Tea time in the blogosphere

tea invitation apr 2020 Image: Su Leslie 2020

Welcome. Pull up a chair and I’ll put the kettle on.

It’s Day 22 of NZ’s Covid 19 rahui, and even I’m getting a bit fed up being at home all the time. While we have plenty of food, and I’m getting used to the long queues at the supermarket, flour has become an almost mythical commodity, and most of the projects The Big T and I planned are stalled due to a lack of materials (pretty much all NZ businesses are closed unless they’re selling food or medicine).

But we’re well, and so far our families and friends remain healthy too, so there is much to be grateful for.

And that’s enough about me.

How are you coping with these strange times we find ourselves in?

My baking for our tea party has been a bit constrained by both the flour shortage and the new reality of infrequent, time-consuming trips to buy ingredients. So my savory this month uses the same type of pastry (dumpling wrappers) as last time round, and both my sweet dishes contain rolled oats and coconut (sorry Jude).

bowl of figs0415 Image: Su Leslie 2020

Our fig tree has begun fruiting and we’re harvesting a dozen or so luscious fruit each day. Rather than use them in a sweet dish, I’ve opted for a little tartlet with blue cheese and thyme. The figs have been caramelised a little bit in butter and balsamic vinegar. It turns out that blue cheeses are short supply at the moment, and the only one I could get is quite sharp, so I’ve softened the impact by mixing it with a little cream cheese.

I’m serving it with English breakfast tea, though I suspect an Earl Grey might work better with the flavours.

fig and blue cheese tarts Caramelised fig and blue cheese tartlets. Image: Su Leslie 2020

And in the same spirit of making do, both my sweet dishes are variations on a theme.

anzac biscuits Anzac biscuits and English Breakfast tea. Image; Su Leslie 2020

With just over a week until Anzac Day, it was inevitable that I’d make some Anzac biscuits. The story goes that women in New Zealand baked these to send to their menfolk serving in WWI. With relatively few ingredients (and quite a lot of sugar) they were supposed to survive the long journey to the battlefields of Europe and the Middle East. You can find a recipe here.

Recipes for ginger crunch have appeared in Kiwi cookbooks since at least the 1950s. Traditionally, it’s a ginger-flavoured shortbread base topped with a liberal spread of ginger icing, but in recent years it’s not uncommon to see a variation that uses the same ingredients and method as Anzac biscuits to form the base. The icing; butter, golden syrup, icing sugar and ginger remains the same.

ginger crunch no cup Ginger-oat slice. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I like the oat version, though it doesn’t have the crunch of the original. It works well with coffee — either espresso or a flat white. And I can conserve my flour supplies for bread-making.

With luck, by next month we will have more freedom of movement and a wider range of shops will be open. I may have to celebrate by baking something really decadent!

Why a virtual tea party?

When Del (at CurlsnSkirls) and I started talking about a virtual tea party, we saw it as a fun way to share our love of food and conversation. It is that of course, but for me at least, it’s also an affirmation of how important you — my blogging whanau — are to me. Over the years you’ve shared your thoughts, stories, advice and support and I really would like to invite you all round to mine and cook for you.

But since that’s not going to happen any time soon, I hope this will do instead.

The invitation

I’d love to hear from you. What are you doing/reading/making? Your thoughts on the food, the drinks, and whatever I’m rambling about. What’s making you happy or pissing you off?  Your comments make blogging so much more interesting.

And if you’d like to contribute a post of your own — even better. Maybe a shot of your cuppa and/or whatever you’re having with it. A recipe if you like.

I’ll update each of my posts with a ping-back to everyone’s in the same way as I do with The Changing Seasons.

#virtualteaparty2020 for anyone on Instagram who wants to post images (or video?)

An update

Wow. So many people have joined in with the tea party and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you all for sharing kai (food) and aroha (love); it means a lot to me and I think reflects how many of us believe that food really does bring people together.

After our conversation about fairy bread last month, Brian at Bushboy’s Worldhas made the real thing. Now I really have to make good on my promise of chocolate crackles next month.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind has set a beautiful table — complete with a dahlia in a vase — and made Anzac biscuits, (proper) crunchy ginger nuts and a chocolatey slice containing all the things that good, grown-up chocolate crackles should have. Inspired!

Ladyleemanilahas made some dalgona coffee and dalgona matcha latte. Am I the only person who had never heard of dalgona coffee until about a week ago?

Dawn at A Shared Spacehas made a gorgeous-looking chocolate cake with ganache and Ferrero Rocher crumble. Yum.

I don’t know where to start with the array of delicious treats from Jo at Restless Jo.

Ju-Lyn has baked a lovely Wholemeal & Oat Soda Bread — and shared the recipe. She has also shared a link to a really lovely performance by the Singapore Virtual Choir which Ju-Lyn and one of her daughters took part in. You really have to watch this.

Sarah at Art Expedition has baked a delicious blueberry cheesecake (using her last egg), and has served it, with tea, on beautiful crockery.

A Wonderful Sheep has shared my ultimate comfort food — tea, toast and marmalade.

Lois at On Pets and Prisonersis tantalising us with her collection of recipe books. Surely poring over the books is one of the best parts of cooking?

Janet at This, That and the Other Thing really knows her teas — and has paired a yummy pain au chocolat with Mao Feng black tea. I’ve just Googled it and it sounds really interesting.

Punam at Paeansunpluggedblog has made some yummy dried mixed fruit muffins to serve with savoury banana chips and a roasted orange pekoe Darjeeling tea.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has not only brought the most delicious-looking chocoflan, but also shared the recipe and the science behind how it works. This is such an interesting read.

Aggie at Nomad has made us “a proper brew” — Yorkshire tea. Apparently a controversial choice if you’re Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK.

Amanda at A Home by the Sea has baked a delicious walnut streusel cake.


147 thoughts on “Tea time in the blogosphere

  1. Pingback: Cuppa? – Reflections of An Untidy Mind

  2. What a great and inventive cook you are Su, I love the sound of your savoury fig and blue cheese tart. I was full of good intentions to bake again this week, even had a recipe worked out, but the garden took over and yesterday when I did my grocery shopping (yeah! An outing…) they had Tim Tams on special t half price so I bought 2 packets. I wonder if our northern friends know what Tim Tams are 🤔. We’ve just come in from a sweaty 2 hours pruning and mulching trees and Jack has made me a delicious iced Cappucino with ice cream in it and, of course, 2 🤭 Tim Tams to go with it…How many more days of lockdown do you have? We still have restaurants and cafes open for takeaway, so once a week when I do grocery shopping we pick up a takeaway, yesterday it was fish and chips. So then we had lunch out on our back deck with a glass of wine and ate them from the paper so no washing up. Well that’s rather a long ramble. I am so pleased to hear you and family and friends are staying well. Hopefully this strange life style will soon be over, though there are parts of it I am enjoying.☕️🧀🤗

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Pingback: Tea time in the blogosphere – Ladyleemanila

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  6. I am envious of your baking and conjuring skills with food, Su! And of those figs. My poor little fig tree has been battered by rain this last day or two. It’s huddled against the lemon tree, which is full of flower but just one solitary lemon. I daren’t pick it! How am I coping, you ask? Well, eating far too much cake, for sure! I shall be back to join the conversation later. If there’s a bit of ginger slice left… ? Take care, darlin!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Pingback: Time for afternoon tea – bushboys world

  8. Pingback: Wholemeal & Oat Soda Bread for a Tea Party – All things bright and beautiful

  9. Pingback: Virtual Tea Party | Art Expedition

  10. That’s a real feast you’re serving us today, Su!! The Anzac biscuits look sooo good, I really need to try these out! And your figs are glorious! I’ve never had blue cheese (is that the same as gorgonzola?) since I somehow can’t bring myself to eat something “moldy” even though I know this is supposed to be the good kind of “mold”. 😂 But I would definitely give it a try! 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I admire your inventiveness in the absence of key ingredients, Su. I hope you get some soon. I wonder where it has disappeared to? I would love one of those fig tartlets. I didn’t get any figs this year because of the drought. There were a few small shriveled ones that the birds were happy to consume.

    I making this comment on your page, Su, because my TL occasionally reads my posts. He caught me taking photos of the coffee and biscuits and when I explained to him why I was photographing them, he exclaimed, “The world has gone mad!” He got “the look” from me, because after all, what is madder than this virus and a global lockdown? I think a virtual tea party is a brilliant idea. 🙂 Thank you for being such a lovely host.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Pingback: Tea and Toast – A wonderful sheep

  13. Yay it’s tea party day. Oh man, your blue cheese fig pastries had me salivating. And I’ve never had a ginger-flavored shortbread, but it sounds sooo good. Especially the ginger icing. Reading about Anzac day reminded me of the movie Gallipoli, which I recall also took place on Anzac day? I’m sorry you’re facing some supply shortages, but perhaps these pastries wouldn’t have been invented if you had all the flour you needed. Hoping you get some flour for next month though! ❤ Looking forward to next month's decadent post 😀

    I've been trying to implement healthier habits lately, including cooking at home more. (Keep in mind, frying an egg is considered "cooking" for me.) It's been slow going, and I still hate washing up, but I'm hoping the habit will stick. I've definitely noticed I've been saving more money, so that's good. I actually experimented with some no bake desserts in research for today's party, but they turned out not great so hopefully by next month I'll have something worth sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m so glad you can join us.
      My son and his flatmates said the same thing about cooking and saving money. I hope they keep doing at least some cooking when we move into the new future, but I guess it will depend on how time-poor they feel.

      You’re right about Anzac Day and Gallipoli. The day commemorates the Australian and New Zealand armies landing at Gallipoli for what was one of the most disastrous campaigns of WWI. It was the first time our armed forces had been engaged in such huge battles and has become a watershed moment in both countries sense of nationhood.

      Anyway, good lick with your cooking.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for enlightening me on this subject! It’s an interesting topic I’d like to know more about. You’ve suddenly made me wonder about the role of war in the formation of nationhood. Just thinking about the sense and creation of modern Korea over the independence movement, liberation and division all through war.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I don’t know much about Korean history, but from the little I understand, I’d say war was even more central to what nationhood means in your country.
          WWI was fought many thousands of miles away from Australia and New Zealand, and our troops were answering an imperial call from “Mother England”. They were never fighting for our own homelands, but for empires and egos in Europe. New Zealand’s casualty rate was horrendous. The country’s total population was about 1 million people at the time; yet 16,697 New Zealanders were killed and 41,317 were wounded out of the almost 100,000 who served.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes; many were very young. One of our relatives who died near the end of the war had lied about his age and was only 18 when he died.
            The flip-side though is the older men who enlisted. Two of my great grandfathers joined up in Scotland when they were both in the 30s. One was gassed (according to family stories) and the other was wounded and had a leg amputated. I remember him when I was little. My great gran used to take his prosthetic leg away when she got annoyed with him. They were a hilarious old couple.

            Liked by 1 person

  14. Today I’m entering day 31 of captivity.

    As I’m sitting here with my morning coffee, the sun has just broken the horizon, and I’m thinking that either of your offerings would be a lovely breakfast treat.

    It’s funny the things that are going through sudden shortages in the stores. Flour and yeast are hot commodities here as well. Knowing there was a flour shortage, I was saddened to see a woman with 6-20kg bags in her shopping cart last week. I couldn’t help but wonder what she was going to do with so much flour.

    Meanwhile, this week I discovered a new shortage. Art supplies. Yesterday I was looking to replenish my dwindling supply of acrylic paints with some online shopping, only to discover that many of the most popular colours were sold out. What few remained were now ridiculously priced at more than double the usual cost. Sigh.

    Here in Ontario, the COVID-19 situation continues to be a growing problem. While I had some glimmer of hope for a return to normalcy soon, the virus has now gained a foothold in many of our long term care facilities, and the death toll is rising. Our provincial government has been sounded criticized for its lack of testing and general ‘neglect’ over the years with funding cuts. I feel heart-sick about it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh Joanne, I feel so sad reading your post. I know how much being active and outdoors means to you and feeling captive must be terrible. Even worse that you can’t get art supplies.

      Hoarding has become the new social evil – for good reason of course.

      I heard of a guy in Australia who had a stash of toilet paper and sanitiser he’d tried to sell on E-Bay and when his account was closed down, he asked the supermarket for a refund. Unsurprisingly, he was told to take a hike.

      I’m sorry to hear that the death toll is rising again. Our (mercifully few) deaths have all been of elderly people, mostly in care homes and it’s prompted a review of the whole care industry. Small comfort for the bereaved families, but perhaps it will save lives in future.

      Kia Kaha my friend.sending hugs and much aroha.


    • I hear you Joanne – I also went through the roller coaster ride of thinking we were on the upturn just for things to get drastically more serious. It is a challenge not to allow despair to set in with each passing day’s frightening news all over the world, especially when it begins to feel like it is creeping closer and closer to one’s doorstep.

      Are you able to still take walks? Are there enough green areas left open?
      Sending you a big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am still able to go for walks, but the green spaces are all closed. It’s quite cold here right now (hovering around freezing), but I’m hoping I’ll be able to cycle soon. The cycling trails might not be accessible, but the roads are so quiet, they might actually be a decent alternative!

        How about you? I assume your still able to run?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Goodness! It is already April and your temps are still so low!!!
          That is the advantage of this madtime – the roads are a viable alternative now.
          And yes, I am able to get out for my runs – mostly on the roads, as it turns out, although the parks are still mostly open. I prefer the open road though because the foot traffic is thinner.

          Have a good walk today, Joanne. And hopefully you can cycle soon too. Keep safe & well.

          Liked by 2 people

  15. Pingback: rdp: life allusions at tea time | ….on pets and prisoners…..

  16. You do throw a fabulous party, Su. I hope my pingback worked. I pulled out my cookbooks and am still deciding. If you don’t mind, I would like a little nibble of that fig and bleu cheese tart. You are the master (mistress?) of presentation, and these look lovely! I can’t wait to see what everyone else brought along.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow, Su, you really went all out this week and of course they all look beautiful as well as delicious. We’re doing well here, in both senses of the word, thankfully. I still have plenty unpacking and organizing to do as well as taking time to relax and enjoy our new place. Sitting on the back patio is quite nice. 😉. E-books have been a blessing but I’m also unpacking some of mine, updating the list of what I still need for each author, and putting them on shelves, the books, not the authors. Since we’re somewhere with lots of lemons, I’ve make lemonade and maybe that’s a metaphor for now: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

    Anyway, enough of that. Here’s my contribution to the tea party and no calories!!




    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Teatime with Su & friends | This, that and the other thing

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  20. Your biscuits look lovely. OOO Tim tams! I found those in Australia when I was there and loved them! I have just survived another visit to the supermarket! Had to queue about 10 minutes to get in, weave my way around the one way system they have installed (God forbid you forget anything and have to go back, up and down those aisles to find what you are looking for). One of the staff was telling a lady that she couldnt zip across the main aisle, then another told me to do just that because I couldnt find the dips! But, survive I did! I cant work at the moment, so I am catching up with all the writing and photography projects I never get time for and hoping that the lockdown eases in the not too distant future, but I am thankful that my family are all ok. I feel for everyone that has lost loved ones, it’s just heartbreaking! Stay safe (which seems to be the new best wishes these days. Much love xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Gill. Your supermarket experiences sound worse than mine. My local is still functioning almost normally apart from the initial queues, but I’m shopping for another household too and that is my challenge. They eat a lot of processed food — stuff I didn’t know existed, and which takes up a lot of trolley space. But it’s a small inconvenience in the big scheme of things.
      I’m glad you are your family are ok. Sending aroha xx

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Well all of your recipes look very tempting Su. I’d be happy with the fig tartlets and I am envious that you have fresh figs daily, I love them with yoghurt for breakfast, but we don’t get them for long here. I might even try one of the Ginger-oat slices as I am very fond of ginger and maybe that would disguise the coconut flavour? They do look delicious and you know I’d love a flat white to go with it. I am glad you and the family are keeping well. I’m staying indoors at the moment because I have conjunctivitis caused I believe form some pollution that drifted over here from the European mainland last Saturday. One eye has been weeping badly and very red. I always thought ‘pinkeye’ was confined to young children! I had to wear my sunglasses yesterday to visit the supermarket, but as they are prescription glasses for short-sightedness, I had to keep taking them off to read my list! Still no flour or yeast. But I might attempt a polenta lemon cake at the weekend as I have some polenta flour in the cupboard 🙂
    Stay safe xx
    Jude 😚

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh Jude I am so sorry to hear about your eye. I hope it gets better soon.
      I wish I could box up a load of figs and send them to you. We have a good harvest this year, but as you say the season is very short and I’m already looking at how to preserve them. Normally I’d give the surplus away, but we aren’t meant to do that at the moment.
      The coconut in both Anzac biscuits and the ginger slice provides bulk rather than taste, but the ginger definitely disguises the taste.
      Sending Aroha xxx


    • I have been excitedly waiting all week for our tea party! and I am so thrilled by your mouth-watering bakes!

      The abundance & luxuriousness of your figs reminds me again of how wonderful it is to have your own trees & garden – I admire & envy! Singapore imports most (if not almost all) our food. It is a sobering thought for the days to come.

      You are so clever in your flavour combinations and substitutions! We have been ok with our flour supply in so far. There has been chatter about our egg supply, though. So I am mentally thinking through egg substitutions (easy enough for bakes, but what about that sunny side up?)

      Thank you for bringing us around this table!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It makes me so happy that this little idea has struck a chord with so many of us. I know you feel too that sharing food brings us together and if it has to be virtual food, then so be it.

        We are fortunate here to grow a lot of our food, but there are issues now around getting harvests picked, and getting them to market. I fear that some fresh food will be lost because of safety regulations. It has made me realise that I could (and should) grow more myself. I couldn’t be self-sufficient, but it would be nice to have enough of some foods to use ourselves and to share with others.


        • It was a brainwave that you & Del had, and a celebration we all look forward to.

          I have always envied family & friends abroad with sustainable vegetable gardens. There are a few community vegetable gardens & a several individuals who work their magic in the soil, but these are small endeavours which don’t seem to last. Perhaps it is the weather, or the environment, or the ease of procuring one’s produce from the market/supermarket.

          Maybe after this season of strangeness, more gardens will pop up here.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Gardening needs time and money — compared to the price of bought produce, it can be difficult to make an economic argument for growing your own food. It has to be at least partly a labour of love.


          • That’s true. I guess growing on a smaller scale it is easier to contain pests. We use garlic sprays and manually removing caterpillars and the like. I’d like to know more about companion planting too — so much to learn!!

            Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: Chocoflan – Impossible Cake? – My Slice of Mexico

  23. The recipes look delicious and now I am craving for a slice of cake or an oatmeal cookie although I just gulped down a cuppa of hot chocolate, ignoring the oppressing heat. Here in India, our premier announced an extension of the lock-down, no Rahui, for another 21 days and at the end of it, we would have had 42 days of Rahui. How have I embraced it, pretty good I rather say? All the books that were to e read are now being devoured upon, all the ideas in my head are now finding a life upon blank paper, I’m doodling away on post it notes and now my brown work/study desk looks more yellow!
    Certainly I have had my lows, when the loud news anchor narrates the state of affairs, when I think of the uncertainty but I am being hopeful, holding onto faith and being optimistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: I’ll bring some tea! – Nomad

  25. Had not realised the flour/yeast shortage was so wide spread. Haven’t been able to get either down south (U.S.) for several weeks, and like Brian, I bake me own bread. Perhaps next tea time we should have sans flour products?
    I am partial to figs, and plain would do me fine, and leave room for a taste of that ginger treat. Also enjoyed hearing about Anzac biscuits, which I’ve heard of for ages, but hadn’t heard how they came about.
    Thank you for getting this organised, Su! xxxx

    Liked by 2 people

  26. First of all, I know I said I would join but I seem to have lost all sense of time and entirely missed the moment. However, I will prepare better for next month and promise I will produce something shareable then. But to you! Oh wow! Those fig tartlets look divine … I am absolutely slavish in my devotion to the fig and blue cheese is very much a staple in our diet here. I’m sure the English Breakfast compliments them just beautifully …. and the biscuits – how appropriate they feel at this point in history. Not the same as being stuck in a filthy sodden trench being battered to hell by enemy fire but nonetheless a moment when the world is fighting a battle and casualties are high and things to keep the spirits up are very very important. Ginger is another passion chez nous and I will certainly be making the crunchy bars for the husband. And me, of course. Toodlepip and thank you for the delight of this link-up. I love it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You have joined in my friend!! Bringing food is not a requirement. My photos may only show small quantities, but I bake for the masses.
      I am rather pleased with the fig and cheese tarts too: very much made up on the hoof, but something to come back to when I can again play hostess in the physical world too.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Every one beautifully presented! And I’m sure absolutely delicious.

    You can’t get flour here either, strange how the same things are in short supply everywhere. We enjoyed our curry delivery last night for John’s birthday treat, but otherwise we are cooking for ourselves. Deliveries seem an indulgence, but on the other hand they are keeping businesses going in a relatively safe way.

    When I’ve been shopping I can barely fit all the vegetables in the fridge and I think I’ve overdone it, but they easily disappear in a week. We’re both here for every meal which is unheard of normally. Our routine has also changed: previously I cooked during the week because John was out at work, and he took over at weekends. Now we take day about. I like not having to think what to make several days in a row!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Anabel.
      I just noticed that our local corner shop has flour back in stock and got a bag for the boy-child and his flatmates. I have a wee supply of the locally grown organic stuff that I use for bread-making, and am taking a punt on restrictions loosening up before too long. Otherwise, I may be borrowing a cup of flour back from him!
      T is still working, and seems busier than ever so I am still our seven-days-a-week cook — and I’m running out of ideas!


  28. It just goes to show what a lot of gluttons some of us are, Su (naming no names but many thanks for the link 🙂 ). I’ve popped in on most of them but I missed the blueberry cheesecake! That’s a favourite, but I bet there’s none left. 😦 See you soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I loved this post. And it made me think hard about my (our) life. I am surrounded by incredible bakers (friends) here in France. Perhaps I should be sharing, on my blog, more of what they are telling me, instead of just writing the recipes down in my little notebook? You have (once again) inspired me tonight

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Per usual, I put something on my calendar…and then forget what day of the week it is anymore. I am enjoying catching up though on all the tasty recommendations. This was such a good idea. Maybe next time I will be on time and able to contribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Your virtual tea party inspired me to have a weekly lockdown Zoom tea party with my daughters and grand daughters who are spread all around the North Island. We’re all loving the catch up and the challenge to bake something wonderful without flour or butter or even eggs. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Pingback: Honestly, if you’re given the choice between Armageddon or tea, you don’t say „what kind of tea?“ | Art Expedition

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