Thursday, January 22, 2009

Just a few more pictures and a recipe for scones

(Upper Left) Tea guests Dorothy (chintz polo shirt) and Kathleen (black cardigan and chintz blouse) survey the desert table. Directly in front of the ladies on the tea table are chocolate-dipped shortbread heart cookies alternated with decadent chocoalte-dipped strawberries. Toward the front is clotted cream encircled by freshly baked English Scones accompanied by Raspberry Jam. At table center is a heavenly Chocolate Pound Cake and Skor-Bar Trifle. At the back of the table sits the meticulously-polished Silver Service ready to dispense two types of delicious tea, the ubiquitous Orange Pekoe, and a new favorite, Chocolate Dessert Tea ( a perfect accompaniment to all things Chocolate!)as well as a rich, dark brewed coffee. (Lower-Upper Left))The first course in an afternoon tea is a variety of savouries, consisting of sandwiches (egg salad, curried chicken, cucumber with cream cheese and dill, and for those with a sweet tooth, the ever-popular cherry-cheese sandwich.) Also served was a spinach dip accompanied with rice crackers and miniature toast-point ramkins., as well as tuna mushroom toastades. Each dish was garnished with a variety of crudite and/or grapes)

(Lower left) More desserts are featured on a lovely silver tray. Starting from the left are buterscotch squares, followed by chocolate, oatmeal and cocont macaroons, lemon-curd shortbread tartlets and Nova Scoita's famous Cape Breton Pork Pies (not REALLY made of pork but a to-die-for puree of cooked dates, demerara sugar and lemon ensconsed in a shortbread tartlet, and topped with a diminuitive dolop of maple syrup butter cream. My husband's hands-down favorite!)

(Below) Elisia can always be depended upon to help out in the kitchen. What a gem of a friend!

(Immediate Left) Scone Queen putting the final touches on the tuna-mushroom tostades.

Rose's Tea Scones
Set oven to 375 or 400 degrees F. (depending on how hot your oven bakes)
Please read through the Complete Listing of Ingredients before you start!
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking POWDER
1 teaspoon salt
Optional Ingredients
Add One of the following four options
1/2 c. currants soaked in hot water and drained once they are plumped
1/2 cup raisins ( if they are really dry you can soak and drain these as well)
1/2 cup dried apricots cut into the size of raisins, along with 1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup (one stick) extremely cold butter cut into eight pieces
1/4 cup granualted sugar
1 egg (room temperature)
1 teaspoon real vanilla
enough homogenized milk or cereal cream to make 1 cup of liquid when combined with the egg and vanilla
Combine the following ingredients using a wire wisk.
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Reserve 2 tblsps of the flour mixture.
Then, using a pastry cutter, cut into the remaining flour mixture 1/2 c ( 1 stick) very cold butter (which has been cut into eight large pieces) until it looks like coarse oatmeal.
In a small bowl, add the 2 tablespoons of reserved flour mixture to one of the OPTIONAL ingredients, making sure to coat them thoroughly.
Add the optional ingredients gently to the rest of the flour and buter mixture.
Gently add 1/4 cup granulated sugar
In a 2 cup measuring cup, lightly beat one room temperature egg. Add to that 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and enough homogenized milk (or cereal cream) to make one cup of liquid.
Using a fork, add 1/3 of the wet ingredients to the flour,butter, optional ingredient, sugar mixture, blending gently, but thoroughly. Add the next 1/3, blending gently, but thoroughly.and the final 1/3 blending gently until it incorporated. You should still be able to see small bits of butter in the dough. Do not over mix!
Turn the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 4 or five times until it just holds together. Use a VERY GENTLE HAND when kneading the scones. Pat gently into a 1 1/2 high rectangle and cut into 8 large rounds or 12 smaller rounds. Place scones in a 9x9 ungreased square cake pan. Bake until the scones are a medium golden brown. (Larger scones take longer to bake than smaller ones!) Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes, before turing them out and seperating them Serve warm with clotted cream and jam., or at room temperatrue later in the day. These are best when they are eaten on the day they are made. Bon Apetit!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Valentine's Day: The Celebration of all things Romantic

Taking down the Christmas Tree is a task that I am willing to put off for as long as possible. The living room looks so desolate without it. Several years ago, my friend the Paper Princess and I decided that we would prolong our enjoyment of the holidays by transforming our trees for Valentine's Day. It has become quite a tradition! In the fourth week of January, decorations that are explicitly meant for Christmas are spirited away and replaced by old-fashioned Valentines, glittering hearts and anything else we can find that pays homage to the Patron Saint of Love. Last year, in an attempt to return my living space to a semblance of pre-Christmas order, I replaced the larger tree with a diminuative one, which took up much less space. This allowed me to comfortably seat several more guests at what has affectionaltely been called the Bi-Coastal Valentine Tea hosted simultaneously by the Paper Princess in the East and the Scone Queen in the West . (well, as simultaneous as one can get, given that there is a 4 hour time difference between our geographically opposing coasts!) Needless to say, the invitations state that each tea is held at 2:00 p.m. on the same day!) If you promise to "blog in" tomorrow. I will include some pictures taken at our little soiree, where everyone had a wonderful time, and special memories were made.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An Inauspicious Beginning to 2009

I dearly hoped that Richmond had finally escape the deep freeze. I was wrong. Last Thursday, after some torrential rain-fall, the snow finally melted, and as I looked out my window onto my soggy backyard, I spied a brilliant and inviting blue sky peeking through enticing cotton-baton clouds. The sun had finally made an appearance, and so, not wanting to fall into my usual mode of procrastination, I harnessed up the dog and set out for our first walk in over 3 weeks. Within minutes I realized that although I was dressed warmly, the wind was bitterly cold, and I was chilled to the bone. However, puppy was enjoying the walk and I didn't have the heart to turn back without giving him a chance to sniff and poke for the first time since before Christmas. After all, HE, sporting the coat that God had given him as well as his dapper Roots hoodie, was more than warm enough! So, resolutely and with a stiff upper lip (or was that the beginnings of frost-bite?) I soldiered on. All told, the excursion took half and hour.
When will I learn? Have I been away from the frigid East Coast for too long to remember that biting cold should be avoided at all costs? Obviously so! Yes, dear readers, I have been bed-ridden for four days (and counting) with Bronchitis, hoping against hope that I am not facing pneumonia. Four days of rest, but hardly relaxation! Hacking, coughing and severe sinus headache. Yesterday came the temptation to venture out to work with the British Columbia Girls Choir. (I am the director of their novice department) Although not completely recovered, I was feeling somewhat better, and according to my husband, bronchitis is not contagious., so I determined to press on, especially since our first session of the New Year had been cancelled due to bad weather. Thankfully, a call from a friend challenged the "not contagious" aspect of my malady, and with a bit of research I discovered I was, in fact, a seething cauldron of infectious bacteria. I crawled back into bed yet again, feeling well enough to watch "Mary Poppins", on DVD and sip a therapeutic mug of apple cider vinegar, sunflower oil, manuka honey and hot water. Oh yes,I was feeling better, but none-the-less I had to admit to being exhausted and much in need of further recuperation. Today I have decided to actually forgo p.j's. and housecoat in favor of warm but more socially acceptable attire. Realistically, I think it will be a day or two before I am ready to face the outside world again. This time I will remember to wear a warm scarf and and a hat!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Some More Pictures from Christmas

(Left) Handmade Seashell Angel with Mustard-Seed Hair
(Below) Nativity creche flanked by Buffet lamps displaying pictures of our mothers.

(Left) Eric's Mom
(Below) Remembering Rose's Mom

(Left) Rose standing in the dinning area

Oh Christmas Tree, how lovely are your branches....

Above is a picture of this year's Christmas Tree. Somewhat simpler than usual. it is still quite lovely, and we will enjoy it well into February, when we will change the decorations, making it a Valentine Tree.

Finally, some Pictures from Christmas!

(Left) Charlie D. Dog

(Below) Dorothy surveying her present of miniature German Glass Ornaments

(Left) Christmas Dinner with Evart-Jon, his wife Anna, their two delightful offspring and our well-bleonved Dorothy

(Below) Evart-Jon and Anna

(Left) Rose and Anna B. on a post-Christmas visit. We hadn't seen Anna for almost 2 years so it was nice to re-establish contact!