Thursday, September 8, 2011

Easing Into Fall 2011 Tablescape


...And I am more than the fallen leaf
That Autumn winds hath blown along-
I am more than the branch that breaks
When the wind proves itself too strong-
But I am like the tree that dances
To the music of the lilted wind song...
(from one of my many unfinished poems)

  The past few days have been so beautiful here, with weather that beckons everyone to go outdoors. The afternoons with gentle breezes make it almost easy to forget that we in Oklahoma just experienced one of the hottest summers on record.
 I've heard that people favor the time of year they were born and if that's the case, then it makes perfect sense that Fall should be my favorite season.  It is.

I set this table for Labor Day and then we changed our plans that very day and went to my sisters for a hamburger cookout instead.  
I think this table hints at the season to come, and would have been really cute set outside or better yet, inside a barn!  It does have a country farm feel. 




I used the same burlap fabric from last week as a long runner across the table.  I have set many tables with cloths that don't fully cover the table and leave some of the wood exposed.  I love this look. My table is worn and rugged but it did not start out that way.  I still run across this very table in magazines but it still looks brand new there.  I like that we've worn this baby in.  It looks like an antique now because it's been weathered naturally ( if you call a family of eight natural). 

Inexpensive dish towels were used in place of chargers or placemats.  They are tri-folded lengthwise and allowed to hang over the edge of the table. They help define each space.  I bought these at Tuesday Morning months ago for only a few dollars for a pack of six.  I now wish I'd purchased some of the other colors they had at the time; blue, green, and black.


I crumbled up a little Raffia at each place setting as I think it conjures up the image of hay, and I love the added texture.  This is easily removed before dinner as it may prove to be a little cumbersome to eat around (that is what Ashton thinks).

I began setting the table with these Royal Doulton plates...
 ...such a pretty pattern...
...with the sweetest little butterfly trying to hide amongst the fruits and flowers...
...and then I got to the last place setting only to realize I had seven plates, not eight.
Improv time.
Take away three of the Royal Doulton plates and bring in four of these Ridgway plates for a mixed table setting.  I like mixing it up anyway.
 Aren't these pretty?  I have one of each of the plates in my every day set of mix-n-match red transferware plates.  The rest of them are for sale in my Etsy shop, English Transferware.


This one has a pretty border as well.

I chose to use my faux bamboo flatware (Horchow)

 and old fashioned, mock bubble glasses (Walmart).





Believe it or not I couldn't find one of my napkins either.  I mixed them up and then wound up finding the missing one...so you might notice this in some of the photos.  What is uniform is that I tied a few strands of hemp around each napkin instead of using napkin rings.  I love this stuff.  I've found so many uses for this as of late, including my demijohn project.


I've wanted to use these rounded twig forms as a centerpiece for a while now and this seemed a perfect match.  I scrunched up a gingham tablecloth, laid a leafy, fruity garland on top and then wedged the forms into the greenery so they would be stable and not roll around.  To further evoke the feeling of Fall, I placed a few apples here and there.  Simple centerpiece!  The twiggy forms are from Hobby Lobby, and if I remember correctly, they are only $2-3 (when you buy them half off).  

Shawn remarked a couple of times about how much he liked this tablesetting.  I hope you all like it too!


Update:    Sometimes you all ask if we eat at the tables I set and the answer is sometimes.  It really just depends on what we have going on as a family.  With my two oldest boys living on their own and my other four children being teens involved in extracurricular activities it is not as often as I'd like that we all eat together. Yesterday, September 11th, was Michael's 22nd birthday and we enjoyed his favorite meal at this table.



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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Porchetta ~ Classic Italian Pork Roast

Today we welcomed cooler weather here in Tulsa, and my family celebrated it with a fantastic pork roast, called Porchetta (pronounced Pork etta) made in the classic Italian style.   So long Summer, hello Autumn.  Actually, I celebrated and Shawn slaved to make this. ;-)  He got an eensie teensie bit of help from Ethan and me.


Isn't it beautiful?  


Tuscany is famous for big, bold flavors.  This roast is no exception. There they will often prepare this roast using the whole pig!  It's a common tradition to go into the city center on the weekends to buy Porchetta where it is prepared by locals who've been making this for generations.

We started with a 10 lb. pork shoulder roast.  Try to get one that has the skin/fat still attached.  This may require a trip to your local butcher.  This is important because what makes the Porchetta stand out as a unique roast is that you get the crunchy cracklin (skin) in addition to the fantastic roast.





De-bone the roast and from the center cut the roast so that it opens up and lays flat.  Combine approximately 20 cloves of chopped garlic, and a bunch (3 tablespoons each) of fresh Spanish thyme & rosemary, 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper and 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper with 3/4 cup of olive oil. 







 Apply this to the inside of the roast and then roll it up and tie with cooking twine.  Don't worry about the  olive oil & spices that run out of the roast, simply use it to rub down the outside of the roast once you have it tied off.
(we had a little technical difficulty here as our butchers twine mysteriously disappeared (Jonah) so we tried to get it back inside the twine it was wrapped in before!  That did not work out for us.  We wound up cutting up the twine and then re-tying.)


Ok, with the messy part of the project complete let's  move on to the the veggies.  Shawn used one large bunch of celery, three large carrots, one onion (all chopped), 20 whole garlic cloves and approx. 2 pounds of fingerling potatoes (which are just delicious!).  



Combine all in your roast pan, place the roast directly on top of the veggies and then add one 32 oz portion each of chicken and beef stock.






Pre-heat the over to 450 and let it cook for approx. four hours.  Yes, you heard me correctly... four hours at 450.


Check the roast about two hours in, and then again after three hours of cooking.  It may require a bit more broth and you may also want to cover it with foil to avoid over browning the roast.  What emerges a short time later is an absolutely delicious meal.  In addition to the wonderful roast & accompanying vegetables, make sure everyone gets a bit of the crispy cracklin portion of the skin/fat!  It is traditionally served with a piece of cracklin on the top. It's so crisp and flavorful!

I remove the veggies and roast onto a big turkey sized transferware (what else?) platter and then we serve the broth separately so that it can be as soupy as you like.


Slice it up and you can see and smell the beautiful, fresh herbs.  



Enjoy!






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