Breakfast Tea on a Tray: Spicy Sausage Hash

This is the final recipe on the Breakfast Tea on a Tray theme. I hope you'll make breakfast in bed for someone you love this weekend.

My husband will be on vacation starting today through September 9th. This is a working vacation with lots of household projects to accomplish. I won't be posting during this time but will return with new tea party ideas on September 10th. See you then!

1 pound spicy Italian sausage, bulk not links
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
3 cups diced cooked potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the onion, carrots and green pepper; cook until tender. Stir in the potatoes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and heated through. Yield: 6 servings.


Breakfast Tea on a Tray: Chunky Applesauce

Fresh applesauce is so easy to make that I don’t know why I ever buy the stuff in the jar. Early apple varieties are in season now, including my favorite Gravensteins. For a special treat leave the peels on red apples and your applesauce will turn pink. You’ll have to run this through a food mill though to remove the peel.

1 quart apple cider or juice
3 pounds apples, a couple varieties, cored, peeled and chunked
¼ to ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, optional
¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, optional
Maple sugar or light brown sugar, optional

In a large heavy pot, cook the cider down over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the apples and the spices, if desired, Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook gently until the apples have cooked down and are very soft, about 45 minutes. Taste and if you wish, add a little sugar, perhaps a tablespoon or two. Depending on the varieties of apples you use, some may remain somewhat chunky after the rest have virtually dissolved. Serve warm or chilled. The applesauce will keep in the fridge, covered, for at least a week and can be frozen for even longer.


My World Wednesday: Chimney Swifts

When we lived in a farmhouse, we had bats nesting in our attic. Every evening at dusk they could be seen flying, in long trails, out to feed. There were hundreds of them. Now I appreciate bats as much as the next person for their beneficial habits but having them in the attic, frequently venturing downstairs in the middle of the night, didn’t exactly please me. My father-in-law, a farmer from the old school, insisted we leave them be and we always did.

Last Sunday night, I was closing my balcony door and I noticed lots of birds flying in low, wide circles in the sky very near my house. My first thought was "Ohhhh, no, bats!" But as I watched them, I saw that they were swooping into a chimney across the street. This large brick chimney stands high on the roof of a flat building. The big flock diminished rapidly as they flew into the chimney one by one. It took only about five minutes for 100 birds to disappear.

After ruling out bats, I had a hunch, for obvious reasons, the birds might be chimney swifts. Sure enough the Internet confirmed they were. I learned lots of interesting facts about these birds. They’ll migrate to South America soon but will probably be back next year. They hang inside the chimneys with their claws; they don’t perch. They are great birds to have around as they feast on flying bugs like mosquitoes.

Everyone who watches the amazing spectacle of the birds coming home to roost is fascinated. Last night my friend Kim saw this and couldn't stop saying "Oh, wow! Oh, wow! Look at that!"

Chimney swifts are facing hard times because modern chimneys don’t provide the mortar the birds need to hook on to. And lots of people would frankly be horrified to have a chimney full of birds. The Chimney Swifts Organization will be hosting a "Swift Night Out" on September 12, 13 and 14th. This event is to get everyone outside about a half hour before dusk to observe and count swifts. I will definitely be taking part!


Breakfast Tea on a Tray: Sweet Pumpkin Pancakes

I had to get up and put a blanket on the bed last night. I could have closed the window but the cool air and warm cover made for such cozy dreams.

This recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes comes from the famous Dutch Kitchen Restaurant in Pennsylvania. Folks traveling any direction through central Pa. have been stopping there for a hundred years. As with most diners, breakfast is king and these pancakes are delicious.

1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
2 eggs, separated, 2 whole eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cups milk
1 ½ cups evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 plus2 tablespoons melted butter

Sift the flour, salt, sugars, cinnamon, allspice and baking powder. In a separate bowl combine the 2 egg yolks and regular milk and gently beat. Temper this mixture by adding 1 tablespoon of the warm butter. Mix and then add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. In another bowl, combine the vanilla, evaporated milk, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil and 2 beaten eggs. Mix well. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix. Then add the pumpkin mixture. Beat the 2 egg whites until stiff and fold into the pancake batter. Grill the pancakes on a buttered skillet or griddle over medium heat. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface and the underside is golden brown. Turn the pancakes and continue cooking.


Breakfast Tea on a Tray

This is the perfect time of the year, in my part of the world, for breakfast in bed. The windows are open, the air fresh, and there is no need for either air conditioning or the furnace. One of the secrets of living with four seasons is to jump ahead into the coming season by a few weeks. I’m tired of summer now. I crave the crispness of Autumn with its apples and long sleeves. My tea tray features hints of the coming season.

This tea tray menu isn’t elegant or glamorous; rather it is homey and warm. Pumpkin pancakes make a return to set an Autumn mood. There is a Sausage Hash to spice things up a bit. Homemade Chunky Applesauce compliments the both the season and the other food. A perfect tea to serve is Ceylon Vithanakande Black from Teavana. This tea combines the malty flavor of Ceylon, with the strength of Assam, and the complexity of China black and will hold up well with the hash.

Dos and Don’ts for a Breakfast Tea on a Tray:

*Do use a tea tray with legs for actually eating in bed. Flat trays can be a bit wobbly.
*Do set up a small table for holding a flat tray.
*If you don’t have a tray, do use a jelly roll pan covered with a tea towel or large napkin.
*Don’t place large cartons or jars on the tray. Maple syrup, milk, jam or jelly should be served on the tray in small individual containers.
*Do use flowers but nothing with too much scent.
*Do include the tea pot on the tray instead of simply bringing one cup of tea.
*Do set the pot and other accessories on a bedside table to avoid spills.
*Do use butter pats or whip up the butter and serve in a small dish.
*When serving tea to a male person, don’t use your flowery china or lace napkins.
*Don’t reserve serving tea in bed for only your sweetie. Kids love this too.
*Do have a couple large napkins on the tray.
*Do include a newspaper or favorite magazine to enjoy after eating, not during.
*Do put an alarm watch under your pillow so you can slip out of bed to prepare the tea tray if you want it to be a surprise.
*Don’t forget the lemon, milk and sugar if the tea tray recipient uses them. You don’t want to have to return to the kitchen.
*Do consider whether to present the tea tray and leave the recipient in peaceful luxury (good for a mom with small kids) or whether to include enough on the tray for yourself.
*Do add a little love note to the tray whether it is for a husband, wife or the kids.
*Don’t forget the clean up the kitchen. No one wants to get up after a leisurely tea in bed to be faced with a big mess.
*Do expect lots of kisses and hugs!

Recipes for Breakfast Tea on a Tray are coming up tomorrow.


Princess Tea Party: Menu Selections

Please forgive my late post today. I had emergency dental issues. Actually I still have dental issues since I now need a root canal. Yippee!

For the Princess Tea menu, I’ve listed several items from which you could choose to go along with the sandwich fillings I posted yesterday. Offer two sandwich choices, a fruit or veggie, one or two sweets and one or two choices of drink.

Pink applesauce
Cream stuffed strawberries
Mixed fruit served in an orange half
Celery stuffed with peanut butter and topped with raisins
Celery stuffed with pimento cheese spread
Baby carrots served with dip
Mixed crunchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and green beans

Decorated Princess cake
Tea breads
Brownie bites
Rice Krispie treats cut out into cute shapes and decorated with candies
Cup cakes sprinkled with edible glitter
Sugar cookies
Princess scepter wands (above)
Bar cookies cut in diamond shapes

Fruit decaf teas
Raspberry ginger ale
White grape juice
Sparkling water with lemon slices
Hot chocolate for older children who are not likely to spill

This concludes the Princess Tea Party. I hope you’ll throw one for the little girls in your life. This tea is specifically for girls but if there is a brother in the family, he could attend as a Prince, a Knight or even a Pirate.

Come back next week for another tea party theme.


Princess Tea Party: Tea Sandwiches for Children

I’m often asked for suggestions for tea sandwich fillings that children will like. As for any other tea you host, buy quality ingredients. I’ve listed many suggestions that contain no nuts. This is something to consider with children as your little guests might forget to tell you about an allergy.

I haven’t included chicken, egg, tuna or ham salad tea sandwiches. So often children don’t like mayonnaise. If you know your guests’ tastes though, feel free to consider these choices too.

Apple butter on raisin bread
Cinnamon sugar on buttered white
Jelly on bread, rolled into pinwheels
On white, marshmallow cream topped with bananas and strawberries
Deli ham and cheese on bread, made into cute shapes with cookie cutters
Garden spread, cream cheese mixed with carrots, celery, cucumber or other veggies
Fruit spread, cream cheese sweetened with honey mixed with chopped seasonal fruit
Cheese spread (homemade or from a jar) topped with very thinly sliced pear
Toasted bread spread with grape jelly and small pieces of bacon
Homemade bread, warm from the oven, simply spread with butter
Turkey slices on buttered bread with spinach leaves
Little Smokies wrapped in crescent roll dough (dough will need to be cut to size)
Thin slices of chicken on bread, spread with a bit of butter, topped with apple slices
Fruit-honey spread on biscuits
Mini English muffins topped with cheese and a pizza sauce and run under the broiler
Peanut butter and jelly
Peanut butter and marshmallow cream
Peanut butter and Nutella
Nutella and banana or other sliced fruit

This time of year, I like to garnish the tea sandwich plates with stems of frozen grapes. Kids love these but they have to have the stem for some reason known only to the kids. :)


My World Wednesday: Heiliger Schutzengel

When I was a little girl, my aunt and uncle lived in a big Victorian house. It was there that I fell in love with everything Victorian, including this picture. It hung in what had originally been the nursery. I suppose it simply never got moved as different generations passed through the home.

The print is called Heiliger Schutzengel or in English, Guardian Angel. It shows a little boy and girl crossing a very rickety bridge over rushing water. Lightning flashes in the sky. Their beautiful Guardian Angel watches over them though, keeping them safe.

I hadn't seen the picture in 40 years when my husband and I came across this print at an antique market. I recognized it right away and it still had the same pull on me. We bought it and brought it home.

I had no idea what kind of frame to use with the print so it didn't get hung. The following Christmas though, my husband gave me the framed print for a gift. He'd found the perfect frame at a public sale and bought it without even knowing the exact size of the print and whether it would fit. It did fit beautifully.

Heiliger Schutzengel now hangs in my bedroom. And it always will.

I've never been able to find out much on the picture. The original print was published by Lindberg but no one seems to know who painted it or when. The title, as well as the dress of the children, seems to indicate a German artist. A modern print is available at almost every online poster store these days.

If you've seen this picture before, please tell me about it. I love hearing stories about where it hung and in whose house. I'm sure it must be familiar to many of you.

Tomorrow: Back to the Princess Tea with menu ideas!


Princess Tea Party: Good Manners for Children

Here is my script for presenting a lesson on good manners for Princesses at Tea. Give the girls time to respond to each "rule" for an interactive and fun experience. No one at any age likes being lectured at and not spoken kindly to. Use your most upbeat and happy voice.

Good afternoon, Your Royal Highnesses. I’m sure you all know that Princess must have the best manners of all the people of the land. Let’s talk about some good manners we should always use.

Can anyone tell me the Three Magic Words? (Be prepared for albracadabra and bippety boppety boo. Allow the girls to answer and hopefully you’ll get the correct responses.) That’s right, the Magic Words are: please, thank you and you’re welcome! A sweet Princess will always use these words. At a tea party, a Princess is often asked "one lump or two?" (Use a bowl of sugar cubes and sugar tongs to illustrate. Have each girl ask the question to her neighbor and have the neighbor answer with the magic words "one, please," followed by a "thank you" and the girl with the sugar, reply with "you’re welcome." Pass the sugar bowl all the way around the table so each girl gets a chance.)

Princesses should never be loud or noisy at the tea table. It is very rude slurp the tea or to clank the spoon against the tea cup. And certainly no Princess would ever burp at the table! (Show horrified face!) Here’s how we stir our tea: (demonstrate with your own empty cup and have the girls follow.) We never want to stir so hard we break the cup or slosh the tea over the side of the cup onto the pretty tablecloth.

When the Princess takes her seat at the royal tea table, what is the first thing she does? Yes, she puts her napkin on her lap. She stays in her seat and waits for the Queen to start eating. A Princess never sits on her knees on the chair or reaches over her neighbor for the salt. What does she say instead? "Please pass the salt, Beth." (Allow the girls to practice asking for things to be passed.)

Did you ever see a Princess eating mashed potatoes with her fingers? (They’ll all say noooo.) That’s right only babies eat with their fingers. Hmmm, but wait; aren’t there some things that we can eat with our fingers? (See if the girls can come up with anything. If not, remind them of sandwiches, grapes, cookies, bite-size pieces of celery or carrots, etc. You might make a game of this by asking fingers or fork and then naming various foods: Fingers or Forks, spaghetti; Fingers or Forks: a celery stick and so on.)

One of the nicest parts of any Royal Tea Party is being able to chat with other Princesses. Every Princess should try to join in the conversation with something nice to say. BUT make sure you let every Princess at the table get a chance to talk. When one Princess is speaking, don’t butt in. Wait for her to finish.

When a Princess visits another royal palace for tea or dinner or just to play, she must always respect the King and Queen. Always say hello to the Princess’s mom and/or dad when you arrive. And when you leave, thank the Queen. It is especially kind to tell the Queen that her food was good. You might say, "Thank you for inviting me to tea, Mrs. Evans. I loved the brownies." (Again, go around the table, letting each girl use her imagination about a food. Smaller girls might not be able to say the entire sentence but let them play along by just mentioning a favorite food.)

I believe our tea is ready now, Princesses. Remember all the things we talked about so you can show what a lovely Princess you are inside and out.


Princess Tea Party

A few weeks ago, Moonshadow asked me for some ideas for a Princess Tea Party for her granddaughters. She wanted some suggestions for a little lesson on manners too. Moonshadow will hold her tea at a tea room but for those who might like to host the tea at home, I’ve included ideas, including food suggestions, for that too.

Every tea party begins with a plan. First decide on the invitation list. Don’t invite more little girls than you can supervise or ask a couple of the moms to hang around and enjoy the party too. Next pick a date and the hours for the tea. Make your reservation with the tea room as availability is often limited. Most teas for little girls last 90 minutes. Any longer than that and they get restless.

Invitations can be purchased at any card store, downloaded online and printed on your own computer or you can make your own. Allow the little hostess to decorate the invitations for an extra special touch.

I made the one at the top of the page and anyone is free to enlarge and copy it. Cut out the teapot and tag, attaching tag to the pot with a bit of string and add some glitter. Girls will think it is fun to get an invitation in a teapot shape. Write the details in a pretty font on the back of the teapot using a simple who, what, where, when format or something fit for a princess like:

Hear ye, hear ye! Princess Zoey (and Princess Rebecca if there are cohosts) of the House of Andrews request(s) the honor of Princess (name) of the House of (last name) presence at a Royal Tea Party. Footmen and Ladies in Waiting should deliver all Princesses to (the Andrew’s castle) or to the Royal Baker (if using a tea room) at 9878 East Street at 2:00 p.m. on September 4, 2008. RSVP to the Queen or Queen Mother at 878-766-3874.

If your party is to be held at a tea room, you won’t need to do much decorating. Ask the tea room to use pink tablecloths, if possible, and their prettiest china. You might want to add your own arrangement of pink flowers for the table. Do the same at home and don’t forget the cloth napkins! Add some pearl necklaces and other "jewels" and pink, sparkly glitter to the table top. Don’t use paper plates or cups; make this a real tea party for the girls.

At a tea room, there probably won’t be much room for Princess games. You could hand out coloring or game pages or give the quiz I posted last week. You might even have room to set up a Kiss the Frog game. Again you can find this online to download or make it yourself using a picture of any frog and lip stickers or cutouts.

If you have more room, you could play the Princess’s Slipper. Have each girl take off one of her shoes and put it in a large basket or on a blanket. Blindfold the girls one at a time and have them try to pick out her own shoe from the bunch.

A treasure chest is fun if you have space. Use a decorated cardboard box or your punch bowl or other large container filled with sand in which little treasures have been buried. Each girl gets a chance to stick her hand in the sand to pull out a trinket.

If you have several helpers, you might have the Princesses make their own crowns or decorate cookies. These can be messy activities though so use your own judgment knowing the ages of the Princesses.

After game time, the girls should take their places at the table for instruction in some Princess manners. I’ll have a script for this in my post tomorrow. It involves lots of interactive fun and won’t feel like a boring lecture to the girls.

Serving the food is next on the agenda. At a tea room, you will have selected from their menu but at home, you’ll be preparing the food yourself. I’ll have lots of make ahead food ideas and a whole list of tea party sandwiches for children coming up in the recipe section later this week. One caveat no matter who is making the food, these little girls are wearing their best dresses; don’t serve anything that might ruin the dresses if spilled.

After everyone has eaten her tea food and used her best manners, it is time for the Princesses to return to their own castles. (You can give pick-up information to the mothers when they call to rsvp.) Allow the little Princess hostesses to hand out favor bags. If you can sew, it is nice to make bags from velvet or something shimmery and shiny. Tie the bags with a gold or silver ribbon. Oriental Trading Company is a great source for inexpensive treats. They have jewelry, stickers, wrapped candy, gold foil wrapped chocolates, even tiaras and crowns. You might also find glitter nail polish and pretend makeup to add to the bag.

Coming up later this week:
Teaching Princesses Manners, a Script
Tea Party Foods for Children
Fillings for Tea Sandwiches for Children
A Timetable for Getting Everything Done


Princess Tea Party: Princess Quiz Answers

For those of you who couldn't answer all ten questions, here's some help. If you haven't taken the Princess Quiz, below, slip past this post and try to answer first.

1. Rapunzel
2. China
3. A Frog
4. Pocahontas
5. A Pea
6. The Beast
7. Ariel, the Little Mermaid
8. Cinderella
9. Snow White
10. Sleeping Beauty


Princess Tea Party: A Quiz

Next week the Tea Party theme will be a Princess Tea Party. To get you in the mood, here is a little quiz about Princesses. Test your own memory or use this quiz at the tea party as an ice breaker. Some Princesses are from fairy tales and yes, some are Disney. I think the smaller girls might know Disney Princesses more than the others so I included them.

1. Which Princess “let down her long hair?”
2. Where did Fa Mulan live?
3. One Princess had to kiss an icky animal to find her Prince. What was the animal?
4. Name an American Indian Princess?
5. A very delicate and tender Princess could not sleep, even on twenty mattresses, because one tiny vegetable was hurting her. What was the vegetable?
6. Beautiful Bell loved which Prince?
7. Which Princess lives under the sea?
8. Which Princess lost her glass slipper at the ball?
9. This pretty Princess lived with seven little guys; who is she?
10. She slept for 100 years before the Prince kissed her and woke her. Who was the Princess?


My World Wednesday: Oh, Baby!

My husband and I were born just two months apart and in the same hospital. I've always liked these baby pictures of us. They hang together on the wall of my office. They were even taken by the same photographer but unfortunately there is no date on either. I think I must be a bit older than my husband in the pictures because he seems to be toothless while I have lots of teeth. These kinds of pictures were always in black and white but were often colored by hand.

Random Ramblings

I'm probably just slow to notice but when did cans all come with pop tops? I made chili the other day and both the bean and tomato sauce cans didn't require a can opener. They did, however, require a dinner knife to pry the tab up. I don't have long nails or arthritis but there was no way I could open the can. Is this really an improvement over a few twists of the can opener?

Does anyone remember when pop tops actually detached from the cans? People had the habit of sticking the tab back into the can and then drinking the soda or beer. I guess they also had the habit of swallowing the tab.


Is anyone else bothered by the NBC coverage of the Olympics this time? Because so many events don't happen live, the network is able to edit them to death. Did you ever see so many commercials? Only the top few athletes are shown at their events and not all sports even make it on television. I really don't like the focus on the gold medal count either. The individual athletes deserve to have their moment in the spotlight no matter the country they represent.

In the what-were-they-thinking category, I must nominate Misty May Treanor of the tiny bikini wearing beach volleyball team. When President Bush visited, May-Treanor bent over and offered her rear-end for the 43rd president to slap. Bush had the good sense to give her a little pat on the back, not backside. How gauche of Misty.


On another TV note, what has happened to the Food Network? They thought the challenge shows would appeal to the male audience so every night they take the 7:00 p.m. slot. Men are either foodies or not, I don't think my sports-minded husband would really care to watch a challenge that features making chocolate into Disney characters.

And how many shows do they need showing the host traveling around the country eating/showcasing food products? Are there any FN "celebrities" who haven't done this? It seems to be one big advertisement.

Their daytime lineup is constantly changing which I find annoying. I mean, I really need to know when to find Paula! Thankfully, Ina's spot on the lineup is constant.


Is anyone else having problems with Blogger's messing up their spacing? My paragraphs either all run together or have too many spaces between them. Today I composed directly to the page, everything looked great, preview was fine and when I published, it was a mess.

Enough rambling (complaining?) for today. Back to tea tomorrow!


Going Green Tea Party: Bigelow's American Classic Tea

In keeping with the Going Green theme, nothing could be better than serving tea grown in one's own country. The Charleston Tea Plantation is the only place in North America where tea is grown. The plantation is owned now by Bigelow Tea.

From the Bigelow catalog: " Located in the heart of South Carolina's "Lowcountry," the Charleston Tea Plantation is the only commercial producer of black tea in North America. It's incredible, really, that across the enormity of this continent it is only here on Wadmalaw Island, S.C. that growing conditions are ideal for tea plants, which need to be rooted in sandy soil with plenty of heat, humidity and rain. In fact, the next closest tea plantations are: Argentina - 4.823 miles, Turkey - 5.630 miles, China - 7.320 miles, Kenya - 7,816 miles, Indonesia - 10.149 miles."

American Classic has four varieties of tea including Charleston Breakfast, Governor Gray, Plantation Peach and Rockville Raspberry. They are all delicious but my favorite is the Plantation Peach. They have pyramid tea bags too for any special tea party. And I would use them for the Going Green Tea Party so everyone can see where the tea came from.

Bigelow Tea has their own green mission statement. It is like Anita is always saying, your green actions will inspire others to try the same. Quoting here: "Bigelow Tea is a family company that has tried to do the right thing for our employees, the community and the planet since my grandmother founded the company back in 1945. We hope that our actions will help cultivate a positive influence and motivate others to do good things for the earth. We want to inspire our employees to see conservation as a way of life not just an initiative at the office.

Maybe our collective efforts will encourage our customers to share with us some of the good work they are doing. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if our accomplishments inspire others to take action. As I have said to those around me for a very long time "Do the right thing, and good things will follow". We can make a difference, each and every one of us. It doesn't have to always be "big things" either. Some of our programs are quite expansive (like our 1.5 million dollar solar panel project) and some are quite small-like bringing in our own tea mugs so that we do not continue to add to our land fill with disposable cups. Large or small, we believe that every step is important. "

Edit: After I posted this, Linda from Friendship Tea directed me to her blog for lots of pictures of the Charleston Tea Plantation and her tour of it. How delightful! Please go to her blog to see how tea is grown. You'll feel almost as though you've been there in person. Thanks so much, Linda!

I want to give some links so you can enjoy this tea too. The Charleston Tea Plantation site has tons of pictures of their beautiful gardens as well as descriptions of their tea and other products. The Bigelow Tea site is full of tea information but it is their tea and tea accessories that will make your heart beat faster. Right now I'm drooling over their Citrine Tea Set which I just noticed is on sale. Now, where is my credit card.

Just to be clear, I have no connection with Bigelow other than being a happy customer. I've always had great service from them. Things arrive quickly and are even better than expected. It's just a really good company to do business with.

This is the final post in the Going Green Tea Party series. Next up, in response to a special request by Moonshadow, is a Princess Tea for children.


Going Green Tea Party: Peach Shortcake

An easy way to peel peaches is to notch the end of each one with an X, cutting only into the skin. Drop the peaches into boiling water, for 30 seconds to a minute. You’ll see the skin loosening where you made the X. Remove peaches and plunge into a bowl of ice water for a minute. The skin will slip right off.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400º. In the bowl of a food processor whirl together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the cream and pulse until the mixture comes together.

Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Gently pat the dough into a round about 1 ¼-inch thick. Do not over-work the dough. Use a floured 2 ¼-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits.

Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the tops with one lightly beaten egg. Bake 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

While biscuits bake, peel and slice 12 peaches. In a bowl, combine peaches with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar.

After biscuits have cooled, split horizontally. Place bottom halves on serving plate. Top with a dollop of whipped cream. Spoon peaches over top and cover with biscuit halves. Makes 1 dozen.


Going Green Tea Party: Veggie-Cheese Tea Sandwiches

Did you know you could make your own ricotta cheese? It takes only milk and buttermilk, nothing that's difficult to find. Here's a recipe for it on DC Foodies. If you don't feel up to making your own, Organic Valley Farms has a great page about ricotta and what goes into producing their organic cheese. Their foods are available at my local grocery store and probably at yours too.

1/2 cup broccoli florets
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 small red bell pepper, very finely chopped
1 small carrot, very finely grated
4 slices whole-wheat bread, crusts removed

Bring 1 inch water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add broccoli. Cover; let steam until soft. Drain. Let cool; finely chop.

Stir together ricotta, broccoli, bell pepper, and carrot in a medium bowl. Spread 1/4 cup ricotta mixture onto 1 slice of bread. Top with second slice. Cut into quarters. Leftover spread can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.


Going Green Tea Party: Smoked Turkey Tea Sandwiches with Blue and Red

I know, I know, some of you don’t like blue cheese. Go ahead and substitute a cheese that you like. Do experiment with cheeses from your local artesian cheesemaker. To give the onions a milder, sweeter flavor, caramelize them in a bit of oil or butter.

2 large red onions, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices
1 cup crumbled local blue cheese
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
8 slices of multi-grain bread
8 lettuce leaves
¾ pound sliced smoked turkey

Mix cheese, sour cream and thyme. Season with pepper. Spread cheese mixture on bread slices. Top cheese with red onions, lettuce, then turkey. Press sandwiches lightly to compact. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap for at least 2 hours up to 1 day. When ready to serve, remove crusts from sandwiches and cut into quarters. Makes 16 tea sandwiches.


My World Wednesday: Tea Rooms

Victorian Homes is my favorite non-food magazine. I think I have every issue ever published. It focuses mostly on houses and decorating but each month, there are several pages about Victorian life and Victorian recipes. Afternoon tea parties feature heavily.

In this month's issue (August '08) Victorian Homes magazine picked the top 10 tea rooms around the US. I've never visited any of them but it was fun to visit their web pages to see their styles and the food they offer. I thought my readers might enjoy this too. Below are links to the sites covered plus a couple more local favorites.

Paris in a Cup - Visit Paris...In A Cup, a French themed tea salon featuring decadent pastries, signature sandwiches and salads, gourmet coffees, and of course tea. Located in Orange, CA.

Teaberry's Tea Room - Located in a restored Victorian House in Flemington, NJ. An example from their menu shows that the Queen's Royal Tea includes Soup du Jour (cup), Petite Garden Salad, Tea Sandwiches, Scone with Lemon Curd, Clotted Cream & Preserves, Bite Size Dessert Assortment, Sorbet, and a Pot of Tea for $32.95.

De'Tours in Elizabeth City, NC - This tea room offers a guided tour of Elizabeth City and lessons about tea as you walk. Upon returning, guests tour the 1853 restored Greek Revival home and are served tea.

High Societea House - located in Wayne, NJ. Their menu offers a Queen's Tea too which includes Choice of Tea, Quiche with Soup or Salad, Delicious Scones with Lemon Curd and Clotted Cream, Assorted Savories, Delectable Sweets and a Plated Dessert for $25.95 per person. This tea room was opened by three friends who shared a life-long love of tea.

Petticoats and Petit Fours Tea Room - located in Salem, VA. This tea room offers a "Victorian Full Afternoon Tea" which includes a bottomless pot of tea, savory of the day, tea sandwiches, two scones and assorted dainty sweets for $18.95.

AntiquiTea Tea Room - located in Pittsburgh, PA. This tea room is currently moving to larger quarters and will reopen in the Autumn.

Clipper Merchant Tea House - located in Limerick, ME, in a large Carpenter Style Gothic Colonial home built in 1830. Guests can order exactly what they want at this tea room; there is no set take-it-or-leave-it offering as so many tea rooms do.

The Talking Teacup - located in a 250-year old house in Calfont, PA. They offer "High Tea" for $18.95 that includes Scones with Preserves and Devonshire Cream, Cup of Soup, Assorted Tea Sandwiches, Variety of Sweets and an individual Pot of Tea.

And three from my area that should have made the list:

The Gilbertsville Tea Room - located in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. They have three themed rooms, The Garden Room features flowered wallpaper, twinkling white lights, and hanging ivy; The Burgundy Room is reminiscent of an old Victorian parlour in maroon with prints of ribbons, berries, and vines, and an antique clock. Olivia's Room, upstairs, for private parties for adults and children. They have a traditional tea room menu but with a choice of entree, quiche, tea sandwiches or their daily special.

Sweet Remembrances Tea Room - located in a beautifully restored post Civil War era red brick row home in historic downtown Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. One look at their menu page and you'll be swooning. Here are some items that sound wonderful: Aunt Hildegard’s Divine Dip, Triple Lemon Tea Bread, Strawberry Bread with Cream Cheese Rosebuds, Herb Biscuits with Garden Filling, Chicken Salad in Cheese Puffs, Caramel Pecan Bars, Shortbread Teapots. You can see the exquisite care that goes into the food here. Read much more in the blog Rosemary's Sampler.

The Red Brick Bakery - my hometown tea room. Their menu changes monthly. August's selections are: Almond White Chocolate Scone, Strawberry Jam & Clotted Cream, Broccoli Salad served over Mixed Greens, Toasted Roast Beef Diamonds, Honey Ham & Spinach Puff, Pesto & Mozzarella Melt, Fresh Berries & Cream, Mimosa Rosette Cookie, Chocolate Honey Bee Cake, and Amaretto Petite Cheesecake for $17.95. The food is always delicious.


Going Green Tea: Crab Imperial

Crab Imperial used to be on every restaurant menu but today it is hard to find. It is still just as delicious though and really easy to make. I used Chinese spoons to serve the crab. This is perfect for a tea when lots of other items will be served.

In my part of the world, crabs are local and abundant. It is common for people here to travel the one hour to the Chesapeake Bay to go crabbing. For me, this recipe is green; but if you don’t have access to fresh seafood, you could substitute your own local smoked fish spread at this Going Green Tea.

6 tablespoons mayonnaise, homemade or high quality prepared
2 tablespoons half & half
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay or other seafood seasoning
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 pound crab meat, carefully picked over to remove shell
1 teaspoon parsley
¼ cup green pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pimento, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seafood Seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon melted butter
½ cup dried bread crumbs

Prepare imperial sauce: Combine all imperial sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whip until smooth. Reserve.

Prepare crab imperial: Combine parsley, lemon juice, egg, Old Bay, green pepper, onion, pimento, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise and melted butter in a medium mixing bowl and whip until smooth. Pour mixture over top of crab meat. Blend all ingredients together by tossing gently to avoid breaking lumps of crab meat.

Place a tablespoon or so of the crab mix into each Chinese spoon, top with Imperial Sauce and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
Bake at 400º for 8-10 minutes, until hot and bubbly. This recipe makes enough for about 12 spoons. The Crab Imperial can be prepared several hours in advance and baked just before serving.


Going Green Tea Party: Blueberry Scones

To keep this recipe green, use only organic butter, sour cream and milk. Pick the blueberries yourself if they are growing in your area of the world.

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter, cold
1 cup fresh blueberries
½ cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425º. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Fold in blueberries. Combine sour cream and milk. Blend into blueberry mixture and mix lightly until dough masses together. Divide dough into two pieces. For each piece, turn dough onto floured surface and roll out or pat into a 6-inch circle. Cut into wedges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.


Going Green Tea Party: Cold Cucumber Soup with Mint

This soup is so easy and so refreshing on a hot day. Don't wait for a tea party to try it. A trick to using cucumbers is to take the seeds out. Just cut the cucumber down the middle and scrape the seeds out with a tablespoon.

3 cucumbers, about 1 ½ pounds, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cups organic yogurt
1 to 1 ½ cups cold water

Combine chopped cucumber, onion and garlic in a bowl. Sprinkle the mint leaves with the olive oil and chop them finely. Add the chopped leaves to the soup along with the salt and yogurt. Stir the soup thoroughly. Thin the soup with cold water until it has the desired consistency.

Chill the soup for at least an hour and serve it in cold bowls.