Time for tea swap: What was I thinking ?

Contents of the make and do drawer

Contents of the make and do drawer

I got carried away the other day and signed up for a tea and craft swap. What was I thinking ? I don’t do craft type things, I bake…outside of the kitchen I can’t make anything to save my life.

I know what it is, I was lead astray by the thought of tea…I am a complete tea addict – it wasn’t always this way, I used to be addicted to coffee, so much so that when we went round europe on a train aged 18 I took a jar of nescafe with me just in case…in Yugoslavia I fell off a train and was concussed, my friends were worried as at least 5 times in the 4 hours afterwards I got up and checked my rucksac saying “thank god the coffee survived” – girl with priorities me.

But now I am definitely a tea addict. I have been known when visiting friends to walk into their kitchens and put the kettle on if I think they are being a little slow on the refreshments front…OK its just KT Cupcake and Flapjack Queen where I do this, and they are almost “family” anyway…

So here I am, with 9 days to go. I have the tea bought to swap. I have my  “item to be used by swapee in crafting” ready to send, but I have no “tea related object  made by swappor ” to send…and I can’t send cake as it probably won’t travel well, besides I may have to swap early if we do go away at any stage next week.

I must have been mad. I must have been lead astray by my tea addiction – that’s it, the balance of my mind was disturbed…but Vonnie’s website is so nice. Vonnie’s nice…I could do this, couldn’t I ? Thank god I am on leave for most of the next week…now what can I make that isn’t a tea cosy ?

What goes with Jam and Bread ?

Tea. Apparently. It also goes very well with cake, and in cake… I read somewhere the other day that “afternoon tea” is making a comeback. That lovely ritual of small sarnies, little cakes or scones or best of all a toasted teacake. It would appear that in times of crisis, despite the rise of coffee in the last 10 years, the Brits, especially the English reach for their cuppas.

My day is punctuated, almost timetabled by important cups of tea which help me get through the day. The gasper, the first cup on waking, drunk in the dark as I slowly collect my thoughts together to tackle the day. The catch up cuppa with my parent when I drop Spider off. The procrastinator, the one I drink when I reach my desk as I sort the inbox into urgent and delete…

The Teenager is itching to cook with it, or correction he wants to try smoking food in a biscuit tin, having watched Jamie Oliver at the Food Show I think, woodshavings however make me think far too much of the bottom of a gerbils cage, so come summer (as I don’t fancy a kitchen thick with smoke) I may let him experiment with a biscuit tin and some loose tea…

I spent my lunch hour cruising the 4 floors of this building trying to cadge an Earl Grey teabag as I’m planning some budget cooking not involving a muffin…I have some not particularly good dates, some sultanas and some prunes to use up. The plan is Bara Brith…a real “tea” cake.

Request for cake…

Yay ! I just got my first email asking me to recommend a cake to go after a particular meal.

I would as a knee jerk reaction to any meal recommend Sticky Toffee Pudding (Gary Rhodes). Yes I know its now a restaurant cliche like the 70’s Black Forest Gateau but it is just heavenly if done well.

Anyway there were some restrictions to the cake. It needed to be made in advance, not require warming up and be suitable for handing round with a cup of tea just before guests leave. For which I recommend ginger cake. Either the Nigel Slater one I recommended earlier or the Nigella Lawson version of the same thing [here] (without the preserved ginger) either way I think the lemon icing is a must !

Cupboard clearing…

Haven’t been baking much the last 10 days as there is plenty to eat and I keep being given left overs from people I know.

Started sorting the cupboards out last night, doing a stock keep of what I have and what needs using up, other than the obvious stuff in the fridge…

Still feeling run down so trying out a “tonic” rather than copious cups of tea as I still have some ginger left from my cold cures and I discovered some forgotten lemon grass in the freezer, which if I was in the mood I could turn into a Thai curry (as there are 2 tins of coconut milk lurking with the rice pud) but I am not in the mood…although there are still loads of goose bits in the fridge…and I wonder if the co op sells corriander…

Anyway rather than the curry I haven’t made here is the tonic (makes 4 cups, I’ve only made 1 as I may use the rest of the lemon grass on something else)

Lemon grass and Ginger Tea (Cook at Home with: Peter Gordon)

2 stems lemon grass bashed flat with a hammer or rolling pin

100g ginger skin scrubbed and roughly chopped

1 litre cold water

sugar, elderflower cordial or honey to taste

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat, out the lid on and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain before drinking.

lemongrass tea - a break for the liver

lemongrass tea - a break for the liver

ps ooooh, whilst rooting around in the veg drawer for the ginger I found the beetroot I bought just before christmas to do Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s Beetroot Brownies, so I may do one last baking session before new year…

verdict on the tonic: Well I feel invigorated, the ginger was a bit strong for my taste, but perhaps its less intense if you drink it hotter, mine was a bit on the cool side as just as I made it, Spider dragged me off to show me a 3 he had just found – we’ve been playing a number recognition reward game, if he correctly names a number then he gets a small toy as a reward…it probably would be cheaper with sweets…!