Retro Rhubarb Pie

When I think of rhubarb I think of Aunt Rose. She was my Dad’s oldest sister and the matriarch of the family. The first time I ate rhubarb was a family summer trip to Kansas. It was odd tasting, intriguing,and it grew in her back yard to boot!

I have two rhubarb plants in my garden. It is a rite of spring to see the shoots burst forward into a lovely plant. I usually mix it with a fruit from the berry family to make a pie, crisp or cobbler. Then I ran across a 100-year old recipe in a blog I follow A Hundred Years Ago. My old soul was touched by this recipe so I had to try. The pictures below left: Aunt Rose and my Grandpa and right: me, my sister and my Grandpa celebrating my 11th birthday. We had matching cherry smock tops ūüôā

This recipe is unique as it uses raisins to accompany the rhubarb. Never seen that before.

So here we go.

Left to right pictures:

1 1/2 C rhubarb and 1 C golden raisins

1 C sugar, 1 egg, 1 TBSP cornstarch, 1 tsp vanilla

Blending the two mixtures into one bowl

Continuing the retro theme, I made the pie crusts from Jiffy pie crust mix $0.38 on sale, original price $0.84. The Jiffy Mix products were established in 1930 but the Chelsea Milling Company  was a traditional flour mill, established in 1901 in Chelsea, Michigan. If you want to learn the history of the company watch this video for a virtual tour.  My mom was a Jiffy consumer, she may have grown up with it during the depression.

Pictures left: Jiffy Pie crust mix and right: my retro milk glass pie plate with the crust.

Brush the pie crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar atop. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake an addtional 20-30 minutes.

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Patty’s Points:

  1. Rhubarb has a high water content so addition of cornstarch, flour, arrowroot, or tapioca are used as traditional thickeners for the filling. Most recipes call for 3 TBSP but this recipe called for 1 TBSP. The addition of the raisins added a “sponge” for soaking up additional liquid. Raisins can hold a lot of liquid. I almost wonder if any thickener would have been needed with the raisins as part of the recipe. As a result, there wasn’t much “bubbling” through the vents that I am used to when I know the pie is done.
  2. I liked the raisins as part of the filling. It allowed the rhubarb to be slightly sweetened and still taste the rhubarb. In most berry-rhubarb recipes you can’t taste the rhubarb at all.
  3. I made adjustments to the filling by adding vanilla and reducing the sugar content to 3/4 C. The egg made the filling custard-like and contributed to the thickening.
  4. The Jiffy crust – all you add is cold water – 4-5 TBSP. ¬†The ingredients are wheat flour, hydrogenated lard, salt, and preservatives. I wonder how that lard gets pulverized into a grain mixture? It was a pretty wet mixture. In retrospect, I should’ve added 1 TBSP at a time into the cold food processor and checked the consistency. ¬†I refrigerated the dough for 30 minutes before rolling it out although the directions indicate that you don’t have to. I added flour to the board before rolling it out which helped. It was a very tender crust and was easy to place in the pie plate.
  5. The pie crust was dry, the filling was moist and compact, but very little juiciness. ¬†If I made this again I would use a different crust and eliminate the thickener. The raisin-rhubarb combo was good but it needed something. ¬†Maybe it needed something like Julia would’ve used, ¬†“With enough butter, anything is good.”

Ahhhhh Italy

Italy is Eataly

We traveled to Italy in October. The food was fabulous and the scenery was spectacular.

Bay of Fegina Monterosso del Mare

The Cinque Terre (the five lands) was our favorite destination. Monterosso del Mare has the most beautiful beach of the five towns on the Italian Riviera. We stayed at the Hotel Pasquale, a small family-run hotel in the heart of this ancient village overlooking the Liguorian Sea.

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We were treated to a homemade Italian meal by Felicita, daughter of the original owners, and current co-owner with her husband and children.

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A personal demonstration of homemade pesto using a mortar and pestle.

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 The pesto was very fresh and bright.

lasagne al forno

Lasagne al Forno. Can you believe the amount of pesto atop?

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Our fellow travelers.

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Felicita and me.

The Fearless Cooking Club members gathered and made some of the Italian recipes. Barb and Cindy had been to Europe this past summer and stopped into Italy also.

Fearless Cooker w/fancy oven mitts

We tried our hand at mortar and pestle pesto.

Porchetta

Barb and Joe made this beautiful porchetta, they ate in Italy. It was a WOW!

mortar and pestle

The one in the foreground is marble with ribbed inner edges of the bowl.

presto pesto

Presto Pesto!

Felicita’s Pesto Sauce Recipe

Two servings pesto sauce

Ingredients

  • 80 Basil leaves
  • 1 garlic close
  • 2 TBSP pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese grated

Directions

Only wash basil leaves and dry on the tea towel.  Add 1 garlic close. Grind. Add 2 TBSP pine nuts. Grind. Mis with two heaping tablespoon parmesan cheese grated. Add olive oil until creamy consistency.  Have a good meal! Felicita.

Patty’s Points

1. Felicita’s pesto had a¬†very loose consistency more like a sauce then a thick paste. We think it¬†had to do with the moisture in the leaves from being so close to the sea nearby. We live in dry Colorado so our pesto was more like a paste.

2. Her recipe differs from most pestos I’ve made. She added no salt and very little garlic. You are tasting the freshness of the basil.

3. Our tour guide, Jamie, a Brit who has a home in Lucca, was quite the foodie. He advised us about only buying pine nuts from Italy and to stay away from the ones from China. My olive oil was from Italy but the pine nuts I found were from Spain. Sorry Jamie.

4. We used two different types of olive oils in each pesto recipe we made. We noticed a big difference in the taste from the olive oils. I pays to taste your olive oil and find one you like. Have you heard of the bug that has destroyed many of the olives in Italy? Olive oil prices will rise over the next year. Eeek!

5. We had two mortar bowls that were quite different. One had ridges on the bowl lining and one without. The combination of the pestle grinding and ridges in the bowl made the grinding process go quickly.

6. You’ll notice in the recipe it calls for 80 leaves of basil. If you have really large leaves then count it as two leaves. The amount of leaves accounts for the pure taste of the basil also.

7. Eataly.com is a global company that promotes Italian products worldwide. When you go to Italy you see ¬†authentic products in local towns. But when you are at home you don’t have access to those authentic products. Eataly.com is one way to find specialty pastas and probably¬†pine nuts too! I saw a pasta in Monterosso that I should have bought. It looked like a communion wafer. When we went out to dinner that night, one of our fellow travelers had that pasta Croxetti. It is specifically made in the the Liguorian areas of Italy. It would take awhile for me to hunt it down and see if it exists in the Italian sections of my city. ¬†So I would have to either make it or buy it through Eataly.com.

8. Lastly, Jamie our guide, said that when we all go home and try to recreate the Italian food, it won’t taste the same. I have to agree. The ingredients may be basil, olives, pine nuts, oranges, or lemons but they are grown in a different location of the world with different sun, water, soil, bugs, and weather conditions.

9. By the way, the lasagne al forno was homemade lasagne pasta sheets with a parmesan besciamella sauce through each layer. With that substantial amount of pesto atop it melted in my mouth. Delizioso! I could never recreate that sensation ever again at home.

10. Lastly, according to Felicita, the true term pesto only refers to the basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese and nuts (pine, walnuts) combination.

Until we meet again Italy! Arrivederci!

What I did this summer

The summer of 2014 is at an end. In Colorado it was a wet one. The garden did well this year.

I kept up with the produce but I invited neighbors and friends¬†to stop and “shop” as well. Joy¬†said this was better than the grocery store because she could come in her nightgown.

the 2014 garden

The food processor I got for Christmas got plenty of action with chopping and shredding

the food processor

I used this batch for a zucchini chocolate cake with a chocolate cheese frosting.

I forgot to get a picture, but I’ve made the cake for two potlucks.

At Mary Beth’s¬†Labor Day party I got a standing ovation from an admiring crowd stating it was the best chocolate cake ever. Then laughed when they heard I snuck vegetables in a dessert.

shredded zucchini

Our neighborhood is full of rabbits (lack of foxes and presence of coyotes). One and maybe two bunnies made it into our garden although interestingly they haven’t eaten anything that I can see.

the garden bunny

 We grew cilantro this year, it was gorgeous so I tried my hand at some Indian Chutney.

making chutney

This Cilantro Chutney recipe is from The Splendid Table (my favorite website).

I fell in love. I put it on roasted chicken and fried eggs.

cilantro chutney

I joined the spiralizer craze, getting one for my birthday.

the spiralizer

I spiralized carrots, zucchini, potatoes and yams. I loved placing the carrots and the zucchini in a microwave safe bowl, steaming it for about a minute and tossing basil pesto in it. Yummy!

It could also be adapted into a cold salad and tossed with a vinaigrette or dressing.

spiraled carrots

I had a lot of cucumbers this year. This salad was a combo of cucumbers, mint (both from the garden) with black and white quinoa and brown rice

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This next recipe was from Bon Appétit  magazine Watermelon Gazpacho.

Cantaloupe was abundant and inexpensive at the grocery store, so I adapted the recipe.

melon gazpacho ingredients

Patty’s Cantaloupe Gazpacho. Oh it was so good. Sweet and cool eaten as an appetizer on the back porch.

melon gazpacho

 This recipe was also from Bon Appétit  magazine for a Grilled Salad.

I adapted this as well. The romaine lettuce was 99 cents per head. I brushed it with olive oil and my husband grilled each side for about 1-2 minutes. Oh this was wonderful! I adapted this recipe to what produce was available.

grilled salad

And finally, Ginger Marmalade. I was excited to make this recipe since sampling James Keillor and Sons Ginger Marmalade.

I surveyed many recipes on-line, it was a daunting task.

peeled ginger

shredded ginger

Time consuming little recipe!

hand blended ginger

canning the marmalade

Ginger can be a bit HOT. This marmalade was HOT. The ultimate experimenter, I looked at other recipes and found an Orange-Ginger Marmalade. So I mixed my marmalade with regular store-bought orange marmalade and tamed it down a bit.

I also used it as a glaze for roasted chicken and roasted carrots from the garden.

ginger glazed chicken & carrots

I went to Portland in August with nursing colleagues Nancy, Rita and Kathy, for a conference. A manager for a local retailer tipped us off on to Nong’s Khao Man Gai food truck for lunch.  Nong was the named Food Network Chopped Champion just 4 days before we visited.  What a sweet girl who has her own bottled sauce and make the best chicken and rice.

Nong's Food Truck

It was a summer of reflection for me. Autumn will bring some changes. Ready for new challenges.

A Fearless Woman

Spring Green

I spent the past week in the snowy mountains. Upon returning¬†home the trees have burst out¬†with flowers, shoots of grass have sprouted, and the sun has warmed the earth. ¬†I’m feeling green. The color of spring.

Two months ago for the tea party I made goodie bags with Matcha green tea. I started drinking it during menopausal years for an energy boost. According to Wikipedia Matcha green tea is a finely milled or fine powder green tea.  Japanese tea ceremonies focus on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha. Matcha is used to flavor and dye foods such as sobi noodles, ice cream, pastries and even a Japanese candy called wagashi.

Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves. The preparation of matcha starts several weeks before harvest & can last up to 20 days, when the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight.This slows down growth, stimulates an increase in chlorophyll levels, turns the leaves a darker shade of green, and causes the production of amino acids in particular L-Theanine. Only the finest tea buds are hand-picked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled out before drying, the result will be auokuro tea. If the leaves are laid out flat to dry, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha. Tenchacan then be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone-ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha.

It can take up to one hour to grind 30 grams of matcha. Now I know why it is so expensive. I purchased 1.5 ounces for $14.

Matcha green tea

My fellow blogger, jothetartqueen has made many recipes with Matcha green tea. She is a trained chef and I appreciate her talents and daring skills.

For my challenge¬†I made macarons and candy laced with matcha.I’ve made macarons before check out this earlier posting.

Match tea macarons from  Mélanger :: to mix

100 g egg whites

35 g egg white powder

125 g almond meal

125 g powdered sugar

2 tsp Matcha green tea powder

Syrup: 150 g sugar and 50 ml water

Directions

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, whip half the egg whites to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  At the final changes of whipping the meringue, and add the matcha tea powder.  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.

green tea macarons

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes.  Fill with ganache or filling of your choice.  Refrigerate to set.

baking sheets of macarons

Chocolate ganache 

120g dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir.  Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken.


chocolate ganache

the final product

Matcha White Chocolate Pistachio Cups РThe Sweetest Kitchen

Makes about 10-12 mini cups

Ingredients
For the outer shell:
140 grams good quality white chocolate (at least 30% cocoa solids)
About 1/2 teaspoon Matcha ‚Äď or enough to get a nice pastel green color

For the filling:
1 cup pistachios, shells removed
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon flavorless oil, but you may need less or slightly more (I used canola)
pinch or two of Matcha
25g icing sugar

For the filling, place pistachios and salt in a food processor and blend until it starts coming together in a ball. This could take up to 15 minutes and you’ll have to scrape down the sides of the bowl often. If you’ve ever made your own nut butter, it’s basically the same process. With the motor running, add some oil slowly until the nut butter begins to thin out. Do not use too much though as you don’t want it to be runny. About the consistency of commercially prepared peanut butter is good. Add a pinch (or two if you like) of Matcha to the nut butter and blend again until well combined.  Set aside.

paste

Place 12 mini cupcake wrappers into a mini cupcake baking tray. Note, I only got 11 1/2 cups using this recipe!

For the outer shell, melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring constantly. Do not let the bowl touch the water, and do not get water into the chocolate. When chocolate is melted and smooth, remove from heat, immediately sift over matcha and stir until well combined and matcha is dissolved. Do this in small amounts so you can ensure you get the green color you want. If you put in too much matcha, you might get an unappealing dark green color that no one wants to eat!

When you reach your desired color, place about 1 even teaspoon of melted chocolate into each mini cupcake liner. Using the back of a small spoon, bring the chocolate up the sides of the paper liners and smooth down the bottom to make it flat. Repeat for each liner. Place the tray in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes to set.

Measure 96 grams of pistachio butter and transfer this amount to a clean bowl. Sift over the icing sugar and stir (or use your hands) to thoroughly combine. Form 12 balls from the pistachio butter/icing sugar mixture using about 1 teaspoon, just slightly rounded, each. Place on a clean surface. Take out the baking tray from the refrigerator, ensure the chocolate is hardened, then slightly flatten the pistachio balls with the palm of your hand and place 1 ball into each chocolate cup.

candy cups

Pour 1 teaspoon of chocolate (you may need to re-melt it) on top of each pistachio ball, ensuring the filling is completely covered. To get a smooth top, do not use a spoon or knife to flatten or spread it; just pick up the tray and tilt it around (you may need to tap it gently on the countertop) to get the chocolate to cover the filling and you should end up with a completely smooth top. Repeat for each cup. Refrigerate until set, around an hour.

To serve, let the cups come to room temperature and for a more intense matcha flavor, dust some matcha over the top of the cups.

 

tea cup

 

Patty’s Points:

1. Loose green tea that is steeped, cannot be blended into Matcha tea. I tried doing that before reading the Wikipedia article. How silly!¬†A coffee and tea¬†shop owner thought it was a good day also. I was also surprised she had never heard of matcha green tea. Only a few shops carry Matcha green tea. I have found better prices on the internet but haven’t delved into purchasing it as yet. I have purchased “shots” of Match green tea that was added to a smoothie which was yummy.

2. Macarons are fun to make, now that I have mastered them. I whipped out the batches in about 2-3 hours. I sprinkled the Matcha tea atop each cookie for a nice accent.

3. The candies were actually pretty easy to make. Unsalted pistachios can take a while to find, look somewhere where they have bulk items. These candies are so rich, they don’t need any additional salt so try to get the unsalted type. ¬†I had to make adjustments to the amount of powdered (icing) sugar so make sure to taste it as you mix it.

4. These treats are quite rich, so eating one or even half of one was plenty for me to sample.  They made nice treat bags.

What a fun way to use tea! Another culinary adventure!

 

Irish Pub Party

Irish Pub CookbookEveryone claims to be Irish on St Patrick’s Day but I actually am an Irish descendent. My mother let everyone she knew of her heritage and she was quite proud. ¬†Char gave me this great cookbook awhile back and it was time to crack it open. We tried many of the dishes inside and a few others to make up our early St. Patrick’s Day party.

The menu was Guinness Beef Stew, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots, Brown Soda Bread, Irish Soda Bread, Molasses Bread, Traditional Colcannon, Colcannon with Kale, Buttered Kale with chives & lemon, Buttered Vegetables, Apple Cake, Chocolate Stout Cake, Homemade Irish Cream, Irish Coffee, Smithwick beer, Jameson’s whiskey, Kerry butter and Irish cheese.

Since time was of the essence most items were made in advance before the cooking club members gathered. The group project was a soda bread throw down. Before we started working we had to loosen up and make Irish Cream.  Remember when I made it last Christmas? Same recipe. It was a treat to see everyone marvel at how much whiskey and cream went into it!

Now that we were relaxed, we dove into the soda bread. Traditional soda bread has four ingredients. That’s it. The other ¬†had nine.

Irish Soda Bread from The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook  Parragon Books 2012

  • 1 lb ¬†(450 g) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 400 ml (14 oz) buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place parchment paper atop or prepare an oiled baking sheet.

Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the buttermilk . Mix well with hands. The dough should be soft but not too wet. Reserve then add, if necessary the remaining buttermilk.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Shape into an 8 inch (20 cm) round. Place the loaf atop the making tray. With a serrated knife cut a cross into the top. Bake for 25-30 mintes under golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.

two soda breads

Brown on the left, Traditional on the right.

Brown Soda Bread from Cook’s Country¬†February/March 2013

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 C toasted wheat germ
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 C buttermilk
  • 3 TBSP¬†melted butter

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in 2-cup liquid measuring cup.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until dough just comes together. Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter and knead until cohesive mass forms, about 8 turns. Pat dough into 7-inch round and transfer to prepared sheet. Using sharp serrated knife, make ¬ľ-inch-deep cross about 5 inches long on top of loaf. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean and loaf registers 195 degrees, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

Remove bread from oven. Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Transfer loaf to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour.

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Traditional on the left, Brown on the right

Guiness Beef Stew

corned beef

Dessert table\ Irish Coffee

Patty’s Points:

1. General consensus of the party guests were that both breads were good, just different. The brown bread was very hearty. The traditional was lighter. Both were great slathered in butter! I favored the traditional myself.

2. The day before, a couple of members were at another potluck and tasted other soda bread versions. Some with currents or raisins and some with caraway. Soda bread is how your family made it special and traditional for you.

3.  I used bread flour. I think it helps the texture of any bread you make at home.

4. I had never made soda bread before this challenge. Hard to believe? It could have been because my mother’s father was Irish and the traditional foods didn’t get passed down through him. She loved Bailey’s Irish Cream though ūüôā

5. This was an European cookbook, so many of the ingredients are in metric. It is always good to have a scale for dry ingredients. I’m a nurse so the liquids are easy for me to convert.

Mary B

Happy St Patrick's Day

How joyful that spring is nearly here. On St Patrick’s Day we Think Green. But as my mother used to say Think Irish!

Culinary Tea Party


Culinary Tea cookbook

The Fearless Cooking Club and friends gathered to celebrate all things tea. We had food steeped from tea in eggs, candy, fruits, vegetables, and salmon. We also drank tea as well. Culinary Tea written by Cynthia Gold, the tea sommelier at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers, was the basis of most of the recipes. Char visited Boston last fall and enjoyed an afternoon tea a the hotel. She delighted us with her cooking skills and beautiful setting to enjoy a culinary tea.

Char and Debbie greeted us at the door with a flute of champagne infused with raspberry truffle tea syrup. Wow!

hostess and greeter

the culinary tea table

Each guest was presented with a card to keep track of types of teas tasted.

place setting

culinary tea card

We started with a flowering tea pod or bud.

pouring the water

After pouring hot water atop, the bud opens into a beautiful flower

flowering tea

Our first course was marbled eggs. They were hard boiled eggs, the shells cracked but left intact then steeped in green tea with brown sugar. After two days of steeping in the refrigerator, the shells were removed and voila marbled eggs.

marbled eggs

The marbled egg was served with rose petal and wine salts and mixed green salad.

marbled egg, flavored salts

Each guest brought a tea pot. We all went around the room telling the story of our teapot and the type of tea we were sampling. This was an opportunity to share our teas with others.

tell us about your tea pot

The main course was salmon en papillote steeped with darjeeling tea and acorn squash with chai cherry walnut tea.

Salmon en papillate with acorn squash

To cleanse our palate before dessert we had a Blackberry tea sorbet. I was surprised it wasn’t made with a blackberry tea. Instead fresh blackberries, sugar and Darjeeling or Assam tea.

blackberry tea sorbet

And for dessert (I was so full by this point), Riesling Poached Pears with Cardamon cream and

White Chocolate chai and Earl Grey Chocolate  truffles

poached pears and truffles

Patty’s Points:

1) Everything was sumptuous and beautiful. Char hit a high mark with her beautiful presentation and culinary tea skills. Her dining room was a beautiful tea room.

2) Char said that if she could change one thing she would’ve put more cracks in the egg shells before steeping them in the tea for 48 hours to add more marbling. I thought they were wonderful. The salts made of rose petals and wine were Mary Beth’s contribution from her trip to Europe this past fall. Thanks Mary Beth, they were a spectacular addition.

2) Everyone had a touching story to tell about their tea pots, given to them by loved ones or special memories of purchasing it. I didn’t have a remarkable story to tell about my tea pot, I had just purchased a new one the day before as I had broken mine. Pictured below is a combination tea pot and cup that belonged to my mother. She purchased it in Ireland (I believe), made in Galway. My father is caring for it at present. I carefully dusted the glass shelving it sits on along with twelve Irish coffee cups. I hope to collect it someday.

Irish teapot and cup

Thank you Char for a wonderful afternoon of all things tea!