Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Caramelizing 101

My goal was to write this post with as little explanation as possible - if a picture truly is worth a thousand words, then we have here 6,000 visual words for interpretation.

Two yellow onions sliced thin...
...very thin...
Place in a skillet over medium heat and sprinkle with kosher salt...
...add a drizzle of olive oil - not too much.
Cook and stir occasionally for several minutes - they'll begin to caramelize...
...keep cooking until they become a delicious golden color.
Add to slider burgers, ribeye, beef tenderloin, or in this case, individual size meatloaf. Enjoy! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rosalinde by Theodore Haviland New York

 Are you ready to set the table again?

It has been fun to have out the china this week. As I handle each piece, I am reminded of the people and stories behind them. I also love to touch and feel the delicate beauty of these fine things.

My second set of fine china is quite special to me. It was my Paternal Grandmother's wedding china.
My Grandma Justice was a beautiful, delicate, feminine lady. She was a pastor's wife who loved to serve others in her home.

This china was the set she chose upon her marriage to my Grandpa in 1932. It was a much loved and treasured set that did not come to her all at once when she married. Special occasions over the next 18 or so years were reasons to purchase new items. My dad says he remembers that the set was completed by 1950.

As I set the table with these pretties, I think of the hundreds of visiting preachers, church goers and family members who used these plates to eat Sunday lunch over the years. What stories these plates could tell!

It is with gratitude that I gaze at and use these pieces of China. I am blessed with the heritage they represent and the lessons of hospitality, servant hood and fellowship they convey.

*Theodore Haviland began in New York with David Haviland. When he discovered great porcelain resources in Limoges, France, he moved there and opened his own manufacturing company. His son, Theodore, continued the family business. In the 1930's, David's grandson, William began successfully manufacturing dinnerware in New York. For a more detailed account of this interesting story, visit Haviland Online.

*Special thanks to Connie for creating the beautiful flower arrangement from her garden!

This mini-series has resulted in far too many photos to post on one or two blog posts. Sadly, I couldn't find room for some of my favorites. So tomorrow, I will be posting more photos over on Sweet Tea Please. If you share my love of pretty things, stop by for a visit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Royal Albert Old Country Roses

As a young girl I lived in a rural community and was fortunate to spend several years next door to this very lovely lady:

I apologize for the photo quality - it was taken well before the digital age. A mother of five and retired nurse by profession, she often kept my older brother and I while my parents were out. We were all so fond of each other that we often referred to her as "aunt" despite our lacking genealogical relation. I spent summers playing with her visiting grandchildren and from her I learned many things form quilting to butchering a chicken to milking cows and shearing sheep...or is it sheering? Anyway, she could make a mean fried chicken and was a joyful spirit in my life - I can still hear her buoyant laugh and I spent hours upon hours with her during the five years I lived next door. She is in my hall of fame of gracious women who unwittingly helped to shape me into who I would ultimately become. I will forever be grateful for our years together.  She had two sets of dishes that stand out in my mind - one of them being Royal Albert Old Country Roses by Royal Doulton. At 8 years old I fell in love with British finery before I even knew what it was. I would spend hours drooling through the glass of her china cabinet looking at each piece of china, wishing I could touch it and at the same time being terrified at the thought of damaging a piece. I decided then that I would one day have that same china pattern. As the saying goes "you bring about what you think about" and true to the adage, I am the giddy owner of eight place settings and numerous serving pieces from Royal Doulton's Royal Albert Old Country Roses. 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the pattern and I look forward to adding many more pieces throughout the coming years. With all of my offspring, I'll need at least four more place settings, don't you think? 

When I became engaged to the Music Man we, like most couples, found ourselves at a major department store trotting around with a sales clerk scanning items for our registry. There was no question in my mind that Old Country Roses would be our china pattern so I was a bit surprised when my husband-to-be hesitated at the choice. Let me insert here that I lack any semblance of a filter...you know, that inborn trait that normal human beings possess where they stop and think about their words in that instant before they speak....I don't do that. I am somewhat of a blunt instrument, a bit outspoken and, well...I run a little hot (this temper has convinced me, along with my love of potatoes, that I must have a few Irish genes swimming around my DNA - at least, this is the story I'm sticking to). Needless to say, the Music Man's mild hesitation was met with a quick declaration that I would choose the china over him. What can I say? I tend to use a bazooka when a fly swatter would do. He married me anyway and took the china as part of the package. Now, he's in love with the pattern as much as I and we happily set our 2012 holiday table with it for the first time in forever. It was wonderful. 

Royal Doulton's Royal Albert China was first designed by Harold Holdcroft in 1962. While there are over 100 Royal Albert designs, Old Country Roses remains the most successful pattern - a testament to its timeless elegance and beauty. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Classic White Nordic by J&G Meakin

I LOVE cobalt blue! The dark blue against stark white is a beautiful contrast that I have always enjoyed. My fine china reflects this love and has inspired the color palettes of my kitchen and dining room.

When I was a very young child, a couple in the church my Dad was pastoring owned a small antique shop attached to their home. They gave this set of dishes, complete with serving dishes and coffee pot, as a gift to my Mom.  

Years later and several moves across the country later, these dishes were still in the box. My Mom had never used them and was probably tired of dealing with them in each of the moves they had made. One day, somewhere in Illinois, she pulled the box out to the yard as part of a yard sale.

However, no one showed any interest in buying them. One customer did look in the box and told my Mom that the dishes were still in stock. The customer advised my Mom to keep them.

Fast forward many more years. I was engaged and doing the things a soon-to-be-married girl does. During a discussion with my Mom about the items I wanted to register, she told me about a set of dishes packed away. We found the box and removed some of the items to examine their condition.

I thought they were beautiful! I remember being a little amazed that my mom had owned these all my life and I had never seen them.

These pretty blue and white babies have served me well! Items from the set grace my kitchen and dining room, and I never get tired of gazing at them.

*J&G Meakin was a British pottery manufacturer founded in 1851. The J & G represents the brothers James Meakin Jr and George Meakin. The business remained under family control until 1958 when it was acquired by Grundy and Jones. In 1970, it became a part of the Wedgwood group.

*Special thanks to Amanda for her help in staging and photographing the china. Also thanks to our friends who allow us to use their beautiful pecan orchard whenever we get the wild idea to photograph in it!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lovely Little China Patterns

I hope you've been following Leah's posts here on Goddess of Eats - I really enjoy reading her contributions and perusing her photos. If you've missed any of her posts you can scroll thru the "labels" category to the left and look for "Leah Belle".  Click the label and you'll be redirected to all of Leah's posts thus far. Aside from our enjoyment of photography and our love of good eats and sweet treats, Leah Belle and I share a few other things in common as well: we are both the daughters of Baptist preachers, both homeschooling moms, both have a soft spot for Oklahoma City, and we're both fond of lovely dishes. Leah and I would like to take the next three days to open up our china cabinets (or in my case, storage containers) to share our china patterns with you and the stories behind them. Check back tomorrow as Leah will begin our mini-series!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Decorating a Cake Table With Lights and Tulle - A Tutorial

When a friend's daughter recently got married, she found this picture of a beautiful cake table on Pinterest.

She asked me to help her recreate it for her reception. I, of course, agreed. As time for the wedding neared, I searched the internet for information on how to best do this. I was wondering what the easiest and most effective way to hang the lights under the table would be. Should the lights go under the table cloth or between the cloth and the tulle? Do they need to be pinned to the tablecloth or taped to the table? If tape, which would best hold the lights in place?

But, alas! I could not find any tips or advice. There are plenty of pictures of this idea, but no specific directions about the best way to create it. So my friend Lindsey and I gathered our supplies and began the trial and error method.

We decided that the lights would probably shine through the tablecloth alright and elected to tape the lights to the bottom of the table. We then discussed which type of tape would hold best. After deliberating, we decided to use Duct tape. We were wrong! It wasn't long before the strands began to fall. That trial was an error!

We then decided to try a common transparent adhesive tape, and it worked. We taped the end of a strand of white Christmas lights to the underside of the table near the edge. We looped the strand down to the floor then back up again to the table, taping it in place. We repeated this until lights were taped all the way around the table.

Next we covered the table with a white table cloth that reached to the floor. The light effect this produced was beautiful!

To further decorate, we added tulle in the Bride's colors and matching satin bows. The tulle was gathered into a swag and wrapped with floral wire.

We then used straight pins to attach the tulle to the table cloth. Straight pins were also used to attach the satin bows.

We used this method on both the Bride's cake table and the gift table. The results were wonderfully pretty and romantic. It was a perfect compliment to the beautiful winter wonderland reception the bride had planned.

I did not take my camera to the reception, but a friend allowed me to post a couple of her pictures here. These photos show the tables bearing cake and gifts.

As a bonus, in case you are wondering what the reception hall looked like. Here is a photo before everyone arrived.

It was fun to be a part of this wedding! I hope our trial and error takes the guess work out of your next lighting-under-a-table project.