Saturday, May 23, 2015

Just a Taste!

As the youngest of 4 daughters, this sculpture rung a bell for me. Wherever ice cream was concerned, my older sisters had two tricks up their sleeves. Trick number one, they would always want 'just a taste' and trick number two, on hot summer days, with the ice cream quickly melting down the cone, they would eagerly offer to "Just let me lick the drips". With 3 older sisters "just licking the drips", I was lucky to get some ice cream.....
Even after Susanna caught on to the 'just a taste' request and the 'let me lick the drips' scheme, the ice cream woes continued. While the older sisters were all away at college, and the youngest was home alone with mom and dad, they would each have their own carton of ice cream in the freezer, back in the day when a half gallon was really a full half gallon! Mom would choose black cherry, dad favored rum raisin, and Susanna would select chocolate marshmallow. Can you guess which one was enjoyed by the sisters when they came home for the weekend!?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grounds for Scupture, NJ

Part of the fun at the Grounds for Sculpture Museum was the interactive displays. 
Sculptor Seward Johnson does a lot of "celebrating the everyday" in his sculptures. 

This table scape is a sculpture that we enjoyed.  We let our imagination run on what we were going to dine on that evening,  how good the wine tasted, what lake we were sitting by and our plans for tomorrow as we pretend to be "ladies of leisure".

Real?  or Sculpture?  Enjoying the sun while we discussed the medicinal herbs class we are taking.  There were so many everyday sculptures, like children eating ice cream or a police officer writing a parking ticket, two women on a park bench or a lady arm raised for the bus that you began to think  everything was a sculpture like the painter or gardener  -- but then they would move!   

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Grounds for Sculpture, NJ

The Grounds for Sculpture Museum in New Jersey features 42 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds to stroll and enjoy a variety of sculptures. We were there recently on a Rosemary House Traveling Herb Seminar. 
  In 1993, Seward Johnson created the Grounds for Sculpture on the old NJ Fairgrounds. We were there for the Seward Johnson Retrospective exhibit which presents an overview of the popular sculptor's 50-year career through a lifetime collection of his works. This very special exhibit has been so well received it was held over for another season.

Forever Marilyn, the 26-foot tall, 36,000-pound Marilyn Monroe sculpture from his Icons Revisited series
Some of his series is "Celebrating the Everyday" and features normal scenes.

One of the shows most exciting pieces is The Awakening, a 70-foot long giant emerging from the earth whose 17-foot arm extends dramatically into the sky.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In the Garden - Spring Edible Flowers

We love the abundance of spring flowers in the garden and we love to use edible flowers in the tea room.  It makes an ordinary dish extraordinary and offers a great element of both surprise and delight. Tulips make the most wonderful bowls for Chicken Salad or Egg Salad. We pull out the pithy center not because it isn't edible but because it is too chewy.
Violets can be used to make jelly or syrup and are actually quite nutritious. Sometimes we float one in the water glasses.  Or top a tartlet with one. We love the contrast in color with the purple violet against golden yellow lemon curd.
Lilacs are a mouthful of flower so we often pull them apart and use the petals in a tossed salad for a little extra pizazz.
Little grape hyacinths are harbingers of spring and are here and gone before you know it but not before we can use those tiny flowers in some rice for just a touch of color.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

United in Marriage - May 19, 1945

Our parents, Bertha Ottylie Peplau and Byron Leibold Reppert, were united in marriage on this day, 70 years ago. Mom married a proud Marine at a very simple ceremony in Reading, PA as the war was winding down. There was no fancy wedding gown or elaborate cake. Over the years, they were blessed with four daughters and celebrated 54 years of wedded bliss together. Each brought their strengths and weaknesses to the union, but their love for each other and their girls was evident with their mutual respect and their devotion to family.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! We love you, and miss you.
Note: This photo was taken in the tea room in 1998.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

We celebrated Mother's Day in the tea room this weekend with Afternoon Tea at 1:00 on Saturday and again on Sunday. With the tables decorated mostly in pink, and a little gift for everyone (Artisan chocolates and a tea time charm), the scene was set for an extra special day.

Between preparing endless pots of tea, and plating a wide variety of tea time treats, there was a hustle in the kitchen that only afforded the opportunity to snap a quick picture of the tea sandwiches. The complete menu included:
Fresh Berries, Almonds, Feta Cheese & Spring Greens with Poppyseed Dressing
May Flowers
Queen Adelaide Ham & Chicken Salad Triangles
Strawberry Basil Brie Crostini
Veggies & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus on Puff Pastry
BLT Goat Cheese & Basil Bites
Pineapple & Kiwi Rounds with  Pecan Cinnamon Butter Edge
Traditional English Cream Scones
Cardamom Raisin Scones
Sweet Cream & Raspberry Preserves
Fresh Fruit Skewers
Lemon Curd Cheesecake
Petite Peanut Butter Pie
Peppermint Meltaways
With Love to Mother!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In the Garden - Salad Burnet

Happily growing in the kitchen garden right now is Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor). This unique plant with its compound leaflets that form a rosette crown mimics the taste of cucumber in the garden. Known as the 'dyspeptic's cucumber', it has all the flavor and none of the effects. The crisp leaves are undaunted by weather, and even in the dead of winter, you can harvest this evergreen herb.

Many culinary uses for this perennial herb abound. You can harvest the leaves for salad, dips, or herb butters. It's also flavorful in vinegars. Simply remove the leaves from the stem and toss into a cucumber for a fresh summertime flavor. In the language of flowers, it is referred to as 'the merry herb', it 'doth comfort and rejoice the hart'.
We served these cucumber sandwiches recently in the tea room.

                                                    Burnet Finger Sandwiches
8 ozs. cream cheese
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1/3 c. chives or spring onion tops
1/2 c. burnet leaves, snipped fine
1 Tbsp. finely minced onion
pepper to taste
Soften the cream cheese with the mayonnaise. Add the herbs and seasonings. Mix thoroughly. Spread on round slices of bread. Top with a thinly slice cucumber, a dollop of the cream cheese mix and garnish with a fresh burnet leaf.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Spring Violets

There are many reasons why this is one of our favorite times of the year, but in particular, we are most happy to see the early spring violets open with the warmth of the sun. In the tea room, we love to garnish with them as they add such a pop of color and delight to whatever tea time treat they are gracing. Most tea room guests will first ask 'are they edible' before wholeheartedly chomping down on the violet while a few others will timidly nibble on a petal and there are always a few that will carefully pluck the flower from the food and gently set it aside on the plate. Where do you stand on sampling fresh edible flowers?
(Click on the photo to enlarge it!)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Spoutwood Farm Faerie Festival

Every year we look forward to participating in the Spoutwood Farm Faerie Festival in Glen Rock, PA. This year it is May 1st - 3rd. We are the herb plant vendor there and it is such fun to see who will wander into or past our booth.  This is our friend Jenni Buffington of Jenni Buffington Art.  She is a favorite vendor at our own Fairy Festival here at The Rosemary House every September, the first weekend after Labor Day.

The Blessed Order of the Green Man comes through offering the blessings of spring.

 The creativity of the wings and the costuming is always so much fun to enjoy.
 The leader of the Woodland Tribe looking for shade plants.
 All ages have fun at the Faerie Festival.  Our Fairy Festival is geared towards children. 
We say ages 3 -11 (although my 14 year old assures us it's fun for the older kids, too!)
 We leave with a few less plants and Fairy inspired!
If you make it to the Spoutwood Fairie Festival, be sure to stop by and say 'hi' to Susanna and Marj.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Wacky Windchimes

The newest addition to the collection of garden art is this cleverly designed Wacky Windchime crafted by Sandy, a self proclaimed packrat. Entitled 'Flo's Tea', it is created from a collection of treasures including several items that originally belonged to Sandy's Aunt Flo.

Having discovered Sandy's Wacky Windchimes page on Facebook, and after contacting her regarding a custom designed tea themed windchime, she quickly shared photos of two possible tea kettles that could be transformed into a windchime. Both were fun kettles, so I let her select the one she wanted to work with and which worked best with the treasures she had on hand. The end result is simply perfect in our garden.

The whimsical beading compliments the windchime, and the clatter when the treasures clink together in the breeze is pleasant. Sandy was very prompt with my request. Creating, crafting, and shipping the wind chime were all completed in short order. Thank you, Sandy!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pink April Showers

Our redbud tree is beginning its annual explosion of tiny sweet pea-like flowers. How cunningly they clamber up and down the woody trunk and branches. It seems impossible to have old wood perform like that.
I pick the clusters to toss in salads or, better, decorate puddings and desserts. This native American tree is an important legume, a nitrogen fixing plant valuable to old woods as well as gardeners. Penn's Sylvania abounds with these shocking magenta/pink flowers in spring.
I have one tree, a seedling rescued from a house being built, which edges our patio and is best viewed, in bloom, from our bedroom window.
A thrilling sight now while its glory builds to a crescendo. I gather the much curved branches for graceful bouquets. Often the flowers dry on the twig, then reserved for later use in a wreath. When the tree fades and breezes scatter showers of fragile pink florets, I spread old sheets under the tree to claim my rightful harvest, a rich colorful bonanza for potpourris. A tree herb? Who dares dispute the many uses of redbud beyond its beauty?
Of all the months that fill the year,
Give April's month to me,
For earth and sky are then so filled
With sweet variety.
~Letitia E. Landon


Please Note: Today's blog post is an excerpt from Bertha Reppert's TwelveMonth Herbal written long before blogs were the norm. Although the Redbud tree of which she speaks is at the old family homestead, these photos are taken of the Redbud planted in front of the tea room. It is beginning its explosion of spring color, and will eventually transition to pretty heart shaped leaves. Alas, the tree is on a main roadway in the borough, so we do not harvest the tiny edible sweet pea-like blossoms.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Downton Abbey Tea - 2015

Our Downton Abbey teas were held earlier this month. The silver was polished and the aprons starched. The best china and patterned glassware were put into service. An effervescing Shrub was presented upon arrival and assorted hot teas were offered throughout the evening.
The menu featured:

Pear & Walnut Salad with Parmesan Dressing

Cucumber Tea Sandwich
Sliced Ham & Cheese Muffins
Lemon Herbed Egg Salad with Asparagus Spear
Savory Olive Cheese Triangle on Whole Wheat
Poppyseed Apple Chicken Salad in Pastry Boats
Carrot Sandwich Rounds on Whole Grain Bread

Traditional English Cream Scones
Orange Glazed Poppyseed Tea Bread
Sweet Cream, Lemon Curd. Raspberry Preserves
Orange Slice, Kiwi Slice, Mascarpone Filled Strawberry

Lavender Butter Cookie
Lemon Coconut Cake
Sticky Toffee Pudding

Special thanks to Janet Young from Over the Teacup for her presentation on "Entertaining the Downton Abbey Way" explaining the delights of Afternoon Tea, Cocktail events and Dinner Parties. The Crawley family knew how to entertain!