Thursday, March 03, 2011

February meeting

(For a detailed account, after the minutes have been accepted at the March meeting, members may sign in to the Yahoo group and read the February meeting minutes, located under Files.)

Our plans for participating in a community outreach at Heavenly Scent Herb Farm are taking shape. The Fenton, Michigan business is celebrating its 23rd year in business and is planning a free Garden Party on Sunday, June 12, from 11 to 4. We will be in the gardens demonstrating various ways to use herbs, and showcasing the activities and talents of our group. In return, we will earn a donation of live plants from Heavenly Scent, to restore the gardens that we sponsor at Crossroads Village. Sounds like a win-win-win arrangement. Wish us good weather!

Our activity this month was an program about Tea,  Camellia sinensis, presented by members Lois Meldrum and Milli Paxton. They discussed the history and cultivation of tea, and how to prepare some of the various types of tea with plenty of tips and a tabletop full of tea samples and accoutrement. 

(For more information on Tea, check out the April, 2010 entry.)

I particularly liked seeing Lois' 1800's tea 'brick', a pressed brick of a pound of tea leaves that Lois told us once was worth an average week's wages and was used for money in older times.
One point Milli made, that I never really considered, is that kettles are used for heating the tea water, and tea pots are used for steeping the tea. I guess some modern gals don't know such things!
She also shared that different teas require differing temperatures of water: the stronger teas, like black needing a more rolling boil, while the more fresher, delicate types, like white or green need water that is not quite to the boil. The heartier teas also can take a longer steeping time.

Milli made the most delicious scones with a recipe she found in some literature from the Bigelow Tea Company. I do need that recipe:) Milli shared that she used a Berry flavored tea bag for flavoring, and dried currants. Lois told us of spreading the trimmed edges of tea sandwiches with a spread, such as mayonnaise, and then dipping the edge in chopped fresh herbs, for a special presentation.

And Lois gave some wonderful direction on setting up a personal tea "sanctuary" - a peaceful spot with a prepared tea tray, ready to use when needed. The spot should "call to you", with nothing that is not pleasing to the eye and the spirit. Along with the tea tray, Lois suggests having a chair and table, a book, a candle, or perhaps a bud vase for a fresh flower. (I'd like to add, maybe, a picture or a view.) The main thing is to have a place with relaxing surroundings to cultivate the spirit. Lois reminds us that taking out a little needed quality time for one's self will help us to be a better wife, mother, relation, friend.

It was a nice presentation to go along with our Tea themed evening. Our members each brought favorite teacups and saucers, and we all supplied the refreshment table with finger foods, and then we enjoyed our good company.

Hi all, 
I found a few of Lois' tea notes on the back of a recipe that she shared, so I thought you might like to read a few more of her most excellent thoughts about making your Tea a pleasant occasion for all ...

Cut your food one bite at a time, never all at once.

Do not use your silverware as a mirror to check your lipstick or teeth. Grooming should be reserved for the privacy of the powder room.

And finally, manners are a sensitive awareness of the feeling of others.
This last one says a lot, eh?

January Meeting

Big news! Ulrike reported that we have been invited to participate in an herbal garden outreach event on June 12, at a local Fenton herb farm. Stay tuned!

The Herb Study on Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, was presented by Norma Jones. We sampled sugar cookies flavored with some fresh rosemary that she found in her planter under the snow. There was a good discussion of rosemary, and Norma provided a handout with some recipes.

Here is Norma's recipe for Rosemary Roasted Walnuts
(makes 1 cup)

1 cup walnut pieces
1 Tblsp. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine walnuts and olive oil, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper.
3. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from pan and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

We rounded out the meeting by making Valentines to donate to a local nursing home.