A virtual tea party

An invitation to tea. Image Su Leslie 2019Image: Su Leslie 2020

Those of you who pop round often will know how much I love food, and afternoon tea is no exception.

A couple of weeks ago when I posted An Agreeable Hour, my Comments section filled up with offers to join me in this rather civilised institution. One conversation with Del at Curls and Skirls really got me thinking, and led to the idea of hosting a virtual tea party once a month.

Naturally you’re all invited.

I’m not quite sure if how it’s going to work, but I’ll start, and we’ll see where it goes.

My afternoon tea

My tea palate isn’t particularly refined, so that’s a pot of English Breakfast Extra Strength you’re looking at. It’s loose tea, blended by local company Tea Total. They have a lovely shop near us where we can taste and smell the huge number of teas and tissanes they offer.

The cake is a gingery plum cake, from the BBC GoodFood website. It’s the first time I’ve made it and I actually managed to follow the recipe much closer than is usual for me (except to use fresh grated ginger in place of dried, and grated nutmeg because I didn’t have any mixed spice).

It’s incredibly easy to make; but does have lots of butter, sugar, eggs, milk and wheat flour. Not great for my vegan and gluten or refined-sugar free friends, but easy to give away the excess (it makes a BIG cake) to my neighbours who aren’t particularly amenable to my “hippy” offerings.

What kind of tea (or other beverage) would you have with this cake? Or would you prefer something a little less traditional in the sweet treat department?

Some “back in the day” musing

My first post-school “proper job” was at the local council. Working conditions there were, by today’s standards, exceptionally good. I mention this because our work day included fifteen minute breaks for morning and afternoon tea with biscuits provided (chocolate ones, if Leonie from Rates was allowed to shop for them).

Compared to the hastily grabbed mouthfuls of food my son and his girlfriend are forced to take in their break-free working days, morning and afternoon tea may seem unnecessary and indulgent. But in truth, it probably made us more productive. Not only for the well-being that social contact fostered, but because it was in the tea-room that we learned what was happening in the organisation, and that knowledge meant we could do our jobs better.

I’m not part of an organisation any more, and I doubt many modern companies have tea-breaks, but I still find that stopping mid-afternoon to step away from what I’m doing, make a cuppa and regroup helps focus my mind on the rest of the day?

Who else takes tea-breaks? Coffee? Is mid-afternoon a favoured time to meet friends for a cuppa?

The invitation

If you’d like to contribute a post of your own — a shot of your cuppa and/or whatever you’re having with it; a recipe, a few words about what you’re doing/reading/making. What’s making you happy or pissing you off — that would be great. 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.

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

I’d love to be part of a global rolling tea party. Hopefully a few of you would too.

Brian at Bushboys World has joined the party; bringing some delicious treats and music.

Del at Curls and Skirls, my co-conspirator in this tea party project, has a biscuit to dunk in her cuppa.

Morning coffee and the thought of scones from Lois at On Pets and Prisoners

Aggie at Nomad is sharing her cuppa from her new home in London

Amanda at A Home by the Sea has brought a delicious honey spice cake — using a recipe from Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful. What a great, connected community we’re building.

 

 

Seeing double

photographer hosier lane

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams.  Image: Su Leslie 2019

Some things feel like they should always come in twos — like biscuits, and scoops of ice-cream. Though with (regular) hindsight, maybe having two eyes but only one stomach is a problem.

two macaronplumes dessert

Apparently, one of the earliest versions of  the saying “two’s company, three’s a crowd” dates back to 1678. John Ray wrote in his collection English Proverbs “One’s too few, three too many.”

One becomes two: shadows and reflections.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | seeing double

Quick, before it melts

Raw chocolate raspberry slice. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Experimenting with a new recipe for something a little sweet but without dairy and refined sugar. This slice contains almond meal, coconut oil, buckwheat, rice syrup, raspberries, chia seeds and very dark chocolate. Once I got it out of the fridge, the raspberry layer began to melt pretty quickly.

The photo isn’t great, but the slice tasted pretty good.

Ragtag Daily Prompt | melt

Persimmon and walnut muffins … with Nina

img_4744 Persimmon, ginger and walnut muffins. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Saturday morning breakfast; coffee and muffins and the fabulous Nina Simone.

Like other artists I’ve included in my 30 Days, 30 Songs list, Nina Simone has provided much of the soundtrack to my adult life and I struggled to select just one song.

But this one is upbeat and perfect for a Saturday morning — and I do like the video.

We’re nearing the end of the 30 Days, 30 Songs challenge hosted by Sarah at Art Expedition. You can see her latest musical choice here.

Another not-exactly-Six-Word-Saturday; a challenge hosted by Debbie at Travel with Intent.

The tea and scone questions

IMG_4361

Date, orange and rosemary scone. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I baked again today. Scones rather than muffins this time, but I’m still worried it’s becoming a habit.

I didn’t even have the excuse of friends stopping by. I just fancied scones.

While I was waiting for them to cook (and regretting not cutting them into nice little rounds, rather than rough wedges) I got thinking about what sort of tea to have.

A mug of builder’s brew? Green tea with lime might compliment the orange flavour in the scone? A Darjeeling perhaps? Or maybe a fruit tissane?

Straight from the baking paper, or find a pretty plate? What about a napkin?

Are you a scone eater? A posh plate user? The one who eats on the go, or who stops to savour? China cup? Or favourite mug?

Let me know in the comments.

 

 

Singing in the kitchen

Close up shot of garlic, ginger, coriander, lime ... some of the ingredients in Sarah Tiong's Asian Vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Garlic, ginger, coriander, lime … some of the ingredients in Sarah Tiong’s Asian Vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

“Cooking is a language that express harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humor, provocation.” Ferran Adrià  — head chef of the elBulli restaurant

Harmony is all about combination. About striking the right notes to create something pleasing. This is just as true in cooking as music. Flavours, textures, colours, even temperature must be balanced.

As a cook, I definitely fall into the enthusiastic amateur category, but with practice (lots more hours than I ever put into learning guitar), I am beginning to create food that is closer to “well-crafted pop song” than “open-mic night at the local folk club.”

For which my boys are ever so grateful.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge | harmony