Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Tea At London Farms in Richmond, British Columbia

After coordinating the general hub-bub of activity surrounding Broadmoor Baptist Church's Ladies Christmas Tea for close to 200 guests, I was exhausted and in need of some intensive TLC.  Among the little grace notes of the remaining holiday season was a blissful time of just a meagre 60 minutes that I spent at London Farms to enjoy their annual Christmas Tea with two of the ladies from my tea committee: Ruth and Janet.  Unfortunately, dear reader, I was so busy living my experiences that I took no care to record them on digital film, so thus, I have no pictures to share of OUR time there, but believe me when I tell you that it was lovely to the enth degree! Thanks to Google images, I have found some stock photos to share of this wonderful place. As you can see to the left, London Farms is a nineteenth century farm house that has been made a heritage sight for our growing community of Richmond, BC. ( This is lovely shot of the farm taken after a rare snowfall here in Richmond.)  It was at one time, a working farm and the London's were wealthy farm owners who lived in a rather sumptuous home given the times.  The picture to the right is of the formal parlour. The farm house has been made into a museum and  in the area that was once the very large dinning room, the London Farm society serves tea in the summer time and at special occassions during the year like Easter, Valentine's Day, Father's and Mother's Day, and of  course Christmas.  We had the dubious distinction of being the very last party to be served tea this year at Christmas, a pleasure that came with certain perks, as we were each presented with a lovely Christmas cactus when we were leaving, as the farm was closing down until well after the holidays.  How lovely for them to think to give us these delightful tokens before we left.  The other wonderful thing about London Farms is their gift shop which boasts lots of tea related items, as well as homemade soaps, candles, fruit preserves, and handcrafted sewing.  I was able to purchase two very distinctive beaswax moulded candles for a very reasonable price.  They adorned my Christmas table this year and I am sure will give me pleasure for hour and hours to come; all for the priceo f just $4.00 per candle.  What an incredible find.

The tea itself was lovely and consisted of a selection of three home-baked sweets' a chocolate shortbread cookie, a plain shortbread and a delicious square of some sort that I am not able to identify but which tasted heavely!  Also there was an absolutely delicious scones served with butter and jam.  My!   I absolutely COVET that recipe, but alas, they are not about to give it to me; and I suppose I would hardly blame them!   The tea that accompanied the sweets is a blend made especially for London Farms entitiled London Lady.  It is an Earl Grey concoction especially blended by Murchies Tea of Victoria, BC, at least that is who I think makes it.  It is flavourful and delicious and the perfect match to the over-all experience.  If you are ever in our "neck of the woods", I do so hope that London Farms is accepting visitors at that time so you can have the London Farms Tea Experience.  It is truly lovely!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tea Finis!

For my dear Silken Purse's "Tuesday Tea for Two",  I would like to share with you the story and some pictures from my lastesst tea venture.  At 10:30 last Wednesday evening, I packed up the last of my china, my silver service and coffee carafes and headed home from the church after the two-day marathon that was the Broadmoor Ladies 13th Annual Christmas Tea.  Looking back over the past two days I am grateful for the people who stepped forward from every segment of the cogregation, contributing their enthusiam, vigor and expertise to make this event an outstanding success.  The tremendous volume and quality of their work was astounding. 

The Youth group, and the Worship team helped with the decorating of the facility, led by Ruth from the Tea committee and Selma, a congregant who is a gifted interior decorator.  Everything looked polished, tasteful and lovely. The decorating of the tea tables was the responsibilty of individual tea hstesses.  Each hostess set her table with her particular china pattern., making each white-clothed table a unique work of art. My pattern is the ever-popular "Old Country Roses" by Royal Albert.   It was quite interesting to see all the different styles and patterns of china that were represented, each as unique as thier owner! To my knowledge, no two tables sported the same pattern., and I saw some designs I had never seen before, even from among those who had Royal Albert, which I thought I knew quite well.  It just goes to show that life is full of suprises!

The  kitchen ran at peak efficiency as Janet organized the volunteer staff to create eye-pleasing plates  of delectable savouries and sweets.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sweets.                                                                                                                                                      

Our Gentlemen Servers, (members and friends of the church) looking handsome in their white shirts and bow-ties, were aptly coordinated by Lois, who has taken on this responsibility for several years, and who turned eighty years young last month.  How well they performed, those wonderful servers!  Fritz, assigned to my table on  Wednesday evening, was always there ready to pour copious amounts of steaming coffee and tea and to see to our every tea-related wish.  We were pampered to the ultimate.  My server for Tuesday Night was none other than Dr. John Zimmerman,  retired professor of the Charles Betall Chair of Pastoral Studies from Carey Theological Seminary, and husband of our guest speaker.  

 One of the highlights of this two-day extravaganza was the door prizes, donated by the congregation, and local retail businesses.  Tea Committee member Lorraine, collected wonderful items and combined them to make  lavish baskets, boxes and bags for distribution to eager tea goers on both evenings: eighteen spectacularly bejewelled gifts for each event.  The excitement and hilarity was truly contagious.

The theme for the two evenings was  "Joy".  Drawing from personal experience, Dr. Martha Zimmerman, author, lecturer, and popular conference speaker, shared about the joy of being resuced from hopelessness and despair by God who "in dependable love, shows up on time" in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.  She challenged us to look to Jesus and a relationship with him as our greatest gift in the Christmas season.

Music for Tuesday evening was provided by the Richmond Chorus Ensemble who gave tea-goers  spirited renditions "Christams Kumbayah" and "Sing Noel".  Dressed in thier teal blue sequined tops and black skirts, they blended well, not just musically but also with our theme colours of teal, silver and white!

Wednesday Evening, my wonderful husband Eric,accompanying himself on the impressive grand piano in the church's sanctuary, graced us with his beautifully musical  offerings of "Under the Holly Bough" and "Oh Holy Night".

On both evenings, local crafters set up booths around the perimeter of the room, selling their lovely wares to those who wished to do a bit of no-pressure Christams shopping. Quilted items, homemade soaps, jams,jellies and preserves, jewellry, and more were available for sale, with 10% of their profit  being contributed to the church.  The proceeds from the evening will go to two worthy causes; namely our kitchen renovation fund, and the STEP program for Sans Salvadore which provides housing, clean water, and eduation (to name only a few of it's initiatives) to the porest of the poor in South America.

Kudos to our gifted Mistress of Ceremonies, Heather, who tied the evenings up in a bright, sparkling bow with her gracious manner, radiant smile and quick wit.  She has dazzled us for many years with her ability to draw people into the spirit of the evening. Her welcoming,endearing demeanor and enchanting personality put everyone at ease and enabled us to relax and fully enter into the joy of the festivities. We are so fortunate to have her, both as a part of our organizing team and a member of our church family  Thank you so much, Heather!

I could go on and on.  It truly was a magical night, but needless to say, I was feeling a bit exhausted after all the preparations and the actual event itself.  After all the "hither and yonning" I did finally get the chance for a soooothing, wonderful, aromatic cup of tea, in the peace and quiet of my own livingroom; the perfect place and time to start planning next year's 14th Annual Ladies Christmas Tea!  


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tea for One Hundred and Sevety-Three. Oh,my, oh me!

In reference to my last blog entry, one hundred and three rhymed  with Tea, but as I counted numbers it was actually one hundred and sevetny-three.  Wonderful!  It still rhymes so I'll go with it.  Last minute stragglers are starting to come in, so my wish is that the number stays still rhyming, so 183 or 193, or 203 would be great, as long as we know far enough in advance to prepare enough food.  

Yesterday, we started the decorating and things are beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Broadmoor Baptist Church.  It is hard to get really detailed pictures with my little camera, but I will try.  The other problem is that I get so distracted with the details that I don't remember to take the camera out!  I get too busy living life to photograph it!  I am very fortunate that I have at my disposal a gifted interior decorator who goes to our church and who is just a wonderful person with whom to work.  Because she is working with materials the church has, and has had for several years, she is somewhat limited in what she can do, but she is managing to pull several delightful rabbits out of her interior decorating "hat", and I am quite pleased.  Then of course, the rest of my Tea committee is so helpful and dedicated.  It is all boding well for the upcoming event, but I must admitt I will be glad to get to the end of it all, and make it a wonderful memory.  

To my American friends,  I hope that your Thanksgiving was wonderful and that you survived Black Friday with aplomp!  Here in Canada, we celeberate Thanksgiving in October, but on American Thanksgiving, I did manage to celebrate "Turkey Day" as we prepared  an early "Christmas Dinner" for the ESL students who attend classes at Broadmoor where I am blessed to teach one of the advanced groups. My students sang "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" as part of the progrram for the event, and I think they performed quite admirably. Alas, and alack, though I succombed to my tendancy to not get pictures! Oh, well!  I am sure I will get a lot more photo-centric now that I am trying to blog on a regular basis.  Anyway dear trolleyites, I wish you well in your own dleightful festive adventures and endeavors.  In the words of one of Charles Dicken's immortal characters, "God Bless Us, Everyone!"     


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tea For One Hundred and Three!

You read that right, dear tea trollyites!  I am about to coordinate a tea for 103 (at least) ladies at my church.  On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, the first and Second of December at 7:00 p.m..  It is the 13th annual event, and I am hoping that the number is not an ominous one!  I am working with the most tremendous group of women: four dynamic dames who have been fixtures in the church for decades.  How I ended up coordiating this group of august women is beyond me!  (Just blessed I guess!)  Anyway, we are in the thick of preparations for this mammoth event, even as I pen these words!  I will keep you posted on our progress and hopefully have pictures to share with you.  Stay tuned and HOLD ON TIGHT!  The going might get a little bumpy!  If you are in our area (Richmond, British Columbia!)  drop by for tea!  $10.00 a ticket gets you a lovely repast, spectacular music, a whiz-band speaker, and DOOR PRIZES!  Catch you on the flipside!

Photo Credit :Sandy Lyman Clough

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tea-Ready in Twenty Minutes!

How can I be tea-ready in just twenty minutes?  It takes a bit of organization; something that I am unable to muster these days.  However, dear readers BE THAT AS IT MAY, this is my goal  for the up-coming holiday season and beyond. 

My husband and I live in a sweet little rancher home; a mere 1500 square feet, and it would seem more than possible to have it ready for company (Tea) at any given time.  After all, it is not a large space to clean or keep tidy.  But, (and here's the rub!)  we both work from home, and the activity of our two businesses lends itself to constant upheaval!  To add insult to injury, I suffer from chronic health problems that leave me exhausted a great deal of the time, so if I let the housework slide for even a short period, it isn't long before I feel completely overwhelmed.

Several years ago I compiled a list of  household chores, organized them according to the days of the week, and the different rooms in the house, with space for checking items off once they have been accomplished.   I laminated it and hung it on my refrigerator.  When I kept to the schedule it took a minimal amount of time each day to keep the housework to a dull roar. The key of course, is to keep to the schedule.

So what are YOUR secrets to keeping things in order?  How DO you manage it? (apart from hiring a maid, which I would love to do, but isn't about to happen! :) ) Any tidbits of wisdom would be gratefully acknowledged and accepted!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Welcome to Tuesday Tea for Two:

Today is , TUESDAY TEA FOR TWO, at my dear friend  Paper Princess, a.k.a./ Silken Purse's, The Plumed Pen blog. You are warmly invited to partake. We have been friends for close to four decades, and in later years have very much enjoyed the serving of numerous Afternoon Teas, each in our own coastal reagion of Canada.., How sad though, that we have never been able to attend each other's Splosh  Splashes!  Here is the link to her website where you will find information on how to join us for our little blogging tea party..,

 Today in my end of the world it is raining to beat the band, and the wind is blowing up a tempest! Since I am unable to be with you in person, I am going to imagine that we are all together at the Paper Princess's  cozy bed and breakfast, seated comfotably in her lavish living room, each of us craddling a steaming cup of delicious, steaming, fragrant "rosie-lee", (the Cockney name for our favorite warm beverage).  Aren't the scones delicious!  I do believe they are the best I have eever tasted!  Please do come to our blogging Tea Party.  You would be as welcomed as a sunny day in Vancouver!   

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Making tarts for tea is a wonderful idea.  But every good idea has it's challenges, and making tarts is no exception.  I TRULY dislike rolling out pastry!  It is something, dear reader, that I do not do well.  Enter the handy tart pastry tamper.  What an absolutely wonderful kitchen gadget!  I purchased mine from the Regal catalogue several years ago.  As you can probably see from the picrture, the tamper has a large end and a small end for tamping down either the miniature and regular-sized tarts.  You portion out about a teaspoon of dough, roll it into a small ball and place it on the bottom of the tart pan cavity.  Then, taking the tamper, you press it into the cavity with an even pressure.  The pastry dough travels up the side of the muffin cavity, creating a perfect tart shell.  If you want to bake unfilled tart shells, as in the recipe for Cape Breton Pork Pies  you will need to puncture the bottom and sides of the uncooked shell repeatedly with a toothpick or a fork so that as the shell is baking, it stays flat.  If you don't do this, you will end up with little tart shell sombreroes, ( the bottoms will arch upward!) making it impossible to fill the shells with the filling.  I cannot emphasize enough how much wasted time and how many headaches this little instrument will help you to avoid.  It is a really good thing, as Miss Martha might say! So run, don't walk and find yourself one of these neat doo-hickeys.. You'll not regret the purchase, I guarantee it!   

The Delectable Tart

If the scone is the "queen of sweets" for the tea table, then surely the delectable tart must be her "lady in waiting".  Easy to make, and ever-so-dainty, a variety of tempting tarts offers the tea-taker a symphony of tastes wrapped in  a sweet, melt-in-your mouth shortbread crust.  For an afternoon tea, I delight to offer at least two (and sometimes three!)  types of tarts,.  My favorites are the ever popular lemon curd, tart served plain, or presented with a diminuitive dollop of clotted cream,  the Maid of honor, a delightful jam filled tart with a delicate cake hat punctuated with a flowerette of pink buttercream, and finally, in deference to my east coast  ties, the toothsome Cape Breton Pork Pie.  This little gem, one of my husband's all-time favorites, contains NOT ONE OUNCE OF PORK!  It's name is the subject of some conjecture. My favorite explanation is that they are so good, when you have one, you can't resist having another, and another and another!  Thus, you "pork" out on them, making a little piggy of yourself in the process!  So dear blogerites, here is my recipe for Cape Breton Pork Pies. I found it in a venerated cookbook, which was given to me by my dear friend , June one year for Christmas.  Imagine my delight, precious blogerites, when I received this, to discover that it was the cookbook most used by my own sweet Mom.  In fact, she used it so much it was in tatters by the time she passed away, and was mistakenly discarded when my sisters were packing up her kitchen.. The title page had gone missing when I was just a little girl,  so the name on it's front meant little to me, but the pages looked familiar somehow, so I quickly turned to the cake section to discover the recipe for the birthday cake mom had always made for me.  I felt as though I had recovered a bit of my own heritage from the ashes of time.  What a blessing! Upon further investigation of it, I found the recipe for the Pork Pies, something my husband had intimated was an integral part of his own Christmas tradition from Sydney, Cape Breton.  I made them as a suprise for him, and to his delight, he pronounced them "better" than his auntie's.  So now they are a staple in our house for Christmas, but also for tea.  Enjoy and please let me know how yours turn out.  


Tart Shells:

1 cup of cold, creamery butter ( this is what made them better than Auntie's.  She probably used margarine, which was a common practice in Cape Breton.  The difference it makes to the recipe is unmistakable!)

4 tablespoons icing sugar
2 cups flour

Cut the butter into the flour suing a pastry cutter.  Add sugar and knead until well-blended.  Press small amounts into small muffin tins.  Bake at 425 degrees F. for 10 minutes.  Keep a close eye on them as they brown very quickly, and you DO NOT want to make them too dark. ( In my opinion, the lighter they can be, the better, but that is just MY preference!) Remove and allow to come to room temperature.  Carefully remove from tins, as they are VERY delicate!


2 cups finely chopped dates
1 1/2 cups brown sugar ( I use demerara)
1 cup water
Lemon Juice (the juice of one lemon, whatever that may be.  I usually heat my lemon in the microwave for a quick 10 seconds.  It DOUBLES the amount of juice you will get from it.  How much of that juice you put in is really up to your taste, but I like the whole amount.)

Simmer the above ingredients until the dates are of a soft consistency.  Cool, then fill the tart shells.  Top with a piped swirl of butter cream icing which has been flavoured with maple syrup or flavouring.  YUM! YUM! YUM!  These freeze well, and can be made weeks ahead if covered well in the freezer.

* anecdotal additions are my own, but this wonderful recipe is from "Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens" by Marie Nightingale  (Nimbus Publishing Limited)    

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rolling Out the Tea Trolley Once Again

After a delay of many, many months, I am pleased to announce the re-introduction of "The Tea Trolley", my blog dedicated to the sumptuous art of preparing and enjoying afternoon tea. I want to express my heart-felt appreciation to my dear friend, and blog collaborator, the Paper Princess, creator and author of The Silken Purse, who graciously gifted me with an absolutely stunning banner to crown my new venture. Even though we are sadly seperated by thousands of Canadian miles, it was so much fun to partner on this project, via long disatnce and internet. It was ALMOST as fun as spending an afternoon at her lovely Bed and Breakfast on the east coast, enjoying her precious company, sipping a steaming bowl of splosh and indulging in freshly-baked scones smothered with raspberry preserves and topped with a generous dollop of clotted cream.. (ALMOST, but not quite!)

My vision for "The Tea Trolley" includes the sharing of recipes, table-setting and tea invitation ideas, and so much more. Come and be a part of our little community. There may even be an opportunity for a cyber-space tea party and a give-away or two! Our only limitation is the breadth, height and depth of our collective imagination. How wonderful is that!

The Paper Princess and I have been blessed immeasurably by the people we have fellowshipped with over the intoxicating aroma of a finely-brewed cup of tea. Between the two of us, we have hosted and attended hundreds of tea gatherings, each unique and memorable. We invite you to join us at "The Tea Trolley" to glean what you can from our experiences, and to contribute what you will to our tea-sipping community at large. You are most cordially invited and welcomed!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why Serve Afternoon Tea?

There has been a resurgence of interest in the art of serving afternoon tea. The reasons for this renewed interest are multitudinous. The first that springs to mind is that afternoon tea allows people to slow down the hectic pace of modern life. In an age of fast cars, fast computers, and fast food, it is indeed an pleasure of inestimable proportions to savour a fragrant, lovingly-brewed cup of tea accompanied by elegantly presented savouries and sweets. By its very nature, this tradition of civility must be enjoyed by those who are not in a rush. Secondly, tea time engenders an atmosphere of congeniality. It is nearly impossible to be in a room with several others of your friends and acquaintances enjoying a sumptuous repast of scones, clotted cream and jam and not be friendly. What could be more delightful than spending an afternoon in the company of kith and kin over an exquisite "spot of splosh"? It fairly dares you to be in a bad mood! Finally, hosting afternoon tea for your beloved family and valued neighbors is an act of hospitality that will be cherished in the hearts of your guests for years to come. My ten-year old niece Natasha talks about her first experience of tea-taking hosted by her Aunt Rose as though it were a visit to an enchanted world of butter tarts and decorated sugar cubes. How special it was for me to leave such a magical and positive impression upon the mind of this young girl! Organizing an afternoon tea is an art that improves with experience, but its popularity both with those who host and those who are invited makes it worth the effort it takes to orchestrate this memorable occasion.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rolling Out The Tea Trolley

I'm rolling out the Tea Trolley, laden with savoury sanwiches, scrumptious scones, tarts a-plenty, chocolate dipped strawberries, and of course, pots of various and sundry aromatic teas. Tea Time! What could be more inviting than sharing a laugh, or perhaps even a few tears (when the occassion calls for it), with our nearest and dearest over a steaming cup of Rosie-Lee. Please know you are cordially invited to join me in this venture as we explore together recipes and ideas to enhance our magnificent obsession with afternoon tea. What fun we are going to have!

In my humble opinion, afternoon tea is not complete without serving a delicious scone accompanied by raspberry jam and sweet thickened cream. So let me share with you my very favorite recipe for these delectable morsels, best served slightly warmed.

Rose's Favorite Tea Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 level teaspoons baking POWDER
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup very cold butter cut into eight pieces
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla
1 egg (room temperature)
1 cup whole milk OR half and half cream OR buttermilk

Optional Add-Ins: Add ONE of the following three options

1/2 cup currants (previously soaked in boiled water and drained)

1/2 cup dried cranberries (previously soaked in orange juice or boiked water and drained)

1/4 cups chopped apricots and 1/4 cup chopped pecans


1. Set your oven at 375 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Reserve 2 tblsps

3. Using a pastry cutter, cut the very cold butter into the larger amount of flour mixture. Combine only until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.

4. Add the reserved flour mixture to one of the optional ingredients, mixing until it is well-coated. Add this to the larger flour mixture along with the 1/4 cup of granualted white sugar. Set aside.

5. In a 2-cup measuring cup slightly beat the room temperature egg. Add the vanilla, and then the milk ( or cream or buttermilk) to make one cup of liquid.

6. Using a fork, combine 1/3 of the liquid mixture with the flour mixture, Mix until incorporated and then do the same iwth the second third, and finally the third, mixing gingerly until the ingredients are just combine.

7. Turn the mixture onto a floured surface, and knead gently three or four times, patting it into a 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick round.

8. Using a small, floured biscuit cutter, cut into rounds and place in an ungreased non-coated 9 X 9 baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the scones are a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool or serve warm.

There you have it!  Bake and enjoy!

These scones will look like baking soda biscuits, and will need to be seperated when served. You may choose to bake them seperately on a cookie sheet, but if you do so, they will not rise very high.

I do so hope you will try this recipe. Scones, a staple of traditional afternoon tea, are truly a treat anytime! Let me know how yours turn out!