“I received my first tea set — blue-and-white willowware — on my fourth Christmas . . . I remember feeling so excited on the occasion of my first tea party that my hand shook as I poured tap water into my doll’s tiny teacup.” ~ Eileen Spinelli (Introduction, Tea Party Today)
Put on your best bibs and bonnets, there’s a tea party today!
I must confess I only just discovered this charming poetry collection last week. I know, I know. Slap me with a big fat wet noodle. How did I miss it?
After all, I’ve enjoyed Ms. Spinelli’s work for quite some time. In fact, whenever I see her name on a book cover I automatically smile :). Could be because this highly popular, critically-acclaimed author and teacher has published dozens of cool books over the years (poetry, picture books, chapter books), including my personal fave, The Dancing Pancake. *licks lips*
How could I not love a person who has a teddy bear in her office, is fond of the “sights, sounds, and aromas” of diners, bakes peach pie for her husband, and sips tea while writing her wonderful stories and poems?
After I read Tea Party Today: Poems to Sip and Savor (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2006), I immediately contacted Eileen to ask for permission to share several poems for Poetry Friday. I couldn’t resist asking if she had a favorite teatime treat to share because I know how hungry you people are all the time.
Gracious woman came back with a yummy recipe which I baked just for this post (oh, the sacrifices I make). :)
But first, the poems (click the spreads to enlarge). Each comes with a Teatime Tip. This one remind you of anyone?
The cake is too sweet.
My bread is too thick,
And as for this jam —
It makes me sick.
My cup is cracked.
What else is wrong?
The milk’s warm
And my tea’s too strong.
A storm is brewing
Just ahead —
I knew I should have
Stayed in bed.
Teatime Tip: Sometimes the best thing to give a grouch at teatime is a hug.
* * *
This is Mr. Cornelius’s favorite (big surprise):
TEDDY BEAR TEA
When I am feeling lonely,
Out of sorts, or blue,
When there’s no one to play with
And nothing much to do,
I pat a pretty mud pie,
Set cups beneath a tree,
And host a backyard party
For teddy bear and me.
Teatime Tip: Mud pie manners: Pretend to eat mud pies. Do not really eat them. Do not use your parents’ good forks, spoons, or pie plates. Wash your hands when you are finished.
* * *
The best part about tea is how people everywhere love it:
TEA AROUND THE WORLD
In Ireland tea is cozy.
In Russia tea is strong.
In China tea is served to guests
And sipped the whole day long.
In Burma tea is pickled.
In Turkey, sold on streets.
In England tea comes on a tray
With sandwiches and sweets.
Japan has rules for formal tea
And one is wear your socks.
Go to Tibet and you would have
To chip your tea from blocks.
Moroccans favor green tea
With mint and sugar, too.
My favorite place in all the world
For tea is home with you.
Teatime Tip: Plan a tea around another country. Visit the library to learn about the country. Focus on decorations and food. Learn how to say “tea” in different languages.
* * *
I love how the winsome, endearing poems celebrate the joys of shopping for, preparing and sharing tea in real and imagined places. Tea can be a quiet companion or the life of the party. Why not enjoy a warm cup in bed, by the fire, on the porch, by the lake, at the beach, in a garden, or even aboard Noah’s ark? These poems are steeped to perfection. :)
* * *
♥ LET’S EAT! ♥
Most of you know there’s nothing I like better than a family recipe. Don’t things taste so much better and mean so much more when you know the story behind the dish?
Here’s what Eileen says about her British Brown Betty:
It’s something my mother made when I was a little girl. And in the town where we lived back then there was a restaurant called Betty’s that served it. I thought it was quite a treat when I was about six years old. The waitress used to add a small dollop of vanilla ice cream on it for me. 😋
Of course I’d heard of Apple Brown Betty as part of the I-love-apples-with-crusty-stuff family (crisps, crumbles, cobblers, grunts, slumps, et. al). But until the other day, I’d never made a Brown Betty.
BBB is unpretentious comfort food as heartening and cozy as they come, and quite versatile. Though Eileen’s recipe calls for whole wheat bread, you could easily use whatever bread you have on hand. As with other apple recipes, you can also adjust the amount of sugar according to the tartness of the fruit.
Rather than layer whole slices of buttered bread with the apples, I cut each slice into strips for the bottom layer, and then cubed the bread for the top layer to make it easier to conform to my pie dish (some people like to process their bread into crumbs). With golden delicious apples I didn’t need to add the full cup of dark brown sugar, but I was very generous with the cinnamon, far exceeding the 1 teaspoon in the recipe.
Eaten warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, the Brown Betty was just right with a cup of Eileen’s favorite herbal peach tea.
Thank you so much, Eileen — now I may have to change my first name to “Betty.” :)
* * *
BRITISH BROWN BETTY
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 10-12 slices whole wheat bread
- 2 lbs. apples that have been peeled, cored, and sliced
- 5 tablespoons dark corn syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter bread and remove crusts.
Grease a deep 9″ pie dish and coat it with 1-1/2 tablespoons of the brown sugar. Add about 1/2 the cinnamon.
Line the dish with the bread slices buttered side up (keep enough slices to cover the top of the pie dish).
Layer the apples on the bread in the dish. Sprinkle each layer with a tablespoon of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon.
Cover the top with the bread slices that have been set aside. Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar.
Pour the syrup over the bread and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the apples are tender and bubbly.
Jama’s Tips: Try maple syrup in place of the dark corn syrup. Of course this recipe will taste even better if you read all the poems in Tea Party Today while your Brown Betty is baking.
* * *
TEA PARTY TODAY: Poems to Sip and Savor
written by Eileen Spinelli
illustrated by Karen Dugan
published by Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2006
Poetry for children ages 6-9, 32 pp.
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♥♥ GIVEAWAY WINNER! ♥♥
Happy to announce that the winner of an author signed copy of THE POEM THAT WILL NOT END by Joan Bransfield Graham and Kyrsten Brooker is . . .
Keri Collins Lewis!!
Here is her couplet:
Cookies, cake and pie are dandy,
But my favorite treat’s See’s candy!
Joan selected her five favorite couplets from those submitted, tossed them into Ryan’s hat, then picked our winner.
Big Congrats to Keri, and thanks to everyone for playing!
Keri, please email me with your mailing address so we can get your book out to you. :)
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The beautiful and talented Renée LaTulippe (author, poet, editor, mother of adorable super hero twins), is hosting today’s Roundup at No Water River. Take her a cup of tea and a dish of Brown Betty, and she’ll share the full menu of poetic delights in and around the blogosphere with you. Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, recite some Shakespeare and she’ll follow you anywhere. ♥
*Spreads from Tea Party Today: Poems to Sip and Savor posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2006 Eileen Spinelli, illustrations © 2006 Karen Dugan, published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc.
Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.