An Elegant Easter Salon de Thé

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Thank you for popping by.  I hope you enjoy the little tea salon I’ve created for us to enjoy.  Easter is almost upon us and I wanted to do something special in honor of this holiday.

Are you old enough to remember Easter hats, gloves, and fancy pastel dresses with ruffles? I can recall wearing these at a very young age.  I also recollect my wonderful great aunts who came for holiday dinners.  These were truly special ladies, born in the 1800s.  I have photos of them in white gloves, lavish costume jewelry pins decorating their garments, and smiles on their sweet faces.  In the early 1900s, these siblings joined the rage of painting their own china.traycrop sized  IMG_3555crop sizedMy sister has an entire set of dainty pink place settings, including tiny salt cellars, inherited from one of them.  I managed to end up with a few serving pieces and four dessert plates, each a unique work of art.  I’m using a platter today.  One of these aunts witnessed the Oklahoma land rush.  Her mother placed her on her shoulder and said, from their perch on a nearby hill, “Watch this and remember it.  You are witnessing history.”

I’ve had other incredible experiences at Easter. One year, I was invited to a prayer breakfast where the famous coach, Dick Vermeil, spoke… pure inspiration and motivation.  I’ve frozen in the dark, waiting for many an outdoor sunrise service to begin.  With teenagers in the house, these are now a no-go.  Try prying a sleepy teen from his bed at that hour!  I’ve spent the day with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, enjoying their company and the excitement of an egg hunt.

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There’s just something lovely about the flowers, colors, baskets, and fellowship on offer this time of year.  I’ve tried to capture some of this with our Easter Tea.

So, do come in, grab a cup and saucer, fill a plate, find a seat and enjoy!

There are so many wonderful spreads to chose from at your grocer’s now.  I found a cheddar jalapeno cream cheese for these ham rolls.  IMG_3605 sizedSome might think the flavor too strong for tea, but I love something spicy with my cuppa!  I combined softened cream cheese and chopped water cress for a filling for those less tolerant of the heat associated with hot peppers.  In addition, I blanched asparagus and baked the spring vegetable inside crescent rolls with a slice of sharp cheddar.  It’s a great way to get kids to eat their veggies, and I’ve made this many times with broccoli spears as well.  The brew today is a black tea, flavored with peach.  It seemed chipper for spring.  Store bought muffins stuffed with fruit filling and mini raspberry pastries add some decadence to the menu.  If your sweet tooth still craves something, partake of the jelly beans, chocolate eggs, or tiny foil wrapped bunnies.

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  • Create an elegant space to serve tea.  I cleared off a cabinet in a small area that allowed for guests to file past and choose their treats.  Seating can be in another nearby room.
  • Don’t forget music!  You can set the tone of your gathering based upon what you choose.  I’m playing some sacred choral music at a low volume, to encourage conversation while still adding to the Easter ambience.
  • Small items, like these bunnies, define the theme.  Get creative and have fun!

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Fancy Asparagus CrescentsIMG_3562 sized

  • 1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 triangle, thin sliced cheddar for each roll
  • 2 asparagus spears per roll, thick end cut off

Blanch asparagus by adding cut spears to rapidly boiling, heavily salted water (I use a large skillet for this with about an inch of water).  Remove after 30 seconds & place in prepared ice bath (ice and water in a large, flat pan).   Preheat oven according to refrigerated dough instructions.  Separate dough.  Add a piece of cheese, the approximate size of the crescent and two spears of asparagus onto each dough triangle.  Roll into crescent shapes and place on cookie sheet.  Bake as directed.  Serve immediately.

Thank you for joining me!  Happy Easter!  He is risen, indeed!

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Paying Homage to Saint Patrick

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     So glad you could come to my Saint Patty’s tea!  For this mid-morning extravaganza, I’ve brewed a pot of Barry’s Irish Breakfast tea, and made some special treats just for you.  Enjoy the Irish harps I have playing on the stereo while I pour the tea.

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Did you know there’s more to St. Patty’s Day than wearing green, pinching or socking each other, and tinting rivers (or beer) artificial colors?  Have you ever heard of the real Saint Patrick?

He started life in Roman Britain, way back before 400 AD. Raised in a Christian family, he himself had no personal faith.  As a young teen, Patrick was abducted from his homeland and sold as a slave in then pagan Ireland, where he saw his situation as punishment from God for his prior unbelief.  He wrote of this time in The Confession.

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Through his trials, according to Rev. Brady, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All of Ireland, Patrick “Came to know another God — God the Father, who was his protector.  He came to know Jesus Christ in those sufferings, and he came to be united with Christ and he came to identify with Christ, and then of course, also the Holy Spirit.”

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Amazingly, after hearing a voice in the middle of the night telling him that his ship awaited, Patrick escaped slavery and returned home.  He applied himself to study and, in a dream, was called back to Ireland.  The young man struggled with returning to a land where he’d been cruelly enslaved and where the people worshipped multiple gods.  After a second dream, confirming his calling, he returned to Ireland and faced off against Druid priests, ultimately winning Ireland for Christ.

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Legend holds that he used a three leaf clover to help explain the trinity to the Irish.  That may be why we still hold the shamrock as a symbol of the holiday.  Patrick preached the Gospel for 29 years in Ireland, baptized 120,000 people and started over 300 churches.  No one knows where the saint is buried.

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It’s hard to imagine the obedience of this man, returning to possible death, torture, and slavery to tell those who had mistreated him about Christ!  We celebrate his bravery today on March 17, Saint Patrick’s Day.

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As a child, this holiday caused me much stress.  For some reason, I never owned any green clothing.  So, I would be dodging pinches all day at school.  If someone nipped you and it turned out you did sport a bit of green, you were allowed to sock them!  I wonder if this is still allowed in our current age of political correctness.  Did any of you ever have to run the gauntlet?  The class would form two lines.  The birthday child had to run down the middle, braving punches from everyone else!  I have met several adults who remember this tradition.

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To ward off any old, negative feelings about St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to prepare something extra special for our tea.  The summer before my senior year of high school, I spent living with my grandmother.  Her children felt she needed a companion, and until they found someone to hire, I fit the bill.  She made an easy version of strawberry shortcake, which I’ve modified.  Grandma split refrigerator biscuits and layered them with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream.  I’ve used a small cookie cutter to make heart-shaped strawberries and mini rolls, then stacked them with clotted cream… perfect for our tea!

I’ve also baked mini quiche, and steeped blackberries in cooled, Earl Grey tea.  Store bought waffles and lemon meringues add a sweet touch while pretty green glass fruit cups provide color and nourishment.


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  • A variety of patterns can be used on your table.  Just keep the palette similar.
  • Pretty doilies elevate plain cloth napkins.  Because I utilized different fabrics, I chose simple napkin rings.
  • Infuse berries with tea and other flavors for a unique surprise.
  • Add a bit of whimsy to your table.  I’ve included a charming porcelain frog playing an Irish flute.

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Mini ShortcakesIMG_3372crop sized

  • 1 tube refrigerator biscuit dough
  • 6 large strawberries, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
  • Clotted cream (available at import stores in U.S.)
  •  Sugar

Remove dough from can & use heart shaped cookie cutter to make 18 mini biscuits (left over dough can be used for other purposes, if refrigerated).  Bake on cookie sheet according to instructions.   Cut hearts from strawberry slices and sprinkle with sugar.  When biscuits are done, slice in half with sharp knife.  Spread small amount of clotted cream on each half, placing sweetened strawberry shape in middle.  Sandwich together.  Makes 18 servings.

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Steeped BerriesIMG_3379 sized

Brew 1 cup of strong Earl Grey tea. Stir in 2 Tablespoons mint simple syrup.  Allow to cool completely.  Steep berries (I prefer raspberries) in mixture for a half hour.  Serve immediately, draining excess liquid.

To make syrup:

Boil 1 cup water with 2 cups granulated sugar, stirring until mixture becomes homogeneous.  Remove from heat and add fresh, chopped mint.  When completely cool, strain mint from syrup.  Use to make steeped berries and retain the rest to sweeten tea, pour over cakes, or use in mixed drinks.

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Thank you for joining me to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!   Drop by any time!

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A Vertical Tea

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Hello.  So glad you could stop by!

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I’m short on space today, so I’ve prepared what I’m calling A Vertical Tea.  Just place a small table where there’s room, and build up!  My son gave me these adorable stacked cups.  They’re convenient because they take up so little space.  Whether you need a morning boost, cup with lunch, or an afternoon pick-me-up, they’re always ready on my counter, for tea or coffee.  I love the lively colors.  It turned out El Nino was not all it was cracked up to be, and February proved hot and sunny on the West Coast.  DSC01800 sized DSC01796 sizedMy wisteria is in full bloom, so I braved all the buzzing bees and grabbed a few stems to add some life to our table.  I’ve brewed a combination of flavors from tea bags and loose leaves.


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There are many different kinds of tea bags on the market.  I don’t care as much for the ones made of a silky material (shown as a triangle here).  They just don’t seem to make a strong a cup.  I can usually get two cups from a paper tea bag.  I often mix flavors to come up with something exciting.  Although I didn’t include it today, I especially enjoy throwing in some Chai for that bold, spicy taste.

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When employing loose leaf tea, you will need a strainer and/or infuser.  Infusers range from large, pierced balls adequate for an entire pot – to small shapes suitable for the lone cup.  DSC01794 sizedI especially like wire mesh infusers.  Just be sure to keep at least half your infuser empty.  Tea leaves expand in water and you want some space available for the liquid to move through the leaves.  I’ve found that filling less than 50% of the infuser works well.  IMG_3308cropcorrect sizedDon’t feel shy about checking the pot for your brew’s strength and remove the tea once you’re happy.  Some people even place the leaves directly in the pot, then employ a sieve for any that escape during the pour.  Many teapots have built in filters where the spout meets the body of the pot.  You will still need an additional strainer if you prefer this method.  Have fun and experiment!

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I’ve chosen some upbeat, light jazz to accompany our black currant tea.  Try one of my favorite store bought cookies, soft Almond Amaretti Virginia Biscuits, imported from Italy.  I love their cheerful wrappers!  Apricot kernels are one of their key ingredients.   Grab a strawberry, get comfy, and tell me about your weekend.

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  • Add some colorful napkins to make your table lively.
  • Remove tea leaves from the pot or cup once desired strength is reached.  Bags can often be re-used for a second cup.  Just watch those drips!

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  • If space is limited, build up.  Utilize cookie or candy jars instead of a tray.
  • A plain teapot works well with casual, multicolored cups.
  • Whenever possible, utilize fresh flowers or plants on your tea table.
  • Keep the dry tea scant when filling infusers.
  • Keep tea stored in tins.
  • Be careful when opening infusers after use.  The tea will have expanded and wet leaves often spring out when the container is opened, making a mess.

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Thank you for joining me.  I look forward to meeting again soon!  Check out this poem.  I got a kick out of it:

“We had a kettle, we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week…
The bottom is out of the Universe.”
–Rudyard Kipling

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