Cuppa Fancy-Pants Dishes

High Tea by Lucas AlexanderWe had a fundraiser. A High Tea at church. I love and hate these shindigs.

First the love: 

The rule for being a hostess for a table is simple: NOTHING HAS TO MATCH. So the women who “mother” a table drag out every bit of their fancy garage-sale-finds, heirlooms, and grandma-gave-it-to-me linens.

It’s charming. It’s lovely. It’s so much work. And It makes me as nervous as a fingerless-short-armed tyrannosaurus to pass around their delicate plates which are often as translucent as paper. That’s probably how the tradition of cutting off the bread crusts got started… so the added crust-weight of a pile of cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches (who thought of this combo?) wouldn’t make a heritage plate shear into eleven pieces when it’s lifted.

The amazingly architected cups (with bone-thin saucers) hold 4.3 oz of liquid which is about two good sips. If we were drinking like we were sitting at a Starbucks, the “Table Mother” would need arms like an octopus to constantly refill cups, but according to the Tenant of Tea rules (which were secretly handed down from southern woman to southern woman, allowing a sort of snobbish superiority over uncoached Yankees, whose participation in the Boston Tea party created a sort of unlimited right to tea supping),  well tea rules dictate that a woman eats BEFORE she goes to a party. Thus she will only sip 2.4 oz of tea and nibble a quarter of a tiny scone with clotted cream.

Fortunately, this is Oregon, and the need to survive a frontier of logs, beavers, and 8 months of rain has left us with a culture that allows the delicate plates to be piled high with savories and at least 2 pots of tea grace the table: caffeinated and unleaded.

And then comes the guilt

I keep telling myself I should invest in some tea service doo-daas and help out with the serving. But I don’t possess a Martha Stewart gene. Honest to Pete, I’m too lazy. The only fancy plates I have are boxed in attic. They’re the type every Lutheran church possesses and doesn’t use anymore because we church ladies have saved soup labels and box tops and bought new sturdy stuff that fits in the dishwasher better.

So I buy tickets to the tea. I love going and nibbling at the dainties (because, of course, I’ve eaten beforehand). The admission is worth it when I think about myself handwashing/drying every saucer and cup, and then wrapping it and putting it away.

And lemon curd. I love lemon curd. So I’m glad someone organizes a tea, but now that Downtown Abbey is off the air, perhaps life will change and the work of the afternoon teas will go away?

Or perhaps not?  Because what else can be done with all those fragile dishes? Perhaps some things won’t change?

Do you have fancy-pants dishes? Do you use them?

Dishwasher Wars

Unwashed dishes in a sink; an authentic situation.

Load according to whose side you’re on

If you volunteered for clean-up at the church Fall Festival, then you
need to choose a side in the dishwasher wars about:

 WHAT NOT TO PUT IN THE DISHWASHER

It’s the church women who ignore the list of No-Nos on the
wall over the machine. Years of dipping their hands in hot water and grease-eating
sulfates have hardened their kitchen-warrior attitudes.

 Vera says:  “If a dish won’t stand up to a good scalding, then it hasn’t earned a spot at a potluck dinner.”

 That’s not meant to be harsh. It was actually the men who put up the list. They frequently try to explain how the washer works….

WALT: “Now, look here. Most dishes can’t stand the heat.  This machine gets so hot, you could wrap salmon filets in foil, run ‘em through a couple of cycles, and they’d be cooked. Completely cooked!”

 VERA: “Oh good grief. That sounds like something you’d do.
You must have stock in the detergent company if you want us to hand wash
everything.”

 The men’s list of “Taboo Items” include:

  • Wooden Stuff
  • Plastic stuff
  • Fancy stuff/Crystal/chinaware

 There’s more, but The Ladies have
crossed them off the list (even though they ignore the list).

  •  *Cast iron skillets
  • *Insulated travel mugs
  • *Teflon

 VERA: “What kind of an idiot would put a cast iron skillet in a dishwasher? It’d turn it into a rusty doorstop. Not even you would do that, Walt.”

 WALT: “Nope. I never wash any of my cookware.”

 VERA: “I have no doubt.”

 So the kitchen debate continues with each event. It makes for interesting clean up.

 In the spirit of controversy some joker has added a few “Allowed” items on the list.

OKAY TO WASH ON TOP
RACK

  • *Toothbrushes
  • *Baseball hats

 The Ladies haven’t marked off these items. Vera says…
“JUST PUT ANYTHING BUT A PRICELESS ANTIQUE IN THE DISHWASHER AND FORGET ABOUT IT.”

 After all, the dishwasher was invented by a woman who got tired of the servants chipping her fine china.

A hand crank dishwasher.

 Josephine Cochrane is said to

An electric dishwasher. Both were in use in 1917

have exclaimed, “If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine,
I’ll do it myself!”

 In 1886 she created a
motorized washer. Her company is now part of Kitchen Aid.

 I don’t know if Ms. Cochrane was Lutheran, but I bet if she were here…

she’d ignore “The Not Allowed List” too.