The thing with old properties is you are part of their story as much as they are a part of yours. It is a matter of stewardship rather than ownership, of learning how to live with them rather than in them. And you must get comfortable with the traces of other people’s lives, other people’s stories – for they are part of the story of the house. There is a kind of soulfulness in these traces they are part of what gives the house the depth, and that palpable personality I gravitate toward.
Cottage Farm has been part of the local landscape longer than most and certainly longer than the collective memory can conceive. It reaches much further back than our family’s story. Built by others, inhabited by others; for the moment we are the story within its walls and the edges of its fields. The city cottage is a bit of a different situation, it feels as if we were chosen by the house or universe to be its stewards in the current moment. The sweetest little 117 year old cottage, its soul lying dormant under years of faux wood panelling and layers of murky peach paint – breathing life back into its perfectly crafted shell and lovely human proportions has been one of the most rewarding and challenging projects to-date – much more on that in another post still to come.
Living within the walls of these places has made one thing very apparent : consideration of craft is something upon which I place great value. In these spaces, the marks of the makers remain throughout and they stand as evidence of the care in which corners were joined and foundations laid, timber frames raised and walls plastered. There is thoughtfulness, nearly to an extreme, in the creation of these utilitarian spaces. They seem a bit more remarkable by todays industrialized and automated standards. Created and crafted with an eye to the future – intended to remain – all of these layers have imbued these places with a sort of poetry, a harmony leading to that aforementioned soul. The residue left by these moments of thoughtful creation resonates with me deeply, and has become a lens on my view of everyday things. I find myself seeking out this same thoughtfulness in all facets of my everyday. Elevating the prosaic into a sort of utilitarian, livable poetry.
I gravitate toward the things that seem imbued with these sensibilities and share that same considered creation as the old houses I love so much. It’s not about consumption or the act of acquiring but about selectively choosing those things that bring a joy and elegance to my everyday. Smith Teamaker teas do exactly this. From that first sip of their Lord Bergamot on a particularly dreary january morning I was utterly delighted. While I am specifically fond of their black teas, I have slowly been working through their list of carefully curated and beautifully crafted teas. They are a delight to drink and I appreciate their philosophy of creation – without short cuts, no compromises, just beautifully crafted quality tea.
This time of year, I often make cold brew from the Lord Bergamot, steeping it in the fridge overnight so that its ready to pour over a tall glass of ice in the morning, sometimes with a splash of milk. Its heaven on these steamy August days and started me thinking about other equally refreshing ways to enjoy tea in the summer. I thought immediately of the one tea from their Herbal collection which personifies summer, even down to the name – Meadow Not only is it gorgeous to drink but it’s visually arresting as an enchanting blend of beautiful flowers and petals comprise this tea.
I happened to be staring at the glut of peaches from our trees sitting on the counter. Fat and ripe, rose in color and just begging to be made into something delightful. And so the recipe for the Meadow Tea Granita below was born. It’s perfectly delightful and would be equally lovely on a hot August day after working in the garden as it would complete and alfresco dinner with friends under that huge summer sky. I love that the distinctive flavors of the Meadow Tea are preserved – the flavors of camomile and that hint of the exotic from the rose petals are perfectly compliments by the little swirl of honey and sweet ripeness from the peaches. It’s also dead easy to make so more entertaining and sitting with friends can be had and there’s no long hours in the kitchen. I also love how this Meadow granita looks when spooned into glasses, revival incarnate! It’s equally at home in plain water glasses as it is in fancy vintage or otherwise, just be sure to serve with a long spoon.
Smith Teamaker Meadow Granita
Serves 6-8 depending on the size of the glass
- 3 cups water
- 4 tea sachets Smith Teamaker Meadow Tea (aprox 10g loose tea)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp honey
- 2 small peaches (aprox 150g), de-stoned and cult in half.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- In a heat proof bowl, pour the water over tea sachets.
- After ten minutes add the honey and stir until well incorporated. Continue steeping tea for one hour
- After an hour remove the tea sachets from the water and pour half of the tea into a blender with the peaches and lemon juice. Blend until the peaches are well puree in with the tea.
- Pour this mixture into a shallow, freezer proof dish and add to it the second half of the tea.
- Stir well to combine and place the baking dish into the freezer for 3 hours.
- After three hours, using a fork scrape the frozen mixture until a fluffy ice forms. Repeat a few times over the next 6-8 hours until the mixture is completely frozen
- Scrape a final time and divide evenly between glasses. Serve immediately.