Some recipes and a winner!


It is my pleasure to announce the winner of the drawing for a copy of Sally and Sarah Clarkson’s new book The Lifegiving Home: Linda, who describes home as a shelter of “grace-oriented” relationship (what a beautiful image!). Linda, if you will send me your mailing address via the secure Contact form, I will dispatch this wonderful book without delay!

How I wish I could send a copy to every one of you! And I want to thank you for such wonderful replies to my question: What is the one thing about your place on earth that most speaks “home” to you? I realized as I started to consider the matter myself, just how difficult of a question I’d asked! But upon reflection, I think I would have to say that candlelight and firelight flickering over the faces of people I love is home to me—always has been and always will be.

I do urge you to read through the comments, if you haven’t already. I was touched and inspired by the thoughtfulness everyone brought to this question. So many friendly glimpses into the sacred spaces of your homes. It truly warmed my heart.


And, as promised in my afternoon tea post yesterday, here are a few simple suggestions for making any cup of tea a special occasion:

We are indebted to the British for many things in this world, not the least of which is their glorious clotted cream. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to procure in this country, so when the real thing can’t be had, I content myself with this easy substitute. Granted, it’s not nearly as divine as the original, but it will exalt a humble scone to a thing of decadence:

Mock Devonshire Cream:

Whip ½ cup heavy cream with 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar till stiff peaks form. Then gently fold in ½ cup sour cream. Serve generously* with warm scones or tea biscuits, and, if desired, strawberry jam or lemon curd.

I love finger sandwiches at teatime: they are easy to prepare ahead of time, and a nice selection can be provided for your guests. Here are a few of my favorites:

Cream cheese and olive:

Finely chop about a cup of manzanilla olives with pimentos and blend with 8 ounces cream cheese. Spread onto white or wheat bread from which the crusts have been removed and the slices cut in triangle ‘points.’ Top with another point. (These are especially pretty at Christmas, with all the red and green, but I love them any time of year.)

Cream cheese and pineapple:

Prepare the same as for cream cheese and olive, only add 2/3 cup finely chopped pineapple to the cream cheese in place of the olives. If you are using canned pineapple, be sure to drain before mixing with the cream cheese. (These sandwiches are best on white bread, in my opinion.)

And, finally, one of the simplest and most time-honored of tea treats is good, old-fashioned Scottish shortbread, which can be whipped up at a moment’s notice. You can add any manner of flavorings, from dried cranberries and spices in the winter, to lemon peel or a dash of lavender in the summer. But I like it best plain:


Scottish Shortbread:

1 pound butter
6 cups flour
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup cornstarch

Soften the butter in a large bowl, then sift the dry ingredients over it and mix well with your hands. Keep working the mixture until all is incorporated and nothing is sticking to the sides of the bowl. Place the dough on a cookie sheet and pat into a disk about ½ inch thick. Using a fork, prick a pattern of small wedges, radiating out from the center. Bake at 350 degrees until the edges start to brown, about 30 minutes. Break the shortbread on the pricked lines and sprinkle with granulated sugar before serving.

I hope that you all have a lovely Valentine’s weekend, and perhaps even a pause for a proper cup of tea! 🙂

*I mean that. 😉

photo credit: Mark Geil

11 Responses to “Some recipes and a winner!”

  1. Kelly says:

    Lanier, thank you so much for all this beauty! How inspiring. Maddie and I are planning a Valentine’s tea for her friends and moms on Monday (if the weather is kind) and we were “short” a shortbread recipe until now.

  2. May I please come take tea with you? I think it’s only a week’s drive from here to Georgia. I’d be there in time for afternoon tea… (Loved loved loved your essay over at Art House America yesterday!)

  3. My mouth is watering…thank you for the delectable recipes!

  4. Kim says:

    Lanier, this has been such a magical reminder of the joys of tea. I forget that I can still celebrate on my own, and plan to establish a new tradition with myself as guest.

  5. Josie Ray says:

    Lanier, thank you for sharing your precious recipes with us. They speak the delicacy of springtime and Easter to me. I haven’t “found my feet” in Lent yet this year, but will still, I think, tuck away these recipes for April, to celebrate Resurrection, when it arrives…the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you.

    • Josie Ray says:

      I made a half-recipe of your Mock Devonshire Cream for lunch just now. 🙂 The texture is excellent, having that gentle, unexpected “resist” as does Devon Cream. I didn’t think the flavor was similar when I first tasted it from the bowl, but when I…um…piled it *generously*, per your recommendation, on rich bread, topped with a spoonful of seedless red raspberry jam, it transformed itself into *it.* It had the real taste.

      I will not confess how many of those darling little “The Devon Company” jars are around here, now holding herbs and spices.

      Thank you, again, for your lovely recipes. I look forward to trying the others soon.

      • Lanier Ivester says:

        Hooray! I’m so happy that you liked it, Josie! 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed your ‘review’. 🙂

        • Josie Ray says:

          Dearest Lanier,

          I just have to thank you again for sharing your Mock Devon Cream recipe. It has led me on a series of experiments in the “test kitchen” that just culminated in joy, for this cook who is always on the scent of culinary perfection to share at family gatherings. This has been an unlikely Lenten project ((!), but I didn’t give up desserts this year!), but now the test kitchen is closing for the last two weeks of Lent: Passiontide.

          The stunning success: a vintage gingerbread recipe, topped with a cream-cheese based mock Devon cream, and a spoonful of red raspberry jam. You know when you finally get the combination just right and everything clicks, and your soul goes, “Ahhh!” and your body makes a million little notes all over the recipe regarding whom to share it with and when. Thank you for offering the first clue and inspiration. 🙂

          And a dear, blessed Passiontide to you.

          O come and mourn with me awhile,
          See, Mary calls us to her side;
          O come, and let us mourn with her;
          Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.

          Josie Ray

  6. Linda says:

    DEAR Lanier,
    i have enjoyed “sweet anticipation” ,thanks to you ,as i have waited to receive your Grace Gift of Sarah Clarkson’s book “The Lifegiving Home”.
    It was delivered yesterday afternoon and i just wanted you to know i have it “in hand” and now look forward to set apart time to savor and learn from such wise and wonderful women of God.
    My cup overflows with joy and gratitude. Thank you so very much for the Grace Gift that you are.

    Psalm 34 : 8 “Oh Taste and See that the Lord is Good”

    Rejoicing in His Abundant Goodness with you,
    linda k.

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