Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Glove Boxes & Tea Parties


“Those were glove boxes,” the gentleman remarked when I showed him two wooden boxes (about 5 x9x2-inches) connected by a 24-inch piece of wood.

They had set on the dresser in the guest room of the farmhouse where I grew up. I’d always thought they had been used for storing jewelry and handkerchiefs.

Apparently ladies stored their several pairs of gloves in these boxes. Probably the ladies also placed hankies here, too, as my aunt did when she visited and used the guest room.

Why Mention Glove Boxes?

Why am I writing about gloves boxes in Country Kitchen? This reminded me of Victorian tea parties when ladies and young girls wore gloves and hats if they visited someone’s home. When I was a girl, we weren’t considered well-dressed for church and formal occasions unless we wore gloves and hats.

No, I’m not of the Victorian tea party era, but I grew up with a tea tradition in my family. It was a sign of hospitality to offer a cup of tea. Even after Mother lived in the nursing home with Alzheimer’s, she enjoyed the tea parties when my grandchildren (her great grands) and I visited her.

So…when the gentleman, who was looking at some of my other old furniture, noticed the glove boxes and told me about their use, I was reminded of tea parties and tea time traditions.

Tea Parties Popular Topic

I’ve also discovered that tea and tea parties and accompanying recipes are popular topics here at Country Kitchen. One lady remarked that reading my column was like sitting down and chatting with me over a cup of tea. I hope I make you feel welcome and that you enjoy our weekly “chats” on the many and diverse topics I discover to share with you.

Tea party foods are varied. There are traditional English teas. Then Americanized versions. My grandmother and aunt might have freshly baked bread with churned butter and homemade jelly. Auntie usually had cookies, too.

At the nursing home, Mother enjoyed muffins we picked up at a fast food restaurant. The grandchildren liked them or cookies we might bring with us.

CRAZY QUILT BREAD might be a fun recipe to try for serving with tea. Mix together ½ cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 ¼ cups milk, 3 cups biscuit mix; beat quickly for 30 seconds. Batter should be somewhat lumpy.

Stir in ½ cup mixed candied fruit and ½ cup chopped nuts. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45-50 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. There probably will be a crack on the top. Cool before slicing.

(Variation; You may want to bake it in a 9-inch square pan at same temperature but for less time.)

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her NH home or during her travels. Visit her latest blog The “Green” Vagabond Traveler (

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