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Archive for 2010

Not Your Momma’s Tea-Party Recipes

What could be more refreshing on a hot summer day than the traditional Southern Sweet Tea? What about “Tipsy Tea”….a fun “party” variation of an old favorite!


My daughter gave the me the inspiring and delightful book called, “Porch Parties”. This book is dedicated to cocktail recipes and lots of ideas for outdoor entertaining!


For “Tipsy Tea” start with a great Sweet Tea….

8 cups water
8 heaping teaspoons nice black tea in an infuser
1 cup sugar
Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Remove pan from heat. Add tea in the infuser. Stir in the sugar. Steep for at least one hour.

Fill a glass with ice and pour tea over ice.

Now add 2 ounces of Orange Flavored Vodka that has been chilled. Cut a round slice of an orange and then cut in 1/2 and use as a garnish.

Woowee…yummy…I’m sure this will be a hit!

Another Great Tea “Cocktail” is the Green Tea ‘Tini

This recipe calls for the use of a speciality item called:


According to the Zen Green Tea Liqueur website, this liqueur uses “green tea leaves from Kyoto, the historic capital of Japan, well-known for it’s superior quality tea.”

The Green Tea ‘Tini recipe is as follows:

3-4 ounces Citrus Flavored Vodka….chilled

2 ounces Green Tea Liqueur (Zen Green Tea Liqueur)

1 ounce lemon-lime soda

fresh lemon or lime slices

Using a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, green tea liqueur, soda and ice. Shake well and strain into chilled martini glasses. Garnish with lemon or lime slices.

And toast to your health…after all your having your “green tea” aren’t you?

Iced tea is quite versatile… and can be combined with many other beverages to enhance flavors and taste. The famous “Arnold Palmer”…1/2 lemonade and 1/2 tea is quite refreshing.

So this summer, make it a point to try some new recipes featuring a great standby…iced tea!

Happy Summer Infusions!!





Life’s a Bowl of Cherries


How many times have I heard “Life is just a bowl of cherries”?

And sometimes it’s true. Life just couldn’t be better!

Sweet and colorful, fresh and ripe….pleasant and perfect.

But like cherries in a bowl, I only have to wait a day or two and then, I find a cherry that is beginning to deteriorate…darkened skin…a little white place. The rotting process has begun!

I pick through the cherries, discarding all the decaying ones. Once again my bowl of cherries is perfect. I am diligent in this ritual until all the cherries have been eaten or thrown away.

I wish the “rotten” things in life could so easily be detected and so easily amended! My attentiveness might avert one disaster, and in the next moment, I am in the midst of another crisis.

I just want to enjoy that bowl of cherries!

Fortunately, tea time gives me the break I need to take a moment, breathe, relax and choose a new perspective to view my “chair of bowlies”! ( A Mary Engelbrit saying)

I like to listen to this version of the song….”Life is just a Bowl of Cherries” while I drink my tea and reflect!


Happy Infusions !



Perfect Iced Tea for National Iced Tea Month

June is National Iced Tea Month. I have often wondered why July or August were not designated as the National Iced Tea Month. June’s weather is often mild compared to July and August when temperatures rise and we are sweating profusely and seeking ice cold refreshments!

Staying hydrated in hot weather is important. Finding healthy beverages, besides water, that contain few additives and don’t have a high sugar content, can be challenging. Iced tea meets this criteria!

Some of our flavored black and green teas make excellent iced teas; Cranberry Breeze, Arctic Raspberry, Shanghai Lime, Strawberry Cream Green. ( All them are so yummy!)

Most of us have made “Sun-Tea” without any issues, however, according to the Center For Disease Control, using the sun to make tea can promote bacteria growth. There are a few guidelines on the following website if you insist on making Sun-Tea. http://www.snopes.com/food/prepare/suntea.asp

Our Perfect Iced Tea recipe below uses boiled water which is a safer alternative to Sun-Tea. Brew and enjoy the summer months with the second most consumed beverage in the world…tea!


Perfect Iced Tea

For 2 quarts (1/2 gallon)

In a 6 cup teapot, place an infuser filled with 12 heaping teaspoons of tea.

Fill the teapot with water heated to 195 degrees.

Steep for 5 minutes.

Remove the infuser.

In a 2 quart container fill 1/2 with ice

Pour tea over ice

Add cold water if needed to make 1/2 gallon of great iced tea !!

Happy Iced Infusions,



A Perfect Proper Cup of Tea

This is a subject I have avoided. Most long time tea drinkers have their favorite brewing methods and it would be presumptuous of me to instruct them on the “How To’s” of steeping tea! And I guarantee there are probably as many techniques for the “perfect cup” of tea as there are tea drinkers!

However, if you are new to the world of “loose” tea…tea that doesn’t come in a bag with a little string and tag attached…then perhaps a few helpful hints will insure your success.

***Use loose tea*** Usually loose tea is better quality than tea in a tea bag. Broken leaves or leaf “dust” is what goes into tea bags.

***Add tea to teapot***Using an infuser or tea filter measure about one teaspoon per cup into the teapot. If you have a 4 cup teapot, you would add 4 teaspoons of tea. I usually add a little extra because I like a full bodied tea. You will have to experiment and decide how you like your tea. In some tea circles the loose leaves are deposited directly into the teapot and a strainer is used when pouring the tea into a cup. I prefer the filter or infuser method…much easier to clean and the tea doesn’t become bitter.

***Water and Time*** Heat the water to boiling for black tea & steep between 3-5 minutes.

Cool water slightly for Oolong tea and steep between 2-5 minutes. Oolong can be steeped again using the same leaves.

Cool water to about 180 degrees for green tea. Steep between 2-4 minutes.

If you are using a white tea you only need the temperature of the water to reach about 165 degrees and steep it between 3-7 minutes.

If you use water that is too hot for green or white tea, it will become bitter.

Milk, lemon, or sugar can be added if you desire. Milk is not generally added to green, Oolong or herbal teas.

Store unused tea leaves in an airtight container.

And now you have one method of making a perfect proper cup of tea! Make a pot of your favorite tea and enjoy!


Happy Infusions,



Award Winning Chocolates….Lillie Belle Farms

Traveling north on I-5 we took a short detour into Central Point, Oregon.

Being a chocolate lover, it is difficult to drive past a sign like this without stopping!


The factory-retail store is an inconspicuous looking building.


Inside though, there is a multitude of incredibly finely crafted Artisian Chocolates. Over 60 different flavors of caramels, truffles and bon-bons!

Owner and Master Chocolatier, Jeff Shepherd uses organic raspberries, strawberries and marionberries which are grown on his family’s farm only a coulple of miles from the store.

We purchased several wonderful chocolates. My Sweet Husband chose a Chilpolte Ganache, a dark chocolate infused with smokey hot sweetness of chilpolte pepper.

I picked three little “chocolate cups”…..


A dreamy Lemon Buttercup….tart fresh lemon buttercream in a white chocolate cup.

Maker’s Mark Cup………………decadent cup filled with pecan butter, dark chocolate and Maker’s Mark

Whisky ganache topped with a large caramelized pecan.

Margarita Cup……………………margarita buttercream in a dark chocolate cup with “salted rim”.

I managed to arrive home with the chocolates untouched. But once I made a pot of tea….oh I savored every morsel of chocolate with every sip of tea!

Chocolates and tea are perfect companions!

If you aren’t heading North any time soon, you can order these award winning chocolates on line.


Happy Infusions…..enjoy with chocolates!



Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream…

While sorting through my cookbook collection, I came across this delightful recipe in my “French Women Don’t Get Fat” book. (Very inspiring, by the way!)

I adapted it, since I didn’t have any Muscat Beaumes de Venise on hand…. What kind of wine is this? Ah ha, I had to look it up and found out it’s a dessert wine. (Sorry, my lack of wine knowledge is showing!) I decided to substitute a Sherry, but I think Brandy would also work…it’s good to experiment, n’est-ce pa?

Here’s the recipe:

Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups Muscat Beaumes de Venise or any good dessert wine

1/2 cup sugar ( I used 1/4 cup raw and 1/4 cup regular white)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and halved ( I cut them smaller to fit better in my dessert dish)

1 or more scoops of your favorite Vanilla Ice Cream ( I love homemade!)

In a heavy saucepan, bring wine and sugar to a boil. Simmer for 5 more minutes….

Add lemon juice and pears….cook about 10-15 more minutes on low to medium heat.


Cool and refrigerate.

When ready to serve, bring the pears to room temperature. Serve with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream and a sprig of mint!


A refreshing dessert perfect with tea!

I have missed my “mint patch” that used to grow right outside our back door at the ranch. It was proflic! Of course, the dripping faucet helped! Every winter, it would die down, and I would wonder if this was the year it wouldn’t revive. Behold, every spring, little green leaves appeared and I rejoiced!

This year I planted a little mint with my little viola’s. I can quickly grab a sprig or two…right outside my back door again! Can’t wait for iced tea season…of course this Saturday I have to make a Mint Julep and watch the Kentucky Derby!


Happy Infusions,



Sorting the Cookbook Collection….

I love each one of them. They have distinct personalities. How could I sort and throw out any of them?

There they were stacked on my counter awaiting their fate…..


My cookbook collection. My recipes. Those wonderful creations that had saved my reputation more than once.


Love this one. It’s full of fabulous uncomplicated, gourmet, delicious recipes, and is a storehouse of information. It was a keeper.

My mother ask me to take home a few of her cookbooks the last time I visited her. Considering the current state of affairs, I thought this one might

be helpful….


Perusing through this collection from the Sunday Parade Magazine, I spotted several variations of the “Budget Casserole” and “Budget Stretcher” I remember my mother using. My favorite from this era, though, are the molded gelatin salads and the Baked Alaska dessert….


Oh dear… I hadn’t found any to dispose of yet.

Memories flooded my mind when I reached for this one….


I went with my children and now I’m going with my grandchildren on field trips to Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland, California. (That means Bishop’s has been in business over 25 years!) This little book is full of memories and great recipes like the Applesauce Pumpkin Bread (moist and tasty)

and I love their Persimmon Cookie recipe. I put it in the sentimental stack.

In my quest to raise healthy children, I collected these two fine cookbooks. The Snacks has clever ideas for “presentation” of healthy foods and the CANDY

was invaluable for great traveling ideas…foods, games and “how to’s”. Ok, these two belong in the sentimental pile.



I felt like hugging some of these cookbooks. They’re like old friends! When we moved to our ranch in Surprise Valley, I loved using recipes submitted by so many people I knew and saw at least once a month! Great food and sometimes a story or two makes this one a little like a story book…..


This darling notebook, given to me by my precious daughters, holds my accumulation of handwritten and typed recipes from

family and friends, and those I cut from magazines and newspapers.


And then there was the time My Sweet Husband and I attended a conference for small family farms and met a woman who was collecting recipes

and farm stories for her cookbook. We agreed to contribute and were published in this cookbook….



Probably one of the funniest cookbooks I’ve ever seen was given to me by my sister-in-law…


It does have the best bread pudding recipe I’ve ever tried! Sometimes it’s fun just to read through the names of the recipes…”Uncle Willie’s Swamp

Cabbage Stew”, “Clara Jane Vickar’s Creamed Tuna Lunch”, “Betty Sue’s Sister-In-Law’s Fried Eggplant”. It does have a whole section of recipes I don’t

think I will ever use….”Boiled Squirrel”, “Butt’s Gator Tail”, and ” Aunt Donnah’s Roast Possum”. However, one should never say never! I’m not ready to

part with this one yet.

This was my first cookbook. I had to buy it for my high school Home Economics class. It’s a basic, classical cookbook . It is beloved. Currently, the cover has been duct taped, and some of the index pages have come loose from the three ring binder, but for the most part, it is in great shape and still quite useful.


Well, I did manage to find six books to give away. I discovered I had never used a recipe from any of them and had no attachment to them.

Next there is the magazine recipe collection to sort through….the Bon Appetit, the Taste of Home, the Food Network.

Not right now though. I’m ready for a cup of tea!

Happy Cooking, Happy Infusions,



Curds on the Way…

On our way home from Grants Pass, Oregon we decided to gas up our truck in Central Point. We spotted a sign advertising the “Rogue Creamery”. We had a little free time and since we delight in off road excursions when we travel, we drove in the direction we thought the creamery must be. After two miles and no creamery, we stopped a bicyclist and ask directions. She mentioned that it was a small stone building, not fancy, but assured us “the company wins all kinds of awards for their cheeses”. After turning around, driving back the way we came and making an important turn (we missed the first time)…..

We spotted the sidewalk sign and pulled into the parking lot……


A cement trough filled with spring flowers graced the front entry…..


We were greeted warmly and introduced to the historic cheese shop. Not only does this store carry artisan cheeses, but also local wines and craft beers.

We tasted cheeses; blue cheeses, cheddar cheeses and curds. A representative from the Longsword Vineyard, pouring for the day, offered us a taste of Sparkling Chardonnay. This is a delicious light wine we sipped while perusing the gift shop.

We purchased several cheeses and a bottle of the Sparkling Chardonnay. This was my first time to taste cheese curds and I wondered what you might do with them. The helpful personnel made a number of suggestions. I noticed they sold a batter mix to make fried curds. I purchased a bag of curds vowing to find recipes for them.


After we were home, I researched cheese curds. Cheddar cheese curds are small chunks of cheese solids which form in the cheese making process. The remaining liquid is called the whey, a watery, thin liquid. I learned cheese curds have a two to three week shelf life, however, fresh curds can be frozen for up to four months. Cheddar cheese curds are similar to fresh Mozzarella in taste and texture. Fried Cheese Curds are a staple at the Minnesota Wisconsin and several Mid-Western State Fairs…..now who would have guessed? I found several recipes and decided to try a couple.

Cheese curds should be at room temperature before being battered and fried…..


Minnesota State Fair Recipe for Fried Cheese Curds.


1 pound of fresh cheddar cheese curds

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Enough oil to either deep fry or you can fry with a little olive oil and not deep fry.

Beat egg, add milk and stir. Add baking powder, salt and flour. Stir until thoroughly combined. Drop the cheese curds in and mix gently until all are completely covered with batter. Heat oil in skillet or deep fryer. ( I use my wonderful trusty cast iron skillet). Working in small batches, being careful the battered curds do not touch, drop the curds into heated oil. Flip only once. Fry until a golden color. (Approximately one minute). Drain on paper towel if desired. Eat while hot/warm. These are tasty…reminded me a bit of Mozzarella sticks.


This next recipe is a bit unusual, but tasty and a little different. I am especially fond of Hungarian Paprika, so that is what I used.

Beer Batter For Fried Cheese Curds

1 cup flour

2 tbls garlic powder

2 tbls paprika

2 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

1 egg

1 12 ounce can/bottle beer

Enough oil to deep fry or you can fry with a little olive oil and not deep fry.

Combine flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt,and pepper. Stir egg into dry ingredients. Gradually mix in beer until a batter is formed.

Drop in cheese curds and thoroughly coat with batter. Heat oil in skillet. ( I use my trusty cast iron skillet). Fry the coated curds approximately one minute, until golden brown. Be sure to keep them separated so they are not touching. Drain on a paper towel and serve hot/warm. These are really good with beer!


If you drive on Highway 5 into Oregon, be sure to make a stop in Central Point. Visit the wonderful Rogue Creamery. On the same side of the street there is also the famous Lillie Belle Farms Chocolate Shop ( I’ll talk about this in another blog) and a great little Wine Tasting shop !


Happy Excursions…..Happy Curds on the Way….. and Happy Infusions,



Bananas in Brown Sugar Sauce….

Recalling the advice of my dear Homemaking teacher, Mrs. Whalen, I decided to try the recipe before making it for guests.

Fortunately, I even decided this two days in advance, and not the day before. When I retrieved the brown sugar from my pantry, the jar was filled with rock hard lumps!


I had heard putting a piece of bread in an airtight container with hard brown sugar would soften it overnight.
We only had whole wheat bread. I carefully laid a piece on top and looked for recipes without brown sugar.


I didn’t really believe it would work by the next day. Since I had “read” that this was a guaranteed method, I presumed it would eventually soften the brown sugar.

The next day, it was perfect…not one lump!


I proceeded to make my….

Bananas in Brown Sugar Sauce for Two

1 teaspoon butter ( I used a little more)
1/2 teaspoon canola/vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar ( no lumps)
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sprinkle nutmeg and ginger (optional)
2 small bananas (quartered or sliced)
Scoops of……….Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

Heat butter and oil, add brown sugar and heat until it bubbles. Add rum, if desired, lime juice and spices. Cook slowly until it thickens slightly. Add bananas and cook until heat until tender.

Divide for two and ladle over a scoop or two of ice cream or frozen yogurt.

This is lovely and tasty ! I have made it with the rum and without, delicious either way. It is very rich and a little goes a long way!

I had a cup of Spiced Pear black tea with this.

Happy Infusions,

Backyard Baby Chicks….


The baby chicks are now at the feed stores …..they are adorable !

When we lived on the ranch, we ordered chicks from the midwest. We bought some at the feed store too, but you could find more exotic chickens from a catalog. Our local Post Office would call us to come pick up our box of babies (chicks).

We kept them in the house by our heater for a few days with a heat lamp. Our daughters adored this arrangement. They would bound out of bed in the mornings and hold baby chicks before having to get ready to catch the school bus.

Depending on the outside temperatures, we eventually moved them to the nice little secure pen with a heat lamp in the chicken house. By the time they were hens, they were quite tame.

Our children have backyard chickens and our granddaughter loves to hold them.

She has two that she is especially fond of….this is Dora….Hayley__her_chicken

I’ve been contemplating, once again, about having a few Backyard Chickens….but then I also think about turning my front yard into a vegetable garden and my pool into a cement pond with catfish. I’m not sure I was meant to be a neighborhood resident. All those darn CC&R’s !

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