Wednesday, July 29, 2009

such a good time!

The visit was a success. Everyone has gone now and I am regrouping and hoping to get back into the blog mode. We really cooked and we really ate! The foods were "early Sussex" for Gram Potter who was a wonderful cook. The quilts were for Gram who made them by hand. And the rest of the food is what Jean and I blended for a contemporary feeling.

The Menu

Pickled Beets
Deviled Eggs
Baked Beans
Potato Salad
Creamy Coleslaw
Barbecued Chicken with Rub
Barbecued Pork from Georgia
Snowflake Rolls

Orange Shortcake Biscuits
with white and yellow peaches
garnished with raspberrries and
whipped cream

unsweetened tea

I didn't get any pictures. Once the food was on the table it was on the table. We used paper plates - just plain white paper plates and paper towels so it didn't seem photogenic.

Jack thought there would be too much food. Two of my 3 sons were there. We had leftovers for dinner and that food is gone. We were lucky to be able to grill the chicken and eat outside before the heavens opened up again (yes, more rain). My boys had not seen their Aunt for a few years so that was fun. With my friends from South Portland, there were 7 adults and 2 children.

I used to make baked beans in the bean pot. I soaked them overnight and used salt pork, onion ,dry mustard, and molasses. The when I served them I would smother them with ketchup. Now I make them Larry's way. They are never the same twice but they are always good. Depending on the number of people, I use 1 regular can or 3 large cans of baked beans. I like Bush brand but that is just my choice. I like the vegetarian beans. Or mix a couple of kinds. This what I call a dump casserole. Dump the beans in a casserole (for this crowd I used a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish) and 2 large cans of beans. Chop 2 onions coarsely and add those. Then add 1/2 package of real bacon pieces, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, A few glugs of molasses, 1/2 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce. Stir this all together. We cook the casserole at 350 degrees for about 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours. We like the top to caramelize. You can also lower the oven temperature and cook longer.

I need a few days of sunshine or at least no rain. I need to find some flowers and gardens. The rain has ruined most Jack's flowers and I am going through older photos trying to find all the day lilies that I want to merge. There is still more to come so stay tuned.

Friday, July 24, 2009

the fun has begun

We are doing Christmas in July. The table runners have been cut and the machine is ready to go. The pattern is cute. It is a quilt as you go and the Robert Kaufman fabrics are scrumptious. I have been sewing and Jean has been cooking! We have a rhubarb pie, creamy slaw, and deviled eggs under way. This afternoon the biscuits will be started and the baked bean casserole assembled. And those cookies called "Rocks" just came out of the oven. I think we have done enough cooking for today.

On Saturday the weather cooperated enough for the sailboat regatta. So we had entertainment while we recreated our "Sussex, NJ" Sunday picnic.

We will serve the biscuits with peaches, raspberries and real whipped cream!

Orange Shortcake Biscuits

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
zest of 1 orange, finely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup half and half

2 tablespoons half and half for brushing the tops of biscuits
1-2 tablespoons raw sugar for sprinkling on tops of biscuits

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to blend. Add orange zest. Whisk. Cut the butter into tablespoon size pieces and cut into flour with your fingers or a pastry blender. Work until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the creams. Mix until dough just starts to come together in a ball. Turn dough onto a slightly floured surface and knead 2-3 times until it just comes together. Do not overwork. Roll or pat to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut with 2-2 ½ inch biscuit cutter or just cut into squares or triangle. Place on parchment lined sheet pan. Brush with cream and sprinkle tops with raw sugar. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 20 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned on top and flaky in the center. These are a cross between a scone and a shortcake.

Jean brought recipes and ideas and even a big hunk of barbecued pork which we will have on Sunday when we have a big crowd. We will start cooking again tomorrow. We cooked a flank steak on the grill with spice rub that she brought with her. Tomatoes and corn completed the meal. Easy - we could sit and watch Jack grill.

Meat spice rub
1/3 Kosher salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons thyme
This a wonderful rub. Sweet but with a little kick. Rub the meat with vegetable or olive oil and massage the rub over the surface. Keep the mixture in an air tight container.
I had to have another one of Dee's paintings for the cabin. There used to be a stove pipe behind those boards. Everyone looked up there anyway so I put something up there to look at! Dee Smart at Sweet Laurel does these paintings and they can go inside or outside.
There will be more recipes and pictures later this week. I need to get everything organized.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

big day tomorrow

The birthday festival continues....My sister arrives tomorrow. It will be a short visit but we will cram as much into the visit as we can. She and her husband own a catering business in Atlanta so I am sure that we will be in the kitchen even though she is on vacation. Reminiscing about our parents and grandparents will ultimately lead to food.

You cannot spend the summer in Maine without talking about the weather. Hopefully, it will be wonderful but so far it does not look promising. Good thing I have 2 sewing machines and lots of fabric.

I was rummaging around and found some feed sack material. Years ago I went to Lancaster County to the big quilt show. What a treat. For a quilter from a little town in Maine, it was a shopper's paradise. I had no idea of the "stuff" out there. However, the feed sacks caught my eye. There were packages of precut squares. They were all different. The feed sacks had been washed, layered, and die cut. I think I bought one of each collection. I have made 2 quilts with these squares and even won a ribbon at the Fryeburg Fair!

I haven't used all of the feed sacks so I think I will make another quilt for the loft. Then I will bring some of Gram Potter's pillowcases with knitted lace trim for shams. The twin beds will each have a quilt for a bedspread and one folded at the foot of the bed.

We raced around grocery shopping for my sister's visit tomorrow. They had mussels in the fish market so that's what we had for dinner. I use my wok because it the best shape for cooking this dish in the cabin and it works well. Saute 2 minced shallots in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add about 2 cups wine and cook down until the wine is less evident. Add mussels and cook covered until they open. Meanwhile cook the pasta of your choice and toss with pesto. I add the mussel broth as well and serve the mussels on top. A crusty baguette is a good accompaniment. This a very easy and elegant dinner.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

getting ready for company

Too many dishes and not enough table space much less storage space! There are so many wonderful blogs out there and lots of them have gorgeous table settings. The photography is outstanding. The use of light and props is creative and I want to run to the store and find all the little decorative items they use.

The linens are crisp. Many are antique with beautiful lace. I have a lot of Gram Potter's back in Florida. Here at the cabin I only have the retro tablecloths and no ironing board!

We will have a houseful next week when my sister arrives from Atlanta. Our friends from South Portland will be here as well. Hopefully my boys will be here as well as the grandchildren. I am thinking about the menu......and the weather which has been a real issue this summer.

I like things that can be made ahead. We will make Larry's beans and Don will make a cake. I will do my potato salad. Jeff said something about lobster rolls.

I have been craving pickled beets. I made them years ago. They need to be water bathed and I don't have the canning kettle or the inclination to go through all that. While looking for something else on Food Network, I saw this recipe courtesy of Alton Brown. So today I made it! They look wonderful! I had to roast my beets longer than the 40 minutes suggested in the recipe but that could be because they had been stored in the refrigerator and I doubled the amount of the pickling liquid. I will use what is left on fresh cucumbers for dinner. Two quarts is the right amount for this cottage because not everyone likes them as much as I do.

Pickled Beets

6 medium beets, cleaned with 1-inch stem remaining
2 large shallots, peeled
2 sprigs rosemary
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large purple onion, Frenched
1 cup tarragon vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup sugar
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 400°. Toss the beets with the olive oil, shallots, rosemary and olive oil. Place in a foil pouch and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the beets.
Remove the skin from the beets and slice thinly. Layer beets and onion in quart jar. Boil the vinegar, salt, sugar and water and pour over the beets. Seal and let stand in refrigerator for 3 to 7 days. Makes 2 quarts.

I prepared them above and this is what I have now!

Speaking of company, we had some last week.

Jack counted 29! Lovely to look at but the mess on the beach!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"happy - when skies are blue"

I love the signs for camps in Maine. We call them camps but they can be exquisite properties, log cabins, modular, or little cottages. Most have a deck or a porch especially if they are on the lake. Our camp is a little one but we have the view that all of our neighbors have and that peaceful feeling that comes just being on the lake and looking at it. In the morning there is usually mist on the lake and the surface is like glass. The currents start to move and by 5 o'clock we can have white caps. Tuesday night there is a sail boat regatta which we watch from the shore. On weekends there is more boat traffic so we like it better during the week!

We have had some sun. I feel like I should whisper so it doesn't change. The song "You are my sunshine" keeps running through my head. When my sister and I were kids, my parents would pack up the car and drive from New Jersey to Cape Cod for my dad's two week vacation. My mother's sister June had a small house in West Yarmouth. We would spend some time with them. She was full of life and laughter. She played the guitar and we would all sing. "You are my sunshine" was a favorite and good for harmonizing.

I always loved the Cape. We spent our vacations there for years. Even after I was married, had children, and moved to Maine. Then we realized how gorgeous Maine was and I have not been back for many years.

The basil is coming along in the window box but for a while I was afraid that wet soil would pry the box right off the wall. I will make pesto very soon. I use the recipe from Joy of Cooking and it is perfect every time. I use the pesto with pasta, on pizza, with steamed mussels and in paninis just to name a few. I freeze it in small containers so that each one has a special use and there is rarely a spoonful left.

This weekend we will get ready for my sister's visit. I am making pickled beets and will try to finish a quilt. The garden needs spiffing up and hopefully we will have a cookout.

I'm still figuring out some of the technicalities of this blogging. I have appreciated your comments and suggestions,

Saturday, July 11, 2009

lazy day

Yesterday was a good day at the cabin. We decided to go out to lunch at the Black Horse Tavern. A couple of weeks ago (probably during my birthday festival), we went for lunch and they had an amazing special - Seared Scallops on Panko Potato Pancakes with Mornay Sauce. So last night I tried to duplicate it - not exact but quite good. The picture does not do the dish justice and you have to pretend that I found the Panko bread crumbs instead of just making a patty out of the mashed potatoes. We ran out of food shopping time before I could make another stop at another market. Next time for sure.

I roasted 2 huge baking potatoes and scooped out the inside. I added butter and milk, salt and pepper and mixed it all together. Jack formed this into pancake shapes. Next time I will dip them in beaten egg and the bread crumbs and saute until lightly browned. I will try not to use too much olive oil and butter.

I made the Mornay sauce and set aside over very low heat. I used 1 shallot minced very fine as an addition. Start with 2 tablespoons butter in a sauce pan. Melt and saute shallot. Add 2 tablespoons flour and cook together. Then add 2 cups hot milk (I used the microwave) and stir until blended. Add 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Stir until cheeses melt. Taste for salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Melt butter in a saute pan and add scallops seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook on medium high about 4 minutes per side. This is tricky because you want them to sear not burn.

Then put a pancake on a plate, top with scallops and spoon sauce all over! Very much a "white" dish but I will liven it up next time with greens and paprika.

Then we went to one of our favorite antique stores. Deb's Flowerbed Farm Antiques is just a collection of everything. I am, of course, thinking tablescape. We cannot get out of there without a purchase!

I bought the little turquoise majolica type pitcher there last year and my Sascha Brastoff dishes this year. Most of the dishes and "stuff" for the cabin come from there. This week Jack has bought an old platform rocker and a framed tapestry. I bought a hammered aluminum ice bucket. We both did a little damage last week as well.

This glassware is exquisite.

I might need that pitcher!
I will be taking a couple of days off from the blog. I need to finish that quilt! See you on Tuesday!

Friday, July 10, 2009

a brown bird sang in an apple tree....

I have so much to do and no inclination to do it. The sun is out today and I just want to look at the lake. I mentioned Tasha Tudor and Mary Mason Campbell in a previous post. In one of the Butt'ry books by these two women there was a poem by Richard LeGalliene which about sums up my feelings for today.

I meant to do my work today
But a brown bird sang in an apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand
So what could I do but laugh and go?

I loved this poem so much that I had the first verse painted around a gathering basket. I still have that basket and it is a wonderful storage and display for fat quarters.

Company starts to arrive next week! I cannot wait for my sister to get here. She wants "to live the blog!" We will have lot of fun. We might even make Gram Potter's Rocks just to see if they are still good. My sister makes a gelatin salad that is like one that Gram used to serve for Easter dinner. I not a big fan of these salads but I could eat this one right out the mold. She serves it with a lemony mayonnaise. She and I will share it but it would normally serve 8.

Perfection Salad

2 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (12 oz.) apple juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1/2 chopped green pepper

In small saucepan, mix gelatin, sugar and salt well. Add 1 cup water. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar and gelatin are dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in apple juice, lemon juice, vinegar and ¼ cup cold water. Pour into medium bowl. Refrigerate about 1 hour, or until mixture is consistency of unbeaten egg whites. Add carrot, celery, cabbage and green pepper; stir until well mixed. Turn into a 9 x 5 x 3 inch glass loaf pan. Refrigerate 4 hours, or until firm. To unmold: Run a sharp knife around edge of pan. Invert over serving plate. Place a hot, damp tea towel over pan; shake gently to release. Lift off pan. Fit lettuce leaves gently under the molded salad. Serve with mayonnaise.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Shopping Thursday

We went to North Conway for a food shop and lunch at the Scarecrow Pub. We had a good time. And the sun made an appearance so I could get some pictures. Everything I see now is a picture but I can't stop the car every 50 feet.

Across from Sherman Farms I saw these bee hives and couldn't resist a picture. There is lots of clover in that field. We stopped at the farm stand. I really need to live close to a market because I want to buy some of everything!

I wanted to make pickles but resisted the urge for this month because there is too much I have to do.
I did buy some "real tomatoes" and made Insalata Caprese or my version of it.

Slice 2 big tomatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices. Slice1 fresh mozzarella ball into slices (about 4 - I ate the small end). Layer the tomatoes and cheese. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with good olive oil and garnish with fresh basil. When time to serve you can add some Balsamic vinegar but that is optional. I make this mid-afternoon so that the tomatoes have time to react to the cheese and the olive oil.

On the way back to the cabin, in a lovely little cove up the street, there was a loon! Just looking at me and daring me to take his picture. They are magnificent. I will try to enlarge his image with my new PhotoShop software and book that is supposed to show you how to do everything!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This rain is very boring......

Well it's still raining. We have had a couple of gorgeous Maine days but not nearly enough of them. The calendar is starting to fill up and this cabin is small for entertaining. But as they say about the weather in Maine, "Wait a minute!"

Today and tomorrow are errand days and Friday, my son and I will continue to plow through the barn. I am still playing with my photos and now I want to study changing this template.

I'm roasting a chicken tonight and roasting some Brussels sprouts as well. The recipe is simple and open to additions. The Brussels sprouts are trimmed and halved. Dice some pancetta and a shallot. Place the Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet, cover with the pancetta and the shallot. Sprinkle with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Cover with thin slices of a lemon. Roast at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Check them! They need to be turned a couple of times!

They were delicious!
Hopefully toorrow will be a nicer day. I need to get outside and take some pictures!

Monday, July 6, 2009

first efforts

I am still in my PhotoShop mode. This merged photo took a long time but was really fun. I will do a few more - hopefully in a shorter time.

It's time to get back to the sewing machine and finish my One Block Wonder. This picture was taken in the class I took at Sew Worth It in Sarasota. The 2 day workshop was wonderful and all the different fabrics were inspiring. I made a One Block Wonder 2 years ago and thought I would lose my mind but the end result was spectacular I thought. This new one uses hexagon cubes to break up the kaleidoscopes and transition color.

I made some hexagons in the class (above) but the real work started at home. For a quilter, the design wall is a necessity. You need to be able to step back and see how the quilt is going to look. A reducing glass (like a magnifying glass) shrinks the quilt to give the quilter an idea of the finished quilt.

Just looking at the pictures has re-inspired me!

So, dinner will have to be easy. Reservations would be good but we are stay-at-homes when it comes to going out at night. Pizza is always good. I use pizza dough from the market. I know I could make it but the cabin is small. Jack cuts up 3-4 yellow onions and we caramelize them. A little butter, a little oil and a heavy pan. We cook them for exactly 1 hour. I read recently that the best way to caramelize onions was to walk away from the pan. We don't but we try to resist the urge to constantly stir. We set them aside until we are ready to build the pizza.

Like many of my dishes, very rarely are the results the same. Tonight the pizza will have some leftover sauce, slices of grilled Italian sweet sausage, sauteed mushrooms, fire roasted red peppers, fresh basil and mozzarella. The onions go on top and I sometimes top it all with freshly grated Parmesan.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A sunny Sunday.....

I am experimenting with PhotoShop! I see the most beautiful collage pictures on many blogs and I want to do one. I don't think I can edit the Html yet - that sounds terrifying but I think I can collage some of my photos. I don't even know what the Html is!

So, no recipes this blog. I am going to take some time and play.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Trying to remember sunshine.....

It's not raining right this moment but it's not sunny either....Everything is soaked and my plants are full of slugs. They are nasty and slimy and hungry. Jack and I just cleaned up some of the pots and he took no prisoners!

I cooked a pot roast last night so we will have leftovers for dinner tonight. I will make a salad as well. Oh, for a meal from the grill! I have some Italian sausages that I would love to grill and we haven't had pasta for a couple of weeks so maybe we'll get a break in the weather over the holiday weekend.

Reading other blogs is fascinating. I would love to have some pointers on photographing the tablescapes. If it keeps raining I will try to find some pointers on the internet.

If you check my profile, you can see the blogs I am following.

I spent the day with my son and grandchildren cleaning the barn. My house in the village is for sale and there is much work to do. We went through box after box and I found many "treasures" that I thought were gone and lost forever. While we sorted, the sky got dark and we had quite a storm. We had hail!

It might be nice on Sunday! We will wait until we know for sure and will run to the market and get hamburgers or steaks. I will make this casserole early in the day and if we have company, there will be plenty.

Heavenly Casserole
Serves 12
1 box frozen French style green beans
1 box frozen baby lima beans
1 box frozen small peas
3 peppers, seeded and cut into narrow strips
1 ½ cups heavy cream, whipped
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
¾ cup grated Parmesan or cheddar
Freshly ground pepper
Touch of salt
Thaw frozen vegetables – enough to separate and drain excess water.
Butter a 9 x 13 casserole. Put in the vegetables. Combine the remaining ingredients and cover the casserole. Can be put in the refrigerator at this point or baked at 325 uncovered for about 50 minutes until brownish and puffy on top. If you are going to refrigerate this allow some extra time for cooking.
See you next week!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sunday suppers

I love Ina Garten's recipes. I have never had a failure or been disappointed in the results. This recipe is one that I make periodically based on one of hers using ricotta and Gruyere. It is perfect for a Sunday night supper.


8 tablespoons butter divided
8 extra large eggs
1 cup onion, chopped
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tomatoes, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute the onions in 3 tablespoons butter. Melt remaining butter. Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then stir in the ricotta, Gruyere, melted butter, salt, pepper and basil. Spray Pam in a quiche pan and lay ½ tomato slices on the bottom. Pour egg and cheese mixture on top. Place remaining tomato slices on top. Add a few basil leaves to garnish. Bake for about 50 minutes until puffy and a knife inserted into the frittata comes out clean.

The porch on the cabin is where we have most of our meals. The table in the cabin is usually covered with my sewing stuff. The table on the porch is usually set with dishes that I bought for the cabin. I have started collecting vintage tablecloths for both tables. I bought the set of dishes (lots of them!) for the chop plates and the large bowls that could be used for pasta. Of course, there are only 4 of each! They don't have a name - they have a number. They were made by the Edwin Knowles China Company in 1938 and the number is KNO154. They are perfect in the cabin.

It is still raining. We have been poking around antique shops and going out for lunch. We do not ask for a table by the window! Can't believe it is the 4th of July weekend. The sun will come out. The sun will come out.....


Blog Widget by LinkWithin