Thursday, February 28, 2013

High Tea and Family Events

Ever since purchasing Pippa Middleton's book, Celebrate, I've been anxious to make Toad-in-the-Hole with Onion Gravy, and it finally happened for last night's high tea/supper meal.

Due to a snow storm in our area, I didn't venture out to the meat market or grocery store. Instead I made do with what I had on hand, using parts of Pippa's recipe, and parts of Jane Garmey's recipe in Great British Cooking.

The only sausage I had in the freezer was Johnsonville's Italian Sausage from my hubby's leftover football tailgate stash.  It worked okay, but next time I'll use the called for pork breakfast sausages instead. Even though I've visited England twice, I've never eaten Toad-in-the-Hole or seen it prepared, so fixing this dish was a bit like shooting in the dark.  To all of my readers across the pond, humble apologies if this is a poor resemblance of Toad-in-the Hole. It was a fun, simple dish, the kind that "downstairs" residents at Downton Abbey probably would have eaten! ;-) I think it could easily be adapted to individual savories at an informal afternoon tea if made in individual ramekins.  I just might try it that way next time! 

It seemed like the perfect time to initiate my newly acquired Johnson Brothers Old Britain Castles dishes.  We loved the Yorkshire Pudding and Onion Gravy, and I will definitely make this dish again using the proper sausage.  A cup of hearty English Breakfast tea was the perfect accompaniment!

When my children were home, suppertime was usually when we'd talk about their activities.   They're grown and gone now, but I've decided to share some of our February family activities with you, over this high tea/suppertime post.

Brooke is my ten year old granddaughter.  She attends Washington Elementary School, where she's in the fifth grade.  Every year they have a school-wide art contest in honor of George Washington's birthday.   This year Brooke's art work took first place.  She was recognized at a school assembly, and given a $50 gift certificate.

Below is her art project of George Washington.  She definitely doesn't get her artistic abilities from her Nana!

Around the same time Brooke was busy with her art project, our other granddaughter, Isabella, who is seven years old and in the 2nd grade, was busy preparing an animal project that she and her classmates presented to their parents.  Izzy's animal was the Zebra, and below is her project. 


Izzy sharing Zebra information with another classmate.

And, of course, baby sister, Ellie, came to see Izzy's presentation wearing her cute Zebra outfit to show support!  ;-)

Lastly, our youngest son, Jeremy [Izzy's and Ellie's daddy], participated in "Polar Plunge 2013" on Feb. 23rd at U of M's stadium in Ann Arbor.  He, along with 300 others, took a plunge into an outdoor pool of  icy water, on a 32-degree day, to raise money for Special Olympics Michigan. Brr!  Jeremy is a high school Athletic Director and Assistant Principal.

While Jeremy was taking the plunge, I was comfy and warm at a matinee showing of Safe Haven with my daughter and two older granddaughters.  It's a "must see" suspenseful, romance film based on Nicholas Sparks' novel of the same name.   I needed a cup of tea afterwards to calm my nerves! ;-)

[Internet Photo of Safe Haven's leading characters.]

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Today I'm joining Bernideen's Tea Time Blog for "Open House"

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lido Gallery and Jane Austen Tea

It's been on my "to do" list for a few weeks now to drive to the upscale city of Birmingham, MI, and I finally got there this week.  Lido Gallery, located in Birmingham, is where a friend told me I could find some special teas.

They offer five categories of "Steep Show Teas."

Literary Collection [Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, and Walt Whitman].

Royal Collection [Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Marie Antoinette, and Napoleon Bonaparte]. 

Artist's Garden Collection [van Gogh, Bruegel, Klimt, Henri Rousseau, Monet, Gaugin, Hokusai, and Da Vinci]. 

Tea Notes Collection [Bach's Symphone in Strawberry - herbal, Beethoven's Honey Spice Sonata - herbal, Mozart's Almond Marzipan - green tea].

The Body, Mind & Spirit Collection is their largest with 11 tea selections.

The teas range from $13.50 per 2.25 oz. bag to $16.00.  Mugs accompany each tea for $12.00 each.

Jane's Regency Rose Green Tea

Tea Description:  "Green tea leaves flavored with garden rose petals evoke a proper cup of 'sense and sensibility.'"

I purchased this unique "sugar spoon" at the gallery for $3.50.  It looks like a small ladle.  I had never seen a sugar spoon shaped like this before.  Have you?

In addition to rose petals, the tea also contains Egyptian calendula petals, chamomile flowers and sweet leaf.  The tea leaves have a floral aroma both dry and wet, and a delicate floral taste. It needs no sweetening, and is a lovely dessert tea.

The Jane Austen mug has a quote on the reverse side:  "We have all a better guide in ourselves if we would attend to it, than any other person can be."  ~ from Mansfield Park

Lido gallery was a fun place to visit, and I will probably return for other teas.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February - A Wonderful Month!

I really should have began February with this post, but since there's still three days remaining, there's still time. 

Three blogging friends celebrated February birthdays, so this post is a tribute to Bernideen, Judith, and Kitty [and anybody else that I may not have mentioned]!

Royal Albert Flowers of the Month Series - Violets

I received an e-newsletter stating February was Potato Lover's Month so I made a batch of Mashed Potato and Cheese Scones to celebrate.   Recipe can be found here.

I had fun putting some February trivia together since it's my birth month too.

Flower:  Violets, Irises and Primrose
Birth flower designations are said to have originated in the Roman Empire.  Iris is a Greek Goddess who was a messenger of love.

Birth Stone:  Amethyst

February is American Heart month, National Cherry month and Black History month.

A few well-known people with February birthdays and Dates of Significance:
Feb. 1     Actor, Clark Gable [1901-1960]
Feb. 2     Groundhog Day and Candlemas Day
Feb. 6     Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President [1911-2004]
Feb. 7     American Author, Laura Ingalls Wilder [1867-1957] Little House Book Series
Feb. 7     English Writer, Charles Dickens [1812-1870]
Feb. 9     William Henry Harrison, 9th U.S. President [1773-1841]
Feb. 9     Hershey's Chocolate Founded in 1894
Feb. 10   Chinese New Year - Year of the Snake
Feb. 11   National Inventor's Day in honor of Thomas Edison's birthday [1847-1931]
Feb. 12   Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President [1809-1865]
Feb. 12   Louisa Adams, First Lady/Wife of John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. Pres. [1775-1852]
Feb. 12   Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday
Feb. 13   Bess Truman, First Lady/Wife of Harry Truman, 33rd U.S. Pres. [1885-1982]
Feb. 13   First day of Lent
Feb. 14   St. Valentine's Day
Feb. 14   Comedian, Jack Benny [1894-1974]  Always 39! ;-)
Feb. 15   Woman's Rights Advocate, Susan B. Anthony [1820-1906] 
Feb. 18   President's Day [United States]
Feb. 22   George Washington, 1st U.S. President [1732-1799]
Feb. 22   Woolworth's, 1st U.S. chain store opened in 1879.  Announced closing in 1997.
Feb. 26   Levi Strauss [1829-1902] Creator of the world's first pair of blue jeans for
                  California gold miners in 1850.  Bless you Levi!  ;-)
Feb. 27   American Poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [1807-1882]

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Today I'm joining 
Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea
Bernideen's Tea Time Blog for Tuesday Friends Sharing Tea
Artful Affirmations for Teacup Tuesday

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kellogg Family Summer Mansion

Every so often I like to blog about some of Michigan's "jewels" that I've visited, and today's post is about the Kellogg family summer mansion.

W.K. Kellogg [aka "Corn Flakes King"], selected the highest point overlooking Gull Lake in Southwestern Michigan as the site for his family's summer residence.  The Tudor mansion, which was completed in 1926, sits on 32 acres of what was once an eroded cornfield.  Its official address is Hickory Corners, MI between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.

Kellogg grew up in Battle Creek, as a staunch Seventh-Day Adventist advocating health by fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and vegetarianism.  His older brother was a physician at the Western Health Reform Institute, and developed it into the Battle Creek Sanitarium ["The San"], which was at one time a world-famous health resort/spa that attracted the wealthy.

The younger Kellogg was hired by his brother in 1880 to, among other things, develop and test new health products.  Kellogg worked in the sanitarium kitchen researching substitutes for bread.  One day, in a failed attempt at making granola, he discovered the process of making wheat flakes. Experimenting further, he flaked corn and created the recipe for corn flakes.

In 1906 W.K. Kellogg founded his company, the Toasted Corn Flake Company of Battle Creek [later Kellogg Company] with 44 employees.  Kellogg cereals have been an American breakfast food for 107 years, and are now eaten in 180 countries. Tony the Tiger has been roaring "They're greaaaaaaaaaat!" since 1951, and Battle Creek has become known as the "Cereal Capital of the World."  I toured the factory in the early 1960's.

The Kellogg family enjoyed the 6,000 sq. foot home [with 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms] in the summers until 1942 when Mr. & Mrs. Kellogg vacated to allow the Coast Guard to use it as an induction and training center.  As the war came to a close the house transitioned to a rehabilitation center for wounded servicemen run by Percy Jones Army Hospital.

After Mr. Kellogg's death in 1951 the estate was gifted to Michigan State University.  With a  grant from the Kellogg Foundation, the Tudor mansion was restored to its original grandeur in 2000, and events and tours are now conducted there.

The manor house is about a 2 1/2 drive from where I live.  My mother and I attended one of their Tuesday Teas and toured the mansion in April, 2002. The house was registered as a Michigan Historic Site in 1990 and the marker was erected in 1991.  That's my mom standing next to the marker.

Tables for the 3:00 p.m. buffet tea were set up in the living room.

My mom and me in front of the living room fireplace.

As you can see, the tables were covered with white linen cloths.  The china teacups were mix and match with vintage plates.  Each table had a milk glass container filled with tea bags to choose from, while servers filled individual teapots with hot water.  Fresh flowers [daffodils and forsythia] in crystal vases decorated each table.

The buffet table was set up in the dining room.  L-R:  a round loaf of pumpernickel bread cut in half and made sandwich style with sliced turkey, thin slices of tomatoes and water cress. It was cut like wedges of cake; a round loaf of sour dough bread prepared the same way; a crystal bowl of strawberries on a bed of greens; and a plate of miniature carrots.

Continuing on the other side of the table:  Mushroom quiche wedges;  plate of Pink sugar cookies; Currant scones with Devonshire cream;  Orange spice tea cake; Creme de menthe chocolate cake; and Lemon Cake.  Everything was delicious.  The price was $18 per person.

Attendees were given a pansy plant in terra-cotta pots, tied with decorative bows as a favor to take home.

[Tour guide and my mom]

There's a bit of irony about teas being conducted in the mansion because Mr. Kellogg's religion disapproved of drinking tea.  However, with 21st century research extolling tea's healthful benefits, he'd probably approve if he were alive today!

The Kellogg Manor website shows one Tuesday tea a month has been scheduled April-Oct. 2013, and six teas in December: Dickens Tea; Mrs. Claus Tea; Holiday Spice Tea; Poinsettia Tea; Mistletoe Tea; and Holly & Ivy tea.  All currently $27 per person.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tea Chest Collection

I collect most everything associated with tea, so today I'm sharing my four tea chests.  Do any of you collect tea chests?

The first one I purchased was in 2002, while I was a member of a tea society.  The president ordered a few from QVC, and made them available to members, and I got one.   The wooden Wissotzky tea chest contained 80 assorted tea bags.

QVC still sells Wissotzky teas on their website, or they can be ordered directly from Wissotzky.  My chest is practically empty now except for some fruit and herbal tisanes.  While I wouldn't recommend hanging onto teas/tisanes for 11 years, I opened a lemon herbal packet today and found it still very good! 

Their website states: "Wissotzky tea company stands at the forefront of the Israeli tea industry and is the leader in promoting the culture of tea in Israel."   The bottom of the chest is stamped Kosher for Passover and all year around.  Their address is Wissotzky House, Tel Aviv, Israel.

The second tea chest I acquired was at the 2003 Take Me to Tea Expo [now called World Tea Expo].   My girlfriend, who owned a tea room at the time, was looking for a tea chest and spotted a lovely one at a vendor's booth.  [If I remember correctly, it was Bigelow Teas.]  The sales rep. told her to come back at the end of the expo when he'd be packing up, and she could get the chest then.  To our surprise, he not only gave the chest to her, but gifted me with one as well!

Originally, it had sections for tea bags, but when I was doing a presentation for a hotel, I wanted a table-side display box for loose-leaf teas, so my hubby modified it for me to accommodate ten small glass jars with cork lids.

The third tea chest I acquired came from Burlington Coat Factory, of all places!  It's really a novelty chest "just for looks," because it probably wouldn't hold up to everyday use.   I purchased it in 2003 [the sales receipt was still inside the chest].

The last tea chest has already been featured on my blog with other Ringtons items.  The Ringtons chest was a Christmas present in 2008, with several of their teas.

Ringtons is located in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England.  Presently the sections are filled with small tins and spice jars of loose-leaf tea.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Post Birthday Gifts

Don't you love receiving gift cards from your favorite stores?  My girlfriend gave me a Home Goods gift card, so I had fun roaming around the store recently looking at items to get with my card.   From the looks of the merchandise I selected [pictured below], I must have been feeling very British!  ;-)  You probably recognize the mug, because it appeared in a post earlier this week.  The tin of tea contains 40 bags of premium English Breakfast tea.  I love the large copper teapot cookie cutter, which is different from my other ones, and I'm anxious to make a batch of sugar cookies using it.

I received two Barnes & Noble gift cards and knew exactly what I wanted.  I mentioned  Pippa Middleton's book, Celebrate, in a previous post before I actually had it.

What fun I've had reading through it, and in spite of some uncomplimentary reviews on Amazon, I like the book a lot.   It's not surprising that there's a chapter on Afternoon Tea, which includes a section of Afternoon Tea Crafts using brown card stock tags and homemade vintage-looking bunting.  I will definitely be making the bunting for one of my tea parties.  It's festive and so quaint.

Pippa talks about mixing English Breakfast tea with Lapsang Souchong for a more subtle flavor, and I'm anxious to try her suggestion.  The book is full of color photographs, illustrations and recipes - including Nutella Madeleines, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Toad-in-the-Hole with Onion Gravy, and Shepherd's Pie Baked Potatoes.  Don't those sound yummy?

All four seasons are covered in the book: Autumn [Halloween, Sunday Lunches, Cozy Supper Parties];  Winter [Christmas, New Year's Eve, Robert Burns Night]; Spring [Valentine's Day, Special Breakfasts, Easter, Afternoon Tea]; and Summer [Children's Parties, Barbecues, Picnics, Camping].

If you like celebrations, you will like this book.

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I'm joining Antiques and Teacups today for "Thursday Tea Things and Talk"
Bernideen's Tea Time Blog for "Open House"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Red and Pink Transferware

Before October 1st, 2012 I didn't own a single piece of red/pink transferware. Seeing beautiful pieces on blogs such as Aiken House and Gardens and Rose Chintz Cottage, an interest in the dishes began to evolve.

I bought my first piece - an Alfred Meakin teapot in the Tonquin pattern - on October 1st.

My second piece was purchased in November - an Alfred Meakin milk jug.

The third piece, an E-bay purchase, was an oversized "Breakfast Cup" by Alfred Meakin in the Tonquin pattern.  Now it was an "official" red transferware collection!

I soon found another breakfast cup by a different manufacturer in a different pattern.

In January of this year I purchased two miniature tureens with trays, perfect for individual servings of soup.

A couple of weeks ago I got two Johnson Brothers teacups on E-bay in the "Old Britain Castles" pattern.

I found eight dinner plates in the Johnson Brothers "Old Britain Castles" pattern at the Christmas Tree Shop, for the great price of $3.99 each.  The footed gravy boat and platter came from Home Goods.

The Christmas Tree Shop had round salad plates as well.  I found the square/round salad plate on the left at an antique store.

I don't have enough to set a complete table with red/pink transferware yet, but I'm definitely on my way!  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chelsea Milling Company - Home of "JIFFY" Mixes

Last week, my hubby and I went to Chelsea, Michigan to visit our youngest son and his family. Also located in Chelsea is the Chelsea Milling Company - Home of "Jiffy" mixes, so I scheduled a free 1:00 p.m. tour of the facility with my daughter-in-law, Samantha.

Hubby stayed home to babysit seven month old, Ellie, and four year old, Landon, since children have to be in the first grade or above to go on the tour. 

Our cheery tour guide said she's been with the company 27 years.  She had conducted a school tour that morning, but Samantha and I were the only two scheduled for the 1:00 o'clock tour.  They require advance reservations, and tours are Mon.-Fri., from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

We were given a sample of Jiffy Fudge Brownies while we watched an eight minute educational video.   From there we went through the packaging plant.  Jiffy prints their own packaging, but that plant is located in Marshall, Michigan.  The tour is supposed to be an hour long, but because there were only two of us it only took about a half hour.  No photography was allowed inside the plant, but our guide took our picture just before we exited the plant.

We were given a complimentary gift bag containing a Jiffy Fudge Brownie mix and a sixty-six page Jiffy recipe book.

Parking lot outside the plant.

It was interesting to learn that the family owned company has been milling flour at the same location since the early 1800's - over 120 years!  Stored wheat is milled into over one-half million pounds of flour each day, used exclusively for their prepared mixes.

Mabel Holmes, grandmother of the company's current president, developed and introduced the first prepared baking mix product, "Jiffy" Baking Mix in the spring of 1930.  Now there are 19 "Jiffy" mixes on the market, shipped to all 50 states as well as some foreign countries through the U.S. Military.

My daughter-in-law had a Susan Branch calendar attached to her fridge, so I had to get a picture of February's illustration and poem. [Click to enlarge.] What a cute Valentine poem! By the way, a friend wrote to tell me after my Valentine post that S.W.A.K. [sealed with a kiss] has been replaced by MWAH - which represents the sound of a kiss.   So now I'm up to speed with lover's present-day vernacular! ;-)

But I digress.  Back to Jiffy.  I must confess that prior to the tour I had only tried a couple "Jiffy" mixes.  On our drive back home I read through the recipe book and decided to stop at the grocery store to purchase some mixes [their tour was successful marketing! ;-)].

The next day I made their recipe for "Jiffy" quiche, with a couple of modifications - I used chopped broccoli instead of spinach, and a small package of cubed Hormel ham in place of crumbled bacon.  And next time I will use a 10-inch pie dish instead of a 9-inch.

I loved the way the pie crust mix rolled out, and it tasted great too.  I'll definitely be purchasing that again!

The directions said to place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, but I found it took about 50 minutes for the center to firm/set.   I will place a ring of aluminum foil around the edge of the crust to prevent over-browning next time too.  But my hubby gave it a good review and a perfect pairing with tea.   Do you use "Jiffy" mixes?

For some great Jiffy recipes go to their website at

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Today I'm linking to Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea