Virtual Tea Party

 

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Blueberry cheesecake and a cuppa (April 2020)

 

My dear friend Su has come up with the fabulous idea to host a virtual tea party each month, indulging us with her wonderful photos of delicious food, beautiful china and great tea.

This time I took deliberate care to make an effort to join her.

Today I’m serving you a blueberry cheesecake, my first to be honest (not cheesecake, that I make quite often, but it’s the first time I added blueberries to the mix, and I rather like it!), and because I knew I would have to take a picture of it, I even looked up how to prevent the cake from collapsing in the middle (which it ALWAYS does). And what can I say? It (almost) worked!

The tea is a lovely Darjeeling but I can also serve you coffee (Italian roast), green tea or a strong Builder’s tea if that’s more your thing.

I opted for cheesecake because you can make that without flour (which is still scarce around here) as you can use crunched up biscuits mixed with molten butter for the ground. What I hadn’t thought of was that I had to use up my last eggs for it … ah well, I’m sure sooner or later they will make a reappearance in the supermarket shelves.

Apart from the occasional visits to the supermarket, and small wanderings around the neighborhood and parks, I spend most of my time at home, either reading, drawing or watching my basil seeds grow (literally).

My first energetic enthusiasm to make the most of this time has dissipated a bit over the last weeks as things seem to become normal around here, or what passes as normal these days. Even though I’ve got a pretty fair amount of clay, I don’t feel like playing around with it since I don’t know when I’ll be able to fill my kiln again which stands in a primary school I’m working for.

My need for something new and exciting even made me try to colour my hair with henna paste two days ago – the colour is still settling in (vegetable dyes can do that opposed to chemical ones) but so far it looks quite nice, the dreaded carrot look seems to be avoided, and I can’t detect any green either. πŸ˜‰

But enough about me – what have you been up to, and how are you coping with these weird times we find ourselves in?

 

 

 

72 thoughts on “Virtual Tea Party

  1. Beautiful & delicious tea setting, Sarah! I have been hankering for cheesecake …. yours looks divine! I love blueberry in anything – it adds such a lovely colour and depth.

    I made a Basque Burnt Cheesecake yesterday – it has no crust, but does have a little flour in it. Here’s a link in case you want something a little different next time:
    https://buttermilkpantry.wordpress.com/2019/10/30/basque-burnt-cheesecake/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Ju-Lyn!!
      Oh my, that Basque Burnt Cheesecake looks so awesome!!! I want some right now!! πŸ˜€ How did yours turn out? I often find that my baked goodies don’t look anything like the stuff they photograph in the cookbooks. πŸ˜‰

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      • I know, right? Mine always seems more lop-sided or something.

        The cheesecake was actually pretty straightforward & simple to make. The challenge was getting cream cheese – for some reason, many of the stores were out.

        The most nerve-wrecking part of the bake was the high temp at which it is cooked. Also, when was the right time to take it out (I think we needed to leave it in for another 5-10 min more than recommended)

        Otherwise, it was delicious. We tried it warm out of the pan, fridged & frozen. Some of us like it from the fridge, some frozen, but none strangely, warm.

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      • I think the lopsided effect sometimes is due to ovens not being perfectly level, Ju-Lyn, mine for example slopes a bit forward.
        I think cheesecake should never be eaten warm, there’s almost no taste to it, and I always leave it in the fridge over night before enjoying the first slice in the morning. I’ve never tried frozen cheesecake but can imagine it being awesome during hot summer days! πŸ˜€

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      • Goodness! I didn’t even think that my oven racks might not be level – I just assume it was uneven heat (hence, fan mode always works better). I must put in a tray of water to see if that is the case!

        I would not have thought to eat cheesecake warm either, until my first experience with a cheesecake outlet called Hokkaido Baked Cheesetart. They had these instructions on how to enjoy their bakes 4 ways: 1) straight out the oven 2) room temperature 3) refridgerated 4) frozen. It was then I realised #1 & 2 were not my favourite.

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  2. Lovely presentation and the cheesecake sounds great. Darjeeling would be much appreciated. I do love tea! Sorry you can’t get eggs, though. Yikes! I’d send you some, but by the time they arrived from the US, well…. Anyway, thanks for having me over and all the best. Stay well.

    janet

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    • Thank you very much for your visit and lovely comment, Janet! I appreciate the thought regarding the eggs. πŸ˜‰ At least I’ve got some toilet paper again – can’t bake with it but precious nonetheless. πŸ˜‰ Hope you’re well and stay healthy! All the best to you! πŸ’•

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  3. I will confess to having cheesecake envy. It looks so good!! I’ve been working remotely since last July, so nothing much has changed in my day-to-day except I’m spending way too much time in Zoom meetings. My writing has been focused on poetry since the pandemic. It helps keep me grounded.

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    • Thank you, Liz! That’s good that your day-to-day hasn’t changed too much thanks to the current situation, and that you find some peace and quiet in writing poetry. It’s really so important to find something to keep you grounded, so that one doesn’t fall into the trap of panic, which isn’t helping anyone anyway.

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  4. How fun to do a virtual tea party. I love tea parties when someone else makes all the goodies. My daughter loves her tea and we certainly have the china for it. I think we should give this some thought. How inventive to find a way to work around the flour. It’s interesting what people are hoarding during this situation. Makes no sense to me. I hope you can get to your kiln again. I too am feeling a bit lethargic lately. Finding enthusiasm waning, Maybe next week. Could be I have spring fever. It’s not a real illness but a state of mind that happens with the constant change in the weather. Can leave one lethargic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That would be so wonderful if the two of you decide to join our virtual afternoon teas, Marlene! The only downside is that you can’t eat any of the offered goodies but at least you can imagine you’re doing it (which is what I make)! Totally agree about the hoarding – makes no sense whatsoever. I even suspect that most people who bought all the flour never ever even baked anything in their life before. But that’s people to you, an irrational lot.
      So sorry to hear you’re also beginning to feel lethargic! It’s only natural I guess, but a bit worrying too. Today I even fell asleep right after breakfast for another hour! That never happens. But I have to admit I feel much brighter now, so maybe it’s not as bad as I think. πŸ˜‰ I’ve often thought that us humans are the only species that tends to stay busy under all circumstances opposed to animals who would never be so stupid to waste precious energy after a meal by running around in the park. πŸ˜‰ I think I’ll make an effort to imitate our furry friends a bit more, cats for example are masters of the art of lounging. πŸ˜‰
      Hope your weather’s going to improve soon, and that warmer temperatures and sunshine will improve your wellbeing!

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      • My daughter is the cat kind of person. She lounges easily and often. Me, I’m learning to be less like a puppy and more like an old dog. I’ll work a while then rest even longer. I went full speed ahead when I was my daughter’s age but no more. Some days, I just give into the lounging. When the energy returns, I make good use of it. We just need to roll with it. πŸ˜‰

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  5. Hey Sarah, what a pretty cheesecake !! … We’re on the lockdown in France too, so I can’t visit my friends and they can’t visit me … and I have not mane any cake since 17 March … I hope all is well with you and yours, please take care of yourself.

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    • Hey! So lovely to hear from you! How are you? Thanks so much! Ah, I know, it’s the same here, no visiting friends, just phone calls. It’s a tough time for us all, but I hope you can distract yourself with baking and watching old classics, maybe even start learning a new language? I’ve heard that’s what many people are doing at the moment, and I think it’s wonderful!
      Take good care of yourself and stay healthy!

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  6. “You can use crunched up biscuits mixed with molten butter for the ground.” I wouldn’t have thought of this in a million years – I have no idea how to substitute baking ingredients – and I usually just make things from a box, but even that I haven’t done in years. I am not a cook and most definitely not a baker. So that settles it – I’m coming to your house for tea and cheesecake. I’ll pick up a jar of honey for you – shopping I know how to do.

    Seriously now, Sarah, the tea and cheese cake look scrumptious and that tea set is so very pretty. Is your Mom able to enjoy this with you, or are you quarantining separately?

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    • I’m not sure I can claim the crunched up biscuits idea for myself as it stood like this in my cookbook, but isn’t it timely?! I was foraging it for recipes that don’t need eggs, wanted to bake Italian almond biscotti but it needs at least 1 egg (damn!), so will bake Scottish hazelnut shortbread instead today. πŸ˜€
      I used to bake from boxes too, I think most people start like that but one day I decided that I could save a lot of money when I used just the basic ingredients myself and luckily it worked. πŸ˜€
      Oh, please, do come and visit, I’ll even steal eggs from the neighbors to bake another cake for you! And the honey would be very welcome!
      And yes, I decided to stay with my mum just shortly before the lockdown because no one knew how long it would take and I couldn’t bare the thought of not being able to see and hug her. It’s a bit crammed but lovely and we get along just fine. πŸ™‚

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  7. That cheesecake looks delicious, Sarah! I like the idea of adding blueberries to it, because I often eat mine with either blueberries or strawberries. As for what I’ve been doing, it’s mostly taking care of my grandson (a two-year old bundle of energy) and doing chores around the house and yard. I do much better when the weather’s nice, because that gives me hope and I need that now.

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  8. Your cheesecake looks delicious, Sarah. Yum. And mine always collapse in the middle too. I’m also watching basil grown. Lol. Weeding every day (it’s none stop in this wilderness). I’m glad you’re staying busy and trying to find creative ways to fill your time. A sweet post (literally and figuratively). ❀ ❀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Diana! Hehe! The collapsing middle never bothered me until I knew I had to take a picture of it! LOL! How funny that we both find ourselves watching our basil seeds grow – mine are a bit hesitant though I don’t know why. Normally they grow like there’s no tomorrow. Maybe I didn’t take enough? Could be that they don’t feel the “pressure” to grow higher than the others to get some light… Oh my, now I’m already doing plant psychology!! πŸ˜€
      Anyway, hope your weeds don’t give you too hard a time! Stay well! Happy weekend! ❀

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  9. Now if I had henna, I could try that. I’ve already given myself a trim. Only moderate success there but as nobody sees me but himself, who cares? But I digress! I’m really after a piece of that cheesecake. It looks fab and I adore blueberries! And I can easily let you have eggs in exchange. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Have a nice day!

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    • Thanks so much, Jo! And of course you can have a piece of my cheesecake, even without egg exchange. πŸ˜‰
      Kudos to you for trying to trim your own hair, I haven’t dared that yet and will let it grow. πŸ˜€
      The henna experience was quite nice, it’s a wellness treat for the hair even, adding UV protection to it, and making it shine. So if you can get your hands on some (I ordered mine online), I’d say go for it!! Wishing you a lovely weekend and thanks for the visit! ❀

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  10. I think a lot of folks are going through ups and downs during this time. The fact that you’ve been able to be productive is already good enough! I keep reading about how folks don’t have the oompf to do anything creative! Any news on how much longer for Germany?

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    • Hi Lani! I admit, I’m quite proud these days if I can convince myself to shower and dress in the morning instead of walking around in my pajamas the whole day! πŸ˜‚ If I can add baking a cake or do some shopping I feel like I’m a superhero! πŸ˜‰
      It seems the current situation will hold for at least until the middle of May here in Germany, but the government keeps changing their minds every couple of hours, so who knows? And you?

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  11. Blueberry cheesecake looks sensational, Sarah! Darjeeling is one of my favorite teas. Thanks! I’ve been baking more than usual and found some Egg Replacer (powdered) in my cupboard–so using that in place of whole eggs for the time being. Also, I’m exercising online with my “Soaring Seniors” group on Facebook since virtual meetings are out for a while. It’s wonderful to be able to connect this way. πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful week! xo

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    • Thanks so much, Bette! Oh, how I wish I had some Egg Replacer!! I’m already thinking about using the water from my chickpea cans as it is used for vegan recipes to replace eggs. I’m not a vegan but I love baking so will try out anything!! πŸ˜€
      So wonderful to hear that your doing exercises with your Soaring Seniors group on FB, that sounds fantastic! Wishing you a beautiful weekend! Take care! xoxo

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  12. My dear friend this looks utterly delicious. In fact my mouth started watering as soon as I saw your photos. I love cheesecake (and blueberries) but have never made it. And your tea set is gorgeous.
    Thank you for coming to tea and bringing such deliciousness. I wish I could send you some eggs (and flour now that I’ve discovered the local shop has some).

    PS: I’m glad that your henna treatment worked out. I have been meaning to try something new with my hair and I think it will have to be a colour as T wasn’t at all impressed with I suggested I shave all my hair off at the beginning of the rahui.

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    • Thanks so much, Su! I find that the blueberries really work well with the cheesecake and wish I had tried this out before! But better late than never. πŸ˜‰
      The tea set belongs to my mum, I literally begged her to let me use it for my photo session – your compliment will make it much easier for me to try and pry the other sets she has away from her for other projects in the future. πŸ˜‰

      The shaving your hair might be a bit radical, but actually I get the sentiment that might stay behind it. Could it be a sign of mourning in a way? They used to put ashes in their hairs back in the day as a sign for mourning, and I think we could just as well substitute the ash for some colour/dye, what do you say? Darren is thinking about coloring his beard purple btw. πŸ˜‰ It seems we all need a little distraction, and our hair is one way to achieve that. Did you ever use henna? If you want to make sure it’s pure henna, no added chemicals. I ordered mine online, and it’s called Khadi. Not very cheap but totally worth it because it was super fresh (a very light green-yellow – the lighter the fresher), and when I mixed it with hot water it didn’t smell as ugly as feared but of hay instead, which I rather liked.

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  13. This looks delicious. Good thinking making something with crushed biscuits instead of precious flour. I have a supply of flour so have been using my Covid time to make more cakes! Su’s teatime is a great opportunity to share a recipe or two. I do like Darjeeling tea but today I had a gourmet tea – called Royal Ritz – a bit like a French Earl Grey I guess.

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    • Thank you very much, Amanda! And goof thinking to use the time and your supply of flour to bake more cakes!! I would do exactly the same if I only could get my hands on some eggs, they’re still scarce here.
      I’ve never had a French Earl Grey but I love the normal(?) Earl Grey and wouldn’t mind a cup of it right now. πŸ˜‰
      I agree, Su’s teatime is a wonderful opportunity to share recipes and I look forward to seeing them all!
      Thanks so much for the visit and the lovely comment! Wishing you a lovely weekend!

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    • Thanks so much, Rosaliene! I admit, I love baking, it’s like yoga for me! πŸ˜€ But I do like nuts as well but rather nibble on them in the evening in front of the tv for example, a much healthier alternative to chips!

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  14. Blueberries (myrtilles as I know them in France) are very much the thing here …. in fact our local orchard which will burst with apples in September will first provide us with peaches and blueberries by the bucket. I am adding blueberry cheesecake to the list of things I can make when the fruits appear. I always take The Bean and choose another to come along with me. By the way, The Bean loves a blueberry!! I’m glad the henna has worked on your hair … I first used it when I was at college and the result was quite rampantly orange!!!! I went to visit my Granny and she rang my mother and said β€˜you could have warned me!’ …. πŸ₯• xxx

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    • Haha! Your poor Granny must have been under shock seeing you appear like that! πŸ˜‰ I remember having dyed my hair with chemicals when I was a teen, I wanted to look like Kate Winslet in Titanic – but turned out to look like Pumuckl, a German children series kobold! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meister_Eder_und_sein_Pumuckl
      So I changed it back right away!
      Peaches, blueberries and apples – how very lovely! Your hands must be itching to pick them already. πŸ˜‰
      Happy Friday, Fiona! xxx

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      • She was normally un-shockable so that gives an idea of how bad it was. I’m very glad you were able to rid yourself of the Pumuckl look – definitely not a good one! Happy Friday to you too. Now that I have realised it’s Friday – I seem to have been working a day behind all week. And I’m normally the planned one in the partnership so you can imagine what chaos is reigning in our house!!! Xxx

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  15. It’s a feast for the eyes, Sarah. Love, love, love blueberry cheesecake and beautiful china. I’m loving all the treats that have been served at this morning tea. Um, maybe that says something about me….
    I used to get my eggs from a gentleman that sold his eggs direct to the public at a local market. Because we can’t go out there anymore, he now drops our eggs off to us when he does his other deliveries in town! Hallelujah! I got 10 dozen delivered this morning, including some for my neighbour and my father. Then I rang my father and he had already bought eggs! I think we will be making a lot of omelettes. I wish I could send some over to you, Sarah.

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  16. This looks delicious–berries in the cake and on the plate. I love the dedication to the details. It has become that I almost dread having to go out. We can walk all around our neighborhood, which is nice. But the thought of going to the store…that’s different. We went yesterday. No hand sanitizer, no flour, eggs are rationed. We will do a big shop in a couple weeks…and then I will retreat to my safe place–home.

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    • Aww – thanks so much, Lois! I had the same thing, feeling dread when having to go out. But it’s better now, maybe because I started wearing these handmade masks (I made a couple last week). I know they’re no full protection but I noticed that people tend to keep their distance a little bit better when they see you, like a reminder of sorts. Hand sanitizer is hard to come by here too, I’m pretty happy that I bought lots of soap before this all started!
      Take good care and stay well! ❀

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  17. That looks pretty yummy, Sarah! I’ve been working from home, so not having to deal with commuting has been nice. I miss seeing my parents, but I send them a daily video so my mother doesn’t forget me. Thanks for the tea party! It was nice. Stay well. ❀

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    • Thank you, Jill! Really wish this could be more than virtual! No commuting is nice indeed but missing your parents isn’t. Daily phone and video calls are a very good idea to stay in touch. Stay well! ❀

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  18. Sarah the cheesecake looks great! No collapsed middle in sight! I also love your tea set, I’d love to have a lovely delicate tea set one day. I wish I could send you flour and eggs (no shortages here), if just to see more of your lovely baked goods!

    I actually did wonder how your work situation was since you teach in a school. I hope things become safe again soon for you to be able to go back to work. And I totally understand the idea of acclimating to “what passes as normal.” I don’t know if things will be “the same” again or if the world will be forever changed, but I feel I’ve adjusted to the new normal. It’s not ideal obviously, but I’m trying to do what I can with the time I have. (Cook more, focus on creative projects on the weekends, etc.) I long for the day when I can see my friends and family again freely though.

    I used to dye my hair with henna in college! Does henna make your hair darker or lighter? (For me it was to lighten my hair.) I hope you end up liking the final color!

    Since I can’t send you flour or eggs, I’m sending you all the virtual hugs ❀

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    • Aww – thanks so much! ❀
      The tea set actually belongs to my mum, she has the most wonderful tea sets(!) – that's right: plural πŸ˜‰ – and I plan to take full advantage of that for the upcoming virtual tea parties. πŸ˜‰

      So far our government has decided that schools will stay closed up the beginning of May, and after that it might open only for those students going to do their A-level exams. But nothing is certain for now and they're changing their minds several times a day. Personally I think it's a good idea if schools would stay closed, even if that means that I can't work.

      I'm glad that you also feel like you've adjusted to the new normal, and that you keep busy with creative projects and cooking – both of which sound excellent to me. πŸ˜‰ By the way, I made the golden paste after your recipe yesterday and also had Golden Milk for afternoon tea as well – it's sooo delicious! Thank you so much for pointing this out to me!

      I have pretty dark hair and the henna lightened it up a bit, even more than I dared hope! Instead of dark chocolate it's like Mahagoni now. πŸ˜€ I normally leave my hair in peace and quiet (well, I wash it naturally) but these days I felt like a little change would be nice – I bet many women are feeling the same right now! I guess your hair must be black? I wouldn't have thought that the henna would work on that too. A friend of mine who has also black hair needed chemical dyes to achieve that, and even then she didn't really like the outcome.

      Sending you all the virtual hugs back and wish you a lovely and creative weekend! Take care! ❀

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      • So glad to hear you liked the Golden paste! I’ve actually run out of honey so I’ve been having it without, but I should get some more honey this weekend.

        I have very dark brown hair with a natural reddish tint in the sunlight. It’s been a while since I used henna but I think I remember it lightened my hair quite a bit and brought out more of the mahoghany color. β™‘

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      • Now I’ve got a jar of honey left, what about me popping in for a quick visit to deliver it on your doorstep? Oh, wait! I forgot – corona! πŸ˜‚ ❀

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