30 March 2011

A 50's Tropical Birthday Table - for Rebecca

There is a group of friends known as the Tablecloth Fairies or Dish Divas, depending on the situation at the moment. One of the Divas has been especially busy and not able to participate in tablescaping lately. This particular Diva is particularly fond of tropical tablesettings and the 50's colours of Fiesta and Harlequin (dark or forest green, chartreuse, grey, rose, and medium green). So in honour of the anniversary of her birth, we are doing tablescapes for her blogland birthday party.

Be sure to check out the other Diva's blogs for more birthday tables:
Daphne @ Tabletop Time
Elaine @ Dishing with CaraFaye
Candy @ The Little Round Table

I started with a very cool 1950's tablecloth in a tropical pattern. And it includes chartreuse, dark green and grey, along with bright yellow and red.

Thinking about which dishes to use, at first I started with only the dark green Harlequin. But after looking at it, I decided to add some chartreuse and yellow.

Two of my favourite pieces: the casserole and teapot.

Cream and sugar have the same cone shape.

As does the sauceboat.

Harlequin's candleholders were discontinued before the 50's colours were introduced. But the yellow ones go well with this tablecloth, I think.

The glassware is a from a vintage set that also includes a pitcher.

Flatware and these atomic looking napkin rings continue the green theme.

Happiest of birthdays Rebecca! I wish you much joy today and every day!

Make a wish!

On the table:
Vintage Harlequin dinnerware in dark green, chartreuse and yellow
Cambridge flatware
Napkins and napkin rings from Pier One
Vintage glassware
Vintage tablecloth

This is being linked to Jenny @ off on my tanget for Alphabe-Thursday where Today's Letter is "Y" - Y is for YELLOW candleholders and Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. Check out their blogs to see all the other fabulous tablescapes and takes on the letter Y.

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24 March 2011

Cinnamon Custard Bread Pudding with Fresh Berries

This was originally a recipe from Bradley Ogden that first appeared in Food & Wine back in 1987 - the year I had my first baby. Sometimes I do wonder where the time goes! I have always used this as a dessert (bread pudding, you know), but the magazine suggested it as a breakfast or brunch item. My friend Linda @ How to Cook a Wolf always serves it for Christmas breakfast with maple syrup and the berries. No matter when you eat this, it is delicious!

Yesterday I got several transfusions of red cells and platelets, so today I got to be one of those "wives with knives". You know, a person who gets to really cook. Someone, I wouldn't know who, had bought a loaf of Cinnabon Cinnamon Bread that needed something done with it. This recipe was just the thing to rescue that loaf of bread. After all, bread pudding (like pain perdue) was invented as a way to use up bread that might otherwise go stale.

Let's get everything we need together. (Now where is the butter hiding? I know it made it into the recipe.) Eggs with the beautiful green and brown shells are from my CSA.

(Look at how weird this picture looks. I'm trying out my new Coolpix P7000 while my D90 gets repaired. Have to work on the flatness.)

Bread torn up into pieces (I didn't have quite enough slices of cinnamon bread today, so I supplemented with some good white sandwich bread.)

Into the baker and ready to go in the oven

While the pudding is baking let's work on the topping. Some beautiful fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries along with my homemade Blackberry Liqueur.

Berries macerating.

I like to just put them in a canning jar and put them in the fridge for awhile.

Look how beautifully this bread pudding puffs.

Cooling before serving.

And plated in a maroon Harlequin bowl with Cityscape flatware. I love the way this recipe looks in this dish!

Bread Pudding is a wonderful Southern dessert and most families have their own version. There are three basic ingredients: bread, milk/cream, and eggs. It's the flavourings and additions that personalize the recipes. In Louisiana we typically used French bread, but using different breads gives a somewhat different end product. I've used French bread, brioche, croissants, etc. Really just whatever bread is on hand and needs to be used. Cinnamon raisin bread is a nice change of pace. Over time I have altered the way I make the recipe to be more like the way my Mom makes Bread Pudding, but the link to Food & Wine will take you to the original. Bon Appétit!

Cinnamon Custard Bread Pudding with Fresh Berries
16 slices of cinnamon or cinnamon/raisin bread
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
5 large eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla
pinch of salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
Fresh berries
Chambord or homemade Blackberry Liqueur, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9"×13" glass or ceramic baking dish. These days I use my Fiesta rectangular baker.

Tear up bread into bite-sized pieces and drizzle with melted butter. (Pour bread into baking dish if you did this in a bowl.)

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the granulated sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Pour the milk mixture over the bread, pressing gently to be sure all the bread is moistened well.

Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the custard is set. Transfer the baking dish to a rack and let rest for 15 minutes.

While the custard bread pudding is baking, macerate the berries in the liqueur if you are going to use that. Plate the pudding into individual dishes and serve with berries and a drizzle of their liquid.

1. Like so many of the overnight "French Toast" recipes, this can be assembled several hours or the night before you want to bake it. If I do that I will take it out of the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes or so before putting it in the oven.
2. Another serving option would be with the fresh berries and whipped cream.

I'm linking this to Michael Lee's Foodie Friday @ Designs By Gollum, Friday's Favourites by Sandi & Bill @ Whistlestop Cafe Cooking, Sweet Tooth Friday with Allison @ Alli'n Son, and Kim's Saturday Swap over at Quit Eating Out.

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23 March 2011

X-tra Special Art Deco Table

Today I am so lucky! I have been able to set an X-tra special table. It is x-tra special because the tablecloth belongs to my friend Elaine @ Dishing with CaraFaye and she has loaned it to me. Elaine and I are IRL friends as well as online friends. We first met several years ago on our favourite dish board and have been friends ever since. Last month when my sister, my DDs and I went on our girls' trip to Virgina, we stopped by to visit Elaine. Her house, dishes and tablecloths are TDF. I had seen photos of this tablecloth and asked her if I could borrow it for a Harlequin table. She graciously agreed and I brought it home with me then. Now I am so excited to see how my favourite art deco dishes look with it.

Doesn't the tablecloth have the greatest deco jazz design? I love the musicians, cocktails, etc.

Harlequin was introduced by Homer Laughlin in 1937 as a less expensive counterpart to Fiesta and it was sold through Woolworths. Originally there were four glaze colours: maroon, Harlequin blue, Harlequin yellow, and spruce. Today I am using two of those colours - maroon and Harlequin blue. And as I have used Harlequin blue several times lately, this time the main colour is maroon. I'm also using a few pieces of ivory Fiesta and Riviera as accents.

While Fiesta has iconic rings, Harlequin has this iconic cone shape.

Sugar bowl and novelty creamer on a Fiesta utility tray. The regular creamer is cone-shaped, but the novelty creamer is a round ball like the service water pitcher.

The Harlequin ball jug, aka service water pitcher. This particular one is the first one I ever purchased. My Mom and I found it at a flea market in Louisiana many years ago and I remember us both being so excited! (She collects Harlequin, also.)

The butter dish that was used with Harlequin was the Jade shape. Ivory is not a standard Harlequin colour, but several of these ivory glazed butter dishes are around. Many have decals, but as this one was just the plain glaze I picked it up when I saw it. It holds two sticks (one-half pound) of butter.

Nut dishes were copied from a Japanese piece and glazed in Harlequin colours. I like to use them for salt cellars or soy sauce. The original Japanese dishes had a floral design embossed in the clay, but when the bowl was reproduced for Harlequin, they only kept the basketweave pattern.

To me the Deauville flatware is just perfect to use with Harlequin.

My wedding crystal: Eternal by Lenox. Lenox no longer makes this original Eternal pattern. The current one is called Eternal Gold. The stems on the original were hand cut and production costs became prohibitive. It rings beautifully.

Thanks to all for stopping by. I am linking this to Jenny @ off on my tanget for Alphabe-Thursday where Today's Letter is "X" - X is for "X-tra Special" and Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

On today's table:
Harlequin: Harlequin blue plates, deep plates and nut dishes; Maroon plates, deep plates, nut dishes, ball jug, novelty creamer, sugar, shakers, platter and oval vegetable bowl; ivory half pound butter dish
Fiesta: ivory utility tray
Riviera: Harlequin blue handled mugs, ivory handled mugs
Flatware: Deauville silverplate by Oneida
Ivory napkins have been around a long time and I don't remember from whence they came.
Silverplate napkin rings
Goblets - Eternal by Lenox (no longer produced)

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20 March 2011

Vernal Equinox - 20 March 2011

Yea for today! The days are getting longer and this evening it will officially be SPRING. We've had a beautiful week and for the last few days the temps have been in the 80s.

An equinox happens twice each year, in the spring and in the fall. On an equinox the tilt of the earth's axis is neither toward, nor away from the sun. The word equinox comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day are approximately equally long.

In spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the equinox typically happens on 20 or 21 March. Also, the equinox is not a whole day, it is a specific point in time. It happens when the centre of sun can be observed directly over the earth's equator. For those of us in the Central Time Zone of the US, that will happen at at 6:21pm CDT today.


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Super Perigee Full Moon - 19 March 2011

Last night we had what NASA called "a full Moon of rare size and beauty". It was what is known as a "super perigee moon"--and it was the biggest one we have seen in almost 20 years. March of 1993 was the last time this occurred. Full moons appear to change in size because of the oval shape of the moon's orbit. It is an ellipse with one side (perigee) about 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other (apogee). Nearby perigee moons are about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than moons on the apogee side of the orbit. Last night's full moon occurred less than one hour away from perigee--a near-perfect viewing coincidence.

The Guy and I were out at the farm yesterday and stayed late so that we could observe this momentous event. It was absolutely gorgeous! I was trying out my new little Nikon Coolpix P9000, so there is not a lot of detail in the moon face, but here are a few photos.

Happy skywatching!
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18 March 2011

Warm weather and Hawaiian Daisy

The last couple of days have been very spring-like. Daffodils, flowering trees and bushes have been showing their blooms everywhere around here. And the fragrance is amazing! Many of the flowers are pink and I debated whether or not to use some of those photos for joining Beverly's Pink Saturday @ How Sweet the Sound, but 80° makes me think warmer than spring. I decided to post this tablescape that was photographed last summer, right after I was lucky enough to find the pink tablecloth on Etsy.

Hawaiian 12 Point Daisy is one of the two Fiesta Casuals that Homer Laughlin produced in the 1960s. That is not an official name from HLC. The moniker was given by collectors. Originally 12 Point was in the name because each daisy has 12 petals. Most collectors now simply call the pattern Hawaiian Daisy. Not every shape was made with the daisy design. Turquoise Fiesta pieces were sold to fill out the sets.

I have loved this pattern for years, but had a hard time finding a tablecloth that I liked with it. Finally I ran across this pink daisy tablecloth and the Hawaiian Daisy was the first thing that crossed my mind.

In addition to using some vintage turquoise Fiesta, I also used vintage turquoise Harlequin, Riviera and Franciscan.

Riviera butter dish (very HTF in turquoise), Harlequin marmalade, Franciscan tumbler made into mug with art deco chrome holder, original straight-sided Fiesta utility tray.

Harlequin novelty creamer and Fraciscan promotional teapot made for Sperry Flour.

Fiesta sweets comport, Fiesta syrup pitcher, Harlequin 36s oatmeal bowls.

In addition to the featured pottery the table is set with:

Pink Daisy tablecloth, maker unknown
Cityscape flatware by Oneida
Post-86 Fiesta go-along turquoise napkins
White napkin rings I have had forever.

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