Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Recipe For Warmth

Half package of graham crackers
Lemon or orange frosting

Separate each graham cracker into four quarters
Spread the frosting on two of the quarters
Place remaining two quarters on top of iced quarters
Repeat until all quarters are accounted for.
Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

(Other icings can be used according to preference. The flavour of citrus when it's below freezing outside gives my taste buds the will to go on living.)

Earlier today a very dear friend of the family called to ask if we might like a bit of company. We were very pleased to say yes. She is a very busy lady--a CEO, wife, and mother so this was a rare occasion indeed. She indicated she'd come by a couple of hours from the time she called. There was the usual flurry of putting things where they belonged and a gingerly sprucing up. My mother made the remark she wished we had some nibbles to offer her when she arrived. My mind went into immediate 'host' mode.

As much as I would have loved turning on the oven if for no other reason than heat, I just wasn't in the mood to conjure up a figgy pudding or flaky pastry. I looked in the pantry and saw the graham crackers and the frosting. Voila!! Instant 'poor man's lady fingers'. I made a pot of tea the old fashioned way--loose leaf in a 'Brown Betty'. While waiting for the kettle to boil I brought out the pretty, delicate hand painted English bone china cups and saucers I brought home from Texas. Bright happy flowers inside the cup and out. The Austrian porcelain cookie plate, equally resplendent in florals, came out of exile. I poured the water from the kettle into the Brown Betty and added the leaves to let them steep. I prepared the 'lady fingers' and arranged them on the cookie plate. A mis-matched German lustreware cream pitcher and sugar bowl joined the botanical United Nations on the table. There are distinct benefits to having been an antiques dealer!!

The tea I chose to serve is my own blend of Earl Grey (for body) and Summer Berry (for crispness). After it had steeped adequately I poured the tea into a pre-warmed English pot--yes, decorated with cabbage roses--through a strainer. A quick wipe and the sterling tea spoons and sugar tongs were gleaming. Our friend arrived a few moments after the final flourish and we all sat down and lost ourselves in conversation and reminiscences.

Just a little aside for anyone hosting a tea or get-together over coffee: Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people. Make of that what you will.

When the time for her departure came she thanked us for going to so much trouble to recreate Springtime and for taking the chill out of a bitterly cold day. For the time she was here I'd forgotten it was Winter and 20 degrees outside. It was no trouble I assured her. It was a pleasure. A warm and welcome pleasure. All gold-rimmed and cheery. No, no trouble at all. It was the least we could do for giving us pause to appreciate her warmth, too.


  1. What a lovely scene and table you set!

    You leak out tantalizing biographical details in offhand asides. "On the stage," "antiques dealer," "growing up in Europe..." I would enjoy a few stories from those experiences.

  2. You can make a kings feast out of a can of tuna and some saltines and a handful of jellybeans. I think Father Christmas and the Goddess of the Harvest blessed you long ago with unearthly talents in hosting and graciousness. Many times over hot tea and coffee and goodies I've spent at your table. And I'm better for it.

  3. Thank you both!! I am particularly grateful for these kind sentiments today.

    June, Keep tuning in to The Maine Thing and much will be revealed.

    Red, Your company at all of my tables over the years has enriched my life as well.

  4. June, the stories are always fascinating and neverending, having shared a home with Lord Wellbourne for 3 1/2 years, I can say that I was never bored and I learned al lot.

    LW, thank you again for reminding me of the niceties of past eras which we could all do with a lot more of these days.

  5. Lady H--Indeed, life was anything but dull. Between our individual projects, occupations, and the colourful cast of characters--including the cats--life was truly a smorgasbord that only Vermeer could have painted.

    I am fortunate that the pace of life in Maine and the rarefied lifestyle of the countryside allow for the 'niceties of past eras'. I wish that everyone could know them more often. They are a balm to the soul.

  6. "...having shared a home with Lord Wellbourne for 3 1/2 years..."
    Oho! Another Fun Fact to Know and Tell!
    I am envious.

  7. I'd be envious too!! Lady H. is a delightful and equally fascinating individual. She has far more talent than I'll ever have.

  8. ***sips tea loudly***

    BTW, I'm making those graham goodies today!

  9. Hope you like them!! Eat them quickly, though. They tend to get a wee bit soggy after a day or so.