My book review this month is A Tree In The House: Flowers For Your Home, Special Occasions & Every Day by Annabella Hickson.
The book provides ideas and instructions for celebratory botanical installations and arrangements, covering beautiful, seasonal bouquets, flowers for friends, table and overhead arrangements, and flower arrangements for special occasions. The instructions are wonderfully simple and cover everything from the perfect flower-to-vase proportions to how to create an overhead floral installation, and the book particularly focuses on foraged and locally and seasonally grown plants. All the floral arrangements are as zero waste as possible and include tips like how to transport flowers in vases (instead of plastic) with no water spills, and how to create a structured arrangement without floral foam.
A Tree in The House celebrates the simple, natural beauty that flowers bring to the home, with flower arranging that is in sync with nature.
Full of useful information and gorgeous photography and to be read the only way with a cup of tea and a slice of cake curled up in a deep armchair.
Yes, there is a guide to the best Children’s Afternoon Teas. The guide is written by The London Mother and although we can’t enjoy these lovely places at the moment it doesn’t mean we could make up our own at home. Here are just a few from the guide to the best Children’s Afternoon Tea in London.
The Lanesborough has created a yummy tea for children up to age 12 that starts with hot chocolate or fruit juice and includes honey roast ham, mint yoghurt and cucumber cheddar cheese and strawberry jam sandwiches.Sweet treats include American pancakes with Nutella, Smarties and marshmallows, and homemade plain and raisin scones with strawberry jam and clotted Devonshire cream.
Kids get to decorate their own cupcake at the Children’s Afternoon Tea in The Potting Shed Restaurant. Flex their creative muscles with different icing and toppings on their cupcakes and tuck into a selection of finger sandwiches, cakes, fruit and ice cream.
This Roald Dahl inspired tea is just as fantastical as you’d imagine his afternoon tea with children to be; think fizzy drinks, snozzberry jam and chocolate milkshake mixed by waterfall. Tuck into not-quite-as-it-seems salmon and beetroot macaron and cheddar scones with bacon toffee jam, luscious lemon floss and plates piled high with wondrous cakes, sweets, mousses and scones – all washed down with chocolate or lemon sherbet tea or swimming pool fizz.
Afternoon tea isn’t all hearts and flowers, older kids will enjoy Rock ‘n’ Roll afternoon tea. The unique afternoon tea experience is inspired by artists like The Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, Queen and David Bowie.
Lots more to look through on The London Mother site but plenty to inspire you here.
2 x Turmeric, with Orange & Star Anise teabags (Twinings, or one of your choice)
225g dried Fruit ( like raisins, sultanas etc)
225g self-raising flour
1 orange (grated)
2 large eggs (beaten)
150g light brown sugar (reserve 50g for sprinkling on top of cake)
Put two teabags in a cup or mug and fill with boiling water ( ¾ full if in a mug)
Put dried fruit into a large bowl, add the grated orange then pour over the tea and leave to soak overnight or for 2-3 hours
Preheat oven to 180°C/160°fan/gas 4
Grease or line a 2lb loaf tin
Add the brown sugar to the beaten eggs and whisk lightly
Add the eggs and flour to the bowl of fruit and fold in completely until it represents a dough-like consistency
Spoon mixture into the lined tin and sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on the top
Bake for 40-50 mins in the middle of the oven
Test by poking a skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean it’s cooked, if not give it a few more minutes
Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 mins
Remove from loaf tin and leave to cool on a wire rack
1. If you add a beaten egg slowly to your batter mix it prevents the batter from becoming too stiff.
2. Always use eggs at room temperature when baking with them.
3. Eggs will whip more easily if left for 10 minutes in cold water before breaking.
4. Place the egg in a bowl of water, if it sinks and lies on its side, it’s fresh. If it sinks and stands large-end up, it’s on the turn so use within a couple of days. If it floats, bin it, as it’s gone off.
5. If you weigh four whole eggs in their shells, then whatever the weight is, that’s how much each of flour, sugar and butter you should add. This will ensure an delicious cake every time.
6. If you’re making soft meringue for a pie topping, say, for our Classic Lemon Meringue Pie, add a teaspoon of cornflour to your sugar. It’ll aid in absorbing any extra water the sugar will attract.
7. To make sure the essence you use adds flavour to the whole cake, mix it into the egg before adding the egg to the mixture.
8. Eggs will stay fresher longer if you store them pointed end down.
9. If you forgot to get your eggs out for baking then just pop them into a bowl and cover with hot water. Take them out after a couple of minutes and use for baking as normal.
10. To separate eggs for baking, tap the shell against the side of a mixing bowl to crack, then break open, letting the white run out into the bowl and holding the yolk in one half of shell. Tip the yolk backwards and forwards from shell to shell to let all the white run into the bowl.
11. When you’re making sponge cakes, beat the eggs together in a jug and add to the butter and sugar mixture gradually, whisking well between additions. If the mixture looks like it’s going to curdle, add a spoonful of the weighed flour and beat again until smooth.
With so much hype about the health benefits of certain teas, it’s nice to know that coffee has some health benefits as well.
According to a Greek study, one cup of coffee a day could reduce your blood pressure. Researchers actually found that those who drank between one and two cups of coffee daily had the healthiest arteries.
Two cups a day (no more than two cups if you are pregnant) could keep Alzheimer’s at bay.
After studying more than 122,000 women, researchers found that three cups a day can reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, according to a US study in 2006, coffee drinkers who have more than three cups a day may increase their risk of a heart attack.
Coffee, like tea, is packed with antioxidants which can potentially cut the risk of cancer, however, more than three cups a day could mean that you are twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
In fact, the BBC Health say that ‘three cups a day may have some health benefits according to a large review of studies, in the BMJ’. It found a lower risk of liver disease and some cancers in coffee drinkers, and a lower risk of dying from stroke – but researchers could not prove coffee was the cause.’
And, the Mayo Clinic states that ‘while past studies hinted that coffee might have a dark side, newer research suggests that it may actually have health benefits.
Why the reversal? It’s hard to look at just one aspect of diet and connect it to a health condition because so many other factors that could play a role. For example, early research on coffee didn’t always take into account that heavy coffee drinkers also tended to use tobacco and be sedentary.
When newer studies adjusted for such factors, they found a possible association between coffee and decreased mortality. Coffee may offer some protection against:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver disease, including liver cancer
- Heart attack and stroke
Coffee still has potential risks, mostly due to its high caffeine content. For example, it can temporarily raise blood pressure. Women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding need to be cautious about caffeine. High intake of boiled, unfiltered coffee has been associated with a mild increase in cholesterol levels.
The bottom line? Your coffee habit is probably fine and may even have some benefits. But if you have side effects from coffee, such as heartburn, nervousness, or insomnia, consider cutting back.’