Monday, April 28, 2008

Bubble tea. . . the tea you can chew!

My coworkers and I have been spending a ridiculous amount of money on bubble tea at the independent zen tea shop across the street. While we love the place and like to support the owners I wondered how difficult it could be to make my own bubbles. I did a little research and a few days later a brick of tapioca bubbles landed on my doorstep.

Tapioca bubbles are basically tapioca starch and caramel coloring pressed together in fragile little powdery pellets. I cooked about 2 cups of them in water (with plenty of room to swim, just like pasta), and then turn the heat off and let them sit covered for a half hour. At the same I prepared a sugar syrup with white and brown sugar. when thebubbles are cooked they need to be drained and rinsed. Some of the bubbles dissolve so when they're done they're sitting in a gelatinous black mass. Once they're coated with the sugar syrup they look like this:

If you go to a bubble tea stand or a tea shop you can get all kinds of flavorings and mix-ins and sweeteners added to many different tea bases. Personally, I like regular old black tea with no flavorings and maybe a little milk. The tapioca bubbles in their syrup are fairly sweet, so I usually don't add extra sweetener. Here's the green tea with vanilla soymilk (and bubbles) that I made for myself:

The bubbles stay firm, so you need a special wide straw to suck them up. Sometimes they get stuck:

Bringing them to work, they looked like a science experiment:

The mulch that escaped

I took this a few Sundays ago in Raymond Park, Cambridge MA. I noticed the mulch spiral on my way home on Friday and meant to take a photo early Saturday morning before the park was mobbed with kids. But I forgot, and then it rained and poured. So I was surprised and happy to see that my mulch spiral didn't totally wash away.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

New England Spring Flower Show

A couple of Fridays ago I took the day off of work to go to the New England Spring Flower Show hosted by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. I was curious because I'd never been to one. I was also in need of a little injection of spring. This year's theme was "Rhapsody in Green", as in environmentally green as well as obvious green.

Many of the displays were difficult to photograph because they were so large and it was kind of dark in the place - my photographs wouldn't have done them justice. Here are some small scale photos:
giant palm

Patterns on the floor

Pretty garden furniture

Entries from the young Mass Horticulturalists. Flower Power!

Aloe plicatilis, or Fan Aloe. This had a funny little shoot growing up out of the middle but I accidentally chopped it off in the photos.

Oops! I can't find where I wrote down the name of this one. I'd name it the Medusa cactus.

One of the entries in the arrangements section

Lots of orchids. This one is a Doritaenopsis "Chain Xen Pearl" Moth Orchid

Here's a Paphiopedilum Hybrid Ladyslipper

This is a Phalaenopsis "Join Angel" Moth Orchid

And last, a Zygopetalum "River Murray"

The Blue Hills Reservation in Milton had a booth with all kinds of information as well as critters! This is an Eastern Screech Owl that they rescued. Very cute little guy.

In preparation for my own garden, I bought more California poppy seeds and some nasturtium seeds for my porch window boxes. Fun stuff!