27 November 2015

THE FOOD

As promised, here's a look at what was on our table yesterday.  We enjoyed it immensely!  And yes, we were very, very grateful to have it and each other.  Any little problems we have are so insignificant in the overall scheme of things in today's world.


My plate



Raspberry coulis for the lamb chops in one of Geneva's many little glass bowls

I kept to the warm tones of ivory, wood, gold and brown for TGV


Waiting in the warm --
lamb chops fresh off the charcoal grill,
Julia Child's Gratin Dauphinois (scalloped potatoes)
and chocolate pecan pie

I found the napkins and the rings last year at the "rocky bottom" clearance at PB after the holidays.  I used to know a lady in Mississippi who always said that:
"rocky bottom" for the final clearance sales.



Simple salad served on the plate with the meal:
grape tomatoes with fresh basil and green onions
marinated in balsamic vinaigrette.



The spread



Sweet Husband's lamb chops were wonderful!

The green vegetable is asparagus, sautéed with bacon.
This is still one of my favorite ways to make it,
still tender crisp, lightly browned. A girl I knew from Kansas taught me this one.  Cut up a piece of thick bacon, sauté that, remove from the pan.  S
auté the asparagus, add back the bacon for a minute, then turn out onto serving dish. 




We enjoyed it all here at this little table in one end of our kitchen that you saw yesterday.  Sorry I forgot to snap a close up of the pie! 


It puffs up while baking -- this was before it sank!
 But here is the one that I took last year of the same pie.  This TGV was totally stress-free, and that is the part I am most grateful for.  




I do not like stress -- 
it is not a good thing, 
I guess.  
(Channeling Dr. Seuss)



26 November 2015

THE GROANING BOARD





By the time you read this, we will probably all have eaten (and maybe imbibed) too much.  Maybe you had a knock-down drag out fight with one of your relatives you don't like but had to invite because they are, after all, family; or maybe the neighbors called the cops because you took it to the street; or maybe your family all really like each other and you read scripture and hold hands around the table and say what each is thankful for, and your little ones never scream and poop their diapers at table or yank the tablecloth overturning the glasses or feed their brussels sprouts to the dog under the table.  


The Ceremonial Turkeys--
the only kind I want on my table!




Whatever!  If you did it your way, and that is your personal family tradition -- well, bless your heart.  That's what it is all about.  Our tradition for the most part of our twenty-five years of wedded (mostly) bliss, involves usually being on our own.  We have a leisurely breakfast of sorts (today he had a nut bar and fruit, I had a cup of coffee), then Sweet Husband is glued to football upstairs in his den while I like to keep an eye on the Macy's Parade on the kitchen TV while I cook, taking my own sweet time.  I also sometimes sip a little bit of a nice Pinot Grigio after 11 o'clock -- hey, I am civilized, after all -- anything heavier and my head might wind up in my plate. 





I realize that a little thing like setting the table correctly is as insignificant as a flea on a dog right now in this world of totally  messed up people trying to take us all back to the Stone Age by whatever diabolical means they can devise, but one thing that really sets my Southern Belle teeth on edge is a table incorrectly set.  Granted, it does not pass my criteria of "Will little children die from it?"  No ma'am, it does not.  However, it seems to me that civility and law and order start at home, and if we can maintain some control over how the table is set, and the proper way to conduct  oneself at the table, maybe in some small way that could contribute to civility and law and order in the greater outside world and global society overall.

On Wednesday I made a final pass through the local supermarket, made a lovely dinner of pork roast, turnip greens, acorn squash, Waldorf salad and sausage dressing; made a chocolate pecan pie for TVG's big feast; and set out a few things for the TGV table.  The table is a little different this year as it is most years, only with some traditional things to keep a stable rudder on the situation, don't you know.  



Setting a proper table may seem like a small thing, but it reminds me that I do have two opposable thumbs, not to mention an appreciation for the finer things, and the fact that humans are a cut above other mammals.  I always use some good china, linens, pretty glass and flatware.  Even if you are of the Chinet and plastic flatware persuasion, you can still set a table properly.  Just do the best you can with what you have.  The table can be a board between a couple of sawhorses, and the tablecloth can be a drop cloth or a sheet.  But if you lay it out correctly, put a few flowers in something, even a tin can or a fruit jar, in the center of the table and maybe even find some candles if it is later in the day or darker -- by George, you can make the whole shebang festive and civilized.



Granted, I would rather great food in a modest setting any day over mediocre food in the most fabulous setting.  I am just saying -- make the effort!  For a number of years I did live alone, and you know what?  Every night when I came home from work, I set my table properly, often with my good silver, nice dishes, and sometimes even the good china, plus a nice goblet, even though the wine back then usually came from a box.  I often had a flower or two and a candle because I thought I was worth it.  Your family or friends will notice that you thought they were worth it, too, if you do this. 


So -- I hope you all have had a lovely Thanksgiving, with lots of good food, time to do what you wanted, whether it was to be alone with just your thoughts or your pets or your special someone; maybe you were surrounded by a noisy mob of bickering relatives.  Holiday observations are not one size fits all, but there is still no reason not to observe the basic proprieties.  It is what separates us from the lower orders.





Come back this weekend and see what was on our table.  It was so simple.  It allowed me to watch numerous episodes of The Guardian on Hulu while sitting on the back porch.  It was warm and very sunny -- a real gem, the kind of day to be appreciated greatly.









23 November 2015

PROBLEM SOLVED (fingers crossed) and A PAINTING

Aunt Margaret



I guess it is official -- iTunes and PayPal don't like each other, so my two friends are divorcing on my account.  Oh well, such is life.

At least I have my email and photos back, and life as I knew it can go on.  

I have been busy, doing what I am not altogether sure, just living life, I suppose.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working on this painting. (Splashing paint on something keeps me sane.)  Using a photo of my late Aunt Margaret when she was young and probably a newly-wed, I painted this thinking I will offer it to her daughter.  She may not want it, but I will offer anyway. If she doesn't, I will be happy to keep it.


This is the old photo I worked from

My aunt was one of the sweetest people who ever lived, a godly woman who was an example of modesty and virtue that young girls today know nothing about.  She was also the beauty in the family, with these huge dark Bette Davis eyes and cupid's bow shaped full lips, always lipsticked a deep red.  Her face was perfectly symmetrical, a photographer's dream, and if she were 21 today, she could take those looks all the way to the bank.  

I could always go to my Aunt Margaret, my mother's sister, when I got crossways with Geneva which was a frequent occurrence.  She was always the voice of reason when my head was about to explode with frustration.  She was also a sympathetic ear when I was trying to cope with the problems of a previous husband who was a total reprobate, the one you know as The Abusive Sperm Donor.  She had her own issues with her life-long  marriage to a very colorful character who was a hard dog to keep under the porch, so she understood, far better than my own mother did.  

She died at the age of 85 about three years after my mother, having the bad luck to inherit the family curse, Alzheimer's.  It totally took her in about a year after it's onset.  She lived at home several years with her daughter and son-in-law, and they took care of her till the last year or so when she had to go to a care home for her own safety and health. 

On my last visit with her, she looked at me blankly, having just woken from a nap in a chair in the living room of the home, and suddenly there was a flash of recognition.  I think she thought I was my mother.  She grasped my arm, and whispered, "Go with you!"    We just walked around with her a while, and then I led her back to the chair where I found her, and she promptly went back to her nap.  Those were the first words I had heard her say in years!  



As you know, I don't consider myself an artist, but I have always wanted to try painting her because her face was so intriguing.  So I did, using this old photo of her in her early twenties as a guide.  I was not trying for an exact copy, just my interpretation of it.  Since the photo was black and white, I took liberties with the clothing, opting to go very light because I wanted that sweetness to come through.  I may still have a few little tweaks to make before I sign, seal and deliver it.




22 November 2015

SHORT LITTLE POST TO SAY HI!

Deep Dish Pizza

This pizza has nothing to do with this post, but I thought you might like a nice photo to start.

I am locked out of my iCloud -- don't even ask!  What that means is that I cannot get your emails right now.  I have to get over to the Apple store today or tomorrow because this is intolerable!  I have about lost my mind with this convoluted mess.

If you need to contact me about something, you can call me if we are telephone buddies, post on my Google+ page, or gmail me.  You could also leave a comment on this blog, and I will get back to you.

Sorry about that!







15 November 2015

HENRY LINK TRADING CO.


 Remember that rattan chair I acquired recently?  It is now in our LR with a different cushion   







I will re-cover the old cushion form --

whenever I get around to it.
Meantime, this will do.




It is all so confusing sometimes! I was very intrigued with this little rattan chair I found in Atlanta, which my cousin then picked up for me after I had thought about it for a (short) while.  



The tag on it said "Vintage Henry Link -- $99".  Dandy.  I know who Henry Link was.  He was one of the founders of Lexington Furniture, having originally founded a company called Dixie Furniture Co.   around 1936.  Lexington now is the parent company to a number of popular brands, among them Tommy Bahama.  The label on the chair under the cushion says "Henry Link Trading Co." which was launched in 2011, according to the website.  It was meant to represent accent pieces from exotic locations around the world and would be made in the Philippines. This chair was made there, according to the label.  



This is the confusing part:  there is another sticker label which was  affixed to the chair on the frame under the webbed support for the cushion:  it is dated 2002!




It is my understanding that "vintage" means anything older than twenty years, but not older than one hundred years, which classifies it as an antique.  Am I wrong about this?


In the mid-70s, I bought a dresser, mirror and a vanity table in the country French style, pieces you have seen on this blog before.  They have been painted again, the dresser a couple of times, and so do not wear their original finish.  The brand was considered a moderate line of furniture.  Often it was used in children's rooms.  This line would now qualify as "vintage."



I am using the old Henry Link dresser as storage in my dining room.
It is painted in Annie Sloan chalk paint, "Emile."  
You can see that there is some wear and tear on the piece.
I cleaned it up, but it still needs a little refurbishing.
I'll get to it!
Don't rush me.
I am not sure why they called this chair vintage if it was made in 2002.  It is only thirteen years old if that date means when it was made.  Isn't that false advertising?  Oh well, I still like it.



I bought the chair because I really liked it, anyway, not because I thought it was valuable.  I think it adds a nice little grace note to my living room.  I will make it a new cushion when I get around to it using the old cover as a pattern.  For now, I used one I already had which more or less fits.












Following are some excerpts from websites about the company:



The name is a nod to one of the company's founders, Henry Link. Link helped create the Dixie Furniture Co., a forerunner of Lexington, in 1936 and went on to form the Henry Link Corp. in 1964, which designed casual wicker home furnishings. He was inducted to the American Furniture Hall of Fame in 1998. 




Henry Link Furniture is a brand whose exotic designs draw inspiration from every corner of the globe. Signature pieces are hand-crafted by artisans using unique materials, decorative elements and distinctive finishes to create one-of-a-kind pieces. The brand reflects the legacy of Henry Link, one of Lexington Home Brands’ original founders, and a collector with a keen eye for innovative design. Today, our well- traveled and experienced design team continues that legacy by searching out remarkable items that will capture your imagination. For those who are collectors at heart, drawn to the excitement of discovery and the appreciation of fine home furnishings, Henry Link Trading Co. is your passport to the world.




HENRY LINK 
Lexington Home Brands
Attn Consumer Services Department
PO Box 1008
Lexington NC 27293-1008
tel: 800-LEX-INFO (539-4636) - an automated system, for obtaining dealer locations.
Henry Link is a real person. During the 70's the furniture industry executive loved to travel in search of new and exotic styles and designs. Lexington popularized his most popular treasures in the casual, breezy "wicker" look. From the beaches of Costa Rica to the jungles of the Congo, the open, airy wicker style was a symbol of a carefree lifestyle that Lexington wanted to capture in practical designs that could be produced for the average consumer. They were more than successful and the name Henry Link became synonymous with quality and value in wicker. Today's Henry Link collection includes bedroom pieces in wicker, rattan, bamboo, metal, glass, stone, and leather and a wide range of styles. I'm disappointed that Lexington chose to use MRP pricing on this wonderful furniture, but even at that, it is still a good buy. 





Recently in Fairhope, I ran across this semainier, a 7-drawer chest meant for lingerie, which is a member of the same Henry Link family of the pieces I have.  They are not easily found, but this one was way overpriced given it's condition  so I did not buy it.

    Semainier | Define Semainier at Dictionary.com

    dictionary.reference.com/browse/semainier

    Dictionary.com
    Semainier definition, a chest of the 18th century having seven long drawers: originally meant to hold a week's supply of clothing.

I am linking up to Brenda for Tweak it Tuesday at Cozy Little House.
For Wow US Wednesday, I am linking to Kim at Savvy Southern Style.

Last, I am linking to this group for share your style!

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13 November 2015

IS IT SOUP? OR STEW?


Whatever it was, soup or stew, it was delicious!  Filling, but not heavy at all, exploding with flavor -- I saw this recipe on Fabby's Living, and I am going to publish it just as I copied it.  Then I will tell you what I changed to come up with this Cajun version.



"Harvest Stew with Smoked Sausage Soup"

Ingredients:

• Canola or olive oil
• 1 (12 ounce) package of beef smoked sausage, sliced into circles
• 1 onion, diced
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• ¼ paprika
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• Pinch salt
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 2 medium-large carrots, peeled and diced
• 2 medium-large parsnips, peeled and diced (I used pumpkin instead, as we don't like parsnips)
• 2 ribs celery, diced
• 6 baby yellow potatoes, cubed (skin on)
• ½ pound (8 ounces) diced butternut squash
• 6 cups chicken stock
• 1 cup chopped kale
• 1 tablepsoons chopped parsley

Preparation:

-Place a large soup pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of oil; one hot, add in the sliced sausage in a single layer, and allow it caramelize and brown on that first side (a few minutes), then stir and allow it to further caramelize for about another 2 minutes.
-Add in the onion, and stir to combine; saute together with sausage for about 3-4 minutes, until lightly golden; add in the Italian seasoning, paprika, black pepper, and pinch of salt, plus the garlic, and stir to combine.
-Next, add in the carrots, parsnips, celery, potatoes, and butternut squash, and stir to combine with the sausage and onion mixture; next, add in the chicken stock, and bring to the boil.
-Reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the stew to simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes (it can bubble, but don’t have it simmering too, too vigorously).
-Turn off the heat, and check to see if any additional salt/pepper is needed; add in the kale and the chopped parsley, and stir to combine, allowing the kale to wilt into the soup for a few minutes before serving; serve with good quality bread.




I did ask Fabby if it was OK to reprint, but I never got a reply.  (I have since discovered that she is out of the country for the birth of a new grandchild, and she is taking a blog break.)  I hope she doesn't mind, but this is just too good not to re-share, especially with chilly weather on the way.  



Some of the ingredients I did not have, and some I don't care for, like the parsnips and kale.  So --here are my changes.

I used Andouille, a very spicy Cajun sausage instead of the smoked beef sausage.  I substituted fresh spinach for the kale, which you throw in right at the end.  I used regular Idaho potatoes peeled and cubed.  I left out the pumpkin, Italian seasoning, paprika, parsley, salt and pepper, but instead used a teaspoon of Tony Chashere's Cajun Seasoning which has plenty of salt and pepper in it.  Between the seasoning in the sausage and the Cajun seasoning, it was plenty zippy!  



If you read through the recipe you see that you add things as it cooks so that the vegetables do not overcook.  That makes this a good recipe to do while you are doing other things in the kitchen or sharing a glass of wine with your husband while watching the evening news as it simmers.  

Don't mind that sad little sunflower!
I served this with a little baguette crisped up in the oven with lots of fresh garlic-butter, and it was sooooooo good!  Sweet Husband had a beer with his, and I had a glass of red wine.

Really, you should give this a try.  If you like Cajun style food and spicy flavors, you will love this.





I think this could be very adaptable to other ethnic flavors.  For instance, you could use chorizo and a can of Rotel tomatoes and use tortilla strips for a Mexican version.  

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Right after I published this last night came the awful news of the horrendous attacks in Paris.  Let's keep the families of the dead and wounded in our hearts and prayers.  

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