Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Homemade Bread

On a quiet, rainy day, the allure of homemade bread cannot be overstated. The process is calming, lulling, almost, and the scent of yeasty dough rising and freshly-baked bread topped with butter and honey intoxicating. 

Homemade bread is a family tradition for the Tudors, and this industrial-sized mixer has baked hundred and hundreds of loaves for the family over decades. It was originally used by Seth Tudor, who would turn out family-sized batches of bread weekly for only 45 cents a loaf. 

Now, Winslow Tudor carries on the family bread-baking tradition, using the same mixer, the same Vermont King Arthur flour, the same wheat berry grinder, and the same dedication to making wholesome, tasty, beautiful bread.

Ellie loves to help with the weekly bread baking, carefully holding the spoon for the salt. 

And happily pouring in the oil. 

Ellie instructing me (Natalie) how to properly give the dough a good squish into the pans. 

Beautiful bread rising in cast-iron bread pans. 

And eventually there are four beautiful loaves, fresh out of the oven, cut into thick slices and slathered with fresh butter and local honey, a treat to be savored by the senses, for it smells and tastes every bit as good as it looks, and the process is just as nourishing as the finished product. 
The bread goes great alongside Tasha Tudor's Potato and Onion Soup, both recipes found in The Tasha Tudor Cookbook. This cookbook, perhaps along with one of our beautiful wooden ladles, will quickly become treasured favorites and make a great gift!

On these quiet early-winter days, enjoy the time spent in the process...the process of baking bread, making holiday presents, and being present in the moment. The days are fleeting but the memories last a lifetime. 

Take Joy, 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Celebrating 75 Years of Pumpkin Moonshine with Pumpkin Pie

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Tasha Tudor's first published book, Pumpkin Moonshine, published in 1938, and still in print and available to this day. The book, which started out as a story for Tasha's niece, Sylvie Ann, was written by a 23-year-old Tasha Tudor. The charming and classic tale follows a young girl choosing the best pumpkin to create her "pumpkin moonshine" or, in today's vernacular, a "Jack O'Lantern."

Three generations of the Tudor family read Pumpkin Moonshine in Tasha Tudor's kitchen (Seth, Ellie, and Winslow). 

We gathered in a kitchen warmed with good cheer and the heat of a cook stove to bake pumpkin pies and to celebrate the anniversary of the beginning of Tasha's career. A Japanese film crew from NHK and a program entitled, "Gretl's Kitchen", was there to capture the event on film. We have yet to see the final video ourselves, though it has already aired several times in Japan.

Winslow and Ellie choosing pumpkins in the pumpkin field, following in Sylvie Ann’s footsteps. Only these small pumpkins are pie pumpkins, destined for the tea table rather than pumpkin moonshines.

Ellie's darling dress and apron were handmade by Nana Marjorie Tudor to recreate Sylvie Ann's dress in Pumpkin Moonshine. Of course, braids are topped  by blue satin ribbons as Ellie surveys the progress of the baking pumpkins.

Seth Tudor holds Tasha Tudor's Pumpkin Pie recipe. This is a real, old-fashioned style pie, made with real pumpkin grown in the garden, baked in the cast iron skillet, and mashed by hand. The eggs are from the family chickens, the pie crust rolled out on Tasha's well-used and well-loved marble-top baking cabinet.

A slice of the finished pie on Tasha's antique blue canton china.

What a sweet reward for an afternoon's work, a treasured tradition that combines the best of family farm life in Vermont: three generations meeting in a garden, then a kitchen, and finally, around a tea table as the sun begins to hide low in the mountains.

Reading Tasha Tudor's Pumpkin Moonshine is an equally treasured tradition beloved by generations.
Over Tasha's 70-year career, she wrote and illustrated nearly 100 books, all because of a small gift for her young niece. Sylvie Ann, we thank you for sharing your story with us. 

Tasha Tudor and Family

Monday, September 30, 2013

Heirloom Apples for You at Scott Farm

{Naulahka, home of author Rudyard Kipling}

On a beautiful late September, blue-sky day, I wind my way up a road at the edge of town, beyond the pavement, to the dirt road lined with stone walls. Past abodes of famous writers, and retreats of those who find the Green Mountains the most inspiring place in all of the world. With views like this, how could we not agree with them? 

{Scott Farm}

My destination is Scott Farm, an heirloom apple orchard tucked behind Brattleboro in Dummerston, Vermont. The orchard, which was previously a dairy farm dating back to the 1700s, now offers its fertile lands to the antique apple varieties dating from the 1600s. Preserving these unique and rare varieities, rich in flavor, color, texture, and lore, is the life's work of the orchard keeper Zeke Goodband. 

{Zeke and Natalie}

With over 90 varieties nurtured by Zeke and his team, the Scott Farm is the largest heirloom apple producer in New England. When we press apple cider, Zeke is able to help us get exactly the right apples for our preferred taste combination of astringent, sour, and sweet to make a balanced cider. 
(If you are interested in making your own cider, we recommend this informational booklet to get started)

Zeke himself put together a half bushel box for us of mixed heirloom varieties, truly a tasty treat. We are excited to share these edible pieces of history with you during our fall tours. 

You can see the color just beginning to deepen on the trees. I felt like Tasha should be sitting in this rocker at the orchard, surveying the beauty and reflecting on the history. It feels like big shoes to fill, to see the world with as much beauty as she did. But every moment I practice, the better I get at seeing it.
Let's practice as much as we can during this beautiful Autumn season. 


Monday, September 9, 2013

Winners of our Tasha Tudor Day Giveaway

It is a beautiful, hazy-light late-summer day in Vermont. 

A beautiful day to select three random winners of our Tasha Tudor Mystery Rose plants in celebration of Tasha Tudor's birthday!

Our three winners are: 

I have tried contacting all of our winners but could only get ahold of one! If this is you, please email me at info(at)tashatudorandfamily(dot)com so we can get in touch to send you your plant! 

Congratultions to our three winners and thank you to everyone who entered. 

~Natalie and Tasha Tudor and Family, Inc.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tasha Tudor Day Tea 2013

Happy Birthday, Tasha Tudor! 

Last week was Tasha Tudor's 98th birthday, and we celebrated with a lovely cake and tea party on Tasha's porch.  Winslow came in from pruning the garden, Amy arrived toting baby Katie, Ellie skipped in wearing her new favorite "fairy dress," and I came bearing berries and a cake. Henry the dog settled in a most lucrative spot for potential falling cake crumbs.

At the center of the scene, a lovely white cake stood three layers tall, with black currant jam in between the layers and a whipped vanilla frosting, made even more enticing with a heap of fresh berries. What a treasure fresh berries are, what a luxury!
The white cake receipt is from a Tudor family favorite cookbook, A World of Baking by Dolores Casella.

{Ellie's chalkboard birthday sign for Granny}

Ellie Tudor made Granny a "Happy Birthday" sign on the chalkboard. Ellie walked from guest to guest holding out one color of chalk at a time saying, "Did Granny like THIS color?" Baby Katie was enamored with the lace overlay as she celebrated her first Tasha Tudor Day. It was also a special day for Ellie, as she was gifted (by her parents) a child-size antique pink lustre tea cup of her very own, in Tasha's favorite pattern. She went around the table "reading tea leaves" for the guests, making predictions that involved hiking with Henry in the very near future. Oh, how precious is childhood imagination!

{Winslow Tudor cutting the cake}

It was a hot day, but Tasha delighted in hot weather, and it rarely stopped her from taking her tea hot (though iced was also welcome). Winslow Tudor cut seconds of the cake as Natalie poured seconds of tea, and we laughed and reminisced about previous birthday parties and tea times on this small porch that can hold so many years of memories and so much happiness.
Thank you all so much to those of you who joined in with celebrations of your own, and all of the lovely notes and comments we received. It means so much to know that Tasha touched so many of your lives as she did ours.

Our Mystery Rose Giveaway in honor of Tasha Tudor's birthday is still open until midnight tonight, Wednesday, September 4th. Please CLICK HERE to leave a comment on that post for your entry to be counted. 

Winslow, Amy, Elizabeth, and Katherine Tudor at Tasha Tudor's 98th birthday tea, 2013.

Take joy, 
Natalie and the Tudor Family

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tasha Tudor Day Giveaway

The other night Marjorie and I sipped tea out of pink lustre and spent an evening dreaming of new artistic pursuits. At the Tasha Tudor Museum, Ellie and I colored pictures and she told me she wasn't sure she wanted to grow up because she, "loves doing child-things!" And I thought of Tasha's endless imagination, her fascination with the child-like things of the world and thought that perhaps, I, too, would determine not to grow up, inside, at least (it is quite nearly impossible to stop the outward from fading). To always see with child-like wonder the glorious beauty of the simple things, when not knowing the answer is quite alright, because mysteries are wonderful and everything is full of promise.

Tasha searched a few times to find the particular variety of rose that grows with abandon in her garden, but to no avail. She was hardly disheartened, though, as a "Mystery Rose" is almost sweeter than any other, for the not-knowing. It is a treasure, a gift just for Tasha, perhaps, that alighted on this beautiful landscape in Vermont because it felt at home. Perhaps, like so many do who visit Tasha's, it felt the magic, and, having strewn its rosehips about, decided to make Corgi Cottage home.

This treasured mystery rose is a lovely, delicate pink flower. As it turns out, we have three nice little plants just looking for new, magical homes of their own. We are so excited to give away THREE cut-back Mystery Rose plants straight from the Tudor family gardens here in Vermont.

TO ENTER: You must leave a comment on this post here, with your name and email address (we must have a way to contact you! If you are worried about spam, please write your email address with (at) instead of @). Please note comments are moderated and will not show up immediately. One entry per person. Unfortunately, due to shipping restrictions, this giveaway is only open to US residents. Please note we cannot guarantee the plant won't be shipped with a few native "guests" or pests. This giveaway closes at midnight ET on Wednesday, September 4th. Three winners will be chosen at random.

Feel free to spread the word and link to us on your Tasha Tudor Day blog post if you have a blog! 

Thank you and Happy Tasha Tudor Day, 
Tasha Tudor and Family

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Rainy Day on Tasha's Porch

Another little miniature snippet video...hope you enjoy the view from Tasha's porch during tea time on a rainy day. Green as far as the eye can see! It sure isn't raining this week, because we've hit a heat spell, but we sure have had a rainy summer this year.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Winslow's Tea Story

Tasha Tudor started her garden in Vermont nearly fifty years ago, yet brought to it many decades of prior knowledge and experience. It is a very old garden created with much wisdom. Pleasing to the eye, it possesses plants and a purpose beyond visual appeal. She called it “just a good messy garden.” 

 In spring daffodils, tulips, crabapples, violets and dandelions suffuse with color above new, unmown grass. By June peonies and campanula bloom among an ever rising tide of roses. Most of the plants have a story to tell, a thread of memory or a connection to Tasha’s family.

The blue and white campanula while not rare do not seem to be available in nurseries. They, along with the perennial hollyhocks, came from Tasha’s grandfather. 

Some plants are a mystery. The rose growing against the stone wall and a pear tree in the orchard remain unidentified. Tasha sought their names over the years, but did not seem to mind when they were not to be found.

        Tasha said: “Because I gardened as a little girl, and my mother and grandmother were passionate gardeners before me, I grew up with flowers, knew them by their look and feel, and called them by all their old colloquial names. Dame’s rocket, sweet William, monkshood, and meadow rue.”

She picked herbs spring and summer for cooking. With a basket and long scissors she collected thyme, sage, a few leaves from the bay tree, parsley and chives for soup, and mint to float in iced tea on hot days on the front porch. Behind the house close to the gate she picked current berries for jam.

 Tasha attributed her happiness and longevity to gardening, and spent every possible moment among her plants, and often said that gardening has untold rewards.

Stories and photos copyright Winslow Tudor, July 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Peaceful Pond

It's the middle of the week and the middle of the day. Do you need a few moments of peace? Take in the soothing sounds and sights of this family of geese on our pond. Ahhhh....

So reminiscent of Tasha's illustrations, especially this one in 1 is One


Monday, June 17, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake Skillet Recipe

Dear friends, 

Here we are in the middle of lovely June! We've been cozy-snuggled in for the past few weeks of rain,  but now that the sun has decided to shine for a little bit here in Vermont, the strawberries are ready for the picking! 

This strawberry cobbler is a nice change of pace from pie, and goes together quickly in a skillet or glass pie pan. A skillet would be superior, I'm quite sure, but I didn't have one handy at the moment.

Friday was still a bit soggy and chilly outside, so I opted for tea inside by candlelight. In fact, it's been so rainy and cold I don't think I've had my tea on the porch 'officially' yet for 2013. How about you? I admit a nice rainy day with tea inside and Tasha's candles is quite nice, indeed, though, so I won't complain.

Strawberry Shortcake Skillet Cobbler
recipe adapted from Driscoll Strawberries

 32 oz. strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. flour

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsps. baking powder
6 Tbsps. cold, unsalted butter
Sprinkle of salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 (for a skillet; 350 for glass) degrees F and butter a 10" skillet or baking dish. Mix the filling ingredients and let sit for 15 or so minutes. Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the topping. Cut in the butter until the mixture is fairly well incorporated. Lightly mix in the egg and milk until the mixture comes together. Pour the strawberry mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan. Drop the cobbler mixture on top. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until nicely golden brown. This is best if it is left to cool for 15 or so minutes to let the juices gel. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold with plenty of whipped cream.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Washington's Birthday

It's time for a cup of tea! Join me, and let's wish George Washington a Happy Birthday!

There seems to be a bit of confusion over this wonderful February holiday beloved by Tasha Tudor, and I admit I was confused myself. Some call it President's Day, some use the inclusive Presidents' Day, some call it Washington Day, or Washington's Birthday, but it isn't even Washington's birthday proper. Since Tasha was so interested in this historically significant day because it held not only a delicious cake, but also because her own family history is entwined, I thought we should sleuth out the truth. Here is what I learned:

~George Washington's actual birthday is February 22nd. (born: 1732; died: December 14, 1799)
~Observance of George Washington's birthday began around 1880. 
~However, back in the early 1970s, when lawmakers decided to create three-day weekends with such holidays, moving them to fall on Mondays, Washington's Birthday was moved to be celebrated on the third Monday of the month, regardless of the actual day's date. 
~The day is legally known by the federal government as "Washington's Birthday" and is not called "Presidents' Day" by the US government. Here is the note on the US Office of Personnel Management page: "This holiday is designated as "Washington’s Birthday" in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law."
~There is no official day known as "Presidents' Day" although some people prefer to call the third-Monday-of-February holiday by such a name. Lincoln's birthday also falls in February. 
~Tasha Tudor tells the story of her family's connection to George Washington and the family memories of this day on page 80 of The Tasha Tudor Cookbook.

Tasha Tudor's original illustration of Washington Pie at tea, The Tasha Tudor Cookbook, page 80

So now we know a few more details, though I suppose we haven't really settled anything, because you can still choose to celebrate on the third Monday of February or on the 22nd, though Tasha preferred the 22nd. Regardless, we can focus on the delicious treat of the day: Washington Pie! If you haven't already created your cake (even though it is called a pie; much like Boston Cream Pie), you still have a few days to gather ingredients for the actual birthday on the 22nd. And should you feel inspired to decorate your tea time party like Tasha, with "fake cherries that glistened beautifully, thirteen-star flags, and such an array of sweets! Oh my!"

Happy Birthday, George Washington!