Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Recipes: Tea Treats

Summer is a wonderful time to host a tea party. If you are wondering what to serve along with your tea, Old Fashioned Living has numerous ideas that can help. We've outlined a few below, as well as included links to some tasty recipes out there in blogland. First, Brenda has put together some fabulous recipes, a summer tea menu in fact, that I know you will love:

A Summer Tea Menu
By Brenda Hyde

Near the end of the summer, when it's just starting to cool off, is a lovely time to give a small tea party with family and friends. Pick a bouquet from your flower gardens for your centerpiece. If you have a vegetable garden, send some of your harvest home with your guests along with a small bouquet. The cherry recipes use dried cherries, but if you have fresh cherries in your area be sure to place some in a pretty bowl for guests.

Herbed Quiche Appetizer

10 eggs
2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 pound Swiss cheese, grated
1 can sliced mushrooms (8 oz.)
1/2 cup butter -- melted
1 tablespoon minced herbs---oregano, parsley, minced
garlic, basil, chives, chervil, etc.
salt and pepper to season

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, beat eggs, cottage cheese, flour, baking powder and seasoned salt. Stir in cheese, mushrooms, butter, salt, pepper and the herbs. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass baking dish. Bake uncovered 15 minutes at 400 degrees . Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35-40 minutes. Cut into bite-size squares. Serve hot or cold.

Mini Onion Tarts

1 1/2 cup butter cracker crumbs
1/3 cups butter
2 cup chopped sweet onion
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. minced fresh parsley

Combine crumbs and two-thirds of the butter in a bowl and mix well. Press the mixture on the bottom and up the sides of mini muffin tins. Heat remaining butter in a skillet, over medium heat, add onions and sauté for 10-12 minutes, until tender and just beginning to caramelize. Divide onions among muffin cups. Now combine milk, eggs, and salt and whisk well. Pour over the onions into muffin cups. Divide the grated cheese between muffin cups and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and gently remove from muffin tin. Garnish with minced parsley and serve warm.

Cherry Scones

1/3 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup Half and Half -- plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg, separated
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Soak cherries in hot water for 10 minutes and then drain and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolk, sour cream, cream and extract. Add the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Mix in the cherries and then knead the dough lightly on a floured surface just until dough can be handled. Shape dough into a ball and pat into a 6-inch circle on a greased baking sheet. Cut into six wedges and brush with beaten egg white and then sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cherry Cheese Spread

1 cup dried cherries
1 cup water
2- 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

In a small heavy pan simmer the dried cherries in water until water is reduced to about a tablespoon. Remove pan from the heat and cool. In a medium sized bowl, beat the remaining ingredients together with the cherries and water once they have cooled. Serve with scones or crackers.

Cherry Tea

6 cups water
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
4 tea bags---black or green tea
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Boil the water, remove from heat and add the tea bags. Brew for 5 minutes. Pour into a teapot with the juices. Serve in cups warm, or over ice. This is easily doubled.

Shortbread Cookies

2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
scant 1 cup (a little less than 1 cup) of corn starch

To get the instructions, click here

Grown-Up Southern Tea Room
Chutney Chicken Salad for Two

1/2 of a stalk of celery, chopped
1 thick slice of red onion, chopped
1/2 of a small apple, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of chopped pecans
12 red seedless grapes, cut in half
2-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of mango chutney (like Major Grey's)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups of chopped cooked chicken
Four slices of fresh white or whole wheat bread, or two large croissants
Additional mayo for bread
Curly lettuce and tomato, optional

To get the instructions, click here

Cinnamon Chip Scones

2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. cinnamon chips, heaping
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

To get the instructions, click here

Cherry Tassies

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely crushed striped round peppermint candies (about 18)
48 red maraschino cherries or liquor-flavored maraschino cherries with stems, drained
Coarse sugar

To get the instructions, click here

See the rest of their tea party menu, including Cucumber sandwiches, scones and other goodies here

Sour Cherry Financier

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup powdered or caster sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
24 sour cherries, pitted from the bottom so the stem remains attached (process described above)

To get the instructions, click here

Strawberry Tea Bread

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 cups sugar
4 well-beaten eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries

To get the instructions, click here

Creamy Date Nut Filling

5 packages of cream cheese softened(20 oz.)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c chopped walnuts
2 2/3 c chopped dates

To get the instructions and to see other fillings, click here

Coconut Cherry Petits Gateaux

1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (125ml) coconut milk
2 tablespoons (30gr) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1 3/4 cups (220gr) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
3 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds, chopped

To get the instructions click here

Pastry Cream Filled Fillo Shells

1 large box instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
fruit for garnish (such as mandarin oranges cut in half, raspberries, strawberry slices, banana slices, etc)

To get the instructions click here

Classic Shortbread

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

To get the instructions click here

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
Cream Cheese Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Lemon Curd:

4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter

To get the instructions click here

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Buying Fabric on the Internet

A friend of mine, Mary Wilkins, wrote this article on what to look for when buying fabric over the internet. She has some great tips and Brenda and I appreciate her wisdom! Thanks Mary!

The World Wide Web - it is an integral part of our lives. The possibilities and opportunities are endless. Now our shopping has taken on a whole new dimension. We can buy basics, gifts, even a new car over the Internet. However, there are a few things to consider before you make any purchase online. While buying fabric can be fun helping our stash grow almost overnight, the buyer should beware. When you are contemplating the purchase of fabric from an online site, consider the following factors.

1) Can you see an actual swatch of the fabric online? If so, remember that color variations take place from one monitor to another. How the fabric colors appear to you may not be what it really looks like at all.

2) Is the fiber content, width, price and washing instructions all available? These are all important things you should want to know. Ask about catalogues and if swatches are available to be mailed to you. Better safe than sorry.

3) Do they have a return policy clearly stated? If not, then ask.

4) Does the site have an email address that really works? Do they have an address and phone number that is active. Send an email query and find out. If you do not get a reply, and you couldn't find anything in your spam or junk email foders, you want to consider purchasing elsewhere.

5) Does the site have a secure order form to handle credit card transactions? If not, do not order online. Never send a credit card number through regular email. This valuable information can be picked up by someone less than honest.

6) Make sure you know about cross-border shopping if you are ordering out of your own country. Make sure it is very clear what charges will be billed to you. If you are Canadian, you will be charged the applicable tax for your province, duty, delivery and border handling fees. Make sure you know what their delivery charges are and approximately how long it will take to receive your fabric.

The postal system is great to a certain degree. I have had fabric delivered half way around the world in 10 days or less and I have also had orders to the next county take 3 weeks. It's far from perfect, but then again, what is?

7) Make sure you insure your fabric order. This might cost you a dollar or two, but it is worth every cent. When your order leaves the vendor, they have no control over the route your package takes or where it ends up. If you insure your order the seller receives a tracking number on their postal receipt from the post office. If your order becomes lost, they can start a trace to find your order. This is a long drawn out procedure that may or may not yield results. If your insured package is not found, then insurance claims are filed and you go from there.

But, if you do not insure your package, tough luck for you. You have lost your money, the vendor has lost his fabric and the post office will not take any responsibility for the situation. It's a lose-lose situation--all because you did not spend one dollar.

This is a broad overview of what you should be aware of when ordering fabrics online. I know this seems like a lot to remember, so print this column and keep it close by your computer for the next time that you just have to have that special fabric.

On Old Fashioned Living:

Reader's Garden Questions Answered

The summer night is like a perfection of thought. ~Wallace Stevens

I hope your week is going well. We finally got some good rain here, which we needed. Our lawn is actually crunchy when we walk on it! Today I have some great reader's questions with answers.

When the plumes die off astilbe, do you leave them on the plant till spring, or trim the dead plumes off when they are thru flowering? Then in the spring, do you cut the whole plant to the ground? ~Ginny

After the first bloom you can cut just the flowers off and this will encourage them to bloom again. Many people recommend leaving the blooms to go to seed for the birds in the winter. I think you could do this with the second blooms, and cut the first bloom. They make a neat looking winter landscape plant too with the seed heads left on. Any dead foliage can be cut in the spring.

I planted my first butterfly bush this spring. It was growing beautifully, now in the last few weeks it is turning yellow in stem of the leaf.I have giving it plant food 2 time this season, it is in full sun, mulch is around the plant, and the plant looks ready to bloom, but I think leaves will be dead before that. Any advice would be appreciated. ~Hummingbirdcole.

It could be spider mites, and if so, try spraying the leaves, especially the underside, with a soap spray. Catherine, the Herb Lady, had shared her spray method and I put it here:

Also, make sure it's getting water, but not TOO much-- you don't want it wet all the time, but don't let it get bone dry either. I wouldn't feed it any more this season, just try the spray.

I noticed "pod" things on the flower stock of my bearded iris after it was done blooming. Can these be used to propagate the plant? If so, how? ~Betty

Yes, those are seed pods, and they can be used to grow more iris. When they are starting to turn brown on top, and if you pinch them with your fingers they crack instead of give, then you can harvest them. You don't want to do it too soon, or they won't be ripe enough, but if you wait til the pods split they will be gone into the soil and the wind. The seeds are tiny, and you can do a few different things with them. Either plant them in the soil, pots, or if you want a lot of them, use flats. Use good potting soil and plant about 3/4 inch deep in all cases. Outside they need to planted before winter in the fall. They will germinate the next spring. If you want to try them in pots in the spring then transfer them, that's okay too. Store the seeds in paper envelopes. I didn't notice seeing how long it takes for new plants to grow, but I think as with daylilies, it could be a couple of years.

Speaking of daylilies, you can do the same thing with the pods on your plants too. Many people refrigerate these for 3 or 4 weeks then plant the seeds a 1/4 inch deep in pots or flats. If you chill them the germination time could be as soon as a week, or 3-4 weeks without chilling. You can plant them directly in the garden too. The seedlings can be transplanted into the garden when they are about 6 inches tall. Harden them off first by giving them a few hours of sun a day, then increasing the time as the days go by.

Depending on what variety of lily or iris you started with, the seeds may end being a completely different color. But, it's a fun experiment and one to get the kids involved in!

Learn to make your own pesto!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Herb Tips and Recipes: Clover and Geraniums

The summer night is like a perfection of thought. ~Wallace Stevens

Red clover was one of my favorite wildflowers as a child. I thought they were so pretty, but little did I know that they are also an exceptional helper for the soil and for us. Red clover is "green manure", meaning it helps the soil and is very good for compost piles as it contributes, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. It also makes a nice tea that is said to relieve menopausal symptoms, among other things. You can grow it yourself for tea, or harvest it from fields as long as you know no pesticides or chemicals were used.

Red Clover Tea
From "The Wild Flavor" by Marilyn Kluger

1 Handful fresh red clover blossoms, w/a few leaves
Fresh mint leaves
-and/or-Several dandelion leaves

Put the blossoms and leaves into a 2-cup earthenware teapot. Fill teapot with boiling water, cover, and infuse for 5 to 10 minutes over very low heat. Set the pot on a trivet over the burner, if necessary, to protect it from breaking. Strain into a hot cup, add a twist of lemon and sweeten with honey. Some fresh mint leaves and/or several dandelion leaves can be used with the clover blossoms.

Note: Red clover blossoms may be dried to use for tea. Spread the blossoms out into a single layer on a tray and dry them in the sun. Use less of the dried flowers, 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. to 1 cup of water, to make the tea. Yield: 2 cups.

Pelargonium or scented geraniums are wonderful to use in beverages. They are usually infused, rather than chopped or minced into the dish. Rose is my favorite.

Rose Geranium Lemonade

1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 cups water
8 rose scented geranium leaves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Bring the sugar and 2 cups of the water to a boil in a small pan, stirring occasionally. Add the geranium leaves, cover, and remove from the heat. Allow this to steep for 30 minutes. Strain into a 2 quart pitcher. Add 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice and 4 cups of cold water. Chill and serve over ice. Makes a quart and 1/2.

We have tips and recipes for on OFL for making herb sugars: