Thursday, January 31, 2013

Foggy Morning Tea

The fog is still here this morning.  Just as it is a fresh, new day, there is fresh, new fog. I have made  Scottish Breakfast Tea because I figure that the Scots are well-acquainted with fog and created a tea that suits it well.

Scottish Breakfast Tea from Taylors of Harrogate seems to clear the fog at breakfast.

With the left over breakfast food, I created this blog-food. Blog food is the food that is used to create pictures for your blog.  After it is all over there will be people with their hands out asking, "May I have the blog food today?"  

In the photograph are two tea-time treats created with breakfast food. Sliced bananas drizzled with fresh-squeezed orange juice is served in those cute little bowls, and a scone is made into an open-face sandwich with cheddar cheese and bacon.

The reason the cheddar in America is orange is because carrot juice (or carotene) is added to give it color. I have no idea why that is, but I suppose just as the orange carrot was developed in honor of William of Orange, who led the Dutch to independence, carrot juice was added to cheddar cheese for great reason. 

The sliced bananas were served in this little bowl, because, aside from my interest in collecting tea cups, I like bowls. I especially like the Corelle brand, and as you can see, it is made in USA. They are light-weight, don't clang in your ear with a terrible noise when stacked,  and almost unbreakable, unless you took a sledge hammer to them. These are open-stock, meaning that they can be bought individucally, at Wal-Mart, and are perfect for small servings of soup, salad, sandwiches and fruit.

I enjoyed this recent Cottage publication, and took a photo of one of the inside pages. There are no ads in this magazine and the pages are high quality textured paper, similar to the old "Ideals" books.

 Also  I browsed an older publication of Victoria from January 1991, below.

It featured a marmalade cake, which had the same colors as the old Victorian house in the snow, in the same issue, pictured below.

There was even a fog-photo inside the January '91 issue.

All weather comes from the Lord, and fog is actually quite interesting. Photographers and artists forever seek to capture its essence, and many a story has been written featuring fog

Tomorrow I hope to have a tea outside in the fog. The front porch is shrouded in fog, so I will not have far to go.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Foggy Morning Sewing

Fog-Lifter Afternoon Tea

The fog is so thick today it seems like a veil even on my indoor tea scene. Today I am serving Bengal Spice tea and home made oat crackers spread with a soft, Swiss cheese called Laughing Cow, which is a favorite of many tea drinkers in America.  The recipe for oatmeal crackers can be found online. I keep an electric coffee grinder especially to grind oats and nuts to make special flour for such treats. It makes a flour in an instant.

Since the fog was so thick today I decided to pull out the brightest pieces of china I own. I have been enjoying foggy-day teas so much that actually hope the fog stays around for a few more days.

A small dish of chopped apples with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg is a perfect companion for today's tea. The table runner is made with white burlap. Burlap is available in many different colors at the fabric store and is an interesting material to work with for making bags, placemats, and many other things.

A good recipe for a cracker that tastes remarkably like digestive biscuits, go to Bob's Red Mill site. The recipe is here.  They taste better the older they get, so don't be disappointed if you eat them right out of the oven and they do not have any flavor. They seem to gain flavor a few hours away from baking. I find they taste best the day after. Note: I find good success with this recipe when using unbleached flour. Unbleached flour, though white in color, is still a good, natural flour and it blends a lot better than some of the hard flours. 

The chopped apple is a Melrose, which is sweet enough on its own, and is topped by unsweetened whipped cream and sprinkled with a dash of ground nutmeg. I tried to make a bright rosette by rolling up a piece of the colorful peel. These tea foods are something than anyone can do, and often in tea rooms you pay a very high price for something as simple as this.

The crackers and the cheese.

Recipe for Oatmeal Crackers is here. I need to inform you that I did not use whole wheat flour. Instead, I used unbleached flour, which is a light color flour, almost white. The whole wheat flour does not work very well in crackers because it is so hard and absorbs so much of the liquid and will not roll out well. Try the unbleached flour in that recipe and increase your oil to half a cup. Roll it out to a fourth or an eighth inch thick, and cut into squares with a knife, or use cookie cutters. (I personally do not think whole-wheat flour is always good for everyone. It is hard on the digestive system of some people, and some people get heart burn from it. However, it is up to the individual cook as to what works best for her and her family. I use unbleached flour most of the time.)

Since I have been making photographs  of my recent fog-teas to share with  blog people, my family calls the tea food "blog food."  At any given time, someone will ask, "Will we be having blog food today?" I might say, "There is still some blog food left. Help yourself."

Today I found two things I very much like,  that are made in America:
This is a soft-scented soap (anise? cinnamon? vanilla? lemon? I cannot determine what it is, but it is most pleasant) that comes from Dollar Tree. I admit a dollar is a lot to pay for one bar of soap, but this is a very large bar and lasts a long time.

Brown paper bags:

Many brands of heavy brown paper grocery bags are made in the USA. I use them for many different things: crafts, drawing my own patterns for various things, and wrapping packages. It is still the thickest, strongest type of brown paper in the world.  I have made baskets, placemats, scrap books, ornaments and many other things from this brown paper. A friend of mine shared that she once used a brown paper bag like this for her carry-on luggage while on an overseas flight, which tells how strong this brown paper really is. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Extra Foggy Afternoon Tea

On this extra foggy afternoon, we are having raisin scones with clotted cream and orange marmalade. I have read about lemon, grapefruit or cherry marmalade but so far, have only tried orange marmalade, which is a perfect companion to raisin scones..

  Here is a tip when adding raisins to the scone mixture. First soak the raisins in an equal amount of water. If the recipe calls for a half cup of raisins, add half cup of extremely warm water and wait awhile to let it plump out the raisins and the water is raisin color. Substitute that amount of liquid for some of the liquid in the recipe.  It will make the scones fluffier and more flavorful, especially if you do not add any sugar. The raisins add enough sweetness.

Pat the dough out thickly and cut with heart-shaped cutter. The dough should be as high as the cookie cutter.

Pomegranate tea was served with these scones. If you would prefer something non-herbal, yet light, try white tea, which is similar to green tea.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Foggy Afternoon Tea

Fog in Appalachia

Today the Afternoon Tea consisted of avocado-egg sandwiches and oat shortbread, accompanied by the most exquisite hot chocolate-hazelnut (filbert) tea.  As you can see by the picture at the start of this post, I'm really trying to figure out shiny ways to mark certain hours of the day, even though I am calling this my "foggy afternoon tea."  Often in a foggy place, 4 a.m. looks exactly the same as 4 p.m. and even in warmer climes there are a great number of these kinds of days surrounded by the white puff of fog.  Morning or afternoon tea makes a fine "marker" for such days.

For a different type of sandwich, I put my daily bread dough in this mini-loaf pan. I have to say that the bread turned out much softer and  better done, than when made as a large loaf, and it has a pastry-like texture and taste; most pleasing. Before the second rising, after I had patted the loaves into the pans, I whisked the yolk of an egg and brushed each loaf. That is the way to make the bread nice and golden brown on the top. However, since these are home grown chicken eggs, the yolks were a deep yellow.

There is no doubt that tea time improves the mood and creates a renewed interest in work and creative endeavors.

After buttering both sides of the bread which was sliced from a tiny loaf, I added sliced avocado and a slice of boiled egg, with salt. (Click on the link to find out about the delicious salt I use.)

When you haven't the "foggiest" idea what to serve for an impromptu afternoon tea, take a second look at the ingredients you used for breakfast: hard boiled eggs, crunchy bacon, cheese, crepes, scones, and even pancakes can be made into tea foods. And, if you are trying to cut down on the amount of food you consume during the day, try cutting a bite size piece of each tea food, and drink more tea. 

Here is the Stash tea I used, and it was reported that it tasted especially great with the oatmeal shortbread. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cinnamon-Apple Spice Tea

Winter Sunset by Raos Dubravko

Today I served a tasty and wonderfully fragrant herbal tea called Cinnamon Apple Spice. There are many different companies and brands of this herbal tea, but you could also make something like it  by heating apple juice with water and spices of your choice. Bengal Spice has a similar taste, and it is also herbal. This kind of herbal tea tastes good and has the added delight of making the house smell good.

These apples are from the harvest and are called "keepers" because they keep well throughout the winter if they are stored in a cool place.

With this delicious hot tea we had carrot and cauliflower sandwiches with lettuce on thinly sliced home made bread. To make the filling, mix chopped cauliflower with grated carrots and your choice of dressing: plain yogurt, sour cream, mayonnaise, etc. Thin slices of white cheddar cheese  and apples are a tasty combination.

This is an interesting cup with a beautiful lid to keep the tea hot. First Corinthians 13:13 is written on one side. The cottage teapot in the back ground makes everything feel like home sweet home around here.

We sat on the old couch and looked through the January issues of Victoria magazine (1987-1996). Each month when I get all the older issues out, it is like getting 10 new books in the mail.

Sipping tea and viewing the ice on the flower bed from the window.

Pleasant Things For the Home

Lighthouse Walk at Biarritz 1908
by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923)

This is the view outside, with a temperature to match, 

...and so, today I made a trip to the Dollar Tree, where I purchased some bright and interesting things.

This is a lovely foam rose-shape, (comes in pink and also red),  which I will use for a placemat, (and I would like to go back and get some more!)

and there was a new shipment of light scented perfumes from the United Kingdom. Since there were about 10 different kinds, I had a hard time deciding what I wanted. There was a lovely scent called "Pink Ice,"  but I finally settled on "Nice Lady," which is really quite a sophisticated scent for a dollar. They were all packaged so beautifully that no one would guess they were from the dollar store. 

Another one of the new perfumes: Pink Waves. Also try Pink Ice, Pink Thrills, Extreme Happiness and several others.

(Not everything here is made in China ;-)

Shown with a child's tea set is a chocolate scented candle from the Dollar Tree, and it smells better than the real thing.  The items on this table all came from used goods stores like Goodwill. I liked the porcelin candle holder because it had a handle and reminded me of days when people used to carry a light through the house at night.
Inside is a led-light candle, also purchased at Dollar Tree: a package of three for a dollar. I notice the led-lights are improved quite a bit, as they are much brighter and they flicker like candle light. I like to put several of them in gifts, like confetti sprinkled in the box.

This feather rose is for someone who has a birthday in February. She loves things like this and will probably lay it on her entry table or coffee table just as it is. If you want to put a "dew drop" on an artificial rose like this, just heat up your hot-glue and squirt a drop or two on the outer petals. When it dries it looks like drops of water.
The Dollar Tree purchases amounted to $5.00, a small price to pay for luxuries. If you are wanting to "come home" full time, but are concerned about "doing without" some luxuries, there is always the Dollar Tree. These little perks are an even greater thrill when they do not have a big price.

This afternoon we had tea at home, which included cucumber and Italian parsley (we call it cilantro) on potato bread.

Everyone agreed that the heart shapes seemed to make them taste better. 

Inside the cucumber-cilantro sandwiches on potato-bread.

This is what I did on a cold, foggy day.I would be interested to know what you do to take your mind off the cold weather or in stormy weather. I like to get the most urgent housework done as quickly as possible and then get in the car to go on errands and essential shopping; then have a brisk walk in this gloomy weather before afternoon tea. The reason I like to quickly get the house work done before going out, is because it is so pleasant to come home to a fairly (I say "fairly" because it is not always possible to do it that way) orderly house.

I am joining "Grey Days to Glimmering" Blog Party.