Blogathon Post for Week 3

This is Week 3 for Gracious Hospital-i-Tea's Blog-a-Thon. "Share ideas and pictures that incorporate tea and/or tea themes into home decor. Displays, art, prints, fabrics, and collection all count in this category. Do you use teapots and teacups as a part of your home decor? If so, describe how."

I like to stage little vignettes around the house with my tea things. Friday was our local Cancer Society's Daffodil Days so the flowers take center stage. I wanted other yellow things and looked around until I found ones that pleased me. My yellow McCormick Tea Pot, March's birthday teacup with daffodils and yellow beeswax candles along with a little mirror were added. One of my husband's pretty antique kitchen clocks finished the little scene. Once the flowers fade so will the decoration. But something else will spark my imagination, I'm sure.

I was so happy to receive this award over the weekend from not one but two of my friends! Anita from Prairie Dreams and Carol from Charli and Me both honored me. Thank you, ladies, this means so much to me. And it gives me renewed energy to keep blogging!


Tea and Poetry: A Simple Green Salad

Ode to the Color Green
Pablo Neruda

And lettuce’s
green when it receives
chaste drops of lemon
extracted by an olive hand.

Fresh green lettuces are in grocery stores now and they don’t need much to make an extra special salad. Dress it with this simplest of Vinaigrettes:

½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup vinegar
¼ to ½ teaspoon prepared mustard
¾ cup olive oil

Add the first four ingredients to a jar or bowl. Shake or whisk until they are blended. Add the oil gradually, shaking or whisking between additions. Cover and refrigerate. Shake before using. This makes about 1 cup.


Tea and Poetry: French Onion Soup

Ode to the Onion
Pablo Neruda
Endowed with abundance,
you break
your fresh globe
in sizzling marriage
with the stew pot;
when you touch hot oil,
crystal slivers become
curled feathers of gold.

1 ½ cups thinly sliced onions
3 tablespoons butter
6 cups beef broth
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 slices toasted French bread
1 cup mixed grated Parmesan and Gruyère cheese

Sauté onions in butter until very well browned but not scorched. Add beef broth and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat 30 minutes.

Ladle soup into 6 soup bowls and top each with the French bread. Sprinkle the cheese over the toast.

Heat in a 275º oven about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.


My World Wednesday

Yesterday Vee suggested that I should join this fun tea blog-a-thon and here I am! We are to write about the following: Share tea from the perspective of literature. Post a tea quote, a verse or poem, or story. Tell about a favorite tea book. This would be a good time to share how you use tea to encourage others. Do you minister to others by sending them tea themed cards to friends and shut-ins? Or another way you use 'tea' to share joy with others? I know some of you do --- so tell your story!

My blog's tea party theme this week is Tea and Poetry so that fits but I also wanted to show some of the tea books I've collected.

Tea Time at the Inn by Gail Greco is a beautifully photographed book about bed and breakfast inns and the teas they serve. There are tons of recipes and almost every recipe has a photo.

Tea Party by Tracy Stern is also beautifully photographed but most of the photographs are of Ms. Stern herself. There aren’t many pictures showing her tea goodies. The book features lots of tea party themes but the recipes aren’t unique or particularly interesting.

A Tea for All Seasons by Bruce Richardson is a wonderful book with tea party themes, great recipes and plenty of photographs. Bruce and his wife used to own a tearoom and they really know what they are doing. I highly recommend this book.

Serendipitea is by Tomislav Podreka who is a tea merchant. This guy knows teas and gives so much information in this small book.

Afternoon Tea by Lesley Mackley is a book of great recipes. Each dish is photographed while it is being prepared and as a final product. The recipes are easy to follow and taste good. I love this book.

Tea Basics by Wendy Rasmussen and Ric Rhinehart is the perfect book for anyone new to tea. It covers the types of tea, how to prepare tea and how to enjoy fine tea.

Tea with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson. If you’ve been watching the PBS productions of Jane Austen’s works, you’ll want to read this book. It talks about tea in Jane’s time, has lots of quotes from her novels and it even has recipes for treats that Jane’s characters might have served.

Tea with Patsy Clairmont is a sweet little book with lots of ideas for sharing tea. There are many photos of Patsy’s own tea things, a few recipes and some of Patsy’s poems.

Victoria Magazine’s The Charms of Tea is in typical Victoria style, lots of hazy photos of beautifully staged tea scenes, poetry and quotes and a surprisingly lot of recipes.

Having Tea by Tricia Foley is a bit like the Victoria book but it includes photos of each recipe, tea themes and so many pictures of tea settings. This was my first tea book and it remains my favorite.


Tea and Poetry Tea Party

The next tea party theme here at Tea in my Cup is in honor of April’s National Poetry Month. Invite your friends who write their own poetry and those who simply enjoy reading poetry to share their favorite poems at this tea.

Ask everyone to read a poem while you serve the tea and some great tasting tea treats. You can limit poems to those from a particular poet, from one country or period of time or to one style of poetry. Or allow any poem under the sun.

Have your guests send you their poem in advance so that you can make up a little booklet of all the poems from the tea party. This makes a great take-home favor. Any office supply store will bind the pages for an extra fancy presentation. Don’t forget to add the date and the name of your tea, something like Alice’s Tea and Poetry, April 20, 2008.

When I think of a poetry reading, I imagine a salon from the 1920s. Decorate for the Tea and Poetry Tea Party with items from that time. Pull out all your art deco items and anything with rounded edges. Seat your guests in your living room. Bring in any wicker or rattan chairs and tables you might have. Cover small round tables with scarves as they did in the ’20s. Ferns and other large plants instead of flower arrangements also help set the mood. And peacock feathers! What’s a salon without peacock feathers.

While the soup, salad and scones are to be served at the small tables in the living room, the savory and sweet courses are served at the dining room table after the readings. Decorate the table with stacks of poetry books, ink pens and pots, maybe an old style typewriter, whatever says 1920 to you. A simple white tablecloth will look good with your vintage dishes.

Have music playing when the guests arrive and after the poetry readings but not during. That would be too distracting. Ravel, Satie or Debussy will enhance the mood of this tea party.

Since poetry is the theme of this tea, I’ve chosen food that the poet Neruda has written about. You’ll see that I’ll include a line or two of one of his Odes with each recipe.

The menu starts with French Onion Soup served in small bowls. Don’t forget to hand out big napkins!

Next serve a simple salad with Spring Greens. Fresh veggies just coming into stores and don’t need a lot of enhancement.

Warm Orange Scones should be passed around the room in a pretty basket. Orange marmalade and clotted cream top them off.

For the savory course, offer open-faced sandwiches of Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil. Corn Muffins stuffed with a Spicy Mustard Ham are delicious. And Twice Baked New Potatoes, eaten in two bites, will be a favorite with your guests.

Don’t forget dessert! Serve an Apple Tart done the French way, Honey Madeleines and Watermelon Fruit Salad.

Golden Monkey is a delicious tea that your guests will certainly enjoy. Some people like to use milk and sugar in their tea and Golden Monkey will hold up to that. Since this party will probably take place in the evening, you might consider offering a decaffeinated tea too. You can do that yourself, no need to buy a special decaf tea.

To help you get in the mood for a Poetry and Tea Party:
Steam rises from a cup of tea
and we are wrapped in history,
inhaling ancient times and lands,
comfort of ages in our hands.
--Faith Greenbowl

Individual recipes start next time!


Happy Easter!

Here are a few more of Aunt Beulah's postcards. These are from 1907. Most of these were printed in Germany. The first card especially has a European look. Notice the onion domed church in the background. Pussy willow branches, along with eggs, seem to signify the season in this artwork. I was surprised not to find any Easter bunnies depicted because that tradition dates back to 1678. There were no religious themes in her Easter card collection either.

Something I noticed when looking at the postmarks is that they were mailed for a penny. One card had a double postmark indicating it came from across the state. Today it would probably take three or four days for a postcard to make that journey. In 1907, it arrived the next day.

Happy Easter to all my blogging friends and their families and Happy Easter to the USPS as well!


Easter Brunch Tea: Little Lemon Carrot Cakes

These little cakes are light, not heavy as some carrot cakes can be. They are perfect in case the Easter Bunny happens by.

1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 ½ cups finely shredded carrot
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel

Grease and flour a muffin tin or mini fluted baking pan. Stir together flour, baking powder, soda and salt. In a mixer bowl beat butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla, beat till fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low after each addition, just till combined. Stir in carrot and lemon peel.

Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake in 350º oven 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 5 minutes. Remove cakes and spoon glaze over warm cakes. Cool completely. Makes 12.


My World Wednesday: Payin' It Forward

Isn’t it great fun to receive a package in the mail! The mailman brought me one from Moonshadow at KS Born yesterday. I recently participated in Payin’ It Forward. The idea is to accept a gift and then give gifts in return. I didn’t know Moonshadow at the time but I’d missed Anita’s posting about the event and Moonshadow invited me to join hers. I’m so glad I did.

Moonshadow and I started emailing back and forth. I can tell you that she must have paid attention to every word I wrote. We discovered a common interest in personal histories and genealogy research. Moonshadow belongs to the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. It was so interesting to compare those Germans to the Amish and Mennonites living in my area.

One of the gifts she gave me is a huge cookbook called “Sei Unser Gast” (Be Our Guest.) It is filled with recipes from the historical society members. Many are the recipes from mothers and grandmothers handed down through the generations. The history of the food we eat is so fascinating. I recognized many dishes that I thought were unique to my area but now I realize they aren’t. I am going to spend hours and hours with this wonderful book of recipes.

Moonshadow sent me two small books about real women and the lives they lead. Lavina Gates Chapman was born in 1835 and she shared her memories and stories in “Short Stories of Pioneer Days.” The other story is of Edna Allen Windhorst. I haven’t had the opportunity to read these yet. I want to save them for a quiet time when I can sit and enjoy them.

Also in the package were the cutest earrings and pin set. They are vintage, from an estate, Moonshadow tells me. As someone who always gets lost at the jewelry sections at flea markets and antique stores, this was such a treat for me. I’m going to wear this on Easter; I don’t believe in not using things and keeping them only in a jewelry box where no one else can enjoy them.

Moonshadow sent me a tin container of Autumn cutters. That is very nice in itself. I will definitely put these to good use. But there was a story to go along with these. Moonshadow’s friend Carol had given these to her. Carol passed away the day before Christmas last year. It means so much to me that Moonshadow has now given these to me. I will think of both ladies each time I use them.

Thank you so much for every one of the gifts, Moonshadow. I can tell the care you took to pick each one especially for me. I never would have expected such personally meaningful gifts. The best gift of all though is one of friendship. I am so happy to call Moonshadow my friend.


Easter Brunch Tea: Home Fries

In planning this menu, I tried to have all the dishes be made ahead. These potatoes had me stumped though. There are lots of oven home fries recipes but none of the dishes turned out as I wanted. They took forever to brown, had a mushy texture or had to bake at too high a temperature. And they needed to be stirred several times, necessitating opening the oven and lowering the temperature for the other dishes baking at the same time. The oven home fries were not up to my standards and I’d never serve them to company.

Make the home fries on the stove or on your griddle while everything else is in the oven. They do best when not fussed with anyway. Just turn them a few times and they will give you a beautiful crisp brown crust with a fluffy interior. Here’s how:

Peel (or leave the peel on) and cut 1 ½ pounds potatoes into ¾” cubes. Cook them in boiling, salted water for 6 minutes. Drain, cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat about 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or griddle. Add a chopped red onion and cook about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the cold potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes have a good crust and the onions are almost burned, 16-18 minutes. This makes about 6 servings so double the recipe if you're having more guests.


Easter Brunch Tea: Red Beet Eggs

Red Beet Eggs are a Pennsylvania Dutch (German) specialty. Their pretty color is so nice for the Easter table. Fresh beets give a deeper, richer color and taste but canned beets can substitute. These eggs must be made at least a day before using.

2 ½ cups cooked or canned beets, sliced, reserve juice
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup beet juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 peppercorns
¼ bay leaf
½ teaspoon horseradish
1 onion, sliced very thin
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled

Combine in a saucepan, the vinegar and ½ cup of the reserved beet juice, along with all the remaining ingredients except for the onion and eggs. Boil for ten minutes. Pour mixture over peeled eggs and sliced onions in a deep bowl and cover. Refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving.


Easter Brunch Tea: Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs is one of the first dishes I learned to make as a kid. There are so many things that can be added to deviled eggs, herbs, bacon, spinach, pickle relish, cheese, almost whatever you have in the fridge but this recipe is the most basic and good for a tea where there are lots of other flavors going on.

If you ask five people how to boil eggs, you’ll probably get five different answers. So long as the yolks are cooked through and there is no gray ring around them, it doesn’t matter how you get there. Here’s my method:

Hard Boiled Eggs
12 fresh eggs
Cold water to cover
1 teaspoon salt

Add eggs and salt to a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for exactly 10 minutes. Rinse eggs under cold water. To peel, gently roll egg on the kitchen counter to crack the shell. Peel off shell under cold running water.

Deviled Eggs:
12 hard boiled eggs, sliced in half lengthwise
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
Salt and pepper

Gently remove the yellow yolk from the egg to a bowl. Keep the white intact.

Add the mayonnaise and mustard to the yolks and season with salt and pepper, Use a folk to break up the yolks and combine the mixture well.

Using a teaspoon, or a pastry bag with a star tip for an extra fancy look, fill each egg white half with the yolk mixture. Garnish with a pretty sprinkle of paprika. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Easter Brunch Tea: Honey Lime Fruit Salad

I used pineapple, oranges, apples, maraschino cherries, bananas and canned peaches in my fruit salad but use what you like when you make it. Two cautions though: don’t use blueberries or blackberries because they will turn everything in the fruit salad blue and add the bananas at the last minute because they will get brown and mushy even with all the citrus juice in the salad. Adjust the sugar depending on the tartness of the fruit you use or leave it out altogether.

4 limes
1 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons honey
Fruit of your choice, in bite-size pieces

Finely shred 2 teaspoon lime peel; set aside. Juice limes. In a medium bowl combine lime peel, lime juice, sugar and honey, stir to dissolve sugar. Pour over fruit.


My World Wednesday: A Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. I’m not telling how old I am but I like to say I’m in my dotage. I love that expression and it works pretty well as an excuse for just about everything.

My husband gave me these beautiful red roses, two dozen of them. The flower shop ladies always try to get him to buy other colors but he thinks roses should not be fluorescent green, bright purple or gaudy orange. Red, roses must be red. He always cuts the stems under water and then arranges them for me too. Sometimes I think he might be Martha Stewart’s twin brother, separated at birth.

We usually go out to dinner on special days but we’re postponing that this year. After being sick two weeks ago and my husband being sick last week, I now have a rotten cold. I’d probably get kicked out of the restaurant for being a coughing nuisance.

My mother and John are both recovering from a terrible stomach virus so I didn’t see them yesterday either. We don’t need to be passing our germs back and forth. I know a devil’s food cake with caramel icing is on the horizon though.

Caramel icing might be a specialty of this area. It isn’t traditional creamy caramel icing, the consistency of fudge. This icing sets up and gets hard so that you can whack it with the back of a spoon and it will shatter into pieces. My grandmother and some of the other older ladies from our church always made this for bake sales and church suppers. I don’t see it around much now and I’ve never made it myself.

When I was a kid, I got to pick the menu for my birthday dinner. It was always the same: stuffed pork chops, mashed potatoes, baked corn and a salad with hard-boiled eggs. And the cake, can’t forget the cake.

Did you have a special birthday meal? Please leave me a comment telling me about it!


Easter Brunch Tea: Pomegranate Sparkler

I like to welcome guests with a glass of something to drink as soon as they enter my home and this brunch tea is no exception. Pomegranate Sparklers are a nice change from orange juice based drinks. They have lots of health benefits too. The recipe can be doubled or tripled for more guests.

4 cups pomegranate juice
4 sticks cinnamon
8 cups sparkling mineral water

In a small saucepan, heat pomegranate juice to near boiling, add cinnamon sticks, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to chill in the fridge. Remove cinnamon sticks. Divide the spiced juice between 8 glasses, more or less, depending on the size of your glasses; add 1 cup sparkling mineral water to each glass. Stir and serve.


Easter Brunch Tea Party: Casserole French Toast

This French Toast does bake up beautifully in the 40 minutes the recipe recommends. Set your oven to automatically come on so it can be preheated and ready to go if you'll be at Easter services before the brunch.

1 loaf French bread (about a pound)
8 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and whisk until blended. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Remove foil about half way through baking. Serve with maple syrup.


Easter Brunch Tea: Sausage Balls

Paula Deen made this recipe on her Home Cooking show and I thought it would be perfect for this brunch. Paula recommends serving the sausage balls with a mayonnaise dip. I don’t think it is necessary but I’ll include the recipe in case you’d like to try it.

1 (1-pound) package ground sausage
3 cups baking mix (Bisquick)
4 cups grated sharp Cheddar
1/8 tablespoon pepper
Dip: 1 cup mayonnaise1 tablespoon mustard

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Mix well with your fingers. The mixture will be very crumbly. Form into balls, squeezing the mixture so it holds together, then rolling it between the palms of your hands to form balls. Place the balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. To prevent sticking, move the balls with a spatula halfway through cooking.

To make the dip, combine the mayonnaise and mustard. Serve with sausage balls.


Easter Brunch Tea Party: Asparagus with Lemon

I used to have a long bed of asparagus. What a treat it was to see the first green tips sprouting through the earth in the Spring. Some stalks emerge pencil thin and some come up as thick as your thumb. It is a mistake to think that the skinny stalks are the youngest or freshest. Asparagus was called sparrow grass by country folks a few generations ago. Those same country folks recommended that asparagus not be cut after the longest day of the year, advice we always followed. And one last asparagus fact, asparagus gives some people smelly pee (I really did work hard to come up with a better way to say this). Everyone affected this way is genetically related to everyone else with the same condition.

Asparagus stems get woody and tough at the base. Bend the stalk and where it breaks is where you should cut and discard. Peeling or not peeling is a matter of aesthetics; I rather like the natural stalks myself. Try to buy asparagus that’s all about the same size so it cooks evenly. When steaming, slim spears take two to three minutes to tender crisp, medium spears about five to seven minutes and fat spears eight to ten minutes. Boiling takes one to two minutes less.

To make the recipe: bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook according to size as described above. OR use a large frying pan in which you’ve placed a cooling rack in order to steam the asparagus. Never use a lid when cooking asparagus or it will lose its green color.

When cooked, drain the asparagus and plunge into ice water to cool. Drain and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

For simple Asparagus with Lemon, serve cold with lemon wedges on the side. For something a bit more, serve the asparagus with vinaigrette on the side.

Asparagus Vinaigrette:
2 egg yolks
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and slowly whisk the oil into them until thick and creamy. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and chill. There is still some controversy about using raw eggs. The very young, the elderly and people who are already battling disease probably want to avoid them.


My World Wednesday: Collections, Part 1

I have several small collections and I thought I’d show one of them today. Here are some of the little boxes I love. The black ones are Russian Lacquer. Each one is a miniature painting of a scene from Russian life or an illustration of a Russian folktale. The others are figural or decorative. I especially like the old-fashioned high shoe. You might notice that they are sitting on the red marble of my Eastlake bedroom set.

Rose Michelle at A Cup of Tea with Friends tagged me for the 7 Weird or Random Facts meme. I thought I’d give it a try. I’m supposed to tag 7 other people but I’ll leave it up to anyone who wants to do it.

1. I have professional culinary experience. That sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Actually in high school I worked at a snack bar dishing up burgers, fries and shakes. I learned a lot about safe food handling there and about working under pressure.

2. I’m afraid of heights. Two steps on a stepladder and that’s it for me. It’s a good excuse for never having to wash windows, hang curtains or paint.

3. I’ve worked in a nuclear power plant. I had my own hard hat, wore lots of dosimeter badges and was tested daily for how much radiation I might have taken. Funny, almost anything can seen normal when you do it day after day.

4. I met my husband in 7th grade. We had almost every class together for six years. The guy kind of grew on me.

5. We got married on his birthday.

6. I kill houseplants.

7. I often hear someone walking up the front stairs when I think I’m alone in the house. I’ve also heard someone come in the back door but no one ever arrives. When this happens, I always greet Grant, the man who built the house. Fortunately for me, I’ve never heard him say hello back.


Easter Brunch Tea Menu

The menu for the Easter Brunch Tea Party is all do-ahead. Attend Easter Dawn Services, regular Easter services or sleep late on Saturday. This Brunch Tea takes care of itself on the morning of your party.

Welcome your guests to your home with a Pomegranate Sparkler. No one can resist the pretty color and the bubbles in this non-alcoholic drink. It is so good for you too.

On the dining table set a beautiful bowl of Honey-Lime Fruit Salad so guests can help themselves. The honey-lime dressing adds a special touch but if you prefer, serve the fruit salad without it for a more low-cal version.

The French Toast Casserole is made the night before the party and baked in the oven for just 40 minutes before serving. Use a pretty, oven-safe 9x13” dish and it can go directly to the buffet table (on a heat resistant trivet, of course.)

Heating along side the French toast are Oven Home Fries and Sausage Balls. The Sausage Balls are a Paula Deen recipe so you know already what to expect. The Home Fries are simple and delicious. There aren’t many times during the year when you get to eat potatoes for breakfast—your guests will love them.

Since the oven is full, prepare Asparagus with Lemon the day before your tea. This dish is served cold or at room temperature and takes the place of a green salad. If you really want to impress your guests, use white asparagus.

No Easter meal would be complete without eggs. Serve both Deviled Eggs and that old Pennsylvania Dutch favorite, Red Beet Eggs.

Little Carrot Cakes are a sweet bite and will please any bunnies that might stop by.

The preparation of the tea, the ceremony of pouring it and offering special sugars and perhaps lemon are what make this brunch a tea brunch. Tea is a main component and requires some special leaves. Harney and Sons has a beautiful tea, perfect for Easter, called Chinese Flower. It is a blend of green teas and three types of flowers accented with citrus flavors. It is never a bad idea to have a second tea. Earl Grey Supreme, also from Harney, is made with a higher grade of tea leaves than regular Earl Grey. Folks who enjoy Earl Grey will love this version.

Stop back tomorrow for recipes and more Easter Brunch Tea ideas.


Easter Brunch Tea Party

To borrow from Sara Lee, nobody doesn’t like Easter. At Christmas there are a million and one obligations to fulfill and Thanksgiving requires a million and one foods to prepare. But Easter is calmer, gentle and serene, full of grace.

Easter is the perfect time to hold a Brunch Tea Party. On the Saturday morning before Easter, after Easter Dawn church services or in place of Easter dinner are all good times to schedule this tea party.

Send written invitations if you like; there are lovely Easter styles from which to choose. But be open to issuing last-minute invitations. You might decide to invite someone from a church service you’ve attended, your kids might bring friends home from college or you might have seen your neighbor for the first time all winter. How nice to be able to say “Come for brunch!”

Nothing will set the mood for a joyous Easter Tea more than fresh or potted flowers. Lilies and hyacinth with their beautiful fragrance, tulips in vibrant colors and sweet daffodils should welcome your guests. The rest of the decorating depends on your mood this year. Whimsical, folk art, retro or a natural garden theme might feel just right.

Colored eggs are a pretty decoration for your table. If you have children, they’ll be happy to help. Martha Stewart has beautiful ideas for the crafty. Her lace-dyed eggs are gorgeous and relatively easy. Place the decorated eggs on the table in egg cups to show them off. Or use a cake stand, covering the top with artificial grass or dyed green coconut in which to nestle the eggs. Or use an Easter tree and hang the eggs with colorful ribbon.

This tea is just right for using your prettiest dishes in a mix and match fashion. On the buffet table, stack your plates in flowery patterns with your Spring pastel solids and line up your teacups and saucers. This is decorative in itself.

It is considered very special to be asked to pour the tea; ask one of your guests to do the honors. On the other hand, if this keeps her from eating with her family, you might want to pour yourself. Carrying a plate of food and a teacup and saucer could be more than some of your guests want to tackle. Bring the tea to these guests after they are seated. Remember, the tablecloth you save will be your own.

Since your guests will fill their plates at the buffet table (or sideboard or kitchen table or kitchen island) and bring them to your dining table to eat, place cards won’t work well. If your Easter Tea extends for a couple hours, you might even have double seatings. Be sure to lay a fresh place setting and freshen the spot as soon as the first guests leave the dining area.

Good music adds to the mood of any tea party. Vivaldi, Stravinsky or Ravel might please your guests’ ears. Or not. I realize everyone doesn’t love classical music. Play what you enjoy, anything but vocal music. Having Josh Groban, as great as you might think he is, warbling in the background will impede conversation among your guests and leave them with congested heads.

I don’t think favors are necessary at this Easter Brunch Tea Party but you could keep a basket filled with foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies or eggs on a table beside your front door. As you say goodbye to your guests, give each one a little treat to eat later.

The food I’ve chosen for this tea party can be prepared in advance and baked at the last minute. The menu allows the hostess to attend her Easter church services and return home to simply put on her apron and set the food on the table. Come back tomorrow for the menu. Recipes for the dishes will follow.