Category Archives: Birthday

Love, care, family, tea, cake

This post covers a multitude of cakey sins…..(and for anyone waiting for a blog post about last night’s FABULOUS Lemony Drizzle and Tilly-Rose vintage Christmas craft soiree..I will write this up as soon as time allows..but this post is just bursting to get out..).

Yet again I return to ‘what’s it all about’, in terms of why do I bake? Why do I feed people with my cake? Why do I keep struggling to fit this in with my full-on day job?

A few things have strengthened my conviction that it’s all about love, care, family, tea, cake…

1. Nine year’s ago (9!) I wrote out all my favourite recipes, in gold/glitter ink no less, in one of those fancy moleskine notebooks (which were probably new on the scene, back in 2002) as a Christmas gift for some friends. I wondered (worried, even) at the time whether they would appreciate the time, effort, care and love that went in to digging out all my recipes (from my notebooks and my memory) and writing them down, long hand. I categorised the recipes into starters/soups, mains, and desserts, cakes, chocolates etc. Only 1 recipe out of the collection was ‘untried’. Anyway, I’ve barely thought of this collection of loved foods since 2002 – until this week. I had dinner with the said friends (don’t you love old, tried, tested friendships?) and ‘A’ dug out the notebook – now splattered with foody splodges and with the pages wedged with additional notes and recipes pulled from magazines and newspapers. Yes they use the book; yes they have tried (and now love) many of my recipes and yes, they did indeed appreciate the time, effort, care and love that went in to producing that low cost gift back when we were all a little bit younger. Think about that as you’re rushing around the high street looking for gifts this festive season……….

2. It’s very, very rare that myself and Mr Tea frequent a tea room or cafe that we truly feel ticks all the tea/cake boxes. Today we did and so I’m more than happy to give it a plug in the hope that business picks up for this new establishment in these economically hardened times. The place is Margaret’s – it’s on Wentworth St in the centre of Peterborough. Who’d have thought that my home town would FINALLY, FINALLY, get a decent, non-chain tea room right in the City centre. The tea room is named after one of the owner’s mothers. There are pictures of Margaret and her family dotted around the place – now, perhaps you’re thinking, Oh God No!!!! But the photos are simply wonderful,nostalgic, limited in number and placed on a couple of stylish, vintage pieces of furniture. There is fashionable wall paper, crisp white tablecloths, a superb display of mouth watering, homemade cakes under  stunning glass cloches, little hand written notices on the tables inviting you to eat warm scones and clotted cream. The menu includes an impressive list of loose leafed teas – we had the house/Margaret’s blend and it was VERY flavoursome, served in a large white tea pot. Margaret’s manages to combine love, care, effort, family – with style, thoughtful/ethical food (some locally sourced) and excellent, friendly service. It’s just a shame that I’d had a big breakfast and couldn’t sample the cake! But I will be back – hop along and try it out yourselves to ensure Margaret’s is a local success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. I was fortunate enough to be interviewed this week by the Editor of  the local Nene Living magazine. She’s writng a feature on vintage tea rooms (and it was she that told me about Margaret’s) and wanted a few Lemony Drizzle thoughts about why they are popping up all over the place. So I waxed lyrical about nostalgia, the importance of community and coming together in difficult times (well, did you hear the Chancellor’s budget statement this week? Don’t get me started…). I said that taking afternoon tea is an INCLUSIVE affair – I get many men attending my tea parties for a good natter and a slice of cake and I’ve seen ‘strangers’ in Sophie T’s vintage tea room in Yaxley (another great place I will review properly at some point) lean across and chat to people at the next table (how rare is that?). I’ve had guests get rather tearful when they see my beautiful tea sets because it reminds them of the china their own mothers or grandmothers used. My china is almost all sourced from within my own and Mr Tea’s family attics and I think of my nearest and dearest EVERY time I use it. Love, care, family…

4. Finally on this topic (for the time being!)….I’ve taken the plunge and applied for the next series of the BBC’s Great British Bake-Off! Well..why not – I’m a show off, and not only do I love to bake (had you guessed?) I love to FEED people and see them eating and oohing and aahing over my cakes (when all goes well anyway) so I’d love to have a go on the telly though I have NO illusions about getting very far because the standard is going to be incredibly high in the next series, even if I manage to get picked. The application asked for details about my ‘signature’ bake (I don’t have one, yet), family anecdotes and recipes etc…. so again I got to talk about the importance of love, care, family, tea and cake, cake and more cake! Who knows what the producers will think – but I do know I wrote the application from the heart – and not once did I talk about ‘my journey’ – something Mr Tea absolutely baulks at on these reality shows!

Ta ta for now….I’m off to bake a Victoria sponge for my own lovely Mother’s birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday Mum x x

 

Advertisements

Being a good hostess

I was intending to blog about my thoughts about WHY I spend my precious spare time baking and hosting secret tea parties-  I think about it a lot because I get SUCH a lot of enjoyment out of it even though I also find it time consuming and at times stressful…. getting everything done when I also work full time is no easy feat. So…why? But as well as writing about that, I thought I’d combine those thoughts with feedback on the first children’s vintage tea party that I hosted last weekend, because in some ways it exemplified what ‘being’ Lemony Drizzle is all about.

Whilst there are many keen amateur/home bakers and cooks out there it’s not just the baking that I love. And it’s not really the planning as I find this the hardest bit to fit in to my busy working life… never enough hours to dream up new recipes, try them out, shop for the ingredients..so sometimes I fall back on old favourites or trust that a new recipe will turn out just fine even when I’ve had no time for a trial run.

What I really love, above everything else, is hosting tea party events. Having guests come to eat my food and enjoy it, looking after people, knowing they will (fingers crossed!) be impressed with what I’ve baked and making the table a visual delight – THAT’S the best thing ever in my view. It’s such a basic thing to do really, to feed people, to make connections with people, to strengthen bonds over the tea table… it shows you care when you spend time baking, when you try your best to ‘wow’ people – not just because food looks good but because it also TASTES good – no good having one without the other! So many ‘food experiences’ these days are bland, branded, ubiquitous, there’s very little that’s personal with an eye to the finishing touches – it doesn’t matter where you are in the country (or even the world) you can go to a chain cafe and get the same food, often mass produced, taken from the freezer, and made to look and taste the same in Aberdeen, Liverpool, London or Southampton. I find that utterly depressing.

There’s something so civilised about sitting at a table laid with pretty tea cups and plates, with freshly cut flowers (though I can’t claim they’re from my own garden, sadly), starched white table linen, having a conversation with your fellow guests, and being waited on by someone who really does care whether you have a lovely time and who knows what went in to every morsel you’re eating. You can get more perfect looking cakes or scones elsewhere that’s for sure – I’m not the most careful of bakers when it comes to prettying up my wares – but you would be hard pushed to find a tea table with food containing more love, care and devotion to pleasing the people consuming the fare. I love ‘doing’ Lemony Drizzle because I love feeding people with great food.

And so hosting a tea party for a beautiful, sophisticated 8 year old and three of her friends was an absolute joy last weekend. The birthday girl gasped with delight when she saw the tea table and the cakes that were lined up for her party. She introduced each of her friends to Ms Drizzle and they loved drinking pink lemonade poured from pretty tea pots and loved the name tags I’d tied with ribbon around their whiten linen napkins. They wolfed down the finger sandwiches and, much to my surprise, enjoyed the dark chocolate marbled cookies and chocolate dipped fancies, much more so than the butterfuly cupcakes which went untouched (though they loved talking about them!). Their little tummies couldn’t of course take as much as adult guests I feed, BUT that did not diminish their love of visually consuming the feast before them. They chatted away to each other and to me, weren’t at all shy and giggled and laughed – a lot!

They adored the sherbet lemon sweetie cake I’d made as the centre piece, filled with sherbet butter icing and topped with jelly tots, jelly beans and flying saucers even though they only ate the sweeties because they were full up! Seeing their joy at having a vintage tea party was so lovely – the birthday girl declared it her ‘best party ever’ and decided that Ms Drizzle makes ‘the best cakes in the world’.  She wants to do it all again next year.

What more could a host ask for? x x