As some of you know, I have been taking time off travelling and tending to a joyously expanding family. Yes, I’m now a proud grandmother. But I’m back in Princeton, it’s a lovely spring, and it is time to reopen the doors of Ezekiel’s Table cooking class/dinner parties for you and your family, friends and colleagues!
It is my personal mission to get people to cook more, to cook more for one another, and to cook with one another. I consider it the basis of our living with deeper connection. It happens at every one of my cooking class dinner parties, where friends and colleagues work together in fresh ways, and are always so pleased by what they create together.
But every kitchen offers the same opportunity to have this kind of fun, and it doesn’t need to start with a big ol’ fancy meal. As Quakers say, ‘If you want to do anything meaningful, start small. If you’re doing the right thing from the right place it will bloom.’
Spring is a Time for Tea! —Uncommon Bread Fellows Series #3
During my time away, I found myself thinking and reading more about tea gatherings, their history and their increasing relevance today. We live in a fast-paced world, with little time to cook a fine meal for ourselves let alone for our friends; and restaurant meals can be a burdensome investment of time and money.
Tea gatherings and coffee dates however, can be a refreshingly low obligation event, and so we go to the coffee house. An invitation to Small World or Starbucks is a no-brainer for last-minute invites, for the testing out of new friendships and business connections, and for safe first dates. They offer the beginnings, and for some the end points of comfortable social gatherings. But heck, why let those tea and coffee houses have all the fun?
I put on a tea a couple of weeks ago–an event with acclaimed novelist Lauren B. Davis we offered together for the Friends of the Princeton Public Library auction. It presented a challenge, however. Having just returned from a long time away with my daughter and her new baby, I had little time to set up and cook, and I was lacking some essential equipment to boot.
I borrowed some plate stands and fancy teapots from good friends, threw down some squares of color over a big white tablecloth, fixed some sandwiches and baked up some scones. Talk about potential intimidation… restaurateur Raoul Momo and his wife were on the guest list.
As it turns out, I had a blast with the whole group. The most talked about item was a very simple strawberry barley scone–certainly not the most time-consuming item on that tea menu, but evidently the best. I sent the recipe home with everyone, and I am sending it to you (see the link). Furthermore, I plan to have several more teas with friends, and I cannot wait to have tea parties with my granddaughter! Those barley scones will definitely be on the table.
I challenge you to this: Do a tea gathering at home, even if you are the only one being gathered. Try the barley scone recipe if you like, but whatever you do, don’t even think about being correct or frilly–unless of course, frilly is how you roll. As for me, afternoon teas are now a daily event at 3 in the afternoon, and I find that one simple slightly sweet whole grain snack with a hot cup of tea feeds the soul.
Reclaim that tea table! Make it a very personal creative statement. Make it wild or elegantly simple. All it takes is a clean surface–which can be nothing more than a blanket in the grass, 2 cups (–OK maybe only one cup if you’re determined to practice alone), some hot water, a snack, and perhaps one or two hours of your time. Easy, right? Yet it can lead to amazing things, both in the breadth and depth of new friendships, but to a new creative spirit and new found commitment for food gatherings in your life. You’ll know you’re catching the bug when you find yourself eyeing teapots that are quirky…or wildly expensive… or both.
Remember–If you are considering a cooking class dinner party at Ezekiel’s Table for the fall, it is not too early to inquire. Those autumn places fill up fast. Who wouldn’t want to have cooking classes in our historic home in Princeton??? Have a wonderful spring! This is the end of my Uncommon Bread Fellows series… Next month’s topic? Gnocchi!