Breakfast in Bed – Tea Eggs

Post by Alison Hein.

Tea Eggs, a traditional Chinese specialty, make a fun family project or a delightful surprise for guests. Hard-boiled eggs are rolled and cracked, then steeped in rich, black tea. When peeled, a lovely, thin-lined mosaic pattern is revealed where the dark tea has seeped in.

In this simplified version, only eggs and tea are called for in the recipe. The end result is a hard-cooked egg with a distant, fragrant flavor that lingers lightly on the tongue – curious and interesting, yet mild enough for young palates. More traditional preparations call for adding soy sauce and / or a chef’s choice of spices. Chinese five-spice powder or Szechuan peppercorns add real zip. Or, you can take the eggs in a more dessert-like direction, adding spices such as cinnamon and cloves.

Make sure to peel the prepared eggs very carefully, or you may lose some of the lovely dark marbling. Also, be advised that dark, brewed tea can stain cutting boards and fingers alike, so choose your tools wisely.

This is one of those methods that’s imminently perfect for experimentation, with low risk or overhead. You are sure to delight family and friends with these fun and fragrant eggs – each one an individual piece of art, each one a lovely surprise, each one a delightful breakfast in bed!

Ingredients

4 cups water
2 tea bags (or loose tea) of strong black tea
2 eggs

Preparation

Pour water into a small heavy saucepan and heat almost to a boil. Add tea bags to hot water to steep. Remove from heat.

Place eggs in a small heavy saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat and continue to cook eggs for 10 minutes, until hard-boiled. Cool slightly, then crack and roll on a hard surface so that thin lines appear all over the shell. Place cracked eggs into brewed tea, ensuring there is enough liquid to completely immerse eggs.

Allow tea to cool to room temperature, then transfer tea and eggs to a small glass dish and refrigerate. Keep eggs in tea for at least 4 hours, or as long as overnight. When ready, remove eggs and carefully peel off the shells to reveal the cracked tea pattern underneath. Serve cold.

Makes 2 tea eggs.

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Bedtime Stories: Ramona the Brave

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary.

We are simply flying through the chapter books these days! I have a pretty substantial collection, but at this rate we will have gone through them all before the summer is over. I pulled this one off the back of the bottom shelf. It’s a worn old ex-library paperback with a cracked spine and yellowed pages. Which is to say: it’s a classic. So appropriate for my son in so many ways. Beloved spunky younger sister Ramona Quimby is staple of children’s literature. She is also a Portland native entering first grade. My son is a Portland native entering first grade at Beverly Cleary School. It seemed like the perfect book to pick up. Becoming a first grader is a really big deal in our house. We are already being reminded of the stuff he used to do back when he was a Kindergartner (last week). Those were the days!

I love reading Beverly Cleary books. Written in the 1950s-60s, the have a lot of that old-timey feel of a life that simply doesn’t exist anymore. Henry Huggins delivering the evening papers before picking up some horse meat from the butcher to feed his dog Ribsy. Stuff like that. Ramona the Brave focuses on Ramona and on her life with her parents and big sister, Beezus. It’s about growing up and about being a kid. It’s about sudden moments of self-awareness and awareness of the world outside of oneself. There’s a number of books from the world of Klickitat Street in Portland. I think after this one we are going to read a Henry Huggins story. It’s a “boy” story so it will be full of scrappiness and clubhouses and getting dirty. But the Ramona and Beezus ones are great. I recommend you read them all this instant.

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Movies in Bed: Veronica Mars

Post by Mark T. Locker.

You may or may not have heard of Veronica Mars. It was a teen detective drama that aired on CW for three seasons. It was way better than it sounds and when it was canceled there were a number of sad but vocal fans. You are more likely to have heard about its triumphant return, in a very 21st-century way. Creator Rob Thomas wanted to make a Veronica Mars movie. Warner Brothers agreed to release it but would not fund it. So Rob Thomas turned to his fans and launched the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever, raising nearly $6 million. We got our movie, and exclusive T-shirts, and WB released it. History is made.

Veronica Mars was a spunky high school student, daughter of Keith Mars, former sheriff and current private eye. She was pretty good as a detective herself, kind of the Encyclopedia Brown of modern southern California preppy culture. The movie opens with her being offered a job at a prestigious law firm. But when she sees that dreamy bad-boy and ex-boyfriend (ex to the chagrin of many) Logan Echolls is embroiled in a murder investigation, Veronica heads home to Neptune to try and help out. It’s basically a long version of the TV show, with a few winks to the rabid fans (known collectively as “Marshmallows”) and a few painfully obvious product placements. If you haven’t watched the show, you should watch the show. The movie, I’ve heard, is much better with context. It’s available to buy from lots of different online sources.

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Breakfast in Bed – Green Tea Macadamia Cookies

Post by Alison Hein.

While perusing the quaint antique shops in western New Jersey near the Delaware Water Gap, I came across a sweet little teapot, coffeepot, and dish set. The dishes were hand-painted with a cheerful floral design, and the stamp on the bottom indicated they were “made inJapan.” They weren’t a child’s set, but also not quite adult size – lovely and colorful. I suddenly envisioned the tiny pots filled with steaming brew, and the little plate laden with petite and alluring Green Tea Macadamia Cookies.

Matcha, the base of the cookies, is a finely-ground, powdered tea, historically used during traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. These days, however, matcha has come into its own. Updated and modernized (and sometimes sweetened), it makes an interesting and versatile ingredient for noodles, lattes, and sweet confections. Matcha’s increased popularity has made it easy to locate in local stores and through web searches. (Just google it, you’ll see what I mean). Exotic macadamia nuts add crunch and depth, as well as visual interest, to the finished cookies.

The trick to making these cookies is to shape the dough and refrigerate it until very firm. This makes slicing a snap, and produces lovely, round cookies. Also, keep a close eye during baking – you’ll want your cookies baked through, but not so browned that their lovely green color is compromised. The dough needs to chill at least 2 hours, but can be prepared up to a few days in advance, or even frozen. Then, when you’re ready for some exotic Green Tea Macadamia Cookies, just slice and bake for a petite, alluring breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon (green tea) sweet matcha powder
1¼ cups flour
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Preparation

Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add milk and vanilla and beat well. Stir in matcha powder and flour. Add nuts and mix thoroughly. Roll and shape into approximately 2 8-inch long rolls, about 1½ inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill thoroughly, at least 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°. Cut cookie rolls into “generous” ¼-inch thick slices (more than ¼ inch but less than ½ inch). Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are golden. Remove to wire rack and cool.

Makes about 35 to 40 cookies.

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Bedtime Stories: The Bone Season

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon.

We all know that the thing to do is to write dystopian teen novels. Everybody’s doing it. Some of them get lots of coverage because they are excellent (Hunger Games for example) and others get lots of coverage despite not being very good. And then there are those which are quite good but seem to have more of a cult following. Maybe The Bone Season falls into this category because it’s so different from so many other novels in this genre. Sure it’s got a teenage hero. Sure there is mounting tension and potential for civil unrest. But so much about this book is unique.

Set in London in 2059, the story follows a young woman named Paige Mahoney. She is a clairvoyant, which is not all that remarkable in her time. There are a lot of clairvoyants around. However, the politicians have created an environment unfriendly to these types and they must go underground to survive. What makes Paige unique is her particular ability. She is a dreamwalker; she can leave her body and travel through the aether, where the spirits roam. She can even enter another person’s psyche, though she doesn’t if she can help it. One day, despite all her caution, she slips up and becomes the number one target of the Scion, whose job it is to hunt down rogue clairvoyants. Shortly thereafter, she learns the weird truth about her home. When she is caught, she is shipped to the ruins of the off-limits Oxford town, which is now a camp for clairvoyants who are ruled by a group of beings called Rephaim.

What will happen to her? Will her unique abilities save her? Who and what are these Rephaim? This is a book for older teens or adults. It’s in intriguing story though Paige, the narrator, needs to lighten up a bit. I’m looking forward to the sequel but dubious about how the author intends to write six more books about this story.

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