entertaining · Food · Uncategorized

The Incredible Egg, Southern Style

Summer to me is a gourmet paradise.  The farmer’s markets are laden with fresh vegetables, cheeses, fruits and other delicacies.  Tomatoes are my passion but there comes a time when you need something other than that ripe jucy tomato to eat.   Eggs here we come!  What is more southern than a deviled egg or an egg salad sandwich?  When I think of picnics, summer concerts or the beach, a deviled egg or an egg salad sandwich is the first thing that comes to mind.

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Both recipes are super easy.  Boil your eggs until they are hard-boiled.  Pour off the hot water and immerse the eggs in an ice bath to make them easy to peel.  Then peal away the shell.

For deviled eggs,  slice in half and remove the yolks to a bowl.  Then mash the cooked yolks and add salt and pepper to taste.  Then add mustard and a bit of mayo also to taste. Stir together with a fork and then stuff each half of the white.  Top with a bit of paprika for a fancy occasion.

Egg salad is a derivative of this.  If you made deviled eggs for dinner and had too many, simply mash them with a fork and you have egg salad.  If you are starting from scratch, slice the boiled eggs into a bowl and then mask with a fork or a potato masher.  Add salt, pepper, mustard and mayo, then stir.  Serve the egg salad on white bread for that true southern flavor.

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entertaining · Family · Holiday

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas is a big deal for my family.  We celebrate on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve begins with a dinner followed by church and then an evening snack.  We move from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day watching mass from the Vatican even though we’re not Catholic.  Dinner would vary based on who was there from pasta to turkey and all the trimmings.  The midnight snack was always the same, cheese straws, sausage balls and cookies.  A plate of cookies was always left for Santa with a glass of cold milk and carrots for the reindeer.

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Christmas morning was always an early celebration.  A fire in the fireplace, juice, and coffee while we opened presents  and stockings and then a huge breakfast.  Breakfast was always a breakfast casserole and sugar cake.  If you’ve never had sugar cake you are missing a treat.  I love to tell everyone it is mashed potatoes as it has a potato base.  It is truly a treat.

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Christmas day was always spent with family and friends dropping by the house for a cup of eggnog.  My Dad was the nog maker.  He would begin on Christmas Eve “cooking” the egg yolks in a bourbon and brandy bath overnight.  Cheese straws also made by Dad, fruitcake cookies, Chinese chews and sands (cookies) made by Mom would accompany the egg nog as we visited with our guests.

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The day would end with a delicious dinner of beef tenderloin, potatoes, asparagus and applesauce raisin cake for dessert.

 

I have my own version of holiday traditions now but I’ve kept many of those I grew up with. I make the cheese straws and eggnog now and we’re having beef Wellington on Christmas Eve rather than for Christmas dinner.  No cookies this year but the cake is made! The DVD of White Christmas is ready to watch and I’ll be up late for church.  Christmas Day will be filled with visits with friends and my box of sugar cake arrived, after all what would Christmas morning be without sugar cake.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Decorating · entertaining · Holiday · Uncategorized

The Christmas Tree

My tree is a book of memories.  The ornaments are from multiple generations.  I’ve purchased some, some my mother made or bought, some are from my grandparents and a few from the great grands.  Each Christmas as I open the boxes of carefully packed ornaments I am reminded of the many Christmases past, those special family moments, trips I’ve taken, special friends, and anticipation of what this Christmas will bring.

 

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Acquiring the tree is the first step.  My family always has a live tree and acquiring the tree was always an adventure.  One of the first Christmas trees I remember involved a trip to the family farm to cut our own tree.  The following year the farm was gone so we were off to the tree lot.  Drama ensued when Snowball, my puppy, escaped from the station wagon only to be found curled up by the heater in the cashier’s hut after much drama and tears.  That year was somewhat cursed.  My Dad cut off too many branches from the bottom of the tree as he put the tree in the stand and had to wire them back on to please my Mother.  Once the tree was set up, lights added and fully decorated, my Dad climbed the ladder to carefully place the china angle on the top of the tree.  This angel was cherished and beautiful and a wedding gift.  Yes, you can guess, disaster ensued as the ladder collapsed resulting in Dad on the floor, tree on top of him, and broken glass ornaments scattered across the living room floor.  I still recall my Mother’s cries of my angel, my angle as my father was trapped on the floor under the tree.   Dad was rescued, the tree put back up, new ornaments purchased, and a new tree topper located.

 

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The one thing I never got was why my Mother refused tinsel on the tree.  Her Mother’s tree was a work of art with icicle tinsel perfectly draped.  Her trees were the most gorgeous one’s I’ve ever seen.  She would begin the weekend after Thanksgivingworking diligently up to Christmas Eve on her tree and emptying cases of icicles in the process.   My Mother hated icicles and they were banned from our house.  Then again she decorated three live trees., a small formal one for the living room, the large one in the family room and a white flocked tree in the foyer

I decorate a large tree for the living room and a small tree for the TV room.  They make my Christmas special.

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entertaining · Family · Holiday · Home

Thanksgiving Dinner.

I’m southern and southern means large family dinners especially for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  Growing up we were either hosting the meal in North Carolina for my father’s side of the family or driving to Charleston to attend the family fete on my mother’s side of the family.

Regardless of the local, the table was expanded to maximum capacity with all available leaves inserted.  Silver was polished, the good linens ironed to perfection, and the good china and crystal placed on the table in anticipation of the meal. My grandmother would create a fresh arrangement of flowers and greens for the centerpiece.  Mr. Carson (the butler from Downton Abby) had nothing on my maternal grandmother who did not need a straight stick to spy an errant piece of silver not exactly lined up with the edge of the plate or a napkin incorrectly folded.

It was all work in anticipation of the big reveal when the turkey came out of the oven.  It was also much more.  It was family togetherness, working together, gathering in the kitchen to chop, dice, slice and catch up with everyone and what is going on in their lives. I also give an honorable mention to all the dishes that were hand washed before and after dinner.

The Thanksgiving menu for such a large group was long and varied.  Turkey, ham, oysters, jello salad, cranberry sauce, squash casserole, rice and gravy (Charleston was once a great rice producer and the tradition lingers on), dressing, green beans, homemade icebox rolls, and then dessert.  Somehow, I never remember dessert.  I think I was always so full of my other favorites that dessert never made much of an impression.  Coconut cake and apple pie I’m certain graced the table but the main event was the turkey and the sugar cured ham.  Served promptly at 2pm, we began with grace and then promptly moved to devour everything  lovingly prepared.

Over the years the family has shrunk and so has the menu.  I am now the host rather than my mom and I eagerly anticipate the arrival of family from out-of-town and the chance to visit and catch up over the chopping, slicing and dicing.  The table is a reminder of my heritage; set with silver from my grandmothers, china from my mother and my own crystal.  On Thursday my family will once again say grace and give thanks and remember fondly those who are no longer around the table.

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In anticipation of turkey day, I grocery shopped this weekend.  My menu is turkey, squash, green beans, cranberry sauce, dressing, squash, and rice and gravy will be on the table.  Dessert is an apple tart.  My to do list is long but I will be smiling and remembering those Thanksgivings past as I prepare our dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Decorating · entertaining · Holiday · Home

Jack O Lantern

 

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How do you celebrate Halloween?  The weekend before Halloween, I enjoy my horror movie marathon of Halloween, the original, followed by Halloween 2, and the Fog.  Then it is off to the pumpkin patch to score a pumpkin to carve for my jack o lantern.   On All Hallow’s ceEve it is candy time.  I love lighting the candles and waiting for the kids in costume, of course, to ring the bell for a treat.  Even better are the pups, also in costume, who accompany their little masters.  I’ve taken to stocking candy with nuts (so I will not eat it) and milk bones for the pups.  After all it is a celebration!

Carving the jack o lantern is a tradition that goes back to my childhood.  My father would always come home from work with a magnificent pumpkin perfect for carving.  Together we would select the perfect angle for the face, draw it on and create our pumpkin lantern.  Mom would always come through with a candle and together we would carefully place him on the front porch to signify to all the ghosts and ghouls that we were open for business.  My Dad loved answering the door and handing out treats.

Meet the latest jack o lantern!

 

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Trick or treat!  Have a happy Halloween.

entertaining · Family · Gift Giving · Home

The Perfect Gift

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This post is credited to my sister from another mother also known as my cousin who is inspired as well as this amazing, cool, wonderful, person.

This past weekend I  enjoyed a long overdue girls weekend with my cousin.  We both have fall birthdays and decided it was time to catch up, lounge around, and play some tennis.  She arrived at my house with  a lovely birthday gift.  As she explained “her madness” behind the gift, I started smiling.  Per her usual brilliance, she hit this one out of the park.

My gift was a basket of her favorite things.  Absolutely brilliant!  She was sharing something of herself with me.  That alone brought this huge smile to my face.  She lives too far away and we keep up via text and phone and visits but this basket brought things into my everyday life that I will use after she’s gone home.  She is leaving something of herself behind and every time I pick up  something from the basket I’ll think of her and feel her with me.

I always struggle with gift giving.  I spend hours thinking of what that perfect gift is.  Cous knocked it out of the park making the answer to that question so simple.  Give something of yourself!  What a wonderful life lesson.

So the next time you need to find that special birthday, hostess, Christmas, house-warming or other gift, ask yourself – what are my favorite things?

So what was in the basket?  First, the basket itself is simply beautiful.  I’m filling it with reading material and it will sit beside my favorite chair.  Cousin’s favorite candle with the scent of dessert.  Books on Charleston!  Our common ancestors are from the Holy City and we’ve spent much time visiting there over the years.  The beach, the market, the food and fun.  What a wonderful addition and it will fit in with my reading basket.  Lotion and material for my pamper Sundays and last but not least, the purse light she knew I coveted!

P.S.  Everyone who has a tote or hobo bag should have one of the purse lights.  They are amazing and you can find stuff that otherwise hides from you in your bag.

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entertaining · Family · Home

Do you binge watch?

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So I will admit that I am a binge watcher.  It seems like my nights are crazy and I always miss whatever popular show is on that night or I’m too tired to enjoy what is on or I’m multi-tasking which means I’m really not enjoying or paying attention to what is on the tube.  I think I just confessed that multi-tasking is a bad idea.  So given that I fail at multi-tasking or miss the best part  because I’m falling asleep, I’ve come up with my own coping mechanism.  You will be familiar with it as I confess that it is not original – I DVR and Netflix.  Yeah for lack of originality, but if a solution works, it works and these days I’ll take all the help I can get.

My DVR and Netflix lists probably need some updating.  Right now lists are programmed to include:

  1. Blue Bloods;
  2. Madam Secretary;
  3. Masterpiece theater;
  4. Miss Fisher mysteries; and
  5. Perry Mason, I know it is ancient but I have fond memories of watching re-runs of it with my Mom.

My list is not long and doubtlessly needs something fresh.  I’m thinking the new PBS movie on Vietnam is up for addition but what else?  Suggestions are welcome!  What is on your Netflix list?