Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Reconditioning a Cast Iron Skillet


When we built our home eleven years ago, we bought a ceramic cooktop stove. I love it! No more messy burners or having to buy new drip pans. However, you can't use cast iron on it. Knowing this, when we moved in, I just left all my cast iron on the bottom shelf in the garage. Fast forward nearly a dozen years...


Gerald and I had both inherited several pieces from both our grandmothers. Unfortunately, several pieces were the same, so I no longer know which came from who. I do remember the corn-shaped muffin pan came from my greatgrandmother for whom Jewell is named!


Between the dust and the rust, these skillets were in pretty rough shape. I wanted to use one for a recipe I made for my Mixing Bowls Cookbook Club last week, so I endeavored to clean it up. I'd read about it, but never done it myself. Would it work? Let's see... 


I began by washing it in hot, soapy water. I scrubbed it good with steel wool. Once it is seasoned, you're never supposed to use soap, but since it probably would have given us some sort of lead poison as it was, I had to risk it!


Looking better already! But it was still dried out and unseasoned.


I added about a teaspoon and a half of canola oil to the clean and dry skillet. I used a paper towel to rub it in - really well - all over the inside, outside and handle.


I wiped out the excess.


I put it in a 350 degree oven for right at an hour. I placed it upside down over a foil-lined pan to catch any drips. After an hour, I brought it out to cool. Remember - it's screaming hot, but there's nothing inside to remind you! Cover it with a towel and place it out of the way of little hands.


Later on, I buttered it, and made this...


Goat Cheese and Cauliflower Gratin. Delicious, and the skillet was perfect for it!

I plan to keep this one good and clean for cornbread and other casseroles. I also plan to clean the rest when I get time. Maybe display them somehow?

Check back tomorrow for the recipe for the creamy casserole above.

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Country Crudite Tray


A while back, Gerald and I attended a barbecue, and I was asked to bring a crudite tray. Sounded simple enough! 


I looked for a variety of colors to add to my tray. I had eight different vegetables in all: Green onions, carrots, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, summer squash, cucumbers and celery.


I washed, dried, and cut up all my veggies, then set them aside. I pulled out a galvanized metal tray and began to arrange everything. I tried to mix up the colors. I left the celery leaves on the tops of a few stalks. I love the texture it added, and they're full of flavor!


I scored my cucumbers with a fork before cutting them into thin slices. I kept the bottom of my bunch of celery...I thought it was so pretty and looked like a flower! I just rinsed it well to get rid of any sand and grit.


I made a double recipe of ranch dressing using the packet seasonings and served it in a mason jar. A veggie tray doesn't have to be boring. I thought it looked pretty enough to eat!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Barefoot Contessa Inspired Tablesetting


Last night was the bi-monthly meeting of my Mixing Bowls Cookbook Club. We shared a great meal of recipes by Bobby Flay. I'll be sharing with you what I made soon. But I realized I haven't shown you the tablesettings for when I hosted back in August!

Whoever is hosting gets to choose what chef/cookbook they want to feature. I have long been a fan of Ina Garten and her brand, "Barefoot Contessa". First, I love her simple elegance. I also love her yummy recipes. Mainly, I love her laugh! She seems like she would be so fun to be around.


Often, Ina will show how she sets her table. She always keeps it simple. Oversized flatwear, a pretty napkin and simple plates. Her floral arrangement is usually the focal piece. So, I tried to keep the tablesettings simple - a challenge for me!


I used my white linen tablecloths and woven runners I found on clearance at Dillards several years ago as a base on both the kitchen and dining room tables.


My simple white everyday dishes ("White Satin" by Nikko) were the picture of simplicity. I used these basket weave chargers at the kitchen table along with the flatware pattern "Margate" by Pfaltzgraff.


In the dining room, I used the Better Homes and Gardens chargers I snagged on clearance at Walmart after Christmas a couple of years ago. The flatware here is "Austen" by Yamazaki.

I made these napkins last March for St. Patrick's Day. I also used them last Easter, and several times since then!


Stemware is "Sweet Swirl" by Noritake.


I found these pretty votive holders at Dollar Tree last year when I was putting together several tablescapes with the theme "Life's a Journey" for an event at Faulkner. They also showed up again on my "Apples of Gold" Thanksgiving table last year.


Ina uses hydrangeas quite a bit. We had a really dry summer last year, and my mop-head hydrangeas were spent. Luckily, my limelight hydrangeas had a few blooms left. I stuck some in a Mason jar along with some camellia leaves and Voila! I stacked up some of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks as a base to give a little height.


I finished off with Ina's signature saying, "How easy is that?!", on the little marquee sign I have in my kitchen. I had to turn the light off to photograph it. I have had so much fun changing the message on this from season to season!


We had a fun night with delicious food and great conversation! Here is our fearless leader, Kimberly Edwards, telling us about our next meeting and what we would be cooking. 

I hope you enjoyed this peek into our cookbook club. This was such a great idea!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Miss Manners Valentine Party 2017


I've been posting a lot lately, trying to catch up on everything I've been up to. All those things are exactly what keep me from having the time to post as often as I'd like. Oh, well! Bear with me and we'll get caught up...eventually! 

But I did want to finish off all things "Valentine's Day" related, and today does just that. I've shared the Valentine's Day tablescape I created for my family, as well as the recipes for the amazing $4 filet mignon, creamy potatoes au gratin, and the super easy cannoli dip we had for dessert.

Yesterday I shared the tablescapes for the Valentine's Day Banquet that our church youth group hosted for the Senior Servants group.

Today I want to show you the details of our last Miss Manners party. Usually these are hosted by me or Nancy, but our sweet friend, Beth Forrester, has hosted twice! A few years ago, she threw a fun pool party for the girls. This year, she offered to host a Valentine's party. Nancy and I gladly accepted!


Let me give you a little background before we go too far. First, Beth has two girls in our Miss Manners group. Second, she and her husband, Jim, are the coordinators for our Senior Servants group at church. They are always looking for a good program for the group's monthly fellowship at church, so we decided to let the Miss Manners girls do something for them. More about that later.

Jim and Beth own Forrester Realty and Construction in Wetumpka, and their office is in a beautiful building in the historic downtown area. Beth chose to have the party there.


She covered the two large drafting tables to serve as buffets. I love the repurposed piece of old wood that is now a tray. See it above left? She also pulled out her grandmother's lazy susan and used it for the cupcakes. Love it!


Another view of the tables. See that gorgeous exposed brick? I thought they had whitewashed it. Actually, when they bought the building, it had been owned by a lawyer who had broken up the space into offices and plastered the walls. When the plaster was removed, the bricks had a hazy white color to them. I love it!


Everyone loves cupcakes!


Here's a closer look at the piece of old wood that's now a tray. What's Valentine's day without a little chocolate? That peppermint bark was divine!


Red hots and jelly beans added color and spice!


The girls loved the heart-shaped PB&J sandwiches, and I loved the cheese straws!


Iced shortbread cookies literally melted in your mouth.


She rounded out the meal with pretty fruit skewers.


Festive flowers in pink, red, and white!


Each girl brought valentines to hand out. These are the ones I made.


Conversation hearts were a fun addition to the coffee table.


We decided to let the girls have a fashion show at the March Senior Servants dinner and model hats that they made themselves.


Nancy, Beth and I cleaned out our craft closets and brought all kinds of goodies for them to use.


Ribbon, flowers, feathers, lace, butterflies...


even stickers!


The girls brought one of their own hats from home...


it could be a bonnet, baseball cap, cowgirl hat, whatever... 


And they used our goodies to decorate and transform it to match their personalities.


Aren't they cute?!


My daughter, Jewell, and Beth's daughter, Claire, are mentors. They have aged out of Miss Manners, but they still come and help us and the younger girls. They helped the girls with the hot glue guns!


Nancy, Beth's Mother, and Beth, enjoy a little time to fellowship. Aren't those chairs cool? They were used in the movie "Big Fish" which was filmed in Wetumpka a long time ago. 

Beth had hung bags for the girls to use to hold their valentines. We let them go two or three at a time and drop them in their friends' bags.


Beth and her youngest, Anne.


The girls loved all the party food!


Chloe's hat was the piece de resistance!


Our Miss Manners girls with their mentors, Jewell, Ashlyn and Claire.

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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