Thursday, May 28, 2020

Judith Huxley's Marinated Olives with Alison Roman's Vinegar Chicken

It was a happy merging!

I wanted to try Alison Roman's Vinegar Chicken with Crushed Olive Dressing that was a most requested New York Times recipe after seeing it here on Ted Kennedy Watson's beautiful blog. Every recipe I've tried of Roman's has been delicious and I knew this one would be, too.

But as I read the recipe I thought of the partial jar in my fridge of Judith Huxley's Marinated Olives with Citrus and Fennel, the olives that my daughter-in-law loves and helps make when she visits. 

All of the ingredients in Huxley's recipe from her wonderful cookbook, Table for Eight, could only enhance Roman's recipe so I stirred them into all the good drippings of the chicken dish, the olives and remaining liquid in the jar.

It was amazing! 

I wanted to share this recipe with you so this week I made up another jar of Judith Huxley's marinated olives so I could take a picture of it. We'll snack on the jar of olives until there's about half left and then I'll once again use the remainder for another recipe of Alison Roman's Vinegar Chicken with Crushed Olive Dressing. 

 You'll need:

1 pound jar of olives, drained and rinsed under water.
     (She calls for calamata but I use these pitted Sicilian olives.)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed.

Rinds of 1 orange and 1 lemon, peeled with a citrus stripper in long, thin strips. (I just zest the lemon and orange but I'm sure the strips would be even better.)

Juice of the lemon and orange.

2 tablespoons of fennel seed. (And I use a little  oregano from Crete that is wonderfully aromatic.)

Pack the drained olives, crushed garlic cloves, strips (or zest) of citrus, and fennel seeds in a pint jar.

Add citrus juice and then fill to the brim with olive oil. Cover, refrigerate, and shake the jar when you think of it. Wait a day or two to use, bringing to room temperature before serving. 

I used this beautiful vintage pink Italian jar marked Abagal's Useful Jar. Isn't it pretty? I badly need a rubber gasket for it. 

 Again, the recipe for the chicken is here. 

And a little extra cooking note--if you ever see this olive oil for sale, snap it up. I sipped this olive oil by the spoonful as well as making salad vinaigrette with it.

RH bought it at Costco around Christmas for about $14 and it was wonderful! Naturally they were out of it when he went back and I found it on Amazon for $40 a bottle. I just can't justify that but we will be watching for it next Christmas. 

And I hope that someone tries Alison Roman's chicken dish. With beef prices soaring, chicken is a good choice now. And I wish I could suggest Judith's Huxley's olive recipe to Alison Roman as it is a match made in heaven with her chicken dish.

Huxley's one and only cookbook was published posthumously. I read it year round as it is organized by the month. She was food columnist for The Washington Post and was married to Matthew Huxley who was an epidemiologist. And Matthew was the son of Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World and screenwriter for 1940s Pride and Prejudice. 

All of that has nothing to do with these recipes but I found it interesting. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

My Bedroom, My Sanctuary

It was only this winter here at Home Hill that I at last loved my bedroom. 

And it all started because I spotted this mid-century silk-embroidered panel in a gorgeous gold wood frame at our local antique shop. It became my early birthday gift and I spent the rest of February and early March pulling the room last.

You see, at our 1920 farmhouse our bedroom had been as cozy English Garden as I could make it.

I loved it back then but here, in my bedroom that was the only room here I did not love, it didn't work. I got rid of the Ralph Lauren cabbage rose bedskirt and sheets and the heavy matelasse spread and rabbits-in-the-garden pictures and began to search vainly for inspiration of what would work.

RH has his own bedroom in a pine paneled room that suits his vintage western art beautifully. We sleep very lightly now. When he moves into my bedroom when we have family staying with us we disturb each other with our frequent trips to the bathroom and are so grateful for our adjoining bedrooms.

 So the choices for decorating my bedroom were all mine but I couldn't hit on anything that made me happy so I kept going more and more minimalist, not a style that suits me at all. 

The first spring here RH tore down the horrible acoustic tile ceiling in my bedroom, the only ceiling like it in the house. He put up bead board and that helped so much. And last year I fell in love with a marvelous dark brown bronze and crystal ceiling light fixture at a high end lighting store and begged for it for my birthday and Mother's Day gift. It was different from anything I'd found and I love it.

A little before that we found a beautiful heavy triple mirror at Goodwill. It said Made in USA and was only $14.99. We grabbed it and RH separated the mirrors for me.

It has a Georgian shell motif in the center and beveled edges.

When I found the silk bird picture in February I knew it would be perfect over the tall birds I've had for ages, marked Japan.

And then I found this really cool bird picture at another antique mall that is made of real bird feathers.

I hung it up and thought I'd have to search the antique shops again for a third bird picture when I remembered I had an old Japanese bird picture in my office. At last I had my complete bird section of my new bedroom art gallery. 

And just in case any family happens to read this, please don't think, "Since Mom likes birds, let's buy her more bird pictures." No, please don't! Three are enough!

I turned my attention next to my reading corner. I found three gold wood frames, two at Goodwill and one at the antique shop, and finally had frames for my three old French pictures. They were just the right contrast hung with two old pictures I already had.

My reading corner is all about comfort for myself and two dachshunds. BreeBree loves to snuggle on an old wool blanket on the hassock.

James Mason just would not hold still in his nest for a good picture but here is one I took on his recent 10th birthday. I love that Google sent me a "Color Pop! treatment of it!

Here's a closeup of the three French pictures and the old piece of embroidery I bought at my neighbor's yard sale almost 50 years ago and had framed.

And a closeup of an old garden picture behind my darling vintage floor lamp that I ripped off all the old fabric.

And there you see my next purchase that made my heart sing, new curtains! After looking online for weeks for vintage curtains, I found these vintage Kaufman hydrangea print cotton jacquard ones on Etsy.

I had meant to take down the valances and use the curtains only but there would have been a gap with several inches of glass showing. I was determined to keep these lovely curtains so the valences stayed. 

For any of you who have read Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers, remember how Penelope made her skirts out of old brocade curtains? I think she would have loved these!

Here is a treasured piece in my bedroom that I got at my sister's unique consignment shop in Orlando years ago. Her shop is called Top Drawer if you're ever there, link here! 

It's a 1980s Chapman rose lamp. and I am nuts about it!

Vintage Chapman lamps are much sought after and I found a picture of the original shade online.

Is that not fabulous?

Here's another favorite piece, a vintage sunburst clock I bought on eBay years ago all the way from England. Well worth waiting for.

It hangs over my bed with plenty of blank space around it for me to continue my art gallery someday when I feel safe to be out shopping again, hopefully.

That sweet vintage hanky on my bed was a gift from my two little granddaughters, reminding me of my dear Otis and Milo.

Their pictures hang behind my bedroom door above thrifted books waiting to be read. It still hurts to look at them. I'll miss them always.

On a mirror over my bed table are two notes my father wrote on the back of his business cards as he battled cancer. I've posted about one of them before. The Dewena he writes of is my mother, the first Dewena. 

There is always a stack of current books on my bed table for bedtime reading.

I hope you've enjoyed a tour of my bedroom, even if it might not be anything like what you would choose for your own. This bedroom makes me so happy now, when I wake up in the morning and see it and before I turn out my light at night. To tell you the truth, I almost purr with pleasure. All I need is a saucer of cream to lap up and you'd probably hear me!

Home is like another skin, and if your house reflects you and things that delight you, then it can truly enhance your everyday life.
 Daphne Dunn

The important thing is that it is my sanctuary. We need them in times like these, don't we?

The bedroom follows the cadence of sunset and sunrise, becoming a place of nightly hibernation and rebirth.
 Anthony Lawler, architect and author


Saturday, April 25, 2020

You Say Potato, I Say Potato...Salad

There is no such thing as really bad potato salad. So long as the potatoes are not undercooked, it all tastes pretty good to me.
Laurie Colwin in Home Cooking

I love good potato salad. Do you?

Everyone has their own favorite recipe for potato salad so the only reason I presume to give a recipe for it here is that my gal Nathalie Dupree's recipe has been our family favorite for two decades, and her technique in making it is different from most. 

 Here's her recipe with a few of my own additions.

Boil new potatoes until tender and drain on tea towel. I agree with Laurie Colwin about undercooked potatoes so I err on the side of overcooked.

While potatoes are cooking chop 6-8 ribs of celery and one large onion. Lots of nice fresh celery leaves chopped is a plus.

[If you love celery leaves as much as I do, this really helps to keep them pretty longer: before putting celery in the fridge after buying it, cut off the tops that have nice leaves and plop them in a bowl of cold water while you're putting other groceries up. Change the water a few times, dry well with a tea towel, wrap in paper towel and put in plastic bag or covered bowl in fridge to use as needed.]

Peel potatoes while still hot and put on top of the chopped onion and celery. I crosswise slice them with a knife while still warm in the bowl and then pour over equal amounts of a good apple cider vinegar and olive oil, about a 1/3 cup of each. 

Season with salt and pepper and chill in fridge overnight or at least 2-4 hours. 
Stir in 1 cup of mayonnaise and refrigerate another two hours. [I also then add hard boiled eggs, cubed, and sliced olives, and extra mayonnaise if needed.]

Just before serving stir in a few tablespoons of sour cream. Dust with paprika if you like it as much as I do. Delicious!

And how about some Caesar-crusted Crispy Chicken Strips on lettuce to go with it?

 Combine 1/2 cup of Caesar dressing with 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add 2 pounds of chicken strips and toss to coat.

Combine 1 cup Japanese panko, 1/2 cup flour, and 2 tablespoons dried parsley. 

Dredge chicken in breadcrumb mixture, pressing crumbs in gently. Place on baking sheet. Chill at least 30 minutes in fridge.

Cook chicken in batches in coconut oil, not crowding, 3-4 minutes on each side till golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Serve warm with Caesar dressing on Romaine leaves. [My favorite container for mixing a vinaigrette or dressing is a jam jar with handle from a thrift store!]

Comfort food! 

Another really good recipe for chicken strips I tried recently was from Half-Baked Harvest's Spicy Honey Mustard Pretzel Crusted Chicken Fingers. Recipe here. 

How are you doing this week? Anyone else feeling kind of jittery lately? When I realized it had been 39 days since I'd left our property, I asked RH to take me for a drive in the country. 

That helped and I took some pictures of pretty dogwoods in bloom and cows and horses grazing.

A post like this seems trivial, so much of social media does now. Next week some non-essential businesses here in Tennessee are set to reopen in Phase I. How about in your state? 

How are you feeling?

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Embracing Slow

The Today Show featured one of my favorite books the other day, Carl Honoré's In Praise of Slowness (Challenging the Cult of Speed), published in 2004. 

I bought it years ago because I am a fan of slow, being naturally of that persuasion myself.

Honoré, born in the UK but now a citizen of Canada, writes about our frantically busy civilization:

Why are we always in such a rush?

We have forgotten how to look forward to things, and how to enjoy the moment when they arrive. 

Long hours on the job are making us unproductive, error-prone, unhappy and ill.

In 1982 Larry Dossey, an American physician, coined the term "time-sickness" to describe the obsessive belief that "time is getting away, that there isn't enough of it, and that you must pedal faster and faster to keep up." These days the whole world is time-sick.

That was in 1982.

I wonder if the whole world is time-sick now? Certainly our health care workers and first responders must be. But for many of us, our neighbors and ourselves, we're no longer in a rush, are we?

For those of us who can stay home and are staying home, time has slowed down and given us time to enjoy the signs of Spring from our own window and yard. Time to appreciate the smallest signs of nature's rebirth. 

I'm very thankful that last November RH took a day to plant bulbs on this old farm property that only had a few clumps of yellow daffodils. He planted hundreds and yet they seem so sparse now, little clumps compared to the decades of bulbs planted at our old house.

It will take time to grow a Spring garden such as we had at Valley View where bulbs and violets were tucked around interesting shrubs and mossy rocks...

Not stuck out in the middle of grass they way they are here.

RH has planted seven flowering trees in our front yard in the three years we've lived here at Home Hill. This year we're seeing flowers on them but nothing compared to what they'll be someday similar to those in the twenty-six years we were at our old house.

Time. No longer guaranteed to any of us. And never really was, was it?

This past month we've treasured the few blooms we've cut and brought inside.

I need them in little vases in my rooms.

Even though they fade more quickly than when left outside. 

 I need them at the dining table.

And I need a few sprigs from the sparsely flowered lilac tree outside my office window where the mockingbird perches.

And I try to remember to pound the wood stalk so it will absorb water and not wilt quickly.

For many people these weeks at home have been a time of accomplishing projects in the house and garden. 

Our daughter-in-law who is a licensed medical aesthetician has of course had to close her business due to the pandemic and is at home enjoying her passion for gardening. Below is a picture of my new garden dachshund from this daughter-in-law who loves garden art as much as I do.

But her husband, our son who has run the family construction business since RH semi-retired in 2016, still works every day on houses that were heavily damaged in the tornado that struck Nashville and surrounding counties only a couple of weeks before the whole world was brought to a stop.

And so RH works with him and does our grocery store and pharmacy errands and tries to be as careful as he can. What he does not have time to do now is work on projects like finishing the front sidewalk and beds around it that he began late last summer.

Nor does he have time to work much on his huge project in the back yard, the double carport and large workshop that he and his brother have worked on all winter long. Now his brother is home being careful himself.

Did you notice the pretty scalloped trim on the front of the carport that my brother-in-law copied from a picture I gave him from Pinterest?

 See the beautiful light fixtures in this picture...

There's a large hunter green one like them in a box under my dining table awaiting the day that electrical is finished and the Hardie plank siding is painted.

When there is time. 

I printed out pictures of the pretty Swedish Red buildings I love from my Pinterest board and put them up in the kitchen when I realized that this building was going to be in my view from the kitchen window. 

And if it was, then by golly it was going to be pretty! And so RH plans to trim out all the windows and doors of the workshop in crisp white against the Swedish red and add a small sitting area by it to look out over the pond.

All of which will take time. 

Meanwhile RH has two and a half acres of grass to mow on his days off and yesterday began some patio garden cleanup. 

I looked out and saw him taking a little snooze in the sun and thought he would be the perfect prop for Carl Honoré's In Praise of Slowness. 

We have lost the art of doing nothing, of shutting out the background noise and distractions, of slowing down and simply being alone with our thoughts.

For those of you who have contemplated slowing down your world after it returns to normal, I can highly recommend this book. Mine is full of highlighted sections, much of which introduced me to the Slow Food movement back when I first bought it.

As you probably know, the Slow Food movement and even the fascinating Slow Cities movement began in Italy, and as I reread portions of this book this week my heart hurt for the Italian people who began this movement and live by it so much more naturally than we here in my country do.

But I choose to believe that there will be good things to come out of this time, all around the world, and embracing slow might be one result.

Especially as it might relate to our children and grandchildren and their future world. The last chapter of In Praise of Slowness (Challenging the Cult of Speed) is titled:

"Raising an Unhurried Child"

One can only hope.

How are you and your family doing now?

I do so hope that all of you are well.