By Sandra Piniella
from the Spice Shop Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz
Hotter than blazes here in Seattle – if it had the grace to rain, I would lay my round old bod smack dab in the middle of Pike Place and open my mouth and drink it in. Let the trucks and tourists wriggle their way around me.
Hotter than blazes and the boss has us testing chai recipes. She wants a masala, a spice blend for ed with tea, and a baking blend we can sell for use in cookies, cakes, pretty much anywhere you might use cinnamon. It’s a good plan—her plans usually are, though don’t tell her I said so. But her plan means brewing endless cups of hot tea—you can drink chai iced, of course, and millions do, myself included from time to time, but you have to start with the hot stuff. Plus you can’t taste-test cold brew nearly as well as hot. Not if you want to get the flavors right.
Her plan also means baking. Now, I love to bake and Mr. Right loves the results. Except when it’s 95 degrees in a city where only the newest and grooviest of buildings has A/C and our little hideaway of a home is decidedly not new or groovy. Cranking up that oven is making me a bit cranky, I have to admit.
And speaking of hotter than blazes, the boss has herself a new guy and He. Is. Hot. Plus he’s got the serious hots for her. More than she realizes, me thinks. I’m just watching, waiting to see what will happen.
Meanwhile, it’s hot. Did I mention that? Throw another ice cube or three in my chai, would you? Grazie, grazie, grazie.
Pepper’s Perfect Spiced Chai
4 green cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
4 black peppercorns
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 slice fresh ginger, roughly an inch across and 1/4" thick; no need to peel it
1 heaping tablespoon loose-leaf black tea, such as Assam or Keemun
1/2 cup milk
honey or turbinado sugar, to taste
In a small saucepan, heat the water, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, and ginger. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the tea and boil 3 minutes. Add the milk and bring back to a boil; turn off the heat and allow to steep 2 minutes. Strain into a large mug and sweeten to taste.
To serve iced, strain and pour over ice in a large glass.
Serves one. You can increase the recipe and store in the fridge, covered, 2–3 days; serve cold or reheat.
From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books, June 2019):
Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.
As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder.
Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.
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