Sunday Thoughts ~ December Magic

“Suddenly December… the magic begins.” ~ Unknown

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Good morning, beautiful souls.  And, a Happy December to you!  December is truly a magical time, isn’t it?  Perhaps, if the magic, beauty, and kindness which accompanies the month remained throughout the year, it wouldn’t be so greatly appreciated.  However, I think you would agree, it would be marvelous to give it a try.

My grandmother, Belle Fears of Collins, Mississippi, was a wonderful woman.  She made every attempt to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in her heart all year.  At the end of each Christmas season, when she was putting away her decorations, she would always select one small ornament to hang in her kitchen window.  She said, “When I feel agitated or ‘out of sorts,’ I will look at the ornament and it will return Christmas to my heart.”  I began her practice many years ago.  I wish I could tell you it has always worked for me, I can’t.  But, I can tell you it returns the precious memory of my grandmother and times shared in her wonderful kitchen.  And that, in itself, is magic.

“…freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin – inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night…”
~ John Geddes, A Familiar Rain
While we no longer have a live tree in our home, when I see them on tree lots around town, their very appearance speaks of magical moments in the days ahead.  Family and friends gathered around decorated trees, enjoying the twinkling lights and soft glow of the season.  And the smell of fresh pine, even in candle form, will evoke delightful childhood memories.

“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?” ~ J.B. Priestley

Our first significant snow usually arrives sometime in December.  And, it easily becomes part of the magic of December, creating a fairy-like wonderland with its softness and beauty. 
“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas:  It brings people together while time stands still.” ~ Rachel Cohn
“Christmas magic is silent. You don’t hear it ~ you feel it. You know it. You believe it.” ~ Kevin Alan Milne

 

Dear friends, I hope this post will begin your December with a bit of magic. Enjoy this glorious time of year and every drop of beauty it brings.  But as we go about this busy month, let us keep in mind, “ …when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans ~ and all that lives and moves upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused ~ and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” ~ Sigrid Undset

Wishing you and yours a beautiful day!

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

Notes:  Sigrid Undset was a Norwegian novelist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928.

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Sunday Thoughts ~ Thanksgiving

In November, people are good to each other. They carry pies to each other’s homes and talk by crackling woodstoves, sipping mellow cider. They travel very far on a special November day just to share a meal with one another and to give thanks for their many blessings… 

for the food on their tables…

and the babies in their arms.” ~ Cynthia Rylant, In November

“All across America, we gather this week with the people we love to give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives.” ~ George W. Bush

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Dear friends, wherever Thanksgiving Day may find you, I wish you and yours love and great joy.

Be safe in your travels, hug those you love extra tight and may the day bring you beautiful memories.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” ~ William Blake

 

 

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At Table ~ November

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more…  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

Good morning, my friends.  Welcome to ‘At Table.’  It is just so difficult for me to comprehend that the holiday season is here.  Didn’t we just celebrate the daffodils?  As my mom always said, “Time marches on.”  And, it certainly does.

‘At Table’ is about celebrating good food and making cherished memories with family and friends.  And, of course, we want holiday memories of times around the table to remain with those we love for a lifetime.

So, today I am sending along a few of our favorite holiday recipes.  If you are looking for an additional side or a lovely cake, I hope you will give these a try.  These recipes have graced our holiday table for years and they continue to receive rave reviews.  

“Good cooking carries magic in it; a house, big or little, that smells good from cooking, is the place everyone wants to be.” ~ Susan Branch

Herbed Potato Gratin

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) heavy cream

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp.  rosemary

1 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. sage

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 lb. russet potatoes

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

3 cups (12 oz.) grated Gruyère cheese

1/4 cup (1 oz.) grated Parmesan cheese

 

Preheat oven to 375.  Butter 11-inch gratin dish or a 9x11x2 inch baking dish ~ set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the following and bring just to boil, then remove from heat.  

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tsp. of rosemary, 1 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. sage, a pinch of salt and pepper.

Peel 2 lbs. russet potatoes and slice 1/8 inch thick.  (I use 4 medium potatoes, it is perfect.)  Arrange a third of the potato slices, slightly overlapping, in the baking dish.  Gently stir potatoes into cream mixture.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Add 1/4 of an onion thinly sliced and 1 cup of grated Gruyere cheese.  Repeat, using another third of potato slices, salt, pepper, another 1/4 of an onion and 1 more cup grated Gruyere.  Top with remaining potatoes, salt, and pepper.  Gently press on potatoes with a spatula to compact them.  Pour remaining cream mixture over potatoes and sprinkle with another 1 cup grated Gruyere and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan.  Cover with foil and bake until potatoes are tender about 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes more.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

 

Cauliflower Casserole

2 large heads cauliflower

2 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened

1 stick butter or margarine, softened

1 1/2 to 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350.

Bring cauliflower florets to boil and cook on medium/high heat until just tender.  Do not overcook. Remove from heat and drain.  In the hot pan, which cooked the cauliflower, mix cream cheese and butter.  Add the cauliflower back to the pan and with a heavy spoon, gently break apart the cauliflower into desired size florets and mix until the cream cheese and butter are completely mixed in.  Add a little salt and pepper and stir just until mixed.  Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Top with grated cheddar cheese.  Bake until bubbly and cheese has melted about 20-30 minutes.

 

Applesauce Cake

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 10-inch tube pan and set aside.

1/2 cup shortening, I use butter.

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups applesauce

1 tsp. baking soda

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

2 tsp. ground nutmeg

2 Tbls. dark molasses

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup raisins

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg.  Combine applesauce and soda; beat into creamed mixture.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and spices; add to applesauce mixture.  Stir in molasses, vanilla, raisins, and nuts.  Spoon batter into greased 10-inch tube pan.  Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes.   Cool in pan 12 minutes and then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.   When cool, dust with powdered sugar.

Dear Friends, know I am wishing you and your family a most wonderful and happy Thanksgiving.  

Love each other, count your blessings, 

And remember…

“We must find time to  stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ~ John F. Kennedy

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

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Sunday Thoughts ~ November 17, 2019

“We need to be angels for each other, to give each other strength and consolation.” ~ Henri Nouwen

 

Good Sunday morning, my friends.  I hope you are seeing blue skies this morning.  This past Tuesday, here in the hills of West Virginia, we had our first dusting of snow.  Just enough to be pretty.  However, it was a reminder of the snowy days ahead.

Today, I would like to share something I feel is most inspirational.  When I began to gather my thoughts regarding today’s post, there it was, wrinkled and jaggedly torn from a magazine.  It is an inspiring piece, written by Elizabeth M. Gilbert, author of her 2006 memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love.”  (See notes at the end of this post.)  I hope you will also find it meaningful.

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ~ Mary Oliver

 

The following article was written by, Elizabeth M. Gilbert.

“Some years ago, I was stuck on a crosstown bus in New York City during rush hour. Traffic was barely moving. The bus was filled with cold, tired people who were deeply irritated ~ with one another; with the rainy, sleety weather; with the world itself. Two men barked at each other about a shove that might or might not have been intentional. A pregnant woman got on, and nobody offered her a seat. Rage was in the air; no mercy would be found here.

But as the bus approached Seventh Avenue, the driver got on the intercom. “Folks,” he said, “I know you’ve had a rough day and you’re frustrated. I can’t do anything about the weather or traffic, but here’s what I can do. As each one of you gets off the bus, I will reach out my hand to you. As you walk by, drop your troubles into the palm of my hand, okay? Don’t take your problems home to your families tonight ~ just leave ‘em with me. My route goes right by the Hudson River, and when I drive by there later, I’ll open the window and throw your troubles in the water. Sound good?”

It was as if a spell had lifted. Everyone burst out laughing. Faces gleamed with surprised delight. People who’d been pretending for the past hour not to notice each other’s existence were suddenly grinning at each other like, is this guy serious?

Oh, he was serious.

At the next stop ~ just as promised ~ the driver reached out his hand, palm up, and waited. One by one, all the exiting commuters placed their hand just above his and mimed the gesture of dropping something into his palm. Some people laughed as they did this, some teared up ~ but everyone did it. The driver repeated the same lovely ritual at the next stop, too. And the next. All the way to the river.

We live in a hard world, my friends. Sometimes it’s extra difficult to be a human being. Sometimes you have a bad day. Sometimes you have a bad day that lasts for several years. You struggle and fail. You lose jobs, money, friends, faith, and love. You witness horrible events unfolding in the news, and you become fearful and withdrawn. There are times when everything seems cloaked in darkness. You long for the light but don’t know where to find it.

But what if you are the light? What if you’re the very agent of illumination that a dark situation begs for?

That’s what this bus driver taught me ~ that anyone can be the light, at any moment. This guy wasn’t some big power player. He wasn’t a spiritual leader. He wasn’t some media-savvy “influencer.” He was a bus driver ~ one of society’s most invisible workers. But he possessed real power, and he used it beautifully for our benefit.

When life feels especially grim, or when I feel particularly powerless in the face of the world’s troubles, I think of this man and ask myself, What can I do, right now, to be the light? Of course, I can’t personally end all wars, or solve global warming, or transform vexing people into entirely different creatures. I definitely can’t control traffic. But I do have some influence on everyone I brush up against, even if we never speak or learn each other’s name. How we behave matters because within human society everything is contagious ~ sadness and anger, yes, but also patience and generosity. Which means we all have more influence than we realize.

No matter who you are, or where you are, or how mundane or tough your situation may seem, I believe you can illuminate your world. In fact, I believe this is the only way the world will ever be illuminated ~ one bright act of grace at a time, all the way to the river.”

“Be a lighthouse of love because many of us are ships that are desperately seeking a safe place from the storms of life.  Sometimes we just need to know we won’t sink and that land is closer than we think.” ~  T. B. LaBerge

 

 

Dear friends, thank you so much for visiting. 

Know, I wish you and yours a beautiful day.

And…

May your path glow with kind and beautiful souls.

Amour,

Sandra

Authors notes: ~ Elizabeth M. Gilbert (born July 18, 1969) is an American author. She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which as of December 2010, had spent 199 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, and which was also made into a film by the same name in 2010. 

 

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Sunday Thoughts ~ Pieces of Heaven

“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.” ~Jules Renard 

image A New England sunrise.

Good Sunday morning, my friends.  I am so glad you could join me this morning.  It is true, isn’t it?  Pieces of Heaven are scattered all around us, just waiting for us to pause, open our eyes and see.  The magnificent beauty of this earth is incredible.  So, I hope you will enjoy the amazing ‘pieces’ I have found, as well as the thoughts and feelings of a few amazingly gifted souls.“Each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same fields, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“There ought to be a way to combine “autumn” and “morning” into one word, the combination of the two is special enough to be its own entity.” ~ Terri Guillemets

coiour-my-world: “Fall on Beauty Mountain…… | J. J. Sikkila ”“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead ~ his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms ~ this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.” ~ Albert Einstein

llovinghome: “Whitetail Deer Fawn ”

twilightsolo-photography: “Autumn Pansy Still a few pansies in bloom in my mother’s garden. ©twilightsolo-photography Instagram // Facebook // Print Shop // Patreon ”

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” ~ John Muir

thepreppyfox: “ #Autumn #Fall ”

Dear friends, I so appreciate your company this morning. 

Know I am wishing you and yours a beautiful and peaceful day. 

May you notice ‘Pieces of Heaven’ along your path.

And…

I hope they will leave an imprint on your heart. 

Amour,

Sandra

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Warm and Cozy ~ Early November Days

“The cup of tea on arrival at a country house is a thing which, as a rule, I particularly enjoy. I like the crackling logs, the shaded lights, the scent of buttered toast, the general atmosphere of leisured coziness.” ~ P.G. Wodehouse

Good morning, my friends.  I am so happy to see you.  Pull a chair to the fire, make yourself comfy, while I clear the table and make us some toast and tea.

“Come along inside… We’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.” ~ Kenneth Grahame

Is there anything better than the feeling of comfort and warmth?  I think not.  It is such a safe feeling and is only better when shared with loved ones and friends.   

Years ago, while living in Virginia, a dear friend stopped by for a visit.  She is the type of friend one is blessed to have, never caring what you or your house looks like and if you are involved in some task, she will jump in and help.  Anyway, on this particular day, I didn’t have a treat to offer her with her tea (unusual), so I made cinnamon toast.  The way my mom did, in the oven.  As I placed the toast on the table, she began to cry, and then jumped up and gave me the biggest hug.  She explained she hadn’t had cinnamon toast since her mom made it for her, too many years ago.  I have never forgotten this time with my friend and neither has she.

Offer age-old favorites, such as Darjeeling or English Afternoon tea, for a lingerworthy service after the meal.

“A simple cup of tea is far from a simple matter.” ~ Mary Lou Heiss

“In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures. The bed is white and silent, and much life can hide beneath its blankets.” ~Cynthia Rylant

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These early days of November are marvelous days.  With the garden tucked in for her winter sleep, I can enjoy the quiet and peaceful days. 

From inside my warm and cozy home, I enjoy watching the last of the beautiful leaves fall, mornings with the frost so heavy it looks like snow, and yes, the first snowfall too.  Which, by the way, is to come our way next Monday.  It seldom is a heavy snow, just enough to let you know autumn is slowing giving way to winter.

“In November, the smell of food is different. It is an orange smell. A squash and pumpkin smell. It tastes like cinnamon and can fill up a house in the morning, can pull everyone from bed in a fog. Food is better in November than any other time of the year.” ~ Cynthia Rylant

Cinnamon and raisin scones will certainly ‘pull everyone from bed.’  But, they are grand at any time of day ~ in my opinion.  

And, there is nothing which speaks warm and cozy louder than a wonderful pot of soup.  Especially if it is roasted butternut squash soup.  Visit here for the recipe.

So, dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit and are now warm and cozy, ready to face the elements.  As November is a month which calls our attention to our blessings and being grateful.  Know I am grateful for your friendship, even though it may be virtual.

 

Wishing you quiet and peaceful early November days.  Enjoy the beauty of the earth as she begins her sleep.

And…

Stay warm and cozy!

oldfarmhouse: “ http://pin.it/FXqFEp0 🌿🍁🍂”

 

 

Au Revoir,

Sandra

 

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Sunday Thoughts ~ Gifts

“The only gift is a portion of thyself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good Sunday morning, my friends.  Well, October just flew by, didn’t she?  And once again, all too soon, the holidays will be with us.  Yesterday, I read the Christmas decorations are going up in New York.  So, I guess that is a definite sign. Please know, I am not a fan of Christmas before Thanksgiving.  However, I do want to share thoughts from an article I read from many years ago, which may give you something to consider as the holiday season approaches. 

The article was about how we seem to have lost much of the real meaning of Christmas, amid all the hustle and bustle.   It was written by a woman who decided to bring a new holiday tradition to her children and family ~ The Three Gift Christmas.  I don’t remember every detail of the article, but it certainly made me reconsider my ways.    

Perhaps, I am simply a slow learner.  Often I  need to read something in order to step back a moment and take into account my way of doing things.  During the many years I worked outside our home, I had to be organized.  And I think I often drove myself, and probably those around me, crazy trying to accomplish my tasks.  When it came to gifts for those I loved and held dear, I would wake in the morning with my head whirling, regarding the perfect gift or gifts.  But, then I read, “The Three Gift Christmas” ~ my ways changed.

The woman who wrote this article had endured years of rushing around like a crazed person during the holiday season.  Sound familiar?  She felt as though the gifts, she had driven herself mad to acquire, were not meaningful.  Perhaps, when Christmas morning arrived she was simply exhausted, who knows?  But, she decided to make changes.    

Her children were still small and she sat them down to explain that this year each of them would only receive three gifts. They could still make their lists, but she wanted them to know she had asked Santa to bring them only three gifts each.  Why three gifts?  The Baby Jesus only received three gifts.  Certainly, that would suffice for her children.

Christmas, my child, is love in action.” ~ Dale Evans

You see, this special mom wanted her children to stand in awe of a beautiful tree aglow, to sing wonderful Christmas carols, enjoy Christmas goodies and learn to see all the details of the exquisite beauty of the season.  And, she wanted them to have treasured memories of Christmas mornings and know the love behind the gifts they received.  

In reading her article, I was inspired.  I stepped out of the chaos and enjoyed, once again, the multitude of little things.  Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t love the fuss and the full days leading up to Christmas.  Because I do.  But, I have well learned, many times the simplest things are the most precious.

Source: blovelyevents.com

“For the gifts that are priceless are the ones that are heartfelt; their roots are within our soul. They are the greatest gifts, of all.” ~ Ellen J. Barrier

Dear friends, I hope you have enjoyed your visit today.  The holiday season will be upon us in a blink and none of us want this most special time to be stressful.  I do believe ‘simple’ is the key.  Because we all want to savor the moments and make memories for ourselves and those we love.  

Know I am wishing you and yours a beautiful and peaceful day. 

And…

May the month of November bring you great joy. 

 

 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

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Sunday Thoughts ~ Fleeting October

“In the entire circle of the year there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October, when the trees are bare to the mild heavens, and the red leaves bestrew the road, and you can feel the breath of winter morning and evening, ~ no days so calm, so tenderly solemn, and with such a reverent meekness in the air.” ~Alexander Smith, An Essay on an Old Subject
Good morning, my friends.  It is hard to imagine today is the last Sunday of glorious October, but it is.  I hope you have enjoyed this beautiful month and made many sweet memories. 

“O’er the hills and far away, I spent my hours admiring the golds and ambers of October’s ripe deliciousness. Who’d of thought such bright skies and balmy air would greet us in such a manner that we might believe we were staring at the commencement of spring! I must be careful not to grumble as these rare pleasantries shall help to sail me comfortably into winter.” ~ Freya Turrill

“October is the month for painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes ‘round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

And so,… “Sweet summer is again a memory, And lyric April a lost fairy story, This is the season of the singing tree, The winding horn of Autumn’s ambient glory.”… ~ Gladys Taber, “Song for October”

Dear friends, wherever this finds you, slow down, bask in the magnificent gifts which abound, and watch the fallen leaves dance.   Enjoy the remaining weeks of autumn.
Know I wish you and yours a beautiful and peaceful day. 
And…
May, “October, baptize you with leaves!…, tuck tiny candy bars in your pockets and carve your smile into a thousand pumpkins.” ~ Rainbow Rowell 

Amour,

Sandra

 

 

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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