Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Guardians of the Seeds - Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

A midsummer vacation took us north to Maine, specifically the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, ME, where a giant treasure hunt is taking place. Thomas Dambo, a Danish artist has been building and creating with wood since he was five. Known as a "recycle art activist", his trolls can be found worldwide, sharing a global connection and telling a story of sustainability. The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are the home of five of his magical personalities, with each troll telling a story about the importance of trees. Dambo's team, staff from the botanical gardens, and over 150 volunteers took approximately two months to create this garden adventure. A map is provided, a few instructions offered (don't climb on the trolls, for example), and we were off to discover the Guardians of the Seeds. The easiest troll to find is Roskva, which stands for Trunk of the tree. She knows that a tree trunk has many lives from supporting a tree, to providing habitat and food for different animals. Eventually, the trunk will become a part of the soil, and new life will begin again.

Meet Birk, he holds the roots of the tree. Birk understands that the tree's roots are as big as the branches above ground, and that the connection between roots is invaluable, providing a wood-wide web to signal distress as the roots communicate with each other.

Tucked in amongst the forest greens is Lilja. She knows that everybody including the insects of the forest needs flowers, and she holds the scent of the flowers of the tree.

This whimsical troll is Soren, and he sticks up for the Branches of the tree since he knows that many animals call the treetop home, from birds and animals nesting to certain lichen and plants that only live in trees. 

And Gro smiles with the Leaves of the tree. Gro understands that leaves turn sunlight into food.

What a fun quest it was to discover all the Guardians of the Seeds hidden in the Maine woods, home to these trolls. They are in place, quietly telling their stories, for as long as Mother Nature welcomes them.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Garden Tea Room - Afternoon Tea 'To Go'

Our summer vacation took us north this year, and conveniently Marnie, of The Garden Tea Room in Conyngham, PA was offering an afternoon tea 'to go' for pickup on the day we were traveling. Her tea room has been closed during Covid, and still closed at this point, but she occasionally offers a themed tea 'to go'. How fortuitous for us that she offered a Strawberry Themed Tea on our first travel day, and she was willing to accommodate our late arrival time.
The front window display cheerfully announced the themed event. Red and white checked cloth, hints of pink, and strawberry fields forever. Marnie embraced this theme and we were delighted to savor and enjoy her efforts.
With Covid still lurking around, Marnie has decided not to open her tea room at this time. We eagerly picked up our teas and headed to a local park, and found the perfect red gazebo with a picnic table for our summer strawberry tea.

Packed inside a brown paper bag was this cheerful pink striped box (well, 5 of them) which had a checkered paper plate, napkin, and red and white string holding everything together with a strawberry pick. The theme was quite evident from the start. The attention to detail was noticeable too.
Once the box was opened, more red and white with the napkin and the menu, Everything was individually wrapped, including a sample of Strawberry Kiwi herbal, a blend by Harney & Sons.
Oh my goodness! Such a delightful sweet tea. Celebrating the taste of summer with strawberries, the menu included a sweet strawberry fruit "sando" sandwich, a mini cream scone with strawberry jam and cream, a strawberry tart, strawberry lemon blondie and a strawberry streusel muffin. Strawberry candies rounded out the box.
Just look at that sandwich! I have seen pictures of a 'Sando', but didn't know anyone who has made them. Amazing! This style sandwich is based on the Japanese fruit sandwich, also called strawberry sando. It is made with a sweet creamy filling, fresh strawberries and other fruit, perfectly placed, so that when it is cut, you have a beautiful floral presentation. Special thanks to Marnie and The Garden Tea Room for offering this beautiful summer tea. What a perfect start to our vacation!
For updates on when she is planning her next tea 'to go', be sure to 'like' her Facebook page. 

Marnie and The Garden Tea Room are proud members of the Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Lovely Lavender Afternoon Tea

Traditionally June is the month when we hold our annual Lovely Lavender Afternoon Tea. It coincides with the glorious lavender blossoms in full bloom in central PA and it happens on the same weekend as a local lavender festival. The tables were wet with as many purple teacups as I have with coordinated deep purple, pale lavender and garden green napkins. The menu, printed with purple ink and graced with a beautiful lavender photograph sets the scene. Once guests begin to arrive, tea orders are taken. In addition to our usual list of teas, we add Lavender Black, Fig & Lavender, Lavender Earl Grey, and Lemon Lavender Herbal to accompany this special event.
The first course featured Mixed Salad Greens with Summer Berries, Feta Cheese and Lavender Balsamic Dressing along with a refreshing Citrus Lavender Herbal Spritzer.
The sandwich course included a Sweet Cornbread Muffin with Lavender Honey Butter, Lavender Apple Chutney atop a slice of Pork Tenderloin, Lavender Mint Cucumber Triangles, Pimiento Cheese with Strawberry Lemon Lavender Preserve, and a Lavender Goat Cheese Croustade garnished with a fresh sprig of lavender. To my taste, the lavender flavor was most predominant in the chutney, and the goat cheese sandwich with the fresh lavender sprig. The other sandwiches were a bit more subtle in lavender flavor.
The following course included Lavender Sage Golden Raisin Scones and a slice of Lemon Lavender Blueberry Tea Bread. These were served with Sweet Cream and Lavender Lemon Curd. Fresh Strawberries were glazed with a Lavender Syrup.
The dessert medley featured a Lemon Ginger Lavender Blueberry Trifle, Lavender Leaf Candies from Provence, France, a hand crafted Lavender Truffle by a local chocolatier (Brittle Bark), and a Crystallized Lavender Stem sugared and preserved a week or so earlier. A lavender themed napkin was tucked under the dessert assortment.

Thank you to everyone that attended our Lovely Lavender Afternoon Tea on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in June. This special event is a fragrant and sweet nod to the beautiful herbal harvest the many varieties of lavender blesses us with each summer. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Queen's Tea - 2021

A festive celebration took place recently in the tearoom as we celebrated the occasion of the 95th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II at our annual Queen's Tea. Although the Queen's birthday is in April, the royal celebration takes place in June when the weather is better! We are happy to celebrate with her. The best china, red roses, and menus that feature pictures of the Queen grace the table. Festive bunting was hung throughout the tearoom also to complete the decor.

The first course featured a salad selected from Eating Royally, a cookbook written by Darren McGrady, personal chef to Princess Diana and chef to the royal family for 15 years. Assorted leafy greens were tossed with parmesan cheese, goat cheese, sugared pecans, and fresh pears. An olive oil dressing laden with parsley and spring onions completed the salad.

The sandwich medley featured a Herbed Cucumber Garden Party Sandwich, Buckingham Palace Rose Garden Sandwiches, Pecan Edged Chutney & Cheese Sandwich, Brie & Apple Crostini, Strawberry Basil Mascarpone Tartlet, and 1953 Coronation Chicken Salad Triangle.

Scones included Kensington Palace Scones (heart shaped) and Claridge Hotel, London Currant Scones (triangular shaped) both served with Sweet Cream and Lemon Curd alongside fresh fruit.
While the dessert course include a Coconut Pecan cake with Cream Cheese frosting, Rosemary for Remembrance Cookie, and Chocolate Biscuit Cake (the Queen's favourite). The recipe for the chocolate biscuit cake is also from the Eating Royally cookbook.
The Beefeater kept guard as we enjoyed our Afternoon Tea.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

International Tea Day

By a United Nations resolution signed in 2019, May 21st was officially declared International Tea Day as a way to recognize tea growers and producers from around the globe and to raise awareness of the long history of tea. The long term goal is to promote sustainable production, understand the cultural and economic contributions of tea, and raise awareness of the importance of fair trade in fighting hunger and poverty. 
In celebration of this day, we hosted a tea tasting session with a variety of teas from around the world. In the Rosemary House we poured three types of tea. There was an iced Sencha from Japan. Considered the everyday tea of Japan, this delightful fresh, green tea yields a mild grassy flavor. It is delicious hot or cold. With rising temperatures on a beautiful May afternoon, this tea was served iced. We also served Rosemary's Chai (India) and a Rooibos/Black Tea combination representing Africa since the red bush plant is grown and harvested in South Africa. 

Guests were invited to stroll the herbs gardens behind the shop and tea room, and sample a few additional teas under the pavilion. There was a Lavender Grey tea representing England. This lovely blend features lavender and bergamot added to the base tea. A hearty Keemun (China) and Formosa Oolong (Taiwan) rounded out the hot tea flavors served. 

There are several tea growing plantations scattered around the United States, from Mauna Kea Tea in Hawaii to the Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina and the Great Mississippi Tea Company in between. We decided to select a herbal beverage to represent the United States, a part of our own herbal history. Our mother developed the recipe for Patriot's Punch, which features a herbal mix of peppermint, sage, and rosemary, added to a lemonade base was served well chilled. She devised this recipe in celebration of the Bicentennial of 1976, and we have been making and selling the herbs ever since. It was the hit of the day as it offers a unique herbal flavor and a very refreshing punch on a warm day.
Susanna provided a table with handouts including a flyer on how to grow your own herbal tea garden. There was a copy of Nancy's scrapbook or recipes for attendees to take in honor of the 31st anniversary of the opening of Sweet Remembrances Tea Room. And the gardens offered a peaceful spot for reflection and relaxation, an oasis for as long as needed. 
Thank you for celebrating International Tea Day with a tea tasting around the world. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Refreshing Sweet Basil Julep

Looking for a lovely refreshing drink? This Sweet Basil Julep was served after the garden tour during National Herb Week. It was received with enthusiasm, is easy to prepare, delightful to serve, and delicious to boot!

Sweet Basil Julep

  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh large sweet basil leaves
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • 1 c. cold water
  • 1 bottle ginger ale (32 oz.), well chilled
Combine minced basil with sugar and fruit juices and muddle gently. Chill in fridge for 2 - 3 hours. Whisk occasionally to make sure the sugar has dissolved. Just prior to serving, add water and chilled ginger ale and mix well. Serve iced, and, with a sprig of fresh basil as garnish.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Celebrating National Herb Week

Our annual celebration for National Herb Week took place this past Thursday evening in the garden. Masked up, distanced (unless with your own pod), and outside in the open air, Susanna guided a tour of the gardens. Last year we hosted a video tour of the gardens, so it was particularly enjoyable to welcome a host of guests to the garden for an in person touching, tasting, smelling tour. Susanna led the group around the gardens, explaining certain herbs, sharing our favorites, pointing out the hops, the fig tree, our rosemary plants and more. Questions answered, info shared, and pleasant weather all made for an enjoyable evening.

The garden tour concluded with an assortment of herbal goodies to sample. Nancy prepared individually plated herbal treats that featured Parsley, the herb of the year. Guests enjoyed local salad greens topped with a creamy parsley dressing, a petite baking powder biscuit that included parsley and spring onion, a cracker topped with parsley butter, a lemon currant cookie, and a refreshing basil julep.
The evening concluded with the guests creating a Herbal Dip Blend of their own design. Susanna provided a variety of dried culinary herbs; parsley, garlic, dill,  basil, etc. to mix and blend in a small baggie. Once completed, guests are encouraged to prepare the basic dip recipe at home using their unique blend of herbs mixed with mayonnaise and sour cream to serve with veggies or chips. 

Happy National Herb Week 2021! Celebrating 'Parsley', Herb of the Year!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Lemon Tea, very pretty!

There was a Lemon Tea and Program held recently at Sweet Remembrances featuring all types of lemon flavored herbs, fresh lemon zest and juice, and edible flowers from the springtime garden. The tea began with a Lemon Broccoli Blueberry Salad that had a lovely lemon juice and Greek yogurt dressing atop a salad laden with broccoli, red onion, blueberries, craisins, apple pieces, and sunflower seeds. 

A variety of sandwiches included a triangular Cucumber Sandwich with Lemon Herb Butter, Lemon Basil Chicken Salad Sandwich with green grapes, Sliced Turkey with Parsley, Lemon, and Shallot Mayonnaise, Lemon Chive Pepper Muffin with Roast Beef and peppery mustard/mayonnaise combo, and a Feta, Lemon & Mint Sandwich on pumpernickel bread with a sweet violet garnish and a sprig of lemon thyme.
The scone plate included a Lemon Currant Scone  served with Sweet Cream and Black Currant Preserves and a slice of Triple Lemon Tea Bread, fresh orange slices and a snippet of Grape Hyacinth blossom. The refreshing beverage was Lemon Herbal Tea from the Rosemary House blended with freshly squeezed lemons and sweetened with sugar. The Lemon Herbal tea is a combination of Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, and Lemon Grass. It is a light and pleasant mixture of dried herbs. It offered a refreshing addition to the lemon tea.
The dessert medley included Lemon Ginger Cake with a swirl of sweetly tart lemon frosting, Lemon Balm Blackberry Thumbprint cookie, and Lemon Verbena Cheesecake topped with Lemon Curd.
Following the tea, Susanna Reppert Brill of the Rosemary House presented a program on the different lemon-scented herbs and ways in which you can use them throughout your home, both in the kitchen, for the bath, and around the house. In this photo, the long slender green leaves is Lemon Verbena while the broader wider leaf is Lemon Balm. The petite fairy leaves are Lemon Thyme. These are perfect lemon scented herbs to add to your garden. In addition, consider Lemon Basil, Lemon Grass, and Scented Geraniums. The most fragrant lemon scented geranium is 'Mabel gray'.
 Freshen lemonade, iced tea, or any other iced drinks with fresh sprigs of lemon herbs. A pitcher of water with a large spring of lemon verbena adds such visual appeal and surprising light lemon flavor.
For the bath, steep a half cup of dried herbs in a cup of hot water. Strain, and add to bath water. In the summer, when you have an abundance of fresh herbs, use one cup of fresh herbs to one cup of water. Let it steep overnight, strain, and add to your bath water for a refreshing pick-me-up.