When I was growing up I watched the ritual of tea being made in this blue teapot. Every day tea was made in a large brown Betty, a teapot as plain as its name. Tea made in the blue teapot was reserved for special occasions; brides and baby showers , afternoon whist drives and most important of all, bridge.
To me this was the most beautiful teapot in my world.
Everything had to be perfect. The tablecloth freshly laundered and carefully ironed. My Mother had bought this cross stitch tablecloth with matching napkins during the hard days of the depression. An enterprising woman was going door-to-door selling her exquisite handiwork. I remember my Mother saying it had been priced rather “dear” , but well worth the price.
Weeks in advance cookbooks would be poured over and consulted. It was a given the sandwiches would be cut from white and brown bread in the shapes of hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds. The fillings, egg salad, deviled ham, creamed chicken, cucumber.
This 1924 edition of a Fannie Farmer Cookbook, was considered the most up-to-date cookbook on the shelf.
The pages provided inspiration for sandwich fillings . It was World War Two. Many ingredients were impossible to come by. Sugar was rationed. Creative cooks improvised. Not even War could stop the rituals of bridge.
While my Mother read the The Boston School Cook Book, I poured over this Blue Ribbon Cook Book. This cook book was printed in 1905, “for everyday use in Western Homes”.
Would I make a Minnehaha cake, a simple yellow cake with a delicious filling of boiled icing with raisins and almonds.
No, I had made that cake the last bridge club tea. This time a selection of cookies; lemon snaps, horns of plenty and coconut jumbles. Perhaps this was the occasion to make brandy snaps, rolling the crisp wafer thin cookies around a wooden spoon, then filling them with whipped cream.
Heady decisions for a ten year old baker.
It’s been more than sixty years since those days of food rationing, whist drives and bridge tournaments. I was never into bridge. My sisters, however, still play bridge several times a a week. I am still baking, and pouring over cookbooks.
This recipe for lemon snaps was one of my favorites. I have copied out the recipe EXACTLY the way it is given in my Blue Ribbon Cookbook. You will notice there are few instructions. You must judge how much flour to add, and know how to judge a “quick oven” by putting your hand into the oven. By the way, a quick oven would be 375-400 F. It meant having a lot of kindling on hand to keep a very hot fire going in the stove. Another job for the cook.
Recipe for LEMON SNAPS:
2/3 cup butter, l cup sugar, 4 tablespoons hot water, 2 eggs, flour to roll soft, 1/2 teaspoon soda, 2 teaspoons Blue Ribbon lemon extract. Bake in a quick oven. That’s it. No other instructions. You’re on your own.
The beautiful blue tea pot – now over 90 years old, sits on a shelf in my kitchen, a reminder of those elegant days of afternoon tea.