Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." ~ Melody Beattie

Wherever you find yourself along life's journey, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chocolate Chip Biscotti

"Hot coffee and cold winter mornings are two of the best soul mates who ever did find each other." ~ Terri Guillemets

Y'all know I love my teatime, but making party favors for a recent banquet at church has me reaching for a different brew. To coordinate with our Italian menu, I sampled several recipes for biscotti. Read on for my easy version of Chocolate Chip Biscotti -- a perfect accompaniment to a steaming cup of coffee or espresso.

Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Makes approximately 50 cookies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
Pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Melting chocolate

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, beat oil, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla until blended. Add flour and baking powder, and beat until a heavy dough forms. Gently stir in chocolate chips. Halve dough, and shape each piece into a roll as long as cookie sheet. Place roll on first prepared cookie sheet, and using a rolling pin sprinkled with flour, press dough to 1/2-inch thickness.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cookie dough cool slightly, then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Transfer slices, cut side up, to second prepared cookie sheet. Bake for an additional 6 to 10 minutes on each side, or until toasted. Let biscotti cool to room temperature, then drizzle with melting chocolate. Allow chocolate to harden before packaging biscotti.

Wrapped up as a take-home favor, this lightly sweet shortbread was a hit at our church party. I hope to make more this holiday season to accompany coffee-themed gifts for teachers and coaches.

"Suave molecules of Mocha stir up your blood, without causing excess heat; the organ of thought receives from it a feeling of sympathy; work becomes easier and you will sit down without distress to your principal repast which will restore your body and afford you a calm, delicious night." ~ Prince Tallyrand

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Spot of Tea

"If you have one teapot
And can brew your tea in it
That will do quite well.
How much does he lack himself
Who must have a lot of things?"
~ Sen no Rikyu

"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves  slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future." ~ Thich Nat Hahn

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shades of Autumn

"The days may not be so bright and balmy — yet the quiet and melancholy that linger around them is fraught with glory. Over everything connected with autumn there lingers some golden spell — some unseen influence that penetrates the soul with its mysterious power." ~ Northern Advocate

From my desk I have a lovely view of the foliage behind our offices at Victoria, but nothing beats stepping outside to experience the autumn splendor firsthand. Our weather is unusually cold for this time of year in Alabama, but the crisp, cool air has been so refreshing. Won't you join me for a stroll around the pond? The fleeting colors of fall must be enjoyed in their season. 

"Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that ones very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns." ~ George Eliot

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Moment with Steepist

"Tea is quiet and our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty." ~ James Norwood Pratt

Over the weekend, I enjoyed the most beautiful moment -- an impromptu mother-daughter teatime shared over cupfuls of a delightful blend, compliments of a new company for tea enthusiasts. Urging us to "think inside the box," Steepist offers an innovative tea subscription service that introduces customers to some of the most delightful loose-leaf blends from around the world.

The box includes four half-ounce samples of tea, enough for approximately 20 single servings (40 if steeped twice). Along with details and brewing instructions for each blend, the package includes 10 tea sleeves. The inaugural selection includes Organic Lapsang Souchong from Stone Leaf Teahouse, Traditional Guayusa Tea from Runa, Lychee Oolong from Naivetea, and Fiji from SerendipiTea (shown in this post). I appreciate the company for sending me a complimentary box to try.

In the quiet of early morning on Saturday, Mary Ashley wandered in just as I had steeped my first cup of Lychee Oolong, described by the tea sommeliers at Steepist as "light and smooth tea with elegant oolong taste, luscious fruit, fragrant, sweet finish." The delicate brew was exquisite, and Mary Ashley was eager to have her own cup after she shared a sip from mine. Warmed by comfort and sweetened by conversation, this impromptu teatime is not one I will soon forget. It was such a gift to open this box of tea and find it full of treasured moments, to be savored in solitude or in the company of someone special.

Learn more about this subscription service at Steepist.

"The cup of tea on arrival at a country house is a thing which, as a rule, I particularly enjoy. I like the crackling logs, the shaded lights, the scent of buttered toast, the general atmosphere of leisured coziness." ~ P.G. Wodehouse

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