tea

Gluten-free Scones

My son and I both need gluten-free foods, so I adapted Sienna’s Southern Scone recipe from Tea & Crumples for the gluten-free crowd. I used Pamela’s Gluten-Free Artisan Flour Blend as the base flour, but you can try your favorite gluten-free flour blend. Make sure it already has added gums, or add your own.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour
3 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
½ -1 teaspoon sea salt
½ Cup unbleached sugar (or coconut sugar)
3/4 Cup heavy cream, plus extra for coating
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional: 1 cup nuts, chocolate chips, or dried fruit

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a cast iron skillet with ghee or butter, and set it aside. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars. Cut butter into little pieces and press with hands into flour mixture until it is incorporated. It will resemble coarse bread crumbs. Add nuts/fruit/choc. chips if desired. Add eggs, vanilla, and heavy cream. Stir with fork just until dough forms. It will probably take less than ten turns. Dough might be a little sticky.

Press into well-seasoned, greased cast iron skillet. Form into a large, flat disk at least an inch thick. It’s okay if the dough touches the sides of the pan. Coat top with a little cream.  (I add a tablespoon of creamto the measuring cup that held the egg and use that mixture for the tops of the scones, so it’s sort of like an egg wash). With a knife, score the unbaked dough into 8-12 triangles, but do not separate the dough. Bake for 15 minutes.  Check and return to oven for additional time as needed, checking at 2 minute intervals. Done when light golden brown on top, or about 20 minutes cooking time.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from bake sheet.

Serve warm or room temperature with clotted cream and fruit preserves.

Variations:  for cinnamon pecan scones, add a teaspoon or so of cinnamon to dry ingredients. For cashew scones, remove granulated sugar and use an entire cup of brown sugar instead. For strawberry scones, add a little cardamom.

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I made a batch of these scones this morning, and these are the only ones left! I don’t think they’ll last the evening.

Enjoy! This weekend, Tea & Crumples ebooks are on sale for only $2.99 on Kobo, Nook, iBooks, and Kindle. Make these scones, and enjoy with a good read!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Shopping through the links does not change your cost, but I might receive a small amount of money for referrring you. Thank you!*

 

 

Tea for Lent

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Mmm. Lenten high cuisine. Carrot slices with a rosemary sprig and plain tea.

Ah, Lent. Weeks when we avoid rich foods in order to feed our poor souls. If you usually take your tea with milk, Lent is also a time to switch to tea varieties that are at their best au naturel.

This Sunday is Cheesefare, the last day before Orthodox Lent. I’ve switched up the tea varieties at our house. Here are my two favorites (affiliate links):

Numi Cardamom Pu-ehr

Harney Chocolate Mint

These are perfect alone or with a drop of maple syrup or honey. If you favor Darjeeling, you already know it’s best without milk and steeped for only 3 minutes.

A holy Lent to those celebrating! For everyone else, enjoy these dairy-free tea and baking options:

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Christmas with Tea & Crumples

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A couple of weeks ago, I led a dozen or so kids in making homemade hot cocoa packets {recipe here} for their families. One of the joys of a good tea kettle is that the water makes instant cocoa as easily as tea. I took advantage of some of the leftover mix and sat down with a steaming mug of chocolate to give thanks.

I am grateful for the cooler weather that draws us closer around the tea table. I’m grateful for beeswax candles. I’m grateful that a book from my heart was published and has been well received by readers and reviewers alike. (See Texas TEA & TRAVEL’s Praise Here!) I’m thankful for stories that come and set a spell when I’m quiet.

I’m grateful for family and friends to sing and laugh with. I’m grateful to have a Christmas card list that outstrips my Christmas card budget this year. For the quiet communion of ink on paper. For the ability to write a smile into a note and stamp it.

I’m thankful for you, too. Thank you for sharing this journey of laughter, simplicity, love, and tea at the heart of it.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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Tea & Crumples* is available through your favorite local bookstore or online retailers. The Orthodox Mama calls it a “perfect book club book.”

*amazon affiliate link

Mild Masala Chai

The weather is turning cool here. Then it turns warm. Then it turns cool. Autumn in the South means fluctuating weather. This weekend, we’re due for a cold spell. The leaves are almost done showing off, and I was craving spices. After reading several chai recipes online, I decided to make my own.

My goal was three-fold: 1.) Make a spiced chai that’s not bitter, and 2.) Make a spiced chai that works in my teapot rather than needing time on the stove, and 3.) Make a spiced chai that I can serve to friends who can’t have dairy.

I had run out of several spices, so I went to the store this morning. This afternoon, I got everything together: our favorite Indian tea in tea bags, ground ginger, black peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom pods. We have a wonderful tea kettle that keeps the water at the perfect temperature all day, so I dove right in.

First, I added the spices to a loose tea filter bag. Then I placed the black tea bags and filter bag into the pot and filled it with boiling water. After three minutes, I removed the black tea bags. This kept them from oversteeping and turning the mixture bitter. I kept the spice bag in the pot for another 7 minutes (10 minutes total). After removing the spice bag, I poured the tea out into mugs that had 1 teaspoon demerara sugar and a splash of half & half each. It made 4 big mugs of spiced tea. If friends who are fasting from dairy or have dairy allergies come over, I can pour the tea over coconut milk instead.

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The ingredients: black peppercorns, ground ginger, Assam tea bags, whole cloves, cardamom pods.

This tea was mild enough to drink without food. If I were serving it with spicy foods, I might steep the spices a bit longer or add more of them. But for a rainy afternoon, it was just right.

Mild Masala Chai

Tea & Crumples is available now wherever books are sold! Find it at Amazon HERE (affiliate link).

Making the Most of Bagged Black Teas

My godmother at a recent gathering where we served tea from bags.

We tea lovers like to indulge in leaf teas. The fragrance, body, taste, ritual and beauty of tea shine through in leaf teas. But let’s face it: we can’t always afford our favorite teas.

Thankfully, the perfect need not be the enemy of the good when it comes to tea. Teabags can make for a rich tea experience, too. You’ll have to avoid a few common pitfalls, though.

  • Don’t oversteep! Black tea in bags really only needs about two (2) minutes to brew properly. All the caffiene will brew out by about two minutes, and leaving the bag any longer will make the tea bitter.
  • If you oversteep, try adding the teensiest pinch of baking soda to the pot. This will take off the overly bitter edge. 
  • Ask friends for recommendations before buying if you’re new to tea. The grocery store brands that I’ve found most consistently good are Twinings English Breakfast, TAZO Awake, and PG Tips. If you’re lucky enough to have access to Taylor’s of Harrogate or Harney and Sons, the breakfast blends (or Assam or Keemun) are very nice in leaf or bag form. Sometimes a store brand (like the Whole Foods generic black tea) is good, too. Try to catch it on sale.
  • Teabags that come in bulk (not individually wrapped) work great in hotel coffee makers. They are also usually geared to frequent tea drinkers. I’m thinking of PG Tips, Lighthouse, Rose’s, the Whole Foods brand, and Taylor’s of Harrogate bags. They make good tea on a budget, and they travel well. 

Later this week, I’ll share some bag blends that work well for different health needs. 

What’s your favorite black teabag?

Take it on the Tea

I love watching period dramas. I’m partial to a good mystery series. There’s one trope in period dramas that makes me “awwwww” in disappointment like a soccer fan when a goal is missed. Can you guess?  

If you’re going to hunt for clues, carry a tea service or at least a cup!

 

When the terrible evidence is discovered, someone drops a tea tray. Sometimes it’s only a cup and saucer. The key is, disasters provoke the immediate disintegration of china. 

It’s been almost three years since my dad died, and I’ve been conscious of how swiftly time passes. Many of my friends have lost a parent now. When we’re gathered around our children, watching them blow out candles and widen their eyes over ice cream, I can’t help but feel the fragility in the moments. Our littles will hopefully outlive us all. They’ll be the ones remembering the strength in the arms that held them, the warmth that fades out of old photographs, the love that lit their birthday candles.   

Teacups are the closest thing to holding memories in my hands. They are strong and fragile, warm and rich, or cold and empty. I set them out for friends and fill them to the brim with the best I have. 

I hope to continue doing so for many years. I hope I get to watch my grandchildren break my china with the careful distraction of childhood. Perhaps I’ll even rejoice to see them off to their homes with my old cups in hand. 

When I’m silvered over and it’s my turn to be the body in the library, I hope that whoever finds me is holding a teacup. I hope they drop it with a satisfying clatter. Then someone will come running. They’ll shake their heads at the poor old dear who left the world in quiet, and they’ll smile at the broken cup on the floor. “Gran always liked a bit of drama,” they’ll smile. Tears will disappear into sleeves. “Come on. Let’s get some tea.”