Thyme for Tea

Tea Parties: October: An All Hallow's Eve Tea


Lore

Trefoil, Johnswort, vervain, dill
Hinders witches of their will.
—William Shakespeare

On October 31st, the eve of All Hallows (meaning all-hallowed, or very holy) Day, people in Northern Europe and England celebrated Hallowe'en. In Celtic times, the festival had a supernatural association, for it was believed that the souls of the dead revisited their homes for food and shelter. Later, these ideas were associated with magic, and witches were thought to summon the dead. One herbal tradition from the medieval period: Torches were made from stalks of dried mullein dipped in tallow (hence the folk name "hag's taper" for mullein) and carried, with chants, to ward off witches.

Decorations

Hallowe'en decorations are available everywhere, but if you want to include some special Hallowe'en herbs, try these ideas:

  • Hang small bunches of dill and vervain (verbena) over the tea table to ward off hungry spirits, or as take-home party favors.

  • Purchase a cinnamon broom and decorate with small bunches of goldenrod, artemisia, autumn leaves, and grasses.

  • Arrange stalks of partially dried mullein (you'll find these along many country roads) in a tall vase, with goldenrod and grasses.

Menu

Recipes

Tomato and Dill Sandwiches

  • fresh tomatoes, sliced very thin
  • fresh or dried dill weed
  • mayonaise
  • white bread

Cut the crusts off the white bread. Wash and slice tomatoes. Spread a thin layer of butter on the bread (to keep the filling from soaking through) and then mayonnaise. Arrange tomato slices on a slice of bread and sprinkle dill weed over it. Place a slice of bread over the top and cut into four pieces (squares or triangles).

Carrot Cupcakes

  • 3 cups washed, grated carrots (about 1 pound)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup chopped nuts
  • ½ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325°. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake cups. Sift flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar. Add oil, carrots, and vanilla and mix well. Add flour mixture and nuts and raisins. Blend until just mixed. Fill cups 3/4 full. Bake about 25 minutes. Cool and frost.

Frosting

  • 1/3 cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup butter (½ stick) or margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • food coloring (yellow, orange, red)

Let cream cheese and butter or margarine come to room temperature. Add vanilla and blend, then beat in sugar. Separate into three small dishes and add food coloring. If the frosting is still too stiff, add a few drops of milk. Frost. Decorate with chocolate chips, colored sugar, etc.