Sunday Thoughts – A Lesson From The Garden

“October breathed poetry ~ beautiful and glowing.” ~ Terri Guillemets

Sweet October morning, my friends.  Welcome to ‘Sunday Thoughts.’

As many of you are probably aware, I love books.  And as I am a gardener, naturally, I enjoy gardening books.  When I find one with solid gardening information along with a little poetry or beautiful words, well, the book is simply a must-have.  Such was the case with the book, “A Garden’s Grace” by, Nancy Hutchens.  The wonderful little book, published in 1997, has become a special friend to me.  It is loaded with good gardening information, wisdom, and even a recipe or two.

Image result for a book titled a garden's grace

In straightening up the bookshelves the other day, I found my friend among the cookbooks.  Now, how did that happen?  Anyway, I had to spend a few moments with her.  In other words, I was easily distracted.  But in doing so, I found a few words of wisdom I want to share.  As it often occurs when I read this treasured book, I feel Nancy Hutchens knows me.  Because somewhere, I usually read something Hutchens tells me I should be doing.  But this time, it was her grandmother, Mamaw Tribby.  I heard her loud and clear saying,  “Sandra, it is well into October, you need to finish putting the garden to bed.  And not at your convenience.”  So for all of you who are gardeners, perhaps the following words from Hutchens and her grandmother will resonate with you as well.  But really the words are, in general, true about many things in life.

“Nature takes no account of even the most reasonable of human excuses.” ~ Joseph Wood Krutch

“When I was a girl it was my job to rake leaves in the fall, just about the time school started, bringing with it activities much more interesting than leaf raking.  I postponed the chore time and again ~ until it was too late.  Big, dry flashes of snow started falling early in November one year and didn’t stop until over a foot had accumulated.  This severe weather continued every weekend throughout the autumn.  All winter I looked out on a yard encrusted with caked and soggy leaves caused by procrastination.”

“Mamaw Tribby said this experience should teach me one of the most important lessons a gardener can learn ~ nature waits for no one.  We think we can control her, but all we can do is follow her lead.  As we puttered in her flower beds, she’d say.  “People are in awe of nature when they first start gardening and follow all the rules.  The trouble starts when they get cocky and think they can do things at their own convenience.”

“Another mild, orange~gold October day.” ~ Sylvia Plath

 

So, my friends, as much as I want to take my wonderful book and coffee in the garden on this gorgeous October day.  I must get my sweet garden put to bed and tucked in for her long sleep.  Because, “As the garden becomes a dearer and dearer friend, I’ve learned that true respect for life is without boundaries.   The garden deserves as much of my heart in winter, when its energy has descended to its roots, as in the summer, when roses and lilies are blooming.”

I hope you have enjoyed your visit today.  Know I am wishing you and yours a beautiful day. 

And…

May your week ahead be golden and full of joy.

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Note:  The ending quote is by, Nancy Hutchens.

Images: via tumblr and pinterest

At Table ~ Mimi Thorisson

“I can’t think of a specific meal, but my favourite country for food has got to be France.” ~ Giles Foden

Good morning, my friends.  Welcome to ‘At Table.’  Today, I would like to talk about a remarkable young woman, Mimi Thorisson. There are many reasons I feel Thorisson is remarkable.  One, in particular, she is the mother of eight.  And in my opinion, that qualifies her as ‘truly remarkable.’  However, there is more ~ much more.  And just in case you are not familiar with her, I will share a little background information.

I'd also go to Norway or Sweden, get myself a delicious and talented hubby like this gorgeous woman and then abscond to France and have this life. For a few years, at least. Mimi Thorisson in her kitchen in Medoc.

I first became acquainted with Mimi Thorisson through her blog, Manger (translation, to eat).  Thorisson was born and raised in China.  Her father was Chinese and her mother was French.  She would spend summers and holidays in France with her grandmother and aunts.  It was there she learned her way around a kitchen, the love of good food, and the art of skillful preparation. Her grandmother and her aunts were all wonderful cooks and she thoroughly enjoyed learning from them.

Going forward a few years, when Thorisson and her husband, Oddur (a professional photographer from Iceland), were in their mid-30s they made a life-changing move.  A move that would lead them down many new and different roads.   They moved from their small Paris apartment to a large stone farmhouse in Médoc, France.  Médoc (French pronunciation: meˈdok) is a region of France, well known as a wine-growing region, located north of Bordeaux.    This peninsula on the Atlantic was considered one of France’s last frontiers until Thorisson arrived and her blog, Manger, captured the hearts of its readers.  In April 2013, Manger was named Saveur’s Best Regional Food Blog.  Quite an honor.

Following this award of her successful blog, her first cookbook, A Kitchen In France, was published in 2014.  Followed in 2016, by the publishing of French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a Village in the Vineyards.

mimi thorisson
The Thorisson’s home had previously been owned by a woman named Plantia, who, in the 1950s had run a small restaurant out of the house, a favorite of the local wine merchants.   Much of the information for her second cookbook came from recipes and photographs she found in the home which had belonged to Plantia.   
Thorisson’s culinary adventures do not end here.  Having a great fondness for Italian food, she and her family vacationed and traveled extensively in Italy. Thus, leading to their recent purchase of a home in Piemonte, Italy.  As a result of the purchase of this home, the couple plans to divide their time between Médoc and Piemonte.  Thorisson leads cooking workshops in both locations.  Should you be interested in attending, she gives dates for the workshops in both locations on her blog and already has the 2020 schedule posted.  A link to her blog is provided above.

Fresh Vegetables from the Garden

“If you are not capable of a bit of witchcraft, don’t trouble yourself with cooking.” ~ Colette
By now, you are most likely wondering, “Is she going to post recipes?”  Yes, I am, and they are wonderful.  Please pay attention to the recipes and not my photography.  I made the cabbage recipe for dinner a couple of weeks ago and my husband was beyond happy.  The recipe is not difficult but is a little time-consuming. So make it when you are not in a hurry.  Thorisson actually serves this as a first course.  But, we enjoyed it as our main course, along with fresh sliced tomatoes from our garden, a nice crusty bread, and a bottle of  Côte des Roses Rosé.  It was a lovely meal.

Chou Farçi (Stuffed Cabbage) ~ Recipe from, Mimi Thorisson.
Ingredients 
1 head Savoy cabbage
unsalted butter for the pan
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, finely diced
2/3 pound ground beef
2/3 pound good quality pork sausage
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. Rabelais spice or ground allspice (I used allspice)
good dash of salt and pepper
3/4 cup whole tomatoes, crushed with juice
1 large egg
Be sure to read my notes at the end of this recipe.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Meanwhile, core the cabbage and separate the leaves, discarding any coarse outer ones.  Cook the leaves in boiling water for 8 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.  Generously grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch soufflé dish or charlotte mold with butter, this gives flavor to the cabbage.   Put a large pretty cabbage leaf, domed side down, in the dish.  Top with another leaf and continue arranging the leaves, along the sides, one on top of another until the entire base and sides are covered.  You won’t use all the leaves at this point (reserve enough for 4 or 5 layers).
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Cook the onions and carrots until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the ground beef, sausage, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, spice and salt, and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the meat is browned.  Pour in the crushed tomatoes and their juices.  Simmer until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool.  Note:  At this point, after the mixture was cool, I discarded the thyme and bay leaf and placed the mixture, a few large spoonfuls at a time, into a large fine-meshed strainer and squeezed out the excess grease from the beef and sausage.  Next, put a layer of meat in the cabbage-lined dish and top with a cabbage leaf.  Continue until you have used all the meat.  This will make about 4 layers ~ See Note at end of post.  Bake for 40 minutes.  To unmold, invert a plate over the top of your dish or pan and flip the plate and dish to remove the mold.  Serve immediately, cut into slices.  This recipe serves 6.

 

“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

 

Pear Flognarde

A Pear Flognarde is a rustic cake with origins in the Limousin region of France.  It is rather like a big pancake filled with marvelous pears.  In the Occitan language, flognarde means “soft.”  This is a lovely and easy dessert – be sure to give it a try.

Ingredients

4 Tbls. unsalted butter, plus more for the cake pan

6 medium pears, such as Bartlett

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 Tbls. dark run

4 large eggs

1 Tbls. honey

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 2/3 cup whole milk

1 Tbls. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Peel pears, cut into quarters and remove the cores.  In a large sauté pan, heat 2 Tbls. of the butter.  Add pears, sprinkle with 1 1/2 Tbls of granulated sugar, and cook, turning them once, until golden, about 8 minutes.  Sprinkle with rum and simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  In a large bowl, combine the eggs, remaining sugar, honey, vanilla seeds, and salt.  Whisk until frothy.  Melt the remaining 2 Tbls. of butter and whisk into the batter, along with the flour and milk, whisking until smooth.  Scrape the pears and all of their juices into the prepared pan.  Pour the batter on top and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake until puffed and golden, about 35 to 40 minutes.  Let cool for at least 15 minutes on a wire rack before unmolding.  The cake will deflate gradually as it cools.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  It is quite lovely with rum ice cream or a dollop of crème fraîche.

“We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.” ~ Anna Thomas

 

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In closing, I hope you have enjoyed being ‘At Table’ today. 

Know how much I appreciate your visit and I do hope you will try the recipes. 

Wishing you…

Beautiful autumn days with special times, ‘At Table.’

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

 

The next post of ‘At Table’ will be November 20, 2019. 

Notes on the Chou Farçi ~ what I did differently.  I had on hand a regular head of green cabbage, so this is what I used (as you can see in the photo).  Because I do not have a Charlotte mold, I made it in a single layer.  It was about one and a half-inch thick.  However, in using a 9 inch round glass cake pan, it turned out perfectly.  The next time I make it, I will use the Savoy cabbage, as the leaves are larger, more flexible and prettier too.  Also, when you cut this, use a very sharp knife in order to prevent smashing the slices. Charlotte molds are readily available at several online sources, I think I will purchase one. 

Rabelais spice is a mix of allspice, nutmeg, and curry ~ a traditional spice in France since 1820.

Both recipes given today are from Thorisson’s book, A Kitchen In France.

 

Images:  Pinterest, tumblr, S. Lambiotte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ October 13, 2019

“If I had influence with the good fairy, I would ask her gift to each child be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.” ~ Rachel Carson

missfairyblossom: “http://ourbeautifulworldanduniverse.com/ ”

Good Sunday morning, my friends.  We finally had rain and now are enjoying cooler temperatures.  I do hope you are enjoying the same.

When I looked out of the window this morning, I saw the huge old maple on the street behind us.  She is golden and is inviting all the other trees to hurry and get dressed in their autumn finest. Looking at this lovely tree, my thoughts turned to my dear mom and how I will be forever grateful to her for instilling in me, “an indestructible sense of wonder.”

I do try to pay attention to even the smallest of things.  Although, sometimes I forget, and something as small and lovely as an acorn will once again capture my attention and my heart.  

“Some of the greatest poetry is revealing to the reader the beauty in something that was so simple you had taken it for granted.”
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

Château de Sully sur Loire, France - instagram.com Château de Sully sur Loire, France

Nature is not the only thing that makes me stand in awe.  Breathtaking architecture does also.  Such as  Château de Sully, built in the early thirteenth century.  To me, it is incredible how something so beautiful was constructed at this time in history.  Just imagine the primitive tools, by today’s standards,  these craftsmen used to create such beauty.   Amazing, isn’t it?

“Cherish sunsets, wild creatures, and wild places. Have a love affair with the wonder and beauty of the earth.” ~ Stewart Udall

etxtraveler: “ A picture that instantly screams “this is Texas”! Photo from Quitman, Texas (Wood County). 📸by Cheryl Chaney ” Windmill against a glorious sunset, Quitman, Texas.

Above all the many wonders of this earth, it is always the magnificent beauty of God’s brushstrokes that will steal my heart.  A rainbow, a sunrise or a sunset, all are so amazingly beautiful. 

“I walk the world in wonder.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait' Dahlia, Café au Lait’

 

Dear Friends, thank you so much for visiting this morning.  

And…

Until we meet again, I hope your path will be lined with things that will cause you to pause and wonder. 

Wishing you and yours a beautiful day.

Amour,

Sandra 

 

Images: Pinterest and tumblr

Sunday Thoughts ~ October 6, 2019

“Aflame, October’s leaves adore the wind.” ~ Carol Ann Duffy

     Good Sunday morning, my friends.  I hope this finds you enjoying a lovely autumn morning.  We have cooler temperatures this morning, but certainly not like the October mornings I remember from past years.
     In our area, we are in desperate need of rain.   Our governor has declared a “State of Emergency,” for our entire state, due to our extremely dry conditions, “no outside burning or fires of any kind.”  With the majority of “Wild and Wonderful West Virginia” being heavily forested land, and the Appalachian Mountain System covering nearly two-thirds of our state, dry weather can be a huge factor in forest fires. 
     Speaking of the weather, here is something else to ponder.  Old mountain folklore tells us, “Your winter will be as cold as your summer was hot.”  I don’t know about you, but right now, a long cold winter sounds quite lovely. 
“The early days of a lovely autumn come back to me. I remember the avenue of maples, the delicate smell of the fallen leaves, and the scent of autumn apples ~ that mix of honey and fall freshness.” ~ Ivan Bunin
Image result for photos of blackwater falls in autumn
Even though our seasons are changing,  we can carry our memories of past autumns in our hearts, can’t we?  Times of walking along, under a brilliant blue sky and kicking the leaves.  Wearing sweaters, corduroy skirts, and wool jackets.  And, who remembers hay rides?  They were even better than high school football games, at least in my opinion.  Such fun.
☾Autumn Wonderland☽
Yes, “October had tremendous possibility…the golden leaves promised a world full of beautiful adventures.  They made me believe in miracles.” ~ Sarah Guillory
Dear friends, know how much I appreciate your visit.
And…

Wherever you are, I hope the sun rises and sets on a beautiful day for you and yours.

 

“It was the perfect autumn day…cool and crisp, bright sun against a brilliant blue sky, smoke curling out of chimneys, leaves swirling…The ideal day for a trip to a pumpkin patch, then to a tiny cafe for cups of hot cider…Then home with the memories of a perfect day, to enjoy a good book in the beautiful late afternoon golden fall light.” ~ Vicki Chicago-Marsh

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Images: via tumblr

 

 

Enjoying Home

“It was one of those sumptuous days when the world is full of autumn muskiness and tangy, crisp perfection: vivid blue sky, deep green fields, leaves in a thousand luminous hues. It is a truly astounding sight when every tree in a landscape becomes individual, when each winding back highway and plump hillside is suddenly and infinitely splashed with every sharp shade that nature can bestow – flaming scarlet, lustrous gold, throbbing vermilion, fiery orange.” ~ Bill Bryson

Good morning, dear friends.  Now that October has arrived, it is time to prepare our sweet home for the cooler days of autumn.  Here in North Central West Virginia, we are beginning to see cooler night-time temperatures and the hills are taking on a lovely golden hue.  That is my signal to get busy, prepare the garden for her long winter nap, and ‘feather our dear nest.’

“Somewhere between the buzz of Indian Summer locusts and the deafening silence of new fallen snow is a fleeting, exhilarating bliss known as Autumn. It arrives in radiant splendour, summoning our primal urges to feather our nests. The aroma of tea and soup is more enticing and we find a hundred ways to savour an apple. Cords of seasoned hickory are stacked outside in anticipation of a roaring hearth as we greet the longer nights with cozy bedclothes. The moon demands more attention, and masquerades appease our hunger for intrigue. We stock up on candles, sensing the dramatic excitement that rivals the energy of those scurrying bushy tails.” ~ Melissa Rolston

In preparation for chilly mornings and evenings, I enjoy placing a few stacks of quilts around.  They stand ready to conquer a chill and comfort our souls on a rainy afternoon. Quilts are a perfect companion for a cup of tea and a good book. And, I must not forget a little treat, such as a slice of fresh gingerbread (see recipe at the end of this post). 

“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.” ~ Chaim Potok

A cup of hot tea is a quick and assured remedy for a chill.  Everyone who enjoys tea most likely has a favorite, or favorites.   Mine happens to be Mariage Frères, Earl Grey French Blue.   For those of you who live in larger towns or cities, this tea may be easy for you to locate.  However, if you are unable to find it, I purchase it from Amazon.com.  It is a little pricey, but every cup is a marvelous treat.

“In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.” ~ Elizabeth George Speare

See what you can do with just a bunch of beautiful Fall leaves!

I adore a few glorious autumn branches placed in a simple urn, vase or pitcher.  Often, I think simplicity makes the most impact.

Of course, nothing quite speaks ‘cozy’ like a warm fire.  Whether the fire is wood or gas burning logs, both are wonderful, taking the chill from a room as well as ourselves.  This photo reminds me of the fireplace in our home in Virginia.  It was 4 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide, complete with a trammel and hook.  Our current home, built in 1939, has three fireplaces.  There are traces where all three burned wood in earlier years, today all have gas logs.  We are certainly grateful for the warmth and beauty they add to our home.

“I was aware that the sun was sinking behind me, golden in the October afternoon.” ~ D.H. Lawrence

Late afternoon calls me to the kitchen to begin preparations for dinner.  To me, the kitchen is a grand place to enjoy puttering on cool autumn days. 

Pumpkin soup with sage & bacon. I'd like to try this without the potato, and I sure as hell am not cutting up a pumpkin the hard way. But the general idea is pretty good. :)

“Soup is the song of the hearth… and the home.” ~ Louis Pullig De Gouy

October usually begins my soup extravaganza.  I can almost hear my stockpot calling me …”Fill me with delights, to the brim, so the aroma fills every room.” Is there anything more wonderful than coming home to the smell of something heavenly simmering on the stove?  Soup makes me happy and I could be quite happy with it several times a week.  Hubby, not so much.  However, he doesn’t fuss and seems to enjoy it as long as there is plenty.  And with soup there always is.

A requirement for soup, nice crusty bread.  Sliced and toasted is true perfection.

“The days are shorter and colder, but our hearts are alive with the season’s glow.  The warmth, the comfort, and that sense of home that autumn brings.” ~ Unknown

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Dear friends, thank you so much for your visit.  I do hope autumn finds you invigorated by the cooler temperatures, delighting in the things you love, and soaking up all the beauty surrounding you.   Stay close to everyone and everything you hold dear.  Enjoy your home. 

And…

Remember to ~ bake some gingerbread!

 

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

Gingerbread Loaves

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 cup dark molasses

1 cup boiling water

1 tsp. baking soda

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

4 tsp. ginger

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. cloves

1/4 tsp. salt

Glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1-2 Tbls. lemon juice

Mix together until smooth.

Heat oven to 350.  Grease two 8×4 inch loaf pans.  In a large bowl, combine brown sugar and butter; beat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs; beat well.  In a small bowl, combine molasses, water, and baking soda; mix well.  Beat into brown sugar mixture.  Gradually add flour and remaining ingredients;  mix well.  Spoon batter into greased pans.  Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Remove from pans; cool completely.  Drizzle glaze over cooled loaves.

Note:  Often, I have not prepared the glaze and simply dusted the loaves with powdered sugar.  Either way is perfect.

 

Images: Pinterest and tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ September 29, 2019

“America, America, God shed His grace on thee…” ~ Katharine Lee Bates, 1893

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  Once again, we have witnessed another chaotic week in our beautiful land.  Truly, turbulent times.  I found myself shaking my head after one too many news reports and thinking, “America, what has happened to our America, and what will it take to repair the wounds?”  

In 1893, when Katharine Bates wrote the beautiful poem, “America The Beautiful,” she couldn’t have imagined America could possibly be in such turmoil in 2019. I think she would be quite sad and disappointed.  Somehow, someway we must right the ship.  Perhaps, praying for “God to shed His grace” is a good beginning.

“America The Beautiful,” Katharine Lee Bates

“O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, 
For purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain! 
America, America, God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for Pilgrim feet, whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat, Across the wilderness!
America, America, God mend thine every flaw, 
Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife, 
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life! 
America, America, May God they gold refine, 
Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream, that sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears! 
America, America, God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!”

Wishing you and yours a beautiful and peaceful day.

And…

May your week ahead be filled with kindness and joy.

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

Image: viatumblr

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ Autumn Unfolding

“ These extraordinary autumn days! A godlike beauty to the countryside that cannot be described, and very nearly cannot be experienced ~ it is so amazing. One walks or rides along in a veritable daze. Surely there is no season quite like this… ” ~ Joyce Carol Oates

Good Sunday morning, dear friends.  Tomorrow is a special day, the first day of glorious autumn.  Such a dazzling season, isn’t it?  I believe at this time of year, we all anticipate cooler days and the magnificent beauty autumn holds.  So find your coffee or tea and come along for a short stroll through ‘autumn unfolding.’

 

“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron, and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.” ~ Sharon Kay Penman

“The oak leaves above were already gilded, autumn coming to the woods like a king in a legend, touching all the trees with brightness.  The rays coming through those leaves were gold on gold.” ~ Sarah Rees Brennan

“Autumn ~ that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness ~ that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.” ~ Jane Austen

“Autumn evokes different feelings for everyone…As the energy of summer slows down, and frosty winter is getting closer, a beautiful autumn day is truly special.  Cool morning air, grass wet with dew, and those amazing warm golden colors spreading through the trees…” ~ Vicki Chicago~Marsh

“To say it was a beautiful day would not begin to explain it. It was that day when the end of summer intersects perfectly with the start of fall.” ~ Ann Patchet

 

Dear friends, thanks so much for visiting and I hope you enjoyed the stroll.   

Wishing you and yours a beautiful day.

And…

“May you walk through the world and
know its beauty all the days of your life.”

Apache Blessing

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

Images: viatumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Table ~ Richard Olney and Frank Stitt

“Eating is not merely a material pleasure.  Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship.” ~ Elsa Schiaparelli

Good morning, dear friends.  Welcome to the first in the series of ‘At Table.’  I sincerely thank you for visiting and look forward to your comments.  For those who may be new to this blog or have not commented before, simply scroll down to the end of the post and you will see “Comments.”  Click on it and it will say, “Join the Conversation.”  Please do.  Remember, this series is about learning from each other.  I want to learn from you, hear your thoughts and stories, and I feel certain other readers do also.   

That said, I would like to begin with a little information about a great chef who had a profound and lasting influence on other chefs.  Additionally, he was a leader in the culinary movement which brought to life inspiring new gastronomy.  He introduced Americans to something different.  French food, made with excellent ingredients, which could be prepared at home.   Not convenience food, frozen or processed.  This great chef was, Richard Olney (1927~1999).  An American who pursued the French way.

Richard Olney Richard Olney ~  Photo from his book, “The French Menu Cookbook.” Published by, Penguin Random House, Canada, 1970.

 

 

“I like the atmosphere in which, whenever one sits down to a meal, however simple, it is conceived as an aesthetic experience…” ~ Richard Olney

 

Richard Olney was born and raised in  Marathon, Iowa.  He was educated at the University of Iowa and the Brooklyn Museum Art School, before leaving for France in his mid-20s to become a painter.  In France, Olney resided in Paris and Provence.  He is considered one of the most distinguished and influential food writers in recent history.   

In 1970, Olney published his first cookbook, “The French Menu Cookbook.”  And, in 1974,  he published “Simple French Food,” which included several of his own drawings.  These books brought him extremely high praise from professionals as well as amateurs.  This praise was not just about recipes, but about his philosophy of “At Table” ~ sharing good food, wine and a little beauty with family and friends.  Something he taught to many and which is part of his remarkable legacy.

 

 

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” ~ Cesar Chavez

While I will not go into the details of listing all the many publications for which Olney worked or list the eight books he authored, I will tell you a little about the deep influence he had on one man ~ Frank Stitt.  In 1978, for the entire month of May,  Stitt worked for Olney as his assistant.  Typing, editing manuscripts, and assisting Olney in any way he could with his demanding schedule of delivering manuscripts on time.  Stitt worked and resided at Olney’s home in Solliès-Toucas, France.  A small town in Provence near Toulon. This month, however, was not totally about work.  Much fine cooking was going on as well as forming a great friendship.   

It was during this month,  that Stitt learned the magic of ‘At Table.’  In an article written in “Food and Wine,” magazine (October 2018), Stitt said, “That month was one of the greatest highlights of my life.”  Stitt is the owner of four restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama.  One of which is the acclaimed Highlands Bar and Grill. Many guests who visit Stitt’s restaurants often remark about a certain magic and the beauty they so enjoy.  Always, Stitt explains to his guests what they are enjoying can be traced directly to what he learned during his special month in Provence while working for and learning from his friend and mentor, the late Richard Olney.

 

 

“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” ~ Paul Prudhomme

I would like to share a favorite recipe of mine from Richard Onley’s cookbook ~ “Simple French Food.”  You will see this is not a complicated recipe.  It makes a lovely meal along with a salad and bread, followed by fruit and cheese for dessert.  And, of course, Olney would want you to serve it with wine. (See my notes at the end of this post.) 

Also, I thought you might enjoy the recipe for Frank Stitt’s Vinaigrette, to dress your salad.  This recipe is from “Food and Wine” magazine, October 2018. 

 

Zucchini  and Chard Gratin  ~ Serves 6

2 pounds zucchini, coarsely grated, salted in layers, and 15 minutes later, squeezed free of water.

2 medium onions, finely chopped and stewed gently in 2 Tbls. olive oil, until soft and yellowed – about 20 minutes.

1/2 cup long-grain rice, cooked for 15 minutes, rinsed beneath running water and well-drained.

2 pounds Swiss Chard, the green leafy parts.  Washed, drained, and shredded.

3 oz. of bacon slices (about 4 or 5 slices), chopped or sliced crosswise into 1/8 inch ribbons, not cooked.  Note:  I prefer this chopped.

3 large cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped. Note:  I mince the garlic.

1 large handful chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp. dried.

3 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus a handful more for sprinkling over the surface

1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:  Because of the bulkiness of the uncooked, shredded chard, you will need a really large mixing bowl in which to mix the ingredients.  Combine everything, with the exception of the final handful of Parmesan and the olive oil.  Mix well with your hands, pack into a large oiled gratin dish, pressing the surface smooth with the palm of your hand, sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the surface, dribble over olive oil in a crisscross pattern, bake in a medium oven at 350 for about 1 hour, turning the heat up to 450 for the last 10 minutes or so to give the surface a rich gratin.

 

Frank’s Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp.  fruity red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. Spanish sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey or apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. minced shallot

1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, honey or apple cider vinegar, shallot, and thyme in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and pepper, let stand 15 minutes.  Whisk in oil and check the seasoning for salt and pepper.  

We had the pleasure of cooking with Chef Stitt in Serenbe- Part of their 'Southern Chef Series'...See Chef Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega and Chez Fon Fon in Birmingham in the July/August 2013 Garden and Gun.

 

 

This post could have easily been considerably longer, as there are volumes more I would like to share about Olney and Stitt.  Such as what led Olney to the kitchen, how he and Stitt met, their amazing friendship, as well as Stitt’s long list of outstanding accomplishments.  However, the important take away is the significant contribution they both have made, not only in the culinary world but in helping us see the beauty and magic of being ~ ‘At Table.’  

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“Goodness, how much there is to learn about food!” ~ James Beard

 

 

So, dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit and that you will try the recipes.  

   Do stay tuned there is so much more to come.  The next ‘At Table’ post will be October 16.

Wishing you happy times in the kitchen.  Enjoy, savor and relish the beauty.

 

 

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

 

 

Authors Notes:  Please understand I do not claim to be a Wine Connoisseur or a pairing expert, however, I will provide a suggestion to accompany this meal.  My first choice would be a roséWhispering Angel, or ‘Gerard Bertrand Languedoc ‘Cote des Roses’ Rose’.  Second choice ~ a white wine, Sauvignon Blanc.  We enjoy, ‘Josh’ Sauvignon Blanc.

Images: ~ Via Tumblr and Pinterest.  Unless otherwise stated, I do not claim ownership of these photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Thoughts ~ September 15, 2019

“It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you drown in it.” ~ Diana Gabaldon

How to organize and schedule your life when your routine is changed.

 

“We went down into the silent garden. Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.” ~Leonora Carrington

geopsych: “ Irrational exuberance under the willows. ”

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ~ Ram Dass

ijustwannaseeyouhappyandnaked: “ in the garden i see only your face from trees and blossoms i inhale only your fragrance 💖 ~ rumi ”

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” ~ Robert Lynd

michaelnordeman: “Birds photographed in my garden. ”

“Listen to silence. It has so much to say.”~ Rumi

“God is whispering in your heart, in the whole existence, just tune your ears.” ~ Amit Ray

 

Dear friends, thank you so much for your visit.  Wishing you and yours a peaceful and beautiful day.

And, may your week ahead be filled with beauty, kind people and lovely moments.

Amour, 

Sandra

 

Images: viatumblr

 

‘At Table’ ~ An Introduction

“The French love of food is rooted in sharing good times and enjoying life, which is what makes it most inspiring.  It’s not the ultra-fancy food offered in posh restaurants but carefully combined ingredients proudly presented and slowly savored among friends.” ~ Janet Tamburro

Good morning, everyone.  In a previous post, ‘Late Summer Recipes,’ I mentioned there may be something new happening on the blog.  Today, I am excited to share, what I hope will become an inspiring new series ~ “At Table.”   So, I invite you to join me this morning as I give a little introduction and my vision of  ‘At Table.’

mymodernhouse: “From Home Decor Obsession ”

“La bonne cuisine est la base du véritable bonheur.” ~  “Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness.” ~ Auguste Escoffier

For inexplicable reasons, as many of you know, I am drawn to all things, French.  Including food.  One reason for my attraction may well be I have great respect for the French people and their culture.    And, to me, their culinary culture is unsurpassed. 

During my many years of working outside our home, I can tell you I was not interested in time-consuming recipes and shunned away from anything I thought might be.  But, there was much I needed to learn.  Once I retired, there was time in my day to shop for ingredients, try different recipes, and learn new things.  Certainly, it wasn’t a surprise to find myself gravitating to French recipes.  WOW, I felt like I had been living under a rock.  Now understand, I am not talking about the food served in Michelin star-rated restaurants.  I am referring to the food prepared and served in French homes.  And while many of these recipes are a little time-consuming, many are not. My general thoughts about French cooking were totally flawed.  Thus began my in-depth reading and research, which has led to many years of practice and wonderful cooking.  And now to ‘At Table,’ which I sincerely hope you will enjoy.

A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” ~ Thomas Keller

Certainly, there are many outstanding culinary geniuses in America and in other parts of the world.  And, I could hear my Mississippi grandmother and mother’s loud whispers (you would, too) if I didn’t include the marvelous food of the American South, especially the Deep South.  Additionally, I must mention where I live in West Virginia is a very ethnic community.  We have a large Italian population as well as Greek.  So I will include recipes from both of these communities, recipes I have loved and prepared for years.  Thus, ‘At Table’ will not only be about cooking French food.  It will also be about food from America and other countries, and the customs and traditions which accompany the many wonderful recipes.  And, of course, I will pass along a bit of history about great chefs who have worked diligently, mastering their craft and their recipes while learning the lessons of ~ ‘At Table.’

Now, I am sure you are wondering, “What can this West Virginia girl, who has never been to France, possibly know about the country, the people, the customs, or the food?”  While I am fully aware there still remains much for me to learn, I plan to share what I have learned.  By doing so, I hope to inspire you to prepare something beautiful and tastes exquisite.  I want you to enjoy smiling faces as they taste your marvelous goodness and mostly, to enjoy the blessing of ‘At Table.’

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“If an architect makes a mistake, he grows ivy to cover it. If a doctor makes a mistake, he covers it with soil. If a cook makes a mistake, he covers it with some sauce and says it is a new recipe.” ~ Paul Bocuse

Mastering a new skill is something I immensely enjoy, and I firmly believe you, my wonderful readers, do also.  While many of you I know are well-traveled and have been to many parts of this beautiful world, and perhaps many times, I thought it may be fun to be ‘At Table’ together. To cook recipes which may or may not be familiar to you and share the results of your efforts.  To hear your stories about certain recipes, perhaps from your travels or from a talented soul who prepared some lovely creation for you. To share with each other and to learn.  I promise not to share a recipe I have not perfected and know you can, too.  

French cooking and culinary customs are highly celebrated.  The entire process, from planning the menu to shopping for only the best ingredients, has a happy and welcoming nature at the very core.  One may wonder, “Why?”  The answer ~ it is the French lesson of, ‘At Table.’  Good food lovingly prepared, proudly presented and slowly savored among friends and family.

“This is what a family is all about ~ one another, sitting around the table at night.  And it’s very, very important, I think, for the kid to spend time not only around the table eating with their parents, but in the kitchen.” ~ Jacques Pepin

Mimi’s home in Saint-Yzans, originally a winemaking château, once housed a legendary restaurant. French Country Cooking chronicles Mimi’s efforts to carry on the tradition by opening an intimate pop-up restaurant. The table of Mimi Thorisson, author of several cookbooks and lives in Médoc, France.

Personally, I believe it is in the French DNA to gather their family, friends, and neighbors around the table for a meal.  Certainly, one would never find them eating at their desk or in front of a television.   You see, food is greatly respected in France.  Perhaps, this stems from extremely hard times endured through two World Wars.  But whatever the reason, the French respect not only the food but the person who grows and prepares the food.  They have a reverence for both.  Food is not just something to sustain their bodies.  “For me, the food I like to make is the food I can enjoy all the time anytime. It’s not too calculated or technical.” ~ Daniel Boulud

“If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony.” ~ Fernand Point

 

There, my friends, you have it ~ the details of my new series.  For now, I plan to do a post on the third Wednesday of each month, beginning on Wednesday, September 18.  I hope you will join me and follow along on this little adventure into another realm of beauty and its deliciousness ~ ‘At Table.’

Wishing you a beautiful day!

Petite Copper Saucepan | Shop The Cook's Atelier | Beaune, France

 

“In all professions without doubt, but certainly in cooking one is a student all his life.” ~ Fernand Point

Bon Appétit,

Sandra

 

Images:  via tumblr and Pinterest