Our guest blogger this month is Andie Bulman. Originally from Prince Edward Island, Andie is a chef, writer and comedian living in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. We are thrilled that she is sharing her tea-loving experiences with us.
By Andie Bulman
Dry January is a little easier when you plan properly.
This time last year, I was sailing through Dry January with no cravings at all. Then Snowmageddon hit. This massive blizzard — dubbed “a once in a lifetime event” by the Weather Network — entombed St. John’s. I awoke to a cold house. The power had been off for hours. Our side of the street was unscathed, but drifts on the opposite side reached the roofs. Cars were buried, streets unpassable, and a State of Emergency was declared. The first two days of this massive storm were special. I spent my mornings shoveling out neighbours and my evenings skiing through carless streets. Folks lit bonfires in the middle of the roads. The whole city was enveloped in this kind of Mad Max/end of the world energy, except instead of everyone fighting with Tina Turner over the last banana, Newfoundlanders sang songs and drank beers as they dug each other out. The novelty wore off on day three, when our rusty 2004 Sunfire was buried by a plow for the umpteenth time. It was the kind of moment where you think, “okay, the monetary value of this car is not worth this effort. I’ll see it in the spring.” Defeated, we returned to our house and discovered our neighbour had dropped off a bottle of wine. That was the end of 2020’s Dry January.
This year, I prepped more intensely for my month long wine break. I signed up for exercise classes, I made pacts with friends, and I planned fun activities to keep myself busy. Most importantly, I stocked up on Lady Baker's Tea. I need a replacement drink. Something to signal to my brain that it’s time to relax. Tea can do that! Here are some of my “Dry January activities” and the teas and mugs I’ve paired them with:
Originally, I wanted to pair a tea with a winter fishing trip, but mild temperatures have prevailed, which means ice-fishing is still a pipe dream. Instead I paired Lady Baker’s Moringa Coconut Tea with a boil-up. January marks the start of boil-up season in Newfoundland. All winter and into the spring, Newfoundlanders trek into the woods or beaches, stoke the flames, and sip tea with tin milk around the warming fires. Traditionally, Tetley is consumed at these boil-ups, but black teas keep me up at night and I’m a tad suspicious of any mass produced food stuff, so I opted instead for Moringa Coconut. While this blend might not seem like a natural pairing with this activity, the tropical flavours of mango and lemon balm lent a sense of warmth to the occasion. I also opted for my favourite camping mug. I’ve never lost it (a feat for me), it fits perfectly into my hands, and it’s enamel, so it can be smashed up against camping stoves and survive.
Baking and Cooking
My ideal Sunday afternoon in January involves homemade soup, buns rising on the counter, a crossword puzzle, and a cup of tea. Tea is an overlooked way to flavour savoury food. I’ve often used loose tea in dry rubs for lambs and roasts, but using tea in a soup broth can infuse the whole thing with flavour. Here, I made orzo, lemon, dill, chicken soup and I’ve flavoured the broth with Lady Baker’s lemongrass tea. I also made potato rosemary buns with flaky sea salt. I paired the whole activity with a cup of peppermint tea in my Malcolm Stanley Face Mug (it’s my new favourite), which I enjoyed while I waited for the buns to rise. I’ve attached the recipe for the buns below.
Rug hooking has been my favourite craft for as long as I can remember. I’ve always tried to take in exhibitions and openings that feature textile artists, and I’ve long had the habit of strolling through the fabric store, touching all the soft and expensive yarns wistfully. I never felt like I had the time to learn. I finally bought my first beginner’s kit last March in the early, frantic days of the pandemic. Now, I’m rug-hooking constantly. Friends and family sent me patterns, burlap, and all kinds of hand-dyed fabric for the holidays, so I spent a few evenings this week working on an abstract piece. Rug-hooking is a very slow, methodic craft. You don’t rush, but you don’t need to focus the way you might with a quilt. This means you can listen to a podcast or watch a movie simultaneously. I paired my crafting with two cups of lavender tea in my favourite mustard yellow mug, some homemade molasses loaf, and the 'Fiasco' episode of This American Life. My dog fell asleep on the rug in front of me, so the whole thing felt idyllic.
Good luck to everyone attempting a Dry January! May the odds be ever in your favour!
2.5 cups all purpose flour
½ cup of bread flour
1 packet Instant Yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons if you’ve bought it in bulk)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk (I like to use buttermilk, which adds a richer flavour, but milk is easier to find and still works great)
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup of mashed potatoes
1 large egg
Combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Combine water, milk and butter in a pan and heat gently. Once the liquids feel as warm as bath water, add in your mashed potatoes.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with the dough hook for 1 minute on medium speed. Add egg and 1 cup flour and mix another 1 minute. Add a third cup of flour and mix until your dough comes together to a soft dough. It will be slightly sticky to the touch.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and dust it with flour. Knead for ten minutes by hand, or about 7 in the mixer.
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball and place into a buttered or oiled pan. Cover and let rise until doubled. This takes about an hour and fifteen minutes, so I usually devote this time to a crossword.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 20-28 minutes, or until rolls are golden. Be sure to rotate the pan if needed partway through baking to ensure the rolls get evenly golden.
Brush hot rolls with melted butter and sprinkle on some freshly chopped rosemary, caraway seeds, and flakey sea salt.