"Come along inside… We'll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place."
–The Wind in the Willows
I love the tradition of tea in the afternoon, especially high tea. Something about taking time to slow down, sip tea, and talk with friends is so counter-cultural that I think making time for tea can be a revolutionary act in our world of busyness and fast food. Bill Huebsch in his lovely book A New Look at Grace: A Spirituality of Wholeness talks about how each day we need a "Holy Pause" — a space when we can be with the moments of the day and allow their holiness to unfold within our imaginations. Tea time often serves this function for me, a chance to catch my breath, to be present to my experience, to listen to a friend.
I'm not at the Abbey as much this season, but when I am you are invited to come over for a cup of tea. We have herbal teas, green teas, black teas, and decaf black teas. Cream and sugar too if you please. If you give me some notice and I am feeling really ambitious, I might make something delightful to eat to go with it. Here's one of my favorite simple and yummy recipes:
4 c. cubed white bread (my favorite for this is a loaf of Challah– also a good way to use up stale bread)
1/2 c. golden raisins (sometimes I substitute dried blueberries or chocolate chips)
2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the bread cubes in the oven. In a large bowl combine bread and raisins. In a 1 quart saucepan, combine the milk and 1/4 cup butter. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes or when the butter has melted. Pour the milk mixture over the bread and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour into greased casserole. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until set in center.
This often tastes even better reheated the next day after the flavors have had a chance to combine.
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts