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mishmash of teacups

I love Tea Tuesdays. I thoroughly enjoy taking creative license on this day to mix and match topics which I have collected during the week, or which are simply on my mind. It is like serving tea on mismatched teacups to your guests along with a lovely stacked tea tray of wee sandwiches, sweets and savoury treats. No one seems to mind, and everyone comes away with something they enjoy.

Tea Time Ritual Recap

Tea Tuesday was inspired by Christine, a follower who lives in France, who was curious about English tea traditions. Whether you take tea for pleasure, or for business as a rising business star entertaining clients, a little knowledge goes a long way.

I offer a new recipe each week, so check out and bookmark Online Guide to Afternoon Tea to keep up to date. Here is a sample of what we have prepared:

What Sort of Tea Drinker Are You?

If you aren’t sure what sort of tea drinker you are then you are in luck. Online Stores, Inc. and The English Tea Store Blog have created quizzes to help you decide.

The Queen’s Birthday Celebrations

Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her birthday twice, God bless her. This past Saturday marked her official 86th birthday which she celebrates privately. It is publicly celebrated in June. It was on her 21st birthday that she declared her dedication service to her people. I rather enjoyed this fun mash up version of that speech with random clips of tea service and acrobatic horses. Today I don’t even mind that Queen Mum is shown delivering part of the speech, and not the lovely Elizabeth.

25th Anniversary of MATE/FCC

Special Award of Service to His Honor L to R: Hon. David Onley, Peter Patry, Arnold Doobay

Lord D and I played a minor role of service to The Queen on Her Birthday, serving as official escorts to the Honorable David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and his wife, Ruth Ann. His Honor serves as The Queen’s representative in Ontario, so we shouldn’t have been surprised that there is much protocol involved. But with the guidance of Peter Patry, Aide De Camp walked us through the process with much patience.

You can imagine that the Queen’s Birthday would be a busy day for Their Honours, but they were kind enough to share in the 25th anniversary celebrations for MATE/FCC, Mission for Advancement of Theological Education, a cause which has been close to Lord D’s heart for a number of years. Both Christians, Her Honour Ruth Ann Onley, an accomplished Christian singer, has performed at MATE events in the past, and had plenty of friends in the room. His Honour was pleasantly surprised to receive a special award for service to God and Country from MATE/FCC Executive Director Arnold Doobay.

To show what a down to earth and good sport he is, the Lieutenant Governor provided a tour of Queen’s Park in Toronto to Rick Mercer– the Stephen Colbert of Canada–for the Rick Mercer Report:

For the Downton Abbey Fans

Downton Sixbey Episode 1: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Bananas: Edwardian Extravagance or Matter of Taste?

Fyffes became the first fruit brand

I seem to have the Edwardian on my mind lately. I generally think 100 mile diet when it comes to fruits and vegetables of that era. But as I enjoy my morning banana I kept wondering, did Edwardians eat bananas? We don’t even see Sybil gracefully nibbling one and she was pretty progessive. It is not exactly as if England is in a tropical climate and you don’t see many banana desserts in Edwardian cookbooks, right?

According to Spanish history, Friar Tomas de Berlanga brought the first banana root stocks to the Western Hemisphere in the 1500s, with a Chinese variety sent to England, where it was named “Cavendish” after the Duke of Devonshire’s family. The English are determined gardeners were able and still do cultivate bananas and pineapples, but not on a large scale. I would imagine it might have been quite a delicacy in that period.

It was Fyffe, Hudson & Co. who brought bananas to England in the 1880s, importing bananas from the Canary Islands on a large scale. Fyffes continues to be synonymous with bananas in the UK. London and Liverpool were the first cities in England to be introduced to the banana, aided in 1901 with the introduction of the new refrigerated ships which meant that the cargo would ripen more slowly.

So bananas appeared to be plentiful, but were people eating them? I consulted Lynn Olver at Foodtimeline for advice; she is a wealth of information when it comes to food history. She found this article which might shed some light to the reason we don’t see many banana recipes. Perhaps bananas had not yet caught their stride as a staple in our kitchens:

“Although bananas are so cheap and plentiful, and can be obtained all the year round, they are too rarely seen on the table, except in the form of dessert. This seems a great pity, as, with very little trouble, they can be converted into delicious sweets imaginable.–How to Use Bananas, Lloyds Weekly News [London], February 26, 1905 (p. 9)

Edwardian Low Fat Pumpkin Banana Bread

I love little slices of loaf with jam and non fat yoghurt

My favorite use for bananas is in breads. I did find a Edwardian banana bread recipe in which clever cooks used cooked pumpkin to provide bulk to the bread without affecting the flavour of the loaf. It still tastes like banana. I have adjusted the recipe to cut the fat and sugar by using applesauce (make your own if you have the time) and sucralose. I have omitted the icing, heavens knows we have our figures to keep up. Slice into bite sized pieces for tea with friends.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 1 1/4 cups applesauce
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Method

  1. Add the pumpkin and peeled bananas to a bowl and mash together then beat in the eggs, sugar and applesauce until pale and well combined.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder and spices into another bowl then mix into the pumpkin mixture. Add the walnuts and stir to combine.
  3. Pour the batter in a large loaf pan.
  4. Place in an oven pre-heated to 375 °F and bake for about 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake emerges cleanly.

Low Fat whole wheat Banana Bread

Low fat banana bread enjoyed for generations.

This is my go to banana bread recipe I make when our bananas start getting too ripe for our taste. To dress it up for tea I use chocolate or carob chips instead of walnuts and slice into finger lengths for the tea tray.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup  sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ – 1 cup walnuts (optional)
  • ½ – 1 cup raisins or mini chocolate chips (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Prepare 1 large bread pan
  3. In one bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In another bowl combine sugars, applesauce and eggs. Beat vigorously until frothy.
  5. Add mashed bananas to the wet ingredients and mix.
  6. Fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  7. Add walnuts and raisins or mini chocolate chips if desired.
  8. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, until crust is brown. Use toothpick to test.
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