Sit, and have a cuppa
It was a dangerous place to be, I had been told. It was the early 1990s and I was back in my childhood home of Derry, Northern Ireland, a place still riven by civil strife and the random violence of shootings and bombs.
I wanted to see the home I had grown up in but the neighborhood wasn’t safe, I was told. The attic room in the house – my old bedroom – had been used as a sniper’s post on at least one occasion, due its view over the rest of the neighborhood.
I walked down the street with more than a little trepidation, hoping my camera would mark me as a silly tourist. Three doors down from my old home, a door opened in one of the narrow, three-story rowhouses and an old woman peered out. “What do youse want?” she asked. I told her the truth, that I had once lived on this street, in No. 5, and that I was nostalgic. “Ock, would you come in for a cuppa?”
I went in, and over a cup of strong Irish tea cut with milk and sugar and a few slices of buttered barmbrack (a round loaf of bread speckled with raisins), we talked about the old days, about the days before the Troubles, about the street and the people who had lived on it. Her family and mine had landed on opposite sides of the divide that had split Northern Ireland, but, over that pot of tea, we were briefly reunited.
Food does that. Whether ceremonial or informal, food and drink can cross divisions and bring people together. We all eat; we all seek nourishment. The holiday season may have passed, but the fellowship of food needn’t. May you find time in the busy days of this bright new year to meet, and connect, over a cuppa.
– Malcolm McDowell Woods
In this issue:
Happy New Year
Chinese inspired celebration brightens dark days of winter
Fishing for success – and tilapia – in Slinger
Milwaukee’s single-source chocolatier doubles up on flavor
La Reve brings French flair to the heart of Wauwatosa
And a lot more. Still hungry? Here’s a recipe for the Chinese Six-Spice Blend used in our Chinese New Year feature.
Chinese Six-Spice Blend
You can often find prepared five-spice blend but making your own is really easy. We like this version with the addition of coriander seed, so it’s technically 6-spice blend!
2 whole star anise
2 teaspoons peppercorns
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon fennel
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 cinnamon stick, broken into a few pieces
1. In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the anise, peppercorns, cloves, fennel and coriander until fragrant. Swirl the pan gently and toss the seeds occasionally to prevent burning.
2. Allow to cool and then add the toasted spices and cinnamon sticks to a spice grinder. Grind for twenty seconds until a fine powder is formed. If large pieces remain, grind for another 5 - 10 seconds.
3. Store in an airtight spice container.
Planning a Chinese New Year Party
Here are some resources we’ve found to make your party memorable and fun!
Forego the standard cookies and make these fun, customizable paper fortune cookies instead. Directions here.
Learn more about the symbolism and traditions of the holiday here.
We got our nifty energy efficient LED paper lanterns from - http://www.paperlanternstore.com
Pam's Granola #5 (the perfect accompaniment to homemade yogurt).
Click here for our General Manager Pam Mehnert's own granola recipe.