Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mint Tea on a Sunday Afternoon...

What better on a muggy afternoon that a cup of mint tea?…and it is even better if you have the luxury of enjoying it rural 1860-style. Luxury? Yes, luxury.

Typically, when we desire a cup of mint tea today, we most often find a teabag w/mint tea or open a canister of the loose-leaf variety stored in our cupboard. We turn the knob on the stove to heat the tea kettle and return a few minutes later to the same kettle to fetch the fully heated water. We pour the water over our tea. Voila! Mint Tea. Delicious. Refreshing. What more could we want?...

On a still, muggy Sunday summer afternoon in 1860 in Wisconsin, how a about a trip to the garden to pick the mint…and for good measure a little lemon balm? The fragrance of the garden hangs in the muggy air…all the sweetness of the flowers…all the savory of the herbs…. Run your hands through the plants to find the best stems to pick. The scent of the fresh herbs is so strong it can be tasted.
Dining Room Stove as seen in the 1860
Yankee House at Old World Wisconsin
A small fire will be needed to heat the water.  Why not use the parlor stove? The small fire will dry they room adding comfort while not being large enough to add heat.  If possible, this would be the day to choose fragrant logs like cedar.

As the water heats, it’s time to trim the mint and lemon balm leaves from their stems, and add them to the warming water. As the water heats, the scent is released into the still, heavy air.

Informal Parlor as seen in the 1860
Yankee House at Old World Wisconsin
When steeped to your perfection, pour yourself a cup and take a sip. You mouth fills with lemony mint flavor and your nose with a lemony mint scent. In this setting, have a seat next to the parlor
window and breathe deeply. Luxury.

The contemporary method is quicker. …and well, you probably won’t break a sweat, but fresh mint tea in 1860 allows us the luxury of experiencing it with all of our senses.

….and if you are so moved. You may also add 1860 style clothing…
Me in my favorite 1860s cotton summer dress

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

The Kvaale House Kitchen restored to 1865 as seen at Old World Wisconsin, Eagle WI.

A sewing machine, a pitcher, a crock,  a coffee grinder, a flatware tray, and various other ordinary household trinkets... It is a simple vignette of things used in a rural home in 1865. Many of us might see them only as symbols of drudgery and never-ending chores. Now, look at these items again. Think of all them women who through the course of the decades touched these items or items much like them. These simple items are symbols of a home. A home which women lovingly made for their families. Through the seemingly endless hours of work, there were tasty homemade dinners and treats. Clothes were sewn for little ones being welcomed into this world crafted with the same tenderness as the clothing worn by children passing from childhood into adulthood. Rare but precious moments of quiet were stolen over a hot cup of coffee...

It is in these simple symbols we still recognize a home, our families and our mothers...

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers who have sacrificed, and created warm, nurturing, loving homes for their families. As children of all ages, we often hold the simple memories most dear!