Summer is customarily a break in the routine, so my friends and I decided to do something social.
The idea of a garden party with "high tea" was met with high enthusiasm, and everyone quickly began researching the essentials for a real tea party.
As the day approached, the mother of one of our members flew over from her actual castle gatehouse in England to add her expertise.
The day arrived bright and sunny- and hot. Tables set with linens in the garden had centerpieces wilting by the minute. The sumptuous buffet laden with petite cakes, finger sandwiches, scones, clotted cream and bowls of fresh berries would certainly not survive the heat.
So, ladies in hats and summer dresses, along with one very welcome gentleman, picked up all the tables and chairs and moved them to the shady orchard.
As it turned out, there were not enough tables to accommodate all the guests, so our hostess laid colorful quilts on the grass picnic-style.
Along with several varieties of hot teas, there was a rosy bowl of fruit punch and pitchers of iced tea, as well as plates of Victorian-style sandwiches, quiches, scones, buns and sweets.
It made me think how elegant it feels when beauty and an atmosphere of gracious society are part of an event (there is just something about wearing a hat...).
Kathryn Hack is a former Madison Valley resident. To reach her, e-mail email@example.com.
Harrods' Scones (makes about 12 scones)
This, along with Devonshire Cream, is a classic recipe for tea parties.
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir the flour and baking powder together until well blended.
Using a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers, cut or rub the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Stir in the sugar and raisins, and mix well. Quickly stir in the milk to make a firm dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead lightly until smooth.
Roll out to a 3/8-inch thickness and cut into 2-inch rounds with a pastry cutter.
Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet, brush with a little milk.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Let cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm.
Devonshire or Devon Cream
This cream does not hold very well and should be made shortly before serving.
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 or 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
In an electric-mixer bowl, place all the ingredients and beat until the mixture holds its shape and looks like softly whipped cream.
Refrigerate the cream until ready to use.