Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sunday Lunch With Another Kind of Grandmother

It’s still January and still cold with snow and sleet expected, but we need a break from stew, chili, and soups at my house. Last week I told you here about a typical Sunday meal at my grandmother’s house. Today I want to share a recipe from another Sunday meal I was frequently privileged to share. I grew up in a small town on the Mississippi River. One of the nice things about river towns, is that they are usually culturally diverse. As a young girl, I often spent Saturday night with one of my good friends who was of Lebanese descent. After attending the Greek Orthodox church with her, we went to her grandmother’s for lunch. Teta spoke not a word of English, but she spoke the international language of love—food. Lunch at Teta’s was a bustling lively affair with new smells, food, and sounds.


My favorite thing on the menu was tabouleh—a salad made with bulgur wheat and fresh vegetables! Bulgur (or bulghar) wheat is a whole wheat that has been cleaned, dried, parboiled, and ground. It is a common ingredient in Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean dishes. I found this in the “natural” section of Kroger. I have eaten this salad in restaurants, but it has never matched my memories or the recipe I was given.


If we can’t have spring, at least we can eat something that tastes like spring. The parsley and mint in this salad give it a unique flavor! If you have never tried it, you’ve been missing a treat—easy, delicious, and it only gets better with time. I’ll be serving this tonight with stuffed cabbage rolls and I’ll share that with you soon..


1 cup bulgar wheat

4 cups water

1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

6-8 mint leaves, chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup lemon juice or more to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cucumber, chopped (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the wheat in the water until soft (at least 1/2 hour). Drain thoroughly. Add chopped vegetables, lemon juice, and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill until served. I add the cucumber because I like it and Teta added it. This can be made in advance and gets better with time!

I’ll be linking this with Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. You can click on her button on Thursday night to see what’s cooking over there!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Finally…The Happy Dance


Congratulations to the Saints and the entire City of New Orleans! This city has needed a big dose of “happy” since Katrina. The resilience of the people of this city proves they have never been “Ain’ts”!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not Your Little Black Dress

I have a confession to make. I don’t particularly care for Valentine’s Day. It is, by far, my least favorite holiday. I’ll tell you another secret: I’m not really a “frou frou” kind of girl…more your little black dress and pearls type. I have enjoyed the sparser look after Christmas. But frankly, I couldn’t take another day of this


So I gave up my title of “the Grinch of Valentine’s Day” and went to Hobby Lobby, Dollar Tree, and “the closet”. I had seen a wreath that I admired in a local florist’s shop. A $79.99 Valentine wreath was more than I could justify..even if I loved the holiday.


Hobby Lobby offers a ten or fourteen inch styrofoam wreath. Don’t forget to print your 40 % off coupon if they are not on sale.


Dollar Tree has these right now. There are about seven roses per stem. Remember, you’re not looking for centerpiece quality silk flowers. I had a few stashed in “the closet” from Walmart also.


I whacked and clipped until I had a pile of red, pink, and white rose buds with about 1 1/2 inch stems. Then the fun began.


What is this?”, Beloved asked. He knows this is not my normal style.


I even added a few Valentine picks from Dollar Tree. You might like a bow….I’m already over my “frou frou” limit :).

I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday. Each week she shows us inspiring makeover ideas and hosts a long list of participants. Click on the button on my sidebar to join her. Thanks for hosting Susan!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Magic of a Meal

First born called me last week. “Mom, I haven’t really seen you since Christmas”. Translation: “Mom, you haven’t fed me since Christmas and I need something besides Mexican food” So an invitation was issued, a rump roast was put in the oven, and the table was set on a Monday night.


A simple meal, but one of his favorites—salad, roast, rice, gravy, black eyed peas, squash casserole, and cornbread (recipe here). It reminded me of the lunch my grandmother served every Sunday after church. How did she do it? Dressed to the nines in a two piece suit with a matching hat and costume jewelry and always on the same pew—two behind the minister’s wife. She waltzed in after church and thirty minutes later we were all saying grace…as if by magic. I set the table today as she might have and used some her things.


She would have used the everyday china—the Haviland was for holidays and birthdays. Her tablecloth would have been white. I used vintage looking lacy placemats instead. The standby by white Gibson china will work just fine.CIMG1229

She would never have used paper napkins. Old and a little worse for the wear, these are the same ones we used back then and I still sometimes use with care. Like an old lady with wrinkles, the napkins have earned their frayed edges. My grandfather liked his peas or butterbeans in a separate bowl. These would be just the right size.


The silver plate came out of its velvet-lined box for Sundays. Of course, there would have been an iced tea spoon. This is her First Love pattern by Rogers International…not as valuable as sterling, and yet, more so to me.


There would have been flowers—something simple from her yard or a blooming potted plant. These primroses tease at spring to come…color in the midst of white. There would have been tall glasses for iced tea…no stemware on the Sunday table. These Dollar Tree glasses remind me of something she would have used. The white snowflake candles add a simple elegance.


We would have passed bowls of vegetables, discussed who was at church or noticeably absent, who had died or was dying, what we had done or were planning to do. It seems bonding around tables and food is a tradition passed down to me. I thank my grandmother for teaching me that.


In a nostalgic mood, I made an old favorite—Waldorf salad. It’s a colorful salad and good for this time of year. Apples are always in season. And as I was serving this I was brought back to my original question: How did she get that meal on the table as if by magic. Sadly, that secret was not in the velvet –lined box.

Waldorf Salad

This salad was first served in the Waldorf Hotel (later the Waldorf Astoria) in New York around 1893. Developed by the maitre d’hotel, and not the chef, it was instant success. The original version did not contain raisins or nuts.

2 cups unpeeled, chopped tart apples

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2-3/4 cups chopped celery

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Coat apple pieces in lemon juice. Toss all ingredients with mayonnaise and chill.

Please join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursdays and Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum forFoodie Friday. Click on the buttons on the sidebar for immediate transportation!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meet My Secretary

I am joining Barb at Grits and Glamour for a fun new party—Tabletop Tuesdays. Today I would like for you to meet my secretary…the closest I’ll ever get to having one. Barb, I hope this counts!


This is in our formal living room…and (I never really realized until today) filled with more than bric a brac. It is filled with keepsakes and things I love. Almost every piece has significance.


The small nooks and crannies of a secretary make it the perfect place to store small treasures that might be lost in a bigger space. The tiny porcelain pink and white shoe was given to me when our daughter was born—twenty eight years ago tomorrow. The rose is a Herend rose given to me by a friend I helped during a difficult time. It was her way of saying thank you. And now it reminds me to be grateful too.


This plate belonged to my great grandmother. I never knew her, but always loved this plate. There are no markings on it….except for the crack. I don’t mind the crack…it’s the face I love.


Even the books have meaning. The Amy Vanderbuilt book of Etiquette is the one I used to plan my own wedding and referred to when Sunshine got married last summer. I find that good manners don’t change much over the years. The Rumford Cookbook is a very old one that belonged to my great grandmother. The others belonged to my dad.


Beloved’s grandfather’s pocket watch on a small easel for display.


A picture of Sunshine and us when she was presented at Cotton Carnival. She promised she’d get married in this dress if I would buy it. It’s okay---I knew she didn’t really mean it :)


A porcelain dogwood bloom and a miniature teapot. There are three teapots in this secretary…I didn’t even know I collected them :)


Thanks for sharing this with me. You can visit Barb at Grits and Glamour here for inspiring vignettes. Thanks for hosting the party Barb!

EDITED--If you read my last post, I dont' know what happened! I'm back!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Suspiciously Silent

You know me better than this....days with no commenting on your posts...days without posting of my own. The computer has me in what amounts to solitary confinement in Blogland. Everything has slowed down to a S.....N.....A.....I....L'...S pace. It took me forty five minutes to post this. I am hoping to get this resolved as quickly as possible. Maybe it's "them", but I think it's me. So, don't do anything exciting until I get back...promise...okay? I miss you already :(

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reverse Psychology

Winter…I know…the season of warm cocoa, steeping tea, hot toddies, maybe even a little brandy.


Beloved has come in from his duck hunt….frozen, but happy. It gives him great pleasure to indulge in this sport he learned with his father and shares with his sons and son in law. He has known the love of dogs whose greatest joy in life was to retrieve across frozen fields. He has shared comradery with longtime friends over cigars, thick steaks, and tall tales. But sometimes what warms the body and what warms the soul are not the same thing.


We both love ice cream and are not quite ready to give up the holiday peppermint. The stores are no longer stocking my favorite novelty peppermint ice creams…time to make a homemade peppermint milkshake.


These happy little snowman glasses are fun. They are part snow globe. When you shake them, the snowflakes dance around. Even grown ups like drinking from a fun straw. Beloved is still a kid at heart. :)


My hearth bunny still promises spring..he’s munching on silk ferns instead of poinsettias now! If your weather outside is frightful, try reverse psychology. It may just make you feel like a kid again and warm your soul.

Peppermint Milkshakes

2 cups vanilla ice cream

1 cup milk

1/4-1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy ( depending on your taste)

Whipped topping and peppermint sticks for garnish.

Mix all in a blender. Next time I think I will throw in sprinkle of mini chocolate chips—even more decadent.

I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday and Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. You can click on their buttons in my sidebar for table and food inspiration galore!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Where We Play and Is It Monday Yet?

The weather channel broadcasted from here this week. It seems that the prolonged low temperatures we are having merit national attention. I know they have mine. I’m in full soup eating, flannel wearing, nesting mode. So, I thought I’d show you a quick project for the nest.


While our youngest was in college we did little to the upstairs “bonus/media room. It was the perfect place for the kids to hang out and they were unconcerned about decor. But when “the baby” graduated, the fraternity basement look had to go! There are no before pictures-just this latest project. This is the poster I got for Christmas and the 1/2 price poster frame from Hobby Lobby.


We all love movies….films :) I had found “Gone With the Wind” and “The Godfather” a while back, but needed one more to complete the wall. Sunshine knew EXACTLY what I needed to complete the trio. So today I framed and hung Dorothy and the gang. Of course, you know how I feel about them :). Beloved loves “The Godfather” and that picture of Clark Gable speaks for itself.


This room is all about us as a family. The space is casual with easy-to-care-for fabrics and furniture where you can prop your feet. Beloved gets his gun cabinet and an antique decoy box. An AB lounger that makes me feel better every time I walk by it :) I think you have to actually use it to get the Madonna abs! There is a game table for Scrabble or poker.


It’s the place we put family photos from the past…the ones we cherish. I am the baby with my grandfather in the press room of the local newspaper where he worked….three generations of the men in Beloved’s family after a duck hunt.


It’s a room for family needlepoint and the books we love…nothing fussy or fancy. The corner of the room you can’t see is where I am now….typing away at a big ugly desk. I have plans for it too :)….another Met Monday soon I hope.

Thanks for taking this tour with me on this cold winter day and sharing my mini mini metamorphosis. Susan at Between Naps on the Porch will be hosting Metamorphosis Monday…I just couldn’t wait….cabin fever has set in :) Click on the MM button on Monday for fun on the porch!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Comfort Food for the King

The King of Rock and Roll would have been 75 on January 8, 2010. And while I just missed Elvis’s heyday as a performer, I live in a place where it is hard to escape his influence or ignore the milestone. I live in place where the King of Rock and Roll will be alive and jiving in the hearts of thousands of vigilant fans this weekend. Turn your volume on for one of my favorites!


Elvis has millions of dedicated fans and thousands of them will converge this weekend at Graceland the estate he called home. Special tours of the home, stables, and Meditation Garden where his body rests are planned. Priscilla and Lisa Marie will be on hand to speak. The first time I toured the home I felt as if I had stepped back in time.


These are the gates that lead to the mansion. This weekend the gates will open for fans to get a glimpse into the life of the man who made girls cry with his music, his eyes, and the infamous pelvic moves.

Elvis home

The home, once a showplace for the area, is hardly a mansion by today’s standards. Its white columns are typical of the understated elegance many southerners love. The grounds are beautiful and well-tended.


Understated elegance ends at the door. Only the downstairs is open to the public and it has been left just as it was when Elvis lived here. Elvis loved to entertain and make music with friends and fellow musicians here. That’s a console television to the left of the baby grand piano. Look at the clock hanging above the fireplace. That shape is very much back in fashion now.


The jungle room made famous by Mark Cohn’s song “Walking in Memphis” is my favorite and is said to have been Elvis’s also. This was probably his “man-cave” and yes, that is green shag carpet on the floor. I wish these walls could talk :). But, I am linking to Michael Lee West for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum. So what does Elvis have to do with food?


We have about an inch of snow on the ground today with bone chilling temperatures---a good excuse for me to stay in and nest with comfort food. I thought of what is supposed to have been Elvis’s favorite food—grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches….it’s a comfort food from my childhood too. I sliced sourdough bread and spread it with a thick mixture of peanut butter mixed with honey. Top with banana slices. Grill on top of the stove with real butter, preferably in a black iron skillet. A tall glass of cold milk goes best with this. I swear I almost heard him…..did you? Thank ya…thank ya very much.


Elvis Aaron Presley.

January 8, 1935-August 16, 1977

Click on the Foodie Friday button on the sidebar for instant transportation to see what’s cooking at Designs by Gollum. Thanks Michael!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tablescape 911

I don’t know how she does it, but each week Susan At Between Naps on the Porch brings us fresh new ideas for dining and invites us all to her little piece of tablescape Heaven. Last Wednesday I got a 911 call from our daughter. It seems her new husband thought it might be fun to throw together a last minute dinner party for New Year’s Eve. The dilemma: no time, no ideas, and very little money! So, I started rummaging.


With one trip to Dollar Tree and a trip “the closet” this is what we came up with. We used a crystal, white, and silver theme. You may get tired of those three pedestal pillar holders. They are easily the best $19.99 I have ever spent. While I was standing in front of the display lost in deep indecision in Costco, a woman walked by and said, “do it; you know you want them”. That was enough for me. I took it as a sign and put them in the cart.


We used an assortment of champagne and martini glasses mixed with a few stemmed votive holders and filled them with Epsom salt to resemble snow and add sparkle…all from Dollar Tree. Each one is sitting on a different shape mirror to reflect the light from the candles. I draped a silver snowflake garland around and added a few acrylic snow flake ornaments. I loaned her my clear glass dinner plates ($1 each) from Old Time Pottery. These are perfect when paper is not quite enough and china is too much---they go straight into the dishwasher. Her Casa Fina serving pieces are off-white and worked perfectly. Quick, festive, cheap! Emergency averted!

Click on the TT button on the sidebar for fun and festive tables! Thank you Susan!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What a Pot of Gold Will Buy

Here in the South we have a New Year’s Day tradition: eat black eyed peas for luck; eat greens for money. Well I did my part! And, with luck, if my


turn into


Then I might just be able to buy this


This house recently came on the market in my area (and yes, the car is always parked out front). I had missed a garden club tour there and always regretted it. So, I hopped over to the realtor’s website. 21934d14906002fc162573a6ad5866f94583183731

According to the realtor’s website the house is over 10,000 square feet of “true English mansion” that delivers a “hit to the senses”. The “great hall” was inspired by European cathedrals and has a hand carved beam system and staircase. On a personal note, I wonder if the antlers are real. I haven’t allowed animal parts on my walls since I concluded in the first year of marriage that “for better or worse” did not include taxidermy. There six fireplaces in the house.


No self-respecting castle would have a butler’s pantry that wasn’t filled with pewter .


The kitchen is a dream….look at that tile, all that counter space, and the copper sink! I love the windows…still got the cathedral theme going on.


I suppose this is the master bedroom. The house has four bedrooms, In a house this size, I’d expect more…but then I wouldn’t expect the movie room, weight room or English pub that it has.


This is where the information gets a little murky. The house lists 4.4 baths and 4 partial baths. I assume this is the master bath…see the dressing room down the hall? I know what a half bath is…even a 3/4 bath….what is a 4/10 bath ?? :) Look at that cabinetry. I think that is inlaid tile in the center.


The back is as majestic as the front.


I’d settle for just this gorgeous statue and waterfall, but if you find a pot of gold and need an English castle….call me…I know where to find one!

I am linking to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday. This post is based “loosely” on a transformation :). To find the real thing click on the MM button on the sidebar. Thanks for hosting Susan!