Family Recipe: Russian Spice Tea

November 18, 2009

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 Cowboy…you 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.

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