Homemade chai made easy

I love chai tea. It’s spicy, it’s (usually) caffeinated, it’s full of honey. It’s both physically and emotionally warming (at least, to me). It’s a nice alternative to more coffee in the afternoon, when I need a warm pick-me-up but don’t want to spend the whole night awake.

It’s also ridiculously easy to make. Really.

The first time I made it at home, the recipe I used was really complicated, and involved too many steps of heating and reheating. The finished product was tasty, but the steps involved were burdensome. When I wanted to try again several months later, I couldn’t find the recipe again (oh, fickle internet), but instead stumbled upon a collection of allegedly authentic Indian recipes, which were remarkably easier!

The short version: Make a spice-infused syrup, add milk, steep tea bags, enjoy. That’s my kind of recipe.

I’ve included the spices that I used today, but they’re more of a suggestion than anything else. If you like a spicier chai, use more ginger and black pepper. If you prefer it mild, cut those things back, maybe increase the cardamom. Most of the chai that you’ll find in coffee shops has vanilla in it, but I’m not big on gratuitous vanilla, so I didn’t add any. You should feel free to, of course. I use whole milk; use the milk (or substitute) of your choice. Next time, I might use half and half. Live dangerously!

Gather your spices in a sauce pan:

Add water, simmer until the water is good and fragrant, and taking on color. If you like strongly flavored chai, simmer longer to make a spicier syrup.

Once you’ve got the level of spiciness you want, add your sweeteners and cook until they’re fully dissolved. Then add your milk and bring the mixture back up to not-quite-boiling.

This is a good time to taste it and make sure the sweetness is right for your taste. Then add your tea bags! I’m using generic ceylon from the grocery store. You could use good tea, if that’s what you have. Or rooibos, for a caffeine-free option. Steep for 3-5 minutes. Now it’s starting to look like chai!


Yes, that’s a Curious George jelly jar.

Cake v Pie – The Rematch!

Hey everybody!

Remember yesterday, when I was all “I don’t like competing, wah wah”? Well, I did my part. I made this pie! We decided to call it “Baker Street Plum,” because of the children’s series “Basil of Baker Street, about a mouse who lives in Sherlock Holmes’ basement and solves mouse crimes!

basil plum pie in a window

Mmmm, Plum with basil and honey. I like it.

You’ll notice that it looks like most of my pies, which is to say, rustic. This is generally intentional! Pie is a home food, and one that anyone can make. It doesn’t need to look fancy to be good.

That being said, I may have spent a little time in the bathroom at the venue having a panic attack after seeing some other entries.

There were some really pretty pies there! I did feel rather inadequate, like I had brought the wrong pie.

(at this point, I may be obsessing about the pies again. forgive me.)

Anyway… There were 12 pies entered (and 12 cakes!). Once the judges had a chance to assess each one, it became a pie social (also, cake social, but whatever). Competitors were encouraged to maintain control of serving their own pie, but most people seemed to cut a few slices and then wander. Luckily for me, Mr. Pie did the wandering-and-getting-more-pie part, and so I was dishing up my pie when a volunteer came to get a second slice so the judges could retaste my pie! And yes, that is a good sign.

That right there, folks, is your third place pie! Interestingly, coming in 3rd of 12 against lots of really pretty pies felt a lot more like a triumph than that time I came in 1st of 3.

it's redundant and decorative!

Last year’s winner Kate Lebo was there. She came in second, with a Whiskey Apple pie. She also entirely convinced me not to run away, AND had this wisdom: “I never trust a too-pretty pie crust. I’m afraid they’ll be tough.” So, yeah, Kate Lebo: definitely a fan of her. (also, fan of Mr. Pie for starting a conversation with her while I was busy freaking out in the bathroom.)

I didn’t get a picture of the winning pie alone, though it was the one right next to mine. It was apple pear. It was still warm. I think that might be some kind of cheating. Regardless, she had the flakiest crust I tasted there. Congratulations to her as well!

Many thanks to Jenise Silva at Seattlest for organizing this fun event! And in case you’re wondering, yes, Pie did emerge triumphant over cake again this year!

Pie Lottery September 30

Good morning! Happy Lottery day!

Plums and basil for pie

We’ve been having such pretty false-summer weather that I decided I needed to capture a little of it in a pie, before it’s gone for good. What better excuse to use my favorite stonefruit, the lovely plum? Add a little basil, a little honey, it’s all kinds of magical, isn’t it?

Honey-basil plum lids

They’re so cute and tidy and full of promise, all ready to go in the oven. I just love them, don’t you?

How can you resist that?

Click that little button down there to get your lottery ticket. I’ll pick a winner at noon! Don’t put it off until next week! This is the last week that the lottery is running. But don’t worry! You can still order pies!