Monday, February 12, 2024

Tiny Bits of Valentine's Day Decor and Fish Majolica in the Kitchen


My Valentine's Day decor is sparse and all ends up in my kitchen. I honored the Day on a pretty little pink  blackboard my granddaughter made me two Christmases ago. 

And put a fabric heart in the handle of an odd lid I found at Goodwill and hung on the wall.

Two little hearts adorn a tea towel.

I found this vintage St. Valentine's Day card in an antique store many decades ago. 

Valentine cards from our granddaughters always get saved and displayed.

That's about all I have but I love their presence in my kitchen. 

Last week I took everything off my open kitchen shelves and cleaned everything, the top shelf with RH's help. A couple of years ago I took everything decorative off the lower shelf and filled it with glass jars of rices and beans, etc. that I used frequently but I began to miss having pretty stuff there. So most of the food items went in the pantry (which is a coat closet back near our bedrooms) and I brought in some favorite pretty things.

I put up some of the early 1900's Italian fish majolica I collect including this large platter.

And the gravy tureen that still has the rare spoon for its tongue. And I had RH hang one of the little bone dishes above it. I have stacks of small plates too and might add some of them.

A small English platter went up, all of these fish making sense to me as I could easily give up all meats and only eat fish. Not so, RH.

I must zoom in on Maddie who was clipped to my Christmas calendar that daughter Christy gave me years ago, a reminder of her schnauzer who will be 15 years old this Valentine's Day! Maddie's health was very worrisome a few weeks ago and we were so relieved when she got better.

I can't resist showing you my asparagus candle again. When RH's brother was letting me choose things from his estate sale inventory a couple of years ago, this vintage asparagus candle and two large orange "coral" candles I display on top of my china cabinet were some of my favorite finds. I love this candle!

I think it's magnificent and display it on the top shelf beside a special old Royal Doulton "Countess" platter that was my mother's. 

On the door to the kitchen porch I display seasonal tea towels year round, mostly vintage. I just packed away my Christmas vintage tea towels and despite not having any vintage Valentine's towels, felt like these make a nice February showing, especially the cherries in honor of President George Washington. I know, I know, the cherries were a myth but I don't care.

I'll show this last picture to answer a question that Melanie recently posed, Where do I keep all my different china patterns?

Some are kept handy on this dry sink in the kitchen. Always my Blue Willow, now topped with winter patterns. At Christmas a stack of Spode Christmas Tree was there, easy to grab, and in summer I keep a stack of blue and white Independence Hall plates. Sometime I'll try to get pictures of the other places I stash china. 

That's all for today but I have a very old photograph of myself and RH to post on St. Valentine's Day, one I had forgotten about and recently found.

I always feel I should apologize for so many pictures but I do love seeing pictures from my blog friends' kitchens and hope some of you do too. 

Please stay well, everyone! Our daughter is sick with COVID for the third time in a year and is feeling absolutely crummy. And yes, it is possible to have it that many times because there are at least three variants out there. 

Be safe, be kind to yourself and others. 

Friday, February 9, 2024

Of February Joys


Paperwhite narcissus are such a joy to me. This is my second batch, the first one started in early December. I order 24 Ziva bulbs and use most of them in three or four containers around the house for Christmas. I put polished rocks in the containers, fill with water up to barely touching the bulb and keep them cool and dark for almost two weeks until roots are full and small pale green shoots appear when I bring them out. 

Then I have enough bulbs left for one big display and I believe the second batch are even more special, filling my kitchen with their perfume.

Do you see that sweet face above? James Mason and his sister always bring me joy! And he's in another episode of disc disease pain right now so I'm trying to keep him resting and inactive as much as possible while the meds work. 

This gives me the opportunity to write a blog post and I wanted to tell you about the absolutely amazing apple pie I made before Christmas. It's from a 2007 Cook's Illustrated magazine and it was a labor of love, taking me all day. Was that just me and my slowness? I mean, I always take triple time that recipes say it's supposed to take. 

I can't give you a link to this recipe because you have to subscribe to it now but you know a pie crust is going to be good when it calls for two sticks of butter and sour cream. After I put it together in my Cuisinart, formed it into two balls and put it in the fridge for two hours I started peeling the apples. [I took pictures each step of the recipe but am sparing you most of them!]

This is the step that was a surprise to me but is supposed to be so much better than using raw apples. I cooked the apples in a Dutch oven, along with the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon juice and zest for 20 minutes AND then put the cooked apples on a baking sheet to cool for 30 minutes. I started to skip this step but decided to follow everything as written. 

Have you ever cooked the apples for an apple pie?

Then I put the apple mixture in a colander and drained out the juices to discard. 

Then it was time to roll out the dough into two rounds. And then the rounds of dough went back into the fridge for 30 minutes on parchment paper! After that I lined the pie plate with one round and poured the apples into that and sprinkled with lemon juice. 

Time to top the pie with the second pastry, slits cup in, brushed with egg white wash, and sprinkled with sugar.

After baking at 425 F. for 40 minutes (recipe called for 45-55 minutes) I took it out and then had to wait 1 1/2 hours to cut and eat.

Lord have mercy, was that apple pie the best I've ever eaten!

Okay, maybe it didn't take me all day but it took me hours and hours. And I'll never make it again unless we have company there to help us eat it because apple pie, even good apple pie, is not so good after two days and the critters and birds got the rest. The crows were particularly fond of it. 

Time to help James Mason get up and go potty. My to-do list mainly consists in taking care of him for a few days while squeezing in some basics as I can. I certainly won't be making another apple pie anytime soon. 

What are you all up to now?