Monday, 21 February 2011

Everything stops for tea!

For the umpteenth time, I find myself re-reading "Gossip from Thrush Green" by one of my favourite writers, Miss Read.  Here are the first few paragraphs of the book..........

In far too many places in England today, the agreeable habit of taking afternoon tea has vanished.
'Such a shocking waste of time', says one.
'Much too fattening a meal with all that dreadful starch', says another.
'Quite unnecessary, if one has had lunch or proposes to eat in the evening,' says a third.
All very true, no doubt, but what a lot of innocent pleasure these strong minded people are missing!  The very ritual of tea-making, warming the pot, making sure that the water is just boiling, inhaling the fragrant steam, arranging the tea-cosy to fit snugly around the precious container, all the preliminaries lead up to the exquisite pleasure of sipping the brew from thin porcelain, and helping oneself to hot buttered scones and strawberry jam, a slice of featherlight sponge cake or home-made shortbread.

Taking tea is a highly civilised pastime, and fortunately is still in favour at Thrush Green, where it has been brought to a fine art.  It is common practice in that pleasant village to invite friends to tea rather than lunch or dinner.....people can set off from their homes in the light, and return before dark, except for the really miserable weeks of mid-winter when one would probably prefer to stay at home anyway.

Big sigh.........don't you just love those Miss Read books!  I'd love to move to Thrush Green, but apparently it's not real!  We can all dream though, can't we.

My favourite tipple is Redbush Tea, because it is naturally caffeine-free, and has less than half the tannin of black tea, and, what is more important, I love the taste of Redbush, although I love Earl Grey too, especially when it comes from Bettys.  I have already told you about their wonderful tea-rooms here.

I also enjoy making cakes, and my most basic, simple cake recipe, which I bake most weeks is an old recipe passed on to me by by mother-in-law, many, many years ago.  I double up this recipe for an 8" round cake tin, and I usually make 2 cakes at a time, so I quadruple everything!

8oz self-raising flour
quarter teaspoon of salt
4oz margarine
4oz sugar - I always just use granulated, or brown
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
6oz mixed dried fruit

1.  Place flour and salt in a bowl, rub in the margarine.

2.  Add the sugar and the fruit.  Beat together the eggs and the milk.

3.  Mix all together to make a soft consistency.

4.  Place mixture in a greased tin.

5.  Bake in a moderate oven (Gas mark 4) for 1 1/4 hours.

If I want to make a more moist version, I add an extra few ounces of margarine or butter.

I do all sorts of variations of this.  For a yummy chocolate chip cake, I add a few ounces of cocoa powder to the flour, and buy 3 bars of cheap supermarket chocolate, and roughly chop them up and add to the mixture instead of the fruit.

To decorate this for a birthday party, I can't be bothered with icing, so I cover the cake with melted white chocolate, and before it sets I cover it all in dolly mixtures and smarties, adored by adults and children alike in this house!

Enjoy your tea-time!  We really do need these special oases in our lives.


Sandra said...

I really enjoyed this post and my visit to your blog. I've heard of Miss Read but have never read any of the books. I think it's time I read them now! :o)

I love tea and really liked the paragraphs you shared from Thrush Green. I agree...big sigh!

Oh, and thanks for the cake recipe. Sounds good and may give it a try this afternoon.

Ravenhill Cottage

Elizabethd said...

Dear Miss Read, she painted a picture of a long-gone England, sadly.
Thank you for visiting me!

Anonymous said...

How funny, I've got the same book from the library just now, but in talking book nice to listen to while cooking in the kitchen!

Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog today. xxx

Your cake recipe is making my mouth water! :)

Jayne said...

Thank you all for your lovely comments, if you haven't discovered Miss Read yet, do give her a try. She paints a picture of the England I grew up in. Or am I looking back through rose-coloured spectacles!

Tatiana said...

i guess i must search for the book in my country.. wish me luck..

Joanne said...

I adored your post and feel the same way as Miss Read....just had a tea party yesterday with my little nieces and nephew using real tea it.
I must re-visit Miss Read...thank you for taking the time to share that lovely depiction of rural life in England past..
Joanne, who will never tire of this topic

Pom Pom said...

Ah yes, let's continue with tea time, visits and scones. Everyone would be happier, I think!

Fixing My Thoughts said...

Hi Jayne, I so enjoyed the excerpt about tea time from your Thrush Green book. I really do love the Miss Read books, but have only read the first book in the Thrush Green series ... but that way I have much to look forward to! (Have read all the Fairacre series.) Your cake sounds yummy! Love your new header/banner look and background! Bess

Lynn said...

I've got a Miss Read audio tape playing at this very moment - LOL. I love her!
My son said at lunch "Am I right in thinking nothing much happens in these books?" As he came into the kitchen as I listened.
"There is a lot of not a lot happening and that is why I love her" I replied :)
Love your new look :)

*✿*ℳḯʟʟḯ℮ ℳεα∂☺ωSẘℯℯ☂*✿* said...

oh, this post is wonderful!
i will try your tempting cake recipe for sure and have a slice with a lovely pot of tea.
also you have reminded me to pick up one of my Miss. Read books again :o)

many thanks xxx

warm wishes


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