Check out My YouTube Channel and see some recent videos of great food and tablescapes.  You'll love what you see!  I've posted pictures from the Made at Home Cooking Columns I've written for the Southern Illinoisan Newspaper in 2011.

Silver Christmas Video

I'm linking my video with Between Naps on the Porch!   Hope you enjoy and as always, special thanks to Susan who brings us together each week to share our lovely tables!  Take a look at the video, but click through to see the magazine article and additional photographs.

Wintertime Friendship Bread Starter & Recipes!

I love keeping a Friendship Bread Starter going during the winter months.  I know lots of folks never let their starter die and bake from the same one for years, but I start fresh every winter ... because I don't bake as much during the summer months!   Here's a good recipe for the yeast sourdough starter "sponge" ... and several recipes for using it.  Don't think you have to bake the same thing every week ... That's not the case at all!   Enjoy!

Friendship Bread Starter

2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

Sprinkle 2 Tablespoon sugar over the warm water;   sprinkle the yeast over this and leave it alone for ten minutes.   It will be doubled in size and bubbly.   Mix the yeast combination with the rest of the ingredients in a glass or plastic bowl (that has a lid).  Stir it with a wooden spoon and cover it loosely.  Place it in a warm location and let it stand overnight.

The next morning, stir the mixture, cover it again and place it in the refrigerator.   Each day, stir the “starter”, returning it to the refrigerator.  On the fifth day, take out one cup of the starter to bake with, and then feed it with:  1 cup flour, 1 cup milk and ½ cup of sugar.  Continue to stir it each day and on every fifth day, remove 1 cup to bake with and feed it again with the previously listed ingredients.  If you don’t want to bake, give your cup of starter to a friend.   For every cup you remove, you should feed the starter accordingly.

Friendship White Bread

1 envelope of active dry yeast
1½ cups warm water
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup of friendship bread starter
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
Approximately 5 cups of flour

In a big bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water; add the starter, salt, sugar and oil..  Blend well; cover and let rise for 2 hours until double.   Combine with the baking soda and half the flour; blend well and then begin to work in the remainder of the flour.   On a floured board, knead for five minutes; divide in half and for into two round loaves.  Score the tops of the loaves and let it rise again for 1 hour until it doubles in size.   Bake at 400 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes.  The bread will brown and sound hollow when tapped.   For a soft crust, brush the loaf with butter or spray it with cooking spray.

Friendship Cinnamon Rolls

3 cups flour
2 cups friendship bread starter
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
2 eggs, beaten

To prepare the rolls:
1 stick melted butter
2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
¼ cup raisins

Combine half the flour, starter, baking powder, baking soda, salt, warm water and eggs.  Blend well to form a sticky dough.   Gently fold in the remaining flour and knead for five minutes.   Place in a bowl, drizzle it with oil and turn it to coat the dough, so it doesn’t stick to the bowl.  Cover and let it rise for an hour, until doubled.  Punch down the dough and roll it into a 10 x 20 inch rectangle.

Brush the melted butter on the dough; sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, nuts and raisins.  Roll it up; slice into 18 – 24 sections and place them in a prepared 11x15 inch baking pan.  Cover with a towel and let rise again, until doubled.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.  While still warm, drizzle with icing made with confectioner’s sugar thinned with milk.

Apple Bread

1-1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup friendship bread starter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Fold in by hand:
1 cup chopped nuts
3 cups diced fresh apples

Pour into 2 well greased loaf pans. Bake at 375 degrees F 50-60 minutes.

Caramel Apple Bread

Combine these ingredients:  The batter will be very stiff.
1-1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1tsp cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1 cup friendship bread starter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Fold in:
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup butterscotch chips
3 cups diced fresh apples

The batter will become much more moist with the addition of the apples.

Pour into 2 well greased loaf pans. Bake at 375 degrees F 50-60 minutes.

Chocolate Brownies

In a bowl, combine and mix well:
1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup friendship bread starter

In a separate bowl combine the following dry ingredients and mix well:
2 cups flour
1- 1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 - (5.1 oz) box instant chocolate pudding
3 heaping Tablespoon of cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pecans or walnuts

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix and pour into two well greased and sugared bread pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Friendship Chocolate Cake

Cream together:
2/3 cup shortening
1- 2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs
1 cup of friendship bread starter
1 tsp vanilla

Beat 2 minutes on medium speed.

2/3 cup cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Add flour mixture to batter alternately with 3/4 cup cold water. Beat 1 minute on medium speed. Mix in by hand 1 cup chopped nuts. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.

Friendship Cookies

1 cup of friendship bread starter
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon molasses
3/4 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla

Mix well.

Sift together:
2 Cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt.

Chocolate Chip Option: Add 1 extra cup flour. Add 2 cups chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped nuts.

Oatmeal Option:  Add 2 cups oatmeal, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup raisins.

Drop the cookies by teaspoonful on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10 to 13 minutes.

Onion Rye Bread

1 cup of starter
1 package of active dry yeast
¼ cup minced dried onions
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup warm water
½ cup warm milk
2 cups rye flour
2 cups white flour

Stir the package of yeast into the warm water (180 degrees) and let it set until it bubbles.  Hydrate the dried onions in the warm milk.  Combine the starter, olive oil, melted butter and onion-milk combination and stir it to combine.  Gently stir in the yeast and water.  Stir in the rye flour and begin adding the white flour ½ cup at a time.   The dough will go from being sticky to becoming dry and should be kneaded for about five minutes. Form the dough into a smooth ball.  The entire mixing and kneading process can be done in a food processer or with an electric mixer and a dough hook. 

Pour about ¼ cup of olive oil in a bowl and place the dough in the oil, turning it to get oil on the entire surface.  Cover the bowl and place it in a warm location and let the bread rise until it is double in size.   Rye bread takes a little longer to rise than white bread, so this could take as long as two hours.  After it has doubled, punch the dough down, so the air releases and form the dough into two loaves.  You can do this freeform on baking sheets or place the dough in oiled pans.  I like to bake my rye bread in round bowls.   Cover the loaves and let the dough double in size again.  Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 40-50 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped with a spoon.  Remove the bread from the oven to cool.  Brush it with additional oil or melted butter to soften the crust.

Silver Christmas Photo Shoot!

I've posted a pretty slide show from the photo shoot done in my dining room months ago for inclusion in the Life & Style magazine, published by the Southern Illinoisan Newspaper.  If you click the video, you should get a full screen view and make sure you turn on the sound button!

You can view the article online by clicking through right here!  I couldn't share the photos I took until now ... giving the magazine plenty of time to circulate.  However, the professional shots are much better than mine, so you will definitely want to view the actual article!   If you'd like a copy of the actual magazine, don't hesitate to email me and ask for it.  I'd be happy to send you one.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!   I've been swamped in the last few months and haven't spent much time blogging for fun!  Instead, I've been working on a new social media for the tourism bureau. We've chased Santa all over Carbondale, filming "Santa Sightings" to post .. and I have to say we had a blast doing that.  I'll be back on the creative blog scene in the new year, but for now, enjoy this collage ... with the most important girl in my life front and center!  She just turned 5 and she is more fun than a new puppy!

Pink Saturday Thanksgiving

Here's one pink autumn post ... Miss Phoebe thought our Thanksgiving table should be PINK, and as many of you know ... the Johnson Brothers Majesty china pattern has plenty of pink/plum in the color palette.   I'm posting with Pink Saturday, so make sure you click through to see all the other posts!

We used quilted placemats, matching napkins and the table runner is gently pieced together.  The colors are soft pinks and beige tones and can be used with lots of dinnerware patterns!   The pink stained glass candle holders are perfect with this color scheme.    I don't do lots of fru fru on the Thanksgiving table because we enjoy having all the food on the table!

Here's a picture of the Persimmon Cornbread muffins that I made for my Pioneer Thanksgiving dinner.  If you missed that post, go to my home page and check it out.  These were also in one of my recent cooking columns.  I've posted the recipe below the picture!

Persimmon Corn Bread
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons orange infused olive oil
1 egg
1 ½ cups diced persimmons
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
In a large bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, and egg. Pour into dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in persimmons and thyme. Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes until it swells. Stir it again and pour it into well-greased muffin cups or a 9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Muffins may take a little less time to bake. Cool 10 minutes on a baking rack, before inverting the muffins or cake.

Read more:

Pioneer Thanksgiving Dinner

I hosted a special meeting for our Women's Club ... a Pioneer Thanksgiving Dinner.  I set three tables ... all different settings ... and made a meal based on the foods that American settlers in the mid 1800s might have had.  We had a great time!

Here's the dining room!

I used my Johnson Brothers Majesty ... Turkey china!  Topped the dinner plates with a sunflower plate ... then placed the covered soup bowl on the very top!  The soup bowls came from Crate & Barrel many years ago ... and the glassware is Fostoria.

The dining room table set for 8 ... love the long, lined up look.

The centerpiece is made of silk sunflowers and I placed the mercury pumpkins on each end for a little sparkle.

Here is the sunroom.

I only have a dozen turkey soup bowls, so I also used my chicken pot pie casseroles as soup bowls ... and mixed some blue glassware with these settings.   Remember, this was a pioneer theme, so we didn't want too much fru fru on the tables!

This dinnerware is Bordallo Pinheiro.   Tuesday Morning had an abundance of it this fall.  The milk glass plates are a part of a big collection of mine and I added the stemmed glasses to brighten up the table.
I used this centerpiece through the fall.  My husband bought me the beautiful bowl several years ago.  The inside is painted with sunflowers and it came from Italy.   The flameless candles ... which are about all I use these days ... are the perfect color of pale orange and I surrounded them with pinecones and tiny faux pumpkins.

This is a spare table set up in the living room.

More of the green Majolica with salad plates from my Johnson Brothers ... with Fostoria cobalt blue wine glasses.   

I love the green ceramic pumpkins and the flameless lantern.   

The chicken pot pie casseroles are Temptations from QVC ... had them for years!  I just love the edge of the dinnerware.

Make sure you take a look at the dinner party booklet at the top of the post!   The theme is real described and the menu and recipes are included.   Happy Thanksgiving!  

Food photos and recipes follow in another post!   I'm posting with Tablescape Thursday and you can click through the icon on the right to see the other posts!

Food from the Pioneer Thanksgiving Dinner

Here are some of the menu items from the 
Pioneer Thanksgiving Dinner.  
The recipes are in the booklet 
posted in the above turning page document.

We started the evening with frosty apple cider and these sweet, cold Apple Jack cocktails!  Apple Jack is probably the oldest liquor made in the United States.  Read all about it in the cook booklet!

Appetizers, using foods from the era, included raw turnip sticks to dip in artisan's salt and venison sausage.

The is dressed Colby cheese, which is the closest thing to the hard cheese that pioneers might have made.   Dressing the cheese simply means topping or coating it with fresh herbs and storing it ... wrapped well, so it can absorb those flavors.

This is cream of chestnut soup ... used canned chestnut puree ... and persimmon corn bread baked in muffin tins shaped like maple leaves and another shaped like acorns.   The soup was served in covered bowls, but a pretty garnish would have been crisp bacon crumbles with a drizzle of a little bacon grease ... yes, bacon grease!

And here are a few loaves of rustic friendship bread, baked from a yeast starter.   You can bake it in regular bread pans, but I love the unusual shapes.
Recipes are all in the booklet!

Make sure you check out my recently published magazine article ... see the favicon at the top of the side bar on the right  ... beautiful pictures, recipes, menus and a perfect 'how-to' host great parties.   Click the picture to link back to the Southern Illinoisan Newspaper's Life and Style magazine.

Tabletop Sugared Pumpkins!

I just wanted to share my cute pumpkins I've put on my coffee table.  I love them!   They are Valerie Parr Hill and have a little shimmering light inside each one.  they look like they've been dipped in sugar!

I'm participating in Tabletop Tuesday, so make sure you
to see all the other posts!

Visit my home page, too and take a look at my Sunflower wedding shower post.  Happy October!

A Sunflower Bridal Shower!

I got the ducks and geese out for a recent bridal shower my daughter and I had for one of her former students!  Really, the bride was more than a student.  She was one of those young people that we adopted to be a special part of our family!   So, we crowded around one big table and enjoyed a luncheon ... then let her open her gifts ... then we gabbed for hours!

Pumpkin in Green!

Here's a cute tablescape I did for autumn ... actually, I set this table every fall!   These pictures are from a workshop I taught ... so yes, one in particular looks like a college classroom!  

I particularly love the color of the green pumpkin/squash.  It is considerably different than what we are used to seeing .. .although I usually buy a couple green  pumpkins ... that are technically squash ... I think!     I'm linking with Tablescape Thursday so make sure you click through to see the other tablescapes.

Pink is for Autumn

I'm posting this combination of pink china with autumn decor ... I used it some time ago as a teaching opportunity to demonstrate the use of atypical colors in autumn decor and tablescapes!  I'm linking to Pink Saturday, so make sure you click through to visit the other posts.  I want to be sure you visit my home page to see my September 11th post, too ... Have a safe weekend.

September 11th

I just posted this the other day, but given the importance of this day, I thought it appropriate to post it with Sunday Favorites and Seasonal Sundays.  This certainly is an important day.

Original Post:

I have spent a lifetime planning ways to share history and culture with people in ways that are easy to comprehend and understand ... from children to elderly adults.   We raised our daughter ... and now want to influence our grand daughter's interests ... by teaching those lessons around the dinner table ... often times in association with the theme or the menu of the meal.   What does all that mean?   Well, how do you teach the lesson of 9/11 in a way that little children might understand, without frightening them?

Did you know that September 11, 2001 was not the first time America was invaded on September 11th?  You might want to read my cooking column from today's Southern Illinoisan Newspaper to find the answer to that question.  Go to Made at Home to read more and find some great recipes.

I'll give you a hint ... the Battle of Brandywine fought during the American Revolution ... and this table is a celebration of the freedoms we need to be remembering on 9/11 as we teach the lessons of that tragedy ... and commemorate the loss we experienced that day.  It's a tablescape ... it's a special menu you'll find in the link above ... and it is a teaching opportunity that you might want to ponder.

This tablescape begins with replica Betsy Ross flags ... so use this as a time to talk about Betsy ... you'll find lots of information on this Betsy Ross site.

The china I've used is Noritake and the pattern is called Pioneer Bay ... and I can't think of anything better to use when celebrating the freedoms that our pioneer colonists fought for.

I love the rustic look of the placemat/chargers ... and the stars bandannas make perfect napkins.

The placemats came from Pier1, the red leaf dish is Depression Glass, the blue goblet is Indiana Glass and the red wine glass is Viking in the Georgian pattern.

Look more closely at the pattern on the china.  The primitive buildings are so neat!  I use this china often ... for any table that needs to be patriotic!  The color palette for accessorizing it goes from patriotic blue to ambers and browns.

Here's the centerpiece ... pretty simple, just a jar filled with grapevine balls and battery operated lights.   Check QVC, if you like the lights ... they are on a timer, so once you tuck them down inside something, you don't have to worry about digging them back out!

I'm participating in Tablescape Thursday so make sure you click through to visit the other posts!   Be sure to visit the link at the top of this post to see my column about September 11th ... and visit my home page if you haven't visited my site lately.  I have some neat posts!   Celebrate Freedom!

Wine on the Tabletop for Tuesday!

Oh, I have wine racks all over the house!  You've seen them in lots of posts.  We love wine and because we have been so involved in our local wine trail, we keep lots of local wine around.  We also enjoy wines from all around the world, so you can find just about anything on my racks.  I wanted to show you a couple things on this little rack ... because they are cute.  I'm posting with Tabletop Tuesday, so make sure you click through to visit the other posts!

I've had this little wine table for years, and I originally bought it because the tray top comes off.  I've moved in through several rooms and right now it is just tucked in the living room ... primarily to hold two things:  the cute wine bottle flameless candle (from QVC) and the hand print wine bottle on the right.  One of my friends gave me the bottle of wine with the imprint of the wine maker's hand on it ... for my 50th birthday!  I've never opened it.  The candle is fabulous ... I love real candles, but with two big dogs and a 4 year old ... flameless is a good thing!  I added the stained glass bauble.

Hope you enjoyed!  Make sure you visit my home page to see my other posts!  Happy September!

Pumpkin Party!

I'm posting with Sunday Favorites at Happy to Design, so make sure you click through to see the other posts!   I'm not necessarily ready for Halloween, but I sure am ready for cooler temperatures.  Summer 2011 in Southern Illinois has been pretty hot!   So, here's to cooler temperatures in September!
Be sure you visit my home page so you can see all my other posts!

Original Post from October, 2010:

Happy Halloween - Welcome to Dinner!

Welcome to my Halloween Girlfriends' Dinner Party!  The girls are coming for homemade lasagna ... witchy style.  The first thing they'll see when they arrive will be Miss Phoebe's decorating job on the front porch!

If they linger on the porch ... they'll meet even more pumpkins!

In the living room, they'll meet the Button Boys ...

In the bathroom, they'll meet my two witch sisters ... who needed a little boost in their self esteem!

Happy Pumpkin Party!   We're not done celebrating Halloween, so check back for Tablescape Thursday to see the last party in a month-long series!  Make sure you scroll down my page to see all my Halloween posts!  Special thanks to our party hostess ... you can click through her button on the left to see all the other posts.

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