Oct 24

Bringing England Home…

by in study, tea, travel

102_1379Ever since I can remember, my parents served hot tea–not always a full afternoon tea, but definitely the steaming cupful with milk and sugar. Mom and Dad brought this tradition home with them from England on an early visit when I was little, and it stuck fast. Having grown up with “teatime,” I just naturally kept to it when I was married, and now I love to share it with my own children. Some days it’s just a hot cup during afternoon quiet time without ceremony. But, every now and again, we pull out all the stops and put on full afternoon tea. Today was such a day!

After our recent tour, sweet Amanda and Cari gave me a gift from Fortnum & Mason of loose-leaf tea, strawberry preserves, and tea biscuits. We broke these out today, enjoying the unmistakable fragrance that came when we opened the lid of the tea canister. Oh, this was going to be good! I pulled out our favorite “pink” china (a gift from my folks for my hope chest when I was 15), polished up the “Silver Beethoven” cultery, and laid out the tea tray with all we’d need.

Next, I tied on my favorite apron (a new find from the scrumptious Cath Kidston store in Bath!) and pulled out the ingredients for Suzi’s utterly delicious scones: self-rising flour, butter, sugar, salt, and buttermilk.

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Let me tell you, I’ve tasted scones from all over, and Suzi’s are the best I’ve ever eaten. They have a moist texture and a slightly sweet, almost creamy taste. I’ve never had better. But don’t take my word for it! Here is Suzi’s recipe:

My mother worked in a cafe in Stratford on Avon, and was given this recipe by a French lady who ran the place. It was called “The Cobweb Tea Rooms.”

  • 10 oz self-raising flour or 1 1/4 cups (You can use all-purpose flour with a raising agent – the best thing is to read the instructions on the packet for this, if you can’t get self raising flour.)
  • 1.5 oz sugar (3 tablespoons)
  • 1.5 oz. butter or margarine (I think about 3 tablespoons – equal weight to sugar.)
  • pinch salt (don’t leave this out – it really helps.)
  • about 1/2 cup sour milk or buttermilk, or milk curdled with lemon juice. Plain milk will also do.

Rub the flour, sugar, salt, and butter together until they look like breadcrumbs. Stir in the milk, very gradually, to make a firm, pliable dough. Don’t let it get too sticky. Roll out on a floured board to about 1/2″ thick. Cut in circles – I use a cutter about 2″ – 2.5″ across. Place on an ungreased baking sheet – you should get about 12 from this quantity.

Put in a hot oven, 200 degrees C (that’s about 400 degrees F), less for a fan oven, for about 10 minutes. I know this has to be different at altitude, but I don’t know by how much.

Serve with strawberry jam and thick heavy cream, or clotted cream if you can get it.

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Now, I completely forgot to bring home clotted cream from England, so we had to make do today with whipped cream. If you’d like to try clotted cream (which is like a thick, rich, sweet butter), you can get it Stateside from the English Tea Store, which offers lots of exclusively British teas and treats.

Here’s our spread with the scones hot from the oven!

Care to join us?

Care to join us?

Suzi's famous scones...

Suzi's famous scones...

We sliced our scones in half and dolloped whipped cream on top, followed by a generous teaspoon of Fortnum & Mason’s strawberry preserves:

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102_1383Absolutely delicious! We savored every bite and enjoyed the amazing tea fresh from the pot. My girls adore the ritual of a proper afternoon tea, complete with cloth napkins and beautiful silverware. I am thankful to my parents for always bringing home the best of foreign lands and for taking my siblings and me all over the world when we were growing up. It’s one thing to travel and just be a tourist; it’s another thing to study each culture you move through and come to appreciate and enjoy its own unique traditions and pastimes. Going through England and Germany as a teenager and staying for a goodish stretch in South Africa was a great gift. So was driving all over the United States and Canada and visiting in different homes. Each family has a culture, too, and it is so good to learn what is important to others and what they treasure. I feel my life is infinitely richer for the gift of “studious travel” given to me by my parents. They whetted my appetite for more. My husband and I desire to give our children this same gift as the years go by. On my next trip across the pond, I’ll be taking my daughters. I can hardly wait to share my love of England with them first-hand!

But you don’t have to hop in a plane or board a ship to dip into foreign places and learn from them. There are books galore that will take you on journeys, show you exotic ports, and even let you step into another household and see how life is lived there. Over the years, I’ve picked up books at used book stores, flea markets, and all kinds of yard sales, including lots of “coffee table” eye candy. These books have influenced my decorating style, my color choices, and even my taste in literature and food. Here’s a stack of some of my favorite (well-worn!) books on English living:

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102_1385I never tire of dipping into these and enjoying a glimpse into someone else’s well-loved home. If there’s anything that describes the English house, it’s certainly “cozy.” Little nooks for reading, warm kitchens, wide hearths, groaning bookshelves–these are England to me. Pots spilling over with flowers in abundance, gardens crammed with color, roses climbing old stone walls–these, too, are England. And how much richer our lives have been from bringing these things home, whether from a trip or from the pages of a book! This last journey over with our lovely tour group was an opportunity to share the things we love with others, and we are so glad we had the opportunity to do it. It’s a pleasure we hope to repeat with our children and with friends many times in the coming years. Perhaps you’ll come along next time and drink it all in? I’d love to have you! Thank you for sharing “my” England with me through this blog and indulging my lifelong delight in all things English. Until next time….

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14 Responses to “Bringing England Home…”

  1. From Nathania:

    I would of “loved” to join you for tea! It looked so delicious :-)

    It is very neat to learn about other cultures. Thanks for sharing about England!

    Posted on October 24, 2009 at 6:50 pm #
  2. From Deanna:

    Jenny,

    It is my dream to go to England one day – Scotland too! I have so enjoyed going along with you on this trip to England.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ps – we drink tea nearly everyday as well – delightful!

    Posted on October 24, 2009 at 7:37 pm #
  3. From Lisateresa:

    “English Cottage Gardening” a wonderful book with so many inspiring photos!

    Lisa

    Posted on October 24, 2009 at 8:05 pm #
  4. From MrsSWM:

    Lovely Jennie! My dear grandmother was a Welsh war bride and followed my grandpa to the States after the war ended when she was only 19 years old. I am SO so thankful for the British heritage that she has blessed us with. Though I’ve only been to Great Britain twice, it is amazing how much it feels like home, thanks to the culture my grand mother and mother have passed down to us.

    Tea has always been an important part of our lives (My little ones love tea bottles as I did before them! :-)) and I love passing these things down to my own children.

    England is such a delightful place; it is wonderful to bring touches home. Thank you for sharing so much with us :-)

    Posted on October 24, 2009 at 10:02 pm #
  5. From MrsSWM:

    And I am looking forward to trying that scone recipe!!

    Posted on October 24, 2009 at 10:02 pm #
  6. From Rachel:

    It’s so nice to read from someone who likes English culture :-) Being English, I love it also, but of course, I suppose I’m rather biased! The feeling is mutual by the way, we love you Americans too!

    Posted on October 25, 2009 at 4:46 am #
  7. From Rachel:

    Oh, also – a really interesting book on English culture is “Watching the English” by Kate Fox. It’s an anthropological look at the English people and is well worth a read, very perceptive, and hilarious if you’re an outsider who’s visited England!

    Posted on October 25, 2009 at 9:52 am #
  8. From Shannon:

    How lovely! What a wonderful way to take the “best” from every culture! I love the idea of studious travel — in person if possible, or even just from one’s armchair!

    Oh, and my fiance just gave me “The English Country Cottage” for my birthday — unfortunately, drooling isn’t very ladylike, is it? ;-)

    Thank you for sharing your little bit of England with us!

    Blessings,
    Shannon

    Posted on October 25, 2009 at 8:45 pm #
  9. From Debbie:

    I love England…I used to visit that wonderful country every other year, sometimes to visit my pen friend and her family. My first stop upon arrival….Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly! Tea and scones in the Gallery. What a relaxing way to start my visit after a long flight….I am overdo for another visit!

    Posted on November 6, 2009 at 8:31 pm #
  10. From Alyssa:

    Mrs. Chancey,
    We checked out a few of the books you recommended about English living from our library and I am enjoying them immensely. Someday I’d like to visit England and see everything ‘for real’!
    Thank you for sharing your trips with us. :)
    Blessings,
    Alyssa

    Posted on November 18, 2009 at 10:28 am #
    • From admin:

      Hi, Alyssa! I am so glad you’ve enjoyed the books! I’d love to have you go along with us to England one day. It is a wonderful place to visit! Warmly, Mrs. Chancey

      Posted on November 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm #
  11. From Cathy Hay:

    Jennie, how romantic you make my country sound; I strive to create that vision of home and immerse myself in Chatsworth as often as possible (only an hour away, lucky me!) But I also pine for New England – the grass is always greener, isn’t it!

    Posted on December 7, 2009 at 6:51 am #
  12. From Jennie:

    I know that’s true, Cathy! Each of us gazes across the Pond with rose-colored glasses. I know England isn’t perfect, but I love thinking about all the things that make it so thoroughly English and make visits simply fantastic. Have to admit that I have the same wistful thinking about New England myself. I absolutely love visiting up there and seeing our Colonial heritage sites. Living way down here in the South I rarely get to see those beautiful places…. If only traveling was as easy (or cheap!) as thinking! ;-)

    Posted on December 7, 2009 at 5:28 pm #

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Noble Womanhood » Tea Time Tuesday - July 26, 2011

    […] Bringing England Home. A proper English tea with a delicious scone recipe (One of the best I’ve ever tried and the one I almost always¬†make now). […]

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