Saturday, June 30, 2012

American Ginger

Our crop of American Ginger (Asarum canadense) has escaped under the fence to the neighbors yard! This charming native American woodland ground cover has gone seeking just a wee bit more sun. It grows happily in semi shade but not in dense shade. The interesting flowers are small and brownish and grow near the base of the plant in early spring. The roots of this plant have a gingery flavor and can be used for seasoning of a wild foods meal. The leaves have a slightly spicy scent but aren't used for food. 

Friday, June 29, 2012


Lungwort is a lovely garden plant.  It blooms in early spring and enjoys partly shady areas.  It grows in many different plant zones from about zone 3-8.  The bell like flowers are pink and blue and make the prettiest fairy skirts.  It has a mounding habit and has beatuiful foliage all year round.  It will grow nicely under deciduos trees and along woodland paths.  We grow ours under our Fairy Rose bush.  Lungwort, also known as Pulmonaria officinalis, is considered deer resistent.  We don't have a problem with deer here in town, so I can't attest to that positively.
The speckled leaves were thought to resemble a lung.  Therefore, in the days of the early herbalists, lungwort was used in the treatment of lung disorders. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's in your cup (mug) today?

My morning cup today was a large steamy mug of Kentucky Blend,  a hostess gift from Linda of Friendship Tea Blog.  This hearty blend is a combination of black teas handpicked and harvested from Yunnan and Anhui provinces in China.  These are full bodied teas, often described as rich and earthy.  The delightful wording on the canister describes this tea drinking experiece as reminiscent of a morning stroll across our pastoral Kentucky countryside.
Loose leaf tea in pyramidal sachets is a quick and easy way to enjoy a quality cup of tea.  Thank you, Linda, for this perfect gift!

Elmwood Inn Fine Teas is a family owned business since 1990.  Owners Bruce and Shelley Richardson are well known in the tea industry, first as owners of the Elmwood Inn Tea Room (sadly, now closed), and presently as expert speakers on the subject of tea and purveyors of fine tea.  They have penned several cookbooks with delicious tea room fare.  In addition, they vend a wide variety of teas through their internet site, Elmwood Inn Teas.  We were fortunate to welcome Bruce and Shelley to Sweet Remembrances when Susanna, Janet and I founded and hosted the first annual seminar for the Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association in 2005.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Taking Tea in Mechanicsburg

Before Linda and her family journeyed back to their old Kentucky home, they stopped by Sweet Remembrances for their very own personal afternoon tea party.  It was a joy to welcome her lovely family to Sweet Remembrances.

After a quick tour of the tea room, we began our tea. Everyone selected their own flavor of tea, and individual pots were brewed and served.   The first course featured a mixed berry salad with walnuts and feta cheese dressed with poppyseed dressing.  The three tiered tray consisted of a variety of tea sandwiches; sliced chicken with basil pesto mayonnaise, warm asparagus and blue cheese rollups, herbed spinach balls, cucumber with French style cheese spread, and swiss cheese and bacon melts on pumpernickel.  Traditional English Cream Scones, plain and with currants were accompanied with sweet cream and raspberry preserves.  The top tier held a trio of desserts: carrot cake muffins, strawberry shortbread cookies, and raspberry cream in puff pastry.

Sorry to see the day end, we bid farewell with hopes of a reunion again someday soon!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hershey Park Happy!

Out for a Sunday drive.... and some Hershey Park Fun!  Friends recently visited the area from Kentucky, and a day at the park was on the agenda.  AJ and GJ show what it's like to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Angelica and AJ, only a few months apart in age, experienced the majority of the rides, some pretty thrilling, others pretty dizzying!

And a friendship renewed, Linda of Friendship Tea and Nancy of Rosemary's Sampler, were introduced years ago while traveling to London with Denise, of Uniquely Tea fame.  It has been a number of years since we've seen each other, and those years dropped away instantly as we shared stories and laughter throughout the day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

World Tea East!

Mark your calendars!  World Tea East, a regional trade event featuring all things tea (seminars, products, tea tastings, and more) is being held this year at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA on October 2 and 3, 2012.  Any one interested in and/or involved in the tea business should consider attending this valuable conference.  We are excited to announce that Susanna Reppert of The Rosemary House will be a speaker on Wednesday, Oct. 3rd during the 9:45 - 10:45 time slot.  Her seminar is entitled
Geo Location Target Marketing.
Details about her seminar as published on the expo website include: Geo Location Target Marketing enhances your advertising campaigns and reaches the growing number of consumers who rely on smart phones and social media. Geo-location or technology based marketing often falls under the category of Guerrilla Marketing as it does require time, effort, and imagination without a large financial investment.
By the end of this session you will be able to:
1. Understand the concept of Guerrilla Marketing.
2. Understand the Concept of Geo Location Marketing.
3. Recognize the value of Geo Location Target Marketing.
4. Implement your Geo Location marketing Campaign.
5. Understand the need to maintain commitment to this Marketing Technique.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Rose is A Rose - Tea Party

The Rose is the Herb of the Year for 2012 as designated by the International Herb Association.  To achieve this level of distinction, the herb must be useful in many various ways including culinary attributes.  The Rose is certainly quite versatile in the kitchen which was demonstrated in our recent Rose themed evening tea party.  Our event began with a chilled spritzer comprised of rose vinegar, lemon-lime soda, and a splash of rose water which produced a colorful and delicate floral beverage, 'Roses in a Glass'.  The first course featured a chilled Raspberry Rose Soup garnished with fresh raspberries and  fresh snippets of rose petal confetti.
The savory course included a Creamy Rose Chicken Tartlet accompanied with Rose Glazed Baby Carrots.
The variety of sandwiches featured our original Rosemary House Rose Retal Sandwiches, Cucumber Rounds with Boursin Cheese garnished with rose petals and burnet leaves, and a Goat Cheese and Strawberry Crostini sprinkled with Lavender Rose Balsamic Vinegrette.

Oven fresh scones were Kensington Palace Cream Scones and Drop Scones with Rose petals and pistachios topped with a rose glaze.
The evening tea ended with a delicate White Cupcake decorated with a sweet rose frosting.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Love you once, love you twice,
Love you more than cats love mice!

Love you dad!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

More posts to come!

We have a few obligations taking priority.... more posts about herbs, tea and adventure soon!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Chive blossoms make the most beautiful vinegar.   Simply harvest your chive blossoms and put them in a wide mouth jar with a plastic lid. (Vinegar eats through metal and cork.)  A mayonnaise jar is perfect.   You don't have to pack them tight in there but it needs to be quite full.  Next add white wine vinegar or a rice wine vinegar will work as well.  You want it to be a white vinegar so that the beautiful color of the chive blossoms will show off.  Let it sit for a month.  The chive blossoms will get brown and fall to the bottom of the jar.  After a month, strain the vinegar.  Ideally strain the vinegar through a coffee filter for extra clarity in the vinegar and then you have a lovely colored vinegar to use for Omelets or bean salad or to marinate meat or add to veggie soup or spaghetti sauce or....

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Baltimore Herb Festival

The Baltimore Herb Festival is a 25 year event, held the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.  It is in Leakin Park, within the city of Baltimore.  The vendors are in a mile long circle around the park and the customers have gotten very clever over the years at bringing, wagons, totes and more to haul their purchases out.

 They roll in empty.  Circle the herb festival for the day.

And roll out full!
  This building is the little Chapel in Leakin Park. The Baltimore herb Festival has over the years raised enough money to purchase a new roof and has built the charming herb garden around the chapel.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Japanese Tea Ceremony Demonstration

 While at Shofuso, the Japanese House and Garden, we were fortunate to observe a tea ceremony demonstration by Drew Sodo Hanson.  This glimpse into the disciplined aspect of Japanese culture provided the beginnings for understanding the tea ceremony, chanoyu, the way of tea.  There are many levels of complexity to the tea ceremony, and although learning the basics may take a few months, to truly master the art form requires a lifetime of study and dedicated practice.

The simple premise is to honor your guests by serving them a bowl of tea made using Matcha, a powdered green tea.  There are a host of steps leading up to the actual tea ceremony that involve conentration, relaxation, and an awareness of the beauty around the tea house.  Additional steps are involved in cleansing the tea utensils and offering the tea allowing the host and guest to attain a pure state of mind before enjoying the bowl of tea.  The saying 'ichi-go ichi-e' translates to 'treasure every encounter' as it is understood that this moment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  The circumstances of this gathering will not be repeated, so the host demonstrates utmost consideration for the guests, which inturn is  reciprocated by the guests.  The experience of the present moment shared by those involved can be profound, indeed spiritual.
 Little sweets are served before tasting the tea. It is thought that the sweetness of the candy will accentuate the flavor of the tea.  

Although the tea ceremony was a demonstration between teacher and student, our group was able to enjoy a sampling of the sweet followed by a bowl of matcha served in a chawan.  There is a spirit of heartfelt hospitality in the presentation of the tea to each guest.

There is a peaceful tranquility to the tea ceremony, offering a way to escape from the everyday stress of the world beyond the tea room.  This opportunity offered a glimpse into the history and culture of a faraway land through one of its deeply traditional arts. 
Drew Hanson has been a student of the Urasenke tradition of Japanese Tea since 1995, and is a licensed teacher in this tradition.  For additional information about Drew, please visit his website here.  Thank you, Drew.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Gardens of Shofuso

In addition to the 17th century-style Japanese house, there are ornamental gardens and a picturesque koi pond situated on the grounds of Shofuso.  These gardens have been well maintained and tended in an effort to enhance the main structure and tea house.
The house and its garden were official gifts from the Japanese people to the United States as part of an effort to strengthen relations between the two countries after the end of the world war conflict.  As the years passed, a grant from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society made it possible to begin restoration of the garden. Repairs and renovations continue to be undertaken by the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden on a regular basis to preserve the integrity and beauty of this unique and tranquil destination.
The gardens feature a Koi Pond, Island, Tea Garden and this Courtyard Garden designed to bring the house into the outdoors. 

Stone lanterns enhance the interest of the gardens.  Peace and tranquility abound all the while introducting the gentile aspect and beauty of Japanese culture.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shofuso - The Japanese House

 Our recent traveling herb seminar included a stop at Shofuso, The Japanese House and Gardens in Fairmount Park.  Considered one of the most notable and unique attractions in Philadelphia, it is open to the public from May through October.

This 17th century-style Japanese house was built in Japan in 1953 using traditional techniques and materials and then transported to the Museum of Modern Art in New York where it was on exhibition in the courtyard.  In the late 1950's, it was moved to Philadelphia, to the site of several previous Japanese structures dating to the 1876 Centennial Exposition where it has been maintained and shared with visitors.  While here, you will discover a viewing garden with koi pond and island, a tea garden, and a courtyard garden within the walls of this historic site and museum.

These lovely young students of the Urasenke school of chanoyu (the way of tea) were happy to pose for photos in the inner gardens of the house.   They assisted in the tea ceremony demonstration we enjoyed while visiting Shofuso.

 This display was in the kitchen area of the house with a tray that represents a typical breakfast.

 A variety of tea pots and accessories are also on display in this museum.