Tea

Bored Baking: Episode 2 – Mrs. Topechka’s Round House Kick Tea Loaf ft. DAVID’s TEA

Hidden amongst our cookbook collection is a battered copy of Culinary Treasures: Centennial 1867 – 1967 by the Saint Basil’s Ukrainian Women’s League. One recipe that I’m particularly fond of is the Cranberry Tea loaf, submitted by a Mrs. S. Topechka. I am a huge proponent of cranberries as I believe they are probably the only food that is capable of surviving a nuclear blast given how utterly gross they are in natural form. Therefore, I try to use fresh cranberries in everyday cooking whenever possible so when the time comes my body will be prepared to live off of them.

I mean, today I didn’t have cranberries, or nuts, or even the orange rind which the directions demand I use but Mrs. S. Topechka clearly forgot to include in the list of ingredients. What a beginner’s mistake.

Nonetheless, I decided that there is no better way to celebrate the 30 degree heat (85 for those of you who refuse to conform to the measurements the rest of the world use) than by turning on my oven and making a variant of Mrs. Topechka’s loaf with my own collection of ingredients.

Ready? Okay!

First thing is first. Get rid of that garlic clove or get a garlic holder or something. Honestly. You have no dignity left.

Repeat after me: Your KitchenAid Mixer is not a garlic holder.  Your KitchenAid Mixer is not a garlic holder.

Repeat after me: Your KitchenAid Mixer is not a garlic holder. Your KitchenAid Mixer is not a garlic holder.

Okay. Now you’ve done that, collect all these things, and don’t argue with me.

1 cup sugar

½ tsp. Baking soda

¾ cup cold, strong tea (Today we will be using DAVID’s TEA’s English Rose black tea, because I live dangerously)

1 egg beaten (or two if you forget to read the ingredients properly)

Some apricots. I don’t know. Maybe, like, a cup? It’s about a cup when I’m done with it I guess.

2 tbsp. cooking oil.

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups flour

Also: One Tome of Spirit World Recipes as presented by the Ukrainian Women's League.

Also: One Tome of Spirit World Recipes as presented by the Ukrainian Women’s League.

Take all your dry ingredients and sift them together. If you are like the average person and don’t own a sifter, just toss it into a bowl. We aren’t the Kardashian’s here. Sifters are for the rich and well-to-do.

Or for people who can afford to shop at IKEA.

Or for people who can afford to shop at IKEA.

Boil up some water and throw your tea into a hipster mason jar.

English Rose from DAVID's TEA, available at the nearest awesome Tea Emporium near you

English Rose from DAVID’s TEA, available at the nearest awesome Tea Emporium near you

Add water. In reality you should have already done this, probably even before you started reading this recipe. It’s going to take forever to cool down and believe me, you want it to cool down. Whatever, we’ll make do.

We don't believe in proper proportions in this household.

We don’t believe in proper proportions in this household.

Now while you’re waiting for your tea to cool, combine the rest of the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Two eggs are basically just like one giant egg anyways.

Two eggs are basically just like one giant egg anyways.

Okay, let’s check on that tea. Is it cool yet?

Hotter than a witch's teat.

Hotter than a witch’s teat.

Okay, time for Plan B. Grab your dish towel or a cheese cloth if you are a billionaire I guess, and strain out some of that tea.

This is the classiest thing I have done all day.

This is the classiest thing I have done all day.

Now put that in the freezer. We don’t have time to waste.

We... don't?

We… don’t?

While you are being the picture of patience, cut up those apricots. Using scissors is an easy way, unless they bend your scissors which totally didn’t happen here.

There is a certain level of satisfaction found in the destruction of fruit.

There is a certain level of satisfaction found in the destruction of fruit.

Good, you did it without cleaving your hand off. You want a medal or something?

Well, if you're offering...

Well, if you’re offering…

Urgh, I’m so bored. Take the tea out, add more ice cubes.

David would be ashamed!

David would be ashamed!

Perfect. It’s cool now!

Cool as a witch's teat in winter.

Cool as a witch’s teat in winter.

If you add it while it is still hot it will cook the eggs and you will have a nasty egg-tea combo, so try to avoid that.

That's the complicated way of saying

That’s the complicated way of saying “Add the tea to the wet ingredients and mix it all together.”

Now slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry until it is all mixed. Mrs. Topechka suggests you stir it until it is barely mixed.

You aren't the boss of me, Topechka!

You aren’t the boss of me, Topechka!

Now add dem apricots. Again, stir it until just mixed.

YOU AREN'T MY SUPERVISOR.

YOU AREN’T MY SUPERVISOR.

Now spoon the whole monstrosity into an oiled pan and let sit for 20 minutes. Take this time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Yes, you could have done this first, but there is no point in having your oven on any longer than it needs to be.

There. It's done. What do you think?

There. It’s done. What do you think?

Once 20 minutes have elapsed, put that tasty-ass loaf into the oven. Notice how Mrs. Topechka’s ghost, shamed by how you used the wrong sized pan, magically transferred your loaf to a better pan? PARANORMAL.

If your local Topechka ghost is not available, summon the services of the nearest husband.

If your local Topechka ghost is not available, summon the services of the nearest husband.

Let it cook for about 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out free of ectoplasm. In this case, 39 minutes was more than enough… Topechka.

Nothing tastes more like summer than a loaf imbued with the ghostly presence of a dead Ukrainian woman.

Nothing tastes more like summer than a loaf imbued with the ghostly presence of a dead Ukrainian woman.

Now wait for it to cool, cut into pieces, and enjoy! Make sure to leave three candles lit in your window that night so Mrs. Topechka’s ghost can find her way into your kitchen and get a slice for herself. If she doesn’t approve, she will enter your bedroom and devour your soul.

An Open Letter to David’s Tea: “I Could Weep For Joy”

Sometimes I write open letters to people or things because I am bored or have something to say. This is one of those times.

Dear David’s Tea,

You and I have always gotten along, David’s Tea. This is a love-love relationship; I give you money, you give me copious amounts of delicious tea with which I may fill my belly and keep myself warm during these cold Canadian nights. Yes, David’s Tea. You are an anchor in my life, and have been since I first struggled, half dead from Teaopia deprivation, into one of your stores and begged for some quality earl grey. After your lovely employees helped me regain my strength I proceeded to buy pretty much everything I could get my hands on, which I suppose is a very good reason for you to keep your tea containers behind the counter. Thus began our illicit love affair. Oh tea. Tea, tea, tea.

I worked at Teaopia before it was appropriated by Teavana. Don’t get me started on Teavana. Too much fruit, not enough exploration into the creamy flavors. Teavana doesn’t take risks like you do, David’s Tea. But I digress. Teaopia was by far my favorite job ever, right next to that time I was paid by someone to follow them around with a boombox that played the Keystone Kops song on repeat. That was a pretty good job too.

I loved it because Teaopia had tea that wasn’t too complex, but there was enough variety to fulfill whatever needs an intrepid drinker might have. We were given tea on the cheap to drink and, thanks to my overindulgence I am no longer impacted by caffeine. It makes late night study sessions a trial. However, I recently discovered 5-Hour Energy Drinks so I guess it all worked out in the end (aside from the giant ulcer and the fact that if I go a half hour without a dose of 5-Hour I start to shout expletives at small children and chew the ends off of pens.)

One thing we loved to do at Teaopia was experiment by mixing teas and creating new blends that we could whisper into the ears of our customers. This was how I discovered my tea. I call it my tea because I was the only one that really took to it. Three levelled teaspoons of Mate Citrus Buzz. Half the amount of water, stepped the regular time (3-4 minutes). Matcha mixed with 8 oz of water, into the cup. Milk, frothed up. 2%. None of this soy nonsense people demand because they are “lactose intolerant” and “milk makes their stomachs hurt and gives them the drizzles.” Pfft. Give me a break.

Mix it all together in the cup, enjoy.

I called it “Kathleen’s Awesome Super Excellent Everything Tea” or KASEET, because why not?

Now, I discovered this particular recipe about six months into my one year term working at Teaopia, and it became my staple. It gave me energy, it was refreshing, I got matcha, I got calcium. It was pretty perfect. And then I left Teaopia to go back to school. When I did I bought a giant bag of Mate Citrus Buzz, a tin of Matcha, and prayed it would last me the year.

Then something awful happened. Teaopia was appropriated by Teavana and my Mate Citrus Buzz was on the chopping block.

Needless to say I bought as much as I could, consumed a solid portion before it went bad, and finally resigned myself to a life without KASEET because there was no possible way anything could possibly replace the glorious combo that I had discovered. It just wasn’t possible.

But as it turns out, all was not lost, David’s Tea. The other week my husband and I were in South Centre Mall in Calgary, wasting time. We stopped by your store because I am a woman of habit and if I don’t smell the teas available to me I generally start to feel very anxious. There was a combo pack, a summer-beat-the-blues sort of pack of teas which is, on a separate note, a brilliant idea because we are Canadians and 9 months of winter can really start to drill deep into a person’s sanity. There was a tea I didn’t recognize. Maybe you’ve had it forever and I just never noticed. Maybe it was new. I don’t know.

Main Squeeze. Okay, not ‘Citrus Buzz’, but the squeeze indicated the possibility that there was something citrusy about it, and both names have z’s so… That’s probably a good sign, right?

Oh, David’s Tea. I wish I could explain what I felt in that moment. It was like being transported into the past. I was reminded of the month that I was the acting manager of Teaopia. Of that time my co-worker decided to be a total asshat to me. Of the final days of summer as I prepared to reenter the world of full-time schooling.

All the memories enveloped in that single waft of tea. I had to have it.

I took my newly acquired tea home and carefully prepared Kathleen’s Awesome Super Excellent Everything Tea. It was delicious. It wasn’t perfect, mind you, a bit more orangey than Mate Citrus Buzz. I missed the familiar hint of lemon, but hell, beggers and choosers, am I right?

Thank you, David’s Tea, for Main Squeeze. You have brought joy back into the world of a semi-defeated 6th year University student who just wants to finish her darn degree and enter the workforce so she can afford Sailor Moon action figures. Fortunately for me, Main Squeeze is far more reasonably priced than Sailor Venus. So until then, here, take all my money and I will take all your Main Squeeze. It will continue to benefit us both.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Sawisky, Esq.

Main Squeeze is available at David’s Tea, probably, for $6.75/50grams. It is delicious. Actually all their teas are delicious. Tea. Tea tea tea. Tea.