Picnic Tea Party (Williamsburg 3 of 3)

It was such fun to host a tea party with a twist for the MOMYS group last week at Williamsburg. Since all of us were vacationing, it would have been a big load for the organizers, Tina & Skip Jenkins, to host a tea party for 65 with all the paraphernalia of tea pots, cups, and china.

So, Miranda and I came up with the idea of Picnic Tea Party! Yes, it wasn't quite 17th-18th century to use plastic disposables, but it was grand to have no clean up work afterwards. Much of the prep work was completed before we left for Williamsburg.

Here is how we managed to throw a beautiful tea party 500 miles away from home:
Picnic Tea Menu:

Tea Sandwiches (Cucumber and Chicken Salad)
Scones (Chocolate & Poppy Seed) w/clotted cream & raspberry jam
Macarons (Pink & Green) with Chocolate Ganache
Sugar Cookie with Colored Sugar
Shortbread with sprinkles
Strawberry dipped in white and dark chocolate
Chocolate Mint Patty

Our condo living room was transformed to a prep kitchen. Since bread is bulky and too delicate to transport, we purchased the bread at Williamsburg and cut the bread rounds with cookie/biscuit cutters.

Fresh strawberries dipped in white chocolate, then drizzled with dark chocolate.

Natalie was so helpful! She decorated the shortbread with chocolate and sprinkles.

We had two clear deli boxes for each attendee: one filled with savory treats, the other with sweets.

Since we had so many children attending the tea party, we served raspberry lemonade. The beautiful logo on the glass was designed by the young and talented Katie Jenkins. All the wonderful decorations were done by Jennie Hebert. Great work ladies!

We all had an absolutely delightful time!

Make-Ahead Tips:

*If you are planning this long distance, order the baskets, plastic disposables, mugs and have them shipped directly to the site as we did.

Here are some helpful ideas but depending on your menu, preparations will vary.

Up to 10 days ahead:
Make the following and freeze
Sugar cookie dough,
Scones dough (cut in wedges)
Bake Macarons shells
Shortbread, bake, cut and freeze in layers
Cut bread rounds or squares for tea sandwiches
De-bone rotissiery chicken and finely chop the meat only, store in freezer bag

2-3 days ahead:
Purchase all fresh produce
Make aioli or boursin cheese for cucumber sandwiches
Make raspberry lemonade and freeze in cubes

1 day ahead:
Thaw chicken meat and make chicken salad

Up to 6 hours ahead:
Whip heavy cream stiffly, add sugar to taste
Put raspberry jam and whipped cream in a 2 oz portion cups & refrigerate
(don't forget to buy lids)
Make lemonade and refrigerate
Bake scones
Bake Sugar cookies, when cooled, brush with beaten egg whites & sprinkle with colored granulated sugar
Make chocolate ganache
Assemble macarons
Melt chocolates (dark & white) and dip strawberries,
ensure berries are dried well with paper towels
Dip shortbread in melted chocolate (also can be drizzled using a pastry bag or ziplock baggie with cut corner), shake colorful sprinkles on to adhere

2 hours ahead:
Assemble cucumber & chicken salad sandwiches (cover with plastic wrap to avoid bread drying out)
1 hour ahead:
Assemble the boxes, we lined ours with 6" doilies
Fill mugs with frozen lemonade cubes, put fresh or frozen raspberries for color
and add lemonade to fill, secure with a lid.
Add decorative napkins and put in the baskets

Baskets purchased from Oriental Trading Company
Clear Deli Tray (can be purchase from local chemical supply store or online)

These photos were edited by my incredibly gifted niece. Thank you, Christine!

Thank you Ms. Humble for your macaron recipe!


Kings Arms Tavern (Williamsburg Part 2 of 3)

Photo by Patrick McKay

During our Williamsburg trip last week, my friends and I had a great dinner at Kings Arms Tavern. But first, here are four wonderful scenic photos of Williamsburg taken by Patrick McKay. Aren't these stunning?
My youngest son and nephew frolicking on the green.

The King's Arms Tavern was opened by Jane Vobe in 1772, and it has become one of the most famous eating establishments in Colonial Williamsburg.

We were joined by handsomely dressed friends...

...among them, Pastor Pete Olson, who gave us a wonderful historic walking tour. Check out his wonderful educational site, Vision Heirs. This man is a walking history encyclopedia. My family learned so much from him past week.

The ambiance was so beautiful.

We savored traditional southern fare....

The meal began with delectable condiments of pickled watermelon rinds, corn relish, and Virginia Ham.

A hearty Vegetable Soup...

The candlelight setting gave the dinner a warm and comfortable feel.

Pan-seared, seasoned boneless chicken breast served atop apple-raisin cornbread stuffing, with salty ham, and vanilla-scented mashed sweet potatoes with green beans. Yum!

A game pie consisting of tender venison, rabbit, and duck braised in a port wine sauce.

Baked custard of rice, rum-drunk raisins, and warm vanilla sauce

It was a lovely evening, complete with a gorgeous sunset.

Many thanks to Patrick McKay for permission to use his beautiful scenic photos. Check out his Flickr page for more!

My third and last post on Williamsburg will be on Picnic Tea which my friend, Miranda, and I hosted.


Colonial Williamsburg (Part 1 of 3)

When you visit the Colonial Williamsburg with the Gibsons, don't expect to be casual observers of this beautiful town. You become part of the history for a week.

Ever so patiently, the Gibson ladies have been teaching my daughter and me to sew Colonial clothes since last June. And here are some fun shots of our trip last week. Don't you think we look quite handsome?

My youngest & husband in their hunters' frocks.

Beautifully hand sewn stays....and yes, it is quite uncomfortable to wear for a long duration.

White caps, trimmed hat......

Stomacher and a beautiful jacket with hand sewn eyelets....

And meet Susan Liana Gibson, who is not only a beautiful seamstress but does the research on the period clothing to keep us on track.

My oldest son and daughter.

My nephew Connor hamming it up with the boys...

Anna, Ruth, and Susan Liana.

Stay tuned for two more posts coming week on King's Arm Tavern restaurant review and Picnic Tea my friend and I hosted during our trip.


The Church Cook vs. French Macarons

This is what I have been doing lately. I am learning how to make French Macarons.

I was hopeful to get it this time. So far, so good....

Blending the almond flour just right...

Piping and resting..... then into the oven for 15 minutes.....

Nope. Too wet, and no feet. This is the third attempt, but who's counting?
Let me go back to reading Ms. Humbles post , again.....