Monday, April 22, 2013

A Morning at the Peacock Tea Room

This past Saturday, me and Mr. Fleam journeyed to the Georgia Renaissance Faire for the day.  It was a perfect day; low temperatures and low crowds and as a bonus, it was bring your pet weekend.  There were puppies everywhere!  I also have the rare pleasure to spend several hours with my lovely, dearest Indigo La Rue and family!

One of the things I look forward too on our Renn Faire days is a visit to the Peacock Tea Room.  This visit was no exception.  We entered the fair and walked to the back and up the hill to the tea room.  While we were not pleased with the first table they showed us, they quickly changed the seating an we were given a fabulous table with an excellent King's Hall Stage view.

Since we knew we would be in the tea room for a while, along with the fact that Mr. Fleam can drink his weight in hot tea, we ordered the large pot of Earl Grey (abt. 10 cups).

 I have devoted many, many hours to perfecting my scones so I was excited to try the scones on the menu.  Mr. Fleam and I both ordered a scones plate.  This included two scones, one raspberry and one sweet (plain), a choice of Raspberry Jam or Orange Marmalade and a dollop of house-made Devon Cream.

I would not call what arrived at the table scones.  Please do not misunderstand, they were divine.  They had a "thick" cookie look - what I would call Tea Cakes.  The outside was like a cookie and the inside was an absolutely delicious cake texture.  The Raspberry Jam was incredibly sweet by itself but paired perfectly with  the Devon Cream.  Speaking of the Devon Cream, I took several dedicated tastes to see if I could determine the combination.  While this is a guess, I believe it was an unsweetened whipped cream with cream cheese base.  It was good.  I'm not the biggest Devon Cream fan, it is a texture thing for me.

We enjoyed our time waiting for Ms. La Rue and watched several shows.  After the scones, we decided to try the cheese plate.  The plate included a cucumber/basil soft cheese that was good.  The plate came with a Bacon Chutney, which is OK if you eat pork.  I do not.   It was a typical cheese plate, enjoyable but nothing exceptional.

Once Ms. LaRue and Family arrived, we ordered the Lemon Trifle with four spoons.  The waitress asked if we wanted a splash of rum or something else (Brandy, Whiskey?  I don't remember).  Any how, we requested Rum.  I know, real surprise there!  Well, when she served it, she told us that the Chef usually does not put Rum on the Trifle but did this time as a special favor for us.  While I appreciate the favor and it was delicious, please do not try to make it sound like it was a special request after it was offered as a choice from the wait staff.  That was annoying.

Overall, it was a fabulous visit.  I will be going back again!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sorry for my lack of posts lately.  Since DoTD, I have been busily preparing for a Tea and Scone Tasting this weekend.  Work, work, work......

But I did want to share some of the more disturbing vintage Valentine's Day cards that I have run across.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Creepy Christmas with The Shadow Farm

As I am sure I have mentioned before, one of my favorite artists is Dave the Dead at The Shadow Farm.  Well, I had to involve all my remarkably eerie figures (more like friends) with all my 'Burton'-esqe Christmas decor.  Here are a few of my favorite pictures  of Monte, Dr. Mortenson and Andreas.  Oh, and my Plague Doctor, I cannot forget him!.

Monte in his holiday hat.

Dr. Mortenson

Andreas in his holiday scarf.

A troubled trio.  I just love them!

The Plague Doctor.

Everyone just hanging around the tea room looking festive!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Christmas Tea

I did have the privilege of being part of a Mort Christmas Tea over the Holiday Season.  

Some of the goodies.

Sneaking some tea in the kitchen.

Christmas Tea

Silly Morts!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Days of the Dead

Just a quick reminder that I will be playing personal assistant to Mr. Fleam this weekend at theAtlanta Days of the Dead Horror Convention.  He is keeping me pretty busy Friday evening but I hope to be out and about Saturday and Sunday.  I will be sure to share all my fun (work, whatever you wish to call it) after we return!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pretty Presents

One thing that I pride myself on is my gift wrapping.  I love to wrap pretty gifts.  It is all about finding the right paper and the right ribbon.  Luckily, most morts do not have the same taste in wrapping paper as I do which makes after holiday shopping a breeze and I usually find some wonderful bargains.

Below are some examples.  It does take a fair amount of time but I believe it is completely worth it!

(Notice that I always use Krampus gift tags!)

You can never go wrong with a black and white striped ribbon!

Black, Silver and Red.  A perfect color combination.

Teal and Brown are a favorite of mine - Blog colors!

 Black 'wallpaper' and dark Green ribbon are also a perfect pair!

A nice green with a black pin stripe and a black tulle ribbon.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Holiday Catch Up

Oh, I promised myself I would get caught up with all my holiday posts by mid-January, and then by the 3rd week of January.  My new goal - 1st week of February.  There is just so much happening at once.

Besides the everyday chores of the tea room, I am:
Making a new Edwardian apron
Making some new tea cozies
Prepping Mr. Fleam for his appearance at Days of the Dead Atlanta
Planning a Tea & Scone tasting in mid-February

So many things keeping me away from my blog but I promised myself to set aside some every other day and do some catch up.

I'll start with my little Bat Rabbit's Tea Room Christmas Tree.  It wasn't much and part of the decorations were hand made but I was rather proud of it.

I was feeling rather crafty that day and decided to add some new skull and bat decor....

I used some of my favorite black and white paper to punch out some bats. 

Then I simply attached them to black pipe cleaners.

They made a wonderfully different tree topper!

I also used one of my skull punches (one can never have too many skull punches) to make a tree garland.

 I added some adhesive squares to the back and added a strip of fancy black ribbon.

And viola, tree garland!

I am hoping for a larger tree next year but space is a commodity in the tea room so I am not holding my breath.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bat Rabbit's Menu Keepers

There are always a few staples on the menu.  Those things that you think patrons would get tired of but instead they just keep ordering them.  They are called keepers.

Here are two of Bat Rabbit's Keepers.

A favorite at Bat Rabbit’s is the Mini Lemon Tarts.  Since they are not made with the traditional lemon curd, they are a much lighter treat.

Mini Lemon Tart Recipe

I admit it.  I hate making any type of crust.  Luckily, in the super markets these days, you can usually find frozen tart shells of all sizes.  I’ll use them every chance given to me.   

Lemon Filling:
15 oz.  sweetened condensed milk
1   tube frozen lemonade
12 oz.  whipped cream

Place all filling ingredients into a bowl and with a wooden spoon stir, and stir, and stir, and stir.  Once most of the lumps have disappeared, stir a little more.  Place your prepared mini-tart shells on a cookie sheet.  Cram as many on there as you can.  Fill each shell with the lemon filling.  Place the cookie sheet with the lemon tarts in the refrigerator for the filling can thicken up.

Traditional English Trifle

One of the easiest and most versatile Tea treats is the traditional English trifle.

Begin with a large footed bowl.  Then alternate layers of sponge or pound cake, egg custard or pudding, sliced strawberries and whipped cream covered with slivered almonds. Repeat each layer until the bowl is filled.

Custard and pudding flavors may be changed to taste as well as seasonal berries.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cream for Scones

Once you have scones, you must provide cream and jam.  I confess, I do not make my own jam.  I buy the the best quality, seedless fruit jam.  I am partial to raspberry myself.  Cream, on the other hand, can be more of a challenge here in the states.  Being the tea rebel that I am, I prefer to whip up some good ole' thick whipping cream for my scones but there are others who are more traditional.  For them, I do try to provide a more 'proper' cream.

Below are several recipes.  They each have a different consistency and taste.  Your best bet is try them all and then determine which you prefer.

Clotted Cream / Devon Cream

When speaking or reading of tea, you will see many references to Clotted Cream and Devon Cream.  Basically, Clotted Cream contains a minimum of 55% milk fat, while Devon Cream's fat content is lower at 48% milk fat. Devon Cream comes from the cows of Devon, England.  The true articles can be a bit ticky to get in the states but there are many recipes on how to ‘fake’ them.  Use can use the same recipes for both types of creams.  The difference is in the fat content only.

Recipe #1 - Easy
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 4 T confectioner's sugar
      Mix together sour cream and vanilla.
  1. Beat cream in a cooled bowl. When have medium-stiff peaks, sprinkle on sugar and continue to beat. When sugar is integrated and peaks are stiff, gently fold in sour cream/vanilla mixture.

Recipe #2 - Easy
  • (3 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
In a medium bowl, cream together cream cheese, sugar and salt. Beat in cream until stiff peaks form. Chill until serving.  

Original recipe makes 2 cups

Recipe #3 – Time Consuming

2 cups heavy cream
  1. Cook cream in top of double boiler over simmering water until reduced by about half. It should be the consistency of butter, with a golden "crust" on the top.
  2. Transfer, including crust, to bowl. Cover and let stand 2 hours, then refrigerate at least 12 hours.
  3. Stir crust into cream before serving. Keep unused portions refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.
Makes about 1 cup.

Recipe #4 (Alton Brown’s) – Time Consuming

      2 cups pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) cream

      Set a coffee filter basket, lined with a filter, in a strainer, over a bowl. Pour the cream almost

      to the top of the filter. Refrigerate for 2 hours. The whey will sink to the bottom passing 
      through the filter leaving a ring of clotted cream. Scrape this down with a rubber spatula and 
      repeat every couple of hours until the mass reaches the consistency of soft cream cheese.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bat Rabbit's Super Secret Scone Recipe

Scones are a must.  They must be light with a crumble but they must keep there shape.  I have spent many years perfecting my scone recipes.  The the first time EVER, I am sharing it.

Scones are traditionally served with afternoon tea and accompanied by jam and clotted cream. You can add a variety of treats into the batter, such as raisins, fresh apple bits, orange peel, cranberries, and chocolate chips, although I prefer plain. At Bat Rabbit’s, we usually serve raspberry, currant or strawberry seedless jam and fresh whipped cream with our scones.

The secret Bat Rabbit’s Basic Scone Recipe

  • 4 cups of self-rising flour
  • 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, sift together flour, sugar and baking soda.  

With fingertips, rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles fine bread crumbs.  

With fork, stir in cream, vanilla and almond to form a soft dough. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1” thick.  

Cut into 2” rounds.  

Arrange on a greased baking sheet.  

Brush with additional heavy cream and sprinkle generously with confectioner’s sugar.  

Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 18-24 scones.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bat Rabbit's Tea Sandwiches

I am reviewing the menu's here at Bat Rabbit's so over the next few days, I thought I would share some of our more common (and secret) recipes!

I'll start with the all important Tea Sandwich.

Tea sandwiches are traditionally delicate sandwiches sliced small enough to be picked up with the fingers or a pair of sandwich tongs. Teas sandwiches can be cut into triangles or rectangles. White, rye or wheat bread, with the crusts cut off, can be used for these sandwiches.

  1. Cut crusts off of the bread and cut into triangles, butter both sides of the bread.
  2. Cut seedless cucumber (sold in gourmet supermarkets, always wrapped in cellophane) into very thin slices, and place between bread slices.
  3. Garnish if desired.
  1. Mix tuna salad and season as desired.
  2. Spread on prepared slices of bread. You may add thin slices of cucumber if desired along with garnish.
  1. Mix egg salad and season as desired.
  2. Spread on slices of prepared bread.
  3. Add thin slices of cucumber if desired, along with garnish.
  1. Spread cream cheese on prepared slices of bread.
  2. Rinse and dry watercress and lay between slices of bread.
  3. Garnish if desired.
  1. Mix chicken salad and season as desired.
  2. Spread on slices of prepared bread.
  3. Add thin slices of cucumber if desired, along with garnish.
  1. Spread herbed cream cheese on prepared slices of bread.
  2. Lay thin slices of turkey between the slices of bread.
  3. Garnish if desired.
*** Some of Bat Rabbit’s Favorites.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tea Etiquette – Protocols

At the end of each description, you will see my notes marked with **A.L.W.**. While these are ideals that are described, it is rarely seen in daily practice, especially at Bat Rabbit's.

Teapot and Pourer
The tea pot and tea kettle are placed with the spout facing the hostess.
Tea should be served by the host/hostess or a friend, never a servant.
Do not pour multiple cups at a time and pass several cups at a time. Guests should take their cup directly from the server.
**A.L.W.** - At Bat Rabbit’s, either I serve the tea or it is self serve.  And yes, I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey!

When in doubt, use the utensils from the outside towards the inside of the place setting.

A petit knife and fork may be used together for use on an open face sandwich, preferably not on a closed sandwich. If savories are properly made, nothing will be dripping or gooey. However, with the fun of non-traditional foods now served on Afternoon Tea menus, this is not always the case. A petit knife and fork is proper for use with one’s pastries.

Never place used utensils on a cloth or table. When not in use rest the utensil on the right side of the corresponding plate.  Use a knife rest if it is provided.

**A.L.W.** - You will never have to worry about a ‘petit knife and fork’ at Bat Rabbit’s.  Everyone has good ole regular knives and forks available any time they need them.

When excusing oneself from the table, whether during or after a dining experience, is proper to place one’s napkin to the left side of your place setting not in your chair. This rule is not negotiable for the simple reason if one’s napkin were soiled it could damage the seat covering, damage that may be either costly to repair or irreplaceable. While the risk for soiling a cloth also exists, the cloth can be washed with relative ease.
Upon completion of a dining experience, a napkin folded with a crease and placed to the left side of your place setting.  That indicates to your host or hostess that you wish to be invited back.
The host or hostess picks up his or her napkin to signal the end of the tea. He or she makes certain all of the guests have finished before making this move.

**A.L.W.** - I’m lucky if the napkin has not been kicked to an unrecoverable spot under the table.

Making the Tea
Heat the teapot with boiling water first, the pour it out, leaving an
empty hot teapot.
Then place the tea leaves in the teapot. The amount of tea used is dependent on the quality and quantity of tea.
Pour boiling water in the pot. Let it diffuse for five to eight minutes.
To serve different "strengths" of tea from the same pot, pour half tea, half boiling water into the cups of those who prefer their tea weak.
When tea has to stand a long time, the ideal way is to make a strong infusion in a big kettle on the stove.  Let the tea actually boil three to four minutes on the range, then pour it through a sieve or filter into your hot teapot. The tea will not become bitter, and it does not matter if it gets quite cold.  The boiling water poured over no more than the tablespoonful of such tea will make the drink hot enough. 

**A.L.W.** - We serve it by the pot in one strength.  You get used to it..

Milk and Lemon
First, milk is served with tea, not cream. Cream is too heavy and masks the taste of the tea.
But the real question is do you add the milk first or last?  This is hotly debated in many tea circles.  Here is my opinion.  Milk is poured after the tea. Don't put the milk in before the tea because then you cannot judge the strength of the tea by its color.
Where did this old milk-first tale come from? Samuel Twining has theorized that milk first prevented early china from cracking in reaction to the hot water.
Thinly sliced lemons are preferable to lemon wedges.  Lemon should be placed on a dish near the milk and sugar. A lemon fork (with splayed tines) or a similar serving utensil is provided. The tea pourer or the tea drinker can then put a slice directly into the poured cup of tea.
Should you desire another cup of tea, remove the slice of lemon from your cup and place it in a waste bowl and then pour your tea. You may then add a fresh lemon slice.

  •     Add lemon with milk since the lemon's citric acid will cause the proteins in the milk to curdle.
  •     Put the lemon slice in the cup before pouring the tea.
  •     Placing a lemon slice on the edge of the saucer in anticipation of adding it later.
  •     Transfer the lemon slice from the cup of tea to the saucer.
  •     Use the spoon to press the lemon slice after you place it in the cup. Untouched, the oil from the peel and the juice from the fruit will provide the desired essence.
**A.L.W.** - Lemon only on request and it will be in wedges and served with a regular spoon and fork, sorry. 

How to Drink Tea
Originally, all porcelain teacups were made in China.  These small cups had no handles. In order for one not to spill the hot liquid onto oneself, the proper way to hold the vessel was to place one's thumb at the six o'clock position and one's index and middle fingers at the twelve o'clock position, while gently raising one's pinkie up for balance.
In Europe, when the Meissen Porcelain Company, in 1710, introduced the handle to the teacup, the tradition continued. By placing one's fingers to the front and back of the handle, called pinching the handle with one's pinkie extended downward or to the side, pinkie up, again allows balance. It is not an affectation, but a graceful way to avoid spills.

  • Loop your fingers through the handle.
  • Use your tea to wash down food.
  • Slurp.
  • Wash food down with your tea, always swallow completely before continuing.
  • Swirl your tea as if it were wine in a glass.
**A.L.W.** - Just about anything goes at Bat Rabbit’s just don’t break my cups.

Stirring Tea in a Cup

      Stirring a cup of tea is done gently and noiselessly. Do not allow the teaspoon to touch the sides or rim of the cup. Remove the spoon and place it on the saucer behind the cup, with the handle of the spoon pointing in the same direction as the handle of the cup. Visualize the face of a clock on the saucer and properly place the handle of the cup and the handle of the spoon at four on the clock.


        Leave a spoon upright in the cup.
        Place the spoon on the saucer in front of the cup.
        Make unnecessary noise by touching the sides of the cup with the spoon while stirring.
        Let the spoon drop, after stirring the tea, with a clank onto the saucer.

**A.L.W.** - This just makes me laugh!

How to Eat a Scone
      It is improper to slice a scone horizontally to be slathered in jam and cream. 

The correct manner in which one eats a scone is to place the jam and cream you will be using onto your plate. From that, apply just enough jam and cream on the scone for a single bite.

A fork may or may not be used to eat a scone. No dipping.

Never use your own utensils to dip into the jam or cream dish.

**A.L.W.** - I never go through the trouble of slicing a scone in half.  Once the scone, cream and jam have been regulated to your plate, have at it any way you wish.  Preferably, I dip my scone in the whipped cream.  I am such a rebel.