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A Birthday Brunch


racheld
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I sort of waffled (food reference already!) on starting this thread, because of the lovely blog in progress, and the promise of that FABulous party to come. But this one’s totally different, just a little home thing, with downhome food and a few friends in for company to celebrate Chris' birthday.

We have a Birthday Brunch for him every year, and I usually just post the menu in the “Breakfast” thread, but we had such a good time, and celebrated for about four days in all, going here and there to dinner, and having a special dinner-for-two at home, plus a silly breakfast and then the brunch next day.

On Wednesday night, we went to a new restaurant that DS and DDIL had tried---The Journey. They'd gone the week before, and really liked it, so since it was Caro's night off on Wednesday, all five of us and the wee Granddaughter went there for dinner.

It's one of those huge-plate-printed-with-a-sailboat/seafood/sushi/Asian food buffets with everything you can think of---all sorts of calamari, frog legs, salmon and other fish prepared in several ways; huge gratins of crabmeat and scallops and trays of razor clams and immense crab legs and shells of Coquilles St. Jacques, as well as oysters, raw and Rockefeller.

Chris had a big plate of sushi of all kinds, then a sampling from all the hot and cold seafood selection, with two trips up to the two chocolate fountains.

I zeroed in on the roasted asparagus with Balsamic, and thoroughly enjoyed my chicken/fruit salad, some lovely garlicky sauteed green beans, and a couple of satay skewers. Everybody seemed to find just what they wanted, and the food was marvelous.

There was a big glass-front freezer of dishes of already-scooped ice cream, so I got a vanilla for spooning on some of the REALLY good blackberry cobbler. Everybody chose amongst the cheesecakes and pies and the piles of fruit that looked like a glimpse into Carmen Miranda's closet. Chris came back from his first trip to the chocolate fountains with a couple of hunks of banana, a strawberry, and a marshmallow, all taking on the lessening-shine of cooling, congealing chocolate.

"You have to stick it WAY through the flow, or that thing will spin your stuff right off your stick!" he said. "You oughta SEEE all the chunks of banana in the bottom."

He later decided to try the chocolate on ice cream, so he got a cup from the freezer. Then: the dilemma. How to get that torrent channeled into his dish, without covering himself and the floor. (I've SEEN what two little boys can do with unfettered access to one of those things---think brown to the elbows of their little white wedding shirts). So Chris selected a long wafer-type cookie from the tray, dipped and dripped it onto his ice cream several times, and came to the table with a nicely-fudged dip in his bowl, and what looked like a DQ Dilly Bar in the other hand---the chocolate on the cookie tip must have been an inch thick from the repeated dipping. (more on this topic later).

We had a wonderful time---they frowned at the camera and head-shook "No," so we put it away :sad: That was on Wednesday night---we'd gone in the Saturday night before, just us two. They take reservations only for parties of eight and up, and the foyer was JAMMED, with an hour's wait and that door screaming open with wild below-zero winds every few seconds, so we wended our way to our favorite Chinese restaurant and had a quiet dinner in our favorite booth.

Then Friday night, Chris called and said he was craving lobster, so he had one steamed-while-you-wait and brought it home:

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I had the melted butter with lemon all ready, with the tiny almost-white-skinned potatoes steamed and sprinkled with sea salt, a dish of guacamole for dipping thin spears of Kirby cucumber, and some lovely seeded rye rolls. I had tuna salad with all the same sides (except the butter, of course--don't think TS is very dippable).

There's also the cutest little sterling-silver pick in there, right under the handle of the orange crackers. It's from a nutpick set, and I got it for 29c at Goodwill; it's great for those hard-to-get spots in claws.

And Moire non.

Edited by racheld (log)
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Two weeks ago, we had our best friends over for dinner, because she already had a class/retreat scheduled for the Sunday of the brunch.

There were just the four of us at table, just about twilight on a snowy day:

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We had homemade guacamole with little chips of sweet onion and finely minced Roma tomatoes, as well as some black bean salsa---both with Scoops and crudite for dippers.

We started with a salad of two colors of butter lettuce, with slices of Anjou, some pignoli and toasted pecans, with a lime vinaigrette. (of which I went looking for a picture---will load that one later).

The peppers were stuffed with chopped peppers and sweet onion, halved grape tomatoes, and several kinds of olives, smashed and pitted, all tossed with olive oil, some champagne vinegar, and sea salt.

In the pan:

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(I DO apologize for the size---I usually do a 640, but somehow got these 340)

And atop the golden pilaf of basmati, sultanas, saffron, turmeric, cumin, cumin seeds, cooked in vegetable stock:

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This got set at someone's place for the picture---note the small plate at top. It was necessary for the sides, because the steaks were enormous, almost covering the dinnerplates:

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Chris did them on the grill, and of course, the two guys did the fire stuff for about twenty minutes, out in the freezing cold with Blue Moons and slices of orange in frozen mugs, to keep them warm.

We had a pan of roasted vegetables---baby red potatoes, sweet potato chunks (some of the best sweet potato I've ever eaten---first time roasting like this), parsnips, celery, and about thirty peeled toes of garlic, which was sweet and silky.

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Dessert was to be baked stone fruits, but I left the lid on a bit long, and they kinda stewed in the oven---nectarines, pale plums, a Granny Smith, and dried cranberries, with Turbinado and a hit of Buttershot. A little leaf-shaped butter cookie and some unsweetened whipped cream.

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They're lovely friends, and of course, since she was away, he returned for brunch with us on Sunday, which will appear in a bit.

Edited by racheld (log)
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And then Saturday morning, when all was serene and pretty in the house, and nary a thing to do but get those good cooking smells going, we sat down to breakfast. Chris wanted lox and a bagel, so he had an everything bagel (I saw and tasted poppyseeds, sunflower seeds, some bulgur-ish chewy bits in the dough, and a hit of toasted onion).

He first put on the cream cheese, then laid on the lox, big floppy pink ribbons of it, thin and moist and gleaming. He topped that with paper-thin slices of sweet onion, then some thin, seeded tomato slices. On top went two slices of Muenster, laid on to cover, then the whole thing went into a little baking pan for enough time under the broiler to soften the cheese into droopy curtains to hold the whole thing together as he took a bite.

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I lit THE CANDLE which has been called out for about nine birthdays now, his and other peoples'---it lives in the wide drawer under the old china cabinet, with the cookie cutters and chopsticks and the pumpkin carver stuff and one of those spin-in-your-fingers, make-a-curly-cucumber things that everyone gives anybody else who cooks.

I sang. He blew. The candle got its customary bottom-wash and dry, and went back into its little nest to wait for Sunday's birthday cake. I hope it's sanitary---I did my best. Just so the flavor of onion and fish do not permeate its little nest in the cake.

And I had peach preserves on my bagel, toasted onion and all.

I spent Saturday afternoon chopping and slicing and cooking a few things, making the two quiche batters, grating cheese, steaming the broccoli and the carrots. It was nice just to spend the time with good old Hercule Poirot, moving silently through the soft kitchen chores, spraying a pan, taking the glistening glasses out of their sparkle-wash, making the dips and spreads.

I love the preparation of a thing---lots of the time is spent in meditation or composing silly poems, or working out some little problem or puzzle in my head. I love pulling out the big old silverware chest, filled with bits and pieces from families not my own, gathered over the years just for the PRETTY of it, the ODD of it.

Getting out the dinner plates, the starter plates, the dessert service; making sure the Mary ingredients, the cranberry juice, the apple juice were chilling (most of them outside in the shade of the patio).

I set one of the tables, leaving the other for holding all the needfuls for the day to come---bowls and platters and the serving pieces, the cups for coffee and the glasses for wine.

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The little bowls hold softened butter and peach preserves, and in the egg cup are pear preserves, made from sand pears from our trees down South.

The places look kind of side-saddle to the chairs, which was remedied by turning the table just a bit on its axis. Chris did it for a joke once long ago when a young soldier had filled his plate with collards, ham, peas, potatoes, cornbread and salad. As Chris said the blessing, he silently rotated the table to place the loaded plate in front of his own place. The look on the young man's face was priceless as he looked down at his empty plate. Then a tiny turn gave his back to him.

This round one is the "breakfast table" to distinguish it from the dining table ten feet away. It's nice when we have a crowd, to be able to converse and all be in the same room. I keep this one draped with a pretty cloth and the chairs clad in sweepy skirts all year round. It BRIGHTS me.

And as I sectioned a huge navel orange, so sweet and juice-heavy this time of year, I found this funny little fellow:

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He seems as surprised as I to discover him nestled inside the orange. I kinda wanted to let him swim in the cranberry pitcher, but his little fins just could not keep him upright beneath all that cranberry covering.

And now, I must go and attend to our dinner---Chris is on his way home.

Edited by racheld (log)
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Yay! I'm so glad to see you doing this! I love it when people chronicle their entertaining or trips! It's like a mini-blog and there can never be to many of them! And I love it that it's you, Rachel. I know I'm a broken record about this, but I love your writing! Years ago, we used to drive from Batesville to Indy to go to someplace called Orleans House, I think. Is it still there? Did you ever go? The Journey sounds like an upscale version of that.

Happy Birthday to Chris and thanks for letting us share it with you!!!

Kim

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Alas, it is not, and we never did---we'd drive by on a weekday, mentally making a note to go there on the weekend (it was open only Friday, Sat., Sun., if I remember correctly). It was extolled by many of our friends, whose great occasions were celebrated there---I think it's been gone for probably ten years now, and I'm sorry to have missed it. It was the horrific price of $30, I think, and then extra for a lobster. Can you imagine today's prices?

This one was REALLY nice and really good. I don't know if it's New-Kid-Popular, but the crowd on Saturday was too much to brave, especially standing in the doors.

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I made the Red Beans 'N' Rice on Saturday, starting with chopping and frying up a great quantity of onion and peppers. Then in went Old Bay, cumin, cumin seeds, some L&P, some trickly thick dark soy sauce, a lot of chopped garlic, and some already-cooked pintos and black beans, along with great handfuls of chopped cilantro.

It was kinda a merger between RB&R and Barracho beans, which we learned to LOVE at Chacho's in San Antonio (family legends have formed around the gallon I brought home in takeout cups, frozen the night before, and foil-wrapped. They were standing inside and all in the pockets outside my carryon. Though it was in the height of Orange alert, the security guard took a look, I told him what it was and that I'd just come home from Europe and all the kids wanted was Barracho beans, and he passed me right through).

They simmered for a while, then went off the heat to soak up all those lovely flavors all night. We served them over Calrose in bowls or on your plate, take your pick. We had so many sausages on the platter, none seemed necessary in the beans, though it's customary to put in Andouille or Kielbasa. Sour cream for dolloping on, and a bowl of cilantro leaves for garnish.

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There were eleven of us, and I think perhaps a cup was left in the bottom of the pot. And of course, with the gets-better-every-day, it was lovely on Monday for lunch.

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And as I sectioned a huge navel orange, so sweet and juice-heavy this time of year, I found this funny little fellow:

gallery_23100_5647_7003.jpg

He seems as surprised as I to discover him nestled inside the orange.  I kinda wanted to let him swim in the cranberry pitcher, but his little fins just could not keep him upright beneath all that cranberry covering.

My friend gave me some softball sized incredibly flavorful and juicy navel oranges from her tree and I have had a few of those funny little fellows- I've bitten into it and it is like concentrated orange, the essence of orange.

Thanks for sharing this lovely time with us.

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Chris (and Mr. Fab) are two lucky men. And in the freeze and drifts of January in the Midwest, the warmth and the food and the coziness and friendship just pop off the page.

I love it that Chris's birthday was a kind of FeastEvent, spanning many days and meals. If I'd been there , you wouldn't have had a leftover lunchtime bowl of soup.

Happy birthday, Chris.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

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1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Oh, Rachel, I'm loving this chronicle!!!

I have those same pink Fostoria glasses... and the footed dessert glasses... My mom and grandmom both had them and I now have the whole collection, along with the cream/pink/green Haviland Cherry Blossoms china.

I can't wait to see the rest of your b'day saga!

Pam

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KIM---It's always so good to hear from you---you'll be hearing from ME soon, I promise.

And HEIDI---I wouldn't have the heart to taste the little fishfellow---he just seemed so amazed to be out of that long hibernation in the fragrant dark.

MAGGIE---Never fear---if you'd been here, you'd have been First-Time Guest---they always go first in line and get first dip of the spoon. We had one this time, but she HAD been to coffee several times, so you'd have taken precedence, I think. You'd have certainly had the "farthest traveled" award (Our Memphis friends don't count; they've lived up here longer than we have).

And, since you'd naturally have spent the night, next-day lunch would have been quite fun. (And you can bet it was leftovers).

PAM---the glasses are not of such exalted pedigree---they're huge heavy clunky things, a bit wobbly in places, an occasional bubble suspended in the glass like the windowpanes at Monticello. I picked them up at a thrift store in Ohio; there were eighteen in the two boxes, with what I thought was 30.00 for the two---it turned out to be 3.00, and they've been in constant use since. And since there are so many, we used them for pre-drinks and on the table as well.

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The pitchers hold three kinds of iced tea: Sweet, not, and S&L, a must for every gathering, to accommodate all the tastes. Cranberry/apple juice in the clear thin pitcher, with a float of frozen cranberries, as well as ice. I got addicted to the stuff last summer when I had to drink so much of it. Frozen vodka for adding, as needed.

And the wine is Chris' favorite---a soft red from Oliver Winery, just down the highway toward Bloomington. It's really a beautiful place, with lovely grounds and immense stone monoliths springing from that "world limestone capital" ground.

Well worth a stop if you're ever traveling Highway 37.

Bloody Marys in the heavy wide one, made with Major Peters mix---we've bought the bottled stuff before, and I like it. But Chris came home with one of those handle-on-the-side plastic jugs like some salsa comes in, and didn't check the HEAT meter on the side---ORANGE. It would singe the whiskers off a cat.

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Crunching the crispy flaunts of celery in the glasses seemed to alleviate a little of the OW factor, as did a bit of the soothing dips and spreads---you KNOW a Southern "nibbles table" is gonna be heavy on the sour cream.

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Biggest bowl: Caro's crab/cream cheese/green onion spread, served with toasty, buttery "bagel crisps" and some new Townhouse crackers---almost little trenchers themselves, with a depression for laying in the spread.

Bottom two: Curry mayonnaise and Dill/chive dip, both of them LF versions, for serving with:

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The top left one in the little green bowl was on the tray by mistake---it was a lox/creamcheese/dill spread and should have gone on the buffet with the quartered bagels:

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This little bowl and spreader I found in two separate Goodwill stores, months apart, and later found the matching vinyl tablecloth, which has the flowerpots all around it, and the inscription, "It's Spring and time to plant the seeds."

I usually whip it onto the January table before the tinsel's off the tree.

More later, from the stove.

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The rest of Saturday was spent in various prep-and-chill tasks---making sure everything was out of the freezer, etc. Two of the dishes were made before Christmas, as our GA contingent was coming up for several days, and I always like make-aheads that can be baked or heated while I do the more important stuff, usually involving Webkins or Little Ponies (I'm becoming quite the accomplished beautician, especially where neon colors are concerned) or books, and always in a posture on the floor that will necessitate a few creaks and limps as I rise to do the mundane stuff, like dinner.

I had made a hashbrown casserole to whip out and bake for breakfast one morning, doing a best-I-could version of Cracker Barrel's good potato dish. I have the same thing EVERY time we go there---including a little side dish of the cheese-laden potatoes. And it did not include cheese soup or mushroom soup, like the copycat ones on the 'Net.

It's just that nobody told me that the GA bunch were on Atkins, so that involved lots of bacon and eggs, but no carbs for breakfast. And two are WW, so the potatoes stayed a-waiting another occasion.

It was just a lot of finely-minced sweet onion, about 2/1 ratio of potatoes to grated rich orange cheddar, all pressed into a buttered baking dish and baked til golden, with lots of little wisps of crispy-crackle---my favorite part.

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Also residing in the freezer was a baking dish of mac & cheese, made for the one big dinner party every Christmas when we're all together to gather round the tables in funny old hats, and have crackers with prizes and noisemakers and all manner of hilarity. We did all that, but skipped the mac and cheese, as it was way too much just to bake for the few who would have some. We had a nice protein/vegetable-slanted meal instead. Hilarity as usual.

And so we baked the orphaned dish for brunch, and gave out Glad-boxes to guests.

There was broccoli/ham quiche:

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I made up the custard on Saturday, and bagged up the steamed, shocked, well-dried broccoli, chopped ham, and grated cheese (this is definitely a cheesy affair). Separate bag with broccoli and FF cheese for the other pan.

On Sunday morning, I sliced up a few grape tomatoes, put the fillings in a Pam-sprayed dish, poured in the custard, dabbed a few little red slices in places to make it pretty, and into the oven.

Along with this one:

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Same recipe, same mixing, except with Egg-Beaters , FF evaporated milk, and FF cheese. It tasted mostly the same, but didn't have the puffing quality of the other.

When we have guests at both tables, the kitchen counter is pressed into service as a buffet, especially when we're having hearty, straight-off-the-stove breakfast-type food. Several dishes remained on the still-warm stove grates for serving--a sort of homey approach, I guess, but guests just line up and dig right in. Oh, well; I've seen Miss Martha do it with soup pots all over the stove.

The two bubble-jars in the back of the picture hold tea bags (three kinds, for iced tea) and bags of pasta---the lovely colors are those two-serving packages of soba noodles---the paper itself has a smooth touch, like vellum, and the little parcels almost look gift-wrapped behind the glass.

Edited by racheld (log)
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And then there were sausages and bacon:

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On the left is a pile of Conecuh sausage, made just a few miles from our Alabama home; we pick up a few pounds every time we travel down I-65. It's a nice dryish sausage, not juicy and drippy, but just a lovely bite of really porky/sage-and-pepper-flavored meat in a natural casing.

Top and bottom is Turkey Kielbasa, baked so the skin is crisp and ready to burst, and right are some of the Emeril chicken/apple sausages, which have a really nice flavor. Center is thick-cut maple bacon, cooked really crisp like Chris likes it. We roasted the sausages whole, to stay juicy, and cut them into diagonals for serving.

Size reference: the platter is almost two feet wide.

Cannisters are pasta--the BIG square one in the corner holds ten pounds of the twenty-pound bag of Calrose we buy. I learned to wash-and-cook rice from a friend down South---her husband was from the Philippines, and his Mom taught her.

I use an old heavy-bottomed pot and it comes out perfect and just-right-sticky every time. For this meal, I cooked the usual three cups; we always have a container of cold leftover rice in the fridge---it reheats perfectly, and makes KILLER fried rice with whatever add-ins we have on hand.

There was lovely fruit:

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The Globe grapes were as big as a "small" egg, and SOOO sweet and juicy, and the strawberries were just magnificent---the best Wintertime berries I've ever found.

So it isn't ALL carbs and cheese.

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But there were LOTS. DS brought one of his lovely Shepherd's Pies---that guy is a wonder with a piecrust. It flaked deliciously with every cut. I never had the "hand" for it, as my Mammaw used to say. Mine always turn out like unsweet cookies, or huge ole tough Communion wafers :blink:

This one was crisp-crusted, with juicy browned meat and potatoes and a lovely gravy, just the right amount:

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I don't think any shepherds intent on making a pye would have been lugging such a heavy skillet about after those sheep, but this one was perfect. This one was a surprise, as I hadn't asked them to bring anything, but it was wonderful.

And my own black-skillet contribution:

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Not-quite-cathead biscuits. They were baked, then brushed with melted butter, with more butter on the tables to nestle between. Also on the tables were dishes of peach and pear preserves, from our old sand-pear trees down South:

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One guest is a biscuit and preserves fanatic. He took home some of both last year, and this year, as we cleared the tables for dessert, I set a little Glad-box in front of him, and told him to empty the compote into it. He did, with a last, parting detour by the stove to gather up the last three biscuits.

He doesn't know how lucky he was---that was the second-to last jar, and it's a long time til September.

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Two weeks ago, we had our best friends over for dinner, because she already had a class/retreat scheduled for the Sunday of the brunch. 

In the pan:

gallery_23100_5647_10334.jpg

(I DO apologize for the size---I usually do a 640, but somehow got these 340)

And atop the golden pilaf of basmati, sultanas, saffron, turmeric, cumin, cumin seeds, cooked in vegetable stock:

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This got set at someone's place for the picture---note the small plate at top.  It was necessary for the sides, because the steaks were enormous, almost covering the dinnerplates:

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What a savory group of protein-and-veggie shots, Rachel! You are the epitome of the gracious Southern hostess.

Speaking of which, where are the pictures of you and yours? Just sit one of those frilly hats on your purty lil' head and smile for the camera!

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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And for dessert, a tray of Caro's ethereal pastries, baked as we slept and brought home early in the morning:

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There are strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, apple butter, and my favorite: Pineapple with cheese. She made them half-size, so they weren't quite so formidable after such a big brunch.

There was also a little cakestand of inch-square cheesecake bites, in the pretty ruffled paper---just a big box of Eli's from Sam's, snugged in the freezer for a quick dessert when need arises---turtle, plain, and raspberry/white chocolate.

And of course, Birthday Cake:

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With scoops of Pillsbury's "Homemade" ice cream---a deep rich golden vanilla that we like very much. And, of course, another encore for The Candle.

And, speaking of ice cream, we had gone out the back gate to the Chinese restaurant that's practically in our back yard---about eleven o'clock every day you can smell the garlic as it hits the hot wok. Chris wanted to go on around the block to DQ for a blizzard for dessert, so we hit the drive-thru. I'd been seeing the "Dilly Bar" ad on the sign for years, but this one said: "Buy 6, Get 10 Free." So I asked how much; he said $7.99, and handed out two laden paper bags, each holding eight, top-stapled and standing in huge ranks in the freezer like lines of khaki soldiers.

I'd never tasted one, and intended to offer them with dessert; I'd mentioned them while we were eating, and everybody seemed to know what they were except me.

Then I forgot them. And the lovely steamed carrots, glowing orangey-gold, cooked just SO---they were the Forgotten Dish, of which there always IS one at any Southern gathering---it's the LAW. I found them in the microwave when I went to put on the pot of water for iced tea, and parceled them out half to Caro for her dinner, and half to DDIL to take for her lunch next day. Oh, Well, another tradition fulfilled.

And we now have sixteen Dilly Bars for whenever there's an ice-cream crisis.

The guests stayed on until twilight, then staggered out into the crisp coldness, still laughing and chatting down the drive and laden with Glad-boxes and baggies of leftovers---a good way to end a party.

I did three dishwashers full, got all the pots and pans scrubbed and shining and draining on the counter, made a big pitcher of decaf iced tea, and we chose amongst the remaining leftovers for our meager supper.

Lovely day with friends, and a delicious close to the Birthday Saga.

Edited by racheld (log)
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And for dessert, a tray of Caro's ethereal pastries, baked as we slept and brought home early in the morning:

gallery_23100_5647_5670.jpg

There are strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, apple butter, and my favorite:  Pineapple with cheese.  She made them half-size, so they weren't quite so formidable after such a big brunch.

Oh, my. Please tell me these treats were made with oatmeal flour and Splenda. That way I could partake of them without risking an glucose-induced ambulance ride.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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Hi, and Hippo Birdy to Chris!

Rachel, those pink glasses were a definite triumph of the thrift, dear!

I'm looking at all of that luscious, LOVE filled food, and thinking that if I could have one thing from all of that glory, it would be a biscuit. And then a small pastry. And, some beans. OK, some grapes, as well.

May you have a wonderful year, Chris!

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Hi, and Hippo Birdy to Chris!

Rachel, those pink glasses were a definite triumph of the thrift, dear!

I'm looking at all of that luscious, LOVE filled food, and thinking that if I could have one thing from all of that glory, it would be a biscuit. And then a small pastry. And, some beans. OK, some grapes, as well.

May you have a wonderful year, Chris!

I'm so happy to hear from youi!!! Hope you've been feeling well---you certainly sound chipper today.

The glasses certainly WERE---I'd never have thought to Google them---I thought they were just some clunky bits that came from the "seconds" store perhaps. They are listed in the Fostoria line, with a picture and everything.

I'd bake you a biscuit this minute, Sweetpea.

Shelby---We're known as the "Goodwill House" in that almost everything is from thrift stores. We moved here for a short-term training for Chris in 1990, with VERY little of our own stuff from down South. And never DID move all of it here. We've filled the house with "finds" for years---covered a lot of it in the Thanksgiving blog last year, showing off lots of bargains.

I love things that other people have loved and used. Chris calls me a dish junkie.

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Rachel, your writing is so eloquent and evocotive that you could make changing a role of paper towels sound fascinating and compelling.

Not to mention your that food speaks to a place deep in your heart and soul, and takes all the rest of us along with you.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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And then Saturday morning, when all was serene and pretty in the house, and nary a thing to do but get those good cooking smells going, we sat down to breakfast.  Chris wanted lox and a bagel, so he had an everything bagel (I saw and tasted poppyseeds, sunflower seeds, some bulgur-ish chewy bits in the dough, and a hit of toasted onion).

He first put on the cream cheese, then laid on the lox, big floppy pink ribbons of it, thin and moist and gleaming.  He topped that with paper-thin slices of sweet onion, then some thin, seeded tomato slices.  On top went two slices of Muenster, laid on to cover, then the whole thing went into a little baking pan for enough time under the broiler to soften the cheese into droopy curtains to hold the whole thing together as he took a bite.

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I lit THE CANDLE which has been called out for about nine birthdays now, his and other peoples'---it lives in the wide drawer under the old china cabinet, with the cookie cutters and chopsticks and the pumpkin carver stuff and one of those spin-in-your-fingers, make-a-curly-cucumber things that everyone gives anybody else who cooks. 

I sang.  He blew.  The candle got its customary bottom-wash and dry, and went back into its little nest to wait for Sunday's birthday cake.  I hope it's sanitary---I did my best.  Just so the flavor of onion and fish do not permeate its little nest in the cake.

And I had peach preserves on my bagel, toasted onion and all.

I spent Saturday afternoon chopping and slicing and cooking a few things, making the two quiche batters, grating cheese, steaming the broccoli and the carrots.  It was nice just to spend the time with good old Hercule Poirot, moving silently through the soft kitchen chores, spraying a pan, taking the glistening glasses out of their sparkle-wash, making the dips and spreads.

I love the preparation of a thing---lots of the time is spent in meditation or composing silly poems, or working out some little problem or puzzle in my head.  I love pulling out the big old silverware chest, filled with bits and pieces from families not my own, gathered over the years just for the PRETTY of it, the ODD of it.

Getting out the dinner plates, the starter plates, the dessert service; making sure the Mary ingredients, the cranberry juice, the apple juice were chilling (most of them outside in the shade of the patio). 

I set one of the tables, leaving the other for holding all the needfuls for the day to come---bowls and platters and the serving pieces, the cups for coffee and the glasses for wine. 

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The little bowls hold softened butter and peach preserves, and in the egg cup are pear preserves, made from sand pears from our trees down South.

The places look kind of side-saddle to the chairs, which was remedied by turning the table just a bit on its axis.  Chris did it for a joke once long ago when a young soldier had filled his plate with collards, ham, peas, potatoes, cornbread and salad.  As Chris said the blessing, he silently rotated the table to place the loaded plate in front of his own place.  The look on the young man's face was priceless as he looked down at his empty plate.  Then a tiny turn gave his back to him.

This round one is the "breakfast table" to distinguish it from the dining table ten feet away.  It's nice when we have a crowd, to be able to converse and all be in the same room.  I keep this one draped with a pretty cloth and the chairs clad in sweepy skirts all year round.  It BRIGHTS me.

And as I sectioned a huge navel orange, so sweet and juice-heavy this time of year, I found this funny little fellow:

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He seems as surprised as I to discover him nestled inside the orange.  I kinda wanted to let him swim in the cranberry pitcher, but his little fins just could not keep him upright beneath all that cranberry covering.

And now, I must go and attend to our dinner---Chris is on his way home.

i don't see anything................what was inside the orange? :blink:

"look real nice...............wrapped up twice"

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