Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Black currant tea

Meringues with Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream & Florentines
I can't believe the August bank holiday weekend is over. I have that crazy mixed up feeling that summer has flown by but things I did just a couple of weeks ago seem like its been ages since I did them... Silly nostalgia!

Last weekend, I participated in a very traditional English past time, the afternoon tea. Every year (for quite some time now) my mother-in-law has an Afternoon Black Currant Tea on the Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend. It is to raise funds for The United Nations.  This year wass my second Black Currant Tea.
So what happens at an afternoon tea? Money is collected and you get to enjoy lovely baked goods. Stewed black currants are served with cream and home made shortbread biscuits. The black currants are grown by my father-in-law on his allotment and slow cooked by my mother-in-law. Tea and coffee are available to accompany the delights, yet I still drink tall glasses of cool water.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie
This year I baked a variety of goodies including oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, mini key-lime pies, zucchini (courgette) tortes, a tomato and zucchini puff-pastry tart, and cannelloni bean and eggplant (aubergine) hummus. Everything went over very well except my Italian styled hummus. One of the members is Palestinian and thought I was trying to make a traditional middle eastern chick pea/tahini hummus. Never mind, I had some for my lunch yesterday! Other goodies included cheese and fruit scones also made by my mother-in-law.

The "wow factor" treats that everyone looks forward to though are the meringues. A fellow member bakes them for the tea each year. Last year she dropped them off with home made lemon curd. She was unable to attend the tea last year, and left us to it! My mother-in-law knew we filled them with the lemon curd and whipped cream, and we decided cutting them in half and placing the filling inside would be the best way to do it. WRONG! Although no one noticed last year, Ms K was there to properly instruct us this year. You stick to whole meringues together using cream and curd! These are delicious meringues that are light and airy on the outside but still have a that chewy bit in the center. They can prove to be a challenge to eat, but I was told that I have mastered the art of eating a meringue elegantly (blushes). I managed to get the recipe for the meringues as well as the Florentines Ms K made and look forward to trying my hand at making them.

Mini Key Lime Pies awaiting whipped cream and lime wedges
Aside from eating decadent treats and enjoying each others company, there is a 'brick-a-brack" table where things are sold such as small gift boxed items like you might find at christmas or fresh flowers from someones garden and baked goods (the Florentines where only on this table). Several games are played. This year it was guess the number of (home grown!) sunflower seeds were in the jar, a Shakespeare mix up game (too much work for me!) and guess/remember the items in the bag type game.

The final fund raising activity is the collection of the "leu roll funds" the members collect pennies in a decorated toilet paper roll in the bathrooms. It cost a penny a go to use the leu at the in-laws house! We know it goes to a good cause so we are always generous with our coins. I was told in the beginning a bit of fun pomp and circumstance went into collecting these funds at the meeting, however now i think they are just lumped together with the rest of the collections.
So, when you come to our house, don't be surprised if you see a coin collection in the leu!

We may also start the tradition of the black currant tea in the states. We would hold it on the same Sunday as my in-laws do and even Skype them for a bit. Come up with some games we could both participate in and have a true United Nations experience!

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