Sunday, October 31, 2010

One More Thing...

Hope I am not too late to pass along another treat idea for Halloween-devilish eggs. I am posting a picture of the recipe that was quite a hit at a recent party. Go to the link below to find specific directions.

http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/devilish-eggs

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Quick Exit

Is it just me or don't you feel like this month just flew by? Perhaps all these wonderful October weather days made it seem like an extended late summer and we were able to continue enjoying the outdoors.
FYI: I signed on for Twitter. So be sure to follow my Tweets on sockfairies and let your friends in on the news.

As the days and evenings cool down try warming up with Andouille Sausage Chicken Gumbo.
The Cajun kick lies in the Andouille, a spicy smoked sausage. Serve the gumbo over white or brown rice for a delicious Louisiana-style meal.
Andouille Sausage Chicken Gumbo
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 TB. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper or sweet red pepper
  • 2 ribs of celery chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 8 oz. Andouille sausage cooked and sliced
  • 2 cups cooked chicken cooked and shredded (2 chicken beasts)
  • 1 tsp. Cajun blend spice mix
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen okra or 1 cup cut green beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can (14.5) diced tomatoes
  • 2 (14. 1/2 oz) cans chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
Directions:
  • Place flour in heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly till flour the color of peanut butter
  • In a soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat add pepper, onion, garlic. celery and saute for 2-3 minutes
  • Sprinkle flour roux over top of this mixture and stir till blended
  • Stir in chicken broth and bring to boil, stirring till thickened
  • Add sausage and chicken and spices lower heat cover and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Add tomatoes, okra or beans, corn and simmer 15 minutes longer
  • Add seasonings and tomatoes, corn, okra or green beans bring to a boil and cook for on low heat 1/2 hour
  • Serve over brown or white rice
Happy Halloween



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Looking Back

Brisk, cool and I might add-very windy weather adds to the brewing spirit of Halloween. I have found several websites with frightfully good party ideas and recipes.
Check out: southernliving.com/food/holiday and marthastewart.com (click on holidays and then click on Halloween). It is amazing the abundance of creativity for this holiday.

Do you remember what you were doing on Halloween 1991? It probably wasn't because of your costume or a party or how many treats you didn't get but because of the snowstorm that hit the Twin Cities starting in late afternoon of Halloween and continuing for three days. Several feet of snow like 28.4 to be exact provided many of us with stories of that evening and the following days of being stuck at home and in the neighborhood. It went on record for the most snowfall in a single storm for the metro area.
I'd like to post responses on my blog for any story readers might want to share of a memorable Halloween or as you look back on your years of trick and treating what was your least favorite candy and your most favorite?
I remember throwing out circus peanuts, candy corn and Bit O-Honey bars. But oh... how I loved getting those yummy full size candy bars like Snickers and bags of M&M's. We used to dump out pillowcases/bags out on the floor and religiously count out our stash to see who had the most!
This seems like a good time to get that jump start on recipes for the holiday season.
The following were well received.
___________________________________________________________________
Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Serves 12-16
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 6 cans of cream of potato soup
  • 4 cans of chicken broth (use low salt low sodium)
  • 4 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1 cup cheddar of Colby-Jack shredded cheese
  • 3 cups 2 % milk
  • 1/3 cup sherry or white wine
add the following seasonings
  • 1/2 tsp. curry
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  • Saute mushrooms, onions, celery in 3 TB. butter
  • Combine all ingredients except milk in a slow cooker
  • Cover and cook over low heat 2-3 hours-stir occasionally and check to make sure not boiling
  • Add milk and cook uncovered 30 minutes
  • Add sherry or wine in at end
___________________________________________________________________
Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients:
crust
  • 1-1/2 cups finely crushed store bought gingersnap cookies
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
Filling
  • 2- 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Directions:
  • Preheat oven 350
  • In medium bowl mix crust mixture and press into bottom and about 1 inch up sides
  • of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake 10 minutes and set aside to cool
  • In a bowl mix cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla just till smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time. Set aside 1 cup of this mixture. Blend 1/4 cup of sugar, pumpkin puree, and spices into remaining mixture
  • Spread pumpkin flavored batter into the cooled crust and drop plain batter on top and swirl with a knife for marbled effect
  • Bake 55 minutes or until filling is set
  • Run knife around edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim
  • Chill for at least 4 hours

Sunday, October 24, 2010

28 Days

What A Show

He pulled out my chair

and whispered in my ear

“Madam, just for you.”

Scanning the night sky

I settled in with ease

anticipating

quite a show.

The curtain opened

just as the ball began

a slow ascent

into the eastern sky.

Its golden vibrant hue

illuminated the evening

casting shadows

across the ground.

The crowd murmured

and

gasped

for a show like this

is simply hard to beat.

It was then I knew

the best

moon viewing chair

had been saved

just for me.

a work in progress Ready All Rights Reserved 2010

_____________________________________________________________________________________

28 days of no rain, crisp, cool, clear nights and mild autumn days is cause for celebration and perhaps a little poem writing. As the rain moves in with cooler temperatures things surely are about to change.

Ralph Fletcher, one of my favorite writers, has written a book called Poetry Matters. In this book he focuses on helping you write poems from the inside out. He gives practical ideas on how to make your poems come alive. He believes poetry matters and that some of our best ideas arrive when we are not actively thinking about the writing but just simply paying attention to what's going on around us and inside of us.

Moon watching has been at its optimum lately and certainly provides an abundance of material if you feel the urge to create a poem.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Cooking Light...Pork Medallions with Cranberries and Apples

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup fat- free, less- sodium chicken broth
  • 1 TB. brown sugar
  • 1/1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp.salt
  • 1/4 tsp. sage
  • 1/8 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 2 TB. flour
  • 4 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup thinly sliced Rome apple
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
Directions:
  • Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk
  • Cut pork into 8 pieces and flatten each piece to 1/4 inch thickness
  • Dredge each pork piece in flour
  • Heat 3 tsp. oil- add pork and cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side until browned
  • Remove pork from pan
  • Add 1 tsp. oil to pan, add onion, cover , reduce heat and cook 5 minutes or until golden brown
  • Return pork to pan add juice mixture, apple and cranberries bring to a simmer cover and cook 3 minutes until cranberries pop and pork is done
  • Stirring occasionally and garnish with sage springs
  • 4 servings
  • Serve this dish wild rice




Thursday, October 21, 2010

Alimentum

Alimentum-The Literature of Food is a literary journal published twice a year. It is not a collection of recipes but a thought provoking and I might add nourishing collection of prose and poetry centered on food experiences. It is a different way to think about food through literature. When my copy arrived via mail I was expecting magazine size but surprised to see a compact 8 x6 inch size. As one reviewer put it "small enough to carry with you for mental and aesthetic nourishment."
Did you know that the word alimentary pertains to food or nourishment?
If you are intrigued to know more about this literary journal I am posting a link. They do accept submissions!
Check it out http://www.alimentumjournal.com

"When I get a little money, I buy books.
and if there is any left over, I buy food."
Desiderius Erasmus
Dutch Renaissance Humanist from Rotterdam
1466-1536

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Think Inside The Box

Recently I saw a sign that pictured a box of chocolates on it. Above the box was the word:Chocolate and below the box was the quote:Think Inside The Box. It caught my attention since it is a different way to think inside not outside. So my take on this intriguing thought is to think about chocolate in a different way than the usual calorie laden decadent treat that we crave but know we should limit consumption. So keeping with the theme of inspiration that I have written about in a few blogs as of late I was motivated to find such a chocolate recipe. One that would be lighter in calories. At the library I found Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2003 and a yummy recipe for Mocha Fudge Brownie. The upside is it has only 146 calories in one piece, the downside the recipe neglected to say exactly what size they meant!! Let me know what you think of the recipe. I thought it was quite easy to make.
Thinking about this chocolate sign triggered a thought about a poem I have in a collection called Mother's Chocolate Valentine by Jack Prelutsky. I realize I am out of sync for the holiday season but thought you would enjoy reading it.

Mother's Chocolate Valentine

I bought a box of chocolate hearts,
a present for my mother.
They looked so good I tasted one,
and then I tried another.

They both were so delicious
that I ate another four.
and then another couple,
and then a dozen more.

I couldn't seem to stop myself,
I nibbled on and on,
before I knew what happened
all the chocolate hearts were gone.

I felt a little guilty,
I was stuffed down to my socks,
I ate my mother's valentine...
I hope she likes the box.
_____________________________________________________________________
Mocha Fudge Brownies
Ingredients:
Brownies
  • 1 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 3-1/2 TB. butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 TB. instant coffee granules
  • 2 TB. Kahlua
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
Glaze
  • 2 TB. sugar
  • 1 T. water
  • 1 TB. dark corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 1 tsp. Kahlua
Directions:
  • Preheat oven 350
  • Pam spray a 8 x 8 glass pan
  • Combine 1 oz. chocolate and 3 1/2 TB. in a microwave bowl
  • Cover and heat 1 minute
  • Stir chocolate till melted
  • Stir in sugar and the next 6 ingredients
  • Spoon flour into a bowl and combine with baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • Stir well with a whisk
  • Add chocolate mixture and stir till moist
  • Optional: add 1 cup walnuts
  • Cook 22 minutes
To prepare glaze
Combine sugar, water, syrup, and 2 tsp. butter and microwave high @ 44 seconds
or until sugar dissolved
Add 1 oz. chocolate and 1 tsp. liqueur and stir until chocolate melts
Spread over cooled brownies
____________________________________________________________________
Of Interest: There was an interesting feature story Monday in the Star Tribune about a new children's book called Dark Emperor and Other Poems of The Night by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Rick Allen. The article talked about the collaborative effort between an editor from Houghton Mifflin who lives up north in Minnesota,the author and the illustrator putting the book together.




Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Unattended Garden

Leaving a garden unattended for several days at the lake can bring some unexpected surprises. I am posting a photo that took my breath away. My thoughts about a previous blog provided some inspiration for the following free verse. It was a collaborative writing effort from a visiting friend.

Mr Scarecrow
sentry on a stick
keeping watch
this fine autumn day.

Wounded
with shredded guts
flapping in the wind.

A pasted smile
trying to be brave
but only wishing
for his former self.

_____________________________________________________________________

I am revisiting the ginger cookie recipe posted while back since I made a few modifications.
Ginger Cookies
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 4 TB. of dark molasses
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup shortening( use combination of half butter and margarine)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
Directions:
  • Cream sugar and shortening, add molasses and egg and mix well
  • Mix dry ingredients and stir into sugar/shortening mix
  • Place bowl of dough in freezer for 45 minutes to chill
  • For each cookie roll dough into 1 inch balls and then roll ball in sugar
  • Keep dough chilled as each batch is made
  • Place on a ungreased cookie sheet
  • Bake 375 for 9-10 minutes
Sweet and Sour Pork
Ingredients:
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 TB. cornstarch
  • 2 TB. sherry
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 lb. pork cut into cubes
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 6 TB. sugar
  • 6 TB. vinegar
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
Directions:
  • Combine eggs, flour, cornstarch, sherry and salt in small bowl. Add pork and coat thoroughly. Refrigerate about 30 minutes.
  • Mix sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, tomato paste, 1 tsp. cornstarch, hot pepper sauce, and broth and set aside.
  • Heat oil in wok over high heat between 350 and 375 add pork and cook till golden brown. about 4-5 minutes-drain on paper towels
  • Add to the liquid ingredients: chopped mushrooms, diced tomatoes, carrots and broccoli and stir fry about 15-20 minutes, add meat and cook till thickened
  • Serve over rice

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Inspiration

We all have those days when we look for some inspiration to get a jump start. For some it may be found in nature, books, art, conversations, solving a work problem, meeting a challenge or creating something new.
Today I had a conversation with a neighbor who just returned from taking an art class. She proudly showed me her completed oil painting. And it had been 45 years since she last attempted painting with oils. Since her project turned out so well it motivated her to take on a new project. And I might add she was so pleased with her success!
Inspiration can be found in a multitude of places. Sometimes when I read quotes the words spark a new idea or a new way to think about something for me. Perhaps some words inspire you to change your thinking, reshape your attitude or just be a reminder of your goals?
Today I am offering you some inspirational quotes I came across. A few have a humorous edge so hope to bring a smile to your face.
______________________________________________________________________
I find television very educational. Every time someone turns it on I go in the other room and read a book. Groucho Marx

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.
Erica Jong

There is more to life than increasing its speed.
M.K. Gandhi

Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.
Will Rogers

I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow isn't looking good either.
Author Unknown

We don't stop playing because we grow old; We grow old because we stop playing.
George Bernard Shaw

Motto to Live By
Life should not be a journey to a grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "Whoo... Hoo... what a ride!"

Enjoy Your Day


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Hook

The lure...a 30% off coupon from a local bookstore was just the beginning. The hook...capturing some new book selections from the children's section. And I might add one can certainly lose track of time when delving into wealth of new books.
Two titles caught my attention. The first is Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates. It a charming humorous story about a dog who loves the smell of books, and the feel of them so much he decides that he has to open his own bookstore. Owning a store opens up a whole new world of book adventures he never imagined. The simply told tale has a message that will resonate with book lovers.
The second book that caught my attention was Boo Boo Bear's Mission: The True Story of a Teddy Bear's Adventures in Iraq, written by a local author Mary Kinda Sather. An intriguing part about the story besides the storyline is that the book was illustrated by military and civilian children. The story hopes to bring comfort and reassurance to children whose families are experiencing deployment anxieties. A parent guide is included to facilitate family discussions for military families who are experiencing separations. This book would also be a useful classroom tool.
I might add a 30% coupon is just a start!
Lastly,these autumn nights are perfect for moon viewing. The deep blue sky is the perfect background to showcase the creamy white beauty of the moon.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10-10-10

There are many who seem to have a fascination with numbers and aren't even numerologists! The number 10 seems to give a lot of people a warm fuzzy feeling. How often have you heard...
I wish I had won 10 dollars.
There are 10 things I have to do today.
The top 10 reasons to....
10 Top Songs are...
10 Top Movies are...
And the list goes on and on.
Did you know that the number 10 is used 244 times in the bible?
The number 4000 is used 10 times in the bible?
The number 10 is used 8 times in the Koran?
Did you know that this is the biggest wedding day since 09-09-09? Couples line up for marriage hoping for luck marrying on 10-10-10.

Some open questions for you to think about...
Do you think this day 10.10.10 has any real significance?
Do you think 10.10.10 could be your lucky day?
Have you worried something bad will happen on 10.10.10?

Most predictions and opinions concerning 10.10.10 are based on or rooted in mathematical uniqueness as a number. Thinking about today there are three possible outcomes:
1. Something good will happen and since there is no scientific belief to support this assumption it is based solely on faith and/or optimism.
2. It will be a usual day which is probably the most likely scenario.
3. Something bad will happen but really there is no logical premise for this belief as it is solely based on pessimism.
What ever the meaning 10 has in your life put a positive spin on it. I hope good things will come your way.
So happy 10.10.10 to you today!
______________________________________________________________

Now since this was a 10++++++++++++++ weather day I thought it was perfect for indulging in apple crisp.
Apple Crisp
Use a 13 x 9 glass pan
Ingredients:
Apple mixture
  • 8 large tart apples peeled and cubed (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1-1/4 cup of sugar
  • 2-1/2 TB flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3TB. cinnamon
Directions for apple mixture
  • Mix flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon
  • Add cubed apples and mix well
Topping
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups dry quick Quaker Oats 1 minute oatmeal
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4. tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 stick of margarine/butter (I used both to equal 3/4 stick)
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts
Directions for topping mixture
Add all ingredients in Cuisinart and mix till crumbly
Directions for putting together
  • In glass pan spread apple mixture evenly over bottom of pan
  • Place crumbled topping mixture evenly over top of apples
  • Bake 45 minutes uncovered till browned and bubbly around the edges
  • Serve warm with ice cream



Friday, October 8, 2010

Finding Joy in the Journey

Not only has my writing journey led me into full blown sock exploration, but also deeper into the realm of cooking. I have enjoyed trying new recipes and rediscovering some tried and true ones. Now I am aspiring to step in a new direction of cooking light. We all have had misconceptions that cooking healthier often means tasteless meals. Not so!
I started small going online looking at recipes that have fewer calories and healthier ingredients. Then I moved to the library for back issues of Cooking Light magazine and it was there that I discovered THE BOOK. The beautiful bound three ring binder-600 pages of Cooking Light Complete Cookbook. And no, I have not become a sales rep for the publishing company. After amassing a copious list of recipes to try I screeched to a halt. I just had to buy my own copy of the cookbook. My justification is that I will try recipes and from time post online for your enjoyment. But fear not- that does not mean my usual collection of tried and true recipes will vanish from the screen since apple crisp will be in next blog.
Here are some recipes tried with success.
______________________________________________________________________
Peppercorn-Crusted Fillet Mignon
with Merlot Shallot Sauce
adapted
Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp. cracked black paper
  • 4 (4.oz) beef tenderloin,trimmed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Merlot-Shallot Sauce
  • 1/2 cup shallots
  • 1 cup sliced mushroom
  • 1-1/2 cup merlot or other dry wine
  • 1-1/2 cup less sodium beef broth
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 3 TB. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • optional: add 1 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
Directions:
  • Heat a cast oven skillet over medium heat
  • Rub pepper evenly over steaks
  • Spray pan with PAM
  • Sprinkle salt over bottom of pan
  • Cook 2 minutes on each side till browned or till desired doneness
  • Remove steaks and set aside
  • Saute shallots and mushrooms until tender
  • Mix cornstarch and wine in a small bowl and add to skillet
  • Add dried fruit bring to boil and cook about five minutes on medium-low heat
  • Stir in broth, 1 tsp. butter, parsley and pinch of salt
  • Cook till slightly thick
  • Serve over meat
  • Note: meat can be grilled and sauce made on the stove
Creamy Parmesan Orzo
adapted
Ingredients:
  • 1 TB. butter
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1-1/4 cup less sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TB. chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp. alt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 tsp. pine nuts toasted
Directions:
  • Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat
  • Add orzo and cook 3 minutes stirring constantly
  • Stir in broth, water and wine; bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes till liquid is absorbed
  • Remove orzo from heat and stir in cheese, basil, salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve immediately
Cranberry and Apple Crumble
adapted
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter cut in very small pieces
  • 6 cups cooking apples tart like Braeburn/Granny sliced thinly
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 TB. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
Directions:
  • Spray bottom of 8 x8 glass baking dish
  • In food processor place flour, 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, brown sugar and butter
  • Pulse 10 times till mixture is coarse meal
  • In another bowl combine apples and cranberries
  • Combine orange juice, 2 TB. sugar and cornstarch
  • Pour over apple mixture
  • Toss well
  • Spoon over apple mixture into pan
  • Sprinkle with flour mixture
  • Bake uncovered at 375 35-40 minutes or until mixture bubbly and golden brown
Note: Try to resist the temptation to serve this dessert with regular ice cream look instead for a low fat/ less sugar substitute


















Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Continuing Tea Conversations

An afternoon tea can be a sugar/caffeine high but I might add a lot of fun spending it with friends. Setting a table with fine china and silver loaded with lots of decadent treats and mini sandwiches is pure bliss on an autumn afternoon. Even some of my guests were brave souls to don a hat.
Since I last wrote the tea blog one reader passed along an interesting website you might want to check out. www.teapartydiva.com. It explores the tea party lifestyle and its traditions. I was won over with the tea party game:Fairy Stars Race!
I would also like to add more information I recently came across concerning the basic types of tea that are derived from India, China and hybrid teas. Some sources list three types: black, green and oolong and then I found another source that added a fourth type white tea.
All tea comes from the evergreen tea bush called Camellia Sinensis. The following terms only describe tea leaves after they are harvested from the tea bush and are processed for consumption.
Types of Tea
Green tea
Oxidization is a chemical reaction that takes place when tea leaves are picked and begin to wither and die. Green tea is not allowed to oxidize and is quickly dehydrated for storage. Green tea is made from rolled leaves and not buds. Studies have shown there are many health benefits to drinking this type of tea.
Black tea
This tea is allowed to oxidize which ripens the leaves to create a deep robust flavor. It is the most popular tea world wide, but it does not have as many antioxidants as other types of tea. It contains the most caffeine.
White tea
This tea is the rarest, least processed and most expensive. It is picked before leaf buds are fully open. The buds are quickly air dried. It's taste can be very grassy at times.
Oolong tea
This tea is somewhere between green and black tea in the amount of time tea leaves are allowed to oxidize. The leaves cannot be broken or crushed and under go a process called bruising.

All this talk about tea reminded me of a favorite children's book Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk I enjoyed using in the classroom. The pictures in this book are stunning. And then thinking about this book made me wish I had some young ladies/gentleman who would like to have their own little tea party with me. I even found some interesting resources online just in case this occasion should arise. One resource is a book called A Little Book of Manners, Courtesy and Kindness for Young Ladies by Emilie Barnes. And two other books by Michal Sparks Princes Tea Parties Royal Gatherings for Little Ladies and My Very First Tea Party looked like fun reads.
Who would have ever thought one three letter word tea could have so many possibilities!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spark That Creativity

A writing challenge...do you have a story to tell? Can you tell yours in just six words? Talk about a stretch! At least it would be for me. I was intrigued by an article in the magazine Writer's Digest May/June 2010 that listed some interesting websites. I thought I'd pass along just in case you are ready to undertake some serious brain work.
Six-Word Memoirs:
smithmag.net/sixwods
Six Sentences:
sixsentences.blogspot.com
Creative Writing Prompts:
creativewritingprompts.com
Easy Street Prompts
easystreetprompts.blogspot.com: offers a new image every day to spark your imagination
__________________________________________________________________
Resources for Children and YA Writers
The Purple Crayon is a website managed by an editor that is full of articles and resources for children's writers:underdown.org
Cynsations is a blog website managed by author Cynthia Leitich that offers a wealth of resources for children's and YA writers that includes editor, agent, publisher, publicist and art director interviews:cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com

If you can, check out the Writer's Digest issue since it covers 101 Best Websites for Writers that will help advance your writing.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Anytime is Tea Time

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
C.S. Lewis
Under certain circumstances there are a few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
Henry James

Tea drinking is believed to have originated in China about 5 centuries ago. Not until European traders sailed to China in 17th century did tea finally arrive in Europe. Tea came to America with Dutch and English colonists. Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere made a living producing silver tea sets. And tea made it to the history books as a symbol of liberty when the colonists who were frustrated with English taxation sent pounds of tea into the harbor as a protest.
The invention of the afternoon tea party was credited to Anna, Duchess of Bedford around 1840. She was a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria. She began taking tea with sandwiches and cakes as a way to tide over hunger till evening meal. She shared this custom with friends and family.
The American Heritage dictionary says tea party is a noun that means an afternoon social gathering where tea and light refreshments are served. I recently sent out invitations to some neighborhood ladies for afternoon tea. It seemed like a fun way to socialize and get to know my neighbors better. I encouraged everyone to consider wearing their favorite hat.
I was amazed in my pre-planning how much can be found on the Internet about the history of tea, etiquette, blogs, themes, quotes, recipes, local events, political cartoons and the list goes on and on.
Trivia:
1. Did you know that a lb. of tea contains more caffeine that a lb. of coffee but less tea is used per cup than coffee?
2. Although there are three basic types of tea there are well over 3,000 varieties to chose from.
I am including the tea party menu with some of the recipes. Lucky me, I had lots of bakers who made food contributions !
Perhaps in the future you might just consider a social gathering for afternoon tea.
Menu
apple tart
scones-lemon curd
ginger cookies
tea cakes
tomato/basil sandwich
cucumber sandwich
egg salad sandwich
banana bread
grapes
chocolate covered strawberries
assorted teas



Ginger Cookies
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 4 TB. dark molasses
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup combination of butter/margarine
  • 1 jumbo egg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
Directions:
  • Cream sugar and shortening
  • Add molasses and egg
  • Mix dry ingredients and stir into sugar shortening mix
  • Use 1 tsp. dough for each cookie
  • Flatten each cookie on a greased cookie sheet with a fork dipped in flour
  • Sprinkle with sugar
  • Bake 350 5-8 minutes
Lemon Curd
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 stick of butter
Directions:
  • Combine sugar and cornstarch in saucepan
  • Gradually whisk in lemon juice
  • Whisk in eggs, yolks and butter
  • Whisk over medium-low heat until thickens and boils about 12 minutes
  • Place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap
  • Refrigerate at least 5 hours
  • Can be made one week ahead
Lemon Thumbprint Scones
Secret to having these scones be tender is to work the dough as little as possible
Ingredients:
  • 3 large lemons
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 4 TB cherry preserves
Directions:
Preheat oven to 425
Line baking sheet with parchment paper
grate peel from lemons to measure 6 tsp.
  • Squeeze juice from lemons to have 2 tb. lemon juice-wrap rest of lemons in plastic wrap for use another time
  • Whisk flour and sugar
  • Blend in chilled whipping cream, 2 TB lemon juice, and 4 tsp. lemon peel
  • Stir gently to combine
  • Gather dough and knead about 4-5 turns
  • Use a biscuit cutter dipped in flour to cut out rounds
  • Flatten to 1 inch thickness
  • Space 1 inch apart on sheet
  • Use thumb to press down center to make a deep indentation
  • Spoon 1/2 tsp. on each scone
  • Whisk remaining 2 TB. sugar, 2 TB. whipping cream, 2 tsp. grated lemon peel to blend
  • Brush top of scone with this mixture
  • Bake 18 minutes