At a Garden Tea
By Vanessa Gallagher

Since I was knee high to a grasshopper, I worked beside my mama in the kitchen. We never had much money, but Mama cooked up tasty dishes using vegetables from the garden, fresh eggs from our chickens, and apples from the backyard tree. I'd set a jelly jar of fresh-picked wildflowers on the table to pretty things up.

Just like the day I was picking violets when I ran into Chad James out on the road… but you'll have to read my story, Violets for Vanessa, to find out how that turned out.

Now my friend Sarita’s story is available too. In honor of Sunflowers for Sarita, let’s celebrate with a tropical tea using recipes from her homeland of Puerto Rico. So grab your wooden spoon and let’s get cookin’.

May God Bless Your Tea!

“They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.”  
Psalm 36:8


Vanessa’s Tropical Tea Menu

Caribbean Pasta and Seafood Salad
Guava & Cheese Muffins
Assorted Tropical Fruit
Piña Colada Cake
Mango Tea


Caribbean Pasta and Seafood Salad

1½ tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. elbow macaroni, cooked
½ c. shrimp (cooked)
½ c. diced crab meat (cooked)*
½ c. diced lobster meat (cooked)*
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 tbsp. green pepper, chopped
2 tbsp. roasted red peppers, chopped
2 tbsp. onion, chopped
½ c. celery, chopped
½ c. tomato, chopped
¼ c. stuffed olives, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
½ c. salad dressing or Mayo

Mix lemon juice, olive oil and combine with pasta. Chill several hours, stirring occasionally. Fold in Mayo or dressing and the rest of the ingredients. At this time you can serve or chill for later. Arrange on crisp salad greens. Serves 4 to 6.

* An 8 oz. package of imitation crab or lobster may be substituted for the crab and lobster meat.



Guava & Cheese Muffins

4 eggs
¼ tsp salt
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1½ cups all-purpose flour
12 oz firm white cheese such as queso fresco or Monterey jack, coarsely grated
12 oz guava paste, diced
In mixing bowl, beat eggs and salt. Add cream, milk and oil. Slowly whisk in flour until batter is smooth. Stir in cheese and guava cubes.

Pour into greased 12-cup jumbo/Texas muffin tin, about 1/3 cup batter per cup.
Bake in preheated 425F oven 15 to 18 minutes until golden.
Let cool slightly; remove from tin. Serve hot. Makes 12.



Assorted Tropical Fruit

Bananas, Pineapple, Mangos, Guava, and Papaya may be served on a divided tray or combined in a fruit salad. Toasted coconut may be sprinkled over the fruit.


Piña Colada Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 box instant vanilla pudding & pie filling mix
1 can Coco López Cream of Coconut
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Puerto Rican rum
1/3 cup cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 can crushed pineapple, well drained
*Garnish with any of these. . . whipped cream, pineapple slices, maraschino cherries, and/or toasted coconut.

Mix the cream of coconut and rum together and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350º. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, ½ the coconut cream and rum mixture, oil, and eggs. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in the drained pineapple. Pour into a well greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Cool slightly.

Spread some of the remaining cream of coconut and rum mixture on the surface of the cake (which is the bottom of the cake) before taking the cake out of the pan. Remove from pan and using a table knife, skewer, or ice pick poke holes about 1 inch apart in cake almost to bottom. Brush the cake heavily with the remaining coconut cream and rum mixture. Brush some all around the outside of the cake and heavy on top.

Chill thoroughly then garnish. Store in refrigerator.





A Teatime Blessing

Lord, grant that our time together be
Steeped in serenity, Sweetened by sharing, and
Surrounded by the warm fragrance of your love.

From If Teacups Could Talk by Emilie Barnes
with paintings by Sandy Lynam Clough