Friday, March 28, 2014

Teapot (Head) Under Here

I think he's found his look!

That's my good friend D. I think the look suits him to a "tea"!  I love that he wore this and owned it, and not for a few seconds, either.  For a good long while!  

The tea cosy itself is a project that's been half finished for over a year.  I'm so glad that I can add it to the "done" list.  Every time I look at it, I smile.  I love the whimsy.  The idea came from Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol.  It's linen fabric with a vibrant turquoise flannel lining inside.  I sandwiched thermal batting in the middle.  The bias tape binding on the bottom was made by sewing goddess CO Tea Lover. I really love how the tea cosy turned out, and especially how it's worn!

Billy Connolly — "Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Two Fun Tea Sandwiches

Beet-Gorgonzola-Walnut tea sandwich

While this pretty-in-pink sandwich above might look to be on the sweet side, it definitely falls within the savory category.  Its pink color comes from beets, blended with Gorgonzola, walnuts, cream cheese and garlic.  It's an Elmwood Inn recipe found here, the top one only. I have a friend who cannot eat walnuts and so I used 2 Tbsp of tahini instead and that worked well.

Egg salad in flower cups

Before going into the oven.  On the next batch, I rolled the bread out to be even thinner.

I got the idea for the flower cups from a book that Angela had recommended.  I modified the recipe to have less bread bulk.  You will need a rolling pin and a mini-muffin tin.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*  Take a slice of bread and flatten it with a rolling pin.  
* Using an ~2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out three circles.  (You will use only two of them for one flower cup.)
* Using a pastry brush, generously coat both sides and the edges of the rounds with oil.  
* Take one round and press it firmly into the bottom and up the side of a mini-muffin tin.
* Take the second round and cut it in half.  Arrange each half in the muffin tin to make the second and third petals.  Press these firmly into the other pieces of bread.  This firm press is very important!  That's what holds it all together. 
* Toast until the tops of the petals are golden brown.
* Let cool in the muffin tins.  Store in muffin tins until it's time to use.  This ensures the flower cups won't fall apart prematurely.
* Stuff and garnish, serve and enjoy!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Grandma's China

I recently had the joyful experience of hosting a friend for tea, to celebrate Spring, Persian New Year, and March Birthdays.  I pulled out the china set that came from my Grandma T.  I know that she would have loved to join us. 
My grandmother was a very skilled yard sale shopper.  In fact, I believe that's where this china set came from.  A few years ago, I picked up this teapot at a consignment shop.  While not the same pattern as the other china, it blends beautifully.  It's a nice size (6-8 cups) and it pours well.  I can see Grandma T smile at my finding this treasure (for not much money).  She wasn't a financially wealthy woman and she had many hardships in her life.  Yet her life was rich with the things important to her.  I remember her playfulness; her laugh; her funny sayings; her biscuits, dumplings and fried chicken; her sewing; her creativity; her resourcefulness; her walks; her sweet tooth and her love and dedication to family. 

I didn't start out to make this post about my grandmother.  But there you  have it.  Sometimes we write what's in our hearts. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Treacle Scones

Treacle scones

Ah, a slow Saturday morning!  The DH is out already and I slept in, then arose to nothing hurried.  I turned on Weekend Edition on NPR and made treacle scones.  Why do I make these only in March each year?  They are so delicious, I need to make them a regular treat.

For those of you thinking of St. Patrick's Day teas, here are a few additional ideas:
Do you have any fun St. Patrick's Day plans?  I'll be working, but plan to enjoy these treacle scones until then!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Robin's Egg Blue: Japanese Tea Sweet

I've been having so much fun playing with Japanese tea sweets!  This is one of my favorites.  It's made from a center of red bean paste, surrounded by white bean paste for the nest.  The little blue eggs are white bean paste that I colored.  (The bean pastes are sweetened.)

The naming of sweets is an important part of the process, as the guests may want to know the story of the sweet.  I'm learning what makes a good sweets name.  Generally, it should be something suggestive of the season, and poetic.  Do you have ideas for a name for this sweet?     

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Matcha Brownies

OK, these were really, Really, REALLY good!  And easy.  And green.  :-)

Take your regular brownie recipe.  Pour the batter into the pan.  Spoon the filling (recipe below) in dollops across the top and blend with a knife for the swirl effect.  Bake as normal - it may need a wee bit longer.  I also keep them refrigerated, due to the cream cheese.

Matcha Filling:
*4 oz cream cheese
*1 egg
*2+ teaspoons of matcha, depending on how green you want it
*2 tsp sugar

Blend in mixer until smooth.

By the way, use food grade matcha for this.  Matcha can be expensive and you want to save the more expensive tea grade for drinking.  The less expensive food grade is perfectly fine for cooking. 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Frustration or Compassion? In Tea and Life

When I brew tea poorly, my first response is frustration with myself.  "I've wasted this pot of tea!  I've wasted my time!"  I scold myself.  I'm quick to frustration and slow on patience.  But I'm trying a new approach... I ask myself, "Frustration or Compassion?"  

When I approach my poor brewing (a metaphor for life) in a compassionate way, I have permission to go a little deeper and explore slowly.  I'll ask myself why I was in a hurry, not paying attention, or lacking skills.  Do I need to make space for the tea and put aside distractions (be in the moment?)  Do I need to prioritize and focus on the other tasks and return to tea when I have the proper time for it?  Do I need more practice?  Is this a new tea, a new pot/bowl/gaiwan, a new brewing technique, etc.?

With compassionate thinking, I give myself gentleness.  Surely, if I can learn to do this with myself in my tea brewing, I can expand it to the rest of my life.  And from there, it's an extension to the world.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Bouchon (Vegas)

One more reason to convince you that there is more to Vegas than gambling... Bouchon.  A friend who travels frequently to Vegas for work emphasized that I must visit this French-style bistro. I'm glad I heeded her advice!  I sat here leisurely on a Wednesday morning for an hour and a half, enjoying the food, the view and the people around me.  The tea was in a bag, but the hot water came in a pretty pot and I enjoyed the simple white and blue china pattern.  (Tip:  Ask for an extra plate on which to put your teabag.)  

The food was excellent! I had a three cheese plate, served with toasted raisin bread and a fruit compote. (Look for it on the dessert menu.)  I also had a side of brioche and jam.   I didn't really need the brioche, but it was a treat.

In the summer, there is patio seating in the rose garden.  On this day, I was happy with my indoor seat and a view of the sunshine.

Bouchon is definitely worth a stop!  My friend (and now I) recommend breakfast.  The prices are reasonable and the restaurant is less busy at this time so you can sit and take it all in.