Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Six of us ladies gathered in the upstairs sitting room, just about candlelight time on Sunday.   The guests chatted with Caro whilst I came downstairs to put the final little touches on the table, take a couple of things out of the oven, and light the candles.

I know burgundy and pink aren't QUITE the standard Christmas colors, but I love the combination, with the whites and silvers of the china and napery.

My Mother's china---she had two sets-almost-alike, and many's the time I borrowed them for a pretty luncheon party or dinner.   I love the simple shine and all the memories of lovely times they evoke.   Like my own Mammaw and my Mother---I have a Walk-and-Pat Will, in which I point out things NOW to all the children, and make sure they know they're to have all the lovely things which I've enjoyed and remembered so well.  (Or could probably take them home with them, if they were so a-mind).

Caro is the Break-of Dawn Elf---I never know WHAT beautiful or thoughtful or tasty thing I'll find when I wake.   The chandelier and the downstairs tree were my greetings one day this past week.  The little burgundy bird atop is privy to LOTS of Christmas Secrets.

Our Tea Table.  From the back, a bowl of crisp pita chips, one of some really delicious gluten-free crackers, the crudite, Devilled Eggs and a mound of Paminna Cheese.   In front is a big thermal bowl of Caro's Asian Meatballs with soy, cilantro, sesame, garlic and sliced water chestnuts.   Then a plate of chicken salad in croissants, some twee little cream-cheese-and-cucumber Christmas Tree Sandwiches---the only bow to a REAL Afternoon Tea, I suppose.
Next is a bowl of shrimp with a Cajun Mayonnaise for dipping, and in the center are a bowl of Hummus, some Scoops, and the copper dish holds a sizzly gratin of hot Artichoke Dip, with lots of grated Parmesan.

Caro's Asian Meatballs.

Crudite---blanched snow peas, three-color peppers, fresh crisp sugar-snaps, cauliflower, baby English cukes, grape tomatoes, with a Ranch dip.

Cucumber trees with Philly Garden Spread.

Chicken Salad Croissants.

Hot Artichoke Dip.   In back is Hummus with Scoops.

And what Southern Party is complete without Devilled Eggs and Paminna Cheese?

As a matter if fact, every dish on the table was gluten-free except for the cucumber sandwiches and the croissants. I served my friend a scoop of the chicken salad (breast of chicken, minced celery and apples, boiled egg and Hellman's) out of the dish in the fridge, and she gladly partook of everything else but the bread items.

She sat, chirping happily over the lovely plate of party food, for she usually eats at home before they go out.    "Oh, I've been DREAMING of your Pimiento Cheese!" she exclaimed, and we gently taught her the Southern pronunciation, echoed all around the table by all the ladies at once--all of us chiming in Puhhhh-minnnnna, like an old-fashioned spelling class.  And I think everyone took seconds of almost everything.

The Cheese Plate:   From one--Pecorino Romano, a Triple Cream Brie, Morbier, and Gorgonzola. Also included, 2 types of dried figs, apricots, dates, green grapes and Seckel pears. On the side, not pictured, a new jar of Adriatic fig spread. The Morbier had a duskier, more ashy rind to it than usual. 

It was a relaxing, laughing time with good friends, and of the exchange of all the Christmas Sweets we made and exchanged---moire non, perhaps on Friday.


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Rachel:
How lovely all of this looks. Your china and flatware are so very pretty and it must be such joy to use items which have been handed down in your family. And the colours are, we think, most attractive and very festive.

But what food!! A veritable feast which looks absolutely delicious. We are sure that your visitors will have enjoyed themselves enormously.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading (and Enjoying!) your blog for awhile without commenting. You have such a way with words and in the kitchen too. Since I am late to the game can you tell who some of the "cast of characters" are-Caro,sweet pea??

Kim S. said...

Beautiful. It makes me want to go into the kitchen, call some buddies and get my own tea on!

Justabeachkat said...

How fun! And all of the food looks sooooo good. So glad your time with friends was such fun.

Big Christmas hugs sweet friend,

racheld said...

'Twas a lovely time---lots of laughing and fun, and everyone so cozy and comfortable with each other.

I'd welcome every one of you and make a whole pickup load of Paminna Cheese, as well.

Just for the tiny rundown of us-in-the-house:

Caro is our (my) daughter, though with the seven amongst us, we all lose track all the time. She has the upstairs of this odd little house, stacked one-atop-the-other, with a whole house up and ours down. I constantly run back and forth between floors, (mainly because upstairs is always so pretty and so NEAT) and we all share company with GrandDaughter Sweetpea, who comes to stay with us two days a week, and another half-afternoon after we pick her up at school.

Sweetpea is four, and has been coming to us since she was six weeks old. She is one of eight-and-a-great, and seems to pop up in conversation more because of our proximity.

Three of the other youngest have JUST MOVED FOUR HOURS AWAY!!!! (instead of twelve) and will be coming to us just after Christmas.

And WELCOME, Anonymous---thank you for the kind words. I hope you'll visit often.

Beverly said...

Rachel and Caro, everything looks beautiful - and delicious. I think pink and burgundy is a perfect color combination at any time or occasion.

I just closed my eyes and pretended I was there with all of you. I know you had such a wonderful time of fellowship.

DearHelenHartman said...

Those deviled eggs made my mouth water! YUM. The whole setting looked wonderful.

Lori said...

Oh, all looks so inviting and delicious! I may borrow your cucumber tree idea for the tea we are doing next week for some elderly friends -- I think they would love it.

racheld said...

Oh, my!! You all certainly say lovely things, and you'd all be SO welcome!

And Lori---the little trees looked WAY more professional and real on a tea blog I happened upon last week. They were making two per bread slice, but the tree cutter Caro surprised me with fits a whole slice. And coincidentally, these are only bread, half-slices of cuke, and PHILLY Garden Spread! (just because I like the taste combination).

Southern Lady said...

Oh, it's all just as I knew it would be, Rachel! Your house is so beautifully decorated and looks so warm and cozy and inviting. And the food! -- it all looks so pretty and delicious. You and Caro outdid yourselves!

I know a good time was had by all, and your friends will remember your gracious hospitality for a very long time.

Jeanne said...

Good morning dear Rachel, I so love this post and the sharing of the beautiful "TEA" feast. The table is beautiful and the colors are perfect for any season. I have set a Christmas table with these exact colors. The dishes are such a lovely treasure.

The food is stunning. My SIL must have gluten free food too. It can be so limiting. Leave it to you to be so typically thoughtful my dear blogging friend. Everything is presented in a lovely way. The cuke trees are awesome. I am doing that for Christmas. There is no doubt that all in attendance had a wonderful visit with you. I wish one of them could have been ME!!!
Blessings and love,

Music Masti said...

Delicious Christmas Tea..awesome posting