Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Some good reason: First Annual Good Humus Mother's Day Tea

I approached them, that's how it happened. One early March morning I stood at their market table, leaning over bouquets of red-stemmed chard and little bundles of mint, and I asked. Did they have any events up their sleeves? Did they need any help? Did they need someone like me? I had been thinking about baking and catering and stepping out into the world again, and it just so happened they did have plans. They did need my help. The timing, heavens-to-Betsy, was perfect.

I wasn't exactly efficient with this one. I let that go. I spent all of April and the first two weeks of May thinking about the event. It would be held at the Good Humus farm the day before Mother's Day, a late, light, high tea lunch, with wee cakes and tarts, mini quiches and tea sandwiches, and tea, of course. I planned the menu, plotted preparations, tested recipes, and fretted over minutia: would the beets be small and round enough to be called "new moons" or should I just call them "slices." And I remembered again why I can't stop playing with my food. And why efficient is not my middle name. So many possibilities. Such goodness.

Yet, still! I asked my Beloved one day if he thought I should be doing something more important with my time. Like running a non-profit, or curing cancer, or making our dinner. But he responded with the same acknowledgement I started with: I have these visions. Of gatherings. Of classes and teas and soirees, and feasts. The kind of shindigs that celebrate our farms and our food. And the kind of eating and imbibing where my proclivity to make yuzucello and rose sugar can be (finally!) put to wider use. I keep second-guessing myself, but, as my Beloved added, maybe my leaning in this direction is for some good reason.

And this time the good reason was the Mother's Day Tea. It was an intimate affair. They set up tables in the (beautiful, overflowing, abundant) garden , just off the back side of the (beautiful, well-crafted) house . And the head hostesses talked and led informal farm tours, and helped guests make their own farm flower bouquets to take home.

I paused every once in a while during the day and looked through the french doors while guests came and went. This is my community, I thought. These are my people. Sitting, chatting, (cooking, assembling,) drinking tea and nibbling my (!) creations (!!) on a Saturday afternoon. It was delightful. Really - that is the right word. Delightful in that airy, comfortable way. Because the guests seemed as delighted as I was to be a part of it all, to duck under the wisteria until the rain passed, to breath deep the spring air, to taste and relax into the goodness of hard work realized. The garden. Swoon. The archways. Swoon. The care. And what is more, the ease that accompanied it all. I have been to high teas before. And some have been very well done. But this.

From the back of the house, literally, where I cooked and assembled and directed some incredible kitchen doulas, it didn't seem like the tea was "done" at all. Rather, the tea felt like a tea party extension of the farm itself, which, I guess, it was. It felt careful and thoughtful, but in another sense it all felt almost effortless. Again, comfortable. At ease. It had an atmosphere of simple hospitality - generosity and friendliness, and that delight that made it a different sort of gathering. The kind of gathering I was proud to be a part of and hope to emulate in the future.

After we had served, Annie (Good Humus co-founder, hostess, and gardener extraordinaire) insisted she take me around to all the tables and introduce me: Amanda Hawkins of Enchanted Fig, creator of the menu and the person in charge of food. It only took two flutes of champagne to get me out there without twitching.

And there were questions: Was I a professional chef? Did I do this often? Do I have a brick and mortar?

I sputtered only a little.

And then this last weekend: I had missed a few markets in a row because of the tea preparations, and I finally made it back on Saturday. I mentioned my absence to one of my favorite vendors, and she asked what I had been up to while I was away. So I told her.

Oh, she said. Do you cater, then? And I paused.

Well, and laughed. I just made food for the tea, and I am, actually, hoping for more. 

But cater? And I laughed again. And again. Cater? Flashbacks of black and white uniforms, 500-people seatings, goopy risotto, and dry, smelly salmon made me shudder, and reconsider.

Oh, wait, I said aloud. Cater. Like, do I make food for people? My kind of food. My shoulders dropped. Well then, I said. I guess, then, yes. I guess now I do.

Mother's Day Tea Menu

I thought it would be fun share the menu itself. I love menus. This makes me feel like a 1950's housewife, but I can't help it. I slip the paper printout versions from the restaurants I particularly like before the servers collect them. I still have one from a certain Seattle pizza joint and from the bar next door.

As for the recipes, stay tuned for the first installment. I will offer a few recipes over the next few weeks, and I will add a link below for each of the items I post as we go along. Tip: the citrus cake (sans the curd cream and glaze) is already clickable.

Mothers Day Tea
Celebrating with the goods of Good Humus:
Jams, Jellies, and Syrups,
Herbs, Fruits, and Flowers

Farmhouse Orange Juice, Sparkling California Wine, Orange Curls 

Torn Lettuce, Beet New Moons,
Herbs de Provence-Marinated Bella Capra Chevre,
Candied Pepitas, Chive Blossoms, and 
Elderberry Syrup Vinaigrette
Tea Sandwiches and Savories 
River Dog Farm Curried Chicken Salad with Spicy Juniper-Quince Jam
on Country Bread
Open-Face Sal de Mesclada de Capay Cream Cheese topped with Shaved Asparagus
on Black Bread
Nettles Mini Quiche with River Dog Bacon and Rustic Rye Crust 

Pistachio and Crushed Rose Tuile
Strawberry-Thyme Jam Mini Tarts with Shortbread Crust, Whipped Mascarpone,
Fresh Strawberry Ring, and Thyme Flower 
Citrus Layer Cake sandwiched with Lemon Curd Cream, Lemon-Vanilla Bean Glaze 

Special Vegan Options
Open-Face Beet and Orange Marmalade with Avocado Slices on Black Bread
Olive and Caper citrus Tapenade with shaved asparagus on Black Bread
Sliced Strawberries with Vanilla-Coconut Ice Cream 

Cool Water with Ice Moulds of Mint Leaves and Rose Petals


  1. Oh my. This makes me wish I was having my wedding in the Capay Valley instead of up here in Oregon so I could ask you to help me make food. :)

    1. Rose, that would have been so nice! But Oregon will treat you well, I am sure. By the way: Congratulations!