A Cup of Christmas Tea

This is an article I originally posted in 2012 but the recipe is still delish & the book is fantastic. . . . . . . . . . . 

For as long as I can remember, every year we had Christmas Tea. I’m not sure where my mom found the recipe originally but it was a popular addition to “community” and “church” cookbooks in the 80s. Two other names given this tea is Spice Tea or more often … Russian Tea – for reasons I do not know. But I do know It is warm and citrusy and so so so very good!

From Southern Living…

One of the earliest references for “Russian Tea” was in The New York Times in December 1882 in “an article containing advice from a doctor on how to stay hydrated while riding a tricycle recreationally.” The original recipes referred to a simple iced tea served with lemon and sometimes sugar. A 1907 edition of the San Antonio Gazette included a recipe that featured the now trademark combination of lemon, orange, sugar, and tea. Since no one can compete with a classic glass of sweet tea, though, in the South, Russian Tea became synonymous with a hot drink flavored with oranges or lemons and spiced with vanilla, rum, cinnamon, and sometimes preserved cherries.

 

OUR TRADITION

Making Christmas Tea is a tradition our family continues. Each year we make tons of tea to share. Last night was my 2nd round of tea making.

All packed up and ready to go…

Christmas Tea

THE BOOK

In the 80s Tom Hegg, an American author, teacher, and theatrical professional wrote a book called, A Cup of Christmas Tea.

This book tells the story of a young man’s “obligation” turned into a great blessing. It is a favorite tradition of our family to slow down for an evening, read the book, and enjoy a cup of tea together.

It is a short and sweet book and if you’d like to hear it beautifully read to you, check out the video below…

THE RECIPE

2 cups Tang or orange instant drink mix
1 1/2 cups sugar (white)
1/2 cup instant tea powder
1 cup instant lemonade mix
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well and store in an airtight container.

Use 1 -3 T of mix in a mug. Stir in boiling water. Adjust to taste.

Christmas is just around the corner. Enjoy all the season has to offer. Sit down, relax and enjoy a cup of Christmas tea. And, do what we do each year, read A Cup of Christmas Tea.

 

 

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: Hope, Faith and Bulbs

HOPE & FAITH ABOUND

Planting bulbs in the fall shows we have faith in the unseen and hope for the future. Add to that a good splash of hope in advertising!

Regardless of their size or shape, bulbs are not attractive or very impressive. But they are small mighty miracles!!! From such humble beginnings, we are promised immense spring beauty just at the time we will need it most. We read the catalog descriptions and labels on the bags and dream of what will come — making getting out in the cold and often damp weather to dig holes and get them in their new home worth it – as an investment in our late winter mental health! We will start looking out the window for their beautiful metamorphosis and, the beginning of the gardening season! 🌷

FERTILIZERS & PESTS

I never fertilize my bulbs at planting time. The main reason is that most of the critters who are overly fond of my garden love organic fertilizer. I do not need to encourage them.

Even without any fertilizer around they still are attracted to the site where the bulbs reside. Squirrels were a big problem last year with the bulbs. In one area they dug and tossed out the daffodil bulbs 3 times before I decided to top-dress the area with some diatomaceous earth. Party over! This year I’m using cayenne pepper and some fencing to ward off unwanted visitors.

We have had a bumper crop of acorns this year in our neighborhood, maybe the cute little acorns will keep the cute little squirrels busy.

TOOLS OF CHOICE

AUGER

Around here we love power tools and this one is fabulous. The best tool for planting larger bulbs with little disturbance to the surrounding area. I purchased mine through Amazon. Link. We also have a long auger that we purchased at Lowes.

DIBBLER

Just received this as a surprise from Mr. G and already I am questioning how I have lived without this tool! It was perfect for planting the garlic and other small bulbs! Gets in tight places without disturbing other plants. Link.

SHOVEL

Many of my daffodils are planted in big groups and if there is plenty of space, the shovel works great!

WHAT I’M PLANTING THIS YEAR

THALIA  NARCISSUS

Monty Don’s (Gardener’s World UK) ‘Thalia’ daffodils had me drooling through episode after episode this spring. Luckily I was able to find them at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. Take a look here.

Here’s a screenshot from his social media post this spring… Drooling yet?
ICE KING DAFFODILS (Bag from Lowes)
One of my favorites!
PINK MIX (Bag from Lowes)

I love pink and it is always fun to see what we get!

SNOW DROPS (GALANTHUS):  Mount Everest

Our local woods are filled with snowdrops that we were able to enjoy more than ever this spring because of the lockdown. Add to that the pictures my daughter sent from England of fields of these beauties — both convincing me I needed some just outside my window. These came from Brent and Becky’s too… Info here.

ALLIUM

I planted alliums for the first time last year and just loved them! So of course I need more. This year I am adding Perian Blue (Lowes} and more Purple Sensation (American Meadows).

GARLIC

Just like last year, I am planting only one variety of garlic – Brown Rose (From the Garlic Store). Yes, the first year it was for the name and now that we have enjoyed it, I am planting it for the flavor! The garlic is in the ground with a good layer of cayenne pepper to make it less attractive to varmints…

FAMILY STORY

Each year we plant daffodils in memory of our beloved Uncle Tony — Mr. G’s brother who passed from us much too soon from a long, gallantly fought battle with cancer. He was an artist and a gardener and he loved daffodils. In one of my last conversations with him, he talked about his daffodils and was excited to see them bloom. He did not get to see them bloom in his garden on earth that year, but I know he was greeted with daffodils and so much more that spring. After he passed, I bundled daffodil bulbs in burlap and passed out for people to plant in his honor. I was grateful that so many were excited to do just that. I hope they remember this special man when they bloom.

FALL FOOD

With being home more and cooking so much more, we are constantly adapting recipes to better suit two people. We love acorn squash and usually just eat it plain. However, I have been seeing all kinds of recipes for stuffed acorn squash and they look so delicious. This week we had our own version. It turned out so well I thought you might like to try it.

COOKING SQUASH:

Cut and remove seeds from squash. Brush with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on roasting pan. I baked my cut side down but you can do either.

Bake at 425 for 20 -25 minutes or until fork-tender.

FILLLING:

1 cup of cooked Trader Joes Harvest Grains Mix
1 teaspoon dried Thyme (a bit more if it is fresh)
1 teaspoon dried Sage
1/3 cup chopped and toasted pistachio nuts
1 T oil or melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste (we used a lot of pepper)
We also sprinkled on some red chili flakes
Mix all ingredients and add the warm filling to baked squash as soon as it comes out of the oven. So simple and delicious. Very filling and good for you too.

If you try it let me know what you think and if you have another simple fall recipe, share that too in the comments below so we can all enjoy!

Whether you’re planting or cooking today… all the very best. 

Grandma B’s Fruitcake Cookies

The pictures of my fruitcake cookies on social media have been receiving a myriad of comments — everything from “Yuk” to “Yay” to family stories! I love the stories so keep them coming in the comment section below!

A cake once revered, is now the butt of many holiday jokes—and with good reason. Have you tried some of the things they sell as “fruitcake”???? 😳

The fruitcake is traced back to at least Roman times and is often the cake choice of royals. Did you know that Charles and Diana’s wedding cake was a fruitcake with cream cheese frosting.

We are the third generation to make these cookies. Christmas would not be Christmas for Mr. G without these cookies. For me they were an acquired taste, but I have crossed over the line and totally love these cookies too.

The recipe is so simple!

IMG_7295

Five ingredients:

  1. 1 lb candied fruit (mixed) chopped in small pieces.
  2. 1/2 cup self rising flour
  3. 4-6 oz of shredded coconut
  4. 2 cups chopped pecans
  5. 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • Dredge fruit through flour
  • Add coconut, nuts and milk
  • Bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 15 – 20 minutes.
  • 300 degree oven

Makes approximately 4 dozen.

Store uncovered — as much as possible.

Note: If you have trouble finding candied fruits … check here.

Give the cookies a try and let me know what you think!

Christmas Cran – A Holiday Tradition

Many of you have asked for the cranberry sauce recipe that my daughter affectionately named “Christmas Cran.”

For my rose friends, Elena Williams tried this recipe and is a big fan!

I was introduced to this recipe when I bought my first microwave and was given the gift of a free microwave cooking class!

Several of the recipes I learned in the class I still make — but none more consistently than the cranberry sauce! Our family enjoys “Christmas Cran” every Christmas AND every Thanksgiving!

Sweet, citrusy goodness….

3/4 – 1 Cup of Sugar
1/4 teaspoon each of ground cloves, cinnamon and allspice (I usually add more cinnamon)
1/2 cup of apple or orange juice  (This year I used the juice from the tangerines I had on hand and it was fab.)
1 lb of whole cranberries
1 medium apple – peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (They go in AFTER the cooking process.)

Combine SUGAR, SPICES and JUICE in 2 qt casserole. STIR. Add CRANBERRIES and APPLES. STIR.

COVER

Microwave on HIGH for 9 – 10 minutes.

Remove and add NUTS. STIR. (Caution: This is screaming hot!)

Pour into pretty dish and COOL.

Stirring up some Christmas Cran...
Stirring up some Christmas Cran…

Hope you enjoy and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Even though we love our traditional recipes, we also love trying new things! Share your family favorites for the holidays!

Keeping it Cool: Rose Ice Cream

Denise Schreiber, garden friend and author of Eat Your Roses, shared a wonderful, super easy rose ice cream recipe with me recently.

ROSE PETAL ICE CREAM

¾ cup of dried edible rose petals
1 quart of good quality vanilla ice cream
1 tablespoon of rose syrup (I used Monin)
½ cup of finely chopped pistachios 
1 teaspoon of cardamom (Optional)

Soften ice cream. Crumble in your hand the dried rose petals (from roses that have not been sprayed with chemicals) as you would dried herbs. Stir in slightly then add rose syrup. Taste test first to see if you desire more syrup. Refreeze then serve. 

For more recipes like this one, check out Denise’s Facebook page here

What a treat! I used Rugosas petals in our ice cream and it was delicious! Yes, yummy rose flavored ice cream is a great way to enjoy summertime in the rose garden.

IMG_7191.jpg

Do you have recipes that use roses and other flowers?

Bloom Thyme Friday: Garden 2 Table

I love the concept of garden 2 table … cooking with the fresh food you grow yourself. My mother was a great gardener and she grew just about everything we ate. Because she canned and froze the extras we had food from our garden year round. (You can read more about her here.) But, if I am honest, my veggies keep getting inched out by roses and a couple of honey locust trees that are devouring our garden. However, we still have room for herbs and tomatoes — Mr. G makes sure of that. So, around here we are extremely grateful to area farmer’s markets to provide us with the other produce we love.

So many of my friends tell me they rarely cook anymore since their time is so limited! But, good news, there is someone who is inspiring us to get in the garden and in the kitchen by teaching us just how easy, fun and nutritious  Garden to Table  can be. My friend P. Allen Smith. Allen grows an acre of the most beautiful organic veggies you have ever seen and he is always testing new plants and gardening ideas. PLUS, he is a creative master in the kitchen.

PAS Veggies

What’s even better is that he shares his garden experiences and his mastery in the kitchen with all of us. Whether it is via his television shows (check out this listing for dates and times in your area.)

images
His latest book…

Or through his wonderful books, digital publications and you tube videos. Take advantage of all of these easy-to-use resources to be a master in your kitchen, especially if you are like me and spend most of your extra time in the garden and need all the tips and tricks in the kitchen you can get.

Follow Allen’s Garden Home Facebook page here  for regular updates on what he’s cooking up in the kitchen and what’s going on in the garden.

SOMETHING NEW AND DEEEELISH

Don’t miss Allen’s most recent video for a Squash & Zucchini Casserole with Quinoa … can you say, “healthy comfort food you can feel good about.” I can’t wait to make this one! Take a look here.

 

And, yes, I did find enough room in the herb garden for zucchini! 🙂

THIS WEEK IN MY GARDEN

Around here we are having rain every day and boy are things lush even though the blooms are surely taking a hit. I did manage to get some pretty pictures after one of the rain storms earlier in the week…

Coral Drift ... I first saw growing in P Allen's herb garden and just had to have!
Coral Drift … I first saw this rose growing in P Allen’s herb garden and just had to have!
IMG_3263
Poseidon Floribunda from the Simply Brilliant collection from Certified Roses. Check out their roses here.
IMG_3265
David Austin’s lovely Claire Austin.
IMG_3312
The healthy blooming machine … Amber Carpet Rose.
IMG_3264
Another shot of Poseidon. I can’t get enough of this rose!
IMG_3273
Etoile des Violette clematis … perfect paring with New Dawn Rose.

Have a fun week in the garden! And…

Bloom Thyme Friday

HAPPY BLOOM THYME FRIDAY!

P. Allen and Pesto

For weeks I have been in the mood for pesto! Maybe it’s because I saw a video by P. Allen Smith for Arugula Pesto and I love Arugula! Or, maybe it’s because my garden friend, Diane LaSauce, posted recently about Kale Pesto (recipe here) and about the pesto she makes and takes to her local farmer’s market.

I decided this weekend was the perfect time. But, when I looked at my trusty food processor, I knew I wanted to upgrade. So, I asked my garden/cooking friends on Facebook Garden 2 Blog page what food processor they would recommend and everyone said Cuisinart.

A quick trip to Costco and I had my shiny, new food processor and was ready to get started.

P. Allen has a super easy video on making the Arugula Pesto…

This was SOOOOO delish and so easy. Give it a try.

Pesto

 

What do you think I should make next in my shiny, new food processor!

Now We’re Cookin’!

The great folks at Le Cruset offered those of us attending Garden 2 Blog 2013 one of P Allen Smith’s favorite baking dishes … all we had to do was chose our favorite color.

Look at this beauty…. Have you ever seen a more beautiful dutch oven? LeCreuset_001One of my very favorite things to eat is rustic bread and as I thought of what my first recipe would be in the dutch oven, I kept thinking it would be a bread. But, just the right recipe.

You see, I spend so much of my free time in my garden that what I wanted was yummy bread that was easy to make and a winner every time! And, a recipe that could be formatted to include a myriad of flavors and recipe tweaks.

I FOUND IT!

Based on a recipe I found on the Simply So Good website, here is my rustic bread baking experience.

BTW: You will most definitely want to check out this website. It has quickly become one of my go to sites for yummy things! (Read on.)

IMG_2599
Gather your dry ingredients…

3 cups of white unbleached flour
1 3/4 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon rapid rise or instant yeast

And, by the way, doesn’t my beautiful Le Crueset look smashing with my Sur Le Table sunflower bowl! I am completely crazy about them both!

IMG_2601

Whisk the flour, salt and yeast together.

Pour in 1 1/2 cups water

IMG_2603
Stir to make a sticky, shaggy mess! At this stage you can add some flavor. I added about 1 tablespoon of rosemary and 1 teaspoon of chives but it wasn’t enough to have the robust flavor I wanted, so I will experiment by adding more next time. At SimplySoGood.com you can read about many other flavor combinations that people have tried!

IMG_2608
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let set for 12 – 18 hours. I let mine set the entire 18 hours as it fit best with my schedule.

IMG_2612This is what my bread looked like after 18 hours. Yes, it is as sticky as it looks, but that is the way it is supposed to be.

Now it is time to get things heated up!

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and put your pot with the lid in the oven and pre-heat the pot for 30 minutes.

As soon as you put your pot in the oven, dump the dough onto a heavily floured surface. I used my pastry sheet (I love this thing!).

With floured hands, form the bread into a rounded ball and cover the ball with flour and let it rest for the 30 minutes the pot is pre-heating.

Once the pot in pre-heated, it’s time to dump the bread into the pot and place the pot with lid back in the oven for 30 minuted.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes until golden brown.

IMG_2635I didn’t oil the pot or anything and it came out perfectly clean! What you see in the pot is a little flour that fell off the loaf as I removed it.

The Masterpiece

IMG_2646
Wish you were here to share a piece of this yummy stuff. Cooking with Le Creuset is not just cooking … it’s an experience and I couldn’t have been more pleased with this experience!

Do you have any suggestions on what my next Le Creuset cooking experience should be?

A Cup of Christmas Tea

A post from 2012 but the recipe is still delish & the book is fantastic. . . . . 

For as long as I can remember, every year we had Christmas Tea. I’m not sure where my mom got the recipe, but we all loved it! It is warm and citrusy and good!

THE TRADITION…

Making Christmas Tea is a tradition our family continues. Each year we make tons and tons of tea to share. Last night was my 2nd round of tea making.

All packed up and ready to go…

Christmas Tea

THE BOOK…

In the 80s Tom Hegg wrote a book called, A Cup of Christmas Tea.

This book tells the story of a young man’s “obligation” turned into a great blessing. When my children were still at home one of our traditions was to slow down for an evening, read the book and enjoy a cup of tea together.

It is a short and sweet book and if you’d like to hear it read, check out the YouTube video below…

THE RECIPE…

2 cups Tang
1 1/2 cups sugar (white)
1/2 cup instant tea powder
1 cup powdered lemonade mix
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well and store in an airtight container.

Use 1 -3 T of mix in a mug. Stir in boiling water. Adjust to taste.

Sit down and relax and enjoy a cup of Christmas tea.