Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chilled Ginger Peach Tea on Tap



Summer! Bring it on! 

Our family has been on a quest for cold, refreshing, healthy, no-sugar beverages. What started out as fresh squeezed lemon added to purified water and stevia has advanced to more sophisticated choices. Rylan has been experimenting with a variety of homemade beverages including kombucha (a healthy, brewed tea) and fresh ginger beer. 




Last night he pulled out a stock pot and filled it with water. I knew that he had some other concoction in mind. 



This time he was making Ginger Peach tea. He selected a tea from Mighty Leaf Tea Company. Their website describes this tea as:  

  • Organic Ginger Peach combines the best of spicy and sweet. Smooth black tea yields a full flavored iced tea with hints of ginger, spice and peaches.
  • Our silver tin is a great way to display and store your Ginger Peach Iced Tea. Reuse your tin by stocking up with our 10 count bag refills. Our silver tin and refill each contain 10 pre-portioned 1-ounce filter bags. Easy and fast to make, each 1-ounce filter bag makes 1 gallon of iced tea.





The tea bags are large, sturdy pouches. When the tin is opened, a spicy peach fragrance fills the air! Rylan brewed five gallons of Ginger Peach tea. Imagine five large tea bags all steeped to a perfect, puffy perfection! 




That is a lot of tea! But Rylan had a plan. After research and invention, he and his dad corroborated together and built a cooler, complete with carbonating unit and spigots for dispensing. 




Tea on tap! Refreshing for a hot, summer day! Thankfully, Rylan shares.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Polite People at Tea


“From the gate to the porch went a wide walk, paved with smooth slabs of dark stone, and bordered with the tall bushes which met overhead, making a green roof. All sorts of neglected flowers and wild weeds grew between their stems, covering the walls of this summer parlor with the prettiest tapestry. A board, propped on two blocks of wood, stood in the middle of the walk, covered with a little plaid shawl much the worse for wear, and on it a miniature tea service was set forth with great elegance. To be sure the teapot had lost it’s spout, the cream jug it’s handle, the sugar bowl it’s cover, and the cups and plates were all more or less cracked or nicked; but polite persons would not take notice of these trifling deficiencies, and none but polite persons were invited to this tea party.” 

Louisa May Alcott, Under the Lilacs

Monday, June 23, 2014

Violets Teapot



Collecting teapots can be a fun adventure! Frequently I hear others comment that every teacup has a story. I believe that every teapot does as well. Teapots gather in the homes of ones who love and appreciate them by a variety of means. Sometimes they are passed down through families. Others are gifts given by friends who know you will cherish the gift. Oftentimes orphaned teapots are given to tea lovers simply because they know you will give the teapot a good home and that you'll enjoy it. And then there is the love of the "hunt" for the perfect, old, unusual, or quaint teapot that takes place in thrift shops and antique stores. They can be of great or small value in a monetary sense. But, even the teapot bought for pennies can be as lovingly cherished and cared for as one that costs hundreds of dollars. Each has a story all its own.


Today I thought I would share the story of my violets teapot. Years ago I found a delightful violets "creamer and sugar" in an antique shop. I loved them because they went with the violets teacups in my collection (they had been my mother's collection that I inherited). I used them with a plain plum teapot, as I didn't have a violets teapot to go with them. Recently my friend, Karleen, asked me if I would like a teapot that her brother was wishing to find a home for. How delighted I was when I discovered that it matched the "creamer and sugar" that I already had! An added bonus was the matching tray that was given with the teapot. Today they sit on one of my china cabinets and remind me of the joy of friendship and having someone common with one's own. 

Favored teapots change with mood, season of life, life passages, and whim. Today, this is my favorite teapot. Another day I'll share about another that strikes my fancy.


Today I am linking up to Bernideen's Tea in the Garden

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Jasmine Tea Love


I love jasmine tea. It is a type of tea that has been infused with the scent of jasmine blossoms. Generally, it is a green tea, although sometimes makers will use white or black tea. Teas can be scented by many fragrances, but jasmine is the most common. Jasmine tea is subtly sweet and highly fragrant. Sipping on a cup of jasmine green tea that's had a touch of sweetener added to it is like a Calgon, "take me away moment" for me! I love the subtle, gentle fragrance and flavor of jasmine tea. 

Sometimes it is fun and interesting to kick things up a notch though. I think that the taste buds tolerate a few stronger flavors at times. Jasmine tea can be mixed with spices and milks to create a still delicate and soothing tea, yet one enhanced with a touch more flavor. 

Here's a recipe for Jasmine Chai that I think you'll enjoy ~


  • 2 cups pure water
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger, ground
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice*
  • 2 tsp. jasmine tea
  • sweetener of choice

Bring the water to a boil. Add the cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add tea. Steep for 3 - 4 minutes. Decant. Then, add milk and return to stove top, bringing mixture to a gentle simmer**. Sweeten to taste with your favorite sweetener. 

Honey or stevia are delightful in this chai.

*Coconut milk is a great choice for this recipe!

**If you are a tea purist, you won't want to reheat the tea after decanting. Instead, you can warm the milk separately and then add it to the decanted chai blend. This is my preferred method.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cups of Love to Fill


"Seldom can the heart be lonely if it seeks a lonelier still; self-forgetting, seeking only emptier cup of love to fill."

Frances Havergal

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Luncheon Tea

Karleen was invited to my house for a luncheon tea. It was so relaxing to sit at a small table by the front window where we could visit and enjoy viewing the flower garden from our perspective. The opportunity to share with friends is a special blessing.

Our menu today was:
  • Chilled Cucumber Soup with Whole Wheat Toast Points
  • Herb, Veggie & Viola Salad with Cashew Dressing
  • Vegetable Tofu Quiche
  • Saucy Fruit Salad with Dark Chocolate
  • Japanese Barley Tea
  • Sparkling Apple Juice

Traditional English Tea Sandwiches


Serve up an array of dainty triangle sandwiches on pretty platters. Try some of these traditional and refreshing filling combinations.

  • Coronation chicken sandwich
  • Peppery watercress with cold roast beef
  • Smoked trout, cucumber, and horseradish
  • Creamy egg and cress with spring onion
  • English cheddar cheese with tangy apple chutney

Use vegetarian and gluten-free options for ingredients if desired. Think outside the box.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Eatible Petals & Teatime



Dianthus, a lovely pink colored flower, can be added to black tea when steeping, thereby creating a beautiful color. The petals make a lovely accent as they steep in the pot. They are also a beautiful garnish for tea foods like pudding, a fruit or green salad, or to adorn a tea sandwich.




The dianthus is a beautiful flower that's sometimes called "carnation". It also goes by the name sweet william or pinks. There are more than 100 varieties of this perennial. The name dianthus is Greek and means "heavenly flower". Dianthus grows well in soil that drains, that's neutral or slightly alkaline, and that is in full sun. It has a flavor that is spicy, peppery, and clove-like, making it especially useful as a pretty addition to a green, garden salad or spreads and dips. The dianthus is the birth flower for people born in January.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lavender 'n' Lemon Tisane


Lavender season is here. The fragrance and beauty of the lavender bud brings delight to the heart! It's time to preserve lavender so it can be enjoyed year around! Naturally dried lavender from a home garden make a great addition to recipes like tomato sauce, breads, and cookies. And it also makes a delightful tisanes. 

Here's a recipe for Lavender 'n' Lemon Tisane that is sure to bring comfort and joy during the warmest days of summer or the coldest winter months.


  • 1 cup lemon verbena, dried and crumbled
  • 1 cup lemon balm, dried
  • 1/3 cup lavender bud, dried
  • 1/2 cup chamomile, dried

Blend ingredients together in a small bowl. When well mixed, transfer to a pint jar and seal with a lid. Tie jar with a raffia or satin bow. Include a handmade gift tag that has these instructions:

To brew tisane:  Use 1 1/2 tsp. per 8 ounces of boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes. Then strain. Sweeten with honey or stevia. Enjoy!


If you prefer a more full-bodied tea, you can add loose leaf black tea to the ingredient mix. You may want to steep less time with this addition. Or instead, replace the chamomile with your favorite green tea. The possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Crepes and Blueberries Infused with Bourbon Vanilla Rooibos


Crepes are a favorite family food. And since the family is altogether for Father's Day, it's only natural that crepes are on the menu. Although the menu sounds fairly traditional, it wasn't without its unique variations. 

I keep a can of coconut milk in the fridge door. It's chilled through and ready to be made into coconut milk whipped topping at a moments notice. It's easy enough. Simply open the can, spoon the mixture into a bowl, and whip with an electric mixer {Kitchen Aid} until creamy. I happen to like the little globs of coconut fat solids, so I don't whip it until it is completely creamy, but you can if you try this yourself and would prefer it. I added a 1/2 tsp. of stevia for sweetness and some of our homemade vanilla.



Pear sauce is another simple filling for crepes and could be used for filling or topping. Our family enjoys this even more than applesauce. We use home canned Bartlett pears and put them in a blender {pears and juice} and blend until creamy. Tasty!


U-picks at the blueberry patch down the road start this week, so I need to use up as many of our frozen berries as possible to make room for a new batch. Usually I heat the frozen blueberries in a kettle with water and stevia or with fresh apple juice. 


This time I decided to try something different, so went to my tea cupboard to find something that I thought would be flavorful with the blueberries. I chose a tisane of bourbon vanilla* rooibos that I steeped and then added to the bluebeerries. They were sweetened with 1 tsp. of stevia and thickened with a cornstarch slurry.


Homemade crepes {gluten free} filled with pear sauce and rolled. Then topped with warm blueberry sauce and coconut milk whipped cream {it melts into the warm blueberries upon contact of cold with warm}. Delicious and just right for Father's Day! 

The china is Royal Doulton Carolyn from the Romance series. 

*From Wikipedia: 

  • Bourbon vanilla or Bourbon-Madagascar vanilla, produced from V. planifolia plants introduced from the Americas, is the term used for vanilla from Indian Ocean islands such as Madagascar, the Comoros, and Reunion, formerly the Île Bourbon. It is also used to describe the distinctive vanilla flavor derived from V. planifolia grown successfully in tropical countries such as India.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summertime Randomness

 

Have you been blogging for awhile? Isn't it fun to read blogs that are organized, about a theme, or that show pretty things? Over the years, I've found that blogging has become more and more sophisticated. The simple web journal has become something that competes with blogs written by journalists, photographers, crafters, decorators, and foodies who present their thoughts and ideas so professionally. I love visiting them! But mostly I enjoy visiting blogs that were started at the grass-roots of this trend. Blogs from like-minded people who enjoy sharing bits and pieces of their everyday lives. Because blogging has become more sophisticated, it sometimes puts pressure on those of us who blog to write better, think better, and present better. Sometimes I have to remind myself of the thoughts of Vee who taught me that it is okay to "blog without obligation". I take that to mean that blogging should be fun, friendly, and informal. It should be a joy and not a task. I have always appreciated Vee's words of wisdom.


 

So today I am going to blog without obligation. My post has no rhyme nor reason. It is simply my ramblings as I share photos from my week-end and the fun I had editing them. Random. Cheerful. Sharing. Tea was taken at the park. The stone pavilion built in the 1930's is quaint and chippy. Enjoying a cup of tea with a loved one there was a memory making moment.


 

And then there are the roses in the garden. They are in full bloom, responding to the warm sunshine that has graced us this June. They can only be described as prolific! I've had fun cutting them and bringing them inside to enjoy.

 

A darling little grand-nephew came to visit at the end of last week. Such cuteness! He was sweet and had such a happy time smiling and laughing while we communicated with one another.

 

And a sweet daughter-by-marriage has been visiting and I've had fun doing girl stuff with her. Whether it is shopping for groceries or going for a pedicure or yard sale shopping, it's been a blessing to share these moments together.


 

The sunshine has been warm enough to create "summer" without being so hot that we don't feel we dare venture outside. Packing a bag with tea and sandwiches, sunglasses, and assorted odds and ends has made day trips special. Random thoughts. The fun of sharing --- without obligation.


Enjoy a wonderful week!

 

Today I'm linking to Bernideen's Tea Time Blog for Tea in the Garden.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Giant Teacup and a Sweet Potato Vine





The first time I saw a sweet potato vine was at a plant nursery and gift shop called "My Grandmother's Garden". I was visiting my mother and it was one of her favorite places. The shop owner planted a variety of plants in huge planters and urns. She was skilled at selecting a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and reds and greens filled the planters. Tall plants of sharp spikes were contrasted with delicate vines and plants with small, bushy leaves. I came away inspired! In analysis, I decided that it was the bright lime-colored sweet potato vines that caught my eye the most! They were gorgeous, classy, and vibrant!



I love tea and everything related to it. So, last summer I planted a sweet potato vine along with a purple hot pepper plant in this large teacup planter.  It did very well in the summer's heat. I was also pleased to find that it wintered over very well in my living room. How I enjoyed its vibrant lime green during the dreary days of winter.





Sweet potato vines also grace my outdoor garden. They are tucked into planters and flower garden beds. It grows prolifically and compliments both flowers and plants. It dies back after the first hard frost, but it's a gift that keeps on giving. If you are curious, dig up the root and you'll find a large and healthy sweet potato! Take a look at your garden center if you want to have some fun "creating" gardens with this interesting trailing plant.  I think you'll enjoy it, as I have! 

A Quiet Retreat with Tea & Butterflies









There are two ways to study butterflies: chase them with nets then inspect their dead bodies, or sit quietly in the garden and watch them dance among the flowers.


Nongnuch Bassham


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mortar & Pestle Tea



A bit of fragrance always 
clings to the hand 
that gives roses.



And the fragrance of tea in a rose covered teacup is good in the hand as well. Tea today is Lavender Grey black tea from B. Fuller's Mortar & Pestle, a place that they call an artisanal modern apothecary. It was a gift from a friend who knows I love anything lavender! They describe this tea as having the orange essence of Earl Grey which is augmented by the floral sweetness of Pacific Northwest lavender flowers. 

And the teacup? It is a Royal Stafford English teacup called Gloria. Paisley style curls and flowers in bright yellow and pink are accented with lots of gold!  

The June chill outside seems to draw me to  the vibrant colors of my teacup. Last night was breezy with sprinkles of rain and dark clouds. Unfortunately the "honey moon" was not visible from my house. 


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lavender Love

 

It's already June. The lavender is beautiful! So lush and abundant.


 
  • “Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
  • Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Using Petals for Garnishing






Squash Blossom Potato Salad


  • 8 - 10 potatoes, cooked, peeled, and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 can black olives, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 orange or red pepper, diced
  • 2 - 3 dill pickles, chopped
  • 1 cup extra-firm tofu, cubed OR boiled eggs
  • salt, to taste
  • sweet basil, dried, to taste
  • 1 cup Veganaise (or mayonnaise as desired)

Mix all ingredients together. Adjust seasonings to your taste. 
Serve in a squash blossom and enjoy!


Squash blossoms and pumpkin blossoms are edible and taste somewhat like uncooked squash. They should be washed and trimmed to remove stems and stamens. They can be breaded and fried, added chopped to foods like scrambled eggs, and are tasty in soups and fillings.

Soups make a delightful first course for a luncheon tea.


Here's an interesting article with quotes from a restaurant chef. He shares some excellent ideas for using squash blossoms in cooking; plus some recipes!