Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Taking Tea . . .

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Yesterday we did something really special here at Casa De Rayner!  Not quite as fancy as the one you see pictured here at the top of the page, but no less special.  I don't have all the china and stuff to run to really elaborate parties, but I do have a few cake stands and such and I thought it looked quite presentable nevertheless!

The young Sister Missionaries were invited for supper and I thought it would be quite fun to do a tea party for them, with proper British Tea Party food.   I know that they are on very limited budgets when they are here and whilst they do get fed lots of meals by members, I thought a tea party would be something different and something that a girl would definitely appreciate.

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I am sure they get lots of roast dinners and sausage and mash and that is good . . . but a tea party is just that little bit more special, and not something you could do for the guys.  So whilst I am still here in the UK and they are still here in our area I thought I would do this for them.  It's for sure they will be gone by the time I get back from Canada.

We did not wear fancy hats . . . my budget did not run to that and I am not even sure if they would be allowed to wear them if we did . . . but we had fancy hats on in our hearts and that's what counts.

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Someday though . . . I am going to have a tea party where we wear fancy hats and gloves . . . where we sit around sipping herbal  tea from china cups all the while sticking our pinkies out . . .  just so, like fine ladies do . . . but yesterday wasn't it.

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But one day we will for sure . . .

Poor Mitzie was banished to the bedroom for the whole visit.   We have a new Sister Missionary here from South Africa and she was so afraid of dogs she didn't even want to come in the house.  I dare say she will have to get over that fear while she is here in the UK because lots of people have dogs . . . but for yesterday we put Mitzie away and were glad to do so for her.  Mitzie was not impressed, but we let her say hi to the other two before we put her up.  I am sure she spent the whole time they were here sitting by the bedroom door staring at it to will it open . . . eventually it did, when they were gone of course . . . proving that all dreams come true after a time . . . but not always as we wish they had or in OUR timing.  Never mind . . . she had a good old sniff once they were gone.

I love doing tea party fare.   It's simple and it's a chance to explore your whimsical side . . .
There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.  ~Henry James

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I made little cucumber sandwiches and radish roses.    I thought they were so pretty.  The girls were so interested in how I made the little roses and I was quite happy to tell them how simple it was.  The cucumber sandwiches were little rounds of pumpkin seed and barley bread, spread with butter, some onion and chive mayo and topped with little cucumber flowers (cut out with a small flower cutter) and a thin slice of radish along with a sprinkle of cracked black pepper.  They were every bit as tasty as they looked!

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There were other sandwiches too . . . my ham salad and tuna mayo, along with egg and cress . . . a must on any tea table.   They definitely enjoyed all of these, as did we . . . ahem.   Why do sandwiches taste better when they are cut into little shapes???

Its a mystery to me, but . . . for some reason they do.

 The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose.  
~George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft

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There were other savories of course . . . to please the man in Todd and the girls liked them too . . . mini Melton Mowbry Pork Pies and Wedges of Scotch Eggs.  I am not fussy about these things myself.  I do enjoy a bite of a pork pie once in a while, but normally I am not bothered.   Todd loves them though and I had to something a tiny bit masculine . . .  there were none left so the girls must have liked them too.

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There were plenty of sweet goodies to nibble on as well . . . shortbread fingers, and jam and cream cookies . . . jam tarts (you can't have a tea party without a few jam tarts!! (think Alice here . . . ) And of course there were two types of scones (plain as well as sultana) and the required pots of strawberry preserves and clotted cream . . . and then of course . . . the piece de resistance . . .

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A delicious home-baked Victoria Sponge, filled with a vanilla flecked butter-cream icing and summer berry preserves . . .  with a final light dusting of icing sugar.  It just wouldn't be a tea party without one of these.   Yesterday's was especially good.   I love a good cake . . . and when it's filled with butter-cream and jam . . . well, it's just the best cake of all!  At least that's my theory.   See that beautiful crochet doily under the cake stand?   My friend Jan from California crocheted that for me and I cherish it . . . I truly do.  It was the perfect accent for the cake.

You can find my recipe for the cake here.   It's very traditional.

Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors.  ~Alice Walker

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Altogether it was somewhat of a feast and we all really enjoyed it.   It gave me the opportunity to use a few of my cake stands and my cut glass plates and my other pretty trays and bowls.   They are not as fancy as the Queen's of course, but they did remarkably well.
Remember the tea kettle - it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it still sings! 

 ~Author Unknown

There were no complaints.

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I think a little tea party once in a while is a good thing.  It always brings a smile . . . even to the most jaded.   It brings back memories of tea parties shared with dolls and teddy bears . . . and mud pies.

It just does the heart good.

A thought to carry with you through today . . .

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 Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  
~Billy Connolly

Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Spanish Tortilla with Chorizo.  Quick, easy and delicious!

Happy Wednesday!


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