Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Afternoon Tea

I love any excuse to have friends over and to use my flying turkey dishes, and a Saturday afternoon tea seemed to achieve both ends. It was a gorgeous day, with plenty of warm sunlight streaming through my living room windows. Since Halloween was just around the corner, I used my existing Halloween decor to complement a menu inspired by fall flavors.
The table all set for tea. You can see the gorgeous sunlight pouring through the windows, warming the entire room!
I hand-wrote invitations, using stationery from a supply that overflows a drawer of my console. (I'm very guilty of always buying stationery and never actually writing anything by hand.) I rummaged through my hutch and cabinets to find all the serving pieces I would need to make a pretty tabletop display, so no special purchases needed. 

The Menu: 
  • Pound cake with vanilla honey butter and pumpkin butter
  • Ginger-molasses cookies
  • Cinnamon-chip scones with maple glaze
  • Pumpkin mini-cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
  • Pumpkin blondies with caramel filling (find the recipe at Tasty Kitchen)

Of course, a tea party is not a tea party without tea. Aveda's Comfort Tea is a fantastic brew for the tea-averse. It's naturally sweet with a hint of peppermint, and therefore doesn't require sugar or milk. Another pantry staple is Earl Grey; a traditional black tea whose flavors work beautifully with the spicy sweetness of the tea treats. To change things up, I also brewed a batch of my Southern sweet iced tea, using Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea as the base. 

To make space for teacups, saucers, stemware, and the teas, I pressed my living room console table into service. I covered the potholders used to protect the surface of the console from heat with a square of black velveteen used in my Halloween decor. It's probably a little un-chic to use silver teakettles and not teapots for service, but the silver finish of the kettles did work well with my silver mercury-glass votives, candlesticks, and painted pumpkins!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baking Inventory

I have no idea what possessed me to spend part of a gorgeous Saturday morning sitting on my kitchen floor with a notebook, but that's exactly what I did last weekend.

I'm notorious for going to the grocery store, armed with a grocery list, and nonetheless ending up wandering down the Baking aisle looking for ingredients. I could happily stare at the spice display for a good 10 minutes if given the opportunity. The grocery list does little to prevent me from picking up extra baking staples, and since I've been on the short end of the wooden spoon so many times in my cooking, I always pick up the odd ingredient that I think might be missing in my cabinet. 

The result of this aimless wandering and guessing is multiples of many of my favorite spices. And of course my favorites are the expensive ones, the ones that make you cringe as they are scanned at the checkout. Since my baking season will be kicking into high gear in the next two weeks, I thought that taking an inventory now would prevent over-buying on the wrong ingredients later. 

So I took my time and went through my spice rack and cabinet shelves to take a full inventory of my baking supplies. How many jars of ginger do I have? How many bags of chocolate chips? Do I have cake flour, bread flour, and all-purpose flour? Everything was noted on notebook pages and taped to the inside of my cabinet door. Lest anything should be buried on a top shelf or behind a taller package, I now know exactly what I have on hand at a glance. Multiples of any items were tallied, and when I go through one I can mark the tally off.

Cabinet organized and ready for the season ahead