Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Family Recipe: Russian Spice Tea

Dear Glen Campbell,

Sorry dude, I hate to break it to you, but you were not the first love of my life. I used to think it was so, but my Mama recently reminded me of the Dave Golley Phenomenon. Sorry, Rhinestone are relegated to second-fiddle status on the Crush-O-Meter.


ps: But the song Rhinestone Cowboy still totally rocks.


Miss D. is in the second grade and she's had the same (God, can I even say the word?) boyfriend for almost a year now. He's a sweet kid with very good manners--he even pulls her chair out for her every morning before she sets her minxy butt in it for the day.

And this boyfriend wasn't even her first. Miss D. was workin' her femme fatale in Kindergarten. The girl is stone-cold boy-crazy, and it makes my sphincter clench.

I was bitching on the phone to my mother the other day about Miss D.'s excessive interest in the opposite sex; I mean, this girl might rival Gramma Rhetta in the arena of Feminine Wiles. It makes me seriously nervous.

I mean, I didn't even get kissed until the 8th grade, and after that fleeting second of excitement, I had to wait a long time (as in, 2 freaking years) before the excitement of kiss #2.

"What is wrong with that child?" I complained to Mama. "She loves boys--just looooooves 'em. It's not natural. Boys should still have cooties at her age."

"D. never went through the Boys Have Cooties Phase," my mother pointed out. "She was flirting with the opposite sex at 3 months old."

"Well, it's not normal and I'm planning on bolting her windows shut. I was not like that. She gets it from your side, Mama, I swear."

"Oh, I don't know...I do recall a certain young lady who worshipped Dave Golley..."

ARGH. Mothers. Always throwing crap back in your face.


There wasn't much to do in North Dakota in the early seventies; more important, there wasn't much to do in North Dakota in the wintertime, especially if you were poor.

Which is why my father thought it was a brilliant idea to get season tickets (for the cheapest seats possible) for the University of North Dakota hockey team. Go Fighting Sioux! And I'll tell you why those tickets were so cheap--the Sioux weren't real good at the time.

God, those games were boring. Plus, I don't know where the UND athletic funds went, but I can assure you that they didn't go towards heating that stadium. It was colder than a witch's tit in there. I think it's almost fair to say that it was just as cold inside as outside.

There's only so much hot Dr. Pepper (I know, gross! But that's what they served!) a 5 year old girl can drink before she gets antsy. I tried throwing popcorn in the air and catching it in my mouth....Mama squelched that little activity with one look. I tried to juggle my mittens, but my hands just got cold. I made paper airplanes out of the game roster, but I knew Mama would kill me if I threw one, so what's the fun in that?

I was b-o-r-e-d. Bored. So I decided to take radical action and actually watch the game. And lo and behold, some strapping young forward burst down the length of the rink, whacked that puck and BAM! Right in the net. The crowd went wild!

The hockey forward smirked, shrugged non-chalantly, and took off his helmet, displaying the most riotous mane of red hair I'd ever seen. And....cue the ringing of the bells, ladies and gentlemen...this 5 year old was smitten.

From that day on, I stalked Dave Golley. I'd park my pre-K ass right over the penalty box, waving and shouting, "Dave! Dave! Hey, hiya, Dave! Hi Dave Golley!" at the top of my lungs. And no matter how hard he tried to ignore me, I did not go away. I have no idea what my little brain found so enchanting about a pimply kid sporting an orange afro, but he floated my boat.

A few seasons later, Dave Golley was gone, and I was back to juggling my mittens. At least Mama had learned that the hot Dr. Pepper gave me the runs, so she carried a big Thermos of my favorite winter beverage.

The technical term for this was "Russian Spiced Tea" but in our family, we just called it Spice Tea. Mama made it for me every time I got sick or was butt-ass cold. I still remember the month I had pneumonia (for the first time); I think Spice Tea kept me alive, because I didn't want food for weeks. It was a warm saucer of sweet comfort in a cold and lonely landscape.

Russian Spiced Tea
makes a big jar of mix

1 (18-ounce) jar Tang (orange flavor)
1 cup sugar
1 cup Lipton instant tea (unsweetened)
1 package dry, pre-sweetened lemonade
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a large jar and store in a cool, dry place. To serve, add 2 teaspoons of the tea mix to a mug and pour in boiling water. Stir.


  1. OMG, you had me snorting with this one.
    I think your Glen Campbell crush was way cooler than my John Denver one.

    Good luck with Miss D, I think you're gonna need it. My boys still think think that all girls are silly and annoying and certainly undeserving of any of their attention. YAY!!

    I think it is priceless that your little 5 year old self used to swoon over a teenage, hockey playing ranga. Hilarious.

    PS. Exactly how cold is a witch's tit? :-)

  2. I love the story that comes with the tea. It sounds intriguing, the tea, Tang? I have never tried Tang. I guess I can't call myself American without trying it out? But I do enjoy hot Coke with lemon. Gross, eh? Thanks for sharing the memories.

  3. Love the entire post.

    But Tang? Really? I thought that was just for putting on snow.

  4. I don't know about the Tang...... but I like a cup of spiked.....I mean spiced tea.

  5. Holy JAR of Tang, Batgirl!?!?! No need for rocket fuel, straight to the moon! I think you left the vodka out, the Russian part is the most important part.

    Bowser was my first love. Grease for Peace.

  6. Colder than a witches tit? Love it! Love this entry - and you look so cute in the photo!!! As for Miss D - how funny! She's a real character isn't she?! xxx

  7. You know, I clicked on your comment over on Big Little Wolf, thinking I need less food not more recipes in my life, but I laughed out loud for minutes at the expression of that child in the pot. Then I started reading. I need, need, need more humour in my life, so you've been tagged and I'll be back. (I forgot about hot Dr Pepper...)

  8. What a great story! This had me laughing the whole way through. I was very similar to Miss D- had boy crushes at a very early age...and I turned out just fine ;)

  9. I love how you always relate a story to your recipes. This one was awesome. I don't remember a celebrity crush until Bo and Luke Duke. And the funny thing, I always preferred Luke while everyone else was interested in Bo.

  10. oh I bet Jasmine will be like miss D she is always charming guys already on the trains in France! great and entertaining post

  11. That concoction would need a shot (or two) of spiced rum before I could even consider drinking it. And why on earth would anyone defile a soda by heating it up? Must be a ND thing : )

  12. I wouldn't worry too much. I had a boyfriend for 2 years when I was in preschool and then... nothing. For many, many years.
    The spiced tea sounds delicious though, especially if spiked with rum or whiskey.

  13. Ummmm....Tang? Conjures memories of Vacation Bible School. Maybe you have to have a Dave Golley story to have a fondness for cancer-inducing dehydrated sugared food coloring. Funny how the memories make things otherwise unpalatable somehow...comforting.

  14. just found your blog! look forward to reading more:)

  15. Geez my son was like that. I remember him coming home from kindergarten and announcing who he'd be marrying and another time coming home and saying proudly that he kissed Sara B during recess. Sheesh. I was more like you! And Dr. Pepper? Really? Blech - only kid bro drank that stuff. And Glenn Campbell - yeah baby!

  16. Frickin' hilarious. Mwaaa haaa haa haa! Okay, I don't know. I've always been overly boy-crazy...but mine was more of a secret crush type of thing. This spiced tea sounds so like the 80's to me...I totally need to make some :D

  17. The boy I picked out in first grade had wild red hair, was covered in freckles, and had a nervous habit of stroking his nose, pushing the tip down to his upper lip. I found this utterly enchanting. Luckily, he was also a genuinesly sweet kid.

    Do you suppose we found them exotic? Was that is?

  18. First off, you freaking kill me with this stuff. Dave Golley-hillarious! I am still laughing at this post. Secondly, how is that tea for real? Just good as a memory of your youth or would you make and drink it now? I ask because I saw a recipe (almost the exact same thing with tang and lemonade) in a Southern Living cookbook. They had it presented as a holiday gift all layered in a pretty jar and it looked fantastic. Then, I read what was in it and questioned it because I've never heard of this type of tea. It sounded funny with those two ingredients. But, I guess they just flavor citrus right? I'd love to hear your feedback.

  19. That is the cutest story ever! I love the "minxy little butt."

  20. I may have to try's been a while since I've had Tang!! I just love your stories...

  21. ~Laura,

    I remember the tea as being absolutely delicious. Seriously. It WAS pretty sweet, so you may want to tinker with the amount of sugar you add, but it's a nice, citrus-spiced drink. Kids love it!

  22. Do they still make Tang? I do remember it well. I loved sweets when I was young. I never had Hot Dr. Pepper though. Of course in Dutch saturated west Michigan it was hot Dutch Cocoa all the way.

    Cute, funny, story. I could just picture you at the penalty box! LOL! Well you know where she gets it from, and you turned out okay right?

    I've had people warn me that we'd need bars on my daughter's door to keep the boys at bay. Lucky she goes to a small school and she doesn't hang with the boy crazy girls! (so far)

    Your posts do bring back memories for all of us. Thanks!

  23. Even the mention of Tang makes my teeth hurt (actually, the mention of Glen Campbell, too, now that I think about it), but as a kid, I thought it was deeelicious.

    As always, your story had me laughing out loud and reading your to E, your newest fan!

  24. ahhh you were a puck bunny. Cute. I never kissed a boy till I was 14. Too shy.

  25. How hysterical are YOU and your kindergarten crush? I have a BOY kindergartener. And all of the girls have crushes on him. Oh. My. God.

    And that tea? Damn. I'm gonna try that. Definitely. And I'm going to pass on the hot Dr. Pepper (called Dr. Burper in this house). Definitely.

  26. omg. I think I love you. And I think I love momalom for leading me over here. (Actually, I know I love momalom. But since this is my first stop here, I don't want to overwhelm you.)

  27. Miss D. has her boyfriend trained, TKW! That's impressive.

  28. Hah! I love your description of your daughter's boyfriend. That and your story of your first love were perfect connections into this recipe. How clever! I look forward to coming back and reading more!

  29. 1. My first crush was Shaun Cassidy. My cousin and I wrote him fan letters. Da Do Run Run Run!
    B. I chased boys and kissed them in kindergarten.
    3. I have had a version of this tea but I think I had it without the spices...maybe.

    Fun post!! :D

  30. With a name like Dave Golley, how could you not?

    Thank goodness for your mama, thinking up something other than hot dr. pepper. Yick. Spice Tea sounds infinitely preferable. :)

  31. As always, I am laughing. I can remember in the 3rd grade becoming quite smitten with a boy and used to arrive at school early just to watch him play on the playground. That crush lasted well into the 6th grade...I don't thnk that boy could tell you my name.

    This is such a fun blog! Just love it.

  32. Love, love, love the stories you post with the recipes. You are so fun and so clever. And LOVE this recipe. It's my go-to drink whenever I have a winter cold. Great post!

  33. OMG! College hockey and Russian Spice Tea! I can't imagine two better things in one blog post. I have seen UND play hockey but not in ND. I love, love, love hockey players.

    The Spice Tea is wonderful. I have made it and love it!!!

    Miss D is going to be a heartbreaker. Keep her on a short lead for a while to help with your sanity.

  34. My mom used to make it for us in the winter...New Hampshire could get pretty damn cold!! I think I may have to get some ingredients for it this weekend!

  35. So thrilled to have found your blog. And if this post is any indication of what you are up to, I will be back (and often). I love this post because it stuffed with Memory, the sweetest spice of all. I love that it has fibers playful and profound. And now you have me smiling thinking of hot Dr. Pepper!

    (Oh, and I secretly hope my girls don't like boys until they are thirty!)

  36. I'm so glad to see a version of this recipe still going 'round. We drank gallons of this stuff the years when we lived in the Midwest. It may have saved us from having frozen innards, now that I think about it. I haven't made it in years because I couldn't find one of the ingredients.
    You're showing it at the perfect time--I'll make a Christmas stash for my kids and their families.

    (And I'll make the Pomegranate drink for ME! LOL!) You're a treasure!

  37. Holy fuckity fuck on the boy thing.

    Wait. I must digress for a second because Teresa, aka Goldfish up there...I can't believe she just found you! WTF? Go visit her. She is on my "I'll love you forever" list.

    Back to boys.
    If D. takes after the Kitch, do I gotta boy for you dahling.

    Just happen to have a 7 year old second grader under my roof...with red hair don't you know??? If only we had moved to Fort Collins instead of Connecticut four years ago. I think we might have made a match!

    The next time I fly into the Denver airport to visit my brother I will ring you up first to meet me there. Maybe it will be love at first sight. Yes?

    Um Spiced Tea? Okay. Sure. Washed down with a mojito. K. Thx.

  38. Sarah, waiting for the phone to ring...

  39. That sounds yummy. My dad dragged us to college hockey games too. I had no crushes to distract me. Just the evil looks my mom gave us if we decided to learn the words the college kids were shouting.

  40. My Grandmother always had a Russian tea mixed by her sister in the pantry. I really think I was the only one who ever drank it. It was always in a cleaned out Suisse Mocha can.