Thursday, May 31, 2012

So Delicious Green Tea Coconut Milk

Quite a while back, perhaps even last year, two different friends told me about finding some green tea ice cream at the grocery store. My friend Joanie has never led me astray, so on her recommendation I headed to the store she told me about but they were out of it. Then my friend Deberah even posted about this treat on her blog, but alas, it was not in stock when I went for a pint. Either A) my friends enjoy messing with me B) the stores can't keep this stuff in stock or C) it just wasn't meant for me to try it back then. At any rate, I'm thrilled to report I have found, purchased and enjoyed some of this delicious ice cold goodness!

I keep wanting to call it "ice cream," but technically it's So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert in the Green Tea flavor. That's a mouthful to say, but it's a happy mouthful to eat, I'm tellin' ya! The green tea taste in the ice cream non-dairy frozen dessert was subtle, and the coconut flavor was one I'd never have thought of pairing with green tea, but it works!

This was a great cool treat, and definitely something I plan to purchase again—if I can find it! (Found mine at the Kroger on Lower Fayetteville Road, local friends.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A new chintz tea-for-one set

It's funny to me how we sometimes use the word "chintzy" to mean something (or someone) cheap, because when I got into chintzware I noted that chintz may have been "chintzy" when it was originally introduced, but chintzware prices are definitely not chintzy today! Lately I've been outbid on everything chintz I've tried to purchase on eBay, most recently a vintage teacup that went for around $50. I know it was a good "book price," but I'm just not paying it. Where I come from, that should buy at least five teacups! (Or, around 1,250 vintage handkerchiefs, if you shop like my parents do in yesterday's post.) Because I am so personally chintzy when it comes to collecting chintz, I was especially happy to get a Gracie Bone China chintz tea-for-one set as a birthday gift from my friend Beth this year!

Oh, I do love my chintz pieces. There's just not much that's prettier than china covered *entirely* in flowers!

And of course I'm always smitten with a pretty handle. Love these!

There's something a little luxurious, I find, about pausing to make a cup of tea with a tea-for-one set. Do you agree?


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A vintage handkerchief fashion show

Some little girls play dress-up with their paper dolls. I play dress-up with my teacups and vintage handkerchiefs, especially after I received a humongous stash of gorgous vintage ones over the weekend!

My parents were at a yard sale the other day when they came across this box of vintage handkerchiefs. It was $3. There were 71 gorgeous hankies in this box! (Pausing to do the happy dance. OK. Done. I mean, really, 4¢ a hankie? Wow!)

Do you ever use vintage handkerchiefs as napkins? I do, and I think they are so pretty slipped through the handle of a teacup. Yes, I had to get past the image of what that hankie was doing in its previous life, but nicely laundered and pressed, they make fine, fine napkins. I've been paying $4-$5 for pretty Christmas ones when I see them, so I was thrilled to find a poinsettia hankie in this box!

Hankies are also great as doilies. (Not sure I've ever seen a *black* handkerchief before, but I like this one with its fancy black and gray crocheted trim. Sort of like the "little black dress" of hankies, I guess!)

It's really hard to choose a favorite! One with roses, perhaps?

But then there are all these with the great hand-crocheted trim, and I know how much work these took!

I was ransacking my tea cabinet to see which napkin would go with which teacup, and this green one certainly has a fine mate!

What do you call this sheer, see-through material? Is it organdy? These are whisper thin. So, so lovely!

One of my favorites in the whole box was this round hankie with tulips on it. But then I also liked the one with the crocheted butterfly in the corner as well!

And would you believe there were even a few with my initial "M" on them? That's "M" as in "Meant to be!"

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

One Saturday morning over the winter, I stood on a downtown street corner holding this little flag as the motorcade came through town honoring a young local serviceman who was arriving back home for his burial. As we enjoy the holiday today, I also want to pause to pray and reflect on those who've given the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and to the families and friends they've left behind. May God Bless America, and I wish a safe and Happy Memorial Day to you all!

(Tea-related tidbit: Put a plastic baggie inside an old tea tin, pour water inside, and you can use the tin as a floral container without it rusting!)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Teatime Giveaway #21 - A copy of "Dainty Dining"

The winner of the notecards from last week is Phyllis of The Relevant Tea Leaf blog, so congrats! Now I've been meaning to give away a copy of my book "Dainty Dining" quarterly, so now that I'm down to my last box of books I thought I'd go ahead and get this "Spring" copy scheduled to give away. When I last gave a copy away in the Winter, I recall a number of you had hoped to win one, so maybe this will be your time!

To be entered, just leave a comment to this post between now and noon EST on Friday, June 1. Good luck, and I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A nappy from the Marshall Field Tea Room

I've made just a few additions to my collection of department store tea room memorabilia this year, but one of the ones I was most thrilled to find was this Marshall Field nappy. What is a nappy? Merriam-Webster calls it "a rimless shallow open serving dish." I regularly see nappies in Depression glass, but I don't often see them in anything else. This piece was especially interesting to me because the online seller said it came from the Marshall Field Tea Room, and I have a matching demitasse cup and saucer from the same tea room.

The colors are a bit brighter on this nappy than the ones on that set, and I suppose that's because this is made of sturdier stock, diner-type thick restaurant ware and not the fine Limoges china that the demitasse cup and saucer are made of. The nappy is about 5-1/2 inches wide, the bowl part about 5 inches in diameter. Enough for a small serving of Chicken Pot Pie, perhaps?

Lamberton China, a division of Sterling, made this dish. The seller was actually quite helpful and told me he once loaned this piece for an exhibit of Marshall Field memorabilia. Wouldn't it be great if, one day, I could set a small table (for four, say) entirely with Marshall Field Tea Room teawares? But then again, at my current rate of collecting one piece per year, I probably don't need to send out the invitations just yet!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vera Bradley Tea Garden accessories

If you'll humor me with just a few more birthday gift postings, I promise I'll cut out the self-centeredness! But when I get such cool gifts from so many friends and family members, I want to share just in case some of you want to add these items to your wist list too.

And a "Wish List" is exactly how I got this Vera Bradley Tea Garden case for my iPad! The DH asked for a recommendation of what I wanted for my birthday, so I sent him an Amazon link to this case. It's such a cheerful new floral pattern, and of course I *love* that the pattern's name is Tea Garden!

And with no hint from me whatsoever, and not even aware of what this pattern was called, my sister got me this Tea Garden key chain and the matching lanyard. I love these!

Another reason I wanted to mention the iPad is that recently I was asked about recommendations for tea-related apps, since I had blogged about using some of them in the past. I looked on my iPod touch, where I had originally downloaded some tea apps, but I see I eventually got rid of them all! It seems I'm not using a whole lot of new apps of any kind anymore—on the iPod touch or the iPad—except the occasional game of Angry Birds, of course. And I've had my iPad for more than a year, but only last week did I begin reading my first eBook. What I *do* use my iPad for, all the time, is looking up recipes! I find it so much easier to look up a recipe and save it to my iPad. I often do a "screen grab" of the recipe so it's right there in my photos and I don't even have to go back and look it up. (If you're not a tech person, that basically means I'm taking an on-screen photo of the web page.) The background photo for my iPad, I just realized, also has a tea connection in that it's my beloved David Austin 'Tea Clipper' rose. Any of you want to suggest some apps? Are there any tea-ish ways you use technology? Please share!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

An update from the garden

I thought it was time for a bit of a garden update, and I also wanted an excuse to show you one of my birthday presents this year, this adorable beaded plant stake with a popular tea quote: "A woman is like a tea bag ..."

"You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water." A birthday gift from Kentucky friends Linda and Lynn while on my trip to Asheville a few weeks ago, this was the perfect accessory to go in my oversized teacup planter!

Everything is filling out quite nicely. You can see here that the foliage from all the herbs was much smaller at the beginning of the season. And I really do use my herbs, the variegated peppermint and the pineapple mint to make minted "simple syrups" for iced tea, and the lemon thyme went into the Asparagus Tart I made over the weekend. I love being able to just walk outside and pinch off a few fresh herbs for cooking.

You experienced gardeners no doubt knew this already, but I did a doubletake the other day when I realized thyme actually has tiny little purple flowers on it! Sweet!

In my slowly-filling-out shade garden, I was thrilled to pieces that my Hydrangea serrata 'Amacha' has blooms this year. The first year I planted it, it bloomed all pretty and pink. The second year, nothing happened and I was afraid I'd killed it.

This year the color is different, a bright lavender, but I am just happy to know I didn't kill it. This hydrangea is an old Japanese variety that is used to make tea. I think I'll just let my hydrangea continue to bloom for a few years before I see about making tea with it!

This week I tidied up a bit in my puttering area, and using a new (from the junk store) wire basket I was happy to add my stunning new English garden tools and gloves, a birthday gift from Michigan tea friends Phyllis and Sandy. (I know I need to actually *use* the tools at some point, but they're so pretty and shiny right now I just enjoy looking at them!)

These two friends also gave me this great garden apron, a tulip design with nice roomy pockets that I can't wait to wear when I'm next out there juggling seeds and tools!

And finally I thought I'd share the progress in our straw bale garden.

The tomatoes are coming up quite nicely, some of them requiring cages already.

Soon, you can look for some tea time tomato recipes on here. Thanks for joining me in the garden today, friends!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Capital (Teas) experience!

While trying to go online and pay for my Tea Time magazine subscription last week, I came across an online ad for Capital Teas. They were offering free shipping for any size of order.

Now I'm all into the summer flavors of tea right now, so I was happy to see a blend called Watermelon Burst and decided to order. I immediately got a confirmation e-mail. Just two hours later, I got a notification my order had been shipped and was on its way to me!

Two days later, the priority mailed package landed on my doorstep. Inside was the Watermelon Burst and the other blend I'd ordered, Caramel Toffee Puerh, and a surprise third packet, a sample of their Harbor Breeze tea. But what floored me was seeing my name, all nicely calligraphied, on an envelope. Seriously? Someone actually took the time to read my name and, wait, what is this? A thank-you note! W-O-W. Please keep in mind I spent the extraordinary sum of $12.50 with these folks, and I can see they probably lost money on the deal. By the time they paid someone to roller skate through the plant, package the order, write the thank-you note, send me a free sample, get in the company courier van, speed this package to the post office and expedite it to me, well, you see what I'm getting at.

And the tea? I've tried only the Watermelon Burst so far, wanting to save the others and treat myself in the days ahead. Now I was skeptical that a tea could actually capture the taste of watermelon, but by golly this one did! The tisane contains bits of apple, melon pieces and almonds, and I got the lovely fruity taste I had hoped for.

It's even melon colored tea, for heaven's sake! I'll definitely be returning to Capital Teas after such a capital experience. If you want to check them out for yourself, visit (When I went to yesterday, the free shipping coupon code was still on the Capital Teas ad, in case you decide to order!)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Asparagus Tart from LandScape magazine

One of my favorite foods to enjoy at teatime is a tart, whether savory or sweet, and I tried a new one over the weekend. It's this Asparagus and Chorizo Tart, found amongst the lovely pages of a charming new British magazine called LandScape.

I'd been looking among the gardening magazines when I spotted a new title, and when it said "Launch Issue" on the cover I decided to take it home with me.

Inside I found features on rosemary, and ... my surprise, a feature on scones!

The recipes include Classic Scones, Sage and Apple Scones, Cherry Scones, Cheese and Herb Scones, and Ginger Scones. The writing, photography and design throughout the entire magazine are simply wonderful—and you don't even have to be a gardener to love it!

But the Asparagus and Chorizo Tart is what I most wanted to try. First I had to learn to pronounce chorizo, a type of sausage (it's "ch" as in "church," cho'-ree-zo), and then I had to find a grocery store that had it. (The nice ladies in the Kroger deli had never heard of it, but I was calling it "kuh-ree-zo," so that may have been part of the problem. A helpful gentleman in the Publix meat department walked me to the three different varieties the store carries. I got the Spanish variety with paprika, since I'd read the paprika is an important ingredient in chorizo.) The chorizo itself was an interesting sausage, and a very spicy one. I might try using it again in another dish, but I'd probably "tone down" the sausage and use a milder one if I make this tart for teatime, since everyone might not appreciate the strong flavor. (But I did!)

Click here to see the recipe as printed in the May/June 2012 issue of LandScape. Following is the version I made, which has been adjusted since I had a 9-inch tart pan, not an 8-inch. I also converted the ingredients to American measurements. Enjoyed with a glass of iced Earl Grey tea, this made a tasty lunchtime meal!

Asparagus and Chorizo Tart (as I made it)

1 cup plain flour
1 stick (4 ounces) cold butter, cut into cubes
2/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
5 large eggs
Pinch of salt
4 ounces chorizo, chopped into cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces of fresh asparagus
6 ounces heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon paprika
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using an electric mixer, blend the flour, butter, half the cheese, 1 egg and the pinch of salt until it begins to form large, walnut-size chunks. Knead mixture and flatten into a round of dough. Prepare a 9-inch tart tin with a removable bottom with cooking spray and dust with flour. Add the dough and pat it down and up the sides of the tart pan. (The magazine recommends rolling it out, but I found lining it up directly in the pan was easier.) Prick with a fork and let stand 30 minutes. Fry the chorizo in the olive oil for 4 minutes. Remove woody ends of asparagus, blanche it in boiling salted water for 3 minutes, then remove and add cold water to halt the cooking. Bake the pastry on the bottom shelf of the oven for 15 minutes. Combine cream and remaining 4 eggs. Add remaining cheese. Add paprika and leaves stripped from five sprigs of thyme. Season as desired with salt and pepper. Pat the asparagus dry with a paper towel, chop into 2-3 inch pieces and pour them on top of the baked pastry. Add the chorizo, and then pour in the cream mixture. Bake on bottom shelf of oven for 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 5-10 minutes before garnishing with remaining thyme. Yields 8 servings.