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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Time for a Blue Monday Supper for Two

Blue and white china was on my mind today. I have many pieces that I have collected over the years and I will show them all to you in one of my future blogs. However, today I am using only enough for an intimate supper for two.

Blue and white china is popular all over the world - I can certainly see why!

The blue and white dinner plates are Alfred Meakin’s “Edinburgh” pattern. This is near and dear to my heart, because my great-grandmother was a Cameron and I love all things Scottish. The Scottish theme, also, will be another blog – probably one of our Motif Mondays. Edinburgh is a wonderful place and I have had the opportunity to visit the city on my travels, but I have never made the pilgrimage to the Highlands. I am looking forward to searching for my Cameron roots there some day and, perhaps, I can search for more blue and white, as well!

The cobalt blue charger is from Horchow and the lovely white plate is a dinner plate in the Lenox “Opal Innocence Carved” pattern that was bought at Dillard's.

The cobalt blue goblets are from Horchow, also.

The bread and butter plates were made by EIT and were designed by Will or William Mellor (1851-1931), who was an English painter. The plates show a picture of “The Old Curiosity Shop”. I really do not remember where I bought them, but I feel sure that it was in an antique shop or at an antique show. The butter paddles were a discount store purchase.

The table is covered with a rose colored tablecloth. I have always loved the way that blue and white china looks against that color. On the matching napkins are blue and white porcelain napkin rings, which were purchased at an import shop. I have only four of them and so wished that I had bought more!

The small crystal and sterling compotes are from Duchin Creations. My mother gave me one years ago and, recently, my daughter found a matching one for me. I was thrilled!

The flatware was part of my grandmother’s silverplate collection. It is “Presentation” by S.L. and G.H. Rogers Oneida. I chose it for these place settings, because part of the pattern looks like tiny blue (!) bells to me.

It is wonderful that the silverplate collection included iced tea spoons. We Southerners love our sweet tea!

The centerpiece is a blue and white vase with the simplest of flowers – the first blooms of the season from one of our Bradford pear trees.

The crystal candle holders were bought at a Mikasa outlet, before the company closed all of their stores.

The table is set and, now, I just hope that I can find a recipe to cook for supper that will do justice to the pretty settings!

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Waiting for the Breakfast Pies!

After putting away the colorful dishes from my Valentine's Day and Blue Monday settings, I wanted some relief from all that color. What a better way to solve that problem, than to set an all white table.

This table is set for four people who are enjoying some fruit and bread (biscuits, of course - I am a southerner, after all!), while waiting on the main attraction, "Breakfast Pies" (recipe to follow).

Don't you love how the early morning light streams through the shutters?

The tablecloth is an old one of mine and the white placemats and napkins are purchases from Belk. I used a square silver napkin ring and an addition to the place white napkins - lace doilies, which look like tiny aprons.

The main dinnerware service is "Yardley" by Mikasa. The only exception is the "Sunflower White" plate by Clay Art, which holds the ramekin full of strawberries. The ramekin is from Pier I.

Both crystal patterns are from Schott Zwiesel. The water goblet is the “Delilah” pattern, but I do not know the pattern of the juice glass. I purchased 8 of these at Tuesday Morning a few years ago and there was not pattern name on them.

On the bread and butter plate, I used a butter knife from the stainless flatware that I chose as a bride. It is "Cantata" by Oneida. When the first purchases were made, it was bought by the piece only. It is a classic, since Oneida has never stopped making it, but now it can be bought in sets.

One way to make your guests feel special is to present them with an individual domed butter server. I bought these at one of the kitchen outlet stores.

The white flatware is from Wal-mart.

I love the way that all of the whites mix – everything from “white” white to almost cream. The urn that holds the flowers is a purchase that I made years ago and holds white mums, white daisy mums and white tulips. The tulips give me hope that spring is just around the corner!

I hope that you will enjoy this break from color, before winter is swept away and our senses are filled the color and fragrance of spring!
I, also, hope that you enjoy the Sausage and Egg Pie recipe. It is one of my favorites, but there is a disclaimer – these pies cannot be classified as “health food”!

Sausage and Egg Pie
Two 8 inch pie shells, unbaked
12 ounces of Mozzarella cheese, grated
One pound medium or hot sausage
3/4 cup of milk
Four large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Grate cheese and sprinkle over the bottom of the pie shells. Brown and drain sausage.
Sprinkle sausage over cheese. Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over sausage. Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool a few minutes, then cut into “pie” wedges and serve.

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- Diane

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Fifteen-minute Frosted Potpourri Experiment

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I have heard people get roses for Valentine's Day. You might be one of those lucky people. What are you going to do with them as they die? Just throw them out? 

Maybe not this year. Why not try to make your own potpourri? 

Being that I had no handy rose petals lying around, I bought these rose petals at Kroger. There they sat, unused on the shelf after Valentine's. Pitiful. So, being a person who has never made potpourri, I decided to would see if I could do it JUST with what I had around the house. Let me preface this by saying I know that there are better and more professional ways to accomplish this for potpourri aficionados. However, the goal of this post is for those of us who sort-of want to save the flower petals but who aren't going to elaborate expense or effort to do so. :)

There are many websites that tell you how to dry roses or make potpourri in the microwave or just by hanging them somewhere out of the way like your laundry room. They require - or strongly suggest - silica gel, (which I don't happen to have saved from my shoe boxes), or orris root powder, (which I didn't bother trying to buy). Salt was suggested in addition to either to help flowers retain their color.

 Also, I had read an article about achieving a glossy look with high-gloss hairspray. I had hairspray, believe it or not. ( I have children who perform on stage - dance, theater, etc.) But, I still didn't have a drying medium other than the microwave alone. It seems the experts think the microwave needs some help. The idea of glossy rose petals made me think of frosted, glittering rose petals. So, thinking about what I had on my shelves, I decided to see what would happen with salt by itself.

I removed the rose petals from the box and placed them in a bowl. I poured salt over them - maybe a third of a cup. I confess. I didn't measure. (That's what makes me a great cook of main dishes and sides and a terrible baker; in baking, measurements MATTER.) Anyway, I threw away the petals that had any obvious brown or dry areas. That turned out to be a good decision. The parts that I missed had to be removed later anyway.

I put my mixture in the microwave, for 30-45 seconds at a time. 

I ended up with something like this after about 4-5 rounds in the microwave. At this point, any brown parts I had missed earlier were pretty obvious as they were mushy. So I removed them. I tossed between each round, separating petals that were stuck together by their own moisture. (This made clear to me why the experts recommend only drying a few at a time and the need for a desiccant.)

At this point, I shook out almost all of the salt and separated the petals onto a paper towel. One more round in the microwave.

Surprisingly, even with the salt, the petals smelled great! But I wanted to add something else. From my reading and available stock of scents laying around the house, I had perfumes and diffuser oils to choose from. I grabbed the nearest one, sprinkling the oil onto the almost-dried rose petals.

I tossed the now fairly brittle petals and shook the salt out in a bag, carefully removing the sparkling petals.

I placed the rose petals in a crystal bowl. They glistened in the soft afternoon light. I never tried the high gloss hairspray, but I bet it would make an especially nice touch around the winter holidays.

Surprisingly, the roses still smell wonderful!  I have let them sit a few days, and they have retained the scent. I doubt they will last months on end, but I could always add more oil or perfume later. 

My little project took about 15 minutes would only cost about a third of a cup of salt and a little diffuser oil - IF you had been given some roses!  :)

- Andrea

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