Friday, November 28, 2008

Fun for a Snowy Day

When the snow flutters down, lightly and softly this morning in New Hampshire, it's time for another cup of tea. What flavor shall I choose?

Perhaps a cup of Chai spice black tea. This should keep me going at my writing and business bookkeeping. Also, the aroma is so nice. My grandson comes into the room, "Nanny, what smells so spicy and good?"

What tea would you choose for a snowy day? What shall I have with it? I'll toast one of the rolls left from yesterday's Thanksgiving dinner and cover lightly with natural fruit spread (no sugar added).

Also, you might like to read about our first snowfall of winter, which occurred earlier in the week. ng-inspiration/

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from Mary Emma's Country Kitchen

Happy Thanksgiving

We've been busy this morning getting the turkey ready. Yes, we're having the traditional turkey. My hubby selected it so has been monitoring the preparations. After I made the stuffing ("like Mother used to make!"), I left the rest to him. The engineer in him cooks to precision.

My daughter has been preparing her special recipes to add to our menu. She made her daughter's request of "glop" for breakfast...a combination of bread cubes, eggs, sausage, cheese, and milk. Some of us like that, while others have something else. (We live in a multi-generational home with six family members, a dog, guinea pig, and rabbit.)

Perhaps you'd like to see my Thankful Poem, a project on my Quilting and Patchwork blog.

How about writing your own Thankful Poem this weekend? Or any time of year?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Herbs & Spices for Your Holiday Cooking

We often take more time to experiment with recipes and try new ones throughout the holiday season. This may mean using herbs and spices we haven’t tried before or discovering new ways to use familiar ones.

Utilizing herbs and spices often enables you to cut down on the salt and sugar in a recipe if you have dietary considerations in those areas. These condiments give an intriguing flavor (when used in proper, not excessive, amounts) so you don’t need your food so salty or sweet to taste good.

Herbs vs. Spices

Whether a flavoring is obtained from the leafy or another part of a plant generally determines whether it’s labeled an herb or spice. With some plants you can use both parts; others you utilize one or the other.

Herbs are more likely to come from the leaves, and you use them both fresh and dried.
Some of the herbs you may have heard about or have used include: thyme, tarragon, mint, parsley, oregano, chives, sage, rosemary, coriander, marjoram, and basil. Do you have some favorites?

We generally obtain spices from the bark, roots, seeds, fruit, or stems of the plants. Sometimes you use them dried and ground; other times whole. For instance, you can purchase cinnamon in a ground form and as a bark stick.

Those you may have used are: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, paprika, anise, cumin, mustard seed, and ginger.

History of Herbs and Spices

Throughout the ages, cooks, witch doctors, medical specialists, and folklorists have found various uses for herbs and spices besides flavoring foods.

Some have medicinal properties; others have been used in religious ceremonies. You will find some were believed to be love potions. Others were considered a sign of wealth, especially during the Middle Ages. Traders of those times, too, considered spices very valuable.

Trading routes to the Orient, over land and sea, were prominent in those days to bring spices from the Far East. Marco Polo sought spices and the spice routes during his travels.

Uses of Herbs and Spices

My mother-in-law used herbs and spices so well and produced intriguing flavors with her foods. What was her secret?

“Never use so much people can tell what it is,” Mum once told me. “Leave them asking what you put into that recipe to make it taste so good.”

Some people overwhelm you with flavors in their cooking that you can’t taste the food. Now, all of this will depend on individual taste. Some people do like the flavor of particular herbs and spices so will add more of these to their cooking. To those who like milder flavors, they’ll want to be intrigued, not overwhelmed.

APPLESAUCE COOKIES are a nice harvest and holiday dish using spices. Mix together ½ cup shortening, 1 egg, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup applesauce into which you’ve stirred 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Sift together 2 cups flour, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Stir into the applesauce mixture. Add 1 cup rasisins or chocolate chips. Drop onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees F. or until done.

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mystery Tea Time Parties, a Fascinating Concept

What fun! Tea Time Mystery Parties!

Have you ever thought of holding a mystery tea, complete with mock murder mystery, clues and solutions? I'd never thought of it either until I learned about the "murder mystery teas in a kit" that Maxine Holmgren organizes at Maxine Mystery Tea Parties. In fact, she's made a business of this, providing mystery scripts she's written, along with recipes, invitations, and other items for the complete tea party.

There's also an interesting article, Tea, scones and a murder mystery, by Hope Pierson that gives some details about Maxine and her parties, which now have become popular beyond her home area of Sun City, AZ.

This is an intriguing idea that puts a very different spin on tea parties.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Check Out the News at Tea Time Notes

News at Tea Time Notes

Continue to check out Tea Time Notes for updates on tea, tea parties, tea time accessories, recipes and more.

You won't want to miss my story about Tea Time with Tasha Tudor. This visit for tea with one of my favorite children's authors is most of those special memories in time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrances of Veterans Day

Veterans Day meant a great deal in my childhood. Two of my uncles served in the World Wars. My husband is a veteran, too, so for several years I was a military wife.

I've written about this day at several of my blogs and have included a post of Alicia Sparks:

One Book Two Book: Remembering Our Veterans on Veterans Day.

Alzheimer's Notes:Veterans Day Memories in Alzheimer's World

Quilting and Patchwork: Patriotic Quilts for Veterans Day

Alicia Sparks' Mental Health Notes: Help Veterans Obtain Mental Health Resouces

Do you have associations, past and present, with Veterans Day?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Vegan Cookie Recipes Galore

Vegan Cookies for the Planet

The 20 Most Delicious Vegan Cookie Recipes Ever features recipes for the vegan lover who wants to "Eat a Cookie! Save a Planet!"

Developed by vegan Kirsten Nissen, this ebook offers you cookies made from organic ingredients for many occasions and tastes.

Check out what Kirsten has to say (link above) about these recipes and why she developed them.

Do you have vegan cookie and other recipes to share?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Country Kitchen's Squash Recipes


As mentioned, you can prepare squash in a great variety of ways…soup, casseroles, desserts, and breads.

MASHED SQUASH - Simply cooked (boiled or baked), scooped out and mashed, served with butter and a dash of cinnamon, makes an easy to prepare vegetable dish.

SQUASH PIE – Substitute cooked, mashed winter squash for the pumpkin in a recipe. It’s tasty. I usually can’t tell the difference, but some people claim they can.

BAKED ACORN SQUASH with APPLE FILLING - Wash 2 acorn squash, cut into halves lengthwise; scoop out the seeds and fiber. Place in a baking pan with the cut side down. Add ½ inch boiling water. Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 20 minutes.

Using 3 tart apples, peel, core and dice them. Mix with ¼ cup melted butter and ½ cup maple syrup or honey.

Take squash from oven, and turn cut side up. Brush with melted butter. Fill squash with apple mixture. Cover the pan with foil, and then continue baking at 400 degrees F. for 30 minutes, or until the apples and squash are tender.

ACORN SQUASH VARIATION – Many people serve the squash plain. Turn them right side up and sprinkle with cinnamon, possibly a little sugar, and a dab of butter. Finish baking until tender. You also can substitute maple syrup or honey for the sugar.

MORE VARIATIONS - Some cooks make bread stuffing, like that used for turkey, chicken or pork and fill the squash with it instead of apples. You also can add cranberries to the apples (recipe above) or to the bread stuffing. In the South, cooks might use cornbread stuffing.

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

Squash - A Bounty of Fall

Wonders of Squash

Winter squash, in its many shapes and varieties, makes a hit in the fall. This hard tough covered vegetable will save into the winter when stored in a dark, dry place.

Generally, in our homes today, the storage consists of a basement or pantry. Years ago, a root cellar held stored food – winter vegetables, squash, cabbage, etc. This was a dug out portion of ground, often containing a framed door, possibly framing inside – a sort of cave.

Storage in the root cellar kept fruit and vegetables from freezing and provided food throughout the winter. If the house had a cellar and it was cold enough, food often was stored there.

Squash Appeal

Squash appealed in days ago because it kept well through the winter (if stored properly) and could be prepared in a variety of ways, thus adding variation to the menu, in days when there weren’t so many different foods as today.

This vegetable comes in many types. Among them are: Hubbard, acorn (the traditional dark green), white acorn, gold acorn, table ace, butternut, bush, sugar loaf, buttercup, sugar, and turban.

Decorative Ideas for Squash

In addition to providing food for fall and winter, squash with hard shells provide decorative accents, both indoors and out.

*Place near your doorway, around a display of dried corn stalks, perhaps with pumpkins and gourds, too.
*Arrange squash and winter vegetables in a bowl on a sideboard, dining or kitchen table.
*Simply arrayed throughout the house wherever a colorful accent is needed, they look nice.
*Also displayed in a crock or basket in a front hallway they add color..
*Place in gift baskets with other fall fruit and vegetables.

(c)2008 Mary Emma Allen