Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Ideas, Recipes and Crafts

Welcome to the new Old Fashioned Living Newsletter

We hope you are enjoying the Old Fashioned Living newsletter! March 20th marks the official first day of spring, so we thought we would share some springtime recipes, crafts, garden tips, tea party and luncheon ideas. We welcome your feedback and comments, so please feel free to add your two cents at the end of this newsletter by clicking on the word "comment".

In This Issue

Tea Time: Celebrate Friendship with a Spring Luncheon
Crafter's Attic: Victorian Lace Milk Jug Covers
Gardening: Grow Easy Annuals from Seed
Kids: Whimsical Tea Party for Children
Kitchen: Freezing Cookies & Cookie Dough

Celebrate Friendship with a Spring Luncheon

A spring luncheon is the perfect way to celebrate friendships and rejuvenate our spirits. You can take the old fashioned idea of a simple tea and lunch and modify it to reflect the personalities of your dearest friends. These dishes can be prepared ahead and served at the table starting with soup and tea bread and ending with dessert. You can also set it up as a small buffet, and scatter rose petals and candles among the dishes on a table where guests serve themselves.

This would also make a wonderful baby shower buffet. Finally, you can gather your ingredients and recipes, then invite your friends over for a hands on luncheon where everyone pitches in and you visit while cooking! Regardless of how you serve the dishes at your luncheon, the end result is an afternoon of relaxation, accented with the beauty of herbs and friendship.

Tomato and Herb Soup

2 1/2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
extra basil leaves, whole
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups milk

In a large pot of boiling water blanch the ripe tomatoes for 10 seconds. Cool slightly and peel off the skins. Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds and chop. In a large saucepan, cook the onion in the olive oil until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Spoon 3/4 of the mixture into food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Return to pan, add the basil and milk. Simmer until JUST heated through. Stir in chives and divide into bowls. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf. Makes 6 servings.

Thyme-Rosemary Tea Bread

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix in the thyme and rosemary and set aside. In large bowl, mix egg, sugar and oil with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until combined. Add in milk and blend well. Add flour mixture and mix until smooth. Pour into a buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when tested.Brush with melted butter, remove from pan and serve warm with additional butter.

Too see all the recipes with this feature, including Herbed Chicken Salad, Orange Iced Tea & Sponge Cake with Raspberry Sauce, please visit Spring Luncheon on OFL.

Victorian Lace Milk Jug Covers

Queen Victoria liked garden tea parties, but did not like flies in the milk jug (what we call a creamer, but they called a milk jug because you serve milk, not cream in tea). In order to alleviate this problem, lace doilies, weighted down with beads were the outcome. They are placed over the "milk jug" to keep flies and other unwanted items out of the milk.

Below are the supplies you will need, please visit OFL for the instructions!

Supplies Needed:

6" 100% ecru or white cotton lace doily (99 cents at Michael's)
Various beads (seed beads, pearl beads and tear drop beads)
Matching cotton thread (clear beading thread is too stiff)
thin beading needle

To get the instructions for this craft, click here.

Grow Easy Annuals from Seed

Gardening is a wonderful family project for children of all ages. If you don't have very much space that is fine, you can plant in pots or wood boxes or small sections of soil. To be able to plant a small seed and take care of the ground around it while it grows will teach children patience, nurturing and science!

Let's start with flowers that are very easy to grow from seed. We'll cover flowers such as Nasturtium, Calendula, Thumbelina Zinnia, Bachelor's Button, Borage and Moss Roses.
Read more details on Easy Annuals From Seed here

Whimsical Tea Party for Children

Tea Parties for children give us a chance to have some quiet fun with our kids, as well as create some very special memories. Don't forget to invite the teddy bears, and Grandma if she can attend, for when giving a tea party, the more the merrier!

In this feature we will give you ideas for preparing the tea, tasty recipes for Vanilla Milk Tea, Coconut Cookies, and Lemony Tea Bread. We'll share some whimsical childrens' songs and books for story time. Be sure to read more about having A Whimsical Tea Party for Children.

Freezing Cookies and Cookie Dough

Whether it's holiday season or bake sale season, you are wondering how you're going to get all your baking done. The solution? Consider freezing your cookie dough or fresh baked cookies ahead of time. When the event gets closer you can get that last bit of shopping done or last fundraiser organized instead of spending all your time in the kitchen.

Freezing Cookie Dough

Cookie dough will freeze well for 4 to 6 weeks. Rolls of dough should be sealed tightly in plastic wrap (chill in refrigerator first before freezing). Other kinds of dough should be stored in airtight containers. Drop cookies (unbaked) may be frozen on cookie sheets and transferred to freezer bags. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.

Don't try to freeze soft meringue-type cookie dough. Chocolate chip, brownies, peanut butter, and sugar cookie dough (or anything similar) freezes well. Let the dough defrost in the refrigerator (about 2-3 hours). Make sure to label the container with the date and type of cookie dough.

Freezing Baked Cookies

Almost any baked cookie freezes well. Let cookies completely cool before freezing. Wrap cookies individually in plastic wrap then store them in a ziploc freezer bag or storage tin (coffee cans or holiday tins work great). You can also just layer the cookies between layers of waxed paper in the container, but the individually wrapped ones will store longer. Freeze frosted cookies uncovered first until they are firm. Then pack them in airtight container lined with plastic wrap or foil. Make sure to label the container with the date and type of cookies. Unfrosted cookies can be frozen up to 6-12 months (frosted, about 3 months). Frozen cookies thaw in about 10 minutes at room temperature (if you can wait that long). If cookies should be crisp when thawed, remove them from the container before thawing.

Thanks for joining us for our first issue. Please visit for all sorts of great tea recipes, crafts, gardening advice, home & hearth and plenty more! Our site has been recently redesigned, so if you have trouble finding anything or just have a comment, please click comments below and leave us a shout! :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Irish Recipes, Tea and St. Patrick's Day ideas

Welcome to the new Old Fashioned Living Newsletter

This is the first official issue of the Old Fashioned Living newsletter and we hope to bring you some fun ideas and tasty recipes for St. Patrick's Day as well as Irish-American Heritage Month. We welcome your feedback and comments, so please feel free to add your two cents at the end of this newsletter by clicking on the word "comment".

In This Issue

Tea Time: Irish Tea Traditions
Crafter's Attic: Irish Blessing Wall Hanging
History: St. Patrick - Patron Saint of Ireland
Kids: St. Patrick's Day Fun
Recipes: Irish Cuisine

Irish Tea Traditions

In Gaelic "cupan tae" mean cup of tea, and the Irish make it a strong cup. Irish tea is blended to be mixed with a lot of rich milk-up to 1/3 of the cup for some. The custom is to add the milk to the tea cup first, then pour in the tea. Irish breakfast tea is often a strong blend of Assam and Ceylon and most people would only drink it for breakfast, though the Irish love it strong and would use this blend all day long. Even during the traditional Irish wake, after a family member has passed away, it's expected that a pot would be continously boiling to make tea for company.

Irish tea is served generally three times a day; 11:00 in the morning, 3:00-5:00 for afternoon tea and a high tea at 6:00 pm, serving as the evening meal. Many think of high tea as formal or fancy, but it's actually a working man's tea that serves as a meal. Afternoon tea is the more "fancy" of the three teas-the one with scones, breads, jam, curds and other dainties.

Irish Shortbread

(8 ounces)1 cup butter
(4 ounces) 1/2 cup caster sugar (superfine/baking sugar)
(8 ounces) 1 cup all-purpose flour
(2 ounces) 1/4 cup cornstarch

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the flour and cornstarch. Roll out and cut into squares or rounds and bake in a slow (300 degree) oven until done.

Drop Tea Scones

2 cups all purpose flour
1 level teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 level tablespoon caster sugar (superfine/baking sugar)
1 level tablespoon golden syrup or corn syrup
1 egg
1/4 pint milk

Sift the flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt into a bowl. Add the sugar. Beat in the syrup, egg and milk to form a smooth batter. preheat a lightly greased griddle or thick frying pan. Drop medium spoons full of the mixture and cook at medium heat until bubbles appear-much like cooking a pancake. Turn and cook on the other side. Remove and place in a clean tea towel or cloth until ready to serve. Serve with butter, honey or jam. Makes 15.

Too see all the recipes with this feature, please visit Irish Tea Traditions on OFL.

Irish Blessing Wall Hanging

St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner. With that in mind Mary Wilkins shares this little wall hanging with us. It makes a wonderful welcome to your home or a very thoughtful housewarming gift for someone else.

Below are the supplies you will need, please visit OFL for the instructions!

Supplies Needed:

14" square of plain cream colored fabric or muslin
14" square fabric for backing
14" square of batting
4 strips of co-ordinating fabric for binding each 2" wide
Scrap of green fabric for shamrock
Scrap of black or brown fabric for stem
5 brass buttons
1 ribbon rose for middle
Fusible web
Black permanent fine tip marker

To get the instructions for this craft, click here.

St. Patrick - Patron Saint of Ireland

Since many stories and legends have been told regarding St. Patrick it is difficult to separate the facts from the myths. Here are some of the facts:
  • Patrick was born around 387 AD in Roman Britain
  • He was of noble birth
  • At 16 he was carried off by a band of Irish raiders and was made a slave in Ireland
  • After six years, Patrick was set free and allowed to return home
  • Upon returning home he prepared himself to become a priest
  • In 432, now a Bishop, set out for Ireland as a missionary
  • He taught that it was wrong to worship creation rather than the creator
  • Explained the Trinity using a shamrock- with one stem and three leaves, the Trinity is one God in three persons
  • Patrick also founded schools, colleges, and monasteries

Read more details on The Patron Saint of Ireland here

St. Patrick's Day Fun

If you're looking for some cute and simple projects to make with your little ones, we have a few for you! From a little man puppet, shamrock puzzles, and leprechaun mischief, we have some fun in store for your kids. Check them all our here.

Irish Cuisine

Whether you are Irish or not, it's fun to celebrate with those us who are by serving Irish fare on St. Patrick's Day. Irish cooking is traditionally hearty and simple, reflecting the way of life most Irish folk lived in the past, and still today.

Shamrock Salad

1 can (16 ounces) pear halves
1 package lime gelatin (3 ounces)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp.. powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Lime slices

Drain pears, reserving 1/2 cup syrup and 3 pear halves. Dice remaining pears. Dissolved gelatin in boiling water. Stir in cold water and reserved pear syrup. Pour 3/4 cup of the gelatin in a one quart mold . Arrange pear halves in shamrock shape in the bottom of the mold. Chill until almost set. In the meantime, chill remaining gelatin until it is thick like egg whites. Whip cream, adding powdered sugar, and fold into the gelatin. Fold in diced pears and nuts. Pour over the layer of pears in the mold and chill until firm. Unmold the salad on a platter and garnish with lime slices. Serves 6-8.

Irish Lamb Stew

2 tablespoons flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 pounds lamb, cut into 2" pieces
2 tablespoons oil or bacon fat
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 cups water
1 large onion chopped
3 carrots, cut into 1" slices
2 peeled, cubed potatoes
1/2 cup light cream
1 tablespoon flour

Mix 2 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper; Roll meat in mixture and brown in hot fat, add onions to brown lightly. Add herbs, garlic and water. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Add carrots and potatoes. Cover and cook 25 more minutes until vegetables are tender. Combine cream and 1 tablespoon flour; stirring until smooth; blend into stew and cook until thickened, stirring well to avoid lumps. Remove Bay leaf. Makes 4 servings. Note: You can substitute good beef stew meat, or a nice cut of roast cut into cubes. I also like to use baby carrots in place of the regular carrots. Don't be afraid to substitute!

Irish Champ

8 medium potatoes
1/2 cup milk
5 tablespoon butter
one bunch scallions or green onions, chopped

Peel and cube potatoes and boil in salted water until tender. Drain and mash slightly. In a small pan, heat milk and butter until butter is melted. Add chopped scallions. Fold mixture into the potatoes until well blended. Potatoes will be still be somewhat lumpy. Makes 6 servings.

Irish Potato Pie

6-8 potatoes, peeled
6 bacon strips
3-4 leeks
one cup grated Cheddar cheese

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain. In skillet, fry bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. Trim leeks so that you have the white part and a small amount of green. Wash well, and slice thin. Add leeks to pan, and saute over medium heat until soft. Slice the boiled potatoes, and arrange half in the bottom of a pie plate.Season with salt and pepper. Layer with bacon, leeks and one half of the cheese. Cover with remaining with remaining potatoes and season again. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until top is browned and cheese is melted. Makes 6 servings.

Irish Scones

1/2 cup butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk

In a bowl, combine butter and flour with pastry blender or fingers. Add baking powder, salt and sugar. In another bowl, beat egg and stir in milk. Mix into dry ingredients to make a dough. Turn onto floured surface and roll to one inch thickness or pat carefully with hands. With a cookie cutter cut dough into 2 inch rounds. Place on greased cookie sheet, about one inch apart and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes about 18 scones. You can also add raisins, dates or other dried fruits to the dough.

Still want more recipes?

Here you'll find Soda Bread and Colcannon.

Our friends at Annie's Recipes have a few to share as well:

Corned Beef and Cheese Rolls
Corned Beef and Hot Slaw on Rye
Corned Beef and Cabbage

Alicia's has a few too!

Thanks for joining us for our first issue. Please visit for all sorts of great tea recipes, crafts, gardening advice, home & hearth and plenty more! Our site has been recently redesigned, so if you have trouble finding anything or just have a comment, please click comments below and leave us a shout! :)