The Ladies' Tea Guild

Friday, December 31, 2010

Ring in the New Year with some tea punch!

Pomegranite tea punch.
Tea can be combined into so many delicious recipes, both healthy and decadent.  This recipe is refreshing during hot weather, and festive for the holidays.  It is a favorite beverage with the members of the South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild. 

Ladies’ Tea Guild Pomegranite Tea Punch
2 liters lemon-flavored carbonated water, chilled
1 liter brewed apricot or peach black tea, chilled
2 to 3 cups pomegranite juice, chilled
1 tablespoon rose water
ice cubes
culinary rose petals or nasturtium flowers for garnish 

Combine the iced tea, pomegranite juice and rose water in a large container and chill thoroughly.  Just before serving, transfer to a punch bowl and add the ice and lemon-flavored carbonated water.  Float edible flowers, especially organic rose petals or nasturtiums, on top for garnish.  Serve immediately. 

You can vary this recipe with any kind of red juice, if you don't have pomegranite.  Cherry and cranberry juice are very good, but orange juice would probably work just as well.  Rose water can be found in the International Food section of many grocery stores in the United States;  it is often used in Middle Eastern cooking, and will be on the shelf with the Middle Eastern  packaged foods.  If you don't have apricot or peach-flavored black tea to use as a base, you can use a bit of canned or bottled apricot or peach juice, or just leave it out and use plain black tea instead.  Edible flowers are most easily available in the late springtime, so if you can't find any this time of year, leave them out. You can replace them with lemon slices if you like.

This punch is lightly fizzy, floral and fruity, and has a lovely, festive, clear dark red color, plus it has antioxidants and Vitamin C.  If you wanted to make it alcoholic, you could use champagne instead of the carbonated water, and have something similar to a Bellini, which would be delicious.  However you celebrate, stay safe and healthy as you begin your new year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cuccidati for Christmas!

Homemade cuccidati!
I remember having a huge pink bakery box of Italian Christmas cookies at my grandma's house every year.  Being allergic to nuts, I couldn't eat many of those cookies, but I remember how good they looked and how everyone enjoyed them.  I've been making more of an effort to research Italian and Sicilian traditions, especially holiday and food traditions, and re-create them.  This year, it was Sicilian Spiced Fig Cookies, or Cuccidati.  Instead of the traditional filling of spices, dried fruit and nuts, I left out the nuts and made a cookie that I could eat!  Here is the recipe that I used:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday baking.

Cuccidati (but they're missing their sprinkles) from Wikipedia. 
I'll be working on some holiday baking this afternoon before I sing my last two gigs with the Lyric Theatre Victorian Carolers later today, so we'll see how much I can get done.  On the schedule: Sicilian cuccidate, more gingerbread (cake) and gingerbread cookies, and possibly some Italian anginetti and/or anise toast. 

The gingerbread cake will be for gifts, along with jars of homemade jam.  The gingerbread cookies will be made in two shapes: houses and donkeys.  The gingerbread houses will be decorated as Victorian houses, and the donkeys will be decorated like Italian donkeys (with red saddle and blue bow around neck).  The other cookies will be for the family.  There is a lot of advance preparation, and chilling of the dough, so I'd better get started!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Afternoon tea in San Jose: Satori Tea Bar.

Satori Tea Bar street sign.
Did you know you could have afternoon tea at Satori Tea Bar in downtown San Jose?  The shop is not only a good source for flavored and unflavored loose tea blends, and a quiet place to sit and enjoy a pot of tea and a pastry.  Victoria, the owner, has put together a couple of afternoon tea menus that can be customized to suit an occasion or the dietary requirements of the customer.  Advance notice is, of course, necessary!  There are two options: the Demi Tea and the Full Tea.  The Demi Tea costs $21.95 and includes a pot of your choice of tea, a scone with clotted cream, jam and honey, and four large tea sandwiches. 
Demi Tea plate with savories and scone

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Use tea to make your own Christmas gifts!
Now that the Christmas season has begun, everyone is thinking about affordable, yet thoughtful gift ideas that will please their loved ones.  Of course, tea makes a wonderful gift in and of itself, but did you know that tea can be used to make many things that can be given as gifts?  You can make a variety of gifts that are useful and attractive, and save money doing so.  Here are 10 inexpensive, fairly easy ideas for food and cosmetics that your friends and family would love to receive:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Making a late-Victorian day cap, ca. 1882

Day caps.  Frank Leslie's Lady's Magazine, 1863.
Now that the winter is closing in, we costumers start thinking about sewing projects that we want to complete for the holiday season.  There are so many fun events happening all over the United States that it can be hard to choose which ones to attend!  Here in the Bay Area we have the Great Dickens Christmas Fair going on, and California costumers love to go there in Victorian costume.  The best costumes are complete outfits, including all the little details of accessories, like day caps, that make you look like you've stepped out of the past.

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)