High tea for national afternoon tea week finale

When I posted about treacle scones a week ago today, I had no idea it was national-afternoon-tea-eve; I only discovered it the day after, and through the week I’ve been sharing my thoughts on what must be a national institution, afternoon tea.

But wait, what about high tea? Is that the same but bigger? or is a whole different thing served at the end of the afternoon and on the cusp of the evening, or even early evening? I’ve read various explanations of high tea, and afternoon tea, and the difference and origins… some suggest it’s all about class – that afternoon tea was for upper class ladies to socialise in each other’s homes with elegant refreshments, that high tea was for the workers who came home very hungry and had a meal called ‘high’ because it was eaten at a table and ‘tea’ because that was what was drunk… Well, I accept the afternoon tea explanation, but not the high tea one; people coming home from a hard day’s work would have a meal and they would drink tea with it, and they might call it dinner, or tea, but it wasn’t the same as high tea.

I looked for a dictionary definition:

a light meal eaten in the late afternoon or early evening that usually includes cooked food, cakes, and tea to drink

a meal eaten in the late afternoon or early evening, typically consisting of a cooked dish, bread and butter, and tea

Well… that being so, to finish off national afternoon tea week, let’s have high tea… I am going back to when I was young and very occasionally we would go to visit friends and family, or have them visit us, and we would have a salad, sandwiches, cakes, scones and tea – well, us children had fruit squash! Now I have to explain, that in those days, salad was much plainer and less fancy than it is now. At home, everything came from the garden, so all the vegetables were as fresh as could be and served in a very simple way; I guess people (maybe even me) would be very sneering of what was on offer then, compared to our slaws and beans and fruit mixed in and mayonnaise and pasta and rice…

A very traditional salad would include

  • lettuce, usually round, occasionally cos
  • watercress, broken into sprigs
  • mustard and cress/cress
  • tomatoes, whole or quartered
  • radishes, whole to be dipped in salt
  • spring onions, topped and tailed, sometimes halved lenghtways if they were very big
  • cucumber, in slices
  • celery, in sticks served in a jug
  • beetroot, boiled, sliced and served in malt vinegar
  • sliced Spanish onions (we never had this at home)
  • dried fruit such as raisins or sultanas (we also never had this at home)
  • pickles – onions, walnuts, piccalilli

All these items would be served separately, except sometimes the whole tomatoes were put in the bowl of lettuce – which would be a nice bowl, probably glass. As well as the usual serving spoons and salad servers (large spoon and fork) there would pickle forks – with long handles to reach to the bottom of jars, and with a prong at the end of the tine to spear elusive onions. Salad cream would be on the table as well as salt and pepper, and mustard for cold meat – usually ham or beef, sometimes tongue. We never had corned beef at home because having been through the war and sometimes eaten bully beef for months on end, sometimes in hot countries where he had to pour it out of the tin as it had melted, Dad couldn’t abide it. he didn’t like spam type products, so we never had those either. Sometimes we had hard-boiled eggs, or grated cheese, and to go with it all was bread and butter.

Sometimes, we might have jelly or trifle (left over sponge cake, jelly and custard) cold sponge and custard, tinned fruit and evaporated milk or banana custard to finish, but more usually it was a delicious home-made cake!

This all sounds very retro… but will such salads ever be back in fashion? I doubt it!

Links to my afternoon tea stories:

https://loiselden.com/2017/08/13/treacle-scones/

https://loiselden.com/2017/08/14/afternoon-tea-week/

https://loiselden.com/2017/08/15/afternoon-tea-week-its-tuesday/

http://wp.me/p2hGAs-6BS

http://wp.me/p2hGAs-6BW

http://wp.me/p2hGAs-6C3

… and indeas about the origins of high tea:

http://www.afternoontea.co.uk/information/what-is-high-tea/

https://www.thespruce.com/afternon-vs-high-tea-difference-435327

… and some lovely ideas!

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-throw-afternoon-tea-party

… and a link to my e-books and my recently published paperback, Radwinter:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

 

More crosswords

I feel like uttering some cross words… each week I copy the crossword from the Saturday paper so my husband and I can both do it. For the last couple of weeks, it has had some really tricky clues – and even when I get the answers they are words I don’t know. This week he did the crossword first, and when I asked him how he had got on, he replied that it hadn’t been too bad, in fact there were only two words he didn’t know or hadn’t been able to work out…

  • lover or collector of teddy bears (10)
  • the founder of Stoicism (4)

Well, I didn’t know them either … although I knew that once I found the answer to the teddy bear collector I would remember it!

So this morning I had a go at the crossword, and sailed through the top half, across and down… but then I came unstuck. As usual there were clues I knew the answer to but just couldn’t remember, and the letters I had offered no help. I didn’t actually know ‘illegitimate son of  a priest who wrote ‘The Freedom of Will’  but I could work out it was Erasmus – however, can I remember the second largest Caribbean island  (10) or the island with the capital of Palma (7)?

Am I very ignorant not to know:

  • another name for black diamonds (10)
  • an equine artist noted for illustrations in ‘Country Life’, Muriel Wace’s ‘Moorland Mousie’ and Anna Sewell’s ‘Black Beauty’ (7)
  • molluscs in a class/group that includes clams, cockles, mussels and scallops (7)
  • medieval coin minted in silver during the reign of Emperor Henry VI (5)

I have never even heard of Muriel Wace, but I have eaten enough seafood to think I really should know the mollusc!

For those who don’t know, a teddy bear collector, he or she is an arctophile, and the founder of Stoicism is Zeno who I actually have never, ever heard of. As for the Caribbean island, obviously it is Hispaniola, and the capital of Palma – where, in my defence, I have never been – is Majorca.

Muriel Wace it turns out was  born in 1881 and lived to be  eighty-seven; she was an author of children’s stories and in order to keep her privacy, wrote under the name Golden Gorse. She seems to have written mostly stories about horses and horse-riding, including Moorland Mousie which we know from the crossword clue! What I didn’t know was that the famous illustrator E. H. Shepherd of Winnie-the-Pooh fame, illustrated one of her books – but not, confusingly, Moorland Mousie ! he did however illustrate Black Beauty, on which Moorland Mousie was supposedly based… rather a circuitous clue this week!

… oh, and the other clues…Palma

  • black diamonds – carbonados
  • molluscs – oysters
  • medieval coin – soldo

 

Pillow

We went away for a few days and stayed in a lovely place – a beautiful room, lovely large en-suite, everything you could possibly want – and more – and best of all, a really comfy bed. each of us had two pillows and for some reason which I can’t remember, I decided to use both mine although normally I only have one or none… Why? Why did I think I would have two pillows? They were lovely pillows in very pretty pillowslips, but unfortunately I now have a bit of a stiff neck.

I got to thinking about pillows… have people always slept with something under their heads? I usually actually have my own arm or hand under my head and would people from earliest times have done this, or used a nicely shaped bit of wood, pile of leaves, animal skin? Do people all across the world use pillows? I actually don’t know!

On investigation, – Wikipedia – it seems that the word originates from pulvinas a Latin term for pillow or cushion. Ancient people from Mesopotamia and from Egypt and had pillows – which helped prevent shoulder and neck pain happening while sleeping – well, yes… but why didn’t earlier people also have things beneath their heads for the same reason –  my nicely shaped bit of wood, pile of leaves, animal skin? Also having your head lifted off the ground stops things getting into you mouth, nose, eyes, ears while you’re asleep.

I can imagine that people would have a favourite thing to act as a pillow, and wrapping a piece of animal skin, or soft tree bark, or big leaf round it would keep it altogether so you would wake up with the same nice thing beneath your bonce as when you went to sleep. Once cloth and fabric was being made it’s only a short step from a bag to a pillow slip. When there is something to contain whatever you’re putting your head on, the option increase – grass, hay, leaves, wool, feathers… These days of course we have all sorts of artificial fibres and foams – and many people have a particular filling they prefer, and a particular density of filling.

When I was very little, I remember my grandmothers having bolsters – these are long double pillows which would stretch across a bed for two people, and then extra pillows would go on top. When I had to share a bed with cousins a bolster was put down the middle to stop us kicking each other… which looking back on it seems a bit strange since I don’t remember fighting or kicking any of them!! However, one thing I don’t remember is pillow-fights… maybe we were good little children!

Bonce… bonce means head but where does that come from? No-one seems to know, just another funny English word!

 

 

Afternoon tea week… Saturday special

It’s Saturday in our afternoon tea week – and so far on the cake stand we have scones, cakes and pastries and an open sandwich… but maybe we need some ordinary sandwiches as well! As it is afternoon tea, and therefore something a little special, how about some suggestions from Constance Spry:

  • rolls split lengthwise, the ends cut off, some of the crumb taken out, spread with soft butter mixed with lemon juice, salt and pepper, crushed garlic or french mustard – fillings: banana and mango chutney, and/or fillets of bückling (a hot smoked herring) and dill pickle
  • triple-decker sandwiches – bacon and watercress, bacon and mushrooms, chicken mushrooms and lettuce, asparagus, bacon and toasted cheese
  • cheese bread filled with cheese
  • omelet in a roll – plain, fines herbes, cheese with a tomato salad

Actually, I’m not sure any of them appeal to me… What does Modern Practical Cookery offer:

  • liver sausage thinly sliced and the skin removed
  • minced ham flavoured with a few chopped chives
  • cold scrambled eggs, well seasoned and flavoured with a little chopped pimento

I’m not sure liver sausage is still available – but maybe paté could replace it, minced ham doesn’t sound appealing, and cold scrambled eggs certainly doesn’t! Nor do these other suggestions:

  • banana and jam
  • beef dripping
  • hare and cranberry
  • honey and walnut
  • paste (home-made – fish or meat paste beaten with butter and cooked egg yolks)
  • pineapple
  • sardine
  • tongue
  • tongue and ham

How about these, just culled randomly:

  • avocado and crab
  • chicken tikka
  • cream cheese & raspberries
  • duck  with plum sauce
  • goats cheese and fig
  • quince jelly and really strong cheddar grated
  • smoked salmon and beetroot

I think that might do!!

My featured image is actually of a delightful selection of Turkish pastries and desserts!

 

Links to my afternoon tea stories:

https://loiselden.com/2017/08/13/treacle-scones/

https://loiselden.com/2017/08/14/afternoon-tea-week/

https://loiselden.com/2017/08/15/afternoon-tea-week-its-tuesday/

http://wp.me/p2hGAs-6BS

http://wp.me/p2hGAs-6BW

http://wp.me/p2hGAs-6C3

… and a link to my e-books and my recently published paperback, Radwinter:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

 

Lightning – éclairs on Friday’s cake stand!

It’s Friday – which I always think of my day as I was born and a Friday, and my sister, and my two children – therefore we must be loving and giving! it’s Friday on afternoon tea week, and on the cake stand we have a danish open sandwich called a shooting star sandwich, some treacle scones, carrot and pineapple cake and Thor cake, so maybe we need some éclairs.

Éclairs are made from choux pastry which is different from other pastries in that it is made by cooking the ingredients before baking them in the oven – the first time you make it (well, the first time I made it) the process seemed so strange i was sure I was doing it wrong. However all turned out well and we had delicious pastries, filled with cream and covered in chocolate. I know there can be different fillings and toppings, but to me only cream and chocolate will do.

Éclairs come from France as you might imagine, a couple of hundred years ago. the name means lightning – but does it really get that from the fact that it is eaten as quick as lightning or in a flash? I’m not sure, it doesn’t somehow seem very likely… but maybe it’s true! Although Carême the famous chef is supposed to have been the person who invented them, the fact that choux pastry was at least three hundred years old by the time he was cheffing makes me believe that long slim tubes of pastry filled with yummy stuff and coated with more yummy stuff had been going on for a long time by little bakers all over the place – but particularly in Italy.

My mum was a great pastry cook – my pastry isn’t bad but hers was superb! Pies, tarts, flans… the best pastry makers are supposed to have cool hands, but mum’s hands were always very warm and yet her pastry of whatever sort, sweet, plain or savoury was always melt-in-the-mouth delicious! She used to make choux pastry, more often as little buns, rather than éclairs, and the cream they were filled with was probably out of a tin, and the chocolate on the top was either ‘cooking chocolate’ or good old Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, but the delicious golden, crisp pastry shell was just delicious (we actually didn’t know anything other than tinned cream or ordinary milk chocolate, so we thought they were jolly good too!)

So I think I will change the offering on the cake stand, I think I will have bite-sized choux buns filled with whipped cream and topped with melted chocolate (but I will use plain!)

Links to my afternoon tea stories:

https://loiselden.com/2017/08/13/treacle-scones/

https://loiselden.com/2017/08/14/afternoon-tea-week/

https://loiselden.com/2017/08/15/afternoon-tea-week-its-tuesday/

http://wp.me/p2hGAs-6BS

http://wp.me/p2hGAs-6BW

… and a link to my e-books and my recently published paperback, Radwinter:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden