18 January 2012

Sweetened Iced Tea & Ego Extract

Although she generally plans out the menu, when it comes to preparing dinner, Liz pretty much lets me cook the way I want. Sometimes, she's quite pleased. Often, she's a bit cautious and suspicious of the concoctions I've come up with.

As I’ve stated before, my recipes come about when I eat something I like very much and then my desire to create my own version of the culinary delight, hoping to improve upon the meal as well as add my own special touch.

The same goes with a nice beverage.

I grew up drinking sweetened iced tea. And although Paula Deen may have sworn sweetened tea to curve her Type 2 diabetes, I'll probably drink sweetened tea on my death bed.

One of my fondest childhood, teenage, and young adult memories is visiting Grandma Smith in Altus and drinking her sweetened iced tea.

Iced TeaAfter brewing and sweetening her tea, she put it in an old tin milk pitcher much like the one posted here, except Grandma's was just plain silver. The pitcher held about a gallon, and she’d have to make two or three gallons a day when any family visited on vacation.

Grandma super-sweetened her tea. That’s why I (and the others) liked it so much. I’m not sure, but I think Grandma put two or three cups of sugar in her tea, so much that it was more like sugar water with a  little tea flavoring.

I smile when remembering opening up her refrigerator, grabbing that old tin milk pitcher, and pouring a big glass of sweetened tea over several cubes of ice--even though the tea was already quite cold.

One of the downsides to Grandma’s sweetened tea was the pitcher itself. It was an opened pitcher with a wide pouring spout. As with liquids and other foods, the tea would often absorb any aromas wafting around in the old fridge.

So, if Grandma had fried some onions and put the leftovers in the fridge, the fried onion aroma floated through the fridge and would do a swan dive into the wide-mouth tin milk pitcher, thus mingling as one with the overly sweetened tea.

This is back in the day before plastic containers with airtight lids to keep aromas and freshness within the containers. Back in this day, tin foil often served as the lid for the leftovers, and tin foil does not an aroma barrier make.

So, I’d dive into the fridge, grab the tin pitcher of sweetened tea, pour the brownish-gold liquid over the ice cubes, and quaff.

Only after a few greedy gulps did I realize I was quaffing an interesting juxtaposition of sweetened tea and fried onions.

Still, it was so sweet that I didn’t mind the imbuing of the two contrasting palatine pleasures.

I’ve continued to drink tea over the years, many of those years I'd be drinking unsweetened iced tea in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep my weight at a respectful balance

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gone back to sweetened iced tea, but I haven’t settled for the mundane sugar-tea combination.

And I winch at the thought of drinking tea full with as much as Grandma would stir into the tea.

So, I have compromised with my own concoction.

Larry Mike’s Sweetened Iced Tea:

  • 1 ounce of your favorite flavor of tea (leaf or bag)
  • 2 quarts of water (distilled/filtered is best)
  • 1 ¼ cup of sugar (or none, or sugar to taste, but not too much sugar or the sugar will mask the flavor of the tea, as Grandma’s would)
  • 1/3 cup of pure lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup of pure lime juice

1. Place tea in the two quarts of water and bring to boil

2. Boil for several minutes (two to five)

3. Turn off heat but keep the water/tea on the burner, letting the water slowly cool down from boiling

4. After a half hour of brewing, remove tea leaves/bags

5. Add lemon, lime, and sugar and stir vigorously

6. Put in a one-gallon container and add enough water to make one gallon

7. Although you can serve over ice cubes right away, I like to let the tea set overnight in the fridge to give all the ingredients time to fully mingle and become one.

Occasionally I'll add a bit a pure extract flavoring just to spice up the tea somewhat. Be careful if you do this so the flavoring doesn’t monopolize the tea-lemon-lime-sugar.

All flavors should work together to produce a delicious cold beverage rather than have one that dominates the others, like all the sugar Grandma put in her tea.

If you do add pure extract flavoring, just put in a drop, maybe two. Make sure to use pure extracts. I know the imitations are much less expensive and you (or I) probably can’t tell the difference in the taste between the artificial and the pure. Still, I prefer to pay a little extra for the real thing.

I’ve used the following pure extracts to enhance the sweetened iced tea experience:

Almond, Vanilla, Bourbon Vanilla, Peppermint, Raspberry, Strawberry, Blackberry

Of course, honey is a nice addition.

The first time I added a pure extract flavoring, I added too much, and the extract flavoring was all I could taste, ruining what I thought would be a perfect mixture of some of my favorite tastes.

Liz didn’t like it either. So, with great reluctance and a ceremony befitting a Viking funeral (I hate wasting anything, even if it’s something that’s gone wrong), I poured the remainder of the sweetened tea (a gallon minus two cups) down the drain.

I learned to use just enough extract flavoring to suggest, to hint at the taste of an additional flavor, to provide an occasional change to the routine.


Sometimes when I write, I add too much of a good thing, I put in too much Creative Writing Extract.

I've attended dozens of workshops, completed several creative writing classes, and I have even conducted workshops and taught creative writing as well.

I know much about how to put a story together using all the standard tools, techniques, and tricks of writing.

And, as with many writers, I sometimes let my cleverness and my talent and my knowledge take over and the story gets bogged down. I add everything to the mix so that the story becomes an exercise in Creative Writing cleverness rather than just a good story.

The reader has to sluggishly make his way through the thickness of Writer’s Ego Extract to get the real taste of the tale, leaving a thick, yucky heavy taste on his mental toungue.

If the reader gets to the end of the tale at all. Once a reader realizes he/she is merely indulging a Writer’s Ego in his exercise of Cuteness, he/she dumps the tale, just as I dumped that tea down the drain the first time I made extract flavored sweetened iced tea.

I want my reader to enjoy a story I've written the way he/she would enjoy a nice cold beverage I've made on a warm summer’s day while sitting on a porch swing, watching the world go by: relaxing, refreshing, invigorating, and enlightening

But, when I add too much pure extract of Graduate School/Creative Writing flavoring to my story (all that Creative Writing School/ How to Write the Perfect Story and Get Published nonsense), I’ve lost the true intent of tale-telling in the first place--to refresh the reader.

Adding a drop or two of pure extract to my sweetened iced tea is a refreshing change.

Extracting my Writer's Ego while weaving a tale is the best writing advice I can give to myself to provide the best tasteful flavor of story for my readers.

Bon Appétit

Larry Mike

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