Dinner on the Lower Deck

my sister cut the flowers from my garden and set the table with two old brown toile runners on top of blue linen
mise en place for scratch vanilla bean ice cream, not a winning economical choice as the price of the ingredients far outweighs the very best store-bought
I like to kick things off with a margarita (sometimes two!), and these limes needed to be juiced anyway, they sat out too long in a bowl on the counter
homegrown peaches and blueberries in season so quickly assembled the base of the crumble, I never peel the peaches, why?
had some red potatoes in the pantry so I boiled them with a good helping of salt until soft, put them on a foil-lined tray, smashed them with a masher, doused them with olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper, and baked them in a hot oven until crispy, turning them once
close up of the potatoes and crumble all topped off with sugar, oatmeal, butter, cinnamon

In keeping with previous thoughts about moving things around, I hosted a small dinner for five of us out at the country house down on our lower deck two nights ago. Sure, it means enlisting the help of some of your guests to get the necessities on-site (chairs!) and prepping a meal that doesn’t need to be served piping hot. It increases the work a bit, yet the result is always an evening to remember, and I absolutely love creating memorable evenings.

after cooking I always like to quickly change into something a little more festive, even and especially just for family
served this up family-style, hot buttered lobster rolls, smashed potatoes, coleslaw, zucchini salad, cold sliced watermelon
cheers to summer 2021 evenings
Kubota ready to go to retrieve hot cobbler and cold ice cream

It really was kind of an off-the-cuff thing, sister in town from San Fran and it was her last night. We had both been in New England the days before, and both of us had talked about eating lobster, and lobster rolls, she is dining alone at Black Point Inn in Scarborough ME, and me dining alone for lunch one afternoon just outside of Portsmouth NH. I was on one of my daily long walks while my husband was in an all-day board meeting and had been on the fence about stopping for lunch. I did end up stopping at an adorable little place directly on the water, and once seated realized it was a cash-only, bring your own beer/wine place. Having only twenty-one dollars in cash on hand, I couldn’t get the lobster roll, or the lobster salad, and had to settle on the chicken or to be specific chicken on top of the green salad. Had they sold beer or wine I might have forgone the chicken with my twenty-one dollars and had a beer and a salad, the salad without chicken or lobster. Anyway, I decided to make us some lobster rolls for our shared meal, with coleslaw, smashed potatoes,  a blueberry peach cobbler, and homemade vanilla bean ice cream. She did a great zucchini, corn, and tomato salad to round things out. She and Elizabeth set the table, I got things together in the kitchen. Once we got everything down to the lower deck, we simply sat and enjoyed the evening while the sun went down, dining and talking and drinking wine, all until it felt time to retrieve the cobbler from the oven and the scratch ice cream from the freezer, all of which we enjoyed even further into the night.

five humans, four bottles of wine, perfect portions 🙂

Every day dress, dinner on the lower deck.

love to create memorable evenings

Cooking Constantly

whisking egg whites and sugar for meringue with blanched asparagus tips on stand-by

I tried to hijack Christmas Eve this year and was steadfastly diverted. Called the club a few weeks ago and made a 6:30 pm dinner reservation for twelve and told the oldest daughter in Boston on the down low. She was all for it, we thought it would be fun to get out for a little and be fancy.

crab legs at the ready
what the boys want the boys get
check out Winston in the bottom left corner 🙂
not a fan of shots but whatever, it’s Christmas

Once the news started flowing through the ranks I was hit with heavy push-back. Our tradition has been a casual king crab leg kind of thing with lots of clarified hot butter, and the boys wanted in. In our world what the boys want the boys get, and funny, we usually do to. Thinking that when you give and give and give it comes back, maybe not in the way you anticipate but good things always seem to return when you put yourself out there and do things for others. 

And honestly, I kind of feel weird about being out and being served on a sacred holiday such as Christmas or Easter or even Mother’s Day, I always think the staff should be home with their loved ones, so in truth I was okay with keeping with our usual and staying in. 

It did mean I was busy from dawn to dawn, really only stopping for a workout and sleep, two things that are must-dos. I’m also now surrounded by adult off-spring, and they all pitched in to make magic happen. 

Christmas Eve cocktails and such, thank you Mary S for the pink bubbles
I like taking candids
EJ with two oldest grandsons, it can all be a blur…
sliced tenderloin, horseradish cream sauce, garnished with roasted tomatoes and parsley
when cooking I find leather pants are easy to give a good wipe too and sleeveless keeps me out of the sauce yet might set me up for arm burns, and I’ve got a few of those
Baked-Alaska didn’t quite look like Martha’s Tree, it was more like a pancake, we torched it anyway
kind of like an interactive art happening, it was good fun
I like to use simple white votives and small spring of evergreen to embellish the tables

For the food I put together a simple cheese tray garnished with figs and local Amish honey. Shrimp cocktail and gifted salted cashews from the new son-in-law’s parents, all served in the living room with kids on the floor and piled all around, it was divine. We did buffet style for dinner, a platter of those legs, asparagus risotto with truffle oil, sliced beef tenderloin with horseradish cream sauce and garnished with small roasted tomatoes still on the vine. Desert was Baked Alaska; it really didn’t freeze fully and kind of fell on the plate, yet it was delicious all the same. 

game playing after dinner, we never even cleared the cheese tray until later

At the table we played games and then moved into the living again for more games and the ubiquitous opening of all matching PJ’s and the reading of The Night Before Christmas by oldest son, simply magical. 

earlier in the week we had a casual kitchen dinner, pasta and salad. simple bowls of clementines for the centerpiece
I like to use Italian linen napkins, un-ironed. I filled the silver julep cups with sprigs of evergreens a few weeks ago, they don’t need much maintenance so that’s a good thing when you are busy
everyone lends a hand now
young women in the kitchen

Constant cooking and moving and doing is okay by me, I’m blessed by family and a husband that supports all my crazy activity, financially, emotionally, and physically, he truly is a modern day St Nick. 

Christmas Eve dinner table half-set, gold chargers from Wegman’s, $1.99 each
Christmas dinner table, here we used starched white linen napkins
many hands make light work
I always have Elizabeth and Mary design the place cards, here they used a red crayon and glued another sprig of evergreen to go with our theme

We’ve had a constant flow of humans in and out and at our table, and I truly couldn’t be happier. We’re all moving towards a new year and a new decade and I’ll continue to put out food and love from our kitchen. I guess if I had one message from all of this, I would encourage anyone to cook from the heart, and serve those they love. My heart is full, and my hands are raw, and that’s all good and okay. 

Christmas morning PJ’s
Christmas morning kitchen brunch
I started two pots of Beef Bourguignon early in the morning and it simmered all day long
buttered egg noodles underneath
forgot the chopped parsley
sweets for desert

With love and JOY, every day dress.