Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Traditions

At this time of year, we all seem to pull out certain special recipes that are made each Christmas.  One of my favorites is steamed pudding.  I’ve been making the same recipe for thirty years.  My mom always made the pudding with hard sauce (dark rum) at Christmas and it’s a holiday favorite with the family.


As well as the usual raisins, currants and spices, my recipe includes grated carrots and potato (an old English recipe)  I know that sounds weird, but it truly is delicious.  It also has chopped suet in the mix – try explaining that to someone in a grocery store in Georgia.  The first time I tried to find suet in the South, the meat manager gave me a strange look and inquired did I know what suet was. ☺

See those gold and red crackers behind the pudding? – another tradition that I brought with me from Canada.  We always have them at Christmas and New Year’s Day dinner.  It is such fun to see everyone in their silly paper crowns and to listen to the jokes and laugh at each others funny little prizes.  My son-in-law liked this tradition so much, that now his family also has the crackers at Christmas dinner.  They are becoming more common in the South now and you can find them just about anywhere.  I buy mine at the after Christmas sales (the nicer ones, like Tom Smith brand, can be quite pricey).



Thursday, December 18, 2014

World Market Tea and Treats

On our last visit to Savannah we came across a Cost Plus World Market store.  Since I don’t have one close to my home, I decided to do a little shopping. 

IMG_1560I’d never tried Typhoo tea and since I like British teas (London Cuppa and PG Tips) I decided to try a box.  When I got to the check out line there was a 75% off table with Thanksgiving things.  I thought the Republic of Tea Maple Pecan and Pumpkin Ginger black teas sounded delicious and would be  nice for Christmas too, plus $3 a tin sealed the deal.


The Lila Stix cookies and Tunnock’s Tea Cakes also ended up in my cart.  The Tea Cakes look interesting in their red and silver foil wrapping, don’t you think? 

IMG_1563Of course, I should have paid more attention to the label and read that they are a biscuit base topped with marshmallow – not one of my favorites.

IMG_1564 These look like a treat that my grandkids would really enjoy.


The Typhoo tea is quite good and so are the Lila Stix cookies.  I’m looking forward to trying the other flavored teas over the holidays.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cross-stitch Christmas Cards

I’m not the only one in the family who is behind schedule on preparations for Christmas.  Hubby is still working on his cross-stitch Christmas cards for this year.

This is a sampling of what he’s been working on.


He stitches them on aida paper, instead of traditional cloth.


Then he mounts them in Christmas cards that have the opening precut (for displaying photos).


He has been doing this for many years now.  One old friend, who has been receiving his cards from the beginning, displays them all on her mantle each Christmas.


Hope I can get the cards going to Canada mailed out soon.  ☺  How about you – do you send any hand made cards? 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Macarons in Savannah, GA


My schedule lately has included a lot of traveling back and forth to Savannah to visit my grandson in hospital.  While I’m there, I can enjoy one of my favorite tea treats.  I’ve mentioned Maison de Macarons in a previous post here.  On my last visit I discovered that the name had changed slightly and that there may be a franchise opportunity in the works.

I have fond memories of my Mom’s homemade coconut macaroons (pronounced mah-kah-ROON) that she made at Christmas, but the French macaron (mah-kah-ROHN) is a whole different ballgame.  They both contain whipped egg whites, but the similarity really ends there.  One is homey and easy to prepare, while the other takes the skill of a pastry chef.


You’ve probably noticed how trendy macarons have become lately, popping up in all the magazines.  Even my “Complete Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer Cookbook” features these pretty treats on the cover.  I was also surprised that Sam's Club is selling authentic French macarons for the holidays.  Not sure how they can preserve these delicate confections that are best refrigerated and eaten within a few days.


This was the luscious variety that I brought home on my last visit to Savannah.  I’m ashamed to say that I only shared two, but at least they are a low calorie indulgence with around 100 calories each.  If you’d like to try making your own, Bed, Bath & Beyond is selling a kit with everything you need, although I would probably want to invest in the special baking trays as well.


I was a little disappointed that the Matcha flavor was dropped at Marche de Macarons to make room for more seasonal varieties (like pumpkin), but some new favorites are beckoning. 

Between trips to Marche de Macarons and Goose Feathers Café, I can see a diet will be in my near future.  ☺

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Japanese Tea Ceremony Clutch

Japanese Tea Ceremony Pouch

You can find a free pattern for the Tea Ceremony Clutch here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nassau trip

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

- St. Augustine


We recently traveled to Nassau in the Bahamas for a week of much needed rest and relaxation at Blue Water Resort on Cable Beach.  Our spacious, fully equipped, three storey resort condo was wonderful.


The tropical look rattan furniture, tiled floors throughout and cool blue color was lovely.  It was a great contrast to the bright yellow exterior of the buildings.  The ocean view from the third floor deck was gorgeous and it was great having two enclosed first floor patios.


We spent a lot of time lounging on the beach or around the pool, but did manage to fit in some fun activities.  Don and I really enjoyed our “Tru Bahamian Food Tour” in the heart of historic Old Nassau.  I was able to sample conch fritters and conch chowder – both delicious, especially the spicy conch chowder at Van Breugel’s Bistro and Bar.

Graycliff Chocolatier had some excellent treats and of course, one of my favorites was the pretty pink chai tea chocolate – hubby loved the key lime, which was also on our sampling tray.  I took a variety box of sixteen plus extra hand painted salted caramel chocolates  back to the condo to share with our friends.


Yes, they even had a signature bacon flavor chocolate.  ☺


Pure Caribbean was a tea merchant and specialty store on the tour, and sadly I didn’t get a picture to share.  We also saw lots of the historical buildings and churches along the way.  I’d definitely recommend “Tru Bahamian Food Tours” to anyone going to Nassau.

The “Sandy Toes” tour was also fun and included lunch and snorkeling at one of the reefs.  The weather at the beginning of the week was so rough that the ferry captain wouldn’t go out on the day we booked, but luckily they rescheduled for Friday and the weather was much nicer.  It was interesting to see all the beautiful homes on the trip to the island, including ones that had been owned by Elvis Presley and Mary Kay Ash (no longer pink though).

Another fun outing was lunch at “The Fish Fry” on Arawak Cay.  There were so many restaurants, but we finally settled on Twin Brothers and had a delicious seafood meal.  I had Bahamian fried snapper, served whole - head and all, and it was so fresh and very tasty.  


We had an interesting guided tour of Fort Charlotte after our lunch at Twin Brothers.  The main part of the fort was completed in 1789.  Since no enemy ever came to threaten Britain’s West Indian possessions after that time, Fort Charlotte was never needed to resist an invasion.


If you are arriving by cruise ship for a day in Nassau, you’ll be hard pressed to pick only one or two restaurants or activities.  We didn’t visit Paradise Island (seen behind this mega ship) on this visit. 


There was good bus service for going downtown and it’s a bargain at $1.25 each way.  Some of the trips were pretty scary, with crazy drivers, fast traffic and having to drive on the opposite side of the road.  If we had been braver, we might have rented a car and seen more of the island.


Between the two of us, hubby and I took over four hundred pictures and I kept a journal, so we’ll be able to relive the trip for years to come. 

If any of you have visited Nassau, I’d love to hear about your experience.  ☺

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cake Mix Cookies


When I was visiting Canada last August, my sister Donna introduced me to Cake Mix Cookies – so quick and easy to make.  All you need is your favorite cake mix, an egg, half a cup of melted butter and your add ins. 

I’ve tried a few different kinds.  I think the Coconut cake mix with added coconut flakes was yummy.  My hubby liked the cookies I made with Spice cake mix and walnuts.  Today I’m having German Chocolate cake mix cookies with milk chocolate chips as my add in.


Try some with your afternoon cup of tea.  Just mix 1 cake mix, 1 egg, 1/2 cup melted butter and whatever add in you like (nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, mini M&M’s, etc.  Depending on the mix, you might need a splash of water.

I use a 1 1/4 inch scoop to place the dough on cookie sheets and then bake at 350 degrees for around 12 minutes or till done (cracked on top).

These were delicious with a cup of Golden Tips Goomtee Darjeeling tea. 


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Golden Tips Tea Company


Recently an unusual looking package arrived in my mailbox from India.  I could see that it contained a box and was wrapped up in fabric that appeared to be hand sewn. 


Each corner had sealing wax applied to it.  I carefully unstitched the package and found that the inside box contained a wonderful assortment of tea from Golden Tips Tea Company.


Golden Tips Tea Company produces one of the oldest and most reputable brands of tea.  Their tea is 100% Pure Single Origin Unblended Tea from India.

The tea comes well packaged, with lots of valuable information included on the label, such as - origin, estate, date picked, flush and season, grade and useful brewing information.

Right now I’m enjoying Castleton Moonlight First Flush black tea.  I’m definitely not a connoisseur tea taster, but even I can taste the fine quality and flavor of this Darjeeling tea.  I really like the mild astringency, delicate flavor and bright golden liquor of this black tea.

I’ve also sampled the Okayti Silver Needle  white tea.  It has a lovely fragrance and a delicate sweet taste which I enjoyed.  I was also happy to see that this is an organic tea.

Golden Tips offers several terrific sampler packs of exotic tea for just $15 including shipping from India.


The photo above is Halmari Gold black tea from Assam, India.  Look at all those gold tipped leaves in this superior hand picked tea.  As soon as I opened the package I could smell the rich maltiness and the brew is full bodied and perfect with a splash of low fat organic milk. 

I’m looking forward to tasting more samples (such as Arya Ruby Darjeeling, Giddapahar Muscatel, Goomtee Darjeeling, Avaata Supreme Nilgiri and others) over the next couple of weeks.

You can check out Golden Tips large selection of teas for yourself here


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pewter Cup and Teapot Earrings


These are the pewter tea theme earrings that I mentioned in one of my recent "trip to Canada" posts.  I have been wearing them quite a lot and find them so lightweight and comfortable.  I thought that I’d kept the store receipt, but now I can’t find it and can’t remember the name of the shop.  I believe it was on the main street in Port Perry, Ontario.

There are many interesting shops on Queen Street in the downtown shopping area.  There is also a great place for traditional fish and chips for lunch and lots of beautiful scenery to photograph along the lakefront park area of Lake Scugog. 



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Canadian Classic Fine Bone China

One cup and saucer was added to my collection after my trip to Canada last month.  I already have a teacup decorated with maple leaves and the Canadian flag, also another that has the Royal Canadian Tartan.  My new cup does not quite fit the theme, but it is bone china and made in Canada.


This set has a raised white on white pattern with gold trim and a pretty mixed floral motif. 


I have never seen bone china that was made in Canada and the $5.00 thrift shop (for charity) price seemed reasonable.  There doesn’t appear to be any easily available information about Canadian Classic China online.  If any of you know about this company, I’d love to hear about it.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Old Mill Centennial Afternoon Tea

The Old Mill motto says “VALLIS HUMBRIA ANGLIAE PARS ANGLIA PROCUL – In the valley of the Humber, a bit of England far from England”. 


I’m glad that I was able to experience the special Centennial Afternoon Tea at the Old Mill in Toronto with my sister-in-law Jane, during my recent trip to Canada.  The Old Mill is a long time favorite landmark for dining, dancing, buffets, afternoon tea, weddings and meetings.


Tea is served in a lovely bright room overlooking beautiful gardens and fountains.  There was a box of Old Mill Centennial Tea at each place setting – I’m looking forward to trying their blend.  It contains  black and green teas - Dimbula, Nandi, Nilgiri, Assam and Wuyi.


Our three tier tea tray contained Cucumber, Baby Watercress and Fine Herb Cream Cheese Open Face Sandwich – Mini Egg Salad Croissant with Bibb Lettuce and Tomato – and a Smoked Salmon, Asparagus and Fine Herb Cream Cheese Pinwheel.


Next were the Currant and Lemon Scones with imported Devonshire Cream and Greaves Jams and Marmalade.


The tea pastries included Battenburg Cake, Lemon Meringue Tartlet, Scottish Shortbread and a Chocolate Dipped Strawberry.


We enjoyed pots of Earl Grey and Crème au Caramel Rooibos tea.

It was a delicious English afternoon tea in a delightful venue.  I was also happy to learn that a portion of the proceeds are donated to Women’s Habitat (a refuge that provides counselling, support and advocacy for women and their children who are fleeing domestic violence).



Jane mentioned that she and my brother almost had their wedding at the Old Mill over thirty years ago.  They decided against it because the ballroom they liked shared a dance floor with another ballroom.


If you would like to explore a little more of the Old Mill Inn and Spa, or if you live nearby and are interested in planning an event, their website is here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Canada trip 2014

Just returned from a trip to Canada to visit family and attend my nephews wedding.  I enjoyed a few days at the lake house with my brother, sister-in-law and sister.  The weather was fabulous the first three days and I spent quite a lot of time swimming in beautiful spring fed Allen Lake in Harcourt Park.


Both my brother and sister love to cook and made us lots of wonderful meals and appetizers.  Of course, even with all the swimming and walking, my weight increased by at least four pounds.  ☺


Have you ever tried shrimp stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in Prosciutto?  Oh yes, it was good!  My sister did an excellent job, even though her right thumb is in a brace (tricky to tie each one with chives).


My brother Al spent many years as a firefighter and was used to cooking for the guys.  He made us Fireman’s breakfast with eggs, gourmet sausage, bacon, home fries, beans and toast.  Yum.  One night he cooked Marlin.  It’s a tasty, firm and mild flavored fish – too bad my local Publix never carries it.  They said that they get Swordfish once in a while, but I’ve read that it’s not as good.


The wedding was gorgeous and I’ll post a photo later.  I purchased some teapot and teacup earrings and a Canadian Classic bone china cup and saucer (haven’t been able to discover much about it online). 

My brother gave me three large bags of tea that he received from a huge tea warehouse he was working at recently (Two Doves Silver Needle White, Guangzhou Milk Oolong and Steam Darjeeling Green Tea).  Not sure if the names are correct – someone in the warehouse quickly wrote on the packages.

Another highlight of my trip was the special Centennial Afternoon Tea at The Old Mill Inn and Spa in Toronto.


So, I have lots to show you over the next few weeks and a lot of catching up with my favorite blogs. 




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...