This past Sunday, I was in the mood for baking. I’d been thinking how much I would enjoy an afternoon tea, but with Covid-19 social distancing in place, I knew gathering with friends was out! So I decided to deliver a few tea treats instead. Scones from a box mix, a choice of tea bags, and a small jar of homemade jam in a brown paper sack. (And yes, I kept my distance!)
As food supplies and availability have been top of mind lately, I looked through my pantry to see what I could make that required very little flour – one of the things I hadn’t found on the shelf when I shopped last. Voila! I had a box of scone mix! And the only ingredient I needed was water.
You might think this “box mix + water” idea sounds anything but inspirational. Definitely not up to The Great British Baking Show challenge. But you’re wrong!
A little background on the scone mix. Back in September of 2015, our whole family attended the Washington State Fair during a visit with our daughter, Carrie, who lives in the Seattle area. It was especially nice as we “stay close to home” to think back on a time when my daughter and family were happily out and about, and Washington State was open for business. Last night Carrie texted me they were now officially in “lockdown” during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But back to the 2015 State Fair. While the rest of the family enjoyed rides and carnie booths, I stumbled upon the Fisher Fair Scones food booth. The line was long, but people were thrilled to buy very large freshly baked scones for $5 each. They also sold boxes of their mix. So I bought a scone – delicious! And I bought a box mix to carry back on the plane. Imagine my surprise to find the mix available at my local Kroger when I returned home to Madison, Indiana….hahahaha. Yay – I could make them whenever I wanted!
Making scones from the Fair Scones mix is easy. The directions are simple and straightforward. Add water, stir, knead, shape, cut, bake, cool! I usually prefer a bit larger scone, but I cut the dough as directed so I would have plenty to share. I did add two steps to the process. Before the scones went into the oven, I brushed them with a very small amount of heavy cream and sprinkled them with coarse turbinado sugar. #gildingthelily
My pantry is filled with home-canned goods. (And by filled, I mean FILLED.) I selected a few different 4-ounce jars of jam and included one in each “tea bag” – tart red cherry, red raspberry, or new last summer, honey lemon jelly.
Canning fresh fruit jam, jelly and preserves is one of my favorite things to do in the summer, especially with my friend Hilary when she’s in town. Sadly, Hilary is self-isolating in her New York City apartment at present and couldn’t share in the “Tea Time To Go” project. But we talked on the phone last night, so I did get to have a special friend moment with her.
I usually prefer loose tea, but individually wrapped tea bags of different flavors seemed like a better “to go” idea. I have a vintage canister that stores my decaf and regular tea bags – plenty to choose from! Two varieties for each bag. The canister belonged to my Mom, and it was a friendship gift from her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Augustine, back in the 1960s. Makes the tea stash something special.
Delivery time! Ken and I made three surprise deliveries on Sunday. One to our new downtown neighbor Alice, one to my cousin Julie whose shop is closed on Sunday, and one to my friend Georgie who doesn’t work at the tax office on Sundays. Monday we dropped one off to my friend Michele during our walkabout downtown, and I drove the last one to friend MaryKay and left the surprise at her front door.
Yesterday afternoon, while Ken played golf, I treated myself to afternoon tea! I chose Harney & Sons‘ “Elyse’s Blend” loose tea, which is one of my favorites, and homemade apricot jam, which was already open in the frig. I’m a big fan of La Perruche brown sugar cubes on a decadent day when I don’t go for the Truvia, so I piled them high in the sugar bowl! With favorite pieces of china and silver before me, I loved thinking about the special people from whom my assortment of beautiful things came.
I love Irish Belleek, so thin, delicate, unusual and lovely. Not the typical shamrock pieces, the “Neptune” yellow lustre cup & saucer and “Tridacna” sugar bowl belonged to Ken’s Aunt Betty. Betty Daugherty was single, worked for the Mayor of Miami Beach, traveled the world, and was adored by all of her nieces and nephews. She was a delightful woman I’m so happy to have known.
My great-grandmother, Anna Laura Esmon, was an amateur china painter – as many women were in the early 20th century. I never met her, but I treasure the beautiful objects she painted. During my afternoon tea, I used my one dinner plate of hers for the scones.
My cousin Julie and I have several items that belonged to our Aunt Jessie. When Julie received her “Tea Time To Go” bag, she snapped this photo of some of the pieces she has. What a sweet and delicate pattern!
Jessie has been the arts & culture benefactor for our family. She was married three times, widowed by all. She was a Christian Science practitioner in Hollywood providing spiritual treatment through prayer for area artists and actors (Ginger Rogers, for one.) She was a real character, and incredibly generous.
When I delivered Michele’s “tea bag”, we got to chat for a few minutes – outside, several feet apart. Still, great visit! She sent me photos of the treats with the china she planned to use for tea. Her mother’s wedding china pattern, Noritake Valiere 4981 is 75 years old and simply elegant.
My friend Georgie has been working LONG hours during tax season. She says her brain is mush right now! She saved her “Tea Time To Go” bag for her workday breakfast Monday morning.
Georgie sent me this photo, and I was happy to see her table set with her new Royal Albert “Winsome” English bone china. She purchased pieces last summer while visiting nephew Bryan Kelly (Dorothy’s son) in London. Sweet!
For me, “Tea Time To Go” provided a trip down Memory Lane – not just for me, but for all of us. It’s good for the soul to remember the people, places and things from the past that are near and dear to us. But what I liked most was connecting with a few friends that I miss seeing” up close and personal” any time I want. Sharing something – even if not together – that reminds us that we care about each other. We need that right now…
So now what? Yesterday evening Indiana’s Governor Holcomb issued “Stay Home” orders in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19. “Only the essential” outings are permitted.
Look for us to have a Group FaceTime Tea in the near future! Only that “tea” will be more about seeing & talking than tea treats and dishes. Keeping it social, no matter the distance. #friendsmatter