Thursday, February 28, 2013
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Black History Month seems like a fine time to share a terrific new children's book I came across recently, "Tea Cakes for Tosh" by Kelly Starling Lyons and E.B. Lewis. I've been meaning to do some research about why tea cakes are called tea cakes, and so this book was a must-read. I had always assumed tea cakes were a specialty of the South, but it wasn't until a few years back that I began to read about their associations with black culture.
In "Tea Cakes for Tosh," Lyons shares a sweet and simple tale about "Grandma Honey," a grandmother who shares tea cakes and their heritage with her grandson Tosh. She tells him how his great-great-great-great-grandmother Ida was enslaved, and Grandma Ida made the best tea cakes around. Ida was not supposed to share these cookies with her children, but some days she managed to slip a few in her pocket "to give the children a taste of sweet freedom." As the story continues, we find it's not just a story about black heritage, it's also a story about aging grandparents, and how one little boy learns to carry on that tea cake tradition thanks to time spent with his grandmother.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that E.B. Lewis' watercolor illustrations are, well, exquisite. Most children's books I've read have that cutesy, cookie-cutter look to the characters, but this book's illustrations capture so well the characters in this story. I love how you can even see the texture of the watercolor paper in the book's illustrations, and I actually found myself pausing to linger over the illustrations of Honey, from her black curls and wrinkled hands to the bib-style apron she wore, just like the ones once worn by my own late grandmother. I don't often get inspired to Google the illustrator behind a book, but I did this one. His art combined with Lyons' compelling story made this just a truly heartwarming read.
And yes, Grandma Honey's tea cake recipe is included at the end of the book!
Monday, February 25, 2013
Saturday, February 23, 2013
3 tablespoons butter, divided use
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3 cups carrots, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons plain uncooked rice
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook for several minutes, until soft but not brown. Add carrots, chicken stock, tomato paste and rice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Puree the soup* until smooth, then season and stir in cream and remaining tablespoon of butter. Garnish with carrot curls. (Carrot curls can be made by shaving off thin strips of carrot with a vegetable peeler and forming them into rosettes.) Serves 6.
*The book suggests you puree in a blender or food mill. Since I don't have either of those, I used my food processor, which was a little messy but I loved the result! At first, I was disappointed there were teeny-tiny specks of carrot instead of it being completely liquified. But once I took a bite, I liked it that way—and so did my husband! We both agreed this doesn't taste overly carrot-y, and that it perhaps deserves a name more exotic than simply Carrot Soup. He thinks it would be interesting to serve this to guests and have them guess what it is. Served in teacups, this makes a fun presentation for the tea table—and just imagine the possibilities if you serve this in the fall!
Friday, February 22, 2013
Jin Xuan Milky Oolong, what they describe as a "classic Taiwan oolong." I do enjoy oolong teas, and the fun with this one came from the moment I opened the package and saw those tightly rolled little balls of tea. The tea leaves had a very crisp, fresh scent.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
"The Collected Tabletop," which I absolutely adore for its emphasis on "collected, not decorated" tabletops and decor. The book included quite a few recipes as well, and I must tell you about one that is a real winner. It's the recipe for Greeley's grandmother's Caramel Cake, which a co-worker who borrowed my book made for the office luncheon at Thanksgiving. Ohhhh, was it ever good! Then I made the Caramel Cake, sheetcake style, for my family's Thanksgiving, and again, it was a huge hit. In fact, my parents liked the Caramel Cake but also said that they liked the cake part so much, they both thought that the cake alone would make a fine Pound Cake around Valentine's Day after all the holiday sweets had worn off. I was a little nervous about making the cake in this manner, but I tried it last week and it was awesome! Even after several days, it just seemed to get even more moist and tasty. That's not the sort of Pound Cake I'm used to!
here, and the only adjustment I made is that I had to cook mine for about an hour when I made it in a tube pan. And see the cake carrier at back? It's a simple $5 thing I found at Walmart a few years back and love because it has clasps on the base which hold the cake securely in place. My mom liked my new cake carrier so much, she went and bought one just like it. And so did my sister. Now, we all three have the same cake carrier, so when, for instance, I took my parents their cake over the weekend, my mom just handed me her empty cake carrier like this one to take back home and now we're both good to go. We never worry about who has whose cake carrier because they're all just alike!
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
(My favorite teacup from yesterday's post was Frances Cleveland's, but I thought they were all quite lovely!)
Monday, February 18, 2013
Saturday, February 16, 2013
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup unsifted self-rising flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon dill
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients and fill muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray 1/2 full. Bake 20-22 minutes, just until edges are starting to turn golden. Yields 12 delicious, flat little muffins, spongey in texture. I think these would be great sliced in half and used as tea sandwich bread, and this recipe would also make excellent mini muffins!