CHAI SPICE

I swear, I have never been in love with chai tea. In fact, Starbucks was the first place I tasted chai tea and it turned out to be horrifying… I said to myself I would never touch chai tea again.

Two winters ago, I visited my best friend Lizsie in New York City. At the time she was living in an apartment on the 68th floor in Central Manhattan. Her landlord were her roommates, who were an Indian couple. Every morning the husband wakes up to make his wife a cup of Chai tea, the strong
aroma would always penetrate beneath the doors, wrapping us with warmth. The smell was spicy, creamy, sweet and pungent. It wasn’t till 2 hours before my departure I got to try it.

It was the most delicious cup of tea I’ve ever drank in my life.

I kid you not, now every time I think of chai tea, my mouth literally start to water, yes, just from thinking about that chai tea.

It turned out that ingredients weren’t that difficult to find. I’ve always imagine chai tea is time-consuming and requires some sort of „skills“ to make such a wonderful tea. After all, having that authentic, flavorful and exotic tea —  I wasn’t going to settle for anything less.  So I went to a local Indian store to stock up, luckily they had people who knew exactly what I wanted! That automatically added a plus for the making experience.

The thing about buying spice you have never used before was first of all, interesting to examine the shape, second, so cool explore the smell and the aroma. It is an entire experience in itself. Thank you mother earth for preparing these spice for our senses!

For the Masala mix, you’ll need the following:

1/2 cup of cardamon pods (you may crack them with knifes)
1/2 cup of cinnamon (if in stick just chopped them)
1/2 cup of black pepper
1/4 cup of gloves
1/2 cup of fresh ginger
small amount of star anise
small amount of vanilla powder

You may store these in a jar, you’ll only need about 1 teaspoon per cup. So this should last you awhile 🙂

Direction (serving for 2):

1. Add in two cups of water in a pot, turn heat to medium.
2. When it start to heat, asd in two tea bags of black tea (or two spoon of loose black tea), your choice of earl grey, assam or darjeeling
3. Mix the spice, I like to grate the ginger
4. Once its boiling, pour in 1 1/2 cup of whole milk and 2 teaspoon of sweetener (I like honey, or raw sugar)

5. Wait till it boils again, stir.
6. Turn off the heat and wait for a minute
7. Pour into the cups, using a mesh strainer to catch loose ingredients.

Share with your husband/friend/neighbor!

You can now savor your creamy, perfect, homemade CHAI!

Yes…. the chai did made my day! Interestingly, I did a quick research about this tea. These spice has an uplifting and evaluating effect on the mood. For instance, laboratory studies have found that cinnamon may reduce inflammation, fight bacteria and reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease. Cardamon can help lower high blood pressure. Clove have been used as herbal treatment for symptoms associated with diarrhea, gas, and nausea. Ginger is great to treat common cold, headaches, and painful menstrual periods. Star anise’s got rich iron and high calcium!

The whole night I dreamt about going to different places and making chai tea, though Marc did teased how mundane my dream was, I was indeed really happy whilst making my chai 🙂

Happy CHAI night!
Love,
Paye Tina

THE ART OF PUNCTUALITY

Transportation is a big part of our lives, it is a way of how we are being transported from one place to another. Often involves how, when and where. In Switzerland, it is known that the train, boats, trams and buses always depart and arrive on time. Having to grown up in Taiwan and the West side of the US, where I was surrounded by international friends and family. And perhaps having warmer weather adds another factor to being more relaxed and chilled. Time was always a blur. If you say to meet at 3pm usually people arrive around 310pm. It is unlikely that people will show up before 255pm. Punctuality is the norm here — especially with the transportations, they do not wait for you. I was quite amazed by how being precise made things a lot simpler. Over a period of time, it gives a sense of safety, respect, prediction and most importantly, self-responsibility. Contrarily, it could come off as boring, too structured and triggers for anxiety when things do not go right. There has been a few complaints in the past that Swiss started to complain because the train are two or three minutes late. I guess once you are accustomed to good quality, it is hard to not to become attached to it.
I want to writea bout a few experience I’ve had so far with the transportation here in Switzerland. I have lived here for a little more than 6 months, long enough that make short descriptions on what happened so far. First of all, it is relatively self-organized. Living here in Basel, the roads often consist of cars, trams and bikes pathways without distinctive lines to specify which goes where. Some roads have parking on the side of the roads and do not consist of clear line of upcoming traffic. That means, on the road you not only have to be aware of pedestrians, you also have to be aware of other cars, bikes, and trams. And the Swiss are quite clever, near the school area, the roads often have side parking diagonally, that means you always have to drive around the parked cars which will automatically slow you down. Reducing to minimal resources yet being effective is the best talent of being a Swiss.
If you are like me, who never lived in big cities before, first time riding the bicycles on the same road with trams and cars could be quite scary. Are they going to run me over? I might as well stop to let them go first. The difference in lifestyle can be so harsh sometimes. They just started to have metropolitan bikes in the cities in Taiwan recent years, but there are no rules on where the bikes should go exactly. So it be a nightmare when encountering reckless drivers, so best to stay on the side walk. In the US, you absolutely do not need to worry about that! Roads are too big for you to have an accident anyway. Plus, I always got around driving in a car. So as I road home with my bike one night, I hear tram driving right behind me. I started to paddled quickly, assuming the faster I go, the less likely I’ll get run over. That was my first response, until I glanced over my shoulders, I noticed the tram driver carefully slowed down and going with my bike pace. I felt slightly embarrassed, never have I granted such a respect being a biker! If they treat everyone with such patience and still managed to be punctual, I must give them an applause for being self-organized.

Secondly, public transportation network here is tricky with honesty. When going on transportation here in Switzerland, your ticket will most likely not go through a machine to be validated. Except when you get caught, the fine to travel without a ticket is 120 CHF. So I guess some people choose not to pay at all, which is rare, and maybe they get caught once in a while and the fine would add up to what they would normally spend in total anyway. So in the end it is fair. The interesting thing I witnessed the other day was the public transportation conductors were dressed and acted like normal people who hop onto the trams, as soon as they tram doors are locked and heading to the next stop, they would bust out identification to check your tickets. I was told each tram compartment would have one conductor so no one can escape. It is pretty cool to watch how their work is done.

Speeding tickets are cruel in Switzerland. Marc and I were caught one time driving 170 km/hr (the speed limit is 120), not that we wanted to, but because we were running very late. Then few months later we received of 500 CHF fine, with court fees and  billing fees etc etc… blahblah, everything added up to more or less 1,000 CHF. Yeah, 1,000 Swiss Francs, BOOM! Gone. Just like that. It ultimately did had an effect on us, we never wanted to speed again in our lives!
So my conclusionis to say that though there aren’t lots of rooms for flexibility but these rules do apply according to logic and what works most effectively. It make sense and it works beautifully.
How do public transportation work in your country?
 
I’d love to hear from you!
Love,
Paye Tina

A DELIGHT OF SWEET POTATO KALE RICE

So it has been quite a productive day and we’ve got a full schedule tomorrow ahead of us. For dinner I wanted to make something light and healthy so we are not overstuffed (Marc and I love to eat and dine well..). Thank goodness there are loads of healthy green food bloggers out there, I was able to find some useful information using the ingredients available at home.

Yes, it is exactly the sweet potato kale rice, as we all know, we don’t always end up having the exact same ingredients as the recipe. So the smart thing is to use your magic wand of creativity…. Yeah, I am not joking! Cooking can be quite a bit of a creative process, especially the first time trying something new. You really got to trust the process and acknowledge your food will be better than it imagined.

Because this is what happened with my cooking so many times, I warned Marc before he taste the food… I said to him, „this is my first try, I don’t think it turned out to be as good as I wished…“ Yuuuuck, self-diminishing can be very addictive, can’t it? Unless I screw up badly or the meat ingredients have gone bad, it usually turned out to be better than I anticipated.

The rice was delicious. Very light and it fulfilled our hunger with just right amount of carbohydrates. After cooking the sweet potatoes with brown rice and some garlic, you can mix the kale with the rice and drizzle the sauce on top.

To make the rice, you would need the following ingredients…. (servings for 2)

1 cup of brown rice, soak them in water for 10 minutes before cooking
1 medium size of sweet potato, chop them into bite sizes
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups of water

Sauce:

2 medium size orange, squeeze into orange juice
1/2 cup of apple juice (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1/2 lime
1 1/2 teaspoon of kale
bunch of kale, slice them thin
1 teaspoon of grated ginger

Directions:

If you have a rice cooker, go ahead and use the rice cooker for the cooking the brown rice, sweet potato and garlic together. I usually wait an extra 10 minutes after the rice cooker is finished just so everything wrap in warmth inside.

On the side, you can mix all the ingredients for the sauce together in a heated pan and wait till it cooks and turn slightly golden, and until it becomes a bit thick. Drizzlee the sauce on top of the rice and kale to mix. Make sure to taste as you go so you can adjust the amount of sauce you’d like.

Happy evening!

Love,
Paye Tina

GREEN SAND BEACH IN THE CRATER

 

After driving for about an hour, we arrived on the Big Island’s South Point. Among all the island of Hawaii, Big Island remained to be the roughest, rockiest and most intense island due to its nature. You can find black lava rocks everywhere even on the beach, some beaches consists of black lava sands (such as black sand beach, quite amazing, actually). So no wonder the myth of Green Sand Beach is that it is difficult to access — you’d either have to hike which takes about an hour and half or go on the rockiest ride in your life.
We picked the ride, of course! Along the way, the beautiful seashores continued to catch my attention. On one end it is so rocky, full of lava stones and red dirt, on the other end, you see crisp green plants and crystal clear blue water which were distinguish by a fine line of black lava rocks along the sea shore. The contrast and the colors were incredible!
When we arrived at the spot, I did not see any beach… „Where is the beach?“ „Oh you’d have to hike down there,“ said the lady who drove the four driver. All I could see at that moment was huge volcano crater with a big hole in the middle.
We stayed downthere for two hours, the waves were massive. I could felt somewhat fearful even though I grew up on this island, at some point, I felt the waves could eat me alive. After awhile of getting accustomed to how the waves break and the time between each wave, we had a blast just being smashed by the waves.
I definitely recommend coming here if you are on the Big Island, it is not as „GREEN“ as I anticipated, but I could see how the beach used to be really green and has changed overtime, most importantly, the rock formations were absolutely one of the kind.

Namaste!

Much Love,

Paye Tina

MOMENTS OF GRATEFULNESS

 

Among all the places I’ve lived so far… one thing that draws me closer to nature is sunset. There is something about this time of the day that makes us want to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy ourselves. You may even notice it without watching the sunset. You may feel your body transition from light to heavy or you may stare at the sunset light shining into your office/room. For a long time articulation of this moment was not possible, I only knew I loved it. Finally, I could named it moments of gratefulness. Have you ever watched the sun goes down without even noticing and apart from being amazed by how the light changes the color? I think this is precisely why sunset are such powerful moments, because it is happening so quickly without us being aware of it. Like any moments of our lives, even right here, right now. We only can watch, and the sun gracefully slips through the horizon, leaving us moments of contemplation, thoughtfulness and gratitude.

There are somany things in life to give thanks for. To people who love, who are the closest to us. Perhaps we do not say it enough… To our parents, our spouses, our dogs, cats, plants, neighbors, teachers, friends and family. To ourselves, who have made it to today despite any hardship, faults and failures. To abundance of life resources, and sister and brotherhoods of all beings.

Love,
Paye Tina

Below are some of beautiful sunset moments capture while traveling…