Coffee Cherry Tea (Cascara)

#coffeecherry #coffee #tea #cascara #tisane #coldbrew #brewing

Click for a better look at the mocktail recipe

I know, it’s slightly odd seeing ‘coffee’ and ‘tea’ in the same phrase, but stick around and you’ll learn that it all leads to caffeinated goodness. 

I didn’t know that the dried cherry skins (or husks), which are the by-product of the milling process that turns coffee cherries into the evenly dried green beans ready for roasting, are mostly sent to the compost pile when they can be turned into a delicious tisane (fancy French word for herbal tea) or syrup. The skins are called cascara, meaning skin, and they are rapidly developing a cult following thanks to the uniquely floral, yet caffeinated, beverage, they can produce. You heard it here first, folks! You can buy cascara online at HasBean in the UK or Verve Roasters in the States.

To make cascara syrup, you will need: 

45g cascara ‘tea’ (skins)
400mls water

Steep for five minutes in water that is just off the boil (200F/93C), stirring frequently. Add 2 tbsp of sweetener (I’m going to use brown sugar). Let cool. Bottle the syrup and store in the refrigerator, discard any remnants after 7 days. Use the syrup to make the fabulously fizzy drink in the picture.

To make cascara tea, you will need:

5g ‘skins’ for every 100mls of water, and follow instructions as above for steeping. Sweeten to taste.

WANT TO Cold Brew Cascara Tea?

Use 35 grams of tea to 250 grams of cold water. Place tea in water and let stand in refrigerator for 24 hours.

Excited? Willing to give it a go? Or just another fad? 

Caffeine-Free Coffee Share #4

Did you know you can cold brew tea? I didn’t! So I had to give it a go. I cold-brewed a lemongrass & green tea blend in one jar, and a black tea with mango and dried rose in another jar. I used half a teaspoon of loose tea per 500 mls/18 fl oz of room temperature water, and then popped the jars in the fridge overnight. The results were delicious, and research on this method suggests that the caffeine and ‘bitterness’ leached into the brew is a whole lot less than hot tea, so you need less sweetening. Score! Here are some fantastic instructions from Samovar Tea if you need a step-by-step guide.

I’ve heard you can do this with coffee, too, and now that the weather in London finally seems to resemble summer, I’m going to give it a whirl. Might impress some of my new colleagues with my skills. Two weeks in, and I’m just about settled into my job! It’s a good place to be. There’s so much I don’t know, but the learning is ridiculous amounts of fun. I have a deeper respect for the sweat and effort that goes in to producing a monthly magazine. And I even got a chance to go to a show with the team; seeing how much people enjoy and appreciate the magazine was such a buzz.

Tempering the buzz is the return of the excruciating pain in my hip. It’s only been three months since I wrote this post for Photo101, so gleeful about the lack of pain. Time to consider some serious medical intervention when the pain is affecting my mood and what I do! Perhaps I should join some of my new colleagues at lunchtime yoga? Any and all suggestions welcome at this stage; I really would like to get off this roller-coaster of fire-fighting various symptoms.

I’ve just about got a handle on my diet and what I can and can’t eat. There’s a great little Turkish deli near work, and they take great joy in offering me a new selection of gluten-free lunches every day. I’m sure most people in line behind me think I’m trying to get ‘beach body ready’, rather than fuel my body with foods that won’t poison me, but I don’t really care when I’ve got my mouth full of delicious lemon-grilled chicken and home-made tzatziki. I’ve never been beach-body-ready (unless you count exfoliating  my skin and painting my toenails), and I’m not about to start now.

If I had a wish list for my holiday this summer, it would read like this: 

  • Being pain free, with all conditions in remission, leaving me able to explore with my adventurous family
  • Being warm enough for my bones to soak up enough sun to give me a happy glow, and ditch the Vit D pills
  • Discovering local delicacies, finding some new recipes
  • Having a magical unlimited supply of cold-brewed tea on tap
  • Finding comfortable swimsuits that don’t ride up, roll down, bag or sag, in some happy colours – turquoise, cobalt, coral, mango?
  • Relaxing with my husband and daughter, unplugged from our gadgets for as long as we can
  • Writing, really writing, and letting all the characters I have grow and develop into real people fit for a book!

What’s on your list for the summer? Know where I can find my dream swimsuit? Tempted to cold-brew some tea? 

Whelmed Wednesday

I had one bad migraine over the weekend and now I think the hayfever meds are getting me down (looking piteous). I am not feeling ‘one with the words’ today, so I’m going to do my post in the form of interpretive dance (tries to choose music, set up webcam to record…)

Sod that, you’re just getting photos today.

Anthropologie mug

My new pretty mug…in my favourite colours!

No, it's NOT too big for my face!

Does this mug make my face look smaller? Score!

I baked banana bread this morning. Recipe to follow…perhaps in the form of dance. I think the ‘peel & mash banana’ bit could be loads of fun.

Fellow bloggers, how are you feeling? How do you lift yourself out of a case of the ‘blahs’?

Peanut Butter Cookies

The easiest instant-gratification peanut butter cookies with maximum flavour!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Whole Earth Smooth)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted (or the same in self-raising flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (skip this if using self-raising flour)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar for rolling

Instructions

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Preheat oven to 175C/350F. Cream peanut butter & butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat to combine. Add egg & vanilla, and beat until creamy. Add flour, combine till batter looks like this.

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Line tray with parchment paper. Place granulated sugar on a plate. Roll cookie dough into balls & roll balls in sugar to coat them completely.

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Place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake until cookies begin to puff up slightly, about 12 minutes, until they are just brown around the edges.

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Remove from oven and let the cookies cool at least 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring cookies to rack to cool completely.

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Serve with coffee & enjoy!

Buns, biscuits & scones

My daughter & I have had a lively discussion about buns, biscuits & scones this morning. She has never set foot in the USA, but thanks to me, has that special Mid-Atlantic twang and a penchant for American holidays & treats. However, she draws the line at biscuits/scones/buns. To her, they’re all interchangeable and she won’t touch them. So I tried to change her mind this morning with The Country Cook’s easy two-ingredient biscuits. You read that right. TWO.

We made them together (easy recipe for little hands), smothered them in butter and marmalade (hey, it’s Mardi Gras, y’all), and she thinks they’re OK (it’s a win!).

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That’s right, we have doilies!

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Half term, Mardi Gras and some R&R

Little Miss Petal & Mortar and I are looking forward to the break next week. We seem to have been on a busy merry-go-round since the start of the year and we need some R&R.

So we’ve got a lot of chill-out days planned, with books, movies and some trips to museums. I’ve got the 14th covered: husband is getting tickets to the Ideal Home Show & daughter is getting a batch of coupons to ‘spend’ throughout the year.

On my WISH list

This looks like so much fun!

Changing the way we look at opportunities & markets

“The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up”

PRE-ORDER: The sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird – can’t wait ❤

The most amazing teapot! Available on Amazon UK or direct from Adagio in the USA (click on the photo)

On Little Miss’ TO-READ List

She loved Zita the Spacegirl and Legends of Zita, books 1 & 2!

Book 6 of the series…she’s hooked!

She’s read Book 1 & 3…are you sensing a theme? 🙂

And we’ve pinned our favourite To Do projects on a Pinterest board called…wait for it…

half term projects

That February holiday

I’ve been with Mr. Petal & Mortar for  almost 11 years now. Apart from the first year when we exchanged home-made gifts (because we were buying a house AND getting married), we haven’t really done the February 14th thing. He does really awesome stuff for me all year round, which I value far more than trinkets one day a year. In the same vein, my shopping is sort of an all-year hunt for novelty goodies, which I spring on him when he’s not expecting them. Here’s some of the fun stuff I’ve found, the photos link to the relevant websites:

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Lights for all the bottles my husband collects

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New photo display for holiday pictures

The Bubble

The Bubble from Grays & Feather is the world’s smallest bottle of sparkling wine – OK, this is for me!

Chili

Invented in the East End of London, a great gift for a chilli lover!

Bloom mojito

Mojito Matcha – tea with a kick!

macaron wreath

Macarons from Pierre Hermé, Ladurée or L´Orchidée…a Petal & Mortar staple!

But if you’re keen to go home-made & Valentine’sy, check out some fun ideas on my Pinterest board: That February holiday

Chat & chai

Today is positively frigid, which means there will be warming chai in my mug! Clearly, I can’t shake those years I lived in India and spiced chai was the only way to make it through the monsoon. 

Chai

There will be comfort food for dinner and perhaps a movie, under my favourite blanket. 

I’m also looking forward to the first weekend with husband this year; he’s been working on a crazy number of projects and I can’t wait for our coffee & catch-up tomorrow.

Hope you have some fun plans for your weekend, too!

Communicating with my child

It is widely acknowledged that good communication skills help us to solve problems successfully and maintain good interpersonal relationships.

Communication with others begins at birth, through verbal and non-verbal output. I remember my baby girl used to stick her finger in her ear to tell us she was tired and due a nap. Our communication skills continue to develop through childhood and into adulthood, and as a mother, I want to make sure my child is equipped to express her needs, wants and feelings clearly, appropriately, and respectfully.

As an only child, her frame of reference has not including sibling banter, and she’s had to pit herself against two fairly outspoken parents. Knowing this, I took the time to get down to her level when talking to her, I would sit her on my lap when I was correcting her, or discussing her behaviour, and try to make it as safe as I could to say what she needed to say. None of this came easy. As a full-time employee that commuted long hours, my nerves and patience were pretty stretched when I had to tackle these issues. Yeah, I yelled a few times (and felt wretched afterwards, as all parents do!). But for the most part, I truly attempt to keep our chats calm and open – I’m playing the long game and I need to know she’ll still be talking to me when she’s a teenager!

I usually let her know how I’m feeling about a situation, and then let her respond. Something like,”When you did this, it made me feel/made me wonder…” and she has a chance to explain why she did or said something. Sometimes she’ll say,”I’m going to tell you something, but you can’t act on it”. I respect that boundary (unless someone is in danger, when all bets are off).

Recently, we instituted a journal (we got the idea from here). We write notes back and forth to each other. Sometimes, if she’s too mad to talk, she’ll write, and it calms her down. She leaves it by my bedside, and then I’ll read and respond. It works for us. It teaches her that communication is a two-way street and you have to listen to be heard.

We’ve stuck to a few simple rules to help us:

  • Think before you speak
  • Don’t shout or speak in anger
  • Speak clearly
  • Tell the other person how you feel – use “I feel” instead of “You did/said…”
  • Say all you want to say, but take turns
  • Listen carefully
  • Hug it out!

And of course, we make time for dates, where we hang out, drink tea & eat cake. Mmmmm – we cake!

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