My daughter was rifling through our china cabinet, looking for a small plate that could be used to feed one of her dolls, when she came across a collection of my grandmother’s tea cups. She was enchanted! Her favorites were covered with tiny pink roses, and she asked me why she hadn’t seen them before.
As a little girl, I remember thinking how pretty the cups were as I watched the adults in my family sip from their delicate rims during special occasions…and now my little one was taken with their feminine appeal. They certainly possess an enduring beauty.
My grandmother passed away over twenty years ago, and all of her treasures had remained with my uncle until his death in 2010. After that, many heirlooms and collectibles made their way to my home – including my grandmother’s lovely china cups and saucers. Though I still appreciate the beauty of these pieces, and of course their sentimental value, they just haven’t seemed incredibly practical, and so they have remained tucked away in our cabinet.
“See,” I said to her…probably in a patronizing parent voice now that I think about it. “When I drink coffee or tea, I love to hold a big, sturdy mug that I can wrap my hands around. These dainty dishes are a little difficult to maneuver.” She looked at me with big eyes, not caring at all about how I like to enjoy coffee and tea, and replied, “Mom! We should have a tea party and use these pretty cups. They can’t just sit in the cabinet forever.”
What six-year-old girl doesn’t love a tea party? Well, I’m sure there are a lot of them…but that’s not what this story is about… And so it was decided. We would be hosting an intimate tea – and coffee – party to showcase my grandmothers dishes.
Theme: A Little Girl’s Real Life Tea Party
Number of Guests: 4
Advanced Notice: 24 Hours
Invitation: Informal Phone Calls
The night before our event, we set the table with my grandmother’s cups and saucers, and some beautiful antique dessert plates that I inherited from another relative. The patterns really popped against the dark wood of our dining room table. For the centerpiece, my daughter grabbed a bunch of white tulips from Whole Foods as we shopped for food for the intimate gathering.
At the party, which was held in the late afternoon, we kept things easy (this is a recurring theme of mine, if you haven’t noticed…). We offered a French roast coffee and an assortment of Rishi herbal teas. To flavor the drinks, we set out coconut milk creamer, agave nectar, raw sugar and lemon wedges. For a small but flavorful snack, we offered warm crumpets and homemade strawberry-basil “quick jam” (the recipe can be found below – along with the explanation of why we call it “quick jam”) which everyone loved.
My daughter was delighted to host a “ladies tea” and helped me with all of the planning and execution – she’s been practicing on her dolls for years, so she was kind of an expert… It was a fun event. I was proud to use my grandmother’s dishes, and even more proud to sit alongside my creative, thoughtful child.
Strawberry-Basil “Quick Jam”
So in our house, we call it “quick jam” because it takes no time to make (15-20 minutes + a little bit of waiting) and it doesn’t require any fancy materials or techniques. We eat this jam the day we make it, and store any left overs in the fridge to enjoy over the next few days.
We served our quick-jam over bread, but you could also serve it warm over sorbet or ice cream. The basil offers savory notes that pair well with desserts. This recipe is for roughly 8 servings of jam, or 4 servings of dessert topping.
What you need to get started:
- 2 Cups of Frozen Strawberries
- Basil Leaves
- Ground Cinnamon
- Agave Nectar
- 1 Packet of Kuzu Root Starch
In a sauce pan over medium heat add:
2 Cups of Frozen Strawberries
1/4 Cup of Water
1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
10 Medium Basil Leaves, Thinly Sliced
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Agave Nectar
Stir every few minutes and mash the strawberries as you go. When the liquid begins to bubble, turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes as you continue to stir occasionally.
After 10 minutes, dissolve 2 tablespoons of Kuzu Root Starch in 4 tablespoons of cold water. Slowly add the Kuzu Root mixture into the sauce pan as you stir – keep cooking until the sauce thickens. Then, remove it from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
Pour the “quick jam” into a serving bowl or jar and throw it in the fridge to cool to room temperature. Then enjoy!