A Royal Tea Party and Vanilla Cream Scones

We never need a reason to throw a tea party, but if you are looking for an excuse, next week offers two prime occasions: Mother’s Day on Sunday and the Royal Wedding the following Saturday.

In a May Day celebration, and in anticipation of the upcoming Royal nuptials, a few friends and I collaborated on a splendid outdoor tea party last week. Local food photographer Alison was there to capture it all on camera, which meant I could sit down, pour tea and serve cake.

If that sounds ideal, it rather was; and I hope these images inspire you to invite a troop of tea drinkers over and bake a batch of vanilla cream scones for the party.

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Sparking Vanilla-Scented Apple Cider Party Punch

Last week, I gave in to the chilly weather and started wearing socks and sweaters. I simmered two pots of soup, made a pie and roasted off a few butternut squash for future baking projects.

October arrived, as did a carpet of ochre oak and maple leaves on our forest floor. Yes, fall is here to stay, and it’s getting me in the mood for Canadian Thanksgiving next week.

Because of our large extended family, we will celebrate Thanksgiving with a couple of events here and there over the holiday long weekend. Then on Monday, Danny and I are hosting twenty people for a mid-day turkey dinner around our table. I’m still finalizing the full menu (so many favourite dishes to narrow down!) but I have settled on a punch to serve.

I have a go-to party punch for spring and summer – a raspberry rhubarb collins – and it serves me well for a range of warm weather occasions. But truth be told, I didn’t have a favourite punch for fall until I started testing in earnest quite recently.

Spices. Spirits. Syrups. Sweeteners. There are a dozen different directions one can go when it comes to creating a crowd pleasing drink. In the end, I stayed true to this blog’s mantra and kept things simple; today’s recipe for Sparking Vanilla-Scented Apple Cider Party Punch is my pick for pre-Thanksgiving dinner cocktail hour.

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Simple No-Cook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

There’s a good reason why it has taken me over five years to post an ice cream recipe in this space: I don’t want to assume that each and every one of you has method for churning ice cream, you know what I mean?

I tend to stick with recipes that can be made with basic kitchen tools and appliances, and an ice cream machine is not a necessity – or is it? Considering we mostly use a second-hand, beat-up churn that I picked up for $5 at a garage sale, I’m gong to take a risk and state that if you want homemade ice cream badly enough, you can probably get your hands on a churn.

Because let’s face it, there is nothing better on a sweltering summer day. Sure you can make a no-churn frozen dessert, like this Fresh Strawberry Granita, but when you can also have the option for Salted Cantaloup Honey Sorbet or today’s vanilla bean ice cream, let the heat wave come.

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Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Jelly

It’s a little late in the season to be sharing rhubarb recipes, but my patch is still producing, fighting for space next to the English peas and the garlic that keeps getting taller.

Besides, I’ve been talking about making this jelly for far too long, ever since a friend brought a case to exchange at my very first ever jam swap. It was a clear favourite of both Danny’s and mine, and we hoarded our jars for as long as possible.

You’d think that after six years I’d develop my own recipe for the rhubarb vanilla jelly, but here’s the honest truth: jelly scared me. Homemade jelly is a whole ‘nother ball of wax from making jam. Jelly either sets or it doesn’t (becoming syrup). It’s cloudy or it’s clear. It either works – or it doesn’t.

Today I’m sharing a homemade jelly recipe that most definitely worked for me. It’s not actually that scary after all.

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