Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From Tie-Dye to Tea-Dye the Easter Egg goes from cutesy to classy

A quick little Tea-Dying tutorial from eHow.com:

Coloring Easter eggs with tea is a special way to share this holiday with your children or grandchildren. Using teas instead of commercially prepared dyes gives you a more natural look, and you don't have to worry about anyone being allergic to any of the commercial dyes. You can mix different types of tea, which will give you a unique color mix. Be creative and have fun!

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things you'll need:

  • Newspaper or other paper to cover work area
  • Eggs, hard boiled and cooled completely
  • Teas of whichever types you want (herbal ones work best)
  • Bowls or other containers
  • Measuring cup
  • Boiling water
  • Egg spoon, slotted spoon, or tongs
  • Empty egg carton

1. Cover the work area with paper to protect wood from moisture.

2. Wash the eggs in warm soapy water to make sure there aren't any oils or soil on the egg to interfere with coloring. Hard-boil the eggs.

3. Make the dye mix. Pour 1 cup boiling water over at least 2 tea bags and steep for 15 minutes. Squeeze out the tea bags to remove all of the dye and set aside. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to the mix and allow to cool to room temperature. Different teas can be used in different bowls for variety.

4. Gently add eggs to the desired bowls. Make sure each egg has room so that liquid touches all sides.

5. Allow the eggs to float in the tea bowls for at least 1 hour.

6. Lift the eggs out of the bowl and check the coloring on the eggs. Return to the solution if the desired color is not achieved.

7. Carefully remove the egg from solution and lay out to dry. Make sure not to let the eggs touch, an empty egg carton works great here. Try not to touch the eggs until they've had a chance to dry.

For some eggstra info on Easter Eggs read our post entitled Which Came First? The Easter or the Egg?
and for Health Benefits check out Protein made Pretty

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Springtime presents your garden variety tea party, and happily so

Spring needs no assistance in enumerating the many ways the season makes for the perfect match for a tea party.  Flora and fauna nearly conspire to cajole the unsuspecting hostess into sending out invitations and dusting off her daintiest and most delicate table ware.  The next thing you know, guests are RSVP-ing and she wonders what on earth she has gotten herself into.  

The good news is when Spring is in the air and the kettle on the stove you literally can't go wrong.  Here are a few ideas to get you started planning a Spring tea of your own .... as always they are best comprehended when read while sipping your favorite cuppa.

If you are actually sending the real thing (ie 3D lovingly-addressed and sent via the USPS invitations as opposed to those of the electronic sort) consider tying/glueing a sprig of lavender onto the card stock on which you've printed the particulars.  I have been making festive inner envelopes for my invitations for years, and a simple lacy paper doily works perfectly folded around a garden tea invitation, and helps to protect the lavender sprig you just went to all the trouble to affix.

Flowers flowers flowers... it's all but impossible to have too many flowers at a Spring garden tea. Tie them around napkins, around chair backs, strew their petals willy nilly, garnish your plates. Same goes for greenery.  Cut stems and leaves from around your own garden and just wash them thoroughly to make your tables and serving plates come alive. Spring is the season of rebirth so live it up!


Cool Cucumber
For an easy and refreshing twist on a true classic, soak English/Hothouse cucumbers slices (paper thin) in  Rice Wine Vinegar.  Drain well, and sandwich between slices of white bread spread with sweet (unsalted) butter.  Cut in triangles ... one down!
Egg with Lemon-Basil Mayo
A bit of a different approach on this classic as well. Instead of chopping and mixing your hard boiled eggs, slice them! Spread a piece of egg bread (preferably cut with a round cookie cutter) with a mixture of mayo/dried basil/lemon juice and garnish with a fresh asparagus sprig
Chicken Tarragon
Mix canned or cooked chicken with a bit of may, sliced red grapes, a few chive snips and dried tarragon.  Serve on prairie/squaw bread spread with butter to bring out the flavors
Fruit Bread with Fruit Spread
We nearly always include a variation of this at tea.  This time we suggest sliced blueberry loaf... something like a pound cake available pre-sliced at most supermarkets... mix some soft cream cheese with a touch of strawberry jam and spread & but as you would any standard sandwich.  Tastes great and the colors are suitably vibrant.


Rose Petal Scones
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup coarsely-ground pistachios or almonds, unsalted
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon rose water (purchased by the bottle -- a little goes a long way)
2 heaping tablespoons rose petals, washed and shredded 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with vegetable-oil cooking spray.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter cut butter into flour mixture until pieces are the size of peas; stir in nuts.
In a separate bowl, combine cream and rose water. Mix in the shredded rose petals. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to form a soft dough.  Roll quickly thenn cut with a flower shaped cookie cutter.
Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with clotted cream, lemon curd and blackberry preserves
Makes 24 scones

Petit Fours
These gorgeous little fondant-clad marvels are most often tastiest and prettiest when purchased rather than slaved over at home.  For your Spring theme opt for as many color as possible, optimally topped with an icing flower and leaves

Orange Blossom Chocolate Truffle

YIELD: 40 Truffles

1/4 cup sweet, unsalted butter,chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
7 oz. semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1 egg yolk*
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons zest of mixed citrus peel (orange, lime, lemon)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or substitute 1 teaspoon Orange extract or to taste)
unsweetened cocoa powder
In a small saucepan, combine butter and cream. Over a low flame, heat until the butter melts and the cream bubbles around the edge. Remove from heat, add chocolate. Cover and let stand until chocolate melts. Stir until smooth. Stir in egg yolk*. Mix in orange peel, citrus peel and Grand Marnier. Chill until firm. Roll into balls. Roll balls in cocoa. Refrigerate in airtight container. Will hold for two weeks. * If eggs are a problem in your area, omit egg yolk from recipe.
(this recipe was gleaned from Old Fashioned Living

Lavender Lemonade
Here are 2 (and a half) ways to go about this easily
1. Simply float sprigs of of washed lavender in your lemonade pitcher or glasses
2. Boil lavender sprigs in 2 cups of water.  Then (a) strain out all stems & pieces and either add this to your lemonade OR (b) pour the lavender water into ice cube trays along with a sprig per tray cube slot and when frozen add to your lemonade pitcher or glasses
How about a choice of Lavender Earl Grey or Herbal Rose Garden
(visit Empress Tea Company to purchase the perfect blend)