, honestly, will probably never happen because I always make sure to stock up on cranberries for the off season.

I have used plain Jasmine green tea for this recipe as well a blend called Full Body Reset from a company called Plum Deluxe. You can use loose leaf green tea or green tea bags for this recipe. Serve this recipe hot or cold.

Cranberry Mango Green Tea

4 cups water

1 cup chopped mango, fresh or frozen

1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 (1 inch piece) fresh ginger, sliced

4 tsp loose leaf green tea or 4 green tea bags

sweetener, to taste

in a medium saucepan, combine water, mango, cranberries and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 5minutes. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Cover and steep for 5minutes.

Remove and discard tea bags. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. You can sweeten the tea at this point and float a lemon slice in each cup.