Clan Maitland Gathers

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Beyond my desire to explore Edinburgh, another purpose drew me to Scotland this year. Members of Clan Maitland, the Scottish clan I am part of, gathered in the city. To meet kinsmen I am connected to has long been a dream of mine. Five days after arriving in Edinburgh, that dream became a reality.

Clan Maitland gathers in Scotland every ten years.  Family members descended from Maitlands and Lauderdales arrive from the countries they’ve scattered to.  This year the US, New Zealand, England, France and Scotland were represented.

The next few posts will share details about our fun time together and the family related historical sites we explored.

Clan Maitland Gathers Title Meme

Clan Maitland Gathers…for Tea

Clan members met for the first time on a Tuesday afternoon for a very Scottish tradition, Afternoon Tea. My sister Debbie and I walked the short distance from our apartment on Thistle Street to the Garden Room at the Kimpton Hotel on Charlotte Square. A few of our members, including our Clan Chief, would not arrive until evening, however this casual afternoon gathering proved a great way for people who are family yet strangers to break the ice.

What a joy to meet people I am connected with on Facebook whom I’ve never met face to face. We quickly embraced each other as kin and before long conversations and laughter flowed merrily around the room as we enjoyed a wonderful tea time.

That evening we all gathered at the Angel’s Share Hotel for dinner. The group from England arrived and I met Ian, the 18th Earl of Lauderdale and our Clan Chief. He immediately put us all at ease and entertained us with family stories. I learned that the Maitlands descended from the Mautalents of Normandy about 1000 to 1060.

Clan Maitland Gathers Tea Time

Afternoon Tea with Clan Maitland

Clan Maitland Gathers…on the Bus

The next morning we met early for our first full day of traveling and exploring together. Debbie and I smiled when we saw the bus, called a coach in Scotland, waiting for us. Lauderdale is such an uncommon name in the US. It’s fun to see it featured more prominently in Scotland.

Lauderdale Bus

Once on board the coach, we journeyed south to the small burgh of Haddington and our stop at St. Mary’s Parish Church and Lauderdale Aisle.

St Marys Collegiate Church

The Light of Lothian

St. Mary’s in Haddington dates back to 1139. With a length of 206 feet, it’s one of the longest churches in Scotland. Twice, in 1355 and again in 1548-49, the structure experienced extensive damage due to English invasions. The town repaired the west end of the church, erecting a barrier wall to seal off the east end, which remained roofless for hundreds of years.

In the 1970s restoration on the remaining section of the church began. Once completed the barrier wall came down and the church, called the Light of Lothian, continues to shine brightly in the community.

St Marys Interior

St Marys Organ
The magnificent pipe organ of St Mary’s, installed in 1990.

Clan Maitland Gathers…in Lauderdale Aisle

On the north side of the church, a small chapel awaited us. Because of the size of the room, our group of 30 plus people divided. Half of us toured the church while the others sat quietly in Lauderdale Aisle with Ian. Then we switched places.

I’ve read about Lauderdale Aisle, which once served as the sacristy of the church. It became a burial aisle for the Maitlands after the reformation of 1560. Entering through a stone archway, the marble effigies immediately draw the eye. The Renaissance monuments memorialize Sir John Maitland, Chancellor of Scotland under King James V, his son John, 1st Earl of Lauderdale, and their wives.

Beneath the aisle is a burial vault for the interment of the Earls and Countesses of Lauderdale. The  Duke of Lauderdale rests within this chamber as well. There are also niches for the ashes of other clansfolk.

The Doorway to Lauderdale Aisle

Marble Effigies

A Sacred Space

My group sat reverently on narrow wooden benches and listened to Ian share stories about the ancestors buried within Lauderdale Aisle. As he spoke a sacredness filled the room, shimmering in the soft light that filtered in through the window high on the wall.

I’ve so wanted to see this place. To experience it with my kinsmen, to hear stories told by my Clan Chief, created a surreal dream-like reality. I felt connection and awe, and deep gratitude for these men and women, long dead but surrounding us in spirit in this tiny room.

Ian concluded our time in Lauderdale Aisle by telling us that if we so wished, we could have our ashes brought here for interment as well. And he meant it. That amazing offer touched me in the part of my heart that declares itself Scottish and brought tears to my eyes.

St Marys Stained Glass Windwo

Clan Means Family

St. Mary’s Church and Lauderdale Aisle were the beginning of a long day together. We enjoyed lunch in Haddington and journeyed onward to two more places before returning to Edinburgh.

Ian told us that clan means family. I learned when Clan Maitland gathers, connection happens. When Clan Maitland gathers, stories are told. And when Clan Maitland gathers, adventures unfold.

I’ll be sharing more of those adventures in upcoming posts. Come discover my family roots, and some of the finest historical sites in Scotland, with me.

Clan Chief Ian with family
Ian sharing info and stories with us.

If you are a Maitland or Lauderdale, join our clan or read more about us HERE.

And check out these fun travel items by clicking below.


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Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

I observe afternoon tea most days, a practice I adopted after visiting Scotland in 2014. What a special treat today to enjoy an elegant afternoon tea, with my mom, at the historic Phelps House in Carthage, Missouri.

Part of that town’s Christmas Home Tour, the fancy tea is offered at four different times, with tables set up on three floors in the house. Mom and I selected a 1:00 PM time slot, and seating on the main floor.

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

The Phelps House

This gorgeous restored home, owned now by Carthage Historic Preservation, was built in 1895 by Colonel William Phelps. The house is constructed from Carthage gray marble, in a mix of architectural styles including Classical Revival and Romanesque.

Phelps House features ten fireplaces, original hand-carved woodwork, painted wallpaper, a hand operated dumbwaiter, a heated coat closet, a third floor ballroom and a roof of Ludowici clay tile. Several of the rooms contain original furnishings. The rest of the house is furnished in donated pieces, appropriate to the late 1800s.

William Phelps arrived in Carthage in 1867, after graduating from Albany Law School in New York. He became one of the wealthiest and most respected men in southwest Missouri, prominent in state politics, and actively involved in Carthage industry.

After Colonel Phelps died in 1916, his daughter continued to live in the house until 1959, when she sold the house to St. Ann’s Catholic Church Parish. The house was used as a home for the nuns who taught at St. Ann’s School.

In 1982, the Phelps House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1988, Carthage Historic Preservation purchased the Phelps House from St. Ann’s and began the process of restoring the home to its former grandeur.

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Fancy Afternoon Tea

Mom and I joined a merry crowd as we made our way indoors. Although both of us have toured Phelps House before and attended other events here, this was our first formal tea in the home. We were excited.

Large and small tables offered cozy seating throughout the main floor. More seating awaited upstairs. We sat in a corner, at Table 6, with place settings for two people. As others found their seats, a large tea pot on our table, full of hot water, allowing us to steep our first cups of tea!

A clear sugar bowl on the table contained assorted Harney & Sons teas in silk teabags. I chose a holiday blend for my first cup of tea. Mom sipped on cinnamon spice. The décor in the house reflected the season, and as we waited for our food, we enjoyed visiting and listening to Christmas melodies played beautifully on a piano.

The tiered serving tray delivered to our table featured a selection of savory and sweet morsels, for two. We particularly enjoyed a tiny smoked salmon tart and fresh scones served with strawberry and herbed butters. Mom and I both embrace a plant based lifestyle. However, for this afternoon tea, we chose to accept the fare offered, especially since the potions were tiny.

During our pleasant time together, we sipped on multiple cups of delicately spiced tea.

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Touring the House

After we completed our afternoon tea, Mom and I ascended the stairs for a quick look at floors two and three. We counted five spacious bedrooms and a large bathroom on the second floor. Tables and chairs provided seating in several of those bedrooms.

On the third floor we peeked into several additional bedrooms, a sitting room and another full bathroom. A unique ballroom occupies most of this floor however. The ceiling is painted to resemble a starry night sky. How magical it would be, to dance in such a room! Today tables and chairs filled the dance floor, rather than couples twirling around the room.

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Until the Next Time

We enjoyed our afternoon tea at Phelps House. The historic home provides a beautiful setting for a practice steeped in tradition. I feel like the Phelps family, known for generosity while they lived, approve this fine use of their home. And the money raised today as a result of the elegant tea goes toward preserving this treasure.

I’d so love to see Joplin or Carthage open a charming little tea house. Vegan options on the menu would be a plus. How fun to regularly take tea with other enthusiasts.

I’ll look forward to future afternoon teas at Phelps House. Hopefully more family members can join us. In the meantime, I’ll continue my own daily observance of this precious little ritual, with my herbal tea blends.

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Broken Arrow Fun

I traveled to Oklahoma today, with my mom and daughter Elissa, to meet up with my sister Debbie and niece Ashley. They live in the charming town of Broken Arrow, Tulsa’s little sister community.

Here’s a pictorial post of our girls’ afternoon out.

Broken Arrow Fun

It was a gorgeous day to be outside. We walked in downtown Broken Arrow, where a Rose Show and Cinco de Mayo celebrations were underway on Main Street. I love how this community has revitalized their downtown. The energy was lively on Main Street as people shopped and listened to music and dined at cafes and bistros or an assortment of food trucks.

Broken Arrow Fun

We chose to have lunch at Toast, a cafe featuring breakfast and brunch. I enjoyed an avocado caprese salad, with basil pesto, hold the mozzarella please! It was delicious.

Broken Arrow Fun

The group visited Southern Magnolia next, a flea market with booths full of vintage items. We browsed but did not make any purchases today.

Broken Arrow Fun

My sister and niece suggested a special treat, afternoon tea. I approved that idea! We tried out a new tea and coffee shop, All About Cha, away from the busy downtown area yet still in Broken Arrow. Debbie and Ashley had not visited this bistro before either, so it was a first experience for all of us.

Broken Arrow Fun

All About Cha serves an assortment of breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, including sushi, and coffees, teas and sweet treats. Ashley’s Caramel Macchiato, presented beautifully, is pictured above.

I sipped on hot Jasmine tea. Served in a glass teapot, the jasmine flower bud blooms as it steeps. That was fun to watch. Mom and I savored gluten free, low sugar, dark chocolate treats with our teas.

Broken Arrow Fun

We lingered over our afternoon tea, chatting as we sipped our drinks and sampled our treats. I appreciate this traditional pause in the day, especially when it includes family.

Back at Ashley’s house, we played with puppies! How many puppies, you ask? Eleven of them! Ashley, her husband Jon, and Debbie are involved in fostering rescue dogs. Sometimes that means the dog who desperately needs help is a mama, with a litter.

These nine little guys and two little ladies are three weeks old. They are just beginning to explore their surroundings and express themselves with squeaks and mock growls and tiny yaps. We took turns snuggling pups and passing them around. And we laughed often, at their baby antics.

Broken Arrow Fun Nine of eleven.

What a fun afternoon! It was good to get out of town, connect with family, and try out a couple of new cafes. And who can resist a pile of adorable puppies? Not us.

Broken Arrow Fun

National Tea Day 2018

Today celebrates a tradition that I dearly love. Afternoon tea has been a regular part of my day since my first trip to Scotland in 2014. I cherish this pause to savor a cup of tea and relax. It allows me to center myself and reflect on the day, before thinking about dinner prep and evening activities.

My afternoon teas used to feature a variety of Scottish or black teas and the typical fare: finger sandwiches, sweet treats and a Scottish shortbread cookie. None of those foods are part of my diet now. Tea time usually includes an herbal tea or a Scottish heather or thistle blend and fresh fruits and veggies.

In honor of this special day, I tried out a new recipe for a healthy treat, with a surprising ingredient.

National Tea Day 2018

I found this recipe, from Joyfully Healthy Eats, on Pinterest. It is egg, dairy and gluten free.

National Tea Day 2018

Who would have guessed chickpeas could be so versatile and the base for a dough? Instead of rubbing the chickpeas with a paper towel, I picked them up and squeezed lightly, popping them into the strainer. This action left the skins behind. It only took a few minutes and my dough was smooth and creamy. I became proficient at using both hands to pop out the chickpeas simultaneously.

National Tea Day 2018

National Tea Day 2018

I used all organic ingredients and a peanut butter without added sugar. The chips were 70% cacao. Before combining the ingredients in the blender I started a cup of tea steeping. I used dried rose hips for today’s celebratory drink.

The vitamin C in rose hips is the most bioavailable form in existence. Rose hips are anti-inflammatory, increases the blood’s white count and boosts the immune system. They also dissolve biofilm, a jelly like substance caused by the Epstein Barr virus. This biofilm can gunk up vital organs, including the heart, causing palpitations, tachycardia, atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia. Plus, rose hips help to alleviate all types of infections. On this chilly, rainy Saturday, rose hips tea sounded perfect.

National Tea Day 2018

As the herbal tea steeped, I completed the vegan cookie dough and sliced up fresh organic strawberries. I was ready for tea time, in honor of National Tea Day.

National Tea Day 2018

The Chickpeas Cookie Dough was amazing. It wasn’t too sweet, which is ideal for me. I don’t care for sweets anymore. The texture was smooth and creamy and I couldn’t taste the chickpeas at all. The tart strawberries created a wonderful contrast to the dough.

I enjoyed this special tea time this afternoon. I will fix the Chickpeas Cookie Dough again, although it will be an infrequent treat. I prefer to stick with whole foods primarily.

Catherine Douzel says, “Each cup of tea represents an imaginary journey.”

I love that. Where shall I journey to today?

National Tea Day 2018

In Search of the Perfect Gluten Free Scone

I love drinking hot tea. I favor herbal teas, such as lemon balm or rose hops, or Scottish blends containing heather or thistle. When I visited Scotland for the first time in 2014, I came home with a delightful new tradition…afternoon tea.

The typical Scottish or English tea includes finger sandwiches, tiny cakes, shortbread cookies and a scone. Those foods are no longer a part of my diet. And while I enjoy having tea with fresh fruit or veggies, or just a plain cup of tea, I would love to be able to include scones again.

The search for the perfect gluten free scone was on!

The problem is, I require a recipe that is not only gluten free, but also dairy, egg and sugar free as well. Such a scone has been difficult to find! A couple of weeks ago I tried a gluten free scone mix. These weren’t bad! They looked more like flat sugar cookies, without being sweet at all. I ate them with a side of fruit. But they weren’t exactly what I was searching for.

Tonight, encouraged by my recent successes with what I have dubbed “intuitive cooking”, I decided to try making healthy scones from scratch.

This batch was created using 2 cups of gluten free flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla, 1 tablespoon raw organic honey and for leavening, I mixed together 1 tablespoon of potato starch and 3 tablespoons of cold water. I mixed the ingredients, and then added unsweetened almond coconut milk, a tablespoon at a time, until a dough formed that would hold its shape. I ended up adding 7 tablespoons of almond coconut milk.

I turned the dough ball out onto a floured surface, using more gluten free flour, and gently shaped it into a sphere. The sphere of dough was cut into eight pieces and transferred to a pizza pan lined with parchment paper. I brushed the tops of the scones with a mixture of unsweetened almond coconut milk and raw organic honey and baked for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

The scones looked good! They smelled good. The taste was closer to what I am searching for. However, to quote a U2 song…“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”. The texture wasn’t light enough. Rather, these scones were dense and chewy.

So, back to the kitchen I will go soon, for attempt number three. I am not discouraged. Every experiment in cooking teaches me something new, something important. I take notes about the process and ingredients I use so I can make adjustments. I believe I need a good leavening agent, something other than eggs.

I will do more research and try again. For evening tea, I had tasty, chewy scones! Nothing is wasted here…not food and not time. I create, I learn, I create again. I’ll let you know when I come up with that elusive gluten, dairy, egg, sugar free scone!

Ahas on Final Day of Afternoon Tea Week

Today was the conclusion of Afternoon Tea Week. For the final celebratory day, I prepared a recipe that I’ve wanted to try for a long time…zucchini chips. I used fresh tomatoes and an avocado to make guacamole as an accompanying dip.

The recipes were simple.

Zucchini Chips

Thinly slice 3 – 4 small zucchini. Place slices in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

Arrange slices on cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. Bake 30 minutes in 450 degree oven, or until crispy.

Fresh Guacamole

Pit an avocado and dice. Add one finely cut tomato, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Diced onion, cilantro and jalapeño can be added as well.

The zucchini chips were delicious. However, they were not crispy. I added additional baking time and a few crisped up. A few chips became little charcoal bites! I ate them anyway, using a fork, dipping each chip into the guacamole. I will have to try these again and experiment. Perhaps I had too many slices on the baking sheet. I enjoyed them, nevertheless!

I used fresh lemon grass from my garden for today’s tea. This fragrant herb makes a light, refreshing, aromatic tea with a taste similar to lemon balm.

I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating Afternoon Tea Week. It is a practice I intend to continue, in a somewhat unconventional fashion, now that I’ve discovered I can substitute healthy, flavorful plant based recipes. I truly have not missed the finger sandwiches, scones, sweet treats and shortbread cookies. It is the refreshing pause in the day that became important to me.

Lavender tea and banana nice dream with walnuts and fresh strawberries for yesterday’s unposted tea, that took place so late in the day that it could not be called an afternoon tea, by any stretch of the imagination! It was wonderful though.

My aha that occurred during this celebration was to marvel at the unfolding of life. I enjoyed the creative cooking time in the kitchen this week. I realized this was yet another manifestation of a desire that I expressed a couple of years ago…to cook more and learn new recipes. I did not foresee at that time that a healing journey would usher in opportunities to cook and eat in new, creative ways.

The way I live my life, connected to the Divine and immersed in the Flow of Life, has taught me that when I express a sincere desire and then let go of the outcome and remain open, that which I long for comes to me. It usually isn’t in the way I would have attempted to arrange it or make events happen. And yet, it is always perfectly timed and exactly right.

Here are some of my desires from recent years, expressed in italics, and the Divine’s amazing responses, in bold:

I want to live beyond my fears…Face your fears head on, by living alone for a while. I am with you. And as a bonus, once you move past your fear, you will tap into your creative heart more deeply. You answered that desire before I even asked…

I would love to create a backyard paradise…Here is a new yard, with two feet of fresh dirt, a blank canvas to create upon.

I want to write every day… Meet Lu Ann Cahn. And how about a year of firsts of your own that you can write a daily blog post about?

My desire is to live in the flow, and release resistance… Surrender…let go of the paddles to your canoe, trust that the flow will take you where you need to go. I am the Dream Giver, calling to you from just around the river bend.

I want to cook more! How about in healthy ways that heal your body?

I want to heal my body… Listen to what Anthony William says and you will heal. And, you get to cook more!

I want to travel more…How about a trip to Scotland with your cousins? How about Italy with your grandson and daughter? And another trip to Scotland, plus Ireland and England, with your mom, sisters and niece?

Do You want to play with me? Do YOU want to play with me?!

What an amazing journey life has been and continues to be. It is a dance with the Divine, this asking and receiving, this cosmic playing. My heart overflows with love and gratitude.

This week of afternoon teas, this week of creative play and dancing with the Divine, not only cheered and refreshed me, it spoke deeply to me at a soul level. As an adult, I have seriously under rated the power of playing. Engaging in play daily unlocks my creativity and teaches me new skills and meaningful life lessons.

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes,

“Only when we are at our most playful, can Divinity finally get serious with us.”

Do you want to play…dance, create, explore, discover, learn, cook, draw, write, garden, travel, become healthy, journey through life…with me?

Oh, yes!

Bee Balm Tea with Kale Boats

I was grateful today for left over chopped and sliced veggies in the fridge. My afternoon tea was very late in the day and with those veggies already prepped, creating tea time food was a cinch. In a few minutes, I had two large kale leaves trimmed and ready for filling.

As I was driving home this afternoon, I was considering what I might prepare today and those last two kale leaves came to mind. With the leftover veggies and dipping sauce from yesterday, the kale would become the foundation of my treat today. And I don’t like to waste food. My idea would bring together all those bits and pieces stashed in the fridge and create a colorful, health boosting meal.

Here is my easy recipe:

Kale Boats

Trim, wash and blot dry two kale leaves. In a small bowl, combine chopped veggies of choice. I used tomato, avocado, mushrooms, green pepper, carrots and jalapeño. Spoon filling down the center of each leaf. Top with healthy dressing, if desired. I used my dipping sauce from yesterday. Sprinkle on chopped walnuts.

My tea this afternoon was a first for me…bee balm. Although this prolific herb is growing in my garden, I had not tried it yet as a tea. Bee balm is in the thyme family. This aromatic plant is antiseptic and diuretic, eases digestive disorders, and soothes symptoms of cold and flu. I was looking forward to sipping on it tonight.

By the time the tea was finished steeping, my food was ready. Chunks of cold watermelon completed the meal. I carried my afternoon tea into my bedroom, where the laptop was open upon the bed. I paused in my tasks of looking up properties and answering emails, to savor my tea time.

And savor it I did. I picked up the kale boats and folded them like soft tacos. They were a bit messy to eat, but so delicious and extremely filling. These late afternoon teas this week have in truth become my early dinners. The crunchy, sweet watermelon was good too. And bee balm tea, I discovered, tastes much like thyme tea. I am sipping on a second cup.

I have so appreciated these times of refreshment during a busy week in real estate. I understand why the practice of afternoon tea became popular and has become a tradition. I think after a week of afternoon teas, combined with light flavorful, healthy foods, this will once again become a treasured time of day for me.

Lemon Balm Tea with Cucumber Rolls

I had no idea, when I decided to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week, that this particular week would be so full. What a blessing to look forward to tea time late in the afternoon, after long days of showing property or taking care of other real estate business. It was no mistake that inspiration nudged me toward this fun celebration. I’ve had the opportunity to have creative fun and savor downtime while I sip hot herbal tea and enjoy a healthy treat.

It hasn’t been a coincidence either that interesting recipes and fresh ideas have found their way to me as well this week. Today I prepared a simple and scrumptious treat from a recipe by Anthony William.

Cucumber Rolls with Dipping Sauce

Peel one cucumber (one cucumber = one serving) and slice lengthwise into long thin strips. Add slices of veggies or fruits of choice. (Suggestions: avocado, tomato, melon, peppers, celery, carrots, mangoes…any fruit/veggie desired.) Tightly roll up cucumber slice with veggies/fruits inside. Secure with a toothpick and set aside.


Combine in blender and blend until smooth: 1/4 cup chopped tomato, 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons raw, hulled hemp seed (available in baking section at Walmart or health food store), 1 cup zucchini, peeled and diced, 1/2 inch piece jalapeño, without seeds, 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, 2 dates, 1 garlic clove.

I made the dipping sauce and refrigerated it in a small glass bowl while I made the cucumber rolls. I don’t own a wide vegetable slicer so I just peeled the cucumber and cut it into thin strips with a knife. For my rolls, I included slices of avocado, carrots, tomatoes, and green peppers. I secured each roll with a toothpick and placed the finished rolls in the refrigerator while the lemon balm tea steeped. When I arranged the rolls on my plate, I removed the toothpicks and placed them seam side down. They stayed rolled up.

Today’s herbal tea is a favorite of mine. Lemon balm is very easy to grow. In fact, I have to be vigilant or it will take over my garden and my yard! I love its lemony scent and crisp taste, plus lemon balm is so good for me.

What bliss to relax with a steaming cup of lemon balm tea and let the busyness of the day ebb away.

The cucumber rolls were easy to prepare and not only delicious but fun to eat. And that dipping sauce was wonderful…slightly spicy and full of flavor! I’ll be making it again for use as a dip with veggies and to top salads. I sliced up a sweet juicy pear to complete my light meal.

I had ahas and deep thoughts during tea time today, about the flow of life and the manifestation of desires and the playfulness of this beautiful dance I am engaged in with the Divine. I’ll save them to share at the conclusion of Afternoon Tea Week.

Tomorrow is another early start to a full day. Although it is barely dark outside, my bed is calling to me. I think I will answer that call.

Mint Tea with Stuffed Mushrooms & Melon

Day three during Afternoon Tea Week, and to celebrate I prepared a wonderfully satisfying treat today. I had the brilliant idea of making stuffed mushrooms for this afternoon’s tea. As I moved through my day, I couldn’t wait to play in the kitchen and see how my idea turned out.

For the mushroom filling, I adapted a brown rice and lentil recipe for the pressure cooker. Here is the recipe for my simple and healthy treat:

Stuffed Mushrooms

Prepare filling:

Rinse mushrooms and pat dry. Remove stem by cutting around edge of mushroom on the underside, leaving the cap. Place mushrooms in a small bowl, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Place mushroom caps hollow side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Fill each mushroom cap with brown rice and lentil filling, mounding slightly. Cook in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

As the stuffed mushrooms baked, I snipped sprigs of mint from my garden. While the mint tea steeped, I prepared the rest of my afternoon treat.

During the summer months I enjoy the juicy goodness of watermelon and cantaloupe. Chunks of chilled melon with sprigs of mint seemed like the perfect accompaniment to the mushrooms.

The mushrooms were perfect, tasty without being too heavy. This afternoon tea made a great early dinner when paired with the melon. And the mint tea was an excellent pick me up. And as with the other teas this week, everything was plant based, healthy and nutritious.

Greg walked into the kitchen as I was finishing my preparations. “You are having fun, aren’t you?” he asked. The answer is, I am. Being creative in the kitchen is great fun for me. And finding new ways to enjoy afternoon tea has been extremely rewarding, along with being fun.

Henry James wrote, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

I wholeheartedly agree!

Thyme Tea with Baked Pears

I am enjoying this week long celebration already. It has reinstated a custom I love, having afternoon tea. Creating a plant based tea time, rather than one featuring sweets and sandwiches, engages my imagination and allows me to try out healthy recipes. And taking time out late in the afternoon, to prepare my herbal tea and nutritious snack, and then sit and savor it, is a wonderful self care practice.

My goals are simple: During this Afternoon Tea Week, enjoy a different herbal tea and healthy treat every day. And have fun.

Today I chose thyme for my cup of hot tea, picking a sprig out of the garden. For my treat, I prepared a recipe from Life Changing Foods, by Anthony William. This simple, wholesome treat is easy to make, using only four ingredients.

Cinnamon Baked Pears with Toasted Walnuts

4 pears, any variety

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice pears in half length wise and remove seeds. Arrange pear halves face up on baking tray. (I lined with parchment paper). Drizzle each pear half with maple syrup, brushing over the face of the pear, and leaving some inside the center. Divide the walnuts evenly into the centers of the pears and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 20-30 minutes until pears are tender and cooked through. Serve warm from the oven.

With blustery clouds filling the sky, I moved tea time indoors, setting up the cup and saucer and the food plate on one of my vintage metal tray. What bliss, to quiet my body and my mind and sip healing tea.

I added slivers of celery. The crunchy, salty tasting celery complemented the pears beautifully. And those pears? Delicious! They smelled wonderful as they baked and tasted as good as they smelled.

Tomorrow I am trying something new, involving rosemary flavored brown rice, lentils and mushrooms. Conventional tea time fare? Not hardly. Comforting, creative, healthy and delicious? Absolutely!

I am loving my unconventional afternoon teas.