Saturday, April 25, 2015

Wacky Windchimes

The newest addition to the collection of garden art is this cleverly designed Wacky Windchime crafted by Sandy, a self proclaimed packrat. Entitled 'Flo's Tea', it is created from a collection of treasures including several items that originally belonged to Sandy's Aunt Flo.

Having discovered Sandy's Wacky Windchimes page on Facebook, and after contacting her regarding a custom designed tea themed windchime, she quickly shared photos of two possible tea kettles that could be transformed into a windchime. Both were fun kettles, so I let her select the one she wanted to work with and which worked best with the treasures she had on hand. The end result is simply perfect in our garden.

The whimsical beading compliments the windchime, and the clatter when the treasures clink together in the breeze is pleasant. Sandy was very prompt with my request. Creating, crafting, and shipping the wind chime were all completed in short order. Thank you, Sandy!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pink April Showers

Our redbud tree is beginning its annual explosion of tiny sweet pea-like flowers. How cunningly they clamber up and down the woody trunk and branches. It seems impossible to have old wood perform like that.
I pick the clusters to toss in salads or, better, decorate puddings and desserts. This native American tree is an important legume, a nitrogen fixing plant valuable to old woods as well as gardeners. Penn's Sylvania abounds with these shocking magenta/pink flowers in spring.
I have one tree, a seedling rescued from a house being built, which edges our patio and is best viewed, in bloom, from our bedroom window.
A thrilling sight now while its glory builds to a crescendo. I gather the much curved branches for graceful bouquets. Often the flowers dry on the twig, then reserved for later use in a wreath. When the tree fades and breezes scatter showers of fragile pink florets, I spread old sheets under the tree to claim my rightful harvest, a rich colorful bonanza for potpourris. A tree herb? Who dares dispute the many uses of redbud beyond its beauty?
Of all the months that fill the year,
Give April's month to me,
For earth and sky are then so filled
With sweet variety.
~Letitia E. Landon


Please Note: Today's blog post is an excerpt from Bertha Reppert's TwelveMonth Herbal written long before blogs were the norm. Although the Redbud tree of which she speaks is at the old family homestead, these photos are taken of the Redbud planted in front of the tea room. It is beginning its explosion of spring color, and will eventually transition to pretty heart shaped leaves. Alas, the tree is on a main roadway in the borough, so we do not harvest the tiny edible sweet pea-like blossoms.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Downton Abbey Tea - 2015

Our Downton Abbey teas were held earlier this month. The silver was polished and the aprons starched. The best china and patterned glassware were put into service. An effervescing Shrub was presented upon arrival and assorted hot teas were offered throughout the evening.
The menu featured:

Pear & Walnut Salad with Parmesan Dressing

Cucumber Tea Sandwich
Sliced Ham & Cheese Muffins
Lemon Herbed Egg Salad with Asparagus Spear
Savory Olive Cheese Triangle on Whole Wheat
Poppyseed Apple Chicken Salad in Pastry Boats
Carrot Sandwich Rounds on Whole Grain Bread

Traditional English Cream Scones
Orange Glazed Poppyseed Tea Bread
Sweet Cream, Lemon Curd. Raspberry Preserves
Orange Slice, Kiwi Slice, Mascarpone Filled Strawberry

Lavender Butter Cookie
Lemon Coconut Cake
Sticky Toffee Pudding

Special thanks to Janet Young from Over the Teacup for her presentation on "Entertaining the Downton Abbey Way" explaining the delights of Afternoon Tea, Cocktail events and Dinner Parties. The Crawley family knew how to entertain!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fruit Curd

Curdelicious produces an assortment of fruit curds including Lemon, Orange, Raspberry, and Key Lime. They are loaded with everything that makes a true English curd delicious and flavorful. They are thick and creamy and bursting with intense flavor. We are excited to introduce this product line to the shelves of The Rosemary House and served the Lemon Curd recently in the tea room at our Downton Abbey events this past week.

Curds may be enjoyed in many different ways. The most popular and well known is as a topping with freshly baked scones of course. They are perfect with toast and bagels. We also like to make a petite fruit tart by filling the tart shell with the curd, topping it with a variety of petite fresh fruit pieces and lightly glaze with gently warmed jelly. Want to take a plain cheesecake to the next level? Spread a layer of curd of your choice over the top of the baked (and cooled) cheesecake, garnish with whipped cream and edible flowers if they're available. So pretty!
Want to make your own Lemon Curd? That's easy, too. Follow this simple recipe for a Microwave Lemon Curd and impress your guests!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Earl Grey Tea Caramels

As part of the Chocolate and Tea Pairing event, there was an array of candies and caramels that could be purchased that evening. Presently, the small batch creations crafted by award winning chocolatier Frederic Loraschi are available to purchase on the Internet. They have plans on opening a store front soon, but in the meantime, we had a fun selection of sugary goodness to purchase.
Among the selection were these amazingly creamy Earl Grey Tea Caramels. The essence of Earl Grey has been captured in each individually wrapped candy. The candies are made in small batches, with the finest ingredients and without preservatives. Currently available on the website are Spiced Caramels or Coffee Pecan Caramels. There will certainly be a fresh batch of Earl Grey Tea Caramels soon!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Chocolate and Tea Pairing

One of our recent events in the tea room featured an evening of Chocolate and Tea Pairing. Working with Frederic Loraschi of Chocolat Loraschi, we selected five flavors of  hand crafted single origin gourmet chocolates and paired each one with two types of tea. We provided a worksheet for tasting notes that included the names of the chocolates and the types of teas.

 The first pairing featured Mango Passion Fruit White Chocolate which captures the exotic tangy flavors of mango and passion fruit with a white chocolate coverture. This was paired with a Japanese Sencha considered an everyday Japanese green tea with vegetal and grassy notes and also with Gunpowder, a Chinese green tea with a slightly smoky flavor.

In the background, the kitchen staff was busy plating chocolates and preparing tea for the next tasting. The teas were served in individual compostable cups, marked with the first letter of the tea so everyone was assured of having both teas to taste. We paired a Formosa Oolong from Taiwan with a toasty, nutty flavor and Darjeeling from India with floral undertones to sample with the Moroccan Mint Milk Chocolate.

Black tea blends, Windsor Castle with honey toasty notes and Palm Court, a classic Harney & Sons blend of four teas were served with the Black Currant Violet with 33% milk chocolate. As we sampled darker chocolates, we served heartier black teas. A Tippy Yunnan with its assertive balance of sweet earthy notes and a Keemun with its slight smoky flavor was paired with a Mexican Origin 64% Dark Chocolate. Lastly, an Assam with malty, honey notes and a Puerh with its aged earthy flavor was paired with a Tanzania 72% Dark Chocolate.
Marcella Farina, The Tea and Hat Lady posted this comment on our Facebook page: "The selection of chocolates certainly complimented the chosen teas. All palettes were tingling by the end of the evening."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Herbs for Bees

Lots of Buzz about bees. We are still losing these fascinating pollinators at an amazing rate. I loved this little poster spotted at the Garden Show of York. When planning your garden for this year keep these bee attracting plants in mind!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Wild Women Tea Lady Pin

Another fun little surprise gift from a tea room customer - this spunky little handcrafted tea lady pin easily puts a smile on everyone's face! Wild Women! The card that was tucked in the box explains that laughter is a great blessing in life... good for the heart and soul. I must admit, there was a touch of laughter when I first saw this colorful pin with the dangly legs and golden locks. And I just love her tea pot and cup! Created in an art studio in Gaithersburg, MD, you can find a wide variety of specialty Wild Women Pins. Here's the link to Wild Women Pins specifically for this clever little tea mistress. Thank you, R.C.!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Healing Herbs by Tina Sams

Tina Sams is the editor of The Essential Herbal Magazine, one of our favorite herbal publications, so when we learned of her new book we just knew it was a "must have" and it did not disappoint. 
Healing Herbs features twenty herbs and Tina Sams managed to pick the perfect 20! Rarely do I read a book cover to cover but Tina has a pleasant easy to read writing style that  makes her book very easy and fun to read.  
The book begins with general instructions for herbal preparation which Tina Sams boils down to the simple easy to follow basic instructions.   Then it moves into the twenty herbs. Each chapter is filled with interesting details or folk lore about the herbs and then multiple recipes for cooking and medicine.
Sams shares her first hand experience with herbs but has also reached out to multiple herbalists and includes a recipe from those herbalists in each chapter as well. My contribution is in the comfrey chapter. The book is nicely indexed and features over 100 recipes for tea, medicine and dinner! This is a lovely book that has earned a spot on my bookshelf! It is available on The Essential Herbal website, or via Amazon.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter Preparations with a nod to TBT

(Throw Back Thursday) Bertha Reppert, circa 1990
Cedar and I will begin to prepare for the upcoming family Easter festivities today. The chocolate covered eggs have been made and stowed for safe keeping, but now it's on to making the bunny cakes. These little bunny cakes have been a tradition in the family ever since I've been making cakes. Dear old mom always requested a bunny hutch of 4 cakes and they would last thru the holiday weekend as we nibbled our way through these little guys. Over the years, the number of cakes has been cut down to 2, and we now make one with coconut 'fur' and one without. A round white layer cake is cut in half, frosted between the two halves, set up on the cut edge and frosted with soft white icing. Then, it's covered in coconut and decorated with a jelly bean face, toothpick whiskers, pink and white paper ears, and a cotton ball tail and served nestled among some Easter grass.

Here's the completed project - one happy helper petting the bunny cake he named Carl.

May your Easter season be joyful!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pamper Yourself with a Tea Bath

To make and use these bath time formulas, simply mix the tea and herbs together in a bowl and then place the mixture in the middle of a piece of cheesecloth or in a T-Sac. Draw a warm bath and add the "Tub Tea"  to the bath.  Relax for 20 -30 minutes and discard the herbs. 
Peppermint Stock Photo
Pep-U-up Bath
Feel the need for a boost of energy.   Add some rosemary and peppermint to your tea bath.   Peppermint will open your sinuses and Rosemary clears your mind.  The tea will tone your skin.
3 Tbs green tea
2 Tbs dried Rosemary
1 Tbs dried peppermint

Wind -U-Down Bath
Lavender is about as calming a herb as you can find. It soothes away stress and will help you to sleep.  Camomile is also relaxing and will soothe irritated skin.
3 Tbs green tea
Assortment Of Dried Flower Tea Stock Photo3 Tbs lavender
1 Tbs chamomile

Oh Happy Day Bath
Roses and lemons are mood boosters to turn that day around to a happy one.  The roses also nourish the skin and smell so heavenly
3 Tbs green tea
2 Tbs lemongrass tea
1 Tbs rose buds