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Dear Tea Friends,

Although the weather is still steamy along the Hudson River, some leaves are turning from green to flame along the Delaware River near our country house. We vacationed in the Catskills this year. After all the international travel last summer, it was a relief not to board an overbooked, possibly delayed plane.

Most days, the sky was bird’s-egg blue and we often snuck away to dive off rocks under the bridge to swim and splash along with fishermen, kayakers and canoers. Back home, I puttered in my rock garden and made jam, but none of the batches jelled properly. I seem to have lost my touch since last summer, but have a quartet of fancy dessert/pancake sauces. The blueberry-peach combo is fantastic drizzled on puffy, hot-from-the-oven Dutch babies. Ditto the strawberry-rhubarb on mango sorbet.

We usually spend Labor Day harvesting tomatoes from our garden and canning quarts of pasta sauce. This year, deer ate or trampled everything except the bee balm plants and a mystery gourd with dark green leaves as big as a dinner plate.

Took a sample to the farmers’ market where a local grower palmed it, shook his head, and pronounced it “decorative, not edible.” Canning plans scotched, we power-washed and began painting the deck. Miles to go before we sleep.

Took a break to scour yard sales and scored a “Friday Buffet Lunch” sign to go with the wooden “Barn Sale” arrow and “Honey” signs mounted over the stairwell. We hope to harvest honey from our two hives later this month if the bears don’t get to it before we do. Still giggle when I remember the grizzled old beekeeper who told those of us attending “bee boot camp” that the way to identify the queen bee was to look for “the gal with a big behind, wearing a crown, white gloves, and carrying a pocketbook.”  Well, our Italian queen bees look nothing like that, but they sure have done a spectacular job running their hives.

Speaking of queens, I found a copy of “In the Royal Manner – Expert Advice on Etiquette and Entertaining from the Former Butler to Diana, Princess of Wales” at a book sale fundraiser for the local fire station. On the last day, they were priced at $2.00 for a grocery bag full, so who could resist! According to Paul Burrell, “Taking tea at five o’clock is still a tradition observed by the Royal Family wherever they are in residence, and the Queen delights in making her own pot of tea, in a silver teapot, of course.” He goes on to provide suggestions for a “hearty Highland tea – suitable for any ‘royal’ table.” Evidently, teatime scones are traditionally served “unfruited,” with bramble jelly or, if salt is added to the mix, they are eaten with cheese along with potted shrimps and salmon.

I also nabbed “The Good Husband of Zebra Drive,” by Alexander McCall Smith, www.mccallsmith.com, author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels. Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s only female private detective, loves bush tea, not to be confused with Camellia sinensis. Her philosophy about the power of tea, Rooibos or otherwise, will be very familiar to tea lovers:

“The world, Mma Ramotswe believed, was composed of big things and small things… The big things … wars, oppression, the familiar theft by the rich and the strong… could make even the reading of a newspaper an exercise in sorrow … but one could not think just of those [unkindnesses]… So the small things came into their own: small acts of helping others, if one could; small ways of making one’s own life better: acts of love, acts of tea, acts of laughter. Clever people might laugh at such simplicity, but, she asked herself, what was their own solution?”  

McCall Smith, was born in Africa and educated there and in Scotland, where he now lives. According to the magazines I read at the YMCA, to distract myself while huffing and puffing on the treadmill, tartan plaids and Scottish looks are big for fall. If you’d like to connect with your Celtic roots or entertain in a Highland manner, there’s lots of fun ideas in my latest book, “Celtic Teas With Friends,” http://teawithfriends.com/celticteaswfriends_bk.php.

I was surprised and delighted to receive a note from Bonnie Rideout, http://www.bonnierideout.com/welcome.htm, a three-time U.S. Scottish fiddle champion whose album “Kindred Spirits: A Musical Portrait of Scotland’s Women” is one of the musical suggestions for July’s Hen Party Tea. Ms. Rideout wrote to say that she is an avid tea drinker who loves to cook. The first "Celtic Teas" recipe she tried was Paula Link’s “sinfully delicious” caramel cashew shortbread bars (Dec. chapter). Ms. Link, a former home-ec teacher, is a wonderful cook who loves to host clever theme tea parties. I’m very grateful that she, and several other fabulous cooks, allowed me to share some of their special recipes with you.

This just in: Susan Newman, www.susannewmandesign.com, who did such a beautiful job of designing “Celtic Teas With Friends,” has been recognized with a 2008 American Graphic Design Award from Graphic Design USA. Apparently they liked the look of the book as much as I do. Entrants in a wide range of categories number more than 10,000, and only a highly selective 15 percent win awards. Congratulations, Susan!

More news/reviews: http://www.teawithfriends.com/press.php

If your local independent book store, specialty gift, or Celtic gift shop doesn’t yet have copies of “Celtic Teas With Friends,” or any of my other books, you may buy autographed copies at one of my scheduled appearances (info. below) or directly from me. Visit my website www.teawithfriends.com or phone me, Toll Free @ 866-616-1154.

Sat., Sept. 6th
Sat., Sept. 13th
Fri., Sept. 19th
Sat., Sept. 20th
Thurs., Oct. 2nd
Thurs., Dec. 4th

Sat., Sept. 27th

3814 Old Gettysburg Rd.
Camp Hill, PA
Contact janet@overtheteacup.com or Tel. 717-737-5099 for details

Sun., Sept. 28th

543 Main St.
Bethlehem, PA
Contact Marge@donegal.com, or Tel. 610-866-3244 for details

Sat., Nov., 1st

235 S. White Horse Pike
Audubon, NJ 08106
Contact Fran Siefert, Tel. 856-546-0946 for details

Mon., Nov., 3rd
Learn about the fascinating history of table linens and napkin rings, how to choose, use and care for them, as well as how to fold napkins and where to place them on the table.

Contact Program Coordinator @ 845-786-3800 X 23 for details

Sun., March 15th, 2009 - 1:00 PM

421 East 61st St.
New York, NY 10065
Contact Amanda Wheeler 212-838-6878  X 25 for details

Mon., March 16th, 2009

Adult Services Librarian
Contact Program Coordinator @ 845-786-3800  X 23 for details




© 2008 Elizabeth Knight - Tea With Friends | Website design by Susan Newman Design