Tag Archives: breakfast

Mother’s Day history and tea tips.


Mother's Day post card, 1916, Northern Pacific Railway.  Wikimedia Commons

Mother’s Day post card, 1916, Northern Pacific Railway. Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that 2014 is the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day, as we know it, in the U.S.? Julia Ward Howe, an American poet who also wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” at the beginning of the Civil War, became so appalled by the violence and destruction that she became a pacifist and called, in 1870, for all mothers to band together in peace, to stop their sons and husbands from being sent to war. Her effort temporarily (until about 1880) resulted in June 2nd being set aside for local celebrations of American mothers, and of peace.

When Howe died, although most Mother’s Day celebrations ended, a group of women in West Virginia adapted the holiday as a Mother’s Friendship Day, to re-unite those who had been driven apart by wartime politics. In 1908, Anna Jarvis, the daughter of the Mother’s Friendship Day committee leader, petitioned her mother’s church — St. Andrews Methodist Church — to establish the 2nd Sunday in May as an official, annual celebration, in honor of her mother; the church assented, presenting each mother with white carnations, Jarvis’ mother’s favorite flower, for the special service. A church in Philadelphia, where Jarvis herself was living, also adopted the holiday. The same year, the YMCA started petitioning the U.S. government to make Mother’s Day a national holiday, working with Jarvis to influence senators and other government officials. Jarvis trademarked the phrase “Mother’s Day” in 1912, to indicate that the purpose of the holiday was “for each family to honor its mother, not … all mothers of the world.” In 1912 West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother’s Day as an official holiday, and President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday in May of 1914.
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Filed under Holiday, Party Ideas, Recipes

Raise a cup of tea on September 21st for Hobbit Day

A traditional cooked English breakfast, perfect with a cup of tea.  Image: FreeFoto.com

A traditional cooked English breakfast, perfect with a cup of tea. Image: FreeFoto.com

San Jose’s vintage literature fans know that September 21st is Hobbit Day, and many locals like to celebrate it with a cup of tea and an appropriate mid-day snack.  The official Hobbit Second Breakfast website extends this invitation: “You are cordially invited to take part in a global celebration of the 76th anniversary of The Hobbit. Wherever you are in the world, join us at 11am on 21 September to take a few minutes out to enjoy a Second Breakfast with friends and family.”  Why not enjoy this whimsical idea you’re your own Second Breakfast, Elevenses, or Afternoon Tea?

Hobbits are known, in Middle Earth, for their healthy appetites, and their love of comforting, traditional country dishes, accompanied by glasses or mugs of ale or beer and cups of hot tea.  Meat pies, roasted meat, garden vegetables and bread puddings, as well as fruit, scones, clotted cream, jam, cakes, tarts, and biscuits, all make their appearance in the Shire.  The Hobbit Second Breakfast website even includes recipes for Hobbit Scones and Seed Cake if you want to make your own, although nice scones can be purchased ready-made from the bakery booths at local farmers’ markets and even in some grocery stores.  Check Nob Hill, Zanotto’s, and Fresh & Easy stores in the San Jose area, as well as the British food supply stores in the Bay Area for Hobbit-friendly treats.  Of course, be sure to check your tea party pantry, too! Combine the food with a pot of English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey, or other hearty black tea, pick up a good book on Saturday morning or afternoon, and celebrate in Middle Earth style!  Continue reading

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Make homemade jam for the tea party pantry

Orlando's Fruit Stand in San Jose.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Orlando’s Fruit Stand in San Jose. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

San Jose’s history as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” is no longer visible in the orchards that once covered the Santa Clara Valley, but plenty of local people still have fruit trees in their front and back yards, trees that are filling with ripe fruit this season.  Wild plums and berries can also be found along the banks of rivers, creeks and streams in the Santa Cruz mountains and local foothills.  For those that don’t have edible landscaping at home, and even for those that do, the local farmers’ markets are a wonderful source of fresh, ripe fruit for tea-table jams and preserves.  What better treat to serve your tea guests, give as gifts, or enjoy by yourself than homemade jam?  You can make jam either with or without adding pectin; it’s a fairly easy recipe either way.
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Filed under Recipes, Tips, Uncategorized

Italian Easter Bread: food to eat with tea

Italian Easter Bread, delicious with a cup of black tea

Italian Easter Bread, delicious with a cup of black tea

Many Western cultures have special recipes that only come out on certain holidays, especially Christmas and Easter. Sweet and savory dishes pair well with tea, and a hot cup of tea alongside a special holiday treat can be the perfect way to enjoy the temporary calm on the morning of a busy day. San Jose’s Italian residents have several bread and cookie-type Easter treats, but the most famous one is probably Italian Easter Bread, which goes by as many different Italian names as there are regions in Italy. Here is a fairly easy recipe, which originated on The Italian Dish blog:

Italian Easter Bread
1/3 cup butter
1 ¼ cups milk
1 envelope instant yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup sugar
3 ½ to 4 ½ cups flour
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
4 to 6 uncooked Easter eggs
multicolored round sprinkles

Melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan or the microwave, then remove from the heat and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes (temperature should register between 115 and 130 degrees Farenheit on a food thermometer). In a large bowl, combine the yeast, salt, beaten eggs and sugar. Add the warm (not hot) butter mixture, and then beat in 2 cups of the flour until smooth. Add the remaining flour in ½ cup increments, mixing well in between additions, until the dough is stiff enough to pull away from the sides of the bowl as you mix it. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough until it is smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands. Place in a greased bowl and let rise, covered, in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough is doubled in size. Punch the dough down, divide it into three equal pieces, and roll each into a rope approximately 2 inches thick. Braid the ropes together into a single loaf, pinching the ends of the ropes together to keep the braid from coming undone. Cover and let rise in a warm place for another hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Place risen braided loaf on the prepared sheet, brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with multicolored sprinkles. Nestle the raw Easter eggs in the folds of the braid, spacing them evenly along the loaf. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, and cool on a wire rack. Eat while warm, or refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, when cooled, if you want to eat the Easter eggs, which will now be hard-cooked. Discard the Easter eggs if left at room temperature more than a few hours. Makes 1 loaf.

You can dye the Easter eggs and make the dough ahead of time, up to the first rising, and refrigerate it, covered, overnight, to bake the next day. The first rising should happen in the fridge, so you should only have to let it come to room temperature, punch it down and shape it, let it rise the second time and bake it in the morning. Or, you can leave off the Easter eggs, and bake the loaf on its own the day before, and have it ready for breakfast with a hearty black tea, and perhaps some chocolate from the Easter bunny, in the morning!

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.  

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my other blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest  

For more information:

The Italian Dish blog
“How to give an Italian Tea”
“Easter tea party ideas and tips” 
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Chocolate and tea: the perfect match?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“How to make holiday orange spice tea”
“Cinnamon-raisin tea bread pudding with cream cheese filling”
“Aztec chocolate bread pudding to eat with tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Enjoy traditional Irish seed cake with a nice cup of tea”
“Pan-Pacific Expo Canapes for the tea-table” 

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Filed under History, Holiday, Recipes

Have a Christmas tea brunch!

image by healingdream.  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

image by healingdream. FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Christmas morning in San Jose has dawned, and it’s rainy! Everybody, stay inside and enjoy a cozy Christmas morning brunch. Pull things out of your tea party pantry if you have to, but keep it as easy as possible so you can focus on enjoying your family and friends today. Keep the kettle on so you’ll have plenty of hot water for tea and hot chocolate, and let people stay in their pajamas and help themselves. Here are some menu suggestions:

Cranberry-orange tea
Orange spice tea
Pumpkin spice tea
Masala chai 
“Semi-homemade” chai

Cinnamon-raisin bread pudding
Spicy chocolate bread pudding

Turkey tea sandwiches

Add a pile of buttered toast, pull all of your jam out of the pantry and fridge, fill a casserole dish with scrambled eggs, heap a platter with bacon, maybe make a huge stack of pancakes, and you’ll be set for a great Christmas brunch for the next few hours. You can repeat your Christmas brunch whenever you want until the New Year (it’s a great way to use up leftovers from Christmas dinner) and it will still be in season! Remember, the “12 Days of Christmas” begin after Christmas Day.

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my other blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
“Give an open house with a tea buffet”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Gift ideas for the San Jose tea-lover”
“5 gifts you can make with tea”
“Tea and San Jose’s Christmas in the Park”
“Use tea as a holiday champagne substitute”
“Review of Tazo Organic Spiced Black Tea Latte concentrate”
“Review of Oregon Chai Original Chai Tea Latte concentrate”
“5 books that should be on the tea-lover’s bookshelf”
“5 tea gifts to make for Christmas”
“Christmas gifts for the tea drinker”

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Filed under Holiday, Menus, Party Ideas, Tea

Review: Sconehenge Original English Tea Scones

Sconehenge Original English Tea Scones 4-pack. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Pre-made scones make an appearance in the San Jose area! For those who don’t know, scones and biscuits are very similar, and they can both be either sweet or savory; they contain most of the the same basic ingredients (scones usually have eggs, while biscuits don’t), but they are combined differently and result in different textures — scones are crumbly and biscuits are flaky. Pre-made crumpets have already been offered in upscale grocery stores like Trader Joe’s for several years, but up until last year, scones had to be homemade, or ordered at a local tea or coffee shop. Last year, some Safeway stores in the Bay Area started selling pre-made scone dough in the refrigerated food aisle, but Whole Foods stores in Campbell, Cupertino and Los Gatos are now carrying pre-baked, packaged scones from Sconehenge Bakery. Sconehenge Bakery is a family-owned bakery and cafe in Berkeley, California, which has actually been around for several years, but their products are only now appearing outside the Berkeley and San Francisco areas.

I received a 4-pack of Sconehenge’s Original English Tea Scones as a gift recently; they had been purchased at Whole Foods in Campbell. Sconehenge Original English Tea Scones contain unbleached flours (it’s not specified what kinds of flour are used, but I suspect pastry flour and all-purpose flour), buttermilk, butter, eggs, sugar, baking powder, and salt. That is the ingredient list for just about any basic homemade scone – no chemical preservatives – so that’s good to see. The package label reads, “The recipe for SCONEHENGE hand-made scones contains no artificial additives and is adapted from that used by an English monastary to attract long lines of appreciative patrons.” The whole “baked by monks” story could be debatable, but the taste and texture of the scones aren’t: they’re really good!

The scones had good flavor, and tasted homemade, with no chemical preservative off-flavors; they are crumbly like a scone should be, and sweet, but not covered in frosting like scones sold at coffee shops. They are sweeter than I make my scones (I tend to make my scones only slightly sweet, so you can pile jam or lemon curd on them and not be overwhelmed by the sweetness), but tasted surprisingly fresh for a packaged baked good. Even after a few days (in the fridge), the scones didn’t taste stale, and although they had a firmer texture, they were still crumbly and had good flavor. I wouldn’t say they are better than homemade, but I will say they’re just as good!

For those who want to taste Sconehenge scones fresh from the oven, (or are attending the Berkeley Coffee & Tea Festival this weekend!) visit their bakery and cafe, located at the corner of Shattuck Ave.. and Stuart St., where you can sit and eat breakfast and lunch, as well as buy their baked goods. Their menu offers Mexican breakfasts, as well as American pancakes, waffles, and other favorites. Be advised that the cafe is only open for breakfast and lunch, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Sconehenge Bakery and Cafe
2787 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA, 94705

Sconehenge products include 16 scone flavors, including Raspberry, Crystallized Ginger and Lemon, Peach, and Honey Pecan, as well as English muffins, galettes, cookies, brownies, and shortcakes. They all sound like good additions to the tea party pantry. The scones are highly recommended, for convenience (even though making scones is not really complicated) and for flavor. I will definitely look for these again, and try some of the other flavors. When you don’t want to heat up the house by turning on the oven, and can’t take the time for afternoon tea at a local tea shop, but you crave a scone, Sconehenge scones are a great solution!  Pair them with lemon curd, jam, or clotted cream, make a nice cup of tea, and you’re set!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
Sconehenge Bakery website
Sconehenge Bakery Cafe menu
Sconehenge Bakery and Cafe review on Yelp
Sconehenge Bakery and Cafe review on Chowhound
Review of Sconehenge’s Honey Pecan English Tea Scones on Snacktion
Basic scone assembly video with Chef John on YouTube
List of Bay Area treats
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“Favorite tea-time recipe from Gourmet magazine: Meyer lemon curd”
“Slightly spooky savory black olive scones for Halloween”
“Review: Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell location”
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Review: afternoon tea at Satori Tea Bar”


Filed under Product Reviews, Tea, Vendors and Shops