Elegant & English Hand Baked Tea Biscuits in London ~ That time I flew all the way across the pond, just to dip my toe in the UK.

Uncategorized | April 30, 2019 | By

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So we had a choice. My son and I could fly to London, then on to Munich, since Germany was our destination. Or we could stop in Paris long enough to see the important sites and then head on to Munich, where we were meeting my mother and other family members. Mom had added France to our Europe itinerary, just so that I could knock off another bucket list check. So I decided that, since the UK was top of my personal bucket list, we would stop in London. I have always felt that I HAVE to see Ireland. I was more interested in getting there my whole life than to my homeland of Germany. But that would not be possible. It would be a quick stop in the UK, but long enough for tea and scones at Fortnum & Mason. Then we would fly to Munich, arriving just in time for the opera at the National Theater that was on my son’s bucket list.

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Well, the day I was in Nurnberg, almost two weeks later, taking pictures of all the huge, gorgeous churches that reminded me of Notre Dame and had me kicking myself a little for choosing London over Paris, Notre Dame burned. Aack!! And because our flight from the US was delayed half the night, our entire itinerary was thrown off. No tea. No scones. No opera.

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“On Time”. Key words.

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Excited. Passing the time in a quiet, dark corner in an old granny rocker.

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So sad that our flight has been delayed. And delayed. And delayed. At this point, when we are pretending to cry for a picture to send to those waiting for us in Munich, we had no idea if we were still going or not. The airline was saying that if we didn’t get off the ground by 1:30 a.m., the captain was going to cancel the flight. If the captain canceled the flight, we wouldn’t get on another one until the next evening. That would mean we wouldn’t arrive until my family had already left Munich for other parts of Germany. My son and I decided to just cancel our whole trip if that happened, and plan another trip to Europe.

But then, the part the mechanics needed to fix the plane arrived. The crew fixed the two major problems they had been having (we were seriously hoping, since a Titanic-esque swim in the North Atlantic was not on our agenda) and we were able to take off.

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And I got to SEE Ireland. Just see it. From the air. But…bucket list CHECK! I was SO excited. I must have sounded to other passengers like a kid seeing Disney for the first time, though I tried to keep my composure. I waited. Ocean. Ocean. Ocean. Then…land! And it looked like Ireland was “supposed to” look.

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And then England came into view. It was SO cool!

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And IT looked just like it was “supposed to” look. Beautiful!

We made it to London! Half a day late. The airline got us on a connecting flight that was to leave in 15 minutes, when we still had to take a bus from one terminal to another. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was tired. So, so tired. The airport was hot. So, so hot. Boy do they like it warm over there! And security was insane. So, so insane. And we knew we had already missed our new connecting flight, because it all took a long time. So, so long. And we knew that probably meant going back over to the other terminal and being put on another connection and going through security AGAIN. But…when we arrived at our gate, our new connection had also been delayed. I didn’t know if we’d ever get to Munich at this rate, but we at least had a few minutes to take a breather while we waited to see if this plane would eventually get off the ground. My son sat with our things while I walked around to find my tea and scone. The Fortnum & Mason gift shop was right next us. My mouth watered as I looked at all the boxes of tea and goodies. I wanted to buy things and have them shipped home, but there wasn’t time.

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But then I found the bar I was looking for, only to be told that they didn’t serve tea and scones. Dadgummit!!! My plans were foiled again.

So I reported back to my son and told him I was heading to the kiosk across from where he was stationed on luggage guard duty. I was hot, sticky, tired, nervous (I don’t like flying much), but there was the nicest little man in a suit, friendly and smiling –seeing that I was hot and tired and nervous– ,when everyone else at Heathrow had been short-tempered and rude (probably because they keep it so stinkin’ hot). And another clerk, a female, was just so, so nice, helping me to find the perfect authentic London baked treat as a substitute for the scone I wouldn’t get. And this is what I ended up hurriedly purchasing, just as boarding was called for our flight.

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We found our seats on the plane and buckled up, then opened my little box of tea biscuits so we could each eat one ON British soil before a flight attendant told us not to and our plane took off.

We saved the rest to share with my husband and other son, who did not go to Europe with us. They were wonderful with a cup of Earl Grey, the tea I would have had, if there had been scones. And they survived a flight across the English Channel and France, two weeks in Germany, a trip to Switzerland and France, and another very long flight home, relatively intact.

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The Thames also looked just like it was “supposed to”, on take-off. I felt just a little bit like Tinker Bell.

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I am so happy to say that there were no other hiccups on the entire two week adventure, and my bucket list is completely empty and ready to be refilled.

Now excuse me while I go bake some apples, because I MUST make baked apple tea biscuits, inspired by my London treat, to accompany the crunchy and light Lavender Lemon Tea Biscuits I already make. Oh…and I have to plan that trip to Ireland so I can do more than just “see” it.

Tea Sipping at Home. Some of my favorite “local” tea room experiences.

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Tea is life. Well, a big part of mine, anyway. Even as a toddler I was sipping it, prepared with cream and sugar by my tea loving German mother. I remember her once taking me on a lunch break from my dad’s chiropractic practice, where she worked as his office manager. While we were out and about, downtown on some errand, there was a stop at a discount store. She told me I could pick out one of the little ceramic tea sets they were selling. I remember going back to the office and trying it out with the tea she brewed for me. We had one sip each, with the tiny cups that came with the set. And the miniscule teapot didn’t hold much, either. But I LOVED that little tea set. It had bears on it. I wasn’t fond of dolls when I was a little girl, but I loved, and still love, animals.

Mom and I have been having tea together, ever since. When she came to visit me in Washington state, we took the ferry to Victoria BC to have afternoon tea at The Empress Hotel. My husband and I had done the same thing two years earlier for my birthday, which is when I knew I wanted to take my mother there if she was ever able to make the cross-country trip to visit. When she did, she created one of my favorite memories that we still giggle about today when she accidentally shot a sugar cube across the room with the little tongs that were provided for our tea service. “Julia Roberts escargot Pretty Woman style”, as we call it. If you’ve ever seen the movie, then you might remember that her character launched an escargot from its shell into the air, where the waiter caught it. The waiter did not catch Mom’s sugar cube. We have no idea where it landed.

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And when she blew through cancer, knocking it out in record time, I took Mom to have afternoon tea at The Inn on Biltmore to celebrate. Set in the turret of the inn, with sunlight streaming through pretty windows of the library, it was a beautiful, special treat I will never forget.

Though Mom started me on this tea obsession of mine, she doesn’t always make it to my favorite local tea shops, when I move place to place. Two of my favorites in Washington state to have tea were the Victorian Rose Tea Room in Port Orchard, later owned by author Debbie Macomber, and Ye Olde Copper Kettle in Poulsbo. Victorian Rose was changed from it’s pinky-pink exterior I was familiar with to gray and renamed The Grey House by Macomber. And I am so sad to see that the Copper Kettle is gone. It was such a great little shop, with meat pies and tea and scones with clotted cream and lemon curd!

I was so happy to find Chelsea’s Tea Room in Asheville when we moved to the area after living in Washington. For several years, I would win the vote for where my family would have lunch out, and Chelsea’s was IT. My husband and kids would sit with me sipping tea and eating pastries from yet another tiered cake stand full of goodies. But, sadly, Chelsea’s is also now gone.

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Though I miss the light and airy tiled tea room and the Victorian tea shop that was part of Chelsea’s, I can’t complain too much that it is gone, because I happen to adore the bakery, Well-Bred Bakery of Asheville, that has moved into that space. And, of course, I can still have tea and pastries at Well-Bred, even if it’s not quite the same thing.

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Try their chicken salad, if you ever make it to the bakery. Fabulous! And so great on one of their croissants. All of Well-Bred’s salads, even chicken, can be ordered as a side dish. Great for low-carb dieters who may be wondering how they found themselves in a bakery and what they can possible eat that’s within their limits.

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But that leaves me with no local tea room with frilly Victorian spaces to enjoy. Though there is always Inn on Biltmore’s Library Lounge, I really miss having a small local tea room. I might have to do something about that, one day, and start my own! Maybe in a little Victorian cottage?

When we were part-timing it in WV, I did have access to a perfectly wonderful tea room in Morgantown.

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The Tea Shoppe at Seneca Center.

It is still operating at full swing, thank goodness, so any time we stop by on our way north I can sit down for my favorite cup of Dorian Grey (an Earl Grey with caramel notes), a piping bowl of their wonderful tomato bisque, and their tower of yummy pastries and finger sandwiches. I know simply EVERYONE makes mini pound cakes and bundt cakes in different flavors (Boring, right?), but their mini bundt cakes are amazing! I don’t know who is back there baking, but they sure know what they are doing.

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And for those who aren’t tea and finger sandwich consumers, they have a couple of pretty massive full-size sandwiches and even sodas on the menu.

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Not just a tea room, The Tea Shoppe, as the name implies, also sells loose teas and tea making accessories.

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And I am running low on my stash of Dorian Grey, so I think our next trip can’t come soon enough!

Mom and I are doing some traveling together soon, so I will be “working hard” to find lots of places to blog for what MUST be my next tea post, “Tea Sipping Abroad”.

 

 

 

 

How I Make Beef Jerky in my Oven

Uncategorized | October 6, 2018 | By

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We have road-tripped a lot over the past four years. Traveling back and forth from our little mountain farm to the bigger dairy farm in West Virginia we were dividing our time between while my husband worked on a contract, frequent trips to New England for work, and family visits in Colorado, Montana, California, and Florida have kept us feeling a bit like nomads. Road-tripping when, to where, and for the length of time we choose is the ultimate work-from-home perk!

But being the frugal wannabe homesteader that I am, when we aren’t staying with family or in work provided hotel rooms, the majority of our hotel stays come with unhealthy, carb-loaded free breakfasts, and an in-room microwave, coffee maker, and fridge (not hard to find at all, these days). When we are on the road, the majority of our meals are eaten in our vehicle from grocery store purchases and homemade non-perishables. When we aren’t at a hotel that includes breakfast, I pack a few dozen breakfast scones, cookies, and biscotti that I make, which are loaded with healthy grains, seeds, nuts, and fresh and dried fruit, along with the double chocolate biscotti and almond biscotti that we always keep on hand for coffee sipping and dipping, a jar of instant coffee and powdered non-dairy creamer, and boxes of the herbal teas we drink every day. Lunches and dinners mostly come from grocery store supplies, with special splurge dinners out at restaurants here and there, or fabulous diner breakfasts on occasion, because the best thing about traveling is certainly finding great food!

One thing I always try to make before a road trip, winter storm, hurricane, or camping trip is homemade beef jerky, in the same manner my dad taught me to make it when I was a kid. It’s a cinch to make and the flavor beats any and all of the sweet soy sauce saturated, expensive versions for sale in supermarkets and convenient stores. I have used every cut of beef there is from London broil to chuck, top round, bottom round, sirloin…and the results are always the same. I end up with a wonderful batch of peppery preserved beef that helps us keep the traveling carbs a bit balanced with a handy supply of protein and gives us something other than canned meats to eat if the power goes out in a storm.

I have made it in an electric oven set on the lowest setting. For mine, that is “low” and 170 degrees fahrenheit. On a gas range with a continuously burning pilot light in the oven, I don’t even need to turn it on. The heated dry air is enough to turn raw beef into jerky overnight. Gas ovens with igniters work the same as an electric, working great on the lowest setting to dry the meat. And, of course, sometimes I use a dehydrator to make beef jerky. I have used all four methods to obtain the same results in the same amount of time.

Homemade Peppered Beef Jerky

Ingredients:

2 to 3 pounds beef, just about any cut

Any blend of dried spices or pre-made steak seasoning with a high salt and coarse pepper content, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning

Method:

I mix together a salt and spice blend, when choosing to make my own, using garlic powder, coarse pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, or kosher salt, dried herbs, red pepper flakes, and anything else that sounds good at the time. Sometimes I use an organic version of Montreal that is just called “Canadian Steak Seasoning”. What I never use is anything with monsodium glutamate, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, sugar, or soy sauce. I despise sweet beef jerky and don’t feel I have ever needed any preservative other than salt and dry, warm air to make beef jerky.*

I slice the beef as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife. I vary the length and width, but to safely thoroughly dry the meat as quickly as possible, I get it as thin as possible, after squaring off the ends.

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Then I liberally coat all sides of every piece of sliced beef.

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I lay it all on baking cooling racks, trying to keep the pieces from touching too much so that air can circulate around them. But the pieces begin drying and shrinking pretty quickly, so I don’t worry too much about how spaced out they are.

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My oven is set on “low” or to 170 before I place the racks of beef on separate shelves with plenty of space between them. No matter what drying method I use, I dry the meat overnight, 8 hours, or until the beef is completely dry and crackly.

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Then I cool it completely before storing in airtight containers.

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When we aren’t eating it, I keep the packaging sealed tightly.

*This method and recipe does not come with any guarantee that pathogens of any kind will be eliminated in the making of beef jerky. E-coli can be present on the surface of any and all portions of beef and the only sure method of destroying it is by cooking it at high temperatures. Ground meat should never be used to make jerky. This method is not recommended for any other type of meat than beef. Prepare and consume beef dried using this recipe and method at your own risk. Edible Tapestry is not responsible for any illness that might occur via the method used here by a reader of this blog. I am simply sharing the method I have always used to make beef jerky, which always results in thoroughly dried beef strips in the same manner that meat has been dried for thousands of years.

Yield depends on the size of beef cut used.