Percolator Parties and Other Fall Bequeaths

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I’d been thinking I wanted an old time percolator for some time and just couldn’t find the very thing.  And when a dear friend spotted this one in an antique shop, she said she saw my name on it.  Yay for the Holy Spirit working through dear friends!

This same friend has given me a very fine and perfect old-time picnic basket, egg coddlers, and more.  But for today I want to talk about my percolator.

After brewing up a few fine pots of coffee and tea, it quit.  I was sad, to say the least.  Oh, well, I thought, it still looks lovely on my kitchen counter, and I’m all about making the kitchen beautiful.

But my dear husband fixed it!!!  It simply needed a new resistor in the cord, and it’s off to the races again (the sound and sight of the brew gurgling up into the glass cap is the sound of joy).  Actually, it’s been off to the balcony in the chilly Rocky Mountain mornings for what we now call Percolator Parties.

Monday’s coffee Percolator Party was simply a Welcome-the-Morning, and Glory-in-Fall party.  Tuesday dawned bright and chilly and my daughter Hannah and son Seth joined me for chicory coffee in heated mugs with heavy cream, and to solve the little conundrums that make up our world.

On Wednesday the day sneaked up without early morning Percolator Party time, so we were ready on Thursday and chose to try a specialty Chai-with-chocolate tea, about which I had reservations.  But there are those special times when the first sip of an excellent tea changes things, sets them aright.  As I sat in the early morning chill, wrapped in a quilt and watching the golden apricot aspen leaves quake, I took one of those rare and wonderful universe altering sips of tea.

One after another, members of our household came out onto the balcony to savor the morning, to partake of our new and beloved delight, Percolator Partying.

In the Fall.

How far is Heaven?  Some days, not that far.

En-JOY-ment and Breakfast

snow tracks

The root of “enjoy” is the Latin “gaudere” which means “rejoice”.  I believe enjoyment is a responsibility and a choice and a life skill which can be learned.  But first I think it’s worthwhile to understand what enjoyment is NOT.

True enjoyment has no sorrow added to it.  In other words, a movie that I feel “smarmed” from afterward, doesn’t cut the mustard like a long walk in the snow.  Deep wet snow, like today’s, may be a bit difficult to traverse, but there will be no sorrow in this trek.  Rather, there are feelings of accomplishment and invigoration and the righteous earning of homemade hot chocolate, made by yours truly while someone else builds a roaring fire, and we continue discussing whatever came to our stimulated minds as we tried to identify animal tracks in the snow and discussed what we wanted to cook for Easter dinner.

Or I might read a bit and fall asleep on the couch.  Now that’s enjoyment.

cat napping

Yesterday the forecasted 2-4 inches of snow was closer to two feet.  The power went off for many in our area, and because ours was flickering, I cut my quiet time short and began cooking:  a double batch of biscuits, huge pan of scrambled eggs, elk sausages, canned peaches, and two pots of black tea.  What says enjoyment like not just a pot, but TWO pots of tea?

blue teapot

This wasn’t difficult because I prepped almost everything the night before.  I pulled my homemade baking mix out of the freezer, cut in the butter, added cream and milk, rolled out and cut out the biscuits, then put them in a baking dish thickly covered with coconut oil (makes the biscuits nice and crispy/crunchy on the bottom) while the oven was preheating to 450 and baking the sausages (the biscuits will take about 12 minutes at sea level, longer at 8,000 feet).  The kids made tea, set the table, got out the butter, honey, peanut butter, cream pitcher, cinnamon, and peaches, and when the biscuits were five minutes from finished I put the eggs on to scramble.

It takes the stress out of breakfast (where everything needs to be hot) to heat up the plates and serving dishes (it’s more fun if you take your time and serve everything in dishes at the table to be passed around) and to heat the tea pot.  If we’re having coffee (cream cools it) I leave the cream pitcher on the stove and preheat the mugs as well.

coffee pot

HERE’S HOW TO BEGIN:  Put the sausages on (I prefer the oven rather than stove top).  Put the tea kettle on and/or prepare the coffee (another thing to do the night before if you really want to make things nice and easy).  Put the plates (number of eaters plus one to put food on, or simply to stack under or over to help keep the plates hot) in the oven on 175 degrees until you need to preheat for biscuits, or to bake leftover boiled potatoes cut into wedges.  Take the plates out and wrap in dish towels to keep them warm.

Eggs:  We do two eggs per person, add sea salt, pepper, nutmeg and a little cream.  It’s nice if you’ve whipped them up the night before and just have to pull the bowl out of the fridge.  Heat your pan a bit, then right when you’re ready to pour the eggs in, add your oil of choice (I prefer organic lard).

Right after you put the eggs on to scramble (remember this is when the biscuits have about five minutes to go) pour your steaming water into the teapot – I keep my teapot on the warming zone on my new Hallelujah stove (you can also heat by filling with hot water from the sink – then dump the water, put in the tea bags and you’re ready when it’s time to brew).  Stir the eggs, give further instructions to kids (“don’t forget napkins, put milk in the cream pitcher,” etc.),  and give a “5 minutes til breakfast” call, then remove tea bags – this is according to taste, of course.  I don’t usually brew as long as the package says, and I usually use four bags per tea pot, and loose tea I sort of eyeball – about half the tea infuser full usually does it.

tea assortment

If something is awry (say your sausages aren’t ready) just go ahead with everything else – someone pouring tea, passing the eggs, giving thanks, and get the sausage to the table a little late – no problem.  Sausage is welcome whenever it arrives!  If you burned the eggs a bit, just add more pepper and call them Cajun-style.

When you get all this on the table you will  truly be the MVP, the Star of the Snow, the Queen of the Castle.  And no one will say “I’m hungry for a very long while.”

Enjoy!

P.S.  About that baking mix – DO NOT BUY THIS AT THE STORE.  JUST SAY “NO TO YUCK!”

My recipe, which, as all recipes, should be tweaked and personalized by you:

10 cups of various and assorted, or simply one kind of flour – in this particular batch I used 6 cups of unbleached non-GMO wheat flour, three cups of white whole wheat (again non-GMO – I get this at Wal-Mart or Sprouts, and it’s Wheat Montana Farms and Bakery), 1 cup of quick cooking oats.

3 Tablespoons of baking powder (non-aluminum)

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 Tablespoon of sea salt (less if regular salt)

1/2 cup of powdered milk (I still add whole milk and cream, but the biscuits will turn out with water only)

Stir these dry ingredients together very thoroughly and separate into freezer bags according to your preferred outcome.  I made three 3-cup bags and one 2.5-cup bag.  This is a lot for most people.  The 3-cup bag makes 15-18 large biscuits, of which I put back some for leftovers to wrap in foil and heat in the oven for the next day’s breakfast.

For the 3-cup mix I used two sticks of butter (will turn out with just one if you’re butter-conscious) and 1.5 cups of milk/cream (this was mostly milk with about 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream).  I also added about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to the milk (makes buttermilk of a sort).  If your mix is a little too moist, put flour on your hands, on top of the dough, and extra on the counter (or wherever you roll out your biscuits).  If it’s too dry, add a little more liquid.  No fretting allowed.  ENJOY this.

VARIATION:  Before adding butter and milk, stir in some (maybe two Tablespoons) organic sugar, about a cup (1/2 is fine) of chopped walnuts, pecans, flaked coconut, dried apricots or raisins, or any combination thereof, and call them scones.  Yum for sure.

ALWAYS:  Serve with butter and love, as butter, after all, is love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tea Cozy?

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You may think a tea cozy is a quilted teapot cover, and if so, may I recommend the knitted pineapple cozy found in Jane Brocket’s inimitable The Gentle Art of DomesticityBut I’d like to introduce the idea that a tea cozy is also a gathering of bliss wherein tea plays a part.
My first tea party was at friend’s house, and it was given in honor of our dolls, with a tiny painted metal tea set.  The dolls had tea (water) and raisins, and were quite happy with their fare.  After all, they got to sit at a little red wooden table in matching chairs, and be served. To this day, that is one of my all-time favorite teas cozies.
Such cozies may occur on quilts in the backyard with toddlers, peanut butter and crackers, a great book(s), and of course, tea.  Tea may be nice and hot in a thermos if fall is hinting at winter, or it may be iced to be enjoyed with berries picked alongside the road as you hike to a clearing under a nice big oak tree.

Other lovely tea cozy ideas include but are not limited to::  making breakfast special with tea, history teas, tea parties on a budget, literary teas, dress-up teas, teas on the balcony amid falling snow, slumber party teas, If-I-Could-Travel-Anywhere teas, Christmas teas, and tea parties for no particular reason (I think of these as conversation teas).

The only rule for a tea party is:  Conversation must be kind and intelligent.  Tea is a most excellent place to teach etiquette, and in fact when the kids were small I often brought a favorite etiquette book to our gatherings, Manners Matter by Hermine Hartley.

Now if you don’t have etiquette books, tea sets, knitted tea cozies, and a variety of gourmet teas, don’t be discouraged.  Have a coffee cozy (I use swiss water decaf mostly when having coffee with kids), or serve milk and cookies and call it a milk.  A milk?  Maybe a milk cozy.  If it’s cool outside, heat the milk and add honey and maybe some cinnamon and nutmeg.

There are endless possibilities, but the bottom line is simply this:  always be on the lookout for a tea cozy opportunity.  Bliss!