No, I’m not British, but I’ve always been fascinated by the whole idea of stopping in the late afternoon and taking a cup of tea with a small plateful of goodies on the side.
About fifteen years ago, I watched a movie with my Hubs that had a scene where a whole extended family had ‘Tea at the Beach’. They packed their vintage straw hampers and scampered down a well-worn path from their home to their beach. It was cold, it was breezy, and the whole scene was magical.
The concept of even living near enough to the ocean to regularly go there and take tea was like a fairy tale to me. Who got to do something like that? Not me, that’s for sure.
At the time, we were living in a subdivision outside of Atlanta. Our home was nice, but one of hundreds that all looked vaguely alike, save for a different color facade or an altered porch roof line. I wouldn’t say they were soulless houses, more like they were just … anonymous. After twenty-five years of living there, ours was a wee bit more quirky than the horde of others, but some things can’t be changed- like location. And at that particular location, believe me, nobody was taking tea at a beach.
I’ve written about how we came to be at Dolphin Jump, so I won’t rehash that old ground. But suffice it to say, through a series of almost miraculous events we do find ourselves living our dream here at a secluded Southern Gulf Cottage. And yes, before you ask, I did manage to have tea at the beach a couple of times when we lived in the teeny-tiny town home on Perdido Bay. There was very little privacy there, so I got to chat with the nosy, noisy neighbors and their raft of preschool children in the unit adjoining ours while I sipped my Earl Grey.
If I was an extrovert, that would have been a fine scenario. But, gentle readers, P is a dyed-in-the-wool introvert. Added to that, I’m sensitive to odors, noise, and generally all intrusive things in the environment. So, I don’t really count those futile attempts as real ‘Tea at the Beach’.
At Dolphin Jump, once the weather is tolerable, I generally do have tea on the back deck watching the ocean at least once a week. Sometimes its a cup of tea, sometimes its a glass of white wine, in the winter I bundle up and drink hot gluhwein from a mix my sweet daughter sent me from Germany. Aldi usually has this bottled in the winter, if you’d like to try a hot, spicy, red wine drink.
To go with my libation, I’ll have some nibbles. And the recipe I’m including in this post is a rather old one for Tea Cakes. My great-grandmother was a great maker of Tea Cakes, so I regularly make them for my elderly mother, who adores them, and I confess, I like them as well.
They can be made many, many different ways. My version is an old recipe that I tweaked to suit my modern taste. Hope you will try them, during this ‘stay at home’ time of coronavirus. Perhaps you will decide to institute taking tea in the afternoons, as well.
Southern Inspired Tea Cakes
1/2 cup butter or vegetable shortening plus 1 tsp butter flavoring
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla or your favorite flavoring – coconut and lemon work well too
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup self-rising flour- the original recipe calls for plain flour and leavening, but I streamlined it
Cream the butter and sugar till fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, cornstarch, and flour. Roll out and cut in confectioners sugar– this is key. And it is another thing I changed from the original recipe. Use the confectioners sugar just like you would flour as you roll out your dough and cut. I always use a heart-shaped cookie cutter for tea cakes. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Watch them closely. They should not brown much and should stay almost white. If they brown, the taste changes and they are just not as good, IMHO.
In leaving, let me send you encouragement through this Bible verse that has been a comfort to me during our time of isolation:
Isaiah 41:10- So, do not fear, for I am your God. Fear can overtake us, but God is all-powerful and will offer us all the strength we need.
My motto is, ‘Love Never Fails’ and so I send you the promise of God’s love today for you and yours from all of us here at Simple Beach.