Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Topsy Turvy Easter

Our sons had complicated work and school schedules so we had our Easter feast on Saturday night - our Topsy Turvy Easter Brunch!

Instead of the simple, symmetrical lines I usually prefer, I tried something more whimsical, and, overcoming the testosterone that surrounds me, I went pink!

I bought these glass candy dishes from Lillian Vernon, a long, long time ago - at least 15 years ago . . .

They are tiny, but perfect for candy-coated sunflower seeds . . .

Remember the nests from Williams-Sonoma?  They are making their second appearance, this time holding jelly beans . . .

The jelly bean colors were pure serendipity.  The Jolly Ranchers jelly beans were, at first, a make-do substitute for the Jelly Bellies I'd bought earlier . . . and which my DH ate as soon as he discovered the stash!  But the colors in this bag matched my theme . . . Sometimes, things seem come together so beautifully!

More rabbits!

The tulips were placed in bud vases in two different heights to create interest, and it was still easy to see the person sitting on the opposite side . . .

The taller bud vases came from IKEA (79¢ each!) . . .

The smaller vases came from Crate and Barrel . . .

I bought the tablecloth and napkins at HomeGoods . . . The pink and green plaid was a strong design element that balanced the overall softness of the pink theme . . .

I placed tea light holders on the table thinking that it would be dark enough to light them.  However, there was still plenty of daylight left when we sat down at 6:30 P.M. . . . And that was totally fine with me!

Later on, they glowed beautifully on the fireplace mantle.  What a lovely green color!

Where do you go if you want the best seasonal - and reasonably priced - flowers?  Trader Joe's of course!

The tulip-shaped Chardonnay glasses came from IKEA.  At $1.99 each, who could resist?

Fresh Blueberry-Raspberry Muffins with Streusel topping . . .  The napkin has a Reticello lace corner and is part of a tablecloth set given to us by my godmother on David's baptism.

What would Easter be without a butter lamb on the table . . . ?

The menu, as always, was my kids' favorite:  Dad's pancakes, scrambled eggs, and sausage . . .  

I added the muffins and Quiche Lorraine, and a nice bottle of Chardonnay (I mean, it was dinner, right?)

Oh, and some flaky rolls . . .

Never surprise the kids while eating, or we get this . . .

And this . . .

Happy Easter to everyone!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy birthday, Mama Abuela!

Remembering my grandmother today, in what would have been her 110th birthday.  Here she is below, holding me, her only granddaughter.

The most important memory I have of my grandmother is how she always made me feel - loved, safe, perfect.  Her eyes would light up when she saw me.  She used to call me "rayito de sol" - her little ray of sunshine.  She was the first person to really listen to me and to make me feel that my opinions truly mattered.  And I amused her.  I once told her that I thought my ears had the same shape as hers, but I hoped they wouldn't get as big.  She laughed until she cried, and then she said she hoped so, too. 

I regret so much that I have so few pictures of her.  She loathed the camera, and somehow, managed to avoid it with amazing regularity.  And yet, it's not so important.  I have her face imprinted in my memory . . . and I don't need to see her face to feel her immense love.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tea Bread Tuesday: Seed Bread

“ ‘Anything further I can get you, my lady?  Cake of any kind?’
‘Cake?’  Lady Selina thought about it, was doubtful.
‘We are serving very good seed cake, my lady.  I can recommend it.’
‘Seed cake?  I haven't eaten seed cake for years.  It is real seed cake?’
‘Oh, yes, my lady.  The cook has had the recipe for years.  You'll enjoy it, I'm sure.’
Henry gave a glance at one of his retinue, and the lad departed in search of seed cake.”

Seed cake?  What the heck is seed cake?  I was inpired this week by Agatha Christie's novel “At Bertram's Hotel” - one of Miss Marple's mysteries.  I can just picture Lady Selina, in that oh-so-very-proper-English-accent saying: “It is real seed cake?” Well, I've solved my own little mystery by baking this interesting bread!  The seeds in question are caraway seeds!

Here's the recipe:

1¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground almonds
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup maple sugar, or sweetener of choice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
3 tablespoons caraway seeds
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F.  Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan and line it with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, salt and almonds.  Set aside.
  3. In a larger bowl, cream butter and sugar until light colored and creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately, a little at a time, until it is fully incorporated.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle with a little sugar and bake for 50-60 minutes or until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes then invert on a rack and cool completely.  Serve with butter or whipped cream.
I wonder if Lady Selina would approve . . .

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Argument of His Book

I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
Of April, May, of June and July flowers.
I sing of Maypoles, hock carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes.

I write of youth, of love, and have access
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness.
I sing of dews, of rains, and, piece by piece,
Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris.
I sing of times trans-shifting, and I write
How roses first came red and lilies white.

I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The court of Mab and of the fairy king.
I write of hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of heaven, and hope to have it after all.
                                                          —Robert Herrick

A little piece of heaven on earth:  The daffodils are blooming!