Tea Party

20140129-164724.jpg“If you don’t have fun planning the party, it’ll show!”

~something you’d imagine the Barefoot Contessa would say (alas, only the Ina Garten in my head said it)

A few Saturdays ago, I threw my first tea party at Bee Cottage; I lured some ladies over with the promise of baked goods–and entrapped them to planning church social events with me.  It was the perfect excuse to pull out all my Franciscan Desert Rose and do a lot of baking.  One of the dear attendees asked to bring cheese straws, so I focused on sweet additions to complement our tea.  Scones are not only my favorite baked good, but also a requirement for a tea party; I pulled out my favorite scone recipe (whole wheat, oat & maple syrup scones) finished the menu with cookie-like “biscotti bites” from Martha’s January issue (sans chocolate-dip, due to time, and also due to an aversion to overindulgence–it was generally agreed that the extra coat would have been a significant mistake).

Scones freeze beautifully (most-beautifully if you make the dough and cut them out, and then stick them in the freezer on a sheet pan instead of the oven–take out a few at a time to bake fresh, or just to be prepared a week or two ahead), and though the biscotti bites probably ought to be eaten within a week, they were still delicious two weeks on–dipped in tea.

Clean-It-Out Recipes

Last year, when we moved from North Carolina to St. Louis, I didn’t make any particular effort to pare down my kitchen staples before we moved.  I figured that we packed it all up on a Monday, and by Thursday, it was in our new kitchen, we weren’t down any of our “usual” ingredients, and in the scheme of things, who cared if there were two more boxes?

Well, our move turned into a three-storage-unit (in two different locations!), six-week, several-thousand-dollar debacle, and I have decided to take the cupboard clean-out more seriously this time.

So, I have three recipes with flexible, short ingredient lists that I’ve made this week to provide some normalcy to the time of packing and purging, as well as to use up the ends and dregs of various kitchen supplies.  Enjoy!

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Peanutbutter Bon Bons

Pumpkin Bread

Granola Bars

Book love: “A Homemade Life”

right now, i should be reading Bartolome de Las Casas’ “The Only Way,” about how to convert the Native Americans, who the Spanish had just “discovered” back in the early 16th century, when Las Casas does his thinking.

instead, i am wandering around my mind, inspired by the book i just finished, thinking, “hey, i could do that!” for about the twenty-second time, reading the author’s old blog posts, then clicking through gmail-facebook-twitter, in the too-familiar sequence of the wired-in tic every internet addict (most of us, these days) must have.

i wonder where my “voice” is, i wonder if my writing sounds like “me.”  I rarely think it does.  i wonder what my “style” is.  instead of these really inane wonderings, i shall write a bit about this book.  this is not a “review”–notice–this is just “love.”

For one, Molly‘s prose.  It’s the first book in years that I’ve read chunks out loud to whoever happens to be nearby, just because the wording is so fantastic.  how does one do that? (i’ve been told, “practice.”)  As i read, and even more now, i turn over in my mind one of the little sentences of praise that’s on the back or on the front, it says, “every story tells a recipe.”  I thought it was a little bit trite when i first read the phrase, how clever the reviewer must have thought him/her-self, but as i gulped down the book, he/she was right.  and here lies my one qualm: each chapter, a few pages of story, a page or two of recipe, gets its title inspiration from the story, not the recipe.  So how am i to find one recipe when i want it?  I want to go back to the braised cabbage (we’re starting a winter CSA next week, and i’m eager to know what to do with what i’m sure will be lots of winter cabbage) and the chocolate cake that they used for their wedding and the cornmeal cake that’s eaten with maple syrup and the stewed prunes…  clearly, it’s a varietous collection, and now that she’s on to her second book, a similar style, it seems, about birthing a restaurant, i’m eager for more (but will have to wait till early 2013, according to her website).

what book has been so good that you read bits out loud?