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; let’s sit outside in the sun

Coffee and a catch-up in the back garden. Image: Su Leslie 2020

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

I thought we’d take our tea outside this month. In the last 24 hours, the wind has dropped and the sun has come out. And while my back garden is very much a work in progress (yeah, ignore the wheelbarrow full of mulch), there is plenty of space for us to spread out and share a cuppa.

Last month I joked I might resort to serving shop-bought gingernuts with our tea. This month, without the excuse of surgery, my energy levels seem to have dropped even further, and I haven’t felt much like baking.

So I am actually serving gingernuts.

But they are home-made.

And crunchy.

And they hold together quite well when dunked.

Who else is a dunker? Image; Su Leslie 2020

And I found a pretty plate to serve them off.

Op-shop find. My new favourite serving plate. Image; Su Leslie 2020

I’m not entirely sure why I feel so meh. I know it’s been a crap year, but I also know that the impacts of Covid-19 are rather less in New Zealand than in many parts of the world. And we’re heading into summer, while many of you are facing rising infection rates and the approach of winter.

I suspect that a major source of my anxiety is that we’re in the midst of a general election, and I am genuinely concerned about the outcome. Our current Labour-led coalition government is far from perfect, but the prospect of the right-leaning National party regaining power horrifies me.

Election day is this Saturday.

In the meantime, I continue to plant seedlings, shovel mulch and direct the Big T’s splendid efforts in constructing new raised beds.

And when my hands aren’t covered in dirt, I’m baking bread.

… cos biscuits are not all that filling. Fresh sourdough bread, cheese and home-made plum jam. Image: Su Leslie 2020

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

Yvette at Priorhouse blog brings us oolong tea (or coffee) and cashews

Jo from Restless Jo always brings such yummy cakes. I’m a lemon meringue pie fan, but pop over to Jo’s post to see what else is on offer.

Ladyleemanila is enjoying some jaffa cakes with her cuppa — and a fab-looking jigsaw puzzle.

Irene at My Slice of Mexico has made some delicious-looking finger sandwiches with fresh herbs from her garden, cream cheese and home-made bread. Heaven! Oh and there are some Garibaldi biscuits too.

My friend Sarah at Art Expedition has a wonderful way with flavours. Who can resist toasted banana bread with walnuts and goji berries — topped with Nutella. Yum.

Sheree at View from the Back has an absolute feast of afternoon tea treats.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind has made a delicious apple and ricotta cake. Excuse me while I go make a coffee to drink with it!!

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful has not only brought delicious-looking gingerbread cheesecake bars, but shared the recipe too.

And Amanda at A Home by the Sea has used another of Ju-Lyn’s recipes to make some fantastic cinnamon rolls.

 

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.