Establishing Habits for a Productive Life

Food & Drink

How to Make Boba at Home

 

Everyone has their own comfort food.  For me, its boba. Also known as bubble tea, this Taiwanese drink has served as the excuse for countless study breaks and dozens of meet-ups with friends.

When I found boba pearls at my local Asian food market the other day, I knew I just had to perfect the recipe so I could have my boba anytime, without having to leave the house.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dried boba (tapioca) pearls (I used WuFuYuan Green Tea Tapioca Pearls)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 or 3 Thai Tea tea bags
  • 1 tbsp condensed milk (or to taste)
  • ice

Pour two cups of water to boil in a saucepan over a stove. Add boba. Once boba float to the top, turn heat to medium and cook for another 6-8 minutes, or until mostly translucent.

While boba cooks, prepare simple syrup: bring 1/2 cup water to a boil, then turn off heat and add sugar. Stir until sugar is fully dissolved.

When boba is done, strain excess water out and rinse boba, then pour into simple syrup to prevent hardening. Steep tea for 5 minutes. Use 2 teabags if drink will ultimately be prepared hot, or use three if drink will be prepared cold. Add one heaping tablespoon of condensed milk to tea and stir well. Add boba pearls to drink. If you prefer, add ice, and enjoy!


A Hearty and Healthy Whole Grain Breakfast Bread

Start your day off right with a slice of this hearty whole grain bread. Packed with dried cranberries, golden raisins, sunflower seeds, flax seed, rolled oats, and wheat bran, this textured and nutritious bread will keep you sustained through your busy morning.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 cup water (between 90° – 110°)
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar.
  • 5 cups whole grain flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1/2  cup barley flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 3 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (shelled and unsalted)
  • 4 tsp salt

Using a thermometer, prepare a 1/2 cup of water between 90° and 110°.  Stir in active dry yeast and sugar. Let sit for about 10 mins.  If mixture doubles in size, then the yeast has been properly activated.

Sift flours together in large bowl and set aside.

In separate bowl, mix together water, honey, molasses, oil, eggs and lemon juice. Add yeast-water mixture.

Slowly mix in 5 cups of flour mixture, one cup at a time, until well-blended.

Fold in dried cranberries, raisins, wheat bran, flaxseed, rolled oats, sunflower seeds.

Let dough rise in warm environment for 20 minutes.

Add remaining flour and salt.

Knead dough using a stand mixer for 10-15 minutes, then let sit in a warm environment for 20 minutes.

For lighter textured loaf, stir lightly to deflate dough, then let rise again for another 20 minutes. Otherwise, place dough into 8 1/2 in. medium loaf pan.

Bake at 375° for 30-40 mins, then set pan to cool on cooling rack.

Serve with a dollop of peanut butter, honey, or jam, and enjoy!


Banana Chai Smoothie

After a long workout, I always look for something to cool me off without weighing me down.  I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect snack for a while, and I think I’ve finally found it.

This smoothie is packed with potassium to ease your sore muscles, calcium for your bones, carbs to reboost your energy level, and a unique spicy twist to keep your taste buds interested. Mix in some Vanilla Whey powder for an energy boost after an especially tough gym session, or throw in some extra ice cubes to chill out after your afternoon Bikram.  A twist on the traditional Banana Chai Smoothie, this recipe incorporates Trader Joe’s delicious “Spicy Chai Mix,” so you can still get that exotic Indian taste without a kettle!

Banana Chai Smoothie Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 large-sized banana
  • 1 scoop Trader Joe’s Spicy Chai Mix
  • 1 cup (8 oz) Almond Milk, Soymilk, or regular milk
  • 1/4 cup instant oatmeal
  • 2-3 ice cubes
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Whey Powder (optional)

Toss ingredients in a blender and mix until incorporated.  Pour into a glass and if you wish, top off with a dash of cinnamon! Now towel off that sweat, put your feet up, and enjoy!


How to Make the Perfect Chai

from left to right: cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, crystallized ginger

The best cup of chai I’ve ever had was in Half Moon Bay.  If you’re ever in the area, I encourage you to stop by Raman’s Coffee & Chai to grab a cup. Inspired by his dreamy concoction, I’ve spent some time experimenting with various recipes and different proportions, and I think the following is a pretty close second to Raman’s.

Ingredients:

Pour milk into saucepan. Add tea leaves and sugar. Heat on medium-high, stirring frequently, for approximately 8 minutes, or until the mixture begins to foam into a soft boil.

While the milk is warming up, make the Chai Masala (see recipe below) by grinding the four spices together. Once the milk begins to foam, toss the spices and the crystallized ginger into the milk. Let it simmer on low heat for 4-5 additional minutes.

Hold a strainer over your cup, and pour the mixture from a foot above to create a foamy layer.

Chai Masala Recipe:

  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves

*You may prefer to use shavings of fresh ginger.


How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

It seems fitting that my inaugural post is about coffee – the substance which has fueled me through many sleepy nights and early mornings.  The need to make a “perfect cup” of coffee without terribly fancy equipment and without spending $4 at Starbucks originated out of necessity – the dining hall coffee on campus was a grainy, burnt slush, and with a college student’s budget, I couldn’t afford a Starbucks habit.

A couple general thought before we begin:

  • Keep your equipment clean. Any residual sediment from your previous cup with taint your coffee with a stale taste. Be certain that no grounds are caught between the three parts of your French Press’s filter – you can unscrew them and reassemble if need be.
  • Buy your beans whole. If you can grind your beans just minutes before you steep them, the quality of freshness will be much better than if you have an open bag of grounds sitting out for weeks.
  • Invest in a quality grinder. Though something like this might be a bit more affordable, I’ve found that a Burr Grinder, if you’re willing to splurge, makes a noticeable difference. I have the Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder, and I would highly recommend it. The main difference is that with a Burr Grinder, the beans drop into the blade one by one, as opposed to whirling about in one big mass. This 1) produces more evenly cut beans grounds and 2) keeps your unground beans fresh in an airtight container in the event that you grab more beans than you need.

Grinding

Now that we’ve got our beans ready, our equipment clean, and our grinder in hand, let’s begin.  In my experience, 1/4 cup whole beans will grind down to 2 heaping tablespoons of grounds.  This is sufficient for one cup.  (I just measure my 1/4 cup of beans by grabbing one handful…and who doesn’t love sinking their hand into a bag of whole coffee beans?)

Grind the beans on the coarsest setting possible.  This will prevent powdery grounds from slipping through your filter and muddying your coffee. In the photo above, you’ll see I have my grinder set pretty close to 40.

Preparation

Begin boiling your water.  Once it’s boiled, measure 6 oz. This is the standard amount for one cup of coffee. Let the water sit for a few minutes after it boils, ideally until it cools slightly to somewhere between 195 – 205 F.  Water that is too hot will burn your grounds and produce a distinctly bitter taste.

Steeping

The ultimate strength of flavor in your cup with be contingent upon both the amount of coffee and the steeping time. I prefer my coffee on the stronger side, so I use 2 heaping tablespoons per cup.  Feel free to use less if you desire.

Standard coffee brewing time ranges from 4-6 minutes, but I usually set my timer for 6.  Remember, don’t cover your cup while the coffee brews – the grounds require fresh air to steep fully.

Stir occasionally throughout the six minutes. A light foamy layer form will form.

Filtration

Once the six minutes are up, pour the mixture through a filter and into your french press. As far as French Presses are concerned, I find that the delicate glass ones are prone to break easily, which is inconvenient given how expensive they may be.  If you’re living in a chaotic environment, I might suggest something as sturdy as the Frieling Polished Stainless French Press. The higher price might ultimately be worth it if you can expect to be replacing your glass press frequently.

Filter the coffee once more by replacing your lid on your French Press, and pouring the coffee into your cup.

Breathe in the fresh aroma, put your feet up, and mentally prepare yourself for your day.

More information on making lattes and other specialized coffee drinks coming soon!