Centerpiece Wednesday!

When the food looks like this, who needs a centerpiece?  I'm posting a few photographs from a little reception we hosted at a local museum a couple weeks ago.   We had a loaned exhibit from the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, so we needed to have a reception.   I had the event catered, but designed a menu of foods that Lincoln loved ... and served in his White House!   We don't burn candles in the museum, so I wanted a little glitz ... so we filled glass vases with ornaments ... but stuck to autumn colors ... then continued the ornaments in a floral ring around the punch bowl.   The menu included smoked beef tenderloin on biscuits ... favorites of Abe's ... gingerbread, lemon cake ... and chicken liver pate.  All these things are documented favorites of Abe Lincoln ... and all were served at White House receptions during his presidency.

Tabletop Tuesday - Snowmen Already?

No!  We haven't had snow yet in Southern Illinois ... but it wouldn't be uncommon if we had!   I thought this was worth sharing with all the tabletop girls!   It is really from a photo shoot we did a month ago for our magazine.   If you haven't subscribed to the Carbondale Convention & Tourism Bureau's Food, Fun & Folks Magazine ... you must!  It is free and all you have to do is email Devon at and give her your name and mailing address.   No strings attached ... just a little magazine filled with neat stories and recipes.

I'd love for you to have it!

I've linked to Tabletop Tuesday ... so make sure you click thru the icon on the left to visit the party!  Special thanks to our hostess.

Warm Wines for the Season!

You can find hundreds of mulled wine recipes on the internet, and you probably already have a favorite.  I've included one of mine in this post.  There are some important tipes to making good warm wine drinks --  don't let the wine boil;  the crock pot is a good way to keep it simmering, but not boiling.  In fact, you can turn the pot off after the wine comes to temperature and it will stay warm for a couple more hours in the pot.   I think that garnishes are everything so make sure you add a few berries to each mug/cup or drop in a piece of orange peel and a cinnamon stick stirer is a must!  I sweeten my drinks with honey or  Agave syrup because I think that makes a smoother taste than sugar.  I frequently add a vanilla bean to the mix or add a little vanilla extract as I'm ready to serve the drink. Some drinks are enhanced by a pat of butter floating on each top.

Cozy Blueberry Cocktail

Simmer a bottle of blueberry wine, 1 cup of fruit flavored brandy, a handful of freshor dried  blueberries, a sliced lemon (with the peel), 3 Tablespoons honey and a couple cinnamon sticks.

I've linked to the Holiday Treat Party, so click thru the icon on the left to see the rest of the posts. Thanks to our hostess!

Butterball Turkey Fryer

If any of you is pondering the purchase of the new Butterball Turkey Fryer ... go for it!  I've been frying turkeys for years ... in a gas fryer ... then in a big electric fryer ... and  I bought this smaller fryer this fall for a couple of reasons.  It requires less oil and it was small enough to use in the house.  (My other electric fryer could be used inside ... but was too big for my comfort level.)

The other thing I liked about this fryer was that the basket holds the turkey in a more secure way ... and it looks good.  The way the larger fryer works is that the turkey kinds of swims around in the oil and his legs and wings would go all over the place!

So, here's the finished product!  When I drained the oil, it looked like less than 1/4 a cup was absorbed into the bird.  Frying doesn't mean you have to have some spicy flavor ... I injected mine with butter and apple cider and seasoned the outside with salt, pepper and sage.   You don't have to inject them ... they are tender and juicy without injections.

Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking just a few minutes to post a quick look at Thanksgiving at our house!  Hope you enjoy.  I'm linking to Tablescape Thursday ... and offer special thanks to Susan for hosting!  Make sure you click through her favicon to see all the other neat posts! 

Just our little family of five ... set in blue  since Miss Phoebe's favorite color is still blue!  There is just enough teal in the Johnson Bros Turkey pattern to use this glassware!
The composed centerpiece in the next collage will probably
be moved to the dessert buffet table ... because we'll load the dinner
table with food!   The turkey has to be center stage!

 Tomorrow's temperature will determine whether soup begins the menu!.  If it does, we'll use our covered turkey soup bowls!  Notice the cute napkin rings that my daughter painted about 30 years ago!
I've made about every turkey favor you can think of, but this year I wanted to create something new!  That Cricut machine is wonderful ... the box is actually a large Hershey's Kiss in a box ... can't go wrong with chocolate!
 Here's a view of some of the other dining room decor.  The turkey platter was my mother-in-law's and is probably from the 1940s.  We use our Johnson Bros platter ... but love looking at this old one!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Connect with Thanksgiving Memories

Today, I'm sharing a story from "Autumn Affairs", the cookbook I published this year.  Special thanks to our party hostess ... make sure you click thru her icon on the left to visit all the other posts. 
Happy Thanksgiving!


Family - Traditions!

For fifty-three years, my father sat at the end of my Thanksgiving Dinner table. As a child, I remember him praising Mother’s cooking and telling stories of the few Thanksgivings he remembered in his own childhood. His mother had died when he was a young teenager and life changed drastically after that. He would tell the story of spending Thanksgiving away from home during World War II and would then drift into all the war stories about how he carried a small camp stove and coffee pot to Okinawa, so he could have good coffee … if he could find coffee to brew!

When I married, Thanksgiving Dinner moved with me to my home and Daddy always shared the head of the table with Joe … Joe at one end and Daddy at the other. It is often said that young women “marry their fathers” and I am no exception! When it comes to family and tradition, my husband is exactly like my father. There is nothing more important.

The year Daddy died and would have been absent from my Thanksgiving for the first time in my life, I decided that I couldn’t bear the traditions. My menu changed. I announced that I was going to fry the turkey and make all kinds of Cajun side dishes. The stuffing was going to be dirty rice and the pumpkin pie was going to be pumpkin praline cheesecake. Nobody complained and my perfect son-in-law slid quietly into Daddy’s long-time place at the table so I didn’t have to look at an empty chair.

I survived Thanksgiving 2008, but the next year, I returned to the old menu and proclaimed that we would never bend tradition again on Thanksgiving! After all, it is the tradition that makes Thanksgiving such a special day.

The food traditions we share at our Thanksgiving table are a combination of all the good things I remember and all the good things Joe remembers about childhood! The menu is consistent, year after year, but I always try to add something different. Sometimes it’s been a new salad or side dish, other times it has been a new dessert. Some years, I look specifically at the history of Thanksgiving and add foods that the Pilgrims may have eaten … or I look at our ethnic heritage and prepare something very German or very Scottish or very Irish!

Because Joe spent almost four decades working with university students and always brought them home for holiday meals, I have 24 place settings of my Johnson Brothers His Majesty turkey china! You can imagine, however, how much I love getting all of it out and setting tables! That has long been the traditional tablescape at our house! I unearth all the boxes of ceramic turkeys, painted by Nicole’s little hands thirty years ago … and Joe’s childhood collection of ceramic Pilgrims and Indians and his treasured tiny canoe, complete with even tinier ores! I compose the centerpiece with flowers, candles and all the treasured collectibles.

I miss the old timers that used to sit at my table, but I bring my memories to life by using Aunt Evelyn’s relish dish, Mother’s favorite salad bowl and Daddy’s beloved coffee mug, brought back from WWII. In all the years that he sat at my gloriously beautiful tablescapes with sparkling crystal and china, I always put that old white coffee mug at his place setting. It was the only one he would use!  I think I'll drink out of it this year!

A Purple Thanksgiving

I set a very traditional Thanksgiving table ... complete with my Johnson Brothers Turkeys .. but for the first cooking column I wrote for the Southern Illinoisan Newspaper a few years ago, I set this pretty purple Thanksgiving Table.   I did it to show people a way to use different colors ... purple, pink and teal blue ... for the holiday!

The china is Churchill Briar Rose ... the glassware is Shannon crystal and a Libby purple stem ... the cocktail cup on the left is a piece from my collection of Depression Glass Cape Cod. 

 I have a collection of ceramic pumpkins in a variety of colors ... and enjoy using them throughout the Autumn months.  The composed centerpiece also includes garden statuary of pilgrims.
I've linked to Tablescape Thursday ... so make sure you click through Susan's icon on the left and visit all the other participants!  Enjoy!

Farmers' Market One More Time!

It is about time for our last Farmers' Market weekend of the season, and I enjoy loading up on lots of winter vegetables to get me through the next few months until it re-opens in April!  I'll fill my extra refrigerator with turnips, squash, a couple pumpkins and sweet potatoes.  Those things make me feel like I have plenty of locally grown produce, when nothing is actually growing!

This Farmers' Market tablescape was actually a part of a workshop I taught a year ago.  I've posted some of the pictures before, but thought you might enjoy seeing them again ... and I have a few new blog friends that might not have seen them at all! 

Remember to link back to Between Naps on the Porch to visit Tablescape Thursday posts!  Just click through Susan's button on the left.  As always, special thanks to our hostess.

One of my favorite parts of the tablescape is the flatware ... multi colors that really help highlight the many colors on the table.  What fun!!
The centerpiece is composed with faux vegetables, although I typically use real vegetables.  The basket is about 50 years old and was used by an old neighbor of ours when he worked in his garden.  His kids threw it in the trash when they cleaned out his house ... and I grabbed it!  It needed to come to my house to be treasured.
The individual casseroles and the small vegetable shaped salad plates are perfect for this theme.  Hope you enjoy!

February's Family Sunday Dinner

Christmas 2020

Mary Queen of Scots Dinner Menu Booklet

Grandma Debbie's Christmas 2018

Grandma's Blue & Green Pupkins!

Autumn at Grandma Debbie's