Our newspaper today has an article about special teas that will be offered this summer at the majestic Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC, Canada. Because the hotel turns 100 this year, a series of special teas are planned to commemorate this event. A special Centennial Tea will be served each Friday through September 26. This is in addition to the hotel's already popular afternoon tea that is held daily in their lobby. The Centennial Tea is served at 12:30 - 3:30 pm in two intimate locations in the large hotel. A choice of tea in The Empress Harbourside Room with a scenic view of the harbor is available, or tea can be taken in the hotel library with its carved ceilings and ivy-covered windows. The service includes a selection of gourmet sandwiches and pastries, a cup of centennial blend tea and a commemorative gift.
To contact the Fairmont Empress Hotel, click here.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
My thoughts for this week for this theme are still not posted. I got behind at the beginning of the week and am still catching up. My White, Green, Black and Herb of Tea post is in the works and will be up soon! In the meantime, I have two YouTube videos to share with you. I'm a mother of young adult sons; what can I say! I hope you enjoy them and that they bring a smile to your day. The first is called "English Tea" by Paul McCartney. The second is a little more risque', a video by a group called Elemental called "Cup of Brown Joy". It was shared with people on a tea chat group this morning as a fun 'rap' for tea. Be warned! It does a fine job of expressing the joys of tea and follows our theme this week of many different types of tea.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
The White, Green, Black, and Herb of Tea
Tell about your favorite tea. How do you prepare it and serve it? Milk and sugar? Plain? What are some of your best memories of serving or sipping on this tea? Share a picture if you can. Tell the health benefits of the tea(s) you prefer. Where do you purchase your tea? Is there someplace you enjoying purchasing tea from? Who from and where?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Choosing a favorite type of food for afternoon tea is difficult. I can never make up my mind if I like scones or tea sandwiches best! Tea sandwiches are always so tasty. Savory little bites of soft, light, crust less bread filled with creamy, crunchy, and flavorful fillings are always appealing to me. Or finger sandwiches made from hearty rye or a fragrant oat loaf are sure to please the palate of me and friends who stop by for tea. Crisp lettuce greens melded with the crunch of cucumbers, or tender radishes sliced onto a piece of buttered bread and sprinkled with mineral salts --- always pure delight. Even peanut butter and jam makes a delightful tea sandwich if cut into cute and dainty shapes. Cookie cutter sandwiches are always the best! Here are a few favorite recipes to share with you.
6 thin slices whole wheat bread
1 lemon, sliced thinly and with seeds removed
Salt to taste (pepper optional)
Spread the Earth Balance on the whole grain bread slices. Cover half the slices with lemon slices and season with salt. Add the top slice of buttered bread. Cut off crusts and then cut each sandwich into quarters in a triangle shape. Makes 24 sandwiches.
2 Tbsp. flour
1 c. finely chopped nuts
3/4 c. sugar
Sandwich bread, large loaf
into mixture to make a consistency easy for spreading. Place in Combine pineapple, flour, chopped nuts, and sugar in a large skillet. Cook over low heat until thick, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to cool. Then mix one or two tablespoons Veganaise into mixture and blend. Place in refrigerator and cool overnight. Remove crusts from sliced bread. Spread spread on bread (open-faced) and cut each slice into quarters. Garnish each with a mint leaf.
1 - 8 oz. Tofutti cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Earth Balance (or butter)
4 carrots, finely grated (about 3/4 c.)
2 Tbsp. grated onion
2 Tbsp. minced green olives with pimento
Dash of salt
Mix all ingredients until blended and chill. Spread on sliced pumpernickel bread and top with second slice. Cut into quarters or pretty shapes. Garnish with herbs or eatable flowers. Minced celery can be added for variety in flavor and texture.
1/2 cup Veganaise
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
2 tablespoons tarragon,
Fresh lemon juice
Hot pepper sauce
8 very thin slices white bread
1 to 2 Walla Walla Sweet Onions, sliced very thinly
Stir together Veganaise, parsley, and tarragon. Season with lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, and salt to taste. Spread 1 side of bread slices with the Veganaise mixture. Arrange the onion slices evenly on half the bread slices. Top with the remaining bread slices. Press gently together. Trim crusts and cut sandwiches into quarters or fingers.
In another bowl, chop 1/2 cup parsley. Dip the edges of the sandwiches in the parsley for a beautiful garnished effect.
Photo: Elm Street Antiques
Monday, April 21, 2008
Shortbread is a small cookie (also called a biscuit) that is crumbly and tender due to it's high fat content. Traditionally shortbread consists of one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts plain white flour. Flavorings like salt or vanilla are added in varying amounts depending upon the taste and desire of the baker.
Once baked, shortbread should be light in color and not browned at all. Upon completion it should be removed from the oven when yet a nearly white or light golden brown. A trifle of tan on the bottom is all the color that should be observed in this traditional cookie. They need to be watched carefully during the last few minutes of baking.
Shapes of shortbread vary, but generally are formed into one of three forms: wedges, circles, or fingers. For special occasions they are sometimes made into stars or flowers for added appeal. Because they hold their shape well due to their stiff dough, they can easily be decorated by poking with the tines of a fork or by pressing a pattern into their tops before baking. Some bakers sprinkle sugar on them for added sweetness.
Because shortbread is made without eggs or dairy, it is a good cookie to convert to vegan simply by substituting vegan shortening (butter flavored) for the butter. Gluten free versions are also reasonably made by using cornstarch or white rice flours along with a gluten-free flour blend. By the way, even traditional cookies which contain wheat benefit from the substitution of white rice flour for a portion of unbleached wheat flour. It makes a delightful cookie with a great texture and lightness.
Perfect for tea, shortbread is a little cookie that might look plain and simple, but it's tender, melt in your mouth sweetness is pure delight!
Here are a few of the shortbread cookies I've collected over time. I hope you enjoy them!
1 lb. butter, softened (vegan shortening may be substituted)
1 cup sugar, extra-fine
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white rice flour
Cream the butter (or shortening) until smooth. Slowly add the sugar, mixing as each addition is made. Then sift in the all-purpose flour and white flour. Mix only until blended.
Roll the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap so that it is 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Cut dough into desired shape. Place cookies on baking sheet and poke with the tines of a fork. Bake at a 325 degree F. oven for 5 minutes. Then at 300 degrees F. fr 15 - 20 minutes more. Watch carefully so they do not brown.
1 cup margarine (non-dairy) or vegan shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
2 cups rolled oats
Mix margarine, brown sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Blend flour, soda and rolled oats. Stir into margarine mixture. Chill 1 - 2 hours.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick on lightly floured board. Cut into squares or fancy shapes. Bake on ungreased baking sheet for 10 - 12 minutes. Makes 3 1/2 - 4 dozen cookies.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1/2 lb. vegan shortening or Earth Balance
2-3 drops butter flavoring
Sift flour, cornstarch and confectioner's sugar into a bowl. Add the shortening and rub into dry ingredients. Gradually mold mixture to a soft dough. Kneed Well. Roll out until about half an inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 310 degrees F. for 30-40 mins or until pale brown.
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup Sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, dried and crushed
1/2 cup margarine (non-dairy) or vegan shortening
Toast pine nuts in a hot skillet until gently browned. Then place in a food processor and process until finely ground. Pour into mixing bowl and combine with flour, sugar, and thyme. Add margarine and mix until soft crumbs result. Shape dough into a ball. Using a 1 Tbsp. scoop, shape dough into small balls and place on baking sheet. Then flatten t 1/2-inch thick by pressing with the bottom of a small glass that's been dipped in sugar.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 15 - 20 minutes.
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup almond or cashew butter
1/2 cup carob chips, optional
1/2 cup dried fruit, optional
Mix ingredients except carob chips and dried fruit together, cutting in the nut butter last. Add a small amount of water, one teaspoon at a time, to moisten if needed. Add carob chips and dried fruit. Press into a prepared 8" x 12" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. This makes a crumbly bar-type cookie. Chocolate chips can be used to replace the carob chips if desired.
*For gluten-free options with any of these recipes, replace wheat flour with a gluten-free flour blend of choice. Butter can replace the vegetable 'fat' option in the recipes above as well for a more traditional approach to shortbread. Vegan alternatives for 'fat' in shortbreads are Spectrum shortening, Earth Balance, and coconut oil (solid form).
Please scroll down to Mr. Linky for a listing of all the participants in this week's blog-a-thon. Thank you for the terrific recipes participants are posting!!!
All Natural Butter Flavor Cooking Spray
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
Low-fat vanilla soy ice cream
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 sheets thawed phyllo dough*
*Keep phyllo covered with damp paper towel and plastic wrap to prevent drying.
1 cup carob chips
1 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup chopped walnuts
Oat Cookies with Almond Filling
3/4 cup vegan margarine, room temperature
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup Sucanat
1/3 cup quick rolled oats
1 tsp. pure vanilla
5 oz. canned almond paste
Sunday, April 20, 2008
April 20 - April 26
Share your favorite teatime recipe for sweets or savories. Tea sandwiches, scones, and dainty desserts all count in this category. Give credit to the originator of the recipe if possible. Post a picture if you can. This is sure to make everyone hungry for a delicious tea time treat!
Ideas for recipes to post this week are: scones, crumpets, shortbread, cookies, baby cakes, tarts, tea sandwiches, soups, salads, fruit treats, jams, jellies, curds, and creams. I'm looking forward to the recipes you choose to share! It's too bad we can't make a 'potluck tea party' with each of us actually bringing the foods represented by our recipes to tea!
The pictures this week are from a 'back porch' tea for two that I prepared for my friend and neighbor, Karleen. It was her birthday and we enjoyed a relaxing time together.
10 Medjool or other dates, pitted and chopped
6 T. Earth Balance (vegan margarine)
1/4 C. firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 - 1 tsp. ground allspice, nutmeg or cinnamon
* * *
1 1/2 lbs. unbleached flour
1 tsp. salt
2 ounces vegan margarine
4 ounces currants
1 ounce candied peel (orange, lemon, or lime)
1 ounce yeast
1 ounce sugar
1 1/2 cups soymilk
* * *
2/3 cup fresh lavender flowers, organic
2 cups white granulated sugar
* * *
Elegant Pear Bars
1 quart pear sauce (or canned, blended pears)
3/4 cup pitted dates
1 tsp. orange extract
1/8 tsp. salt
1 pinch cardamom or cinnamon
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup pitted dates
1 1/2 cups regular rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or alternative; for gluten-free try brown rice flour)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds (or other nuts)
1/8 tsp. salt
Bottom Crust Instructions: Blenderize dates in water. (Reserve 1/2 cup date-water for later.) Combine date-water, oats, flour, salt and cardamom. Press into prepared 9" x 13" pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
Crumble Topping Instructions: Toss all ingredients together. Spoon filling over crust. Sprinkle topping over filling. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and cut into 2-inch squares.
Makes: 24 bars.
* * *
Makes 8 scones
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
6 ounces plain soy yogurt
1/4 cup soy milk or orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
2. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the margarine into the dry ingredients until it resembles the size of small peas. Add the soy yogurt, soy milk and vanilla, and stir until the mixture just forms a soft dough. Add the blackberries and sliced almonds, and lightly fold into the dough.
3. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Lightly dust your hands with flour and then gently pat the dough to form a 9-inch circle. Using a sharp knife, score the circle into wedges, but leave as a whole circle to bake.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the tray, and reduce the heat to 350 degrees for another 5 minutes. Remove the scones from th oven and allow to cool 10 minutes. Cut through the score lines to separate into 8 wedges. Serve warm with jam, margarine or mock Devonshire Cream.
*The soymilk, soy yogurt, and vegan margarine in these recipes can be substituted with dairy products if desired.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
What creative 'tea time' outfits you all have! It's been fun reading about your idea garments for a perfect tea. From all appearances, most of us have two versions of how we like to dress for tea. The comfy-practical attire and the dress-up garments. Both are so necessary, aren't they? One for comfort and to make the service of tea a part of our daily lives. The other to help us create a sense of elegance and romance as we select a special dress or skirt to adorn with ribbons, lace, gloves, and a pretty hat! One of my favorite comfy tea outfits is a flannel pajama outfit that I bought at JC Penney's. There are quirky teapots and teacups printed all over it. The matching robe has an appliqued teapot with the words "Tea Time" printed across the back, and matching slippers have teapots appliqued on the toe of each. It's the perfect cozy outfit for tea! But then there are the times when a girl wants to dress up! A long, full skirt or a shirt with ruffles or special buttons paired nicely with a tea-themed broach or a broad-rimmed hat go so perfectly with some pretty Princess Diana pumps or some laced boots. It's wonderful how the service of tea can be enjoyed both plain and fancy, both the cuppa itself and the way we look!
Thank you for your great posts! Some of you took great effort in posting, and I appreciate it. People have been leaving such nice comments on every one's posts and so many are really having fun with this event. I'm happy for the sharing done and friendships made.
Have you been searching for your Sweet-and-Savory-of-Yummy recipes for next week? I have, but there are so many to choose from that it's difficult to decide which ones are best to post. Best wishes for a happy search!
If you haven't posted this week for Dressed-to-a-Tea, it's not too late! Posts are still welcome for this week and for any previous week as well.
Enjoy a happy day!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Thank you to everyone who has been participating in the Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon! It's been so much fun to read your posts, make new friends, and see how you interpret the theme of the week. Last week's theme was difficult! Hopefully this one will be easier and more can post rather than just enjoy the reading. Please scroll down to the post below for this week's event.
April 13 - April 19
Share ideas for dressing up for afternoon tea. Is your favorite tea-time outfit a silk caftan, flannel jammies, or a dress with proper hat and gloves? Do you enjoy wearing tea prints to tea? Or do you prefer something more elegant? Lace and ruffles? A feathered hat? Long pink gloves? Satins and silks? Cotton comfort? Jeans and a t-shirt you say? That's okay --- share it all here.
Pictures of you in tea-time costume are welcome! But, if you are not brave enough to share a picture of 'you', simply share something you think would be FUN to wear to tea. Remember, a tea can be anything from a formal afternoon tea --- to tea in the park with a friend. It's whatever it means to you!
Of course a hat is always required for a proper lady. A satin bow and of course a tad bit of netting makes it even better! This chic little shift was very fashionable in this day and the sleeveless look was stylish to the max.
This beautiful young lady in the previous picture is prepared to enjoy a tea-time at the grand opening of Elm Street Antiques. Paula and Terry even made sure that a proper 'tea table' was set near the serving table that was filled with tea treats of every sort. Can you sit a spell?
A proper tea-time hairstyle would never be worn 'down' but rather in a perfect knot at the nape of the neck or in a darling bun. Pin curls are an added bonus!
This picture from Paula's and Terry's shop reminds me of one of the first teas I ever attended. It was a Mother's Day Fashion Show and Tea that was put on by the 'girls club' at the high school I attended. My classmates and I each modeled our mothers' wedding dresses (or the wedding dress of a cousin or aunt if out mother's wasn't to be found). Most of us had parents who were married sometime in the 1950's. Attended by mothers and their daughters, a proper and elegant tea table was set for all to enjoy. I was in grade 9 at the time and remember feeling somewhat 'strange' wearing a wedding dress down the runway with my girlfriends. But, what fun we had!
Bits of lace and satin, hats and bows, pin-curls and red nail polish, gloves with pearl buttons, bright yet muted colors, and bits of lace all work together to create a look for tea that I find most cozy and relaxing --- gentle and warm. Other fashions may come and go, but to me this vintage style reflects the essence of a proper tea because it takes me back to time in my childhood. And those were the times that I was forming the values and ideals that have followed me through life. Vintage 1950's --- the best!
Thanks for letting me share the pictures from your shop! ~
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Welcome to "Week Four" of the Gracious Hospital-i-Tea blog-a-thon. Please join us this week in sharing Stitches-for-Tea. You may also post more to any of the previous weeks if you have more to share in those themes. Thank you to everyone who has enthusiastically posted in the blog-a-thon. I am really impressed by how y'all are sharing comments on one another's blogs. I have observed many budding friendships and that's what makes this all the more fun! It's not just about 'tea' but about 'tea and friendship'. I have read everyone's posts from previous weeks, and have commented on all. If I missed you, it was in error. Please, feel free to call it to my attention so I can be sure to go back and talk about your post!
Here's our assignment for this coming week:
April 6 - April 12
Share ideas and pictures that involve stitching for the tea table. Any kind of stitches count: sewing, embroidery, knitting, crochet, tatting, quilting, etc. The work can be yours or of someone else, but should be homemade rather than done by factory machines. Ideas are napkins, tea cozies, table linens, and other creations made with tea themes.
The tea linens shown in the picture above were ones stitched and edged by my mother.
I found the table runner pattern above at a quilt show and fell in love with it. A trip to a local quilt shop resulted in these beautiful prints. When I told my mother about my project, she offered to make it for me. I was delighted, as I am not an experience applique person and she was! There is a teacup in the center (under the candle holder). It was to be spilling out tea, but I thought that was messy for a proper centerpiece, so I asked mom to leave the tea-drops out.
For two years I belonged to a tea towel swap group. Each month I stitched at least one tea towel that I swapped with another person for one they stitched. It was such a nice way to make friends and to keep on track with embroidery projects! This tea towel went to Texas. . .as I believe I gave it to Patricia. I love the button at the top. It makes the top-knot on the teapot lid.
This is a simple quilt that was made by my mother. It's small and I use it as a tablecloth for a tea-for-two. The teapot and flowers blocks are printed on fabric that mom cut into squares. They are alternated with plain pink fabric that has been covered with lace.
This appliqued teapot is stitched onto a luncheon size tablecloth that is the perfect size for a small tea table. It was stitched by mom.
Soft, flour-sack tea towels are embroidered in tea themes. One is bordered in a tea print for added effect. Do you recognize it? It's a ME print.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
A teacup border and pretty wallpaper provide the backdrop for cherished family photographs, little trinkets, teacups and saucers, stuffed animals, a doll, and floral arrangements. A nearby table is set for tea and a guest book is gracefully arranged by the door for guests to sign as they come to visit. Quiet and serene, it's the perfect place not only for tea parties, but for as a quiet place to read a book or write a letter to a friend. Margaret is one lucky gal!
We've had a great turn-out this week in our Decor-a-Tea theme in our Tea Blog-a-Thon. If you haven't visited for awhile, you might want to scroll down and see who the latest participants are. We have people joining in each day. Thank you!