Every June, on Midsummer's Eve, we hold a splendid celebration known as the Stillwater Party. Stillwater is the name thought up by my younger son and me for a mock New England sect combining Shaker, Amish, and Quaker qualities. The Stillwaters believe that life should be enjoyed and appreciated and Nature revered.
Recipes (aka: receipts)
The beverage is one of Tasha's specialties. She made it from late spring through late summer, most frequently on the hottest days of the year, usually from July to August. She set the front porch table with a turkey red tablecloth, straw spoons, cups, sugar water, a plate of cookies, and a vase of flowers.
During the 1920s, Tasha participated in outdoor tea parties beneath an old apple tree in Connecticut. Many decades later, she tried to get a cutting from that tree to plant in her garden in Vermont. Upon inquiry she learned that the tree was gone, and had been gone since the hurricane of 1938. Nevertheless, she remembered the characteristics of the apples the tree bore and in time discovered the cultivar, and soon thereafter obtained a sapling. She planted it below and southwest of her front porch. It stands on the edge of the lawn beside the expanse of daffodils that in early spring turn the flattened winter grass into a sea of fragrant yellow. The tree now produces late summer apples excellent for pies.
In honor of Tasha's birthday, we thought it would be a wonderful time to share her favorite birthday cake recipe! You can find this recipe in the highly covetable Tasha Tudor Cookbook (currently out-of-print). In it, Tasha says, "This receipt has been the family birthday cake for as long as I can remember. For many of my daughter Bethany's birthday parties we placed the cake on a wood-shingle raft, surrounded it with flowers, and floated it down our stream. We also had a shingle raft and a candle for each child's sandwich. We positioned the guests downstream, and when the right moment came we would light the candles and send the cake and its flotilla of shingle boats out into the stream. It was dark by then, so you can imagine the surprise of the guests at the sudden appearance of this fairy convoy. Once, the cake took off into a faster current and my son Seth had to wade in to rescue it."
Inspired by the Shakers of New England, Tasha and several friends invented a "religion" called Stillwater (which wasn't so much a religion as an excuse to get together, hold tea parties, and dress up in fancy, antique clothes). "Stillwater connotes something very peaceful, you see, life without stress...Life is to be enjoyed, not saddled with. Joy is there for the taking. That's the first commandment of the Stillwater religion." (Tasha Tudor, The Private World of Tasha Tudor). Every Midsummer's Eve Tasha and her family had what they called a "Stillwater Party" that usually included a marionette show, square dance, and a large bowl of cold, refreshing Stillwater Punch. Enjoy Stillwater Punch after a long day of gardening, swimming, or at your own Midsummer's Eve party. You just might make some new Stillwater converts yourself!
Clover rolls are a lovely accompaniment to a spring dinner! Winslow Tudor writes of them in The Tasha Tudor Family Cookbook:
"A Clover Roll is merely three small balls of bread dough baked together in a muffin pan. After baking they are easily separated into three pieces, and their managable size is useful around a busy or crowded table. Tasha often made these rolls with extra dough from other bread receipts. She had affection for this receipt's name, as she often found four-leaf clovers when she walked through clover patches. She pressed them between pages of the books in her library and it is easier to find them there than out in the lawns. Once she found a seven-leaf clover and hung it in a small frame on her east bedroom wall."
Tasha Tudor always made Hot Crossed Buns to serve at tea on Good Friday. This recipe comes from The Tasha Tudor Cookbook. In it, Tasha writes, "This receipt came from the 1861 edition of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management. It was modified at least sixty years ago, to its present delectable state, by my Scottish nanny, Mary Burnett ("Dady"). Absolutely no other hot cross buns can compare. Just try them and you will agree. Just be careful not to add the butter when it is too hot, as it will kill the yeast.
Double the receipt if you desire more than twelve buns. I always do, as these have a tendancy to disappear when guests or family are about! Also, when I double the receipt I use a total of three packets of yeast for twentry-four buns; the extra yeast thems them lighter."
Tasha loved baking, especially for special occasions like Valentine's Day! Here is the recipe for her beloved heart-shaped Valentine Cake so you can taste the magic yourself!
How is it that no matter how much turkey, stuffing, or cranberry sauce one eats on Thanksgiving, there is always more room for a slice of homemade pumpkin pie? Today we share with you the Tasha Tudor family's own delicious (and wonderfully simple) pumpkin pie receipt from the new Tasha Tudor Family Cookbook!