29 January 2011

Potato Boats with Egg and Cheddar

Earlier this month I saw a recipe for Baked Potatoes filled with Egg, Cheese and Ham posted by my friend Ann @ Thibeault's Table. Then my friend Cathy @ Wives with Knives made it, where it was seen by Pam @ For the Love of Cooking, who adapted it as Baked Potato with Egg, Extra Sharp Cheddar, and Canadian Bacon. As these are all ladies that I highly respect and treasure their recipes, I decided I needed to make this myself. There was one large leftover baked potato in the fridge, so this morning I adapted the recipe in a vegetarian version for the Guy and I to have for breakfast.

Let's get the ingredients in place:

When we were up in Knoxville on Tuesday, I saw little signs (looked kind of like realtor signs) saying Cheese Sale. We followed them through the Agricultural College at UT until we found the Food Sciences Building. The Food Sciences Club sells cheese as a fundraiser. Up until 15 years or so ago they actually made the cheese at the University of Tennessee, but their creamery is now closed. The club gets their cheese from a creamery in Kentucky that works with them to have some really good cheeses to sell.
It's a fundraiser for students. It's cheese. How could we not get some? LOL. We came home with a pound of sharp cheddar, half a pound of pepper Jack and half a pound of medium cheddar. My potatoes are made with the sharp cheddar.

Hollowed out potato shells:

Potato boats ready to go in the oven:

I used sunflower and lemongrass Fiesta individual bakers. They were just the right size to hold the potato halves. And check out the yolks on the eggs. That beautiful deep orange colour is because they are free-range eggs from my CSA.


Dressed for serving:

The Guy wanted a huevos rancheros version, so he got salsa added to his.

I wanted to try mine sans salsa.

These are so good! I can't imagine why I never tried baking eggs in potatoes before. And today they were super easy and quick because I already had a potato baked. DD#2 tried some with salsa and sour cream. Her verdict was two thumbs up. We all really liked the cheese from UT in this, too. Cathy suggested adding some spinach and I may try that next time. I've got a good bit of spinach that I put in the freezer last spring that came in the veggie box and this would be a great flavour to add.

Potato Boats with Egg and Cheddar
Serves 2

1 large baked potato
Hawaiian red salt
Freshly ground pepper
Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs
Salsa, optional
Green onions, sliced

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Slice potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out some of the centres, leaving a 1/2" shell.

Season the potato shells with salt and pepper and add cheese to each. Crack eggs and gently slide one into each half. Put on a pan in the oven and bake until egg is set. This should take about 15 minutes, or so and the yolk will be soft. For a firmer yolk, cook longer.

Remove from oven, top with a little more cheese, salsa and green onions. Serve immediately.

1. I put the leftover potato from the boats into my soup container in the freezer.
2. Here we always have Hawaiian red salt on hand, but if you don't just use kosher, sea or whatever salt you prefer.

I'm linking this recipe to Kim's Saturday Swap over at Quit Eating Out. Click on the logo to check it out and join in the fun.

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Plate Flipping

Are you a Plate Flipper? I am. As a matter of fact, I am a card carrying member of the Homer Laughlin China Plate Flippers Association. You may be wondering, what the heck is a Plate Flipper? Catherine over at Small Town, Great Life has this explanation:

If you're from East Liverpool, you're allowed to flip plates (or bowls or mugs) no matter where you are, even in the company of nobility. In fact, it's kind of expected. That's because we East Liverpudlians look for backstamps no matter where we go, and we delight in finding backstamps familiar to us.

Backstamps--for the uninitiated--are a pottery's mark, usually placed on the base of a ceramic piece to let you know who designed or manufactured it. Backstamps date a piece, and place it geographically, and taking a gander at a backstamp is virtually the first thing any of us do when we're out to eat, in a friend's home, and so on. It might seem rude when other people do it, but when an East Liverpudlian exhibits plate-flipper tendencies, it's just pride in our hometown and in our industry.

I really like that part about "even in the company of nobility", but actually plate flipping goes beyond her description. It encompasses many people who are not from and have never been to East Liverpool, Ohio. The Homer Laughlin China Company began in East Liverpool, but moved across the river to Newell, WV right after the turn of the 20th century. However, they are still considered local to EL,O. After all, in 1905 they built the bridge across the Ohio River to connect the two towns.

I am a member of the Homer Laughlin China Collector's Association. Collectors are a funny bunch. We are passionate about our dishes, and we too, look at backstamps everywhere we go. Every year the HLCCA has a conference and various people from Homer Laughlin China are often in attendance. One of those people is Dave Conley, Director of Retail Sales and Marketing. Dave noticed we were somewhat obsessed with dishes and some years ago brought Homer Laughlin China Plate Flipper Association cards to one of the conferences. As we were all plate flipping anyway, he thought he would make it official. And if waitstaff at a restaurant look at you askance when you are checking out the dishes, you can just pull out your card.

Now why the heck am I writing about plate flipping? Well, something happened this week that warmed this dish loving mama's heart. When the Guy and I picked up DD#2 from her Honours Program interview from UT-Chattanooga on Monday, she started telling us about her experience. Just in the course of things she mentioned that the dishes in the Faculty Club at UTC are Homer Laughlin.

Back when she was in elementary school I noticed that she would flip plates right along with me when we were out and about. The first time I saw her do it, I e-mailed Dave and he promptly sent DD her own Plate Flipper card. She was about 8 years old at the time and was so excited to have a card of her own. While I don't know if she still carries her card with her, I was happy to know that she is still noticing who makes the dishes that are put in front of her.

A few backstamps:

Happy dish flipping!

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28 January 2011

Updates: Medical and Wedding

Well, let's get the unpleasant stuff out of the way. All of my counts have dropped a lot. Hopefully this is killing off the dysplasia that was trying to rear its head, and my DONOR CELLS, which are nice and HEALTHY, will rebound and start producing more blood cells to get my counts back up where they belong. The main thing I am noticing is that I run out of breath and am weaker than I want to be due to the low red count. I'm being careful not to cut or bruise myself and am being a hermit to avoid sick people.

There was a lot of back and forth about when to do the next chemo treatment. They started me out slowly at first: three days at 75% dose. For the second round I will have five days at 75% dose.

Looking at the calendar, the Guy, DD#2 and I have a trip to France coming up in March. In order to give me more than a week to get my counts up after the next round, it was decided that I will start the second set of Vidaza infusions on Monday 7 February. And by skipping next week, my counts will get a little more chance to come back up before being knocked down again. I will have the picc line removed on Friday 11 February. Yea! Don't want to wear that to France. It wouldn't go with my travel wardrobe at all!

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the fun stuff: WEDDING PLANNING. For those of you who don't know - my daughter, Abbey, and her fiancé, Donnie, are getting married at DisneyWorld in June. The ceremony will take place in the Wedding Pavillion on the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon and the reception dinner will be at the Grand Floridian.

This has to be one of the most fun things I have ever done. I love spending time with Abbey and DD#2 working out all the details. One huge thing is done: I got the Fiesta favours ordered.

At least ten years ago I met Judi Noble and Dave Conley at an HLCCA Conference. Judi is Art Director and Dave is Director of Retail Sales and Marketing at Homer Laughlin China. Now I know that HLC does various advertising things on dishes for different companies and it occurred to me that something wedding-ish on Fiesta would make a wonderful favour for the guests at Abbey's wedding. At the HLCCA conference this past July I talked with Judi and Dave about having a piece of Fiesta to be said favours. Then I actually set things in motion late in the fall. The artwork is wonderful. Abbey looked at the renderings and said, "Perfect!" So I finally got everything together and placed the order on Friday. The dishes will be here in plenty of time. I for sure will have to get photos of the boxes sitting on the front porch. (Sorry, you may have to be one of my dish buddies to get the humour of that.)

When we were at DisneyWorld for Christmas we spent one afternoon meeting with the wedding planner and floral coordinator, tasting wedding cakes and fillings, choosing the cake design, and in general going over everything to do with a perfect wedding. Today we got the initial plan back from Disney with all those details in writing. It is pages long, but very detailed. I love that. Nothing is left to chance or question. Everything is spelled out so we are all on the same sheet of music. This truly is going to be a fairytale wedding.

This afternoon we worked on seating arrangements at the reception dinner and clarifying the time and date of the Magic Kingdom photo shoot. The bridal portraits and some of the wedding portraits will be made at Cinderella's Castle before the park opens.

We also went over the menu for the reception cocktail hour and dinner - just thing a food oriented person likes to do. There were many choices and Abbey and I are both really pleased with the final menu. After the fact, I will post it, along with lots of photos.

Next big thing on my agenda is going shopping for my MOB dress. Just have to get my blood counts high enough so that I can go out in public again. Thinking positively!!!

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26 January 2011

Swim said the mama fishy...

Swim if you're able
And they swam and they swam all over my table.

This week I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday and Beverly at How Sweet the Sound for Pink Saturday.

My tablescape was inspired by my friends Candy, Daphne, Elaine and Rebecca, who did Coast-to-Coast: Two Fish, Four Fish, New Fish, More Fish last week for Tablescape Thursday. They chose to use the same fish tablecloth in four different colourways and posted them on Tabletop Time: East Coast and The Little Round Table: West Coast. If you did not see their beautiful settings last week please check them out before continuing.

When I saw their tables I remembered that I had that same tablecloth in at least one colourway. Since Abbey had helped me organize all my tablecloths a few weeks ago, I had a pretty good idea of where to look for it. Sure enough, I have the same fishy tablecloth that Elaine used - the colourway with the gold fish, turquoise coral, and pink seaweed.

And I remembered thinking when we put it away that this cloth would look fabulous with marigold Fiesta.

Marigold is the colour celebrating Fiesta's 75th Anniversary. While a few special shapes in this glaze have been released the last few years, the remainder of the line will come out this year for the anniversary. I am anxious to be able to get place settings to use with this tablecloth, but in the meanwhile, I decided to see what I could do using some of the shapes that are already out. And of course, I would need some other colours to go with it in order to set the table.

Today's table is set with the gold fish tablecloth, post-86 Fiesta in marigold, rose and turquoise, vintage Metlox spiral candleholders in rose and turquoise, vintage Chicken of the Sea tuna bakers and shakers in the standard colours as well as some unusual colours, pale gold glassware that belonged to my great-grandmother (tea came in these from the grocery store in the early 1900s), bamboo flatware from Cambridge, post-86 Fiesta go-along turquoise napkins and yellow napkin rings that I got several years ago from Sur la Table. My breakfast room faces east so when the morning sun comes in I get lots of lovely natural light. Sometimes that makes tablesetting pieces be backlit, so I also made some photos of the table after dark with the room lights.

One of my great-grandmother's glasses:

The glass is so thin and delicate in these. They fit perfectly in your hand and I treasure them.

Besides Homer Laughlin dishes, I have also collected promotional pottery from a number of different potteries. The Chicken of the Sea tuna pieces and associated ephemera (1940-41) are some of my favourites. And I've been lucky enough to find pieces in some odd colours to go along with the standard ones that were sold in the promotion. Standard glazes were yellow, maroon (called dusky rose in ads), green and turquoise and all were glossy. I also have matte coral, glossy coral, cobalt, delph blue and matte turquoise in my collection.

Marigold large Fiesta platter holding bakers in turquoise blue, dusky rose, delph blue and sea green:

The other standard colour for the bakers was canary yellow.

Now this is an odd baker.

What makes it odd is that it's considerably smaller than all the other bakers, it's coral, it's trimmed in gold, and there is no mark on the bottom. It almost appears to be an amateur piece, but I have never seen any others in this size or decorated with the gold.

Officially the bakers are called Tuna Bakers and Salad Servers. The chrome stands are to protect your table from the hot dish. I have the recipe pamphlet that came with them, but I have never been brave enough to put them in the oven. I have used them to serve tuna salad though.

Check out Candy's blog for pics of some of the ephemera for the premium pieces. Lots of times people sell the Chicken of the Sea pottery as Bauer, but the glaze colours are not the same and there is no proof that Bauer ever made them. A lot of us have been researching and we believe that several different potteries made the fish. The bakers come in at least two different shapes with different markings and the lids are not interchangeable.

Many of the shakers have been found in original mailing boxes and all of those were postmarked Hollydale, CA. Hollydale Pottery was located there, so it is likely they were one of the producers. Also there are anecdotal stories from the families of Hollydale workers who say they made the fish. Here is a shot of two of the mailing boxes that shipped with pairs of the shakers.

In the boxes were notes saying that corks did not come with the shakers and to use tape to cover the openings in the bottom. I have always wondered why they did that.

Normal colours for the shakers are turquoise blue for salt (the one with two holes) and canary yellow for pepper (three holes). I've also found them in coral, cobalt and delph blue.

This is one of the most interesting pairs of shakers in my collection:

Notice how they are stuck together? When they were put in the kiln to fire, they were placed too close together and the glaze on the two pieces fused. This can happen when making pottery, but normally when the pieces are removed from the kiln they come apart and the glaze will be damaged where they touched This pair is forever joined together with a kiln kiss.

The Metlox candleholders:

Every time I use these I am amazed at how they were manufactured and how well they have survived. The spiral candleholders also came in the radioactive red glaze, ivory, coral, green and yellow.

There is another fish tablecloth that goes wonderfully vintage Harlequin in its original four colours. Several years ago I did a tablesetting using those, the Chicken of the Sea pieces, and a Trenton pottery vase that is also in my favourite blue glaze. As a little bit of lagniappe, here are a few shots from that table:

Happy Fishing!

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