Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 2013

Our celebration was small - just my husband and sons - but lovely, and made to feel very special with their favorite dishes set on a colorful table.

Here's proof that you don't have to spend a fortune to put together a pretty table . . .

You've seen before most of the elements that make up this table . . .

The one new thing are the dinner plates - Rachel Ray Double Ridge Cobalt Blue, recently acquired at my local supermarket (Jewel/Osco) on a stamps-for-china program!  I'm still trying to complete the set before the program expires!  
And now, my favorite part:  The flowers!  There's a new supermarket near my office called “Mariano's” that carries beautiful blooms, very fresh and a little out of the ordinary.  Their florist was very accommodating as she put together this lovely centerpiece . . .

It was made up of Purple Matsumoto Asters, Terracotta Yarrow, Red-tinted Salidago (that looks almost brown), Craspedia (Billy Balls), Red Hypericum berries and pinecones - so vibrant!

The meal was extravagantly conventional - you can't mess with tradition, but along with the pumpkin pie, we enjoyed a delightful new treat:  Ina Garten's French Chocolate Bark - I'll share the recipe soon!  
I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with joy, loving family and friends, good food, and a delightful tablescape.  God bless!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tea Bread Tuesday: Sweet Potato Bourbon Bundt Cake

WARNING:  This cake could become highly addictive.  DO NOT bake unless you have a house full of willing tasters!  It's too dangerous to have this much deliciousness just sitting around your kitchen counter! 

Since this was a trial run for Thanksgiving, we savored a portion for dessert, saved a piece for my husband for breakfast, then packed up the rest and took it to work to share with my co-workers, who didn't lose any time in gobbling it up!

Sweet potatoes, bourbon and pecans:  Could anything be more southern?  This bundt cake is very moist to begin with, and then, on top of that, you serve it with a delicious bourbon syrup!  I'd never cooked with bourbon before.  Actually, I had never even tried it.  Wow!  This is strong stuff!  Of course, the alcohol is evaporated in the cooking process so you won't get tipsy!
Look how the cake glistens with the sugar syrup!  The syrup was brushed on after the cake came out of the oven.  And I love how the pecans show up on the surface of the cake, like little promises of what's waiting inside!  This is a Martha Stewart recipe.  Good ol' Martha, she never disappoints me!  Click here for the recipe.

Thumbs up!  I'll be making this again tomorrow night!  Calling all tasters!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Apropos of nothing . . . XYZ Riddle solved!

A few years ago, I came across a short little poem that has stuck in my head and bedeviled me ever since.  Here it is again:

The cross the fork the zigzag—a few straight lines
For pain, quandary and evasion, the last of signs.
—Robert Pinsky

I wrote about it on this blog on April 24, 2009.  Click here for the post.

And here is the comment I wrote:

O.K., I get that X is the cross (pain), Y is the fork (quandary) and Z is the zigzag (evasion). What does the author mean by "the last of signs?" Such short lines and they are giving me a headache!

Ever since, when I least expect it, the poem worms itself into my consciousness and I revisit it over and over, until, with a Gallic shrug (I pretend I'm French) I once again set it aside.  Yes, I know that X, Y and Z are the last three letters of the alphabet, but what is the metaphor? 

Then today, the skies opened up, the sun came out and I'm pretty sure I heard angels sing!  I found this analysis by Erin Yorke online.  And here are the two beautiful sentences that jumped out at me from that essay:

“At the end of the alphabet, they are closing the end of communication, of signals, of individual lives and life itself, ‘the last of signs’.  It is almost as if the speaker has one, last brief image to leave with loved ones and strangers on the planet.”

It's so simple - now that it's been explained to me! 

Release, Maria . . . you can let this one go now . . .  Life is good.