Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Paying my respects to the Queen.


BBC News has been on every morning here these days since the passing of Queen Elizabeth II as they have had live coverage in Scotland and then today in Northern Ireland.

I am, quite simply, a royalist and Anglophile. 

And I have never been able to visit the UK so the history being revealed, the scenery, the somber ceremony, the bystanders being interviewed--especially the children--have all touched me.

Most of all, the services at the church in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as the first one in London, with their beautiful music and Scripture readings has been a balm to my spirit.

Recently, when our son Daniel and his family came to visit they brought me a thrift store copy of Sally Bedell Smith's book Elizabeth the Queen and I have been enjoying reading my way through it. 

I love this 1965 picture in the book of the Queen on horseback at Balmoral with one of her corgis. We had two corgis for many years because of Tasha Tudor but I loved knowing that corgis were a passion of Queen Elizabeth.


The other day RH stopped by a bookshop and bought me two of my four favorite British magazines, something he treats me to whenever he thinks about it and especially in December. 

I sat down to sink into the beautiful magazines full of my favorite interior designs and gardens and was thrilled to discover that the October issue of The English Home had a beautiful article, "Regal Retreats."

One of the homes shown is Highgrove in the Cotswolds, retreat of who was at the time the magazine was printed, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.


I'll admit it, I am a staunch admirer of Charles and wish King Charles III a long healthy successful reign. 

And I have a copy on the way of Sally Bedell Smith's  Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life. 

As I finish writing this, Queen Elizabeth's casket is now leaving the Royal Norfolk AB on the way to Buckingham Palace for one final night. It is dark and raining there and I am very glad it is sunny here, even if the sun does show up that I badly need to dust. 


Sunday, September 4, 2022

Labor Day Recipes


For the family cookbook I'll probably never get around to compiling, here is a Labor Day barbecue recipe that we love. Also for Independence Day cookouts along with the salmon that my wannabe New England side loves.

Barbecue Spareribs prepared following Judith Huxley's superb method in her Table for Eight...

 But following the recipes in Mary Emmerlings' American Country Cooking for the sauces...

I begin 3 days ahead by making the Mopping Sauce:

Combine and simmer over low heat in non-aluminum saucepan for one hour, stirring when you think about it:

2 sticks unsalted butter

4 cups apple cider vinegar

2 cups vegetable oil [I now use avocado oil]

2 cups fresh lemon juice

2 cups Worcestershire sauce

1 cup prepared mustard

1 medium onion, minced

2-3 garlic cloves, minced [germ removed]

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

That is the only sauce we mop the ribs with while cooking and if it's just RH and I eating we no longer make the sauce below to serve with it. I'm including it here because everyone loves it.

Barbecue Sauce for Eating, makes 2 quarts:

Melt 1 stick unsalted butter in non-aluminum saucepan over moderate heat and sauté 1 medium onion, minced. Then add 1 garlic clove, minced.

Add: 2/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

1 5 oz. bottle of A-1 sauce

8 oz. tomato sauce

14 oz. ketchup

Cook, stirring occasionaly for at least 3 hours.

Cool both sauces, cover and refrigerate. Warm both up to use. 


Now to Judith Huxley's directions. Her wonderful book, which I wrote about on another post here, is a little pricey now. If you can find one for less than $50, grab it even if the cover is missing as the hardback is beautiful.

The 2nd day: wash the spareribs, as many as 7 pounds, pat dry with paper towels. Marinate in stainless steel roasting pan, or enamel bowls, with:

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, about 6-7

2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cover pan with plastic, not foil, and refrigerate overnight, turning the ribs as you can.

On morning of 3rd day: Remove the ribs from the pan or bowls and drain marinade into a saucepan. 

Put metal rack in bottom of large roasting pan and arrange ribs in single layer if you can, fat side up.

Bake uncovered in 250 degrees F. for 3 hours. Remove from oven and let cool.

Very important--cut into SINGLE rib portions! The picture below is before they were cut. You want all the crispy edges you can get.

Finish over a charcoal fire on medium heat, basting often with the Mopping Sauce and turning with tongs for about 40 minutes. 

One rainy day I did skip the grilling and finished them off in the oven at 350 degrees F. for an hour. 

Serve with the Eating Sauce!

When RH and I are eating these by ourselves now we just fix corn on the cob to go with the ribs and I make a wedge salad based on Xavier Faucan's famous recipe that is still served at Jimmy Kelly's and Belle Meade Country Club here in Nashville. 

I wash Iceburg lettuce and soak it in ice cube water early in the morning, drain and refrigerate, wrapped in towels.

The Faucon Salad has traditionally been served with blue cheese or Roquefort dressing. I used to make a wonderful Roquefort dressing but RH can no longer eat it so instead I mix up a dressing that was in the Tennessean newspaper, I think back in 2008. It is by Elizabeth Cole and Kris Geist who served it with their Tomato Salad at the Tomato Arts Festival in Nashville. It is our favorite mayonnaise based dressing.

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 teaspoons Maille mustard

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 small garlic toe [germ removed], minced.

Then I prep the rest of the ingredients of the wedge salad:

hard-boiled eggs, crisp bacon, minced green bell pepper, sliced scallions, thinly sliced radish, sliced long sweet peppers, tomatoes

A well-deserved Labor's Day rest to my U.S. and Canadian friends and others enjoying holidays around the world. We all need them, don't we?

My apologies for a long post that perhaps no one but myself may be interested in. I've felt as if I couldn't stop writing simply because there was one subject, one dear lady, that I couldn't yet bring myself to write about. 

This has been a brutally difficult week for friends of my dear friend Tammy who has commented here and at my other blog for almost ten years now. Poppy and I and other blog friends are trying to adjust to a world without our dear Tam who passed away after a recent stroke. 

As her wonderful brother kept a group of us informed and updated we truly felt that our feisty friend would have the strength to fight her way back to our world once again. It was not to happen this time. 

Tammy was a loyal little soul who championed those in pain in our world, whether animal or human. Sometimes she had to withdraw even from us for a short while when the world's pain became too much for her.  

Tammy might have even skipped commenting on this post because she just could not have let herself think about an animal having given its life to provide our Labor Day menu. I always wanted to apologize to her when I published a post like the one above. 

I miss Tammy so much. I miss knowing that she's there, a few states away from me. I miss getting emails that nearly always ended in her asking me to hug BreeBree and James Mason. 

In the group of friends of Tam who got emails from her brother about her progress or lack thereof, one thing that we all told him (the brother Tam always called the Marine) was that our world, each of us, would not be the same without his precious sister but that we would treasure the sweet memories of what she meant to us.

Please forgive the mixture of the mundane of this post with the message of loss. I didn't think I could yet write about my friend and then I went ahead and did it and I don't have the heart or brain energy to do them both over separately. 

It's been that kind of a week.


Saturday, August 27, 2022

A Candle-Snuffer and A Kitchen Tour

My hunt for a vintage candle-snuffer began in late January. I had left a Christmas platter (The Old Curiosity Shop) by the kitchen sink, flanked by two candlesticks, for winter cheer. I was on my third pair of Classic Green tapers I order by the box, burning them at dusk while preparing supper. (I also buy Wedgewood Blue for my dining table.)

 One night RH blew them out for me, not pulling them forward and cupping a hand behind it as I do. He puffed them out with all his lung power and wax flew onto the window glass, something I discovered the next day.

That began my online search for a vintage candle-snuffer but none struck my fancy. One night I was flipping through one of the old magazines from my vintage magazine collection, a House & Garden, January 1967 (our young married days). 

"Notes for the Hostess" is my favorite monthly column in the old magazine, where I read about tempting objects for the hostess to purchase. One object was a "polychromed wrought iron candle snuffer with a butterfly on top." I wanted one.

It would be useless to search for one on eBay, right? I put in exactly those words and found:

"Old Vintage Tole Painted Wrought Iron Metal Flower with Butterfly Candle Snuffer."

It was darling and only $20, not an exact replica of the 1967 one but near enough. When it arrived I knew it would have a permanent place by my sink, with a change of plates seasonally.

My spring plate was Royal Doulton's Countess pattern and I changed the candlesticks to a 1980s Polish pair I've had for years. 

I have three plates and a large platter of the Countess plate, bought in the 1990s in Blowing Rock, NC as a gift for my mother when her eyes lit up finding the platter in an antique shop on Main Street. And one day came when she said her "cooking the turkey days" were behind her as my sisters in Florida began hosting Thanksgiving.

I kept this plate up until June when I spotted this one at our local antique mall.

We have jillions of blackberries in our front hedge row every summer and this plate, 'Blue Ridge' from Southern Potteries, whispered Take me home.

It says Summer to me.

With supper being in daylight in the summer, the candles don't get lit until after-dinner cleanup when RH and I pause whatever show we're watching. He puts leftovers away while I load the dishwasher and one night I began taking pictures of our kitchen at night when it might not show that I hadn't swept the floor.

After many variations of styling my open kitchen shelves, I put practicality before pretty and cleared the lower shelf to hold all the jars of things I use regularly. 

But be sure to notice the vintage tall candle of a bunch of asparagus on the top left end, a gift from RH's brother to me. I swooned over it and two large vintage candles of orange coral now over my china cabinet.

Even though I think copper in a kitchen is the ultimate, most of my copper molds went to a daughter-in-law except for the few I actually use (aspic lover that I am) and keep in a cabinet. 

Instead I've put up two pretty silver molds and a lid with drainage holes I bought at Goodwill. The lid doesn't fit any of my pots but does look pretty hung on the wall. And the 1960s Aladdin lamp is one of seven, most given to us back then for Christmases by friends where the husband was an executive at Aladdin. And there are others in our children's homes.

 The right end of the shelves, built by RH and his brother when we moved here to Home Hill, now hold rices and jars of Rancho Gordo beans, my favorite. 

There are three pieces of furniture that fit in my kitchen, giving me at least a partly "unfitted kitchen" that I always wanted. We found the dry sink at our local antique mall and it holds baskets of food behind doors and special dishes on top.

I keep the Blue Willow out for everyday use.

And I've been using these pretty Independence Hall ironstone plates since the Fourth of July, ironically Made in England. You guessed it, a gift from RH's brother.

But the sweetest gift of all from my brother-in-law was this collection of pie birds!

I adore them all but my favorite is the pheasant, front row right. I haven't used them yet, afraid that baking will discolor or crack them. Anyone have experience with using a pie bird? I would like to use them for my chicken pies as I know they were originally meant for the meat pies of England, not dessert pies.

Not that I make many chicken pies these days or even dessert pies but I do have a freestanding cabinet topped with a nice marble slab that is perfect for rolling out pie crusts. This piece has one shallow drawer and two deep ones and hold so many of my baking things.

The third piece of furniture in our galley kitchen is a taller chest of drawers that RH used for his tools at our old house. Now his tools are limited to the bottom two drawers and I get the top three for spices, etc., which I think is fair since he now has a large workshop out back to keep them in.

On top is the microwave that men can't live without, a beautiful blue bowl holding tea towels, a large gorgeous blue fruitcake tin given to me by a daughter-in-law who used to keep her button collection in it, topped with a green cabbage bowl, and a lamp. And above it all is a print I fell in love with at the antique mall. It's appropriately named 'Vegetables' by Helen Paul and must be one of her older prints as I can't find it online. The colors of the vegetables make me so happy.


I have to show you my new (old) blue KitchenAid mixer, again, a gift from you know who. It's so pretty! And I finally solved the problem of a dusty mixing bowl vs. hating the sight of plastic wrap over it by putting a pretty vintage Spode plate on the bowl, Spode's Pink Camilla.

 I've circled the room now except for showing the fridge and trash can. There are other sweet items in this room that were gifts from my sisters too. My house would be half empty without the generosity of others.

RH finished washing a large pan.

 Time for him to have his bedtime bowl of ice cream.

No more worries of RH blowing candle wax on the kitchen window.

Now he can snuffle the candlelight.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Another Party


It looks as if it takes a party for me to post here at the Window, right?

This time it was a big event, the 80th birthday of RH! 

Family and friends gathered above but missing eight people who weren't there in time for the big picture (two grandsons, with their wives and our four great-grandchildren). 

The party was given by all our children and their spouses but hosted by Zack and Court who bought our old Valley View.


 RH's brother was there, posing here with him in front of the tree that sold RH on buying Valley View back in 1990, the oldest elm tree in Middle Tennessee. The old smokehouse is to the right.

 Two of my three sisters, with their husbands, were able to be there--we sure did miss our other one.


And our four wonderful children with their spouses, missing one daughter-in-law. The most complete family picture we've managed to pull off in years! 


Our daughter-in-law Court organized the whole thing and it was perfect down to the last detail! (How great to have a daughter-in-law who wanted to keep the old picnic shelter that RH built out of an old chicken shed! It was the site for so many family parties in the old days and is still continuing the tradition.)


There were tables scattered around the old picnic shelter that gave our scattered family time to catch up with each other.


 I always love being at our old home and knowing it's still in the family and seeing the latest project Court and Zack have added to the 1920 home. And RH and I both love visiting with our four grand-dogs there, Lug shown below wanting to give a great-granddaughter a kiss!


Here is RH escorting this wobbly old lady along the beautiful new path Court designed, and you can see part of the darling fried chicken food truck across the creek in front of the old barn.


It was the best homemade fried chicken dinner I've ever tasted!


It was a perfect evening with lots of good conversation! 



I don't think RH minded turning 80 so much after this wonderful celebration. I heard that the party went on to all hours of the night after the old folks went to bed.


Many thanks to everyone who attended and to our children for making it possible, and especially to Court and Zack for hosting it so graciously.

And thanks so much to our son Daniel for taking all the pictures and spending hours and hours making the wonderful video of his father's life that played continuously in the house the whole evening, bringing so much laughter and tears as we watched. 


Happy Birthday to the patriarch of our big family!

 And many, many more!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

They brought the party to me!

 It was so much fun reading your thoughts about giving a party in my previous post. I could relate, at different times of my life, with each of you. 

And look who brought a party to me after I published the post! A tea party!


 My granddaughters and their mom did!

It all began when I received this beautiful invitation in the mail, drawn by my daughter-in-law and elder granddaughter and painted by her little sister.


 They invited me to a tea party to be held on my front porch when they came to spend the weekend with us.

It ended up being too cool for a porch party so they improvised and moved the party to our living room.

My hostesses brought everything with them because they are practiced tea party givers and tea party guests, experienced with tea party ritual. 

 There was no rushing to grab treats, explaining that one takes goodies from the lower plate first.



This one instructed me in how to properly hold my pinky finger when drinking our lemonade (or tea, as it were).


 I'm sure they learned this etiquette from their beautiful mom and she probably learned it from hers.


 And my daughter-in-law has to be given credit for setting up our tea party and concocting the delicacies even though she claims it was easy with Trader Joe's help. 

It was a delightful Mother's Day celebration I'll always remember and the lively conversation.


I declined being in the pictures (too scary for you) and we didn't get any of the photographer himself as no men were allowed at the tea table--he and RH banished to the kitchen to snack on extras--but since the photographer also put up all the beautiful balloons I think a picture of our son is in order. Here's one borrowed from a recent text he sent me.



 The fragrant peonies were from their garden.


It was a most lovely tea party and even goes to show that some of my children do read my blog posts!


 And they did take heed that, as much as I love giving parties, nowadays it's best if they bring the party to me.

Wouldn't Mrs. Dalloway be proud of them?  


My latest portrait with my granddaughters: