Summer is here. Although hot tea never goes out of style at our house, it is sometimes nice to have an alternative. As you'll recall, I am trying to eat the G.O.M.B.S. way and one thing that means is that I'm adding specific certain foods to the family diet. Three of these foods are seeds, berries, and green tea. This week I developed a recipe that utilizes all three of these ingredients and is a refreshing, delicious treat!
Berry Bubble Tea
16 - 24 ounces green tea
2 - 3 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 packet stevia (1/2 tsp.)
1/2 cup blueberries
Place ingredients in a quart jar. Lid and shake. Then place in the fridge for several hours. It will chill and the chia seeds will soften and expand. When ready to serve, place blueberries in a pretty glass. Pour the green tea mixture over the top and fill the glass up. Stir and enjoy!
This is a very refreshing drink! It works well with ice, if you prefer. And I've found that Jasmine green tea is exceptionally delicious!
While we are on the subject of bubbles, I simply must share this picture of family and friends blowing bubbles at Brandon's and Sally's wedding. It's one of my favorite pictures. Everyone is so intent upon bubble blowing, aren't they!
It's a treat to have a local, individually operated tea shop in town. Linda, the establishment proprietress, is so friendly and knowledgeable about all things tea! She patiently explains each type you inquire about and has fragrant samples for you to smell so you can have a better idea of what a tea will taste like. Sample sizes are packaged upon request, and it just gets better from there! She carefully weighs the exact amount you desire and includes a note along with her verbal explanation of how to prepare and serve each tea. Her soft, English accent simply adds to the ambiance and pleasure of a visit to her shop.
Is there a local tea shop in your community? Does it meet your heart's desire?
This visit (photographed) was in preparation for afternoon tea with Marilyn and the Traveling Teapot.
Do you enjoy silver or silver-plate, but find that keeping it polished is difficult? Although the shabby chic, unpolished looks is a fashion mode right now, there are times that sparkling silver is preferred. Although I use silver paste and other commercial polishing agents, I sometimes use this method to start the process of bringing shine to my favorite pieces. Just be sure not to allow your silver to sit in the mixture for too long (overnight, for example) as it could damage pieces with only a thin coating of silver.
1 sheet aluminum foil, shiny side up Boiling water 1 glass baking dish (or use the sink) 2 tablespoons baking soda 2 tablespoons salt
Fill the foil-lined container with boiling water. Add baking soda and salt. Put the silver items in so that they are not touching each other and are resting on the foil. You will see the tarnish disappear. Leave heavily tarnished items in the solution for as long as 5 minutes. Rinse the silver with warm water and gently buff it dry with a soft towel.
Green tea has untold health benefits and it's been recommended that it be consumed daily. For some, the flavor is not appealing, so finding other ways to meet this recommendation is a plus! Green tea adds an herbal flavor to many foods. Added to this mixture of grits with vegan cheese, the melding of flavors is met with success.
1 Tbsp. green tea leaves 1 Tbsp. Earth Balance margarine 1 tsp. sea salt 3/4 cup quick-cooking grits 1 1/2 cups Daiya vegan cheese, shredded (white or cheddar)
3 cups water
Bring water to just below boiling. Then pour over the tea and steep for three minutes. Strain tea and place into a saucepan. Press to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Then, add Earth Balance and salt. Bring mixture to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits, avoiding lumps if possible. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until grits are tender. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes (until liquid is absorbed). Add grated vegan cheese and stir. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 - 6.
PS: Of course, real butter and Pepper Jack or Cheddar cheese can be substituted if you prefer.
Isabella Mayson Beeton (1836 - 1865) was a remarkable woman who accomplished many things during the 28 years of her short life. She was born on Milk Street, Cheapside, London. Her mother was friends with a woman who had a son named Samuel Orchard Beeton. After the children grew up they married and started a family of their own. Samuel was a publisher of magazines and books. Isabella, being a good help-meet, contended not only with homemaking and parenting duties, but established herself as an asset to his publishing business. She wrote and published articles for magazines on the topic of household management and cooking. Over time she wrote a book that is known to this day as Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. It was a huge volume of over 1,112 pages. The book content included reliable information and advice, recipes, and engravings. Isabella Beeton is credited with being the first to show recipes with ingredients being listed at the beginning, the common format that is still used today. The book contents claimed to include information about everything needed to run a successful home for the middle classes. A well-written cookbook includes only recipes that the author and their assistants have personally tested. Mrs. Beeton’s was not an exception. Every recipe published was tried in her kitchen first. If she didn’t make it herself, her cook or kitchen maid prepared it for her. It was important to her that each recipe be practical economically and she was always careful to include how many servings a recipe made. Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management was a best-seller. By 1868, more than two million copies had been sold.
Being a guide for all aspects of homemaking, the book was sure to include valuable information about the making and service of tea. Mrs. Beeton's instructions are below:
"There is very little art in making good tea; if the water is boiling, and there is no sparing of the fragrant leaf, the beverage will invariably be good. The old-fashioned plan of allowing a teaspoonful to each person, and one over, is still practiced. Warm the teapot with boiling water. . .for two or three minutes. . .then pour it away. Put in the tea, pour in one-half to three-quarters pint of 'boiling' water, close the lid, and let it stand for the tea to draw from five to ten minutes; then fill up the pot with water. The tea will be quite spoiled unless made with water that is 'actually boiling', as the leaves will not open and the flavor will not be extracted from them."
With that said, it's time for me to find my teapot and make a fragrant pot of tea. How about you?
Photo: a teapot cross-stitch that was given to me by a friend.
There are times that I enjoy studying a photo because it tells a story. Although I do not know the story this picture tells, I can imagine. My sister took this picture when visiting a row of residences which housed tea workers in Sri Lanka. I am cued to the joy of the scene by the happy smiles and by my sister's comment about the loveliness and friendliness of the people. The tea ladies were diligent workers who shared such a beautiful air of cheerfulness and joy. What details do you observe from this picture? Can your mind fill in the gaps? Is this great-grandmother with a new great-grandchild? Do you think she cares for the infant while mother plucks the tea leaves?
"The good things in life are not to be had singly, but come to us with a mixture."
The tea sandwich is an essential part of afternoon tea. Even with an assortment of cookbooks and recipe files, I often find that I rely upon basic recipes that are in my head and put together by rote. There's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it is helpful to kick things up a bit and try something new. Adding one or two new foods to each tea presentation helps one develop their repertoire. And over time those new ideas become a part of the routine.
Here's a recipe for Cream Cheese & Banana Tea Sandwiches. This recipe is plant-based vegan, but you can easily replace dairy and egg ingredients for the vegan options below:
Cream Cheese and Banana Tea Sandwiches
1 cup Tofutti cream cheese (available at health food stores or many supermarkets) 1/4 cup soy milk, plain (available in most supermarkets) 2 bananas, ripe 1/4 cup Vegenaise (available at health food stores or many supermarkets)
Mix the Tofutti cream cheese and soy milk together until creamy. Then add the bananas, mashed. Spread Vegenaise on raisin bread or your favorite whole grain bread. Remove crusts and cut into quarters (diamond shape). Garnish with a coin of sliced banana and a mint leaf. Enjoy!
Photo: My cookbook bookcase that keeps getting filled with teacups and teapots! There is a constant ebb and flow as I try to retain the space for cookbook use! The tea cozy (bottom, left) is from Marilyn at Delights of the Heart - Marmalady Tea.
Taking tea in nature brings to the experience a tranquility that surpasses most other venues. A simple pot of tea and a plate of fresh scones can go a long ways in providing an enjoyable and relaxing experience. Such respite calls for a refreshing tea experience. A favorite tea is always perfect! But if you'd like to try something new, here's a recipe that adds an element of fruity freshness to the palate.
Hot Apple Tea
4 cups apple juice 4 teaspoons mild-flavored herbal tea apple slices lemon slices stevia
Prepare a teapot by warming with hot water. Discard water. Place 4 teaspoons of herbal tea into a tea sack and place in the teapot. Add apple juice that has been brought to a boil. Steep tea in hot apple juice for 5 minutes. Remove tea sack. Taste tea and add stevia to taste (it won't take much; may omit if the apple juice makes it sweet enough for your preferences). Pour hot apple tea into teacups. Garnish with a apple slice and a lemon slice in each cup.
*Herbal tea bags can be substituted if you prefer. You may also replace herbal tea with your favorite black tea.
*Stevia is a sweet herb. NuNaturals brand in the individual serving packets is my favorite.
Photo: our cabin meadow; lace tablecloth made by Aunt Evie.
Dad and Alma have been enjoying their retirement. They live on an island in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. After much hard work, they have taken an empty lot and made it into a beautiful home. Alma loves to decorate and garden while Dad is a great carpenter and the quintessential garden technician. A walk around their yard this spring shows there's much to look at and enjoy. Alma has selected vibrant colors for their landscape design, not only in blossom but foliage as well. Their design was planned so that there would be no lawn to mow. Green areas were created by making a checkerboard of bricks with creeping thyme planted in each space. Dad designed and built the seats and awning to greet guests as they enter from the road. And there are gadgets galore: an alarm sensor to keep deer away; wires and hooks to keep the squirrels from eating the seeds from the bird feeder; and automated sprinklers and tubing to keep everything well hydrated.
A walk through their garden, even if it is only by photo-show, helps bring a bit of tranquility and calmness into the day. Enjoy your little walk as you look at the pictures. Imagine the fragrance. Enjoy the calm.
Enjoying the gardens of others is a favorite past-time of mine. All the work is done. All I have to do is enjoy the beauty. What about you?
The spring has been cool and damp, creating perfect conditions to make roses blossom and thrive! May was a great month for rose blossoms and it looks like June will be running a close second. I enjoy them in my garden! So much, that I have a difficult time cutting them to bring inside for floral arrangements. They look so beautiful on the rose bush, growing in whatever arrangement God decided upon for each specific rose bush and bloom. But, I am trying to remember to cut some so that I can enjoy them indoors as well.
These red roses come from a large, abundantly blooming bush that's right off the back porch. The bush is nearly as tall as I am, and is prolific this year! Simple and sweet, this arrangement consists of four blossoms and a bud. Three Japanese iris in purple add accent in color and spike!
Simply beauty. God's creation. I'm trying to remember to "take time and smell the roses" and I hope you are too!
The chilly, rainy week continues. Moments of sunshine as it peeks through the clouds cheer up the day. Today's the day that Venus will be passing between Earth and the Sun. The clouds are too thick in the sky for a peek at the sun. On the up-side of things, the lavender has started to bloom and it is so beautiful and fragrant! All we need is some sunny weather so it can be laid out to dry! In the meantime, how about a recipe for some delicious "lavender lemonade"?
Sparkling Lavender Lemonade
Cut fresh lavender and remove most of stem. Place about 1/2 cup of lavender flowers in a glass container and pour 2 cups of boiling water over top. Allow to steep for 10 minutes. Strain using a mesh strainer or coffee filters. Combine this lavender infusion with 2 quarts of fresh lemonade. Sweeten with the sweet herb, stevia, for added flavor. Chill and serve over ice. Add a long stem of fresh lavender to the glass (like a straw) for a pretty effect. For sparkling lavender lemonade, add a splash of lemon or lime carbonated beverage or plain soda water.
For times when fresh lavender isn't available, cut some fresh lavender flowers and place in an ice cube tray. Cover with fresh water and freeze until ready to use.
I've been participating in a project with friends on a blog called The Traveling Teapot. A little plum teapot is spending 18 months where it travels from participant to participant of the traveling teapot project.
Our traveling teapot and those who host it are ambassadors of friendship and good-will. Traveling so many places in such a short amount of time, the traveling teapot has the ability to see parts of the world that some can only dream about.
Today the traveling teapot surprised me with a special message that arrived in my mail box. Can you read it? It's a post card and it says: I am having wondrous adventures with Mary Jane as she travels in Canada! Thank you for sending me off on this amazing journey... Love from - The Traveling Teapot!
It warmed my heart! Thank you, Traveling Teapot, for the lovely post card! And thank you, Mary Jane, for helping the teapot with the penmanship! Safe travels as your journey continues!
I would be remiss if I did not pay tribute to Elizabeth II this week as the British Empire commemorates 60 years with Queen Elizabeth as the reigning monarch. She is the longest-lived and second-longest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. Festivities are ongoing and included a flotilla of 1,000 boats on the Thames on June 2 with concerts, teas, and other events to follow as the week progresses. I've been enjoying televised segments of some of the festivities on BBC America, as well as timely updates from friends in the UK as they report on celebrations both on a grand scale nationally and communally.They are sharing about community lunches, colorful buntings, flags decorating the streets, and tipping teacups in tribute. It is a festive time that seems to be capturing 100% of their attention!
In my corner of the world, I look around my own home to see what can tokens and memorabilia can remind me of Queen Elizabeth and her reign. My mother was a young Canadian girl during World War II and she looked up to the Princess Elizabeth who was a teen at the time. When Elizabeth II became Queen of England, she also became Queen of Canada, a position that my mother held near and dear to her heart. I compare it to the fondness that many of us in future generations felt for Diana, Princess of Wales. Mother's fondness and respect were rooted in loyalty and favor, both attributes that Mother passed on her her own daughters. Thus, gathering small tokens of the Queen over the years has been a natural process for me. Here are some of the mementos that I have to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II. The first (above) is a plate commemorating her coronation on June 2, 1953. I received it as a birthday present from my dad about 25 years ago. He found it in an antique store on a trip across Canada that he took with his sisters. They were visiting their childhood home in Manitoba, so for me this plate commemorates that family excursion as well. Although I was not on the journey, my aunties and father have given a full report over the years.
Three coronation teacups honoring E II R can be found in my china closet. Each was designed to celebrate her 1953 coronation and each varies in style and intensity. From the ornate to simply elegant, each implicitly expresses the joy of a nation at the crowning of their young queen.
Added to the celebratory scene are tea candles that Karleen brought home and gave to me last summer after she visited Buckingham Palace. She also brought me tea in the same beautiful packaging. I am savoring it during special times.
Congratulations to the UK as they celebrate in a style only known to royalty! It's a Diamond Jubilee!
May is a magnificent month for flowers, both cultivated at home --- and wild at our mountain cabin. Sometimes the mountain wildflowers need to be sought out, as they can have tiny blooms and hide well in forest undergrowth. I've observed that the purple and white flowers bloom earliest, then the yellows, and lastly the reds. It's a beautiful cacophony of color when they are finally all in bloom! Learning their names can be somewhat of a puzzle for me, but I am working at naming and remembering them the best I can. The flowers below were all in bloom at our cabin on Memorial Day week-end. Aren't they pretty?