Friday, November 11, 2011

No One Who Cooks, Cooks Alone

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” Laurie Colwin

Shawn and I saw this quote framed at one of the booths at a local Farmers Market here in Tulsa a few months ago.  Immediately Shawn had me take a photo of it so we'd remember it.  After reading it over again I realized how true it is that even at our most solitary time in the kitchen, the foods we prepare have most likely been prepared before us, perhaps by our own Mother or Grandmother, and then tweaked from generation to generation, cook to cook.

I thought of my own Grandma, Grandma Stubbs.  Without doubt, we all have a Grandma that is or was the best at something.  My Grandma Stubbs made the absolute best lemon cake.  For years and years after her passing no one could find her recipe.   Then, not long ago I came across a plastic sugar bucket full of Grandma's handwritten recipes, including the recipe for her
 As if I'd just found out I'd won the lottery I called my Mom and sister to share the good news, and they took it as if I'd won it too.  In a small sense, I had, we had.  

Some days or weeks later I began to go through the recipes of Grandma's that I'd found, one at a time.  As I held each of the tattered index cards and loose sheets of paper smeared and stained with ingredients past, all written by her hand,  I very much longed to be with her.  I did not have the good fortune of knowing any of my Grandparents beyond my childhood.  I imagined what a time we'd have together in the kitchen.  Now a grown woman, I would share with Grandma my inherited love of baking and cooking.   A gentle feeling came over me as if she were there, watching me contemplate each of her recipes as I held them in my hands.  At that very moment, Laurie Colwin's words again came to mind: “No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”   

For the past couple of months I've had three of Grandma Stubbs's handwritten recipes attached to a Victorian styled photo holder in my kitchen as a reminder of her, to me.  I chose these three to display primarily because they are representative of the season now upon us.  In the back is a classic recipe for Pecan Pie , at the center is her Pumpkin Pie recipe and at the front, a Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie recipe, which I'm sharing tonight, along with my own tweaked version for Egg Nog Ice Cream Pie, my own Ginger Graham pie crust recipe and my Butter Brandy Caramel Sauce.

Surrounded by her recipes I realize, I am not alone.  I am cooking with Grandma after all.  

Grandma Stubbs's Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie 
(makes two 9-10 inch pies)

1/2 Gallon Homemade or Store Bought Vanilla Ice Cream (when using store bought, use a quality ice cream...I like Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla best).
1 15 oz can Pumpkin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg 
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar

Use ice cream that is slightly softened as it will be easier to blend.  You can put it in the microwave for 20-40 seconds to soften if necessary.  Add all ingredients and blend until thoroughly mixed.  Divide ice cream and fill your cooled crusts.  
I usually have a little left and we eat it right then and there...soft serve style!

Nancy's Egg Nog Ice Cream 

1/2 Gallon Homemade or Store Bought Vanilla Ice Cream (when using store bought, use a quality ice cream...I like Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla best).
1 cup Egg Nog
1 tsp nutmeg

Use ice cream that is slightly softened as it will be easier to blend.  You can put it in the microwave for 20-40 seconds to soften if necessary.  Add all ingredients and blend until thoroughly mixed.  Divide ice cream and fill your cooled crusts.  Place in freezer for a few hours to overnight.  When you serve this you might set the pan in another pan of warm water or heat in the microwave about 15-20 seconds to slightly soften and make it easier to cut.
Drizzle with Butter Brandy (or Rum) Caramel Sauce and toasted pecans.

I made this a few days ago and layered 1/2 Egg Nog ice cream on top and 1/2 Pumpkin ice cream on the bottom.

I drizzled drenched my slice in my homemade Butter Brandy Caramel Sauce and topped it with toasted pecans.

Both the Pumpkin and Egg Nog ice creams are great served just as ice cream.  Here, I sprinkled a bit of the extra pie crust crumbs I baked off over the top.  

Nancy's Ginger Graham Pie Crust
(makes two 9-10 inch crusts)

15 Biscoff cookies  
15 Annas Ginger cookies
1 1/2 Cups Graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup melted butter
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar

Process cookies in food processor to make fine crumbs.  Combine crumbs with brown sugar and gradually add melted butter.  Stir with a fork to blend.  Pat into a 9-10 inch pie pan and bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes.  Cool completely before filling.

The crust mixture will look like this before baking:

And after baking:

In case you're not familiar with Biscoff or Anna's cookies, here are pictures of the packaging to help you identify them in the store.  This made a really delicious crust that got rave reviews from my family.   You can always substitute graham crumbs in place of these and have a traditional Graham cracker Grandma Stubbs did.

Brandy Butter Caramel Sauce 
(enough for two pies and takes only a few minutes to make)
(optional...nicely compliments the Egg Nog and Pumpkin flavors and is impressive looking to drizzle atop each piece for serving company...personally I like to drink it or at the least smother my piece of pie in it)  

1 cup cream
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tsp brandy (or rum)
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla

Heat cream in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly so it does not scorch.  Add sugar; stir to dissolve.  Add remaining ingredients and cook for 5 minutes continually stirring.  Serve warm over ice cream pie.  Leftovers can be kept covered in the fridge and reheated in the microwave.

Thank you to all the Grandma's of the world, past and present.

Grandmas fully endorse saving money, so always check for some grocery coupons before shopping.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Amber and Aubergine Thanksgiving Table w/ Historical Transferware

Do you remember last July when I posted a table set with a series of plates by Crown Ducal that depicted 'The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere'?   I used them in a red, white and blue color scheme.  I mentioned then that I'd share more of that pattern at another time, in another setting.  Well, here is a Fall table setting in that same pattern, but a different color, unique to the one I posted in July.  I've much to share about it.

Okay, get yourself a nice beverage and then settle in because this might be a lengthy post.

Before we get down to a bunch of close up shots and such of my table I'm going to share a little information on the company that produced this series of special, historical plates. 

Crown Ducal

Based at the Gordon Pottery Works at Tunstall, Stoke on Trent, Crown Ducal was a trading arm of the A.G. Richardson & Co. Ltd.  Crown Ducal was formed in 1915 and is well known for the celebrated Art Deco ceramicist, artist Charlotte Rhead, who worked and designed for the company until 1942.  Production continued through 1974 when Wedgwood bought the property and relocated the business to Yorkshire.  In 1987 Wedgwood merged with Irish based Waterford Crystal to create Waterford Wedgwood.  By 2001 the company incorporated Coalport, Mason's and Johnson Brothers into their brand.  Struggling financially
in 2009,  Waterford Wedgwood was purchased by another firm, KPS Capital Partners,  and became part of a group of companies known as WWRD (Wedgwood Waterford Royal Doulton).  Sadly, the majority of Staffordshire potters have basically all been merged into a huge conglomerate and are no longer family owned and operated as so many were from as early as the 1700's.    Sadder, much sadder, is that most all production jobs have been moved offshore to places like Indonesia, China, and Malaysia.   And equally sad is that the wares are not the same, though transferware is produced in these countries.  Techniques and materials differ from that of English wares, and transfers are often litho printed, not hand applied, making them much less realistic, and frankly, much less attractive and desirable.   I can usually spot a piece of new transferware from a photograph alone.  Okay, now I'm probably ranting (I plan to do more ranting on this subject later!), so let's continue on and talk about this pattern.

Above is a photo of the unusually large backstamp found on Colonial Times.  

The pattern I'm sharing today was produced in the early 1930's under the Crown Ducal name and is called Colonial Times.  It is an absolutely PERFECT set of dinnerware for Thanksgiving.  The series consists of 12+ dinner plates, each having a unique depiction of Historical places or occurrences in America's history.

When The President First Gave Thanks

 Penn's Treaty With The Indians 1661

  The First Thanksgiving In America

The Spirit of '76

 The Mayflower In Plymouth Harbor

Going To Church


Independence Hall (sorry for the grainy pic)

Mount Vernon

Landing of The Pilgrims

Speak For Yourself John (sorry...grainy again)

Marriage of Pocahontas

I know of at least one other dinner plate, which depicts the scene, 'Signing The Contract In The Mayflower' but I do not have a photo of it and wasn't able to source one.

Colonial Times pieces each have four cartouches equally spaced around the plates border consisting of four scenes.  

 Return Of The Mayflower

 American Indian

 Mayflower in Plymouth Harbour

& Pocahontas Saving Life of John Smith

Subsequently, Crown Ducal also produced a series, in 1932, of Commemorative Wares celebrating the bicentenary of George Washington.  These plates blend well with the Colonial Times series and are sometimes gathered by collectors as one collection.  This series has four cartouche's with floral prints, rather than the scenic ones found on Colonial Times.  I've used two of these plates in this setting as I've only got four of the Colonial Times dinner plates in purple.

Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge 

  Washington's Birthplace at Wakefield, Virginia

In addition to the plates there is a wide range of side plates, serving pieces and hollow wares.  I have to show you the teapot and sugar bowl.

Shown below in purple, red, and teal.   The pattern was also produced in blue, green and brown (less common). 

 Is that pilgrim head finial not the cutest?

Teal Sugar and Creamer 

There are also several serving platters, including ginormous turkey platters, super duper perfect for Thanksgiving in just two weeks, like these two in my shop (subliminal need to buy one!).

Colonial Times really is a wonderful collectors pattern!
I hope I've not bored you to tears because now I'm going to get on with the tablescape.

Amber, Aubergine and Sage
I LOVE this color combination!

The table was laid with a jacquard drapery panel.  You know,  I rarely use a tablecloth on a table but instead use blankets, draperies, throws, fabric, pillowcases and more...I've even been known to use  a dress.  Click HERE to see that post. 

 I like to leave some of the wood exposed on my table so the drape is great for that as it allows a few inches to show on either side.  I  like the look it gives, the mix of textures.  Down the center of the table I placed four aubergine beaded placemats equally spaced apart (for a bit of sparkle)  and then laid three grapevine wreaths over the spaces.  The grapevine offers a rustic, natural look.  In the wreaths on each end I placed a bowl upside down and then put a smaller, crystal beaded  wreath on top and finished with purple ceramic pumpkins.  A pair of left and right facing birds are nestled into the outer sides of each of the outer wreaths.

I built the height of the center wreath a little more than the two on the outside and layered the same way but added silk mums and pheasant feathers.  

I chose not to use any placemats, so plates were set directly onto the table/drape.  Oblong pumpkin plates are placed at an angle slightly above and to the side of each dinner plate.

I think these glasses on the right have become my favorite.  I can't seem to quit using them this Fall!  

I used embroidered white napkins to keep that simple and to add light to the table since I used so much color.  The silverplate is called Tudor plate and belonged to my Grandma Stubbs, whose Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie I'm going to share tomorrow or Saturday.

Some sage green taper candles placed at either side of the center wreath add just the right touch of ambience.

(oops, I see I left my I-phone and the lighter on the ambience in that!)

If you made it to the end of this post...thank you!
Don't forget that I've teamed up with Maison Decor for a $60 giveaway to my shop.  Head on over to enter.


I'm joining

Vintage Thingie Thursday