Saturday, March 27, 2021

Happy Passover!

Something that many people might not know is that Afternoon Tea was a kosher-style bakery, and we made lots of specialties for many Jewish holidays, including Passover, Purim, Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.


The holiday of Passover involved baking without flour or leavening of any kind.  This is symbolic of the Jews escaping from Egypt and being on the move, and therefore unable to wait for bread to rise.  In addition to the treats we made specific for the Holiday, we also tested many of our recipes to see if we could substitute matzoh meal or potato flour for flour and leavening.  We were able to convert quite a few of our recipes, and make Passover versions of brownies, blueberry muffins, and some of our most popular cakes.  With our varied selections, our customers had many treats to choose from to tide them over during the week of Passover.


Other classic Passover treats included a vegetarian Tsimmes (a carrot, sweet potato and dried fruit side dish for the seder), Haroses (an apple-wine-nut side dish), and Passover Wine Cake.


Some special treats we made for the Holiday became instant memorable favorites.  Sabra Torte, for example (featured in our Cakes Cookbook), is a delicious cake I regularly crave.  Same with the Hungarian Rhapsody, which is a luscious, decadently-nutty cake we long to eat any time of year.  And Apple Charlotte is just a delightful treat with absolutely no holiday required to enjoy!


One of our Passover treats even became a year-round favorite.  The Matzoh Fudge Log became known as our Fudge Crunch, and was a popular item on our cookie trays as well as at the counter.  But my favorite Passover dessert was always the 7-Layer Matzoh Cake, for reasons I can't even explain.  Perhaps because it was so easy to make, and just so satisfying with its rich chocolate layered with wine-soaked sheets of Matzoh.  But I admit to having a weakness for more than one item on our Passover menu.

A Happy Passover to all who observe!

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Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

Slick Stuff
Using the right oil for your health.
Peas in a Pod
It's not easy loving peas!
The Gift of Seclusion
Current conditions are asking us to retreat into our safe zones. Take advantage of this time to ourselves.
One-of-a-Kind Design
Create your own fabric, gift wrap and wallpaper to take custom designs to a whole new level.
The Buzz About Bees
Bees are precious, industrious and endangered.  We can do our part to make sure we don't lose these amazing little creatures.
Oh, Honey!
Celebrate National Honey Month by tasting a new honey, making infused honey, or sprinkling powdered honey on your favorite treat.

Quarantine Chronicles
Sensing a deeper meaning in this season of self-quarantine.
Food Prep 101
Maximizing your time and effort in the kitchen, to get healthy meals on the table quickly during the week.
Isn't it Romantic?
Elevating a moment spent with someone else to make it truly special.
Scones for Spring
An absolute must for a spring brunch or tea party!
Hello Spring!  Hello Cookies!
Our latest cookbook is out!  A book full of Afternoon Tea's cookie and bar recipes!
My Favorite Mugs
A menagerie of mugs ... one of life's simple pleasures.
Never Forgotten
Remembering those who gave everything so that we can live.
Happy Easter!
A bevy of lovely and playful Easter Cakes to welcome in spring!
Who Really Needs An Egg Plate?
Not me.  But I'm probably going to get one anyway!
Happy Mother's Day!
Wishing all of the Moms out there a very wonderful, healthy and happy Mother's Day!
Mother's Day Tea
A perfect way to celebrate and spend time with our Moms.
Breakfast in Bed
A time-honored tradition for Mother's Day!
A Bridal Shower Tea ...
the perfect way to entertain!
A Baby Shower Tea Party
Celebrating a little one's imminent arrival.
May Flowers
Surrounding yourself with flowers!
Love Tea Sandwiches?
Spring is for Tea Parties, Baby & Bridal Showers, and Garden Parties -- that means lots and lots of delightful tea sandwiches!
First Sign of Spring Quiche
Spring means quiche, at least it does at my house!
Our Current Obsession: French Macarons
Light, airy, delicate pastel puffs of mouth-watering deliciousness
Starting Off with a Bang!
Bust yourself free from 2020! States are opening up, it's time to make plans!

Quality Matters
When you have a choice, do you choose quality?
Romancing Your Life
Setting the scene to fall in love with your own life
Romantic Foods
Something special ...
The Romance of Travel
Falling in love with a new destination, adventure, and vistas
Food Porn
It has become a national obsession ... we're salivating over food and all the food shows on tv
How It All Began
The very beginnings of Afternoon Tea.
Baking is Love
No one has to bake ... ever.  So when they do, love is there.
The Lenten Season
A reminder that accepting the challenge of self-discipline is good for the soul
Spring Cleaning
Tackling and taming the clutter 
Cooking with Herbs
Herbs are making a tasty appearance in some of your favorite desserts!
The Problem with Pesto ...
It's so darned easy, you'll be making it all the time!
The Icing on the Cake
Does a bakery really need to make frosted layer cakes?
What's Your Favorite Cake?
If only I could pick just one!
My Boy
A tribute to Max
Bless the Beasts
Spreading goodwill upon the creatures we share this earth with ...
Baking Cakes
Basic baking tips for beautiful layer cakes
Congrats, HWP!
Healing Warriors Program received a huge honor, and we were invited to the Pentagon to see it!
Do-Gooders!
Ana's non-profit, Healing Warriors Program, gives away a state-of-the-art electric wheelchair!
Donate if you can!
Healing Warriors Program,
my sister's nonprofit, does very important work for our service members' complete health and wellbeing.


Sunday, February 28, 2021

Quality Matters

At Afternoon Tea, we always prided ourselves on the quality of what we made.  When we discovered some bakeries were using canned, commercially-made custards and pie fillings for their baked goods, it was something we decided we would never do.  We made everything from scratch.  We made our own pie crusts, we peeled apples, we made our own caramel, and we made our own fillings.  We never cut corners.

We didn't want any preservatives in our baked goods.  We wanted everything baked exactly the way we would do it at home, using the same basic, wholesome ingredients.

But quality extends not only to our baking, but to our day-to-day life, as well.  Do we pick quality over convenience, at least some of the time?  We can't cook and bake everyday, that's a given … everyone has too much going on to be able to pull that off, so convenience foods are a fact of life.  However, we should definitely look at all of our options and make the best choices.

A recent trend for grocery stores is carrying a number of chain restaurant-branded frozen foods.  They certainly have name recognition.  But what I also noticed is that they're not cheap.  A frozen bag of Chinese fried rice (branded by a very famous restaurant chain) was going for $8.99 at the store.

In the very same shopping center, just a few steps away, is a Chinese restaurant I frequent.  They sell a generous portion of fried rice (which looked to me to be about the same quantity, if not more, as the frozen bag) for the same amount of money.  As I held the frozen bag in my hand, I had to wonder why I would buy the frozen when the fresh is available to me just a few feet away at the same price.  Even if I put it in the freezer myself when I got it home, to have as a meal on another night, at least I know it was freshly made when I bought it.

For most folks, every penny counts, and that's understood.  There's always coupons and sales and gas points, so the convenience of the grocery store option makes sense for many.  But on those days when the pay-off is just not there, why not choose the freshest, most delicious option?  I'd gladly give up that extraneous box of cookies and spend the extra couple of dollars instead to enjoy a freshly made meal from one of my favorite restaurants.

One day I was sitting at the auto shop, waiting for the mechanics to work on my car, when I suddenly felt hungry.  Across the street was a fast-food place recognizable by its golden arches.  A few feet away from it was a French bakery.  Which do you think I went into?

I love a fast-food burger and fries as much as the next person, but the idea of checking out some ham-and-cheese croissants, a selection of quiches, or their soup of the day drew me into the French bakery like a magnet.

Quality matters.  Especially after a year of hardship, a year of settling for less, a year of holding back, a year of making do.  We've put up with a lot ... it's time to reward ourselves with a few quality choices.

Choosing quality makes us feel good about ourselves.  It tells us that we're worth the best.  It makes a difference in what we're putting into our bodies.  Opting for quality makes a difference in how we feel about our lives.  A latte every now and then from our favorite coffeehouse tells us we're worth it.  A sit-down restaurant over a drive-through shows us we're worth the time and the attention.  A good bakery lunch over a fast-food lunch is vastly more enjoyable, every time. 

Which is good … because they're opening up another new bakery not far from me pretty soon.  Can't wait to check them out!

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Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

Romantic Foods
Something special ...
Romancing Your Life
Setting the scene to fall in love with your own life
How It All Began
The very beginnings of Afternoon Tea.
Baking is Love
No one has to bake ... ever.  So when they do, you can bet that love is in there.
The Lenten Season
A reminder that accepting the challenge of self-discipline is good for the soul
Spring Cleaning
Tackling and taming the clutter
Dessert Not Optional
Indulging your sweet tooth is not always a bad thing.
Starting Off with a Bang!
Bust yourself free from 2020! States are opening up, it's time to make plans!
New Year's Resolutions
A list of fun things to look forward to in the year ahead!
Never On The "1st" Date
Laying the groundwork for the success of your goals and resolutions
Travel Plans
Planning some new sights and scenery in the New Year
The Romance of Travel
Falling in love with a new destination, adventure, and vistas
A Fresh Start
Healthful smoothies to begin the year off right!
Salty Sweets
Finishing salts on your dessert
How It All Began
The very beginnings of Afternoon Tea.
A Tale of Two Bread Puddings
So different, yet both so good!
A Very Foodie Town
It's almost time for Restaurant Week again!
Top Chef - Colorado
A celebrity in the family!
Cooking with Herbs
Herbs are making a tasty appearance in some of your favorite desserts!
The Problem with Pesto ...
It's so darned easy, you'll be making it all the time!
Herb Harvest
There's nothing like growing your own fresh herbs!
Fresh!
Locally-grown farm-fresh products and produce are the best!
Do-Gooders!
Ana's non-profit, Healing Warriors Program, gives away a state-of-the-art electric wheelchair!
Congrats, HWP!
Healing Warriors Program received a huge honor, and we were invited to the Pentagon to see it!
Baking Cakes
Basic baking tips for beautiful layer cakes
Donate if you can!
Healing Warriors Program,
my sister's nonprofit, does very important work for our service members' complete health and wellbeing.