Guest contribution by: Marilyn Miller

Who loves a tea party? Me! I love a tea party so much that my cupboard is ready at any time for that impromptu tea party for myself, a friend, or a small group.  It can be a simple party with a cup of tea and piece of toast or it can be more elaborate with sandwiches, scones, and sweets.

My first memory of having tea was at eleven years old. My mother and I visited two elderly ladies that had moved to the states from England. They brought out a silver teapot with tea and store-bought cookies. They shared the story of afternoon tea with us and I was smitten. After that my mother occasionally created simple tea parties with black tea in her chipped teapot, serving the tea with cinnamon or plain toast cut into ‘soldiers.’

Image of crustless sandwich on a plate with pitcher and cup of tea

What do you have in your cupboard, refrigerator, or freezer for afternoon tea?  It goes without saying that there is always tea.  In my cupboard most often you will find a can of chopped black olives which mixed with a bit of mayonnaise makes a nice sandwich filling. Then fish like tuna or trout also can work quite easily doctored up with chopped pickles, veggies, or capers and a bit of mayonnaise.  Cranberry sauce with whole berries makes a nice bite baked with squares of puff pastry in a small muffin pan. Most often you will find a box of special crackers as they go well with cheese or a spread.   A small box of store-bought cookies or even brownie or cake mix usually sits on my shelf. In my refrigerator you often will find some eggs, cream cheese, butter, and mayonnaise. In the freezer there are usually a few home-baked cookies, puff pastry, and bread. Scones in the freezer — either already baked or ready to pop in the oven — are quite convenient.  Then I might forage in the garden or the veggie bin to see what delights can be turned into a delicious, simple sandwich. Veggies can also be cut and served plain with salad dressing dip on the side. Fresh fruit makes for a lovely sweet touch instead of baked goods, too. So what are you finding? Is there a favorite something you like to have in your cupboard?

Image of open cupboard containing some tea dishes and a vase with flowers

One of my favorite simple tea sandwiches is a ‘toasted cream cheese sandwich.’ Finely chop some green or red pepper and green onion, mix with cream cheese. Toast fingers of bread under the broiler, spread with the cream cheese mixture, put back under the broiler just until the cream cheese is slightly toasty, and serve.  If I don’t have the pepper or green onions it is easy to improvise with other raw veggies chopped finely. This is so simple, but always loved by my guests and myself.

Keep your recipes and food simple, so you can just relax and enjoy. You will find that by adding a flower from your garden, a special teacup or teapot, or special linens your time with tea will be enhanced. It will be something memories are made of and a delight for anyone you serve.

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