Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Your Tea with Apple Pie

Apple pie and tea - a perfect pairing if there ever were one! I made an apple pie today and I needed - just really needed - a China black tea with it. Fortunately, I have a tin of Queen Catherine tea that fits the bill. What tea would you choose to go with a slice of apple pie?

Regarding that apple pie, let me brag - it was heavenly! I took a break from work this afternoon and had a slice of pie and a cup of tea on the front porch. It was a moment of perfection!

I used apples from a tree in our back yard. They are beautifully organic - with holes and bruises and bumps. As I cut them up, I left on a little skin (see below). I like the pink color the cooked apples take on from a bit of skin left on. (Warning: the texture holds a little firmer with the skin on. Some people may not like this.)

Here's the finished product. I'm so proud of my pie! I'm not an experienced pie maker; my Mom takes that role. But I see now that I may be stepping up to the plate. The pie plate, that is...for a second slice!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tea Gifts for a One-Year-Old

My niece recently celebrated her first birthday, and I was delighted to give her these tea treasures!

Alma's Design Tea Party Set - This soft, cushy tea set is adorable! It's got a teapot, 2 cups and saucers, a cake plate and 2 treats, and a creamer and sugar! Plus, the totebag turns into a blanket. Fun!

Here's my niece serving me tea with this set! :-)

And I love to give books, so to go with the tea set, I gave her My Very First Tea Party book.
Miss Honey B goes to tea. :-)

These gifts are adorable, and as the DH pointed out, all about me! Ha ha! But that's OK with me because I look forward to many tea parties with my niece in the future!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Artist in Me

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." ~Pablo Picasso

I've labeled myself, for a long time, as a non-artsy person. I took great pains to avoid art class in high school and college because I "couldn't draw" and that meant I wouldn't get an A. (Chuckle appropriate, for those who know me.) Yet I surround myself with creative people. And, when I look deeply, I find that I have long used art as a way to connect with myself, to be playful, to share with others, and even to heal.

When I was 13, I lost my father to cancer. It was a traumatic experience. Not long after his death, I wrote a short story about a girl. I gave her the fictional name of Jessica. She, too, had lost her father. I don't think I ever showed the story to anyone. I don't even know where the story is. But I remember, so deeply, how important it was for me to express myself in this form. Putting my loss and fear in story form allowed my young self to assess things a little more objectively. And, if I recall, I gave her hope for a happy life. The tears run down my face as I type this.

Over the past few years, I've been learning that I can make art and that it still is very powerful, in so many ways. I love to take photos. I love to write. I am learning to sew. I want to explore mixed media collage...and so much more.

I've recently been absorbed in the bookTaking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts (a fellow blogger). I'll write more on this later, but let me say that the book is bringing to consciousness some deep longings to give my creative life more attention. So, thank you Kelly Rae!

And thank you to all of my creative friends who inspire me daily! First, to the DH, a life's artist. To my friends who make art with gardens and food and words and cloth and glass and paint and dance and beads and music and photos and clay and papers and traditional arts and so much more, thank you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

London Cuppa

Has anyone tried London Cuppa tea? I inherited a tin from my neighbor. The tea claims to be formulated to appeal to the British palate and for London's water.

The cup is "brisk" to be sure. Taken straight, I found that it overwhelmed me. When I added milk and sugar, it was a nicer experience. It's a blend of Assam and Kenyan tea. It's not a tea for me on a regular basis. Nonetheless, if you like a strong/intense tea, I think you will like this! Also see the Tea with Friends review. :-)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September Tea: Apples In My Bed!

This is my September tea theme posting. Alternate blog titles I considered: Leftovers in Bed, The Bed to Myself, Breakfast in Bed!

I had the bed to myself on a recent morning. The DH had an early appointment and I had breakfast leftovers in the fridge! The DH (dear hubby) had the day before made apple pancakes for breakfast - with extras! And for supper, we had fried apples.

I stumbled downstairs, made a pot of tea, pulled together a pretty napkin and made myself a breakfast tea-tray. Ah, a moment to savor and so easy to do yourself ! The tip is all about breakfast leftovers -- to me, breakfast in bed means definitely NOT cooking!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Little Flower That Could

"I think I can, I think I can"

This lovely blossom surprised me yesterday. The day lilly had been blooming its heart out, and I was certain we'd seen all of its blossoms a few weeks ago. Imagine my surprise when I looked out the window to be greeted by this gorgeous orange flower yesterday morning. I was reminded not to underestimate things - myself, others and, most importantly, the life force around us.

One of my favorite childhood stories was The Little Engine That Could. I liked it (and still do) because it was the little engine that accomplished the difficult task. As a child, I was thrilled by this idea. As an adult, I still am. To find my own strength and to never underestimate myself. And to extend that belief to others. Truly, a lesson for life.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vintage Cookbooks Online

While skimming the Angry Chicken craft blog, I recently discovered this GREAT set of vintage cookbooks online! The project is called Feeding America and comes from Michigan State University. Warning: These can be addictive!

I found the "search the collection" page particularly helpful. Here are a few of my discoveries:

Enjoy, and do let us know if you make anything from one of these treasures!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Between our tomatoes, those from the CSA and those from my parents, we have been living in red (and yellow)! I made a batch of fresh tomato sauce this week, and it's heavenly. I think I could eat this every day! Here's the finished product, after it's cooked down.

And here's the super-simple recipe. It's not exact. Into a big pot, add:

-A bunch of diced tomatoes, about 4 qt (I think)

  • Ignore most tomato sauce recipes to the contrary and KEEP the skins! Removing the skins is a waste of time, color and nutrition. As you can see in the photo above, the sauce turns out great with the skins! Some skins stay intact; others slide off and form these lovely little red twists that add visual and textural interest. KEEP the skins!
  • Also ignore the advice to remove all the seeds and liquid from the tomatoes. I came up with a way to remove some of the seeds and liquid, and I did this to about half the tomatoes. (The rest went into the pot with seeds and liquid.) Core the tomato and hold it in your palm, cut side down. Hold it over a bowl and squeeze. Lots of liquid and seeds come out. Then you can dice it and throw into the pot.

- Several cloves of garlic, minced

- Chopped onions, as much as you want; I was actually out of onion so I used chopped greens of fall-blooming prairie onions in our garden

- A handful of fresh oregano and fresh marjoram (dried is OK too)

- Some red wine (about 1/2 a cup?)

- Dash of red pepper flakes, to taste

- Salt (go easy) and pepper, to taste

Simmer over medium heat until it reaches the desired consistency.

Mine simmered about 2.5 hours. You can even skim off some of the liquid to use as a soup base. This freezes well, too - tho I didn't have much left to freeze!

What I love about this recipe is that it's not too salty, nor is it too sweet. Most commercial varieties, to me, fall into one camp or the other.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Campfire Scones

Hello! I'm back from vacation and thought I'd share how my campfire scones turned out. It was a definite experiment. It was cool and dark (about 6:30 am) on this morning, as I hovered over the fire , hoping and praying that these scones would turn out! And they did!

Here is my recipe, in case you head out on your own camping adventure.

Mix together before leaving for camp, in a light-weight container with a lid:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Enough milk powder to make 1/3 cup (consult your dried milk instructions)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Dash cinnamon
  • Dash salt
  • A handful or two of raisins, to your preference
  • A handful of nuts, if desired (I used pine nuts)
  • Toss well or stir, to mix

Take with you to camp:

  • The mix, from above
  • Butter, 1/4 cup (pre-cut into chunks is nice) and enough extra to grease the pan
  • 2 eggs
  • Water, enough to make 1/3 cup (or a little more)
  • Cast-iron pan for placing over fire

Get your fire going and place a grate over the flame/coals. Grease your cast iron pan.

With your fingers, mix the butter into the flour mixture, until it forms the consistency of cornmeal. Beat the eggs and add, along with enough water to form a soft dough. Spoon into cast iron pan and spread evenly.

Place over fire and cook until tops are golden. What worked well for me was to cut the scones into quadrants and flip them, once the bottom had set and it started to be cake-like. This prevents the bottoms from getting too done and lets the top get golden. (Thanks, Amanda, for the suggestion!)

Enjoy with a cup of tea, made from hot water in your campfire kettle!

Special thanks to Amanda and Jason for braving the experiment!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Free Patterns and Vaca

Hello! AZ Tea Lover has brought to my attention the free pattern giveaways from Vogue, Butterick and McCall, through the end of the month. I'm guessing these are the same parent company. Check it out:

Vogue: http://www.voguepatterns.com/special_offers/freepattern.htm
Butterick: http://www.butterick.com/special_offers/freepattern.htm

Notes: There are some restrictions, and the offer doesn't apply on sale days. You also pay shipping.

I will be away from my computer for a few days on vaca. I'll be exploring my interesting home state and spending some time with family. I may (or may not) get a blog in toward the end of next week. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Cornmeal-Rosemary-Parmesan Scones

Here is the recipe for the cornmeal-rosemary-parmesan scones that I mentioned in the previous post. The recipe is smooshed together from about 3 different scone recipes.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp butter (I used the frozen/grated method and it worked great!)
2+ tsp fresh chopped rosemary
3 generous tbsp parmesan
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten, for tops

Preheat your oven (400). Mix dry ingredients (flour - sugar). Stir in cold butter pellets and mix with fork or pastry blender. Add rosemary and parmesan.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and egg. Add to dry ingredients until it forms a sticky dough. Turn onto floured surface and shape into a 12-inch round. (You may need to add a little extra cornmeal to be able to handle it.) Cut out into desired shapes. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking stone. Dust very lightly with cornmeal on tops. Apply whipped eggs to top of scones with a brush. Bake ~15 minutes. Tops will be lightly golden when done.