Monday, March 30, 2009


It seems I've always had a thing about dirt.

This is me, age two. I have just been caught eating dirt.

Even at this tender age, I subscribed to Margaret Atwood's philosophy:
"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."

So when it came time to fill our veggie bed with soil, I wanted to do it right. After much thought, comparison shopping and an ungodly amount of math
we decided to have our garden soil delivered in bulk, rather than haul dozens of bags of soil from the hardware store. A few days ago, the good folks at Missouri Organic showed up with an alarmingly large dump truck full of luscious garden-ready goodness. 


(No, the kid wasn't the prize that came with the dirt.)

And that evening it started to rain. I hauled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full to the back yard in a vain effort to get it all put into the bed before dark.
The next day, Friday, it rained some more - and the forecast was for 8" of snow by Saturday morning. I hauled more wheelbarrows to the back all the while wondering if I could get it all done before the snow and before I went all Jane Austen and came down with consumption from being out in the freezing rain. 25 wheelbarrow loads later, did I finish before the snow???


The snow has melted, but the ground will be too soggy to drag a heavy wheelbarrow across for a few more days yet. That's ok. As March shrugs off the last of winter's chill, I'll sip on my final batch of hot Russian Tea for the season and daydream about little green shoots stretching out into the warm sun of spring.

Russian Tea
Makes: A big pot
This recipe has been in our family for quite a long time. You may find recipes called Russian Tea here and there - but if there is any instant tea or Tang involved, call it for the fraud that it is and fling it far from your person. 

1 gallon water
6 black tea bags, decaf is acceptable
2 cinnamon sticks
1 heaping teaspoon cloves, in a tea ball
1 64 oz can pineapple juice
3 cups orange juice (pulp free is best)
1 lemon, cut in half
1 cup of sugar

Put water, tea bags, cinnamon sticks and cloves into a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and let steep for 20 minutes or so.

Add juices. Squeeze lemon juice into mix, then toss lemons in. Add sugar and stir. Reduce heat to low and let the flavors meld. Time on this is subjective. I find that at least an hour is required to really build up a good flavor balance. Take all the floating ingredients out when the flavor makes your eyes roll back and an involuntary "Mmmm" purrs out of your throat.

I like an equal balance of clove and cinnamon - you may like more of one than the other. The cloves have the strongest flavor, and I find that if left in too long, the tea gets a bit bitter. Play with the balance and timing until you are ridiculously satisfied.

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