Come in, dear friend. I’ve arranged a special corner where we’ll have our tea, and the seat of honor is reserved for you!
I’m using a tea set with special meaning. I purchased the pattern years ago while visiting my parents. Made of porcelain, the pot, cups, and tray resemble old time enamelware. Charming!
I found the set on a day trip to wonderful Spring Mill State Park in Indiana (see details of the park here: http://www.stateparks.com/spring_mill_state_park_in_indiana.html), where you can view a restored pioneer village and grist mill. Watch corn being ground beneath the enormous, turning stone as the mill wheel spins, and then buy a bag of freshly made cornmeal. See weavers painstakingly working a large loom and explore the tiny general store. Examine the stump of a behemoth tree and scratch your head at its size! There’s so much to experience. Once a thriving community, the town was eventually abandoned. To maintain an authentic atmosphere, parking is not permitted near the hamlet, so come prepared to do a little walking. I have to admit, there’s something haunting about the place.
My folks and I had been to the site before, but on this occasion my husband and children joined us, and it proved an especially sweet time. Adjacent to the park is a worthwhile and moving memorial/visitor center dedicated to local hero, astronaut Gus Grissom (see http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/5580.htm). You can see everything in one day or spend the night in the lodge and enjoy a leisurely visit. Be sure to take it in if you are ever traveling through The Middle, a.k.a. Indiana. You can get to Spring Mill easily from the central or southern parts of the state.
Do you have any hidden gems that make wonderful day trips in your area? Please share the details! How about a special family time that evokes sweet memories?
Why don’t we sit and have a sip of smooth, mellow pear tea. It seems the ideal match for our savories. Today, I’ve made Stacked Thai Bites and cucumber sandwiches (recipes & tips below). I think they’re perfect! Taking the time to create a special effect, like diagonal stripes, pays big dividends.
I’ve always harbored a soft spot for Shabby Chic and vintage décor. Since my husband isn’t quite on board with an ultra-feminine style (nor does he see the attraction in peeling paint), I have settled for a few touches here and there – nothing too overpowering. For our tea, I’ve utilized an antique as a table. My mother bought the trunk at a country auction back when I was in high school and refinished it with Laura Ashley paints. She wallpapered the inside, too — a great touch! Over the years, some of the paint has chipped, but I like the effect. A family member recently claimed that Mom purchased it at a relative’s sale, and that it did, in fact, belong to one of my ancestors. If true, that would be fun, wouldn’t it?
My great aunts hand painted these lovely plates. I think Rachel Ashwell would approve.
For sweets, let’s indulge in mini angel food cakes with strawberries and Snickerdoodle banana napoleons with mint cream. The cakes are store bought and the napoleons easy to make with packaged cookies. Both look and taste divine.
- For the perfect tea sandwich, freeze the bread before cutting into shapes. This will allow you to have clean lines without damaging the bread. Bread will thaw within minutes of removing from freezer, so work fast. Use cookie cutters to make layers that fit your theme.
- After cutting frozen bread, store in Ziploc or plastic wrap in refrigerator until needed.
- Be sure to soften whatever spread you use in sandwiches. This will keep your bread from tearing and provide a smooth layer.
- When making tea sandwiches, remember appearance is as important as taste. Keep sandwiches small and appealing to the eye.
- Consider an unusual spot for serving tea. Tea for two is perfect for this since you are only accommodating a small group. Your guest will appreciate your creativity!
Stacked Thai Bites for 2
2 large pieces sour dough bread, frozen
1 large slice good quality deli roast beef
3 medium to large radishes, cut into paper-thin slices
2 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
Wooden skewers or toothpicks
Cut frozen bread into ten identical small squares, making sure crust is removed. Set aside to thaw. Set aside 5 radish slices & 5 cilantro leaves. Spread roast beef with thin layer of cream cheese. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and add enough radish slices to cover in single layer. Roll and use sharp knife to cut into 1″ slices. Place slice between two bread squares. Top with a reserved radish slice and hold together with skewer. Tuck a reserved cilantro leaf beneath radish & serve. Makes 5 mini tea sandwiches.
Cucumber Sandwiches for 2
1 English Cucumber, washed
2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
2 slices firm bread, frozen
Cut 4 identical rectangles from bread, making sure crust is removed. Spread each rectangle with cream cheese. Set aside. Cut cucumber on the diagonal into paper-thin slices. Layer slices across each bread rectangle in desired pattern (I chose diagonal). Cucumber slices should overhang the edges of the bread. Flip sandwich face down onto wax paper and carefully trim excess cucumber with sharp knife. Turn sandwich over and remove wax paper. Serve. Makes 4 sandwiches.
Snickerdoodle Banana Napoleons for 2
12 Hannah Max Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Chips or
other small cookies
1 large banana
Cut banana in half, lengthwise. Cut each length into 4 pieces (8 chunks total) – adjusting size according to the diameter of your cookies – and take a shallow slice off rounded side to provide a flat surface. Assemble napoleons with three cookies. Begin with a cookie & alternate between cookie and banana chunk, ending with a cookie. Top with whipped cream and small mint leaves. Serve immediately. Makes 4 napoleons.
Thank you for joining me. I hope you enjoyed our time together. Drop by any time!
COPYRIGHT 2017. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED