Virtual Afternoon Tea, January 2021

Image: Su Leslie 2021

Major General Urquhart:
Hancock. I’ve got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven’t arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?

Corporal Hancock:
Couldn’t hurt, sir

From the film, A Bridge Too Far (1977) Dir. Richard Attenborough

On that note; wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora. Tau Hou mai i Aotearoa  (Greetings. Happy New Year from Aotearoa).

With Auckland’s hot, dry weather showing no signs of easing, I’ve made my first ever iced tea.

My past experiences with this drink (generally the sort that comes in a bottle from the corner shop) left me a bit underwhelmed. Then I read about cold- brewing; which is essentially adding cold water to tea leaves (it works best with green or white teas apparently) and allowing them to infuse for a long time (think 12 hours in the fridge). This avoids the bitterness, and consequently the (for me, excessive) sugar which is meant to balance it.

It works — certainly for the Big T and me. I’ve experimented with adding kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and mint to different brews (lemongrass is my favourite), and stirring through about 1/2 teaspoon of coconut sugar per cup to the finished product. I’ve experimented too with warmed honey (which certainly dissolves better), but I’m keen to hear from any iced tea drinkers your preferred sweeteners — and additional flavourings.

Iced green tea. Works well with these mini tartlets. Image: Su Leslie 2021

So on to the food.

I’ve just bought a copy of the new Yotam Ottolenghi book — Flavour — and am in love with all things charred. I hope you don’t me experimenting on you with these little tartlets (using my “cheat” baked dumpling-wrapper pastry).

First of all we have grilled prawn with charred fennel and lemon sorrel mayonnaise. I love prawn and fennel together, and the mayonnaise is based on one we were served in Matisse — a wine bar in Napier. My version uses Rick Stein’s Lemon Mayonnaise recipe (from Fruits of the Sea) with a big handful of blitzed-up sorrel from the garden.

Grilled prawn, charred fennel, lemon sorrel mayonnaise. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Or, if you prefer, we have grilled peach with Kapiti Baby Kikorangi blue cheese and thyme.

Grilled peaches, blue cheese and thyme. Image: Su Leslie 2021

My favourite Golden Queen peaches have quite a short season, so I’m making the most of them at the moment. This is the first time I’ve served them grilled in a savory dish, and I quite like it.

The cheese is quite mild, but does seem to balance the (fairly sweet) peach. If there’s a Mark #2 version, I’ll be adding some acid. A balsamic glaze would work — even though the Big T will have a field day reminding me of all the things I’ve said about the ubiquity of this in NZ restaurants.

Homemade Christmas cake and English Breakfast tea. Image: Su Leslie 2021

And if none of this is appealing, hopefully a slice of Christmas cake and a proper cuppa will hit the spot.

As we begin a year that shows no signs of being easier than the last, it feels more important than ever to connect with the people we care about. For me, sharing food has always been an expression of aroha (love); even when it’s delivered virtually. So pull up a chair and help yourself.

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.

#virtualteaparty2021 for anyone on Instagram who wants to post images (or video?)

Update

Janet, from This, That and the Other Thing has an Irish theme with Irish Breakfast tea AND home-made soda bread. Yum!

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has made some delicious waffle-iron churros; perfect for dunking in hot chocolate. And she’s included her recipe.

Aggie from Nomad joins us from her new(ish) home in London. A hot cuppa is perfect in an English winter.

My lovely co-host, Del at Curls n Skirls has produced a feast. Cheese, fruit and crackers, chicken sandwiches and chocolate cake. Can I go straight for dessert please?

Yvette from Priorhouse Blog has brought some key lime cheesecake to have with tea.

Ladyleemanila is serving pancit, coleslaw and vegetable quiche with some hot apple tea. Perfect!

Be sure to pop over to Deb’s (The Widow Badass) and drool over her Christmas Black Forest Trifle. And read the hilarious back-story!

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful has brought us a wonderful persimmon loaf. I love persimmons and can’t wait until they are in season to try the recipe she’s thoughtfully included.

Save the date: Thursday 14th January

We’re back!

Del (Curls n Skirls) and I had so much fun hosting virtual afternoon tea in 2020, we’re doing it all over again.

I hope you’ll be able to join us — anytime from about 3pm next Thursday (Kiwi Time = GMT+13). Golden Queen peaches are in season here (my absolute favourites) so expect to find them on the menu. And I still have a whole Christmas cake waiting to be eaten.

Virtual afternoon tea, December 2020

Christmas shortbread cookies. Image; Su Leslie 2020

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora koutou katoa  (Greetings. Hello to you all)

Way back in January when Del and I started talking about a virtual tea party, we had no idea if anyone would read our posts — let alone want to join in. We just saw it as a fun way to share our love of kai and korero.

But perhaps because this extraordinary year has isolated, confined and frankly frightened so many of us, the idea of sharing virtual food and drinks doesn’t seem so strange after all.

And so we’ve reached the final tea party of 2020 and once again you’re giving me the chance to let you know how important you — my blogging whanau — are to me. Over the years you’ve shared your thoughts, stories, advice and support and I’m very grateful for that.

In an ideal world, I’d invite you all round to mine for a meal. But as that isn’t going to happen any time, I hope this will do instead.

Lettuce cups. Image; Su Leslie 2020

For many of you, Christmas is a mid-winter festival, and most of the associated foods are more appropriate for cold weather. But my Christmas will be spent in a humid Auckland summer, and my food choices reflect that.

Pomegranates don’t grow well here, so we only have them when they are imported from the US. And this is pomegranate season. I’ve used the tart juicy little arils as garnish on some lettuce cups — filled with orange, a feta/ricotta mix, mint and walnuts — and with some pea, feta and mint fritters. The recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple.

Yes, my garden is full of mint and it’s a taste I associate with summer.

Thank you Yotam Ottolenghi for this yummy and easy recipe. Image; Su Leslie 2020

The iced Christmas tree shortbread biscuits above were a bit out of my comfort zone, but I confess I did have fun making the little squiggly things — eventually.

And for those who aren’t fans of royal icing, I also baked some plain lemon shortbread and dusted them with rosemary flavoured sugar.

Lemon-rosemary shortbread. Image; Su Leslie 2020

Chocolate dipped strawberries. Image; Su Leslie 2020

And to finish … some fresh, locally-grown strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.

And maybe a glass or two of bubbles.

The invitation

I’d love to hear from you. How are you doing in this Covid-crazy world? 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?)

Update

Janet from This, That and the Other Thing has baked some delicious black forest biscotti.

Sarah at Art Expedition has made beautiful matcha and redcurrent cookies; her take on the German classic “Angel Eyes”. They look so delicious.

Joining us this month, Thistles and Kiwis has baked up a storm with some tomato toasts, buckwheat chocolate chip cookies and date scones (you all know my weakness for scones). Please pop over and say hi.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind has laid a beautiful table in her outdoor lounge area. She has lots of yummy things to eat; including fresh cherries.

Lois from … On Pets and Prisoners … has joined us on her beautiful rustic horse. I love the magic of the blogosphere.

Aggie at Nomad joins us with a lovely tin of Farrah’s toffee. Yum!!!

Deb from The Widow Badass has shared her Christmas culinary adventures in a post that will have you laughing out loud.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico takes us on culinary Christmas tour of Mexico. And as always she includes links to her recipes.

Ju-Lyn from All Things Bright and Beautiful has baked scones (one of my favourite things to eat) and served them with lemon curd (one of my absolute favourite things to eat).

Yvette at Priorhouse blog has some zesty lemongrass tea to accompany a delicious chicken salad.

Coconut macaroons and ginger orange tea with Ladyleemanila? Sounds delicious.

Maybe you’d like to try Cranachan and raisin spice cake with Del at Curls n Skirls?

Coming soon … Christmas afternoon tea

Image: Su Leslie 2020

It’s hard to believe that next Thursday (17th) will be the twelfth virtual afternoon tea Del and I have hosted.

In the beginning, I had no idea if anyone would even read these posts, let alone join in. But you have, and your comments, posts, yummy food photos and recipes have made us so, so happy.

It’s been a tough year for all of us. But I am painfully aware that my home country has managed (so far) to keep the virus at bay and my life has been considerably less impacted than many of yours. So in line with my personal motto “when the going gets tough, the tough bake cookies” — I’m making a few extra goodies this month; sweet and savory.

Yes, I can do savories that don’t involve pastry or scone dough. Image; Su Leslie 2020

Save the date: Thursday December 17th

… or whenever you get here. Virtual food never runs out and the tea’s always hot.

Virtual afternoon tea, November 2020

Strawberry season has arrived. Image: Su Leslie

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora koutou katoa  (Greetings. Hello to you all). 

As we approach the end of a year unlike any that most of us have experienced, it feels more important than ever to connect in whatever way we can. For me, sharing food has always been an expression of aroha (love); even when it’s delivered virtually.

This month, we’ve got some little mini pancakes with a mix of toppings; avocado, creme fraiche, smoked salmon, roasted cherry tomatoes and prosciutto. I first made these for a whanau get-together and they’ve proved popular ever since.

Canapes. Mini pancakes with a variety of toppings. Image; Su Leslie

This fruit bread uses surplus sourdough starter in place of a portion of the flour/liquid. It’s the first time I’ve made it and confess I find it a little sweet. Perhaps I’ll serve it with a sharp cheese next time.

Spiced fruit bread and tea. Image; Su Leslie

Strawberry season has arrived in New Zealand, with my local greengrocer stocking berries from one of the few remaining local growers. When I was a child, strawberry growing was common all around Auckland’s rural fringe, and it was a regular part of our summer to be taken berry picking. When I think how much fruit was diverted into our mouths instead of the picking buckets, I wonder how the growers made any money.

Lemon shortbread, mascarpone and strawberries. Image: Su Leslie

I knew I wanted to include strawberries in our afternoon tea fare, but also to keep things simple. The biscuits are lemon shortbread, the cream is mascarpone and the strawberries were macerated for about 30 minutes. I think the lemon and the tart cream work quite well to offset the sweetness of the shortbread and berries. And the Big T says “yum” — so I’m considering them a success.

Pull up a chair, grab a plate and help yourself. There’s some English Breakfast tea and a lemon verbena and apple tisane brewing — and the coffee machine is on.

Tell me what’s happening in your world.

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 kai and korero. 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 anytime 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?)

Update

Aggie at Nomad has brought a pear and almond tart — one of my favourite combinations.

Jo from Restless Jo is sharing her birthday cheesecake — raspberry with a chocolate base. Happy (belated) birthday Jo.

Sheree at View from the Back joins us with a lovely tea from Mariage Frères, and pistachio financieres.

Amanda from Surprising Lives has some delicious-looking breadsticks. Yummy and crunchy.

Sarah at Art Expedition has baked cinnamon rolls, and found this wonderful quote “Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life.” Daniel Handler. I think you’ve totally cemented our friendship Sarah.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico is a wonderful cook and food writer. Not only does she share some delicious treats, but also the recipes. This month we’re trying Cocadas de yema – Yolk Coconut Sweets. Yum.

Kristine at Candid Kay joins for the first time with a heartfelt post about values and hope.

Amanda’s (A Home by the Sea) chocolate orange cake looks yummy — and she’s shared the recipe.

Deb at The Widow Badass has tested out a new recipe for limoncello and ricotta almond cake. It looks delicious — and she’s linked to the recipe.

Del at CurlsnSkirls has baked some cranberry scones and some savoury digestive biscuits. I am definitely going to try these.

Ju-Lyn from All Things Bright and Beautiful not only makes the most delicious goodies, but shares the recipe too. This month we’re enjoying cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies.

 

Kia ora. Welcome to virtual afternoon tea in Maori language week

Paramanawa o te Mahura; afternoon tea September 2020. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Nau mai. Welcome.

As it’s te wiki o te reo Māori (Māori language week) in Aotearoa New Zealand, I’m challenging myself to improve my te reo (language) skills wherever I can.

My first challenge was translating virtual afternoon tea!

This will probably have friends who are kaikōrero te reo (fluent speakers)  cracking up with laughter, but I think we may be partaking of tuihono paramanawa o te Mahuru —  online refreshments of September.

Whatever we call it though, there is ti in the pot; te mīhini kawhe (the coffee machine) is at the ready and although the kai (food) is simple, there’s plenty to fill your puku (stomach).

First of all, thank you everyone for your kind wishes last week when I mentioned my surgery. It seemed to go well (biopsy results pending) and I am incredibly grateful to the staff at Waitakere Hospital who treated me  with mānawanawa (patience),  atawhai (kindness), and great tautōhito (skill). I’m also grateful for my country’s (underfunded, yet still incredible) public health system.

After my initial bounce-back, I’ve been feeling a bit meh the last couple of days, so I really wasn’t joking about the simple kai.

The crunchy. Rosemary Parmesan crackers with some Whitestone aged cheddar on the side. Image; Su Leslie 2020

I think I may have stumbled upon the quickest ever way to make “crackers” —  assuming that, like me, you have a package of dumpling pastry tucked away in the freezer.

Because everyone intends to make that big batch of fiddly, time-consuming pot-stickers, right?

Anyway, it turns out that if you lay the pieces on some baking parchment, brush them with olive oil, chopped rosemary, sea salt and maybe some Parmesan, then bake them for about eight minutes in a fairly hot oven, they make really tasty, and very crunchy, crackers.

The gooey. Chocolate brownie and raspberries. Image; Su Leslie 2020

I’m not normally a big fan of chocolate in desserts and baking, but I do like brownie. This one is made with beetroot in place of most of the flour (the other dry ingredients are cocoa and coconut flour) and uses coconut oil instead of butter. It is delicious, especially if you like your brownie very chocolate-y and not very sweet.

I have cream and ice-cream if you’d like to add some to yours, but for me, just some raspberries are ka pai (good).

So pull up a tūru (chair) and let’s kōrero (talk).

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 kai and korero. 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 anytime 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?)

Update

Brian at Bushboy’s World has not only brought coffee and cake, but is joining in learning some te reo too. Ka pai.

My dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition has baked my absolute, all-time favourite cake — carrot. Perfect with a cup of Darjeeling from one of her beautiful blue and white cups.

Janet at This, that and the other thing  has baked a beautiful blueberry crisp to go with her High Grown Kenyan tea. Brewed in a beautiful pot and served in a matching cup — utterly lovely.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has not only brought us some Camotes de Puebla — sweet potato treats from the Mexican state of Puebla, but she has shared her recipe too.

Aggie at Nomad joins us from London where she and her family are now living.

Ju-Lyn of All things bright and beautiful has put a new twist on a favourite dish and I can’t wait to try it. I’m not letting the cat out of the bag, so you’ll have to visit her post to see what I’m talking about.

A Wonderful Sheep has some of her aunt’s delicious cooking and a recipe for soy sauce eggs, which I absolutely have to try

Yvette at Priorhouse  has a selection of teas, and coffee — and some beautiful photos of the flowers in her garden

Ladyleemanila has brought some of my favourite British biscuits — Hobnobs anyone?

My lovely co-host Del at CurlsnSkirls has baked some digestive biscuits (she knows I love them too) and a yummy cake with fresh berries.

Save the date: Thursday 17 September

Virtual Tea Party; an invitation

Yep, it’s nearly time to grab a cuppa (and a few goodies if you feel like it) and head over to mine for a virtual afternoon tea.

I’m having (hopefully minor) surgery — possibly as you’re reading this — so will be spending the next few days recuperating. I tell you this because the quality of the food on offer at the tea party will depend a bit on how I’m feeling.

So be prepared for anything: I might try out the black velvet cake recipe I found, or I could be sending the Big T down the road for a packet of gingernuts.

But whichever way it goes, I hope you’ll join me for a virtual catch-up. I’ll be putting the kettle on sometime next Thursday afternoon and you’ll welcome to join me any time.

Save the date: Thursday 13 August

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August’s Virtual Tea Party; an invitation for Thursday 13th. Images: Su Leslie

After the road-trip induced hiatus last month, Virtual Afternoon Tea is back and you are all invited.

I’ve got a bit of an obsession with scones at the moment, and I’m practicing dishes to serve at an upcoming dinner party, so who knows what will be on the menu.

My tea-time will begin while lots of you are still asleep, but rest assured that in the blogosphere you can arrive at any time, there’s always plenty to eat, and the tea never gets cold.

Teatime in the blogosphere

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Soup and toast? Image: Su Leslie 2020

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora koutou katoa  (Greetings. Hello to you all).

I’m glad you could join me for another virtual afternoon tea.

As we approach the shortest day here, the temperatures have dropped and it feels that winter has arrived. I know that for many of you, it is summer and you’re probably sweltering, but in keeping with my general policy of trying to eat local and seasonal, I’m afraid this month’s menu is very much about what’s available and good where I am.

So; soup anyone?

But because I’m not totally heartless, it is quite a light soup — fennel, squash and orange — easy to drink rather than eat. And it goes rather nicely with a little bit of toasted sourdough.

In the last couple of weeks, the majority of our Covid 19-related restrictions have been (at least temporarily) removed, and we’re getting used to hugging each other again. Equally exciting is that I’m able to invite friends over for a meal. And that’s how the soup came about.

It’s from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple; but the first time I made it, neither T nor I particularly liked the sweetness of the rose harissa it used, and we both felt it needed a bit more acid. So I made it again, using plain harissa and replacing the onion with a bulb of fennel. And whereas Ottolenghi used only orange zest, I included the juice. This was partly for taste, and partly to make it a thinner, more drinkable soup.

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Parmesan, rosemary and black pepper straws and some crunchy Granny Smith slices. Image: Su Leslie 2020

And if you’ve still got some left over after you’ve dunked the toast, I’ve made cheese straws. I’m not a dunker, and I prefer to eat them with some slices of crisp, tart apple, but that’s just me and I won’t judge if you do use them to, er, stir your soup.

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Persimmon and ginger muffins. They taste better than they look! Image: Su Leslie 2020

Persimmons are also in season here, and I found a few recipes that use them in baking. I chose this muffin recipe because it also includes ginger (both powdered and crystallized).

The batter (made exactly according to the recipe) seemed a bit wet, and the muffins spread rather than rising in the oven, but they do taste good. At least good enough to serve now, and experiment with until I get the consistency right.

Perhaps because of the weather, it’s been a very indoorsy, introspective few weeks. It’s not that I don’t care about the violence and injustices happening all around the world; but I feel quite powerless and disheartened that after all these years and all the protests, very little seems to have changed.

So I’ve hunkered down; baked a lot of bread, made marmalade with the oranges on our tree and am preparing to make more, this time with grapefruit from the boy-child’s garden. I’ve worked in my garden, visited the library, and am currently enjoying the Documentary Edge Festival online. Last night I watched Saul and Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band — a joyously beautiful film about two men, both Holocaust survivors in their 90s, who make music as a way to celebrate life.

I think this quote sums it up:

This unique and compelling story is about having the courage to live one’s dreams, finding purpose and meaning in life, the transcendent power of music, the complex experience of aging, surviving trauma, the power of love and family, and speaking out against anti-Semitism and bigotry.

It could hardly be more timely.

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 anytime 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?)

A note about next month

I won’t be hosting a tea next month. It’s my dad’s birthday and — unless travel restrictions are re-introduced — I will be spending the middle of the month on a bit of a road-trip to visit him. Normal service will be resumed in August.

Update

Janet at This, That and The Other Thing has baked some lovely, and healthy, doughnuts and is serving them on beautiful Imari ware. Pop over — it really is stunning (and the doughnuts look so good).

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful has baked the most delicious apple pie — and shared her recipe. You have to check this out.

Sarah at Art Expedition has made a gorgeous raspberry cream shortcake. But be quick; raspberries seem to disappear when Sarah is around.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind brings us banana cake and a beautiful mug made by an Australian ceramic artist.

Pop over to Irene at My Slice of Mexico for a lovely herbal infusion and to learn more about teas and tisanes.

Jo at Restless Jo is serving coffee and yummies on a beautiful tray decoupaged by  her daughter.

For an absolutely sensational afternoon tea  spread, you must visit Sheree at View from the Back

Like me, Suzanne from Life at No. 22 is living in New Zealand. She’s also made soup — cauliflower — and has shared her recipe. Oh, and there are muffins and blissballs too!!!

My co-host, Del at Curls n Skirls has made olive oil herb scones and her wacky cake (with recipe). Del will be hosting solo next month while I’m away so make sure you join her.