Retro Tea Party: Frozen Fruit Salad

This old fashioned dessert is perfect for a hot summer day. Keep this in the freezer to pull out for unexpected guests or as a treat for yourself.

1 can(1 Ib.) fruit cocktail
1 can (1 Ib.) apricot halves
1 can (1 Ib) chunk pineapple
4 oz. miniature marshmallows
1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
1 jar (4 oz.) maraschino cherries
4 oz. soft cream cheese
1/2 cup salad dressing
3/4 cup whipping cream, whipped
Extra apricots and mint for garnish

Drain fruit cocktail, apricots and pineapple. Reserve juices. Place fruit into large bowl. Add marshmallows Set aside. Place fruit juices into saucepan. Stir in gelatin. Place over medium heat. Heat, stirring, until gelatin is dissolved. Cool slightly. Pour over fruit. Stir in diced cherries and cherry juice.

In separate bowl, blend together cream cheese and salad dressing, Add to fruit mixture, mixing well.Cover and chill until partially set. Fold in whipped cream. Transfer to 7 1/2-by-11-inch serving dish.

Cover and place in freezer 4 to 6 hrs. or overnight. Cut into squares to serve. Garnish with apricots and mint sprig.


Retro Tea: Swedish Meatballs

Swedish meatballs served in a chafing dish used to be on every buffet table. I wouldn’t normally recommend a saucy meatball for a tea party but since these fit the theme so well and taste so good, I thought I’d add them just for fun.

2 slices fresh white bread
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons clarified butter, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
A pinch plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 pound ground chuck
3/4 pound ground pork
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Set aside.

In a 12-inch straight sided saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground chuck, pork, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1-ounce portions and place on a sheet pan. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds.

Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat, or in an electric skillet set to 250 degrees F. Add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in the warmed oven.

Once all of the meatballs are cooked, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan or skillet. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the gravy and serve.

This is an Alton Brown recipe. You can tell that by the weighing of the meatballs. :)


Retro Tea: Crabbies

These used to be served at every party. I think that’s why they fell out of favor with hostesses; no one wants to offer the same treats over and over again. But these little crab bites are soooooo good. They are perfect for any party because they can be made, frozen and simply heated just before needed.

I wasn’t certain that the Kraft Old English cheese spread was still available but I bought it yesterday. I’d normally suggest making your own cheese spread but since this is a retro recipe, I wanted to keep it original. Two pieces per person may seem to be on the short side but these are so rich that most guests really do only want two.

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 ½ teaspoons onion powder
1 ½ teaspoons garlic salt
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon pepper
1 (6 ounce) can crabmeat, picked over
1 (5 ounce) can of Kraft Old English cheese spread
6 English muffins

Combine the butter, mayonnaise, onion powder, garlic salt, garlic powder, pepper, crab and cheese spread. Spread the mixture over English muffin halves and freeze until firm. Remove from freezer and cut into quarters. Return to the freezer until ready to bake. Preheat oven to 375º and bake for 15 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Yield: 24 pieces

I've been tagged by Rosemary at Rosemary's Sampler to do this quick meme. I won't pick anyone in particular to pass it to; if you'd like to answer, please feel free. Here goes:

Ten years ago... That summer we had painters, spouting guys and a couple stone masons. The painters were here for three months. I was so anxious about having strangers all over our house but it turned out to be a good experience. All of the guys were extremely respectful and polite and really lots of fun. We tried to make their time with us as pleasant as could be and I believe they appreciated the pitchers of iced tea, the Friday pizza parties and most of all, allowing them to come in the house to use the bathroom.

Five things on today's to do list...
1. Attend my cookbook club
2. Watch the Russia-Spain football match to find out which one will play my German team in the final
3. Make something for my husband to eat
4. Water the petunias on my front porch
5. Decide on a dessert to make for my mother’s July 4th picnic

Things I would do if I was a millionaire.... Buy lemons. Seriously at the store yesterday they were a dollar a piece. Now I’ve been known to splurge at the grocery store, a beef tenderloin for a dinner party, 10 pounds of shrimp for a holiday open house, hideously expensive olive oil and balsamic vinegar. But yesterday I put back the lemons. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that. An old boss of mine told me that she loves grocery shopping because, while she couldn’t buy what she wanted in other areas of her life, she knew she could buy any single item in the grocery store. I’m guessing those days have passed for her now too.

Places I have lived... I’ve always lived in Pennsylvania. It’s a pretty good place to hang out. With all the terrible weather others are having, in PA our only significant weather problem is an occasional winter blizzard. We get to enjoy all four seasons and are able to grow a huge variety of fruits, nuts and vegetables. We have big cities but still have open rural spaces. We have our own oil, coal and nuclear power plants. I’m pretty sure Pennsylvania could be its own country and not have to depend on anyone else. :)


My World Wednesday: Statehood Quarters

Every few weeks my husband makes me empty out my wallet. No, he isn’t checking to see how much money I’ve spent—he’s looking for quarters! My husband has always been a change-checker. It used to be wheat pennies and pre-1965 quarters and Bicentennial Quarters. He even carries a silver dollar in his pocket. So when the state quarters came out, he went right to collecting.

State quarters are issued from two mints, Denver and Philadelphia. Each quarter is marked with either a D or a P. While my husband did well with the Philadelphia coins, finding Denvers has been quite difficult.

Several months ago he said, “You must have contacts with people west of the Mississippi. Couldn’t you make a post asking about D quarters?” His request kept slipping my mind or didn’t fit in with what I was blogging about when I did think of it.

Lucky for me, CeeKay of Thinkin' of Home had the same idea as my husband. She posted this week wondering if anyone wanted to do a quarter trade. My husband was so excited when I told him. He jumped right out of his chair (usually it takes dynamite to move him that quickly) and went directly to his quarter stash. He had all the quarters CeeKay was missing and she had almost all of the ones he needed. Yaaaaay!

I thought I’d show my husband’s quarter system. He has several coin books that he fills in when he gets new quarters. What’s a bit unusual though is his method for storing his extra quarters. He uses empty pill containers which are just the right size to hold the quarters. Each container is marked with the state and the year the quarter was issued. My husband is a very precise fellow it seems.

There are only two more state quarters to be issued and I thought his coin collecting would simmer down. But wait! There are now Presidential Dollars to be had! Six have come out so far and wouldn’t you know, they come out in both Ds and Ps. Oh, joy.


Retro Tea: Party Loaf

Use bread with a tight crumb for this loaf. You might use a light and a dark bread, combining the layers for a pretty look. If you aren’t confident about slicing the bread, just ask the bakery to do it for you.

Vary the fillings if you prefer. Any purchased deli salad will work. One of the things to remember when creating this loaf is to spread the fillings evenly and not too thickly. Use a serrated knife to cut the loaf into slices.

Shrimp Salad Spread:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces cooked, peeled shrimp, chopped

Olive-Nut Spread:
2 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
½ cup finely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives

Deviled Ham Spread:
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup sweet pickle relish, drained
2 tablespoons grated onions
1/8 teaspoon red pepper sauce
2 cans (4 1/4 oz each) deviled ham

2 loaves (1 1/2 lb each) unsliced sandwich bread
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup radishes, sliced thinly

In individual bowls, mix ingredients for each spread until well blended. Chill.

Trim crusts from bread loaves. Cut each loaf horizontally into 4 equal slices. Lightly spread butter over 3 slices. Place 1 buttered slice on each of 2 serving plates or trays; spread each evenly with half of the shrimp salad spread. Top with second buttered slices; spread each evenly with half of the olive-nut spread. Top with third buttered slices; spread each evenly with half of the deviled ham spread. Top with unbuttered slices. Lightly press each loaf together.

In medium bowl, mix 4 packages cream cheese with the half-and-half. Spread half of mixture over sides and top of each loaf. Decorate the top with sliced radishes. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until cream cheese mixture has set. Cover tightly; refrigerate.


Retro Tea: Deviled Eggs

Back in March, I gave a recipe for how to hard boil an egg and for basic Deviled Eggs. There is so much more you can do with a Deviled Egg though. Extra ingredients, toppings, garnishes are all ways to jazz up your eggs.

Start with the basic recipe, add:
Anchovy paste
Pickle, dill or sweet
Blue cheese
Pickled jalapenos
Parmesan cheese
Ranch dressing
Sour cream

Or top with:
Anchovy slices
Sliced olives with pimento
Baby shrimp
Green onion
Red pepper
Parsley leaves
Radish slivers

Some fun combinations:
Lime juice and ground Chipotle powder
Tarragon and capers
Sour cream, cumin, salsa, cilantro
Soy sauce and ginger
Salmon, green pepper and curry powder
Dried apricots, heavy cream and curry powder
Feta cheese, black olives and mint
Olive oil instead of mayo, parsley, grated garlic
Finely chopped pecans
Tarragon and honey mustard
Red apple, celery, pecans, honey, lime juice

You don’t need to use only the traditional shape for deviled eggs either. Try:
Cutting through the middle of the egg; slice off a piece on the bottom so they stay upright
Cutting diagonally
Using a large serrated chopper to cut through the eggs leaving ruffles

And finally, since eggs are not only a tea party treat but also a great picnic food, transport them easily without a special deviled egg carrier. Take the eggs and the filling separately to the picnic. Mix up the filling and put it in a zip lock bag. When you get to the party, snip off a corner of the plastic bag and squeeze the filling in the eggs.


Retro Tea: Seven Layer Salad

Seven layer salads make a lovely presentation on the buffet table but after the first couple people take a serving, it looks downright messy. To solve this problem, serve the salad in tumblers, glass or plastic. The same visual effect is there but it is much more simple.

A traditional seven layer salad contains lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, bacon, peas, red onion and green peppers with a creamy and thick dressing. The salad pictured above is a Greek version of a seven layer salad. It contains chopped cucumber, tomatoes, feta, onion, sardines, olives and an herb dressing of oil and vinegar with lots of oregano and parsley. Use whatever salad ingredients you like so long as you keep them in neat layers.

A good Buttermilk Salad Dressing goes well on the traditional version. Using reduced fat buttermilk and fat-free mayonnaise lowers the calories significantly. In fact, 2 teaspoons of dressing has only 19 calories and 0 fat.

2 cups low-fat buttermilk
2 cups fat-free mayonnaise
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon very finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground or cracked pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until well combined. Store in fridge. Yield: 4 cups.


Retro Tea Party: Tomato Juice Cocktail

The ad says "When 35-23-35 is a goal..." Wow! I'm going to start drinking more tomato juice! :)

This tomato juice is best when homemade. Unfortunately we have to be careful about the tomatoes we eat. Unless you know where your tomatoes come from, don’t make your own juice. Start with bottled juice instead of freshly made.

It isn’t difficult to make your own tomato juice. Start with about 8 pounds of ripe tomatoes, quartered. Add 1 large onion, sliced, 3 celery ribs, chopped and 3 carrots, chopped. Cook the vegetables until they are soft and mushy, about 45 minutes. Put the mixture through a food mill and you’ll have tomato juice.

Put the tomatoes back in the pan and add:
½ cup finely chopped basil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Bring back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool the pan of juice in a sink full of cold water. When cool enough, transfer to a pitcher and refrigerate until completely chilled. Garnish small glasses of juice with lemon or lime slices. Vodka can be added to the juice; use your own judgment about how much to use. Makes about 2 ½ quarts.


My World Wednesday: Salt Cellars

Today we pass the salt shaker at the table but until World War II, most people used salt cellars. A salt cellar, or salt dip, is simply a small, open bowl that holds salt. Large ones were passed around the table with a little spoon. Individual salts were used at some tables too.

Did you know that the first tax of any kind was a salt tax? It was levied by a Chinese emperor. In Greece and Rome, slaves were traded for salt. Salt has always been a precious commodity. (You know this is still true today if you buy any of the designer sea salts available.)

Salt used to be sold in cones or blocks. It was up to the housewife to slice off a chunk to use. At antique stores, you can still sometimes see salt cone holders and tools made for cutting salt. In the early part of the 20th century, magnesium carbonate, a moisture absorbing agent, was added to salt. It was no longer sold in cones but finely ground.

Morton salt was the first company to produce iodized salt. The iodine prevented goiters which apparently was a big health concern at the time. They also came up with the familiar round canister with its little spout way back in 1911. You must have seen their slogan a million times, “When it rains, it pours.”

Today I like to use my salt cellars at the tea table. They are so much more elegant than salt shakers. And who can ever resist little spoons. Although I’ll tell you a secret, I always feel a bit hurt when anyone needs to use salt on food I’ve prepared. It implies that I haven’t seasoned things well enough. I’m peculiar that way. :)


Retro Tea Menu

I hope this menu brings back memories. I wanted to recreate a ladies' tea from about 1960. I remember so well going to Ladies' Aid meetings with my mother where tea was served after the programs. The hostesses were some of the best cooks around and took great pride in the food they served guests. One lady in particular delighted in using unusual ingredients and asking everyone to guess what the secret ingredient was. I remember a cake with tomato juice and another that contained Coke. No secret ingredients in this menu though, just good food.

Offer your guests a Tomato Juice Cocktail when they first arrive. Use a bit of alcohol or not; you know your guests' preferences.

A 7-Layer Salad begins the tea. These were so popular when I was a kid. Use your prettiest glass bowl so all the layers can be seen.

Do you remember when everyone was making Crabbies, a melted cheese and crab spread on English muffins? They are super rich but each muffin is cut into quarters to prevent overload. Although don't count on your guest eating only one.

Fancy Deviled Eggs are a treat that almost everyone loves. I'll give lots of options for fillings, garnishes and shapes.

Pictured at the top of the page is a Party Sandwich Loaf. The illustration and recipe come from a little magazine called The Workbasket. This particular issue was from May, 1957. More about the magazine below.

The dessert course begins with a Frozen Fruit Salad. It can be made a month in advance.

One of my favorite desserts as a kid was Marshmallow Crescent Puffs. I'm sure a lot of you remember these too. They were a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner in the '60s.

It doesn't sound especially attractive but a Dump Cake tastes good and is fun to make. Be sure to tell your guests the name of this cake so they can remember that their grandmothers baked this too.

Since this is a Retro Tea Party, use a favorite old tea bag tea. Yes, I said it, tea bag. Lipton, Red Rose or Tetley Tea is probably what a lot of our families used when we were kids. No one will mind that you aren't using a high quality loose tea. Just be sure to offer sugar, lemon and milk along with the tea.

I mentioned The Workbasket and perhaps some of your mothers or grandmothers subscribed to this magazine. Mine didn't but I found dozens of them at a flea market years ago. Today you can't find doily, tablecloth or bedspread crochet patterns like the ones this magazine featured. And there wasn't only crochet but also knitting, tatting, rug making, embroidery and just about any other craft from that time. There was a recipe section each month and a plant or gardening section too. If you happen to find an old collection of this magazine, pick it up!


Retro Tea Party

A Retro Tea is an especially fun way to host a tea party. Transport your guests back to their childhoods, to happy times when everything was fresh and new. All will love remembering “the old days.” One person’s memory will spark something in another’s mind and the reminisces will fly around the room.

Invite good friends of about the same ages for this tea party. Someone who has never known life without computers won’t find the conversation especially interesting when everyone else is remembering black and white TV. Send paper invitations to set the mood from the beginning; use ones you create yourself or ones with a retro theme from a card shop. If your tea will be in the summer, send the invitations about a month in advance, if possible. Summer weekends fill up quickly.

Decorate with a particular time frame, ‘40s, ‘50s or ‘60s, in mind. I’m going to use the 1960s because those are the years I’m most nostalgic about. Whatever decade you use, there are lots of inexpensive decorative items to be found at yard sales and flea markets. Pick one item and build the rest of your decorating around it. Geometric shapes, especially anything satellite shaped, really defines the time.

If you don’t have dishes that match the theme, ask around. Borrowing what you need shouldn’t be too difficult. Same with the tablecloth and napkins. But again, these items aren’t hard to find at shops. If you can only find serving pieces, go ahead and use decorative paper plates and cups. I don’t usually recommend paper but in this case, they’ll fit just fine.

Pull out all the vintage items you have, lamps, clocks, ash trays, vases. Use them around the room. Any vintage magazines you have could be laid on lamp or coffee tables just as you’d find in 1960. You might want to leave out the plastic flowers but a few large artificial plants like philodendron or dumb cane would look just right.

Flowers for this tea should be simple. Use flowers that your mother or grandmother grew in her garden. Gerbera daisies, black-eyed Susans, snap dragons, some Queen Anne’s lace all have a nostalgic feel but use whatever flowers you remember.

Music should be easy to pick. And for this tea, it is okay to use vocals. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin set one mood and Elvis and Little Richard set quite another. Make a mixed CD timing the tunes to where you think you’ll be in the tea. Quieter music for eating and more upbeat music as guests arrive and after the food is served.

Activities aren’t usually necessary for a tea but it is especially fun to ask each guest to bring a photo of herself from the time. Everyone tries to guess to whom each picture belongs. Just seeing the clothing and hairstyles will cause lots of giggles.

For a little favor, send your guests home with paper lunch bags of retro candy. Decorate the bags with stamps or stickers or simply write phrases from the time; for example you might use Sock it to Me, Right On, Groovy, or Outta Sight. There are a lot of web sites specializing in nostalgic candy sales. I’d pick candy necklaces, Bazooka Bubble Gum, Pez, Charm’s Blow Pops, Sugar Daddy, Tootsie Rolls, and marshmallow cones. The list could go on and on.

Please return this week for the Retro Tea Party Menu and the recipes.


Candied Flower Petals

One of the prettiest garnishes for any plate or dessert is candied flower petals. Pansies, Johnny-Jump-Ups, lavender, roses, apple blossoms and daisies are just a few of the flowers that can be used. Whatever flowers you’re using, just make sure they haven’t been sprayed with anything and of course, don’t use flowers growing along busy roads.

The candying process is simple but a delicate hand is required. Whisk the white of one egg until it is no longer gloppy. In a separate low bowl, place superfine sugar. Holding the flower carefully, use a small paintbrush to cover each petal with egg white. Then sprinkle the sugar over both sides of the flower. Gently shake off the excess but every bit of the petal should be covered. Place the petals on a drying rack until completely dry. This will depend on the humidity but generally takes a day or so.

The candied flower petals can be kept in an airtight container, layers separated by waxed paper, for quite a long time. Again, it depends on the weather but they can last for a year. I’ve read too that they can be frozen but as I haven’t tried that myself, I hesitate to recommend it.

As you can imagine, this is not necessarily a quick process. Johnny-Jump-ups never look so big as when painting egg white on a big pile of them. But they really are worth the effort; consider it a labor of love.


I've Been Not Tagged!

I've been honored by this award from two of my lovely blogging friends, Vee at A Haven for Vee and A Woman Who is: at In a Garden. Thank you both so much for thinking of me.

This award is "dedicated to many who nourish and enrich the spirit and creativity. They see dedication, creativity, camaraderie, joy and above all, ART, much art. I wish that this prize is entertaining to all those bloggers and to bloggers who day by day share this space and enrich it a little more each day." ~Arte Y Pico

Now for the rules:
1) Select 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contrubuites to the blogger community, no matter the language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award-winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4) The award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y pico"blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) To show these rules.

Okay, five blogs, in no particular order:

Carol at Charli and Me. I have totally fallen in love with Charli, a sweet little schnauzer. And Carol is pretty darn cool herself. :)

Jen at Jen's Chronicles . Jen has the best sense of humor. It is a real treat each time she posts photos of her amazing garden.

Gina from Patra's Other Place . Gina is such a tender, caring person. I wish she lived in my area so we could run around together; we enjoy so many of the same things. On the other hand, I've learned about Australia from her.

Katherine from Yellow Rose Arbor. Katherine is one of the most gracious ladies in blogland. She has a great eye for beauty and surrounds herself with it. Her blog is an oasis.

Lisa at Stop and Smell the Chocolate. Lisa is a new friend and I'm so glad I've met her. Her blog is sweet and funny and full of the joy of life.

I had to laugh when I read that Moonshadow from KS Born didn't tag me for the following quiz. She's a tricky one. :) I won't "not tag" anyone but open it to all my blog friends. Okay, here goes:

Two Names You Go By:
1. Alice
2. Mrs. M.

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1. It is 8:00 and hot; I’m still in my summer nightgown
2. Ummm, a goofy expression

Two Of Your Favorite Things:
1. The swing on my front porch
2. Big hanging baskets of flowers

Two Things You Want Very Badly At The Moment:
1. A new camera
2. Someone to scrape the old wall paper from several rooms so I can repaper

Two Favorite Pets You Have Or Had:
1. My dog Seamus, an English Bulldog
2. My dog Maggie, a Boston Terrier

Two Things You Did Last Night:
1. Watered flowers
2. Watched the finale of Top Chef

Two Things You Ate Last Night:
1. Chex mix
2. Fresh lemonade

Two People You Last Talked To:
1. My husband
2. My dogs

Two Things You Are Doing Tomorrow:
1. A major grocery shopping trip
2. Attending a public sale

Two Favorite Holidays:
1. Thanksgiving
2. Christmas

Two Favorite Beverages:
1. Tea, of course
2. Lemonade in summer, hot chocolate in winter


My World Wednesday: FOOTBALL!

It might seem strange to some but I love International Football. Oh, that's soccer here in the U.S. There is a huge tournament going on right now called Euro 2008. It happens only once every four years so it is quite a big deal. Sixteen European teams are playing in the host countries Austria and Switzerland.

My favorite club team is Bayern München so it follows that my favorite national team is Germany. Germany is the favorite in this tournament but they always do well. In their first match, they scored 2 goals. Certainly they will make it through to the quarter-finals.

Those who have never gotten into football say that it's boring--90 minutes of play and the score is 0-0? While the score determines the winner and a goal is great fun, every kick or touch of the ball is exciting to us fans. When Germany plays, it is difficult for me to even breathe the whole match.

Footballers are the most athletic of all sports players. These guys run up and down the field for 90 minutes with only a 15 minute break between halves. They don't wear padding and helmets but often get an elbow to the head or a spiked foot to the back. And they are cute!

At heart I may be a football hooligan. Watching football is the only time I yell at the TV. Actually it is the only time I yell. I swear and wish terrible things for players of opposing teams. I am not a good sport at all. My husband is embarrassed by me. My most reviled teams are England and Brazil.

My favorite player is the German National Team Captain, Michael Ballack or Balla as he's known. He left Bayern München for Chelsea in England so I'm still a bit upset with him. But he's a great asset for the German team.

Oliver Kahn was goalkeeper for many years and I loved watching him. They call him Lion Face because, well, he does look like a lion when he's directing his teammates. He's a big guy and could cover the whole net with ease.

My all-time favorite footballer though is Lothar Matthäus or Loda as he was known. He played such a long time and was one of Germany's stars. He even came to New York at the end of his career but didn't fit in too well with the American way of soccer. I believe he's coaching now.

Euro 2008 runs all month. Right now there are two matches a day, on TV here from noon until about 4:30 in the afternoon. As you might imagine, I won't get much done in June.



It is tooooo hot for me to even think of tea today. I can't even think of iced tea because it involves boiling water. I was wilted already at 5:30 this morning. My computer doesn't like this heat either so I'll keep it turned off most of the day. Oh, for central air.



Have you had the experience of seeing something from your past that is now referred to as retro or vintage? It is a bit disturbing. But my new tea party theme will be a Retro Tea. To get in the mood, does anyone remember:

Bikes with balloon tires, bells and handle bar tassels;
Spot and Puff;
Forts in the woods;
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.;
White Go-Go Boots;
The Beatles on Ed Sullivan;
Daniel Boone coonskin hats;
Poor Boy Shirts;
Roller skates that strapped onto your shoes;
Take the Last Train to Clarksville;
Ernest T. Bass;
Rat Fink;
The Prettiest Girl, I Ever Saw, Was Sipping Ci-der, Through a Straw;
Mint growing wild along every small stream;
Goldfish bowls;
Aluminum Christmas trees and color wheels;
Slipcovers and the corkscrew pins that held them in place;
Mini skirts;
Banana seats and high sissy bars;
The cracks and pops of heavily-played records;
VW Beetles;
Baton twirling;
Accordion players on Amateur Hour;
Watching Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights with your grandparents;
Cooking pork for an hour to kill bacteria we no longer worry about;
Suede jackets with long fringes;
Pressure cookers;
Measuring cups without metric markings;
The things your parents said about boys with long hair…until your brother had long hair;
Draft dodgers;
Wearing stockings because pantyhose hadn’t quite been invented yet;
Hot pants;
Being required to wear only dresses or skirts to school;
Green uniforms and berets for Junior Scouts;
Sit-Upons and Som’mores;
Candy and gum for 5 cents;
Coke coolers that had water in the bottom, reach in and take a bottle;
Plastic artificial flowers;
TV dinners in silver foil trays;
Walking on the railroad tracks;
Chinese Jump Rope;
The Onesies, Twosies, Threesies of Jacks;
Gray and red Farmall tractors;
Rain barrels;
Women wearing hats and gloves to church;
Formica tables;
Kool-aid and Fizzies;
Wax Lips and fingernails;
Polio Sugar Cubes;
Starting the school day with the Pledge of Allegiance and saying grace before lunch;
Twinkies in your lunch box;
Milkmen who delivered milk in glass bottles;
Super Balls;
Wicker clothes baskets, wooden clothes pins and wringer washers;
Grandma wearing her apron from morning to night;
Crocheted vests;
Chains of pop tops from soda cans;
The Ladies’ Aid Society;
Black lights and posters;
Jello Salads;
Flyswatters and fly tape;
Dirt floor basements;
Buying Savings Bonds at school, 25 cents a week;
Almost everyone’s home had a piano;
Collecting books of Green Stamps;
Troll Dolls;
I’m ‘enry the Eighth, I am;
Skin the Cat;
Believing you’d get warts if a toad peed on your fingers;
Children’s Day at Sunday School where every kid had a “part” to recite before everyone;
Peanut scrambles;
The Name Game, Alice, Alice BoBalice, Bananafanna FoFalice;
Ice houses, smoke houses, chicken coops and outhouses, no longer used but still standing;
Gas pole lights and the seasonal decorations most people used on them;
Watching punch come out of your brother’s nose because he was laughing so hard;
Cone-shaped pole lights;
10-4 Good Buddy;
Weekly Readers;
The annual church picnic, especially the grab bag.


Children in Tea Rooms

Recently my friend Lisa and I had tea at a small tea room in our area. Of the dozen or so tables about half were filled. Conversations were low; the atmosphere was relaxing. We’d just finished our soup when it happened: Moms with small children came in the door!

The first fuss began even before they were seated. Both mothers wanted to bring their huge monster strollers into the tea room. There really wasn’t enough space but the mothers insisted, crowding the tables next to them. The children both about 3 years old, didn’t remain in the strollers but sat on their mothers’ laps. You might imagine how long that lasted.

At various times while we were having our tea, the children ran around the tea room, even into the open kitchen, they screamed, they cried, one threw a tantrum while lying on the floor, one sang at the top of his lungs and they both ran up to the other guests playing tag.

What were the mothers doing while all that was going on? You guessed it! They were completely oblivious to what was going on. The waitress tried to wrangle the kids but she was not very successful. Dirty looks were flying around the room to no avail. As the courses arrived at their table, the mothers herded the children back to eat. Most of their food was thrown on the floor along with the sugar packets they’d been given to play with, an unappetizing mess for the rest of us.

Lisa and I both agreed that this was the worst tea experience we’d ever had. We couldn’t hold a conversation because of the noise, we had to be constantly on guard that one of the children would run into us and frankly we were more than a little annoyed and peeved. If this tea room didn’t require a full deposit at the time of the reservation, we would have simply gotten up and walked out the door.

So what can be done about unruly children in tea rooms? Many tea rooms have policies regarding children. Some say that no children under age 6 will be permitted; others put the age at a very high 12. I’ve seen several that state “Well behaved guests of all ages are welcome.” I’m afraid that last one might be too subtle. The tea room owner could have spoken with the mothers, asking specifically that the children be kept at their table. She could have asked them to leave. She could refuse any future reservations by those mothers. Would that be bad publicity for the tea room as the mothers tell their friends how poorly they were treated (in their eyes only.) Hmmm, 24 very unhappy guests, 2 rude mothers. I believe I'd ban them.

Now I realize some people may read this and disagree. Some will say that the children had a “right” to be there. Maybe those people have never heard the expression, “Your rights end where mine begin.” There is also the argument that children must be taken out in public restaurants so they will learn how to behave. I agree, but very young children should be taken to family style places, not tea rooms with their expectation of calm. And as part of the teaching experience, if the child begins to disturb other guests, she should be taken to the restroom, outside to the car or back home.

We eat with all our senses and I believe tea room owners know this better than anyone. The rooms are decorated beautifully, the food is presented in the prettiest ways, waitresses are welcoming and helpful. When our senses are overloaded by the commotion of crying, screaming children who are running around, our entire tea experience is diminished.


Bridal Shower Tea Party: Timetable

Ingraham Regulator B, Octagon Top, School, Time Only, 8-day, C.1903

Three Days Before the Tea:
Bake the Dried Cherry Lemon Scones and freeze
Bake the Lavender Shortbread Cookies and freeze

Two Days Before the Tea:
Mix the Chicken Salad
Prepare the Tea Concentrate

Day Before the Tea:
Bake the Mini Quiche (reheat just before serving)
Prepare the Cumber Cups but don’t fill
Carve the Watermelon Basket, reserve watermelon

Morning of the Tea:
Prepare the Watercress, Pear and Walnut Salad
Fill the Cucumber Cups
Assemble the Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
Fill the Watermelon Basket

My friend Anita from Prairie Dreams passed on this award to me. The award has been designed especially for Anita by anajz of The Sustainable Backyard and is one of the prettiest I've seen. Anita is such a big inspiration to me, not only for ways to go green, but more importantly in how to come out the other side of a disaster even better than before. Anita takes the time to answer each post to her blog and that has me checking in with her several times a day. Thank you, Anita!


A Bridal Shower Tea Party: Lavender Shortbread Cookies

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (loosely-packed, or 4 ounces) powdered sugar, plus additional for dusting
1 tablespoon dried lavender blossoms
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour

In the bowl, cream the butter with the salt, powdered sugar and lavender until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until combined, about 10 seconds. Fold in the flour by hand, mixing lightly just until incorporated and being careful not to over-mix.

Remove the dough from the bowl. Roll out the dough between two pieces of wax paper until about 1/8 inch thick. Stamp out cookies with heart cookie cutter or other shape. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Heat the oven to 350º. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until set (the cookies should not color). Remove from oven and sprinkle with superfine sugar while still hot. Cool the cookies (still on the pans) on a rack. Makes 3 dozen cookies.


A Bridal Shower Tea Party: Watermelon Basket

A Watermelon Basket always looks so pretty on a dessert table. Fill with balls of watermelon and cantalope or use a mixed fruit salad. Carve a very simple basket or add extra details. The basket below is the easiest to make because it uses all straight lines. A jagged edge like the one above is a bit fancier but still easy to do.

To make the three baskets below, use a template and mark the design on the melon before carving. The tools used for Halloween pumpkin carving are a huge help cutting out the details.

A melon butterfly and pineapple flowers and stars are especially pretty but take up space. Be prepared to refill these baskets.

If you look really closely, you can see that the carving isn't perfect. No one will notice a few lopsided cuts though.

The last watermelon was the work of a professional obviously. It is so beautiful that no one would ever want to cut into it.

It isn't difficult to make a Watermelon Fruit Basket but it does take time, especially if a carved edge is used. Using a melon baller for the inside can take quite a while too. Your hands probably aren't used to the repetitive motions required in carving and making the balls; I highly recommend having a friend help. Make the basket the day before the party and keep in the fridge. Fill with the fruit at the last minute.
(All photos used under a Creative Commons License.)


Chicken Salad Master Recipe

One of the suggestions for the Bridal Shower Tea Party menu is Chicken Salad. It can be served as finger sandwiches on white or brown bread, on croissant, in pate a choux, on party rolls just to mention a few possibilities. Here is my master recipe and lots of add-ins.

5 cups cooked, cubed chicken from about 2 whole chicken breasts (serves 6-8)
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

green onion
olives, black or green
finely chopped herbs: parsley, tarragon, mint or thyme
grapes, red or green
almonds or walnuts
chopped pickles
minced jalapeño pepper
green or red peppers
apples, skin on
Spices: curry powder, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, cumin, ground ginger
pears, skin on
dried cranberries or raisins
orange segments