Monday, September 25, 2023

Tea Report

 Hello all,

I cannot very well leave my readers without a report of the Autumn Tea. I just know you have been holding onto the edge of your seats, waiting to find how it turned out! ;)

In short, it turned out very well! I worked on decorations up to a week before and cooked for 3 days ahead of time. (Typical, I would say...either I cook for a week ahead of time and spread out the work, or something comes up and I end up cramming all the cooking into the last few days.) I ended up leaving out one recipe that I could not finish in time for the tea, because...

The power went out for 1.5 hours on the day of the tea. God answered prayer and turned it back on in time for most of the food to be done for the tea. I simply didn't have time to finish the Maple Walnut Sticky Buns I had planned for desert, but the crisp and pumpkin pie were just fine for the desert menu. Over all, I would say the tea was a success! 

Interestingly, not much tea was actually consumed. The hot cranberry apple cider that my mother made was simply irresistible, and it was more popular than the tea! I am partly to blame, because I had many cups of the juice and not one cup of the tea.

I've made up for it while I worked on this post by having some iced tea, now that there is no more hot cider. 

If you're curious about the menu, please refer to my last post. A few things changed between my posting and our eating - we added grapes, rosemary cashews, hot apple and cranberry cider and roasted butternut squash soup to the menu, and the maple walnut sticky buns, as you read above, never came to full fruition. Oh, and the potato leek soup turned into a potato shallot soup. It tasted just fine.

Onto the decorations: our theme was grey, buffalo check, and galvanized metal to go with our wooden table and the lodge vibe of our downstairs. We had the placemats already, and I made some things and we used what we had, so our spending on decor was a small amount.



 I bought this cute milk can and the faux foliage inside. My younger siblings gathered some fresh foliage to add to the arrangement.

I had so much fun making buffalo check decor. I loved how these food cards ("interpretive signs") turned out.
I used my mother's papercrafting supplies and the computer/printer to make the paper items.


These make more sense when they have napkins inside of them ;) but yes, they are paper napkin rings. 
Why the blue? You may ask. The china we were using for the tea was accented with a beautiful frosty blue, so I was trying to incorporate that color into the decor. 

Decorations on the shelf at the end of our dining room.

A good time was had by all, and as always the leftovers are nice to have around. 

And, if nothing else, it's always great to have this great excuse:
"Younger Brother, thou must wash the dishes tonight."
"Why canst thou do it, Older Sister, since thou art only reading thy novel on the couch?"
"Because, Younger Brother, I made thee that big ol' tea party 2 1/2 weeks ago. Now get to it."

--Miss Humphrey





Monday, September 18, 2023

Steps I Take in Preparing a Tea

Hello all,

I still intend to get a sewing post out one of these days.

Right now, I'm working on planning our annual Autumn Celebration which happens in the form of a High Tea. Now, before you think "tea party" and imagine little girls at a little table drinking from little cups, let me assure you that a High Tea is something of quite a different nature. My family is made up of mostly men, and the Autumn High Tea is always satisfying (and satiating, thanks to all that butter) to everyone. Rather than an arrangement of dainty tea sandwiches and macarons, it is a buffet of hearty, special fare that is fun to eat.

Last year's Autumn Tea

The first step I usually take when preparing a tea is to make a menu. This year, my menu looks like this:

Main

Everything Biscuits

Potato & Leek Soup

Ham & Apple Tea Sandwiches 

Carrot Salad Sandwiches

Fennel Italian Sausage Pizza

Individual Double Crust Cabbage Pies

Vegetables & Ranch Dip

Grapes

Dessert

Individual Pumpkin Pies

Maple Walnut Sticky Buns

Blackberry Apple Crisp

Beverages:

Apple Cider

Tea

I don't stick to the formality of having courses; I like to do buffets. We load up a serving table and keep the bulk of the food off of the "eating" table, which is usually crowded enough with china.

 A previous autumn celebration.
I'm thankful to say that we have a bigger table now.

Let's talk about what's on the menu!

I got my recipes from a few different locations.

Everything biscuits: I have never tried this recipe from Ken Haedrich's Harvest Baker cookbook before, but it looks amazing. A few other recipes of his have become family favorites.

Potato & Leek Soup is another new one I pulled off of the web. I don't have much to say about it yet, but I think it will go well with the biscuits.

Ham & Apple Tea sandwiches: we found this recipe in a Tea Time magazine a few years ago. I don't stick to the recipe anymore, but the basic idea is ham, apple, sharp cheddar cheese and mayonnaise. You can add greens to it as well. It is an incredibly good tea sandwich;)

Carrot Salad Sandwiches: for this one, I don't have a recipe for you. My grandmother, who used to own a tea room, always made them when I was little, and they are delightful. They're a mixture of carrots, cream cheese, mayonnaise, chives and dill packed between slices of bread.

Fennel Italian Sausage Pizza - another recipe from the Harvest Baker. This is a pizza you must not miss. It is decadent - and even more so if the bulk of Italian sausage makes it to the pizza before the cook eats it!

Individual Double Crust Cabbage Pies: a labor of love that takes cabbage to a whole 'nother level. Another one from the Harvest Baker. 

Veggies and Dip: you could tell me just as much about this dish as I could tell you.

And then we get to dessert. 

I have found a delightful recipe for Pumpkin Pie. The best, I would say, but I know everyone has "the best" :). It's from the Bobbette and Belle Cookbook. (It also has a recipe for a chocolate cake that will send your levels in all the wrong directions but it is the best I have ever encountered. I enjoy it for birthdays sometimes. Their buttercream frosting is fantastic, too. No wonder - they're Canadian bakers.)

Maple Walnut Sticky buns and Blackberry Apple Crisp are both from "Fall Baking" magazines. (2019 and 2023.) I may have made the Maple Walnut Sticky Buns before as cinnamon rolls. The Blackberry Apple Crisp is a new recipe to me.

And Apple Cider is an essential at any autumn celebration - like tea is at a tea party. So there you have it - my menu elaborated on.

So, I've got a menu down. Except...Squash is still trying to edge its way into the tea party menu. I am not sure whether I will open the door and let it in or not. I guess you will find out after the tea party :)

What next? A shopping list, of course! I'm not as good at this as I should be, but it's important to write down amounts of items that you need. Don't just say, "I need butter for my tea party" and buy a pound of butter. Add up all the butter in your recipes and then add some extra in for the biscuits/bread. (Then add 7 1/2 lbs. of butter to your grocery list. It will be far more accurate ;)

Still in the planning stage is my timeline. I skim recipes and see how long it takes to make things and how much you can make ahead (!!!). It's important to see which recipes should be served hot and think about which ones you could make ahead and heat up again. Then, I usually end up writing a timeline for my food production. Our goal should always be to take as much pressure off of the day of the tea as possible. One way to do this is to schedule the tea party for an evening hour. Believe me. It makes a difference to have all day to work on your day-of dishes.

When you write a timeline, write it down to the last task. Whipping cream at 5:15 or heat up the soup at 4:45 or or whatever. And always over-estimate the time it takes to do things!

Don't forget to plan what china and decorations you are using. This year I was able to incorporate a dark shade of powder blue into my autumn centerpiece because my mother and I had figured out we were using her set of powder-blue accented china BEFORE we went shopping for decorations. Our house has a lodge-vibe in the downstairs which we factored into our tablescape decorations.  Things will coordinate this way! :)

Well, this is what I have for you all today. I hope you enjoyed reading a few of my thoughts on teas. Teas can range from a simple, one-and-one cup of tea and a cookie to a monumental affair for 100+ people. There is so much opportunity for creativity and variety in these wonderful times. I like getting to make recipes I don't usually have the opportunity to, and though it always gets stressful at the end, right before everyone eats, (every. single. time.) I enjoy the occasion.

to God be the glory,

Miss Humphrey





Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Popping In Again

 Hello all!

I apologize for dropping the ball on blogging the past few weeks. We've been very busy. That is the same excuse that most people have who disappear from the blogging world for weeks at a time, but it will have to suffice for now. I could tell you that we went on vacation to Italy for three weeks, but I have nothing to prove it ;)

I have some sewing plans for autumn, so do stay tuned to see more dresses! I have two beautiful pieces of yardage that I plan to make up into cool-weather clothing. One is wine-colored with darker red/burgundy swirls on it, and the other is one of my favorite colors - a deep, dark teal-tinted blue with  sprigs of the same color in different shades. I think I will turn at least one of them into a long sleeved dress, but I may sew the other into a jumper.

I have an autumn tea-party coming up on the 23rd of this month as well as some family events, so we'll see how often I post through this busy season. Hopefully I can get some pictures and planning of the tea on the blog. 

My mother and I worked recently on sorting our fabric stashes into a new craft space (I can't spoil the craft space for you - you'll have to keep tabs on my mother's blog to hear about it!!)

Aren't her fabric bolts the cutest?

I also have been doing some un-picking of my sewing projects that didn't quite turn out or were laid aside for some reason. I now have some nice pieces of skirt yardage that I can use in other dresses, as well as lots of opportunities for quilt squares :) Fabric is expensive - and I have a lot of dress pieces I can re-purpose to keep my creative juices flowing!

Thank you so much for reading my blog. Again, I apologize for being gone for so long. After I get back from camping, traveling, staying, cooking, baking, decorating, serving, planning, schooling, sending family members on their travels and traveling again, maybe we will have a return to normalcy. Who knows.
Until the world slows down,

to God be the glory,
Miss Humphrey






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