One of the great joys of grandchildren is elevating everyday experiences into memorable ones, whether it’s with special food or fun tableware.
Tea parties are a favourite ordinary-turned-special meal with our crew, and when they include a cat theme, it’s even better. I’ve had The Cat by Albert Dubout for a long time. There aren’t a lot of pieces: five dinner and salad plates, a couple of mugs. the teapot, creamer and sugar. But they pack a wallop of humour.
We are enjoying a long weekend here in Canada due to Family Day on Monday. Papa and Adam took Juliana and Maddie skiing yesterday and returned with quite an appetite. The girls were delighted to find that tea awaited them on their return. Dancing into the kitchen, they surveyed the table; squirming with excitement, they wiggled onto their chairs.
First, the beverage ritual: carefully picking up a sugar cube with tongs, dropping it with a satisfying plop into a mug half-filled with hot tea. Slowly stirring with a demitasse spoon until the sugar is dissolved before filling the mug with quantities of cold milk until it’s just the right temperature to drink. Yesterday there was the added fun of cat-themed teabags dangling from their mugs.
Next comes the food reconnaissance. Scan the table to decide what is desirable and what requires careful navigation. Scones first, of course, but sometimes they feature the dreaded raisin, which necessitates an earnest sorting as they remove all traces of the foul substance before eating morsels of the now raisin-free scone with dollops of cream and jam. (If Nana made lots of whipped cream, maybe we can take some home for hot chocolate tomorrow).
First hunger satisfied, the negotiations begin. Hmmm, how much healthy stuff do I have to eat before we get to the cookies and cake? What is in that rectangular dish? Chicken What? Chicken Cat-cha-tore? Olives are good; I like tomato sauce. There are mashed potatoes to go with it? Ok. I’ll eat some of that. Not too much! I have to leave room for the good stuff.
There are sausage rolls? I like those.
What kind of cake is that, Nana? Yes! Chocolate! And are those cookies on the top, or is it chocolate? Cookies!
Are those mice? Strawberry mice? May I have some of those, please? Oh! The tails are licorice; the eyes are chocolate chips. And what are the ears? Sliced almonds?
Yup, it’s really just a live version of this plate. Follow me, my little ones.
It was an eclectic meal yesterday. Usually, I would have had sandwiches or slightly more delicate finger food for the savoury course, but I figured they’d need something heartier after a day on the slopes.
Chicken cacciatore is messy but good. I made a triple batch the day before, two-thirds of which went into the freezer for future meals. Fine Cooking has several recipes, so I interpreted liberally, using bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, red and yellow peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, green and black olives.
I’ve had the napkins and runner for ages, though they arrived in two stages. The set started with six lonely napkins until I discovered the same fabric at Chintz & Co.in Victoria, BC and they made me another half dozen napkins and the runner.
The kitty tea bags are Gongdreen Hibiscus Tea – the cat. The box comes with six tea bags, each featuring a different dangling cat which can be used as a bookmark afterwards. We will be enjoying these for some time to come!
The girls elected to save theirs and used the two The Cat mugs, instead, with plain black English Breakfast Tea.
I usually prefer a French Buttercream frosting, as I find it less sweet, but I chose that particular icing because it would stiffen up sufficiently to hold the Perfect Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies upright. After I iced the cake, I surrounded the bottom with chopped pieces of toffee covered with chocolate and chopped nuts (purchased from the grocery). Then I positioned the cookies in the icing and held the tall ones in place with toothpicks before putting the cake into the fridge for the icing to firm up. Just before serving, I whipped out the toothpicks and all was well.
I made the cookies the day before; the recipe makes loads, so I used cat cookie cutters to make a bunch of them, and then plain round fluted cutters to do the rest. We have an abundance of chocolate cookies to enjoy with tea.
I really like this particular plate. Bliss.
This last plate is one of Albert Dubout’s most famous cartoons, called “The Third Eye”, for obvious reasons.
All in, a lovely way to celebrate an ordinary-yet-special family meal.
A Happy President’s Day to my American friends and Happy Family Day to my Canadian ones.
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.