Sunday, March 30, 2014

Renovation Diary: The Front Porch Bling Project

From the beginning, our front porch was one of those issues that divided the sexes.
Men are from Mars and women are from the Deco planet, right?
I didn't want to mess with the original design.  A little paint, and we'd
be good to go.


My husband wanted to put a huge For Sale sign in the yard (a long story, and some chapters can be found in the cobwebbed corners of this blog). He especially loathed the porch and cast a skeptical eye at my paint swatches. (Actually, he said I was trying to put lipstick on a possum.) "Add some bling," he said, and then we'll re-evaluate the situation." He was referring to that For Sale sign, of course.


My husband has zero interest in design. He knows what he likes in a house but hates to spend money. The last thing he'd do is to encourage me to dip into the coffers on a design project. But for some reason he was stuck on this porch and could not see beyond it. Actually, it wasn't the porch; nor was it an architectural clash--it was about the house in his mind's eye, the sum of all his dreams, but I digress. We'd been down this road many years ago when we renovated a 100 year old house, and we'd compromised.

In this case, my compromise was to add a little trim along the ceiling of the porch.
My heart sank when Will didn't love it. What to do?
When you are looking at a house from two different hilltops, you must find common ground.
Where was it? Will wanted a little bling. I wanted a relaxed country house. In my opinion, we had already gone in the wrong direction, but this was Will's house, too.



I approached the matter cautiously (or so I thought). I tried to see bling through my husband's eyes. I added corbels. Okay, bad idea. They were horrible. Will just shook his head. "Now who's going in the wrong direction, Miss Sugarbaker?" he teased.

But then I saw a photo of Mary Carol Garrity's famous porch.
What if I added a façade? What about some wood trim? It could partially cover the brick
columns. I sketched a design and showed it to Will. "It's worth a shot," he said and warned me not to spend too many Benjamins.
My GC, Mike Cox, was a little worried that wood trim wouldn't stand up to Father Time, and he
didn't think that I'd like PVC or similar products. He was absolutely right. But I told him that I was sixty years old, looking down the barrel at seventy. Chances are, I'd be in the ground before
termites took down the porch.

"You've got a point," Mike said, then he took measurements.





Last week, with the arrival of spring-like weather, the Bling Project began.






My carpenter, Joel, is going to find an old horseshoe (aka Mary Carol's porch) and put it over the front door. It's un-blingy and absolutely perfect.An invisible compromise.


To help with the "Benjamin Franklin" edict, Mike and Joel built just about everything from leftover trim and wooden pieces.


After it's painted (SW Shoji White), I think it will be lovely. The trim will add some dimension and a bit of old fashioned charm. I couldn't have been more wrong about this porch, and I'm glad that Will stood his ground. 


An "at a glance" look:


Just a little reminder: The Novel Bakers will return
Monday, April 7th
with Beatrix Potter Week. Hope you'll join us!





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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Foodie Friday -- March 28th



Welcome to Foodie Friday, where great cooks gather to share recipes.
What have you brought today?




It's been a while since I've given you a kitchen update. The backsplash 
has been installed.



I'm waiting for the beadboard panels to be installed. Below, you
can see where I tested various colors. (More later.)


And here is the good doctor, checking out the refrigerator. 






The beadboard panels have been painted BM Fieldstone. 


I'm inching forward, trying to decide about the kitchen's style direction.
I do like black and white, which will allow me to decorate with tartan reds and greens in Christmas
and pink in the springtime. It's safe, will work with just about all tablescapes, and I like that.









I like the Madeline counter stool from Restoration Hardware.





In the breakfast room, we're adding a bay window.
I am drawn to upholstered chairs (I know).






Love chairs from Ballard Designs, too. I could order several slips--and I can
choose the finish on the legs.









Adorable pleated slips.





And then I saw this photo on Pinterest. I tracked it down.
The furniture is made by Baker. The chairs are dark, but not black.
Love the shape. Wonder if they are comfortable?






http://www.furniturelandsouth.com/Baker-Furniture-Milling-Road-Provincial-Draw-Table-DZ39425.aspx



I found another inspiration photo and tracked the source. The furniture is, or was, made by Lexington. I love the white slips and dark wood.




Here and HERE.

It just so happens that I have a roundish table, though it will need painting.
(Hello, Spring and fresh air for DIY projects!)




Below,  you can see a little bit of the breakfast room. Excuse the refrigerator. The room was been painted BM Simply White, and a bay window will be added.
Do you think it'll work?




If you are contributing a recipe to this week's Foodie Friday, locate the blue Inlinkz icon in the lower, left-hand portion of this post. Click on the icon and follow the directions. After you complete the process, you will see a red "x" beside your name. This allows you to delete your link if you made an error; the red "x" is visible to you only.
You can read a complete guide to this linky party HERE.  It's pretty simple. You don't need to "like" our Facebook page or be a follower of this blog to participate. Nor do you need to include a backlink or Foodie Friday button in your post. Add as many recipes as you wish, old or new. If you love food, we love you.
Pretty please do not pin images from the FF thumbnails. Visit the source blogs. Thanks.
   
If you'd like to share your food photos--or photos of other FF participants on Pinterest, join the Pinterest foodie board, Consuming Passions. Leave a message on the most recent "pin" if you'd like your name added to the list.
Every Friday, we are joined at this big, virtual table--thank you for stopping by today. I'm grateful to all of you who spend your days cooking. I'm grateful to old and new friends who contribute recipes every week. I'm grateful to friends who leave a comment. I'm grateful for the silent folks, because you are brought here by your love of all things culinary. We are food people. And that's a marvelous thing. 
Until next time,








Foodie Friday Linky Party


Have a nice day!



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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Foodie Friday -- March 21st Recipe Linky Party

 Welcome to Foodie Friday, where great food is always on the menu.
I'm happy to see you this week. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and a
huge helping of Emergency Dessert.
No calories, of course.
 
Have you ever been in a situation where company is coming, and you
have a choice: clean the house or bake a cake?
 
If you have time to bake, stop reading and skip to the bottom of this post.
But if you choose to tidy your house, I've got the perfect cake for you.
 
 My family calls it ...
 
The Emergency Dessert.
 

 
Simple, stunning, and sublime--in five minutes.



How to Make an Emergency Dessert
 

Start with a grocery-store lemon pound cake and two fresh lemons.
Take the cake out of the plastic container and set on a rack.
Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the cake.
 
Make a simple confectioner's sugar icing--powdered sugar and lemon juice.
You can tint it with food coloring or add a fruit puree (if you have time).
Blend.
Spoon the icing over the cake and wait until it has "set."
Transfer the cake to a platter or pedestal.
 
If you have a fresh raspberries (or any type of fruit), pile them
in the center of the cake, reserving a few for garnish.
Edible flowers add a romantic touch. Just snip off the stems
and tuck the flowers on the top of the cake.
I added a few candy sprinkles, too.
That's it.
A super fast, fool-proof dessert.





 
 
 

 
 
 
 
If you are contributing a recipe to this week's Foodie Friday, locate the blue Inlinkz icon in the lower, left-hand portion of this post. Click on the icon and follow the directions. After you complete the process, you will see a red "x" beside your name. This allows you to delete your link if you made an error; the red "x" is visible to you only.
 
You can read a complete guide to this linky party HERE.  It's pretty simple. You don't need to "like" our Facebook page or be a follower of this blog to participate. Nor do you need to include a backlink or Foodie Friday button in your post. Add as many recipes as you wish, old or new. If you love food, we love you.
 
Pretty please do not pin images from the FF thumbnails. Visit the source blogs. Thanks.
   
If you'd like to share your food photos--or photos of other FF participants on Pinterest, join the Pinterest foodie board, Consuming Passions. Leave a message on the most recent "pin" if you'd like your name added to the list.
 
Every Friday, we are joined at this big, virtual table--thank you for stopping by today. I'm grateful to all of you who spend your days cooking. I'm grateful to old and new friends who contribute recipes every week. I'm grateful to friends who leave a comment. I'm grateful for the silent folks, because you are brought here by your love of all things culinary. We are food people. And that's a marvelous thing. 
 
Until next time,
 
 

                                                                                         



Foodie Friday Link
Have a Nice Day
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Two Recipes for St. Patrick's Day

 I just wanted to wish everyone a
Happy St. Patrick's Day.
 
 
I'm sharing two recipes from a delightful cookbook that I've had for a while: The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook by LOVE FOOD, an imprint of Parragon Books Ltd, UK.
 
The first recipe, roasted shallots, is the perfect side dish for roasted pork, chicken, or just about anything. The recipe calls for banana shallots, but small onions or shallots will do. The flavor is mild, and the dish won't compete with your entrée--but the flavor is dense, savory, and slightly smoky, with touch of apples.
 
Roasted Shallots
                                                 serves 2-4
8 shallots
2 Tablespoons apple juice concentrate
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon chopped thyme
Thyme for garnish
sea salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mild Irish cheddar cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (garnish)
 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
 
Into a bowl, add apple juice, olive oil, and theme. Whisk and set aside. Peel shallots and cut off ends. Slice in half (length-wise), place slices in the bowl, and toss, coating the shallots well. (I didn't measure my olive oil, and you can see the result below. Note to self: Using your measuring spoons!)
Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the shallots to a (Pam-sprayed) baking dish.
Sprinkle shallots with bread crumbs. Salt and pepper.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until shallots begin to darken at the edges. Place cheese on top and
continue cooking another 3 to 5 minutes (or until cheese melts). Remove from oven and garnish with parsley and thyme sprigs.
 




Next, I made Beef and Stout pies, which my family loved. It's heartwarming on a cold, late-winter evening. The original recipe involves transferring things into separate bowls and draining the beef (after you've made the gravy). Since I am a certified exhausted cook, I simplified things a bit. My additions are in blue.
 
 
Beef and Stout Pies
 
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 heaping Tablespoon Hungarian Paprika
2 pounds boneless chuck steak (or eye of round), cut into 1" cubes
vegetable oil (to fry meat)
1 1/4 cups beef stock
1 onion, chopped
8 ounced cremini mushrooms (same as Baby Bellas), discard stems and quarter the caps
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1 cup stout (I used 1/4 cup Smithwick's Lager)
1 pound store-bought puff pastry
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and sliced


Into a bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. (I added a heaping tablespoon of Hungarian paprika). Toss the beef cubes until coated. Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium high flame. Fry the meat in batches, transferring each one to a paper-towel lined plate. Transfer meat into a large bowl. Now, deglaze the skillet by adding a little stock, then scraping the sides and bottom of the pan. (At this point, the Easy Version of the recipe begins.) Add 1 or 2 Tablespoons oil (actually, 1 T. will be plenty) to the skillet; sautee the mushrooms and onion. Add tomato paste, thyme, stout (I mixed this in a separate bowl.) Blend well. Add the mixture to meat/onions. Add remaining stock. Stir until blended. (At this point, you can add 2 peeled, cubed potatoes and 3 peeled, sliced carrots, if desired. Add the potatoes during the last 30 minutes or so to prevent them from disintegrating.)

Reduce the flame and simmer the stew until thickened, about 45 minutes to an hour (or until carrots are tender). Stir frequently. (I have a gas cooktop, and I use a "flame tamer" to prevent scorching.)
Spoon meat mixture into a casserole dish or individual pie pans.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Roll out the puff pastry and place it over the filling, trimming and crimping the edges. Save the scraps to decorate the top of the pie. Brush the pastry with the egg wash. Using a knife, cut slits in the top of the crust.  Bake 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake 5 additional minutes. If necessary, place tin foil around the edges of the crust to prevent burning.

"May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go."
 
                           --Irish blessing



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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Foodie Friday--March 14th

 Welcome to the March 14 Foodie Friday, where great food is always on the menu.
 
I've been cooking Irish goodies this week. If you are looking for recipes and tablescape ideas,
pop over to Cuisine Kathleen's 6th Annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Crawl.
 
 
First, I'm sharing Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge with Pistachios.
I saw the recipe on my friend Butteryum's blog. Patricia's photos went viral, and you can still find them pinned like crazy on Pinterest. That's how much people love this recipe.
Since my kitchen is overflowing with pistachios, I just had to try Butteryum's recipe.
 
 
You can find the original recipe at  the fabulous Butteryum's blog. Patricia
adapted her recipe from Eat Good 4 Life.
 

Ingredients:

36 oz white chocolate chips, Ghirardelli brand,  3 bags
1 14 oz can sweetened condense milk, unsweetened is best
1/2 cup Irish cream liquor, more if you like
1/2 cup raw pistachios, chopped, more if you like
 

Read more at http://www.eatgood4life.com/irish-cream-and-pistachio-fudge/#KLdLdlmphKKOgvJf.99
 Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge with Pistachios

36 oz white chocolate chips
1- 14 oz can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
6 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt plus a few pinches of sea salt

 
 Spread aluminum foil on the bottom and sides of a 9" x 9" pan, then grease the foil (I used Pam).
Into a double boiler add white chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, Irish cream, and salt. Stir over medium flame until the chocolate has melted and ingredients is blended. Remove pan from heat and add pistachios. Place mixture in the foil-lined pan and chill until set. Sprinkle the top with sea salt, if desired. 
 
Next . . .
Irish Whiskey-Pistachio Crusted Corned Beef
I don't have a recipe, just a procedure: braise the corned beef according to the directions on the package. Place brisket in a baking pan. Reserve 1/4 cup "braising" liquid.
In a separate bowl, make a glaze.  
36 oz white chocolate chips, Ghirardelli brand,  3 bags
1 14 oz can sweetened condense milk, unsweetened is best
1/2 cup Irish cream liquor, more if you like
1/2 cup raw pistachios, chopped, more if you like
 

Directions:

Lined a square pan, I used an 8x8 square baking pan, with foil paper and lightly grease it.
In a sauce pan, at low heat, pour all of the ingredients except pistachios. Stir constantly until chocolate has almost melted.
Turn off heat and continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Add pistachios and pour evenly onto prepared pan. Let cool until set. Remove fudge from pan and peal off the foil paper. Cut fudge into small squares.
Store fudge in a airtight glass container.

Read more at http://www.eatgood4life.com/irish-cream-and-pistachio-fudge/#SY1b4ydhErcLWKFU.99
36 oz white chocolate chips, Ghirardelli brand,  3 bags
1 14 oz can sweetened condense milk, unsweetened is best
1/2 cup Irish cream liquor, more if you like
1/2 cup raw pistachios, chopped, more if you like
 

Directions:

Lined a square pan, I used an 8x8 square baking pan, with foil paper and lightly grease it.
In a sauce pan, at low heat, pour all of the ingredients except pistachios. Stir constantly until chocolate has almost melted.
Turn off heat and continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Add pistachios and pour evenly onto prepared pan. Let cool until set. Remove fudge from pan and peal off the foil paper. Cut fudge into small squares.
Store fudge in a airtight glass container.

Read more at http://www.eatgood4life.com/irish-cream-and-pistachio-fudge/#SY1b4ydhErcLWKFU.99
 
Irish Whiskey Glaze
 
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard or Dijon mustard
¼ cup light molasses
1/3 cup Jamison's whiskey
1/4 cup "braising water"
1/4 cup shelled, chopped pistachios
salt and pepper
Mix ingredients and spread onto the brisket.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes (or until glaze has thickened).
Remove brisket from oven. Cool slightly, then sprinkle
top of corned beef with pistachios.
Leftovers make an out of this world sandwich.
 
Finally, the easiest recipe I know:
 
Sea Salt Irish Cream Donuts
 
 
What You Need:
1 box store-bought donuts, plain--no icing
Bailey's Irish Cream
Confectioner's Sugar
Sea Salt
 
 
Whisk together the Irish cream and sugar. I don't have a recipe. I just
"eyeball" the sugar and cream, working with the ingredients until the mixture
is neither too runny nor too thick. Place the donuts on a rack and drizzle the icing over the tops
and sides. Sprinkle with French sea salt (to cut the sweetness a bit).
 
 
 
 
Here's a peek at last week's most popular recipes at Foodie Friday.
 
Talk about fabulousness.
 
Note: If you are visiting from Pinterest, do not pin the following photos from Foodie Friday. Click on the links and pin from the featured blogs.
 
If you are a fan of the PBS series, Downton Abbey, you will adore The Quintessential Magpie's Downton Abbey Dinner Party.
To pin this photo, click HERE.
 
 
 
You'll find a tablescape and a recipe at Fabby's Living's Spring Luncheon.
To pin this photo, visit Fabby's Living's Spring Luncheon.
 
Enjoy a chopped taco salad at What's Cooking in the Burbs.
To pin this photo, click HERE.
 
 
If you are contributing a recipe to this week's Foodie Friday, locate the blue Inlinkz icon in the lower, left-hand portion of this post. Click on the icon and follow the directions. After you complete the process, you will see a red "x" beside your name. This allows you to delete your link if you made an error; the red "x" is visible to you only.
 
You can read a complete guide to this linky party HERE.  It's pretty simple. You don't need to "like" our Facebook page or be a follower of this blog to participate. Nor do you need to include a backlink or Foodie Friday button in your post. Add as many recipes as you wish, old or new. If you love food, we love you.
 
Pretty please do not pin images from the FF thumbnails. Visit the source blogs. Thanks.
   
If you'd like to share your food photos--or photos of other FF participants on Pinterest, join the Pinterest foodie board, Consuming Passions. Leave a message on the most recent "pin" if you'd like your name added to the list.
 
Every Friday, we are joined at this big, virtual table--thank you for stopping by today. I'm grateful to all of you who spend your days cooking. I'm grateful to old and new friends who contribute recipes every week. I'm grateful to friends who leave a comment. I'm grateful for the silent folks, because you are brought here by your love of all things culinary. We are food people. And that's a marvelous thing. 
 
Until next time,
 
 


 

 

 

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