We are still eating delicious Thanksgiving leftovers so it’s fitting that the house is still decorated for fall. I’m glad we were back in time from Japan to see the maple turning red. The color was spectacular this year! Brighter than it’s ever been, even on a cloudy day.
The table was set. Even with the heavy overcast, the new windows provided splendid light.
I asked one of the guys to label the serving dishes to make filling them faster when the food was ready. He labeled the water glasses! So funny.
The turkey was small this year, barely 14 lbs. It was the perfect weight for me to lift by myself. It was nice being able to use the rosemary and thyme growing in the kitchen planter.
Not all the family was present and we missed those far away. But everyone here was in a jolly mood and we were happy to be together.
We started with a salad course. One of the guys cut the peppers into leaf shapes. We made our own house dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, cracked Tellicherry pepper, water and a bit of boiled cider. It was delicious!
Then on to Pumpkin Bisque. We tried a new recipe this year. The cardamom was prominent and very good with pumpkin.
After the salad plates and soup bowls were cleared, we placed the rest of the food on the table. Here are some of the dishes.
The turkey was taken to the kitchen island for carving. This was the first year we used a fresh turkey. It was delicious and tasted much better than a frozen turkey. It did cook faster than I thought though, so we’ll remember that next time. Look at the steam rising! Delicious.
We didn’t take any more photos. There were many wonderful moments, such as when grandson “cooked” his real food in the toy oven. But I was so thoroughly enjoying the baby and grandkids, eating pie and participating in our myriad conversations and laughter, that I completely forgot to take photos.
This morning I finally got around to washing the crystal. The glasses sparkled in the sun. As I held a glass, I wondered whose hand had held it and extended it in a toast to family. Even the grandchildren got to hold the crystal in toast this year. My beloveds were here! That’s a warm and happy thought indeed.
The latest additions to my gratitude journal are even more full of thanks. Being thankful ALL the time is truly a choice. You can’t complain one minute and be thankful the next. Choose optimism, choose joy.
This year we placed his cutting board in the center of the table. Thank you God for good meat, for good bread, for good wine. Thank you for family and friends. –I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 — Thank you for helping us see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, here, now.
Today I made the apple pie I didn’t have time to make for Thanksgiving. Today we’re still giving thanks.
Thank you Ethan and Gabe for taking some of the photos and thank you Holly for the delicious Candied Carrots and Baked Squash. ::smile::
The timing was right… It was Rosanna’s 8th Annual Tablescape Contest, my daughter-in-law’s birthday, and I was finally healed enough to tackle an ambitious baking event. What better way to celebrate all three than with a Dessert Tea!
Here is the table before I started adding all the desserts. I made the tablecloth from an old bedspread with fringed edge. (You can see scraps from that old tattered bedspread in the photos of Tea by the Sea. Crafters don’t waste any scrap. Ha!)
I adore Rosanna’s style and was hoping to enter her 2013 tablescape contest last summer. But we didn’t get the remodel done in time and I wasn’t very mobile back then. The china cabinet was emptied so we could move it around and all the china was stacked on two tables in the living room. That’s when I got the idea for a blue and white and yellow theme for a table.
After I decided on the serving dishes, I wrote a list of tasks, desserts and a tentative baking schedule.
There were two main focal points for the table, Rosanna’s elegant Luxe Moderne mugs for the centerpiece, and her La Mode fashion plates.
I used four of Rosanna’s mugs on a vintage dessert pedestal to make the centerpiece. I was so excited about this design. It has a lot of potential and I plan on using four mugs as a centerpiece base for other tablescapes.
Sugar cookies were painted following Rosanna’s designs on her mugs. I wrote about the cookies here. It was challenging to paint the designs! I have new respect for Rosanna’s design skill.
The fashion plates are so pretty!
This tiered server used to be bright red, yellow and blue but I painted it all white with acrylic paint. Instead of using round plates on the server, I used two rectangle trays on the bottom. It looked great!
To continue the fashion theme, I cut 6″ to 8″ squares of fabric for petite tea napkins and fringed the edges. Each napkin was folded and draped over hangers to look like dresses. Most were folded diagonally. Each was tied at the “waist” with ribbon, a little flower tucked in the waist and a small piece of trim was draped over the top to look like a collar.
The tea service was on the back of the table, behind the desserts. I wrote how I made the Sugar Bonnets here.
On the tiered server, top to bottom: Spritz, squares of Fudge and Shortbread, Butter Cookie Dresses.
I experimented with a new baking pan to make the Layered Desserts. They were delicious and so pretty! I will post the recipe some time.
I only had four covered glass dishes but that was enough to place four Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel and Macadamia Frosting.
The birthday cake was a White Chocolate Praline Cake with homemade Strawberry Raspberry Jam topping.
All together, the table looked lovely and the event was a huge success!
I submitted my photos and won an honorable mention in the tablescape contest… happy face! =)
My daughter-in-law was thrilled with her birthday, the girls loved the dress napkins and all our guests enjoyed the delicious desserts.
And it was the perfect event to celebrate the return of my health and stamina after such a long recovery. A sweet day indeed!
She’s six now. Last year she carried a ship to the beach. This year she carried a picnic basket.
The delicious treats filled the tray.
The blooming tea was still warm.
Coconut Cream glaze dripped down the blueberry pomegranate jam-filled cakes. Some were topped with toasted coconut and macadamias, others were topped with sugared rose and lilac petals. Vanilla pearls were sprinkled on top of shell-shaped spice Madeleines. Tiny oranges looked like blooming lotus blossoms and green and Concorde grapes filled the bowl. Crumbly Lavender Lemon Shortbread squares and tea cups were piled on the picnic basket top.
She poured a cup of tea and waited by the sea.
The sunset was soft and dreamy.
The breeze was warm and welcome.
The colors were slipping away and still she waited.
She didn’t stop hoping
And finally her mom sat down. Even when the sunset is gone, Tea by the Sea is best with mom.
[We had a wonderful time making the treats for this, setting up the table and photographing it all. Thank you, Gabriel Monroe, for being second shooter and lighting expert. Thank you, Donna, for your lovely suggestions and help. Thank you, Uncle Butch and Aunt Dilly, for the use of your beautiful chair! We had a splendid time and it was perfect.
The lovely lace-embossed Filigree appetizer plates, bowl and infinity tray are by Rosanna, Inc.]
I’ve been making these Sugar Bonnets for many years and used to sell them to a local tea room. Now I just make them to keep on hand for guests. They can be used for cake decorations but I just use them as sugar cubes to sweeten tea. Recently I made a batch for a Dessert Tea.
The Dessert Tea was so much fun! The tablescape was actually my entry for a Dessert Tablescape Contest by Rosanna Inc, which I will post about soon. Every year Rosanna has a terrific tablescape contest and the entries are beautiful. I seriously adore Rosanna’s style and look forward to seeing the entries every year. This is the first time I’ve entered and I’ll definitely be doing this again.
Oh my goodness, I had so much fun setting the table and baking all the treats! I’m looking forward to sharing photos with you soon.
I didn’t have a smaller table for my entry so there was a lot of table space to fill. I spread things out a bit and placed all the desserts on the front of the table but the back of the table had tea items, including a dish of Sugar Bonnets for the tea.
This is the recipe I wrote a long time ago for making Sugar Bonnets.
Each bonnet is about 1 teaspoon of sugar. The ingredients are just sugar and water. Perhaps with a little food coloring if you want other colors. They dissolve quickly in a cup of hot tea.
I do confess it takes dexterity and patience to make these but the effort is well worth it. And they keep for several years in an airtight container between layers of wax paper, perfect for on the tea tray.
I created the hat form from a cake decorating lily nail set, matte board and packing tape. There is a piece of packing-tape-wrapped matte board wrapped around the nail to form a small smooth edge, which becomes the hat brim. I’ve replaced the matte board and tape only once and it has held up amazingly well, even with a quick wash and air dry. Some day I’ll cut a piece of PVC pipe to replace the matte board piece.
I use a small baby spoon to spoon damp sugar into the lily nail. This is how I hold the nail while spooning in the sugar and making the initial “press” with the top of the lily nail. Holding the nail this way helps the sugar stick together around the “brim” of the hat.
After spooning the damp sugar in the mold, the top of the lily nail is pressed down on the damp sugar and then the excess sugar is scraped off around the edge.
I’m sorry that I don’t have actual action photos since I didn’t have time to set up a tripod and remote. Holding a heavy camera with one hand to take a photo of your other hand sure isn’t easy! So I’ve reenacted a couple of the important steps. Here I’ve placed a dry sugar bonnet back in the mold. If the sugar were freshly pressed, it would fit tightly in the mold and the lily nail would be a tight fit on top of sugar.
The top of the lily nail is removed. Note: if the sugar sticks too much to either piece of the lily nail, wipe them clean with a damp cloth, dry them and then brush on a little bit of cornstarch with a clean paint brush. The amount is so small that you can’t even see it but it makes a difference.
The hardest part of making these is tapping out the fragile, freshly pressed sugar bonnet on the wax-paper lined cookie sheet. The sugar usually sticks a little in the mold so I hold the lily nail right above the cookie sheet and tap on the handle of the nail with the spatula and the hat drops right out.
The bonnets can not be moved for at least 15 minutes. Then I’ll carefully slide the barely dried ones in neat rows to dry further as I make more. They must be dried overnight to be strong enough to be handled.
If the sugar breaks as it’s tapped out of the mold, I just push the broken pieces aside.
There will be broken pieces. Even with a very light dusting of corn starch, the sugar still sticks a little in the mold.
When the bonnets are dry, they are surprisingly sturdy. Once all the bonnets are drying, I make the sugar decorations.
Royal icing doesn’t melt in tea so the decorations are made like the bonnets, just sugar and water, perhaps colored with a little food coloring, then pressed into flower and leaf molds.
To make the decorating process more efficient, I line up all the decorations as they will be used on each sugar bonnet.
The bonnet decorations are attached using a drop or two of “sugar paste” which is simply sugar and water mixed together. I crush a bit of the sugar grains up with the back of the spoon while stirring in the water. The consistency is thick, but not dry.
Small imperfections and cracks in the side of the hats aren’t a problem since decorations can be glued over the holes.
The only sweetener better than a sugar cube is a Sugar Bonnet.
It quickly dissolved.
If you want less than one teaspoon of sugar in your tea, simply break a Sugar Bonnet into pieces.
Aren’t Sugar Bonnets sweet? Please let me know if you make them!
So much has happened since I last posted. I’m sorry for the long delay. Please accept my apologies. Some bloggers have trouble coming up with topics to write about but my problem is I’ve got too much.
One thing I’ve been busy with is cooking and baking. I didn’t cook or bake much for almost three years so I’m thrilled to be back in the kitchen again!
My mom was visiting and I didn’t have anything special for breakfast except for day old buns and eggs. So I whipped up these Meringue Breakfast Buns. They were delicious and perfect for guests.
You can make any quantity you want, but I like to make a dozen at a time and refrigerate the leftovers to eat cold for lunch the next day. The cheese won’t be crisp anymore but they are still delicious. They’re great for breakfast on the run too.
MERINGUE BREAKFAST BUNS
~ 12 small rolls, about the size of a small muffin or cupcake. This is a good time to use day-old rolls too.
~ 12 egg yolks
~ 3 or 4 egg whites (reserve the remaining egg whites for some other recipe)
~ 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
~ Olive oil (optional)
~ About 1 cup grated cheese, any kind
~ Salt and pepper
~ Dried or fresh herbs of your choice
~ Herb dipping oil (optional)
Start by preparing the rolls. This can be done the night before if you want to save time in the morning. Use a small paring knife to cut a piece out of the bottom of the rolls or buns. The portion I cut out looks like a shallow little cone. You don’t need to cut much out, just enough for an egg yolk with a little cheese. Place the rolls cut side up in a muffin tin. Brush the inside with olive oil if you want. I’ve used olive oil or softened butter or nothing and they’re all good.
Slip one egg yolk in each bun.
To make a dozen Meringue Breakfast Buns, you’ll need a dozen egg yolks but only 3 or 4 egg whites. [Note: Save the rest of the egg whites for another recipe or cook them in a skillet to make Roulades, shown further down this post.]
Beat 3 or 4 egg whites with 1/8 tsp cream of tartar until fluffy. The meringue won’t look the same or peak the same as a dessert meringue that has added sugar. Don’t worry, it will still bake nicely on top of the buns.
Sprinkle a little grated cheese on top of each egg yolk. Add a little sprinkle of herbs over each yolk.
Use a spoon to spread meringue over each egg yolk. Cover the top completely.
Sprinkle more cheese and salt and pepper over the top of each meringue.
Brush the leftover cutouts from the rolls with herb dipping oil and place them on a cookie sheet to bake at the same time as the Meringue Buns.
When picking buns to use, make sure they are small enough to be placed in the muffin tin. For this batch, the buns were bigger so they touched and barely fit in the pan.
If the buns are a tight squeeze, try not to let the meringues touch when you spread the tops.
Both Meringue topped buns and the small roll cutouts are baked at the same time at 375 degrees. The cutouts will be done after about 10 minutes but the buns stay in longer. (In this photo, I baked the cutouts and slices of leftover buns to make croutons for a future use.)
All ovens are different. In my oven, a LIQUID center egg yolk takes 15 minutes, a SOFT BOILED egg yolk takes 16 minutes, and a HARD BOILED egg yolk takes 17 minutes. If you’re going to eat these cold the next day, bake 16 or 17 minutes.
Egg White Roulade
I spread the leftover, fluffy beaten egg whites in a medium hot skillet, lightly greased with olive oil, about 1″ thick and sprinkled herbs and pepper over the surface. When the bottom was golden, I flipped the egg white over till it was golden brown. The hot baked egg white was sprinkled with cheese and rolled up.
To make the Cucumber Raspberry Relish, I simply diced a cucumber with raspberries and tossed the mixture with balsamic vinegar, boiled apple cider and a little salt and pepper. It was so good with the eggs!
Today I have cookies on my worktable. This is the second time I’ve topped a cookie with flow icing. It’s not too hard if you get the Royal Icing consistency right. Fortunately, we were glad some cookies didn’t turn out so we could eat them. This is the first time painting on a cookie. Easier than I thought and quite fun.
In the little dish – kirsch mixed with edible gold dust. In the shot glass – more kirsch that needed stirring into the mixture as it evaporated.
We were scraping the bottom of the barrel for supper tonight. Things went from bad to worse when he forgot to put the yeast in the bread dough. He forgot to add the honey too and I forgot to check the dough, so much later we found the forlorn little lump in the bottom of the bread machine bowl. I was going to throw it out but decided to try breadsticks and called him out to help.
“What are we doing?” he called from the other room.
“Making bread sticks,” I called back. “Help me roll all these snakes.”
And so he did. I watched as he coiled up his snake like a … snake.
So then I figured we might as well make a bunch of snakes, cobras, actually, with little flat heads and perky tails. They were delicious and adorable!
The recipe is my Sourdough Grain Bread recipe, found here, but WITHOUT adding yeast or honey and using the starter cold, straight from the refrigerator unfed.
These chewy breadsticks need a tiny little rise so it’s essential to use a good sourdough starter in the recipe.
SOURDOUGH BREADSTICK COBRAS
Prepare a shallow muffin tin by greasing the muffin cups. Place a tart tin upside down as shown next to each muffin cup. Roll a small piece of tin foil into a ball and place in each muffin cup.
Roll a piece of sourdough bread dough, about the size of a small egg, 16″ long, with a little taper at one end for the tail.
Lift the long piece of dough and place the tail over the muffin cup edge. Slowly lower the long piece of dough into the muffin cup, around the foil ball twice and then back up out of the muffin cup, draping the end over the tart tin. Pinch the end flat to form the cobra head. Ours puffed up more than I thought in the oven so next time I will flatten them even more.
Beat one egg white and use a small brush to brush the cobras. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. (NOTE: Ours seemed barely underdone so next time I will quickly remove the foil balls and pop them back in the oven for another minute.)
Remove from oven and remove from the muffin cups. Pull out the foil balls. Ours didn’t stick, even though they weren’t greased.
Aren’t they adorable?
Who could complain about a sorry-lettuce salad, canned beans and fried egg yolk supper when there were Sourdough Breadstick Cobras?
Perfect for a warm summer evening. So what started as a recipe fail ended up as an Oh my goodness “play with your food” meal!
It was a happy 21st Birthday! Twenty-one is a big birthday and the “toys” will never be the same again. We got our son 4 items: a big hunk of awesome steak wrapped in meat paper, a loaf of hearty homemade bread wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, a bottle of champagne, and a bread board.
The meat and cutting board wrapping paper were great! I got them from a kickstarter project. The wrapping paper is available here from Gift Couture.
I took a discarded but still functional breadboard, sanded down the scruffy top and carved words in the sides. It was comforting using my dad’s old carving tools again.
He’s an awesome cook and appreciated the gifts.
Thank you, God, for good bread, for good meat, for good wine.
Life doesn’t have to be complicated.
Enjoy the people you love!
Oh I wish there was such a thing!!!!!!!!!
Restaurants are great for socializing. Food and friends go together perfectly.
But sometimes, you just want to eat something amazing and READ something great at the same time.
Thus, the perfect restaurant would be eat & read, or Books & Eats.
Bohemian decor with super comfy chairs and customizable lighting at every table.
Great, knowledgeable staff, all lovers of books and food.
Shelves of books on every wall.
Once seated… snippets of possible conversation…
White shirt bowtie waiter: “Good evening! Would you like fiction or non-fiction this fine evening?”
“Non-fiction,” you say, a bit tired, brushing at the paint stains on your jeans. “Perhaps something inspiring. Can you recommend a good book?”
“Family or Business?”
“Business,” you respond. “Well, perhaps both. I’ve reached an impasse with a new venture and need inspiration.”
“Why certainly!” says the waiter. “We have a very fine non-fiction, vintage 2002, by Steven Pressfield. The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.”
“That sounds perfect!” The book title sounds intriguing and you’re already encouraged. It just feels good to have someone want to help, even if their help is hit or miss. “What do you recommend to go with it? I’m in the mood for a good dessert.”
“If you want to go citrus, I highly recommend a slice of Lemon Orange Cheesecake with Vanilla Bean Kumquat topping. The mixture of sweet and tang is inspiring and the touch of bittersweet is the perfect finish. It’s the kind of dessert that you enjoy leisurely, savoring each bite and letting the flavor sink in.”
“And how long do I have?” you ask.
“For this particular all-together-yum, we allow 30 minutes. But you are welcome to purchase the book when you leave.”
“Great!” you say, as you lean back in the padded chair and check your watch. The food and book show up within two minutes so you get a full 28 minutes to enjoy the exquisite dessert and inspiring read.
Yeah, I’m there. Today.
Oh I wish!