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.
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.
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.
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.
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.