Sunday, September 26, 2010

My new chair

For this Metamorphosis Monday I am sharing my new chair. When most everyone is changing out decor for Fall, well, I add in Fall to what is already there and sometimes something new.

Many months ago I found a gorgeous crewel embroidered fabric and I knew I had to use it somewhere in my house. Hopefully, on a chair that may or may not have  needed being reupholstered. Welllllllllll, that didn't work out so well because I only bought five yards of this fabric. What was I thinking??????

My next option was to find a chair that could be recovered with a minimal amount of fabric. I was visiting a local upholstery store and while talking to some decorators they told me about this line of furniture that allows you to send them your fabric. Who knew???

I decided upon a French Bergere' chair with the wood  finished in a driftwood stain. Here's my new chair.

I was so very pleased with how it turned out.

An up close look at the embroidery and have I mentioned that I REALLY like floral's. They make me happy.
The back has such beautiful detail work as well.

Here's how it looks in the room.

I like mixing prints and plaids because I think it gives a warm and comfortable feel to a room.

I am linking to Susan's party at Between Naps on the Porch.  I am also linking to Be Colorful hosted by Pam. Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cheese-Topped Onion Soup

Today I am sharing a recipe from a new cookbook by Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table.

I have always used Julia Child's recipe for French Onion Soup, the same one my mother always used until I bought this book. This recipe was a little different in that it used chicken stock instead of beef stock. I thought it was not quite as heavy as when I have used beef stock. I think I like Dorie's recipe better. If you haven't picked up this book I highly recommend it. It is definitely a keeper and I am looking forward to trying other recipes from this book.

Preparing a French Onion Soup requires a little patients since you need to take the time to slowly cook the onions. Following this recipe you can't miss.

cheese-topped onion soup

4-5 large Spanish onions (about 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups chicken broth
Freshly ground white pepper
6 slices country bread
About 2 tablespoons Cognac or other brandy
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere, Comte' or Emmenthal (6 ounces)

Using a long chef's knife, cut 1 onion in half from top to bottom. Lay it cut side down on the cutting board, cut it lengthwise in half again, leaving it intact at the root end, and then thinly slice crosswise (discard the root end). Repeat with the remaining onions.

Put the olive oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot and put the pot over low heat. (I use an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven.) When the butter is melted, add the onions and garlic, season with salt, and stir with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they are a deep caramel color. Have patience; depending on the heat and the onions, this may take an hour or more. And don't be tempted to try to speed things up, because if you burn the onions, your soup will have a bitter taste. On the other hand, if you don't get the onions really brown, your soup will be pale in both taste and looks.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir for a minute or so to cook away the flour's raw taste. Pour in 1/3 cup of the wine and stirring to pick up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pot, let the wine cook away, a matter of a minute or two. Pour in the chicken broth and the remaining 2/3 cup wine, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the liquid just simmers, partially cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes. Check the soup for seasoning, adding white pepper and more salt if needed. (You can set the soup aside for up to 2 hours, until serving time, or refrigerate it for up to 3 days; bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes before continuing.)

Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and have six deep ovenproof soup bowls at the ready.

If necessary, cut the slices of bread so that they fit into your soup bowls. It's up to you whether you want the bread to almost cover the surface of the soup or to float in the soup like a large crouton. (For true soupe a' l'oignon gratinee Paris-style, you want the bread to cover the entire surface, and you hope that the cheese will melt and bubble so exuberantly that some of it will stick to the sides of the bowls.) Place the bread on the lined baking sheet and broil just until the slices are toasted; flip over and color the other side.

Remove the bread and put the soup bowls on the baking sheet. Pour about 1 teaspoon Cognac (use more or less according to your taste) into each bowl. Ladle in the soup, top each with a slice of bread, and cover the bread with the grated cheese. Run the soup under the broiler just until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately, while the soup is brulante.

I found this to be an excellent soup and pared with a Mixed Green Salad and perhaps a good bottle of wine it makes for a light dinner.

Today I am joining Michael Lee at Designs by Gollum. There are many wonderful participants of Foodie Friday sharing some great recipes. Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Summers End

Here in the South we still have many more hot and humid days ahead but they say that Fall is headed our way soon. Here in N FL we do enjoy a couple of months of cooler temperatures before the colder months arrive. So for a little while longer we can enjoy evening dinner parties outside. This one happens to be with family.

I enjoy my screened porch most all year round. The mosaic piece hanging to catch the morning sun was a gift from my husband many years ago. It was done by a local artist. Since I have glass doors going from the kitchen to the porch, I can enjoy the moasic from the inside as well. When the morning sun is coming up and shines through the mosaic it is beautiful.

The tablecloth and napkins were a purchase I made last year at William Sonoma.

I've used my Villroy & Boch white dinner plate with the Vietri Foglia salad plate, and my Hotel silver from Horchow.

I found these charming little napkin rings at one of my favorite places to shop, Boxwood in Atlanta, GA. I love the leaves with the acorns.

The stemware has pinecone fronds and pinecones etched on them. We had this same stemware at our farm in S GA and I liked them so much that I bought some for home as well. I don't even know who makes them and I found them while shopping in Thomasville, GA but they certainly look appropriate to our area. Our farm is actually a Tree Farm and we do grow Pine Trees, acres and acres of them.

I rarely use blues in my house but found this darling little candle holder while on a retail therapy trip. I thought it looked great with the mixture of colors from the tablecloth. When the sun started to go down we were able to light it and it was lovely low light.

The double doors lead directly into my dining room.

And just to the right of the painted window is the door that leads into the kitchen. As you can tell there is a circular movement so this allows me to use this porch a lot even if we have more guests than can be seated in the dining room they still feel a part seated here with the French doors left open which I often do.

I had to add a pic of one of my orchids that is blooming. I very often have hanging ones bloom as well as potted ones and they get moved around whether on this porch or inside.

Today is Tablescape Thursday and I am joining our gracious hostess, Susan at Between Naps on The Porch. Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again.

My front porch

I had a blogging friend leave a comment about my front porch. I have recently taken some photos of my front porch so I thought I would share them.

I always enjoy my front porch almost year round. I took these photos on 9/11 in honor of those who had lost their lives but never posted them. Recently a blogger shared with me that she was looking for ideas for her front porch I thought it an excellent time to post these pictures. I hope she can draw some ideas from my photos. Mine is not a huge front porch, it is not very wide but I do have two areas that we enjoy, the rocking chairs and on the opposite end of the porch is a swing.

I love sitting on my porch watching all the passer-bys. And I am thoroughly enjoying my new landscaping, it is beautiful and I love sitting outside enjoying the view of my English garden.

We enjoy our rocking chairs most often when the sun goes down and there is a little breeze which does happen here in the South. The hanging iron piece with the candle in it hanging between the rockers, I bought at Boxwood in Atlanta. One of my FAVORITE places to shop. This particular piece came from New Orleans and it is very old.

I very often enjoy my afternoon tea here but I also enjoy having cocktails here as I watch most of my neighbors going home from work in the afternoon. And I always have a beautiful pillow in my chair. This fabric of the pillows is a reproduction of an 1800's Williamsburg print.

This old iron container holds an old fashioned plant, a very rare cleome. It has a purplish bloom that is just getting ready to open up.

At the other end of my porch I have a swing that also holds some complimenting pillows. Alas, the swing was out being repainted which is why I have no pictures of it but will soon. A big front porch is truly a Southern delight.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again. I am joining Outdoor Wednesday, our host is Susan at a Southern Daydreamer and there are so many interesting participants to view by  clicking here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back Door Guests are Best

Today is Tabletop Tuesday hosted by Marty at A Stroll Thru Life and I am joining in a little late but joining. Today I will share with you my back door entry and a tiny part of my Fall decor.

This is a favorite piece of furniture and it has been moved to many different rooms but I like it greeting my guests best.

Being the Southerner that I am I love anything with a Magnolia on it. The wall hanging above was a gift from my husband many years ago. The lamp is an antique, probably the smallest lamp in my house and also the most valuable. It's value comes from having the matching finial still in tact. Of course, the photo of my Mom and Dad and also my oldest son are always on this table.

The Pear with it's Fallish color was something I had no idea how I was going to use it. I had stored in the back of my head all those wonderful ideas shared by participants of Marty's Cloche Party and I put those ideas to good use.

I had some Fallish looking berries so I used those as well. I think it made for an interesting Fall table decor.

I stepped back from the back door to get a better view of what my back door guests view as they walk inside.

Thank you for visiting my blog and do come again.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cooking 101

My whole life I have never been one to care much for Meatloaf. However, I have never known a man that didn't absolutely love a good meat loaf. Many years ago I was on a quest to find one that my family would like but also one that I had to really enjoy myself.

Now I have tried many meatloaf recipes from one my mother in law use to make to several of Martha Stewarts recipes including one that had minced carrots in it and wrapped in bacon. Now that was a good recipe but not one that I would prepare on a regular basis when my family had that hankering for Meatloaf.

A few year ago a friend gave me this recipe that she had acquired from her mother in law and it is delicious. It has truly become a family favorite. I'm not one to add everything in the refrigerator to muddy up the taste of good ground round but this one is excellent.

My Favorite Meatloaf
 Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds ground round

1/2 pound ground pork

1 onion, chopped

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup chili sauce, (I use Heinz)

1 cup water

2 teaspoons vinegar

3/4 to 1 cup plain bread crumbs

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Mix beef, pork, onions, egg, half of chili sauce,  bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Form into a loaf and place in a 9X13-inch baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

 In a small bowl, combine the rest of the chili sauce, water, vinegar mustard, and brown sugar. Stir until smooth and pour over the meat in the oven. Continue baking for 1 hour. Baste occasionally.

  Out of the oven and it is moist and delicious. I think the biggest difference in this meatloaf are two things, there is just the right combination of ingredients to not overwhelm and also the use of the Chili Sauce.

Pared with a pot of green beans and some fingerling potatoes and you have comfort food at it's best. For the green beans, I brown two chopped pieces of Maple Bacon, saute' one medium onion until slightly carmelized, pour in a quart of good chicken stock (I use Kitchen Basics), deglaze the pan, add in cut up green beans and fingerling potatoes, bring back up to a boil, place a lid on top and simmer until tender.

This is pure heaven to my family and I believe comfort food at it's best. I hope you will  try it the next time your family is hungry for Meatloaf.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blueberry Cake

Today is Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum and I am joining in this event along with many other bloggers who share some wonderful and tasty recipes. You can see other participants of Foodie Friday by clicking here.

This recipe for Blueberry Cake was shared by a blogger friend a while back but she did this cake in cupcake tins. The blogger is Martha at Lines from Linderhof who always shares some wonderful recipes. Today she too is a participant of Foodie Friday sharing a recipe for a Butternut Squash Lasagna which looks fabulous. Take a look at it, you will be glad you did.

When I first saw this recipe on Martha's blog I knew I must try it. We have a farm in S GA and have lots of blueberry bushes and like most years we have an abundance of blueberries. So I most always have blueberries in my freezer and am always looking for new recipes to try using my farm blueberries.

I made this recipe exactly as it was written. It's a wonderful little cake and goes together very quickly.

I had a piece just after it had cooled and found that it was light with a little crunchy top and not overly sweet. A great cake for breakfast, tea or dessert. I also found that the next morning it was even better.

As a dessert I topped with a little freshly whipped cream and tossed a few more blueberries on it. YUM!!!

Can't you just taste those blueberries right now. Try this little cake you won't be disappointed and it is oh so versatile.

Thanks Martha for sharing this recipe. It is now in my recipe repertoire as a quick and delicious taste treat.

Blueberry Cake

2 eggs, separated

1 cup plus 1 T. sugar

8 T. butter, at room temperature

1/4 t. salt

1 t. vanilla

1 1/2 c. flour

1 t. baking powder

1/3 cup milk

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter. Add the salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup sugar. Add egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy.

Remove 2 T. flour to a small bowl. Sift together the remaining flour and the baking powder. Alternately mix the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating until blended before each addition. Stir in 1/4 of the egg whites to lighten the batter. Gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Toss the blueberries with the reserved 2 T. flour. Fold into the batter. Turn into a greased 8 inch square metal baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1 T. sugar over the top.

Thank you for visiting my blog and enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Morrocon Dinner Party

This past Janruary I started a dinner group of ten of my closest and dearest frineds. This dinner group was a little different in that we do not include our husbands. It's just for us girls and we have thoroughly enjoyed this gathering of friends although we did not gather during the summer. We get together for lunch regularly but so often we have found that our time is limeted during the day since we have appointments or meetings to get to. This dinner group has become a relaxing way to catch up.

Each month we meet at a different home. The rules are that there are no rules meaning that the hostess can do what ever she wishes. That means it can be a dinner with heavy appetizers and cocktails or a sit down dinner in her dining room. It is the hostess' choice with no pressure. The point is to just ENJOY and that means for the hostess as well.

Last Thursday we met again in the home of a very dear friend who is so very talented. She is from NYC, was once a professional ballet dancer, now holds a high office in our state and travels with her job and she also finds the time to do oil paintings. She is quite an artist.

She also travels to Africa often and that was the theme of her dinner party, the foods of North Africa. It was a culinary experience and the tablesetting was gorgeous.

Several years ago she had this mural done by some art students of our local college.

The table was layered with several gold tablecloths.

The centerpiece was an old Moroccan pot that held a blooming cactus with a couple of added small flower arrangements for added color. The pot was draped with different colored silk scarves in purple, red and gold. Beautifully colored voitives were scattered over the table as well.

Each place setting had a layered effect with a placemat, charger and this beautiful china pattern that my hostess told me she had bought at TJ Maxx. I loved the simplicity of the china with all that was going on on the table. The colorful wine goblets fit into her theme perfectly too as well.

The rest of the dining room was decorated in accordance with the theme too.

It was an evening to remember with good friends, good food and fellowship.

Today I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. You can see other participants and their creative table settings by clicking here