by Ellery Adams
At Storyton Hall, the fictional setting of the Book Retreat mysteries, tea is served every afternoon in the Agatha Christie Tearoom. Hotel guests line up in the elegant lobby, eager to sample the sumptuous display of mouthwatering treats.
In Murder in the Storybook Cottage, a group of children’s book author and illustrators has convened at Storyton Hall, and Mrs. Hubbard, the resident head cook, is determined to impress the celebrity guests. Knowing that children’s picture books are colorful, whimsical, and charming, Mrs. Hubbard lays a spread that delights the eye as well as the palate.
This tea menu is perfect for even the youngest readers and food lovers. While the adults enjoy cups of hot tea, the kids can sip chilled drinks made of equal parts iced tea and lemonade. The youngest guests should still have their own tea sets, though. After all, it’s more fun to be served from a teapot and drink out of pretty teacups.
Rainbow Tea Service Menu
Rainbow Deviled Eggs
Cheese Sandwiches on Rainbow Toast
Rainbow Fruit Skewers
Rainbow Jell-O Squares
Rainbow Layer Cake
Iced Lemonade Tea
Earl Grey (Hot)
White Tea (Hot)
Mrs. Hubbard has some tips on how to pull off this menu even if you haven’t been preparing over-the-top tea spreads for guests at a luxury resort catering to book lovers.
For the rainbow deviled eggs, you can use an Easter egg dye kit to color your hard-boiled eggs. If you prefer to use food coloring, add ½ cup boiling water, one teaspoon vinegar, and about 15 drops of food coloring to a glass cup or bowl. Submerge each egg for 5-10 minutes. When desired shade has been achieved, remove with a slotted spoon.
The rainbow toast is so easy that the kids can help too. Simply fill five small bowls with milk and add food coloring to each bowl. Using a clean paintbrush, paint pieces of white bread the following colors: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Next, pop the bread in the toaster. You can add whatever fillings you want, or even add the cheese before you toast the bread to make a yummy rainbow grilled cheese sandwich. Note: the paint works best with white bread.
There are several variations of the rainbow Jell-O squares, and no matter how you make them, they will take time. Each color layer must set before you can add the next cream layer, so there’s really no way of avoiding this. However, depending on which type of cream layer you choose, you can shorten your total prep time. Your options for the cream layer include sweetened condensed milk, yogurt, and sour cream methods. Mrs. Hubbard opts for the sweetened condensed milk method. If you’d like to follow an online recipe, click here.
Let’s talk about that rainbow layer cake next. You don’t have to be Mrs. Hubbard to look like a cake baking pro. The Wilton Easy Layers Cake Pan Set produces picture-perfect rainbow cakes, even from a boxed mix. For more info, click here.
Too add rainbow sprinkles to the outside of your cake, here’s a great tip. When your cake has been baked and frosted, let it chill for an hour. In the meantime, line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pour rainbow sprinkles onto the parchment paper. When the cake is sufficiently chilled, turn it on its side and roll it in the sprinkles. When the sides are completely covered, hold it in one hand over the tray and drizzle sprinkles over the top. Viola! Every inch is sprinkle-covered.
Finally, Mrs. Hubbard would want to remind you to savor the moments when you and your loved ones have gathered around a table to share food and stories. Like you, the characters in the Book Retreat Mysteries believe in the power of stories, family, friendship, and food. These fine folks would like to cordially invite you to spend a few days in a fairy-tale setting. Pick up a copy of Murder in a Storybook Cottage and get lost in the wonder and beauty of Storyton Hall.
But remember. There’s a villain in every story. And in this storybook world, a killer is out to ruin everyone’s happily ever after.
Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a top travel destination for book lovers and the perfect spot for literary events. But as a children’s book publisher hosts a gathering there, some folks aren’t going to live—happier ever after or otherwise . . .
Jane Steward’s resort is hopping—not only is Peppermint Press’s conference in full swing, there are also lots of families staying on the premises, bringing their kids to events like a scavenger hunt through the Fairy Tale Forest.
Then a woman dressed like Little Red Riding Hood is found dead from a plot device straight out of a fairy tale—with a rare and valuable copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales in her basket. Not long after, a second victim is killed, with yet another treasure—a volume by Hans Christian Andersen worth thousands of dollars—nearby. It looks like a big bad wolf may be lurking among the guests, and Jane can’t just wait for a handsome prince to come to the rescue . . .