Thanksgiving Floral Centerpiece~ A Tutorial

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One of the things I am most grateful for in my life is my garden club and the creative friends I have made in this group.  Every year we get together to create a fresh Thanksgiving floral centerpiece.  One of our members, the talented designer Mari Dolby, certified in flower arranging from the venerable Longwood Gardens, led us in a class to create a magnificent arrangement just in time for the busy entertaining season.    I learned so much:  from how to dangle apples from a floral arrangement( easy trick!)  to wiring feathers for interest(why not!) and incorporating vine balls for organic texture.  It was an inspiring class.  The principles of flower arranging shared in the slide show below are useful for any seasonal centerpiece and I hope will help you in your future flower arranging.

The completed arrangement

The completed arrangement

With the leftover scraps and some foraged seed heads, this sweet little arrangement was made in a Dollar Store votive “vase” for the powder room.

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Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

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There is a church I drive by every day which posts weekly messages that give me pause.  This one especially resonated with me.  Thanksgiving for most of us gives us an opportunity to express gratitude.  Many families go around the table and ask everyone what they are grateful for.  Our tradition is to have a paper and pad available for people to jot down what they are grateful for, no limits, and place these sentiments in a gourd shaped soup tureen.  During dessert we pass the tureen around and read  out loud the messages and try to guess who wrote them.  The act of writing gives one time to pause and reflect without putting someone on the spot.  Over the years, there have been memorable and moving reflections shared.  Going back to the roadside church board, how powerful would it be if we chose to pause daily to reflect on things to give thanks for?   Awakening to gratefulness in our daily lives brings the focus on what is important, celebrates life and reduces negativity.  Thanks-giving everyday, minus the turkey.

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If you are still looking for Thanksgiving cooking inspiration, here is a collection of some of my  popular favorites.  Click on the highlighted title to access the original post. Continue reading

Butternut Squash Keugel

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A keugel is somewhat like a soufflé with a melt-in-your mouth texture.   It is a pillowy mixture of purée squash and eggs sweetened with a little brown sugar and some spices.  With just 4 main ingredients plus the spices it is so easy to throw together.  I made a version with the spices sprinkled on top as Joy of Kosher recommends and another with the spices mixed in the batter.  I preferred the later version.  Both had a drizzle of maple syrup on top. It can be enjoyed warm or cold and can be made ahead and frozen for up to 2 months.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Onion Savory Cake

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“Green Eggs and Ham was the story of my life.  I wouldn’t eat a thing when I was a kid, but Dr. Seuss inspired me to try cauliflower!”

Jim Carrey

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I have a reputation to live up to.  I was dubbed “The Cauliflower Queen” last year when I seemed to be making a lot of dishes with this cruciferous vegetable.  After a hiatus, I am back!!!  And I wonder if  Jim Carrey could be pursuaded to eat this interesting cauliflower cake?

The inspiration for this cake came from a recipe of Yotam Ottolenghi.  The original was made in a springform pan with boiled cauliflower florets.  I slow roasted the cauliflower with the sweet onion to bring out the flavors and develop some color.  I made mine in a rectangular pan as I was to serve it as an appetizer and wanted to cut it into bite sized pieces.   It  really was more like a dense frittata than a cake.  I added some classic salsa as a dip on the side.   Continue reading

Out of Africa: Spicy Chicken Tagine

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“A rock in the water isn’t afraid of rain.”

African Proverb

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My friends Ann and Michael recently traveled to Africa for the trip of a lifetime.  They described vast open spaces of sheer raw beauty that moved them.   Kind gentle people who touched their souls. They spoke of  the many wonders of the animal kingdom where they were able to eves drop on  animals in their natural habitats intimately, on safari. A life-changing trip.  Then of course, they raved about the food.  Slow cooked foods enhanced by exotic and intriguing spice mixtures seducing their palates. Upon their return, they longed to recreate these foods at home. Continue reading

Fall Grilled Cheese with Pear, Brie and Caramelized Onions

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What do you get when you layer ripe juicy pear slices with Brie and caramelized onions between 2 slices of bread?  One of the best grilled cheeses you’ll ever sink your teeth into!  This is an adult grilled cheese.  You know how to make it…. Just take 2 slices of your favorite grilled-cheese bread.  On the first slice, layer the brie slices first,  top with the pear slices and a few turns of the pepper mill.  Crown with a heap of caramelized onions (how to make them: here) and your second slice of bread.  Spread either butter, oilive oil or mayo on the outside of your bread and toast like you do a regular grilled cheese until golden and the cheese is oozing out.  Cut in half on the diagonal.  What you notice on the first bite is the creaminess of the luscious and decadent melted Brie.  Then the sweetness of the pear and the zestyness of the onions, perfectly encased in buttery toasty bread.  Serve with a side of sweet potato fries for more seasonal appeal. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Tablescape

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Thanksgiving for me is all about bringing people whom I love together.  Setting a beautiful  table sets the mood of the gathering and makes guests feel welcomed. But with all the cooking going on, the Thanksgiving table is often overlooked.   This tablescape is totally make ahead, a bonus for all of us entertaining this busy holiday season.  With its gold and red color scheme, it can transition easily into Christmas. It’s got warmth, bounty, glitter and shine!  The inspiration starting point was a pair of golden papier mâché pheasants.

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