Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mosaic Monday

I haven't posted on Mosaic Monday in such a long time but this week I felt that I had some pics worthy of Mosaic Monday. As program chair of my garden circle I had scheduled a dear friend of mine who does flowers for very large events in our area to come and do a demonstration for our circle. The theme being, "Feathering Your Nest with Flowers". She focused on cutting from our own gardens even if it were twigs and adding in few flowers. Some interesting ideas to say the least.

This one using groups of magnolia leaves which are readily available in our area and inserting few flowers that were purchased.
This bouquet using two sided tape on a cylinder clear glass container, cutting asparagus to the size of the container, tying with raffia and inserting very few bought flowers.
This used taller (about six inches) cylinder vases, very few flowers in each vase and tying all six vases together with a lovely sheer green ribbon with brown satin edges. For a luncheon, each guest could take home a vase of flowers.

I thought this to be an excellent program even if I did organize it myself. I surely walked away with some creative ideas.

I am joining Mary at Little Red House for her blogging party, Mosaic Monday.

Happy Monday to everyone,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Chowder

This week my garden circle did a Soup Luncheon after our meeting and guest speaker. Since I was one of the co-hostesses I brought this Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Chowder. It is a recipe that I found in an excellent cookbook, New England Soup Factory Cookbook.

I have had this book for a long time but had never tried this recipe. There were two other women bringing soup so I wanted to bring something a little different. I rarely serve a soup that I have never prepared before but this one was outstanding.

Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Chowder
adapted from New England Soup Factory Cookbook

6 Tbsp. salted butter
2 cups diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 to 5 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & cut into 1/2" cubes
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground bay leaves
3 lbs. frozen or fresh corn kernels
2 cans (16 oz. each) creamed corn
2 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 4 Tbsp. cold water
2 cups light cream
2 cups roasted red peppers, pureed until smooth
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Kosher salt & black ground pepper to taste

In a stockpot melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the potatoes and sauté for 5 minutes more. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes soften but don't lose their shape, about 10 minutes. Add the coriander, bay leaves, and corn. Bring back to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.. Add the creamed corn and the cornstarch water mixture. Return to a boil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cream, red peppers, cilantro, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a slow simmer for 2 minutes.

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Notes: It doesn't matter if you use frozen corn in this recipe, it's really delicious either way.

I did in fact use frozen corn, I prepared it the day before and I think it made all the ingredients come together and was more flavorful. It does make a very large pot of soup but I do think it can be easily halved.

It went together very easily but was a little labor intensive. The end result was well worth the effort though.

I began with a 5 quart All-Clad pot but realized half way through the process that I needed a much larger  pot so I had to transfer everything into this 8 quart Calaphalon stock pot.
I added a dollop of sour cream to mine and I had taken sour cream and grated Colby cheese if anyone wanted it. It truly stands on it's own though. What I had left over was dinner for Mr. "H" and he really loved this soup also.

I think my garden circle friends enjoyed it as well. We each tried a little of each soup. Other soups that were brought were a Collard Green Soup with Pepperoni and a Chicken and Rice Soup. They were all excellent.

Today I am sharing this post at two blogging parties.
Designs by Gollum and Quit Eating Out.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feathering Your Nest with Flowers

This year I am program chairman for my garden circle. If you have ever had that position in your garden circle before you know that you schedule your programs a year in advance. Sometimes at the last minute they can cancel on you and then you are really in a pickle. That did happen to me once this year but not yesterday. I had scheduled a very dear friend of mine to speak to our circle. This is a lady that does flower arrangements extraordinaire for weddings and events in our area and she does very few lectures or demonstrations.

For our meeting yesterday I had called it "Feathering Your Nest with Flowers" and I wanted her to focus on cutting things from your own garden and simpler arrangements for entertaining in our home. I was not disappointed!!!

This was an arrangement done in clear glass cylinder's about six inches tall that she had purchased at The Dollar store for $1.00 each. They come with a candle in them but she takes the candles out and uses them most often to take flowers to our local Hospice when she has extra flowers from an event she has done. This particular idea was to put a few flowers in each container, in this instance placing six of them together, and tying them with a beautiful bow. This was an idea she gave for a luncheon and each guest can take one home. It was so easy and placed together made a beautiful and unusual table arrangement not to mention the inexpensiveness of it. She also added that if you have a larger group and a long table you could do them in groups of three and do several groups.

The opposite side of this arrangement.

Sitting on a silver tray makes it a little more elegant and the sheer green ribbon with brown satin edging was particularly complimentry to the arrangement.

Such a simple but yet elegant idea. An idea I plan to use very soon.

Many of us have something in our garden that is still green. Here in the South we have those beautiful magnolia leaves. They aren't blooming right now but the leaves are stunning in an arrangement. The beauty part of this arrangement is that it uses so very few flowers but the look with the underside of the magnolia leaves which is brown is just stunning. She also used a plastic Revere bowl that looked just like silver. You really had to look closely to tell that it wasn't silver. I am doing a garden party dinner for my garden circle and their husbands in May and I will definitely be ordering some of these bowls.

Using the leather leaf fern gave the arrangement a softened  look against the magnolia leafs.

She also added in some twigs with no foliage on them so this turned out to be the perfect winter arrangement. Again with so few flowers that were purchased.

The silver bowls are a "MUST" find.

This was another idea using a small round clear glass cylinder with two sided tape wrapped around it. The asparagus was cut to fit and then tied with raffia.

 Another idea using very few flowers but what a conversation piece.

I can visualize three or five down a dining room table with small clear glass votive's scattered throughout.

Our guest speaker gave us many interesting ideas for using flowers in our home and all of which I will use myself. I hope that by sharing these ideas with you, you will use some of them yourself. I love having fresh flowers in my home and I always use fresh flower on my table when entertaining.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come back often. Remember you can always click onto any photo to enlarge and get a better view.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Casual Family Dinner

This past Sunday we had our youngest, our daughter, and her husband over for dinner. So often when we have the whole family for dinner with all the children and grandchildren I find that most of my time is focused on the youngest children. This was an excellent opportunity to catch up with the two of them and they both got  our undivided attention. It was a special occasion since we were just told on Christmas day that they were expecting  so we had lots and lots to talk about. Today after a Dr. visit we were told that we are expecting a girl and this will be their first.

Keeping it simple with some fairly new place mats and napkins. A sale item from Williams Sonoma but I think great for year round use.

Some time ago we placed our breakfast room table in a room that is next to our newly remodeled kitchen. We use it only when there is six or less for dinner.

It is especially nice on a cold evening as it was this particular evening to have dinner with a fire in the fireplace.

I always have to be careful with the colors I use on this table but as you can tell I have used lots of bright color in this room so it is rarely a problem.

Chickens and Roosters always can find a place in my home as well.

These napkin rings are some I purchased long ago at one of my favorite places to shop when I am in that area, Boxwood in Atlanta, GA.

I love the oak leaves and acorns.

My Rooster Soup Tureen served as my centerpiece. I think he is just handsome.

It was a nice evening with our daughter and son-in-law and our menu was simple as well, Grilled Filet's, a mixture of Roasted Vegetables topped with a French Racclette Cheese, Garlic Roasted Potato Wedges and for dessert a Plantation Pecan Pie.

Plantation Pecan Pie

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, halves or broken pieces
1 9-inch pie pastry, unbaked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, salt and vanilla extract until well blended. Arrange pecans in pie pastry. Pour egg-sugar mixture into pie pastry; pecans will float to the top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and filling is puffy. Let pie cool to room temperature before cutting.

Today I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for her blog party, Tablescape Thursday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Special Christmas Gift

I was so surprised to receive this Christmas gift from my husband. I had seen it in a gift shop just a few days before Christmas. It was love at first site.

I envisioned a fresh Fruit and Cheese display on this piece. It is a very old piece of wood and the handmade sculpture of the pears and leaves I think made it a piece of art.

The detail work is just unbelievable.

I am always on the look out for unique serving pieces when I entertain and this I thought was an amazing piece.

I was so surprised when I opened this gift. It seems that the owner of the shop called my husband at his office and told him how I was so taken by this piece. I was so glad that he was still looking for a couple of more things to go under the Christmas tree for me. The first week in February I am hosting a dinner party. Last year I started a dinner group for "Ladies Only", however we have included the husbands a time or two throughout the year. I enjoy the "Ladies Only" concept but you can bet that this gorgeous tray will be filled with some delicious cheeses with fruit scattered. I'm thinking an excellent gorgonzola with some figs and grapes and probably a drizzle of honey over the gorgonzola as it sits on toast points. YUM. I suppose I should have done a mock up on my new gift but I'll post a photo in a few weeks. This was a very appreciated gift and one I will use often.

Today I am joining Marty at a Stroll Thru Life for her Tabletop Tuesday blog party.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Taking the time for Afternoon Tea

I love to have a soothing cup of tea in the afternoon but with all the Christmas activities there didn't seem to be much time for that. After Christmas I decided to make the time.

This room is just off from my kitchen which is behind the couch. It is a comfy couch and my reproduction mahogany tea table is perfect for an afternoon tea time.

I have had the clear glass Janear tea pot and warmer below for many years and have enjoyed using it.

My teacup is new and part of a set that was a Christmas gift. It is handmade by an American potter, Frances Palmer. I love the way this teacup feels in your hands and the cup itself has an irregular shape to it so you know it was made by hand on a wheel.

I always use Demera sugar in my tea, a splash or two of lemon and always with a slice of lemon.

The tray is very special to me as well since it was a gift many years ago from my son and daughter in law.

Of course, afternoon tea requires catching up on your reading and it was the perfect time to persue my newest Victoria magazine and reread a special note from a dear friend.

My tea of choice this particular day is an excellent French tea, Mariage Freres Earl Grey French Blue. It is one of the finest Earl Grey's I've ever had and I found it here, A great food company when you are looking for hard to find food items and some really special teas.

Taking the time for afternoon tea is such a "Good Thing". This is a ritual I plan to continue.

Today I am sharing my post at Marty's blog party, Tabletop Tuesday. You can see other participants of this party by visiting Marty's blog A Stroll Through Life.

 I am also joining Sandi for Teatime Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage

I am also joining Lady Katherine for Teatime Tuesday.


Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again.