Monday, June 30, 2014

Altered Potion Books

 We recently had a class where the attendees made a very special book to store secret potions or other hidden treasures.
Trimming out the inside of the book and removing a large portion of the pages, (and not getting too distracted from reading the book) was the real challenge of the class and the most time consuming part of this craft. It was crucial to reach the appropriate depth to store your potion bottles.

Next came decorating the inside and outside of the book with various papers, ribbons, baubles, and embellishments.

Ribbons were used to tie the book shut.  Balsa wood helped to create a shelf and strengthen the inner secret compartment.

Our talented instructor for this fun evening was our neighbor Patti Van Brederode.  Thanks Patti!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Boone Tavern Blend

Another surprise package that arrived this past week included a sample tin of the newly developed Boone Tavern Blend and a handcrafted pottery mug from the craft capital of KY. What a generous gift from the management of the historic Boone Tavern to the attendees of the Traveling Tea Friends seminar held this past March in Berea, KY.

The Boone Tavern Blend is an exceptional balance of single estate loose leaf teas from gardens in India and Sri Lanka. As noted on the tin, the tea is blended and packaged by Elmwood Inn Fine Teas, another KY enterprise. Brewed with briskly boiling water (212 degrees) and steeped for 5 min., it yields a bold and hearty mug of tea, suitable for your morning wake-me-up or an afternoon pick-me-up. This is a tea that can be adjusted to produce your preferred strength of black tea. More leaf or less, strong or weak, longer brewing time or shorting brewing time, you decide. It can be adjusted and tweaked to suit your fancy.
Love the horseshoe design that is on the mug I received. It's a wonderful souvenir of Kentucky horse country. Thank you so much for remembering your tea friends!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Year of Themed Teas

It's always exciting when an unexpected special gift arrives in the mail, and that was the case this past week. A dear friend sent a copy of a cookbook compiled Cheryl Nix, owner of Tea by Three. Her tea business was established in Michigan in 1999 with the Teacup Cottage being built in 2001. The tea room has recently closed, although a few of her cookbooks were still available for sale. It is always fun to receive a new cookbook to add to the collection. It's the best way to find new ideas and recipes. And this little cookbook is full of them. The title, A Year of Themed Teas says it all!

Just look at the fun collection of themes - who wouldn't love a Chocolate Valentine tea, or the Lavender and Lace Tea, and Fairies in the Garden Tea.


Each chapter represents a new theme, and within that chapter are cleverly named recipes that would be perfectly suited for the theme. Such a thoughtful friend to send this little gem to me. Thank you so much P.B., every time I use this cookbook, I will fondly think of you!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mixed Salad Greens with Strawberries

Fresh local strawberries are in season! It's a favorite time of the year around here - there's so much you can do with fresh strawberries, from salsa to salads to shortcake or lemonade. Oh yes!

Can you spot the straw-bear-y?
Mixed Salad Greens with Strawberries
1 lb assorted salad greens
1 pint strawberries, sliced

1 C sugar
4 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 C oil
1/2 C cider vinegar
3 tsp minced onion

Combine all dressing ingredients until well mixed.  Just before serving, toss dressing with salad greens and strawberries.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tea, Love and Marriage - Victorian Style

This past weekend we hosted a special event titled Tea, Love and Marriage - Victorian Style. The menu featured the subtle language of flowers. The first course included a leafy green salad with kiwi, blueberries, and sugared almonds symbolic of hope. The salad was dressed with Orange Marmalade Dressing. Orange symbolizes your purity equals your loveliness.
"There is a language, little know, lovers claim it as their own. Its symbols smile upon the land wrought by nature's wondrous hand; and in their silent beauty speak, of life and joy, to those who seek, for love divine and sunny hours, in the language of the flowers." J.S.H., The Language of Flowers, London, 1875

The sandwich course featured Cucumber & Mint (virtue) Butter, Rosemary (remembrance) Chicken Salad Tartlets, Sweet Basil (good wishes) Pesto & Tomato Crostini, Calla (magnificent beauty) Lily Sandwich with Parsley (festivity), and Tomato Rosemary (remembrance) Muffin with White Rosebud (girlhood).

A Traditional English Cream Scone was served alongside Rose Geranium (preference) Pound Cake accompanied by Sweet Cream and Strawberry Preserves, Fresh Orange Slices, Pineapple (you are perfect) and a Tuxedo Dressed Strawberry.

Dessert included s Sugar Glazed Parasol Cookie, Frosted Lavender (luck) Stem, and a Wedding Cake Petit Four.

Our special guest speaker was Myra Reichart. She discussed courtship, the wedding ceremony, clothing and gowns, and other customs and superstitions of this era.
Many of our guests dressed appropriately for this very fun day. We love the extra effort they made to add to the festivity and gaiety of the day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Candied Lavender Sticks

A week or so ago, the lavender was just beginning to bud, so I quickly picked several long stems to crystallize them using reconstituted Meringue Powder. Follow the basic directions in the package to reconstitute one egg white (2 tsp. powder to 2 tbsp. water). Whisk until frothy, and then place the lavender blossoms in the mixture, coating thoroughly. Remove from the egg white bath, sprinkle with granulated sugar, and spread them out on a wax paper try to air dry. It will take a day or so to completely dry. Typically, I will turn the lavender stems over, sprinkle with more sugar, and even place new wax paper, to hasten drying.

 Before they are dry, you can also take a toothpick and gently remove excess egg white so they appear less clumpy. It's an option, but not necessary. Once thoroughly dried, carefully store in an airtight container. They will keep for several weeks.

The individual candied lavender stick was an additional garnish to the dessert plate.
 Such a summery floral treat!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy Summer Solstice!

The longest day of the year... enjoy it!
Hope your summer is full of fun adventures!

Friday, June 20, 2014

In the Garden

Angels are all around us,
all the time, in the very air we breathe.
~Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

John Harney - 1930 - 2014

The tea world lost a great leader earlier this week. John Harney, of Harney & Sons passed away Tuesday afternoon. He was very influential in the world of tea, starting with humble beginnings as he blended tea in his basement to having built a successful world renown tea business. John was an affable man, a kind gentleman, pleased to make your acquaintance and always so willing to guide you in selecting a tea you would enjoy. In 2005, The Rosemary House conducted a traveling herb seminar that included a stop at their family business in Millerton, NY. We were greeted by Mr. Harney himself and led on a tour of their factory. He was eager to share the fancy equipment and state of the art tea processing techniques. It was a memorable visit, and he was all too happy to take a photo with our family. A family man himself, it is a joy to know that the business he established will be carried on by his sons and grandson.

Susanna and I again had the privilege to reconnect with John Harney at the World Tea East Expo in Philadelphia in 2012. Master Tea Blenders, they are purveyors of a wide variety of excellent teas. We are pleased to serve Harney teas in Sweet Remembrances and to have them for sale in The Rosemary House. John Harney will long be remembered for his contribution to the resurgence of the popularity of tea in this country and abroad. His influence was far reaching with beautiful tributes being shared worldwide. Bruce Richardson of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas wrote an eloquent tribute to this gentle man. His smiling face and genteel personality will be sadly missed by many, but his legacy will live on, and his memory will hold a special place among tea lovers. Rest in Peace, John Harney.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Essie's Key Lime Pie

One of the desserts we included in our Traveling Tea Ladies afternoon tea was Essie's Key Lime Pie. A recipe found in Death in Dallas by Melanie O'Hara-Salyers, author of this cozy myster series that includes a delightful variety of recipes. Melanie has graciously granted permission to share a few recipes with our readers.

Melanie notes that her grandmother, Essie always made Key Lime Pie when they would visit her. Her grandmother had a key lime tree in the backyard and would make the pie with freshly squeezed juice. Oh, that sounds sublime! If you don't have access to key limes,, you may substitute bottle key lime juice, just don't use lime juice. They are not the same thing, and the end result will be different!
Essie's Key Lime Pie
One-8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. key lime juice (fresh or bottled, Not Lime Juice)
1 graham cracker pie crust
Place block of cream cheese in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth. Combine sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese on high speed until mixture is ultra smooth with no lumps. Add key lime juice and blend thoroughly. Pour into graham cracker crust and refrigerate for six to eight hours before serving. Garnish with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and top with a mint leaf or slivered strawberry. (I used freshly zest lime).
Copies of the books in the Traveling Tea Ladies cozy mystery series may be purchased by mail from the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookstore. Tell Debbie we sent you!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

This photo shows a section of my kitchen windowsill where a few of dad's toy vehicle collection now reside. Dad loved toy cars of all sizes - he would purchase them and then anxiously await their arrival, frequently asking: 'Did my toys come today?'. It was like Christmas, only year round - waiting, anticipating, and then great joy upon opening and reopening the box. When someone would come visit, he would ask, 'do you want to see my cars?'. Friends and visitors would oblige, and share in his enthusiasm of the growing collection. Then he would ask, 'What am I going to do with all these cars? Do you want to sell some in the tea room?' We'd chuckle that they didn't really belong in the tea room - but here they are... in the tea room kitchen as a reminder of those conversations and his pleasure in collecting toy cars. We took the majority of his toy cars to the memorial service so that friends and neighbors could select one of dad's cars as a sweet remembrance of their friendship. He would be happy to know that his toy cars have found good homes. Happy Father's Day, Dad! Speaking on behalf of your four daughters, we love you, and we miss you dearly.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Traveling Tea Ladies - Afternoon Tea

After the book signing in the garden, our guests headed into the tea room where we offered an Afternoon Tea that featured many of the recipes that are in Melanie O'Hara-Salyers Traveling Tea Ladies cozy mystery series. Melanie is a delightful author, previous tea room owner, devoted wife and mother. We are so happy that she was willing to journey to PA from TN for this very special event.
Our tea began with Miss Melanie's Famous Greek Pasta Salad.

The sandwich course included Smoky Mountain Lapsang Souchong pork Tenderloin with Peach Salsa, White Cheddar Cheese Florettes, Red and Yellow Pepper Mini Quiche, Sarah's Sweetheart Cucumber Sandwiches, and Strawberry Chicken Salad Triangles. Shown here are the sandwich plates ready to be served to our guests.

The scone course left the kitchen before it had its picture taken! But, it featured 'Til Death Do us Part Cranberry Orange Scones and Orange Glazed Poppyseed Tea Bread. It also included Sweet Cream, Luscious Lemon Curd, and Olivia's Organic Orange Honey Butter. Fresh Pineapple Cubes and Orange Slices completed the plate. The scones were quite popular with Melanie's husband!

 And dessert included The Pink Dogwood Tea Room Peanut Butter Pie, Essie's Key Lime Pie, and Fresh Strawberries with Amelia's Famous Almond Cream. Oh yum!
From Death in Dallas, "Sarah, calm down!" Olivia scolded. "Amelia should be the one that's crying! You know she puts her heart and soul into everything she makes there. I know I am going to miss your Grandmother's Key Lime pie!" - Chapter One

Copies of the Traveling Tea Lady mystery books may be purchased online from Debbie Beamer of Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookstore located in Mechanicsburg. We encourage you to support local small business owners!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book signing - In the Garden

We recently welcomed our customers to a book signing in the garden where we hosted Melanie O'hara-Salyers, author of the Traveling Tea Ladies. This cozy mystery series includes fun titles such as Death in Dixie, Viva Las Vegas, Death in Dallas among others.
Her books feature four strong women sleuths, strong friendships, strong tea, and recipes, too! As part of our garden celebration we served a Lemonade Iced Tea that was a recipe in the Death in Dallas book. Melanie was a previous tea room owner before adventuring into writing. So naturally, her books include tea rooms and recipes.

It was a beautiful day in the garden, a delightful Sunday afternoon. Debbie Beamer of the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop assisted with the book sales while Melanie autographed the books.

Melanie graciously granted us permission to share the recipe for the Lemonade Iced Tea.
3 quarts water
2 Luzianne family size tea bags
3/4 c. sugar (or more)
12 oz. Lemonade concentrate, thawed

Place Luzianne tea bags in gallon jar and pour 1 c. boiling water over them, just enough to cover. Steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add sugar and lemonade concentrate. Stir until both are dissolved. Fill gallon jar with 3 quarts water. Chill. Serve garnished with a fresh mint sprig or freshly sliced lemon. May add more sugar if necessary.

Of special note, this adorable tea pot and stand, a recent surprise gift from a friend, generated a lot of comments. Not only does it have a spigot to dispense the tea but it can be poured out of the spout as well. This was the perfect day to make its debut! Thank you, A.M., for your thoughtful gift.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Easy from Seed - Cilantro

Cilantro is a cool season annual herb with myriad uses. It can be added to pestos and chutneys,
combined with lime in rice and chicken dishes, slipped into grilled cheese sandwiches, green salads, or black bean soups. And it is easy to grow! Sow in a large pot or directly in the ground in spring or late summer. In mild-winter climates it can be grown throughout the winter.

When to start: Sow repeatedly starting in mid-spring, and again in late summer.

Where to plant: Plant in full sun or part shade, in fertile soil.

Planting depth: Cover seeds with ½ inch of soil.

Care: Provide consistent moisture.

Container growing: For a good harvest, start seeds in a large pot. You can use the same pot for a hot

weather plant, such as a pepper, eggplant, or annual flower, after the cilantro is harvested.

Harvesting: When the plant is a foot in height or taller, cut it down to about 2 inches. If the weather
remains cool it will send up new growth.

Hint: Cilantro flowers attract beneficial insects. The seed of the plant, called coriander, is also a tasty edible herb

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fairy Gardens To-Go

 Every year in the spring we like to hold a Fairy Garden planting class.  In this special class adults and their wee ones are invited to work together to create a little garden inviting enough for the fairies to come and to play. 
 We suggest the small plants that will do well in this little upcycled clementine crate (which the fairies find and paint).  Perhaps creeping thyme for the fairies to nap on.   Fragrant Lavender for relaxing and calming.  Chamomile is a favorite tea of Peter Rabbit and the Fae.  Rosemary offers the perfect privacy fencing.
 We also supply stones and wood pieces and other found treasures.

 It is fun to watch the children's imagination run as they select their plants and the treasures to create paths, tables, beds, rooms and just a perfect little garden for the Fairies to find.
And of course, no fairy garden is complete without lots and lots of sparkly glitter!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fifth Grade Science Project

For Cedar's 5th Grade Science Project, he tried to determine which beverages affect teeth the most.  His hypothesis was that soda would decay the teeth the most because all his life adults have told him "Soda rots your teeth".  Shown here is the Coca-Cola test result which actually came in ranked 3rd on decay (a 3% loss).  But clearly leaves quite a stain!
It was determined by weight that store bought lemonade caused a 10% loss of the teeth!
Orange Gatorade ranked 2nd in the amount of decay (6%) and leaves this lovely orange color!Coke, Gatorade and Lemonade all have high acid content (pH of 2 - 2.4) and high sugar content (6%-11%). 

Plain Assam black tea, no sugar added, has a pH of 4.6 but did not decay the teeth.  However it will stain.

For his efforts, Cedar received the 'Future Scientist' award complete with a bag full of goodies and candy.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Botanical Body Art

Botanical Body Art has been catching my eye lately.  Every I go this spring I have seen some plants on the bare arms and legs.   This photo was captured at Mechanicsburg's Earth Day Festival and features Mountain Laurel and Tulip Poplar.
The owner of this  Fall Tree (with the matching toe nails) tells me that her mother has a spring tree full of leaves. 

This colorful one is one of my favorites.  I love the colors, the variety of flowers, and the frog, too.  Snapped on the side porch of The Rosemary House, she was off to have tea next door at Sweet Remembrances.
I don't have any body art (and not sure I have the nerve to get any, how about you?) but when it is well done, I do find it quite pretty. 

Taken at the PA Herb Festival this is easily identified as Passion Flower, which she says is her favorite flower.