Friday, October 31, 2008

does your dog celebrate thanksgiving?

happy halloween everyone!! i was sitting in my kitchen this morning trying to pick a thanksgiving memory to post as part of our thirty day thanksgiving memories series...i kept looking out the window and getting distracted by people passing by dressed up in halloween costumes...and noticed many were walking their dogs..also dressed in costumes. do you dress up your pets? i just cannot..not my dog...maybe a small dog..but, c'mon..a 115 lb golden retriever? i would not do that to him..(plus, i don't think i could find a costume that big). regular readers know that i often mention mose in my stories..after all, he is a big part of our family..see why mose?? ...many comments and emails from readers are directed to him..he is the most popular member of the family.i started thinking about people and their pets..and how many people ensure their dogs celebrate holidays along with their human family members. halloween costumes, christmas gifts, birthday parties..maybe we have all gone crazy..but i do not care (mose always gets a christmas and birthday gift!!)...this reflection reminded me of thanksgiving 2007. i told you in my last post about celebrating the holiday at a restaurant for the first time. i failed to mention the name of the restaurant..celadon in of my favorites here... celadon has terrific food, a really good wine list and beautiful design. we often sit on the patio..they have a massive outdoor fireplace..and enjoy their "global comfort food". if you visit napa, i recommend a visit...but let me tell you a i said, we went last year for thanksgiving dinner. my last post..thanksgiving and the details...when we finished eating, my husband..yes my husband..mentioned that he felt bad that mosey would not get any turkey. he even went so far as to ask the waiter if he could buy a portion to take home...note...if you knew peter you would understand how great a departure this is from his "before mose" style. the waiter came back with a big take-home package of turkey..and announced it was "on the house"..and wished us a happy great is that? terrific food, great service..and above and beyond acts of doing what it takes to satisfy their customers...a true thanksgiving story...and a happy memory i really needed that day...

the patio at celadon

do your pets participate in holiday celebrations?..please tell me how in the comments section of this post.. and...again.. happy thanksgiving!!
i want to take a minute to thank all of you who commented or sent me a personal email in response to my last post...your kind heartfelt thoughts about my aunt were so amazing...they meant a guys are so terrific...i thought i would thank you by posting another favorite wild mushroom pasta of my favorites..enjoy!

wild mushroom pappardelle "bolognese"
3/4 oz. dried mushrooms (i use a mixed wild blend)
3/4 cup boiling hot water
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot
1/2 white onion
2 shallots
1 cloves garlic
2 portobello mushrooms
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 c dry red wine
1 lb dried pappardelle
1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano

soak mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes. pour mushrooms through a strainer, reserve liquid. chop mushrooms (large dice). set aside.
heat olive oil in large skillet over med heat. finely chop all remaining vegetables and add to pan. add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. saute until vegetables are very tender (stirring occasionally. (10-12 minutes) stir in mushrooms and tomato paste to pan and cook for 1 minute. add wine and reserved mushroom soaking liquid and cook until liquid is reduced by half. meanwhile, cook pasta in a large, well salted pot of boiling water and cook until al dente. drain and add to bolognese sauce. stir well. if needed, add up to 1 cup of water from pasta pot for a saucier dish. add 1/2 cup cheese to pan and stir well to allow cheese to melt. serve immediately. use remaining cheese for serving.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

thanksgiving and pasta??

last week i wrote about my love of thanksgiving and told you that it is my favorite holiday. this day is spent with a big group of people..sometimes family if we travel to southern california..but usually we celebrate the day with good friends here in napa..(then we go to pasadena for christmas)...last year was a very different kind of see, on september 10, 2007, my mom's sister, beverly leclaire, passed away after a very courageous and hard-fought battle with ovarian cancer. bev was more than my aunt..she was also my godmother and a very good friend...i loved her very much . she was also one of the kindest and most decent people i have known. she spent her last two weeks at home surrounded by her family...

most of my family lives in southern california near her they visited every day..they went home at night. i came down from napa..and because we did not want her husband, my uncle paul, to be alone with her at night..i stayed at their day i will tell you about bev...her life..and the way she died..her grace, her poise..her was a privilege to spend the last two weeks with her...and her story deserves to be told..but this post is about last year and that i said, she died in september...we held her memorial in october to give everyone from out-of-state time to arrange their travel plans...that month passed by in a by november, i was still grieving..and not at all into the "holiday season"..i just wanted to ignore the whole thing. my husband peter and i decided to go out to dinner on thanksgiving..just the two of us. we had a lovely evening..we toasted bev..and spent dinner talking about everything we were grateful was just the soothing balm i needed..i cried a bit..laughed a lot...and felt the true meaning of the thanksgiving holiday...
peter ordered the traditional thanksgiving feast..and i opted for the vegetarian choice...same as peter's but a grilled portobello mushroom replaced the turkey. the dinner was delicious..and i decided to ensure a wonderful vegetarian main dish was always available at future t-day celebrations in addition to the turkey and expected trimmings. this year i am going to serve my baked wild mushroom pasta is really, really good..and non-vegetarians will love it too...thanksgiving will once again be celebrated the traditional way...but we will all raise a glass and toast my wonderful aunt.. honor of my aunt bev...happy thanksgiving everyone...

baked wild mushroom pasta with parmesan and panko gratin

1/2 oz mixed wild mushroom dried pasta
3/4 c boiling hot water
3 1/2 oz panko bread crumbs (japanese style bread crumbs)
1/2 c grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/4 c minced flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c diced roma tomatoes
1/4 c carrot, finely minced
1 lb portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 c dry white wine
1/2 c parmigiano reggiano cheese, shredded
1/2 lb rotelli pasta
(if possible, use organic really can taste the difference)

preheat oven to 425 degrees F.. butter a 3 quart baking dish and set aside.
put dried wild mushrooms in boiling water and allow to soak for 15 minutes.
place panko in a rimmed baking sheet and spread out to ensure crumbs are in thin even layer. place in oven and bake until golden brown, 5-7 minutes. (stir 2-3 times while cooking). remove from oven and allow to cool..then add 1/2 c grated cheese, parsley, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and two garlic cloves, minced. set aside
drain mushrooms and reserve soaking liquid. dry mushrooms with a paper towel and chop.
place butter and remaining olive oil in large skillet and heat until butter melts..add onion and garlic and cook over med heat until softened and golden not let garlic burn..add tomatoes, carrot and portobello mushrooms and cook until vegetables are softened and released mushroom juice is evaporated...approx 10 minutes. add tomato paste, remaining salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and white wine. stir well and cook until wine is reduced by about half. add wild mushrooms and the reserved soaking liquid. cook until liquid has reduced by half. while mushroom mixture is simmering, cook pasta is a large pot of boiling, well salted water until al dente. drain pasta and add to wild mushroom mixture, stir well. add remaining cheese and stir again. put pasta/mushroom mixture in buttered baking dish. sprinkle panko/cheese topping evenly over pasta and bake, uncovered for 20 minutes, or until crumbs are golden brown..let sit for 5 minutes to allow juices to absorb into pasta and then serve..
hope you enjoyed the latest in the napa farmhouse 1885 thanksgiving series™...i invite you to share your holiday memories in the comments section of this post..


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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

cranberries for thanksgiving..fresh, frozen or canned?

one of the unexpected benefits of starting this blog is meeting (via cyberspace) some amazing people from all over the blog led me to twitter....which introduced me to some really cool foodies, chefs, fellow bloggers, eco-friendly sites, wine experts, etc..i confess, i sometimes lose track of time reading everyone's tweets..there are always a number of very interesting topics. one of my favorite twitter friends is dianne from dianne's dishes. dianne's blog carries the theme..fresh-food-fun..and she shares stories of her life, her husband jamison and her daughter alexis... mainly she shares delicious recipes and beautiful photographs of the process, all the while answering the question.. "what's for dinner?"

i was thrilled when dianne agreed to guest blog as part of the napa farmhouse 1885™ thirty day thanksgiving memories series...i love her stories of thanksgivings with her family in tennessee..learning to cook...the comfort cooking brings her...and her quest to balance old and new traditions. i confess, however, to laughing out loud at her description of canned cranberry sauce..the sound it makes when plunking out of the can..and the weird shape it retains.... i think everyone in america can relate..and, while i did not intend this series to be all about cranberry, (two posts, 2 cranberry recipes)..the more i think about it, cranberries really could be considered the quintessential thanksgiving day item..i mean we do eat turkey throughout the year..but how often does cranberry make an appearance?

so, from a diane with one "n" to one with two...happy thanksgiving!..dianne, thank you so much for your story..and for the rest of you..check out the dianne's dishes will be really glad you did...

what are your favorite cranberry recipes? please share in the comments section of this post...


diane padoven
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Growing up in Tennessee Thanksgiving was a big deal at my house. My mom is one of five children (the only girl) and for as long as I can remember Thanksgiving meant her family was coming to visit us for the day. We didn’t really live that far apart (about 120 miles) but Thanksgiving was one of the few times during the year that we actually spent quality time together. Not everyone was able to attend every year, but we always had a crowd and always had a lot of fun.

My mom would get up early and get the turkey started. My sister and I would drag ourselves out of bed around 8 am and our relatives would start arriving around 10:30 am. Lunch was normally around noon and really the whole day was structured chaos, but it was a warm, loving family time that I have fond memories of to this day.

As we grew older we began to help out more in the kitchen. In fact I have always been a little shy, even around family, and the kitchen was the perfect place for me. I felt somewhat sheltered and safe there, which is a feeling that continues for me to this day. If I’m nervous about something, nine times out of ten you’ll find me in the kitchen. Looking back on it now, this probably started way back then in my Mom’s kitchen.

As the years passed I was able to help more and more. By the time I was in high school I was the official turkey carver. This wasn’t so much an honor for me as it was a chance to nibble on the turkey before it was time for lunch. My sister and cousin helped me nibble too. It became somewhat of a tradition for us and we often talk about that tradition on the rare occasions that we are together today.

My mom put out quite a spread…Turkey, cornbread dressing, peas, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, salads, desserts, yeast rolls, deviled eggs, corn casserole…The list goes on and on! There was also cranberry sauce from a can. It was a given that it would be there, and I’m not really sure that many people ate it other than my sister, but it was always lurking about. You just expected to see the cranberry sauce sitting among the other dishes, even if you didn’t plan to eat any of it.

As all of the “kids” grew up and got married the tradition of assembling at my Mom’s house for Thanksgiving continued. Sadly though when the “kids” starting having kids of their own about six or seven years ago the tradition ended and it’s been several years since we all gathered together at my Mom’s house. My parents still spend the day in Tennessee, usually on their own, while now that my sister and I both live in Maryland and we spend the day together, along with Jamison’s family, where I do most of the cooking.

On the first year that I knew my sister was going to attend my Thanksgiving celebration I was dreading the whole cranberry sauce in a can routine. I have to admit the sound of it coming out of the can, not to mention the fact that it retains the shape of the can itself, has always kind of creeped me out just a little bit. I set out to come up with something that could take the place of the gloppy can version, which was easier said than done given I’m not a fan of cranberries myself.

I was watching the Food Network one day and one of their “chefs” (I can’t remember which one now, but it was one of the males) made a cranberry sauce using fresh cranberries, orange, sugar and tarragon and I was immediately intrigued, though I’ll readily admit my first thought was “The tarragon has got to go!” So I played around with some combos and my cranberry sauce was born! It’s really an homage to my sister since I’m not a fan of cranberries, but she’s a big fan. She says it’s even good frozen right out of the freezer! You’ll have to take her word on that one I’m afraid, but even I don’t mind a bite or two of cranberries in this form.

Though it looks difficult, this cranberry sauce is actually quick, easy and delicious. It definitely adds a bright note to your holiday table (I make it at Christmas some times too) and as an added bonus you can say goodbye to round can shaped cylinders of cranberry sauce…Real food is not supposed to do that! It’s a win win situation all around.

What You’ll Need:
3 pounds of fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1 cup of organic cane sugar (Note: Regular white sugar will work, but I prefer organic cane sugar because it is a little less refined.)
The zest of 2 oranges
2 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice (Note: Bottled will work too, but the fresh juice really gives it a kick.)

In a large stock pot add cranberries, sugar, orange zest and orange juice and stir to coat. Heat over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries begin to pop and the mixture thickens. (You’ll actually hear the cranberries pop…It’s not loud like pop corn, but there is a definitely popping sound. The mixture will resemble a chunky jelly when it’s done.)

Once the mixture thickens slightly remove it from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Place in an airtight container and chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

You can make this mixture well in advance of when you want it and keep it in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for months. The batch I made for this entry is actually in the freezer to be used this year at Thanksgiving.

When ready to serve you can serve it right out of the refrigerator by simply placing it in a serving dish and putting it right on the table. If you have frozen the mixture then let it thaw in the fridge and then serve.

How easy is that? If you like cranberry sauce then try this…I think you’ll love it!

story and photographs from dianne's dishes...

Monday, October 27, 2008

thanksgiving and horses?

welcome to the napa farmhouse 1885™ thanksgiving i told you last week, i am starting a thirty day blog-a-thon posting stories about giving thanks, gratitude, celebrating life with loved ones...oh, and a bunch of recipes and descriptions of really amazing food...i have asked some of my favorite people..friends, family, chefs, foodies, bloggers, artists, craftspeople, business participate... my guest bloggers come from varied and diverse backgrounds..but share one thing in common...all have very interesting stories to tell..

today's post was written by..believe it or business legal advisor/attorney, jean schanberger...jean and i first worked together at levi's™....jean as one of the corporate attorneys..yours truly as the svp, retail can forget all of the lawyer jokes right now...jean is one of the nicest, kindest, honest and ethical people you could ever meet..but..don't try to take advantage of one of her clients..she has a brilliant legal mind, is wildly creative..and will provide the best legal advice you could hope for (plus, she is funny!) addition to her law career, jean trains horses, is training her puppy(!)..and is a freelance writer..sheesh..i thought i was busy...jean and i both love our four legged family members very much..when i saw this post, it brought tears to my eyes. if you are not "one of those animal people", you won't get it..won't understand the joy, love and happiness pets bring to our, for this thanksgiving season..let's give thanks to all the pets we have loved!!

thanks jean..i love this story...thanks for sharing this memory..

do you have a favorite memory regarding holidays and pets? please share in the comments section of this post..

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Cranberries and Rose

My third year of law school, I stayed at school for Thanksgiving, ostensibly to prepare for a moot court competition. My older married sisters always went to their in-laws, and we all gathered at Mom’s for Christmas. By staying in Davis, I unwittingly began my own treasured tradition and created a new definition of gratitude.

The month before, a tall, lanky, dappled grey mare with charcoal legs, mane and tail and huge liquid chocolate eyes had arrived at the old wooden tobacco barn where I regularly rode Thoroughbreds for the vet who had undertaken their recuperation from track-related injuries. That year there had been Maybelline, the flighty chestnut with white splashed over her entire face, then Oreo, the sweet, compact bay gelding with the explosive gallop.

Then along came Miss Manners, aptly named before her registration papers revealed her to be the roan filly Royal Masque. Soon she would become Rose. But at that point, she was the stunning four-year-old mare that I couldn’t keep my eyes off of, as I hung over the Dutch door to her stall, breathing in her steamy warmth and the sweet straw smell in the cooling Northern California fall as she methodically munched hay.

The mare had recovered nicely from the gaskin injury that brought her to Kathy Jones’ barn, so I wasted little time before jumping on Kathy’s suggestion to put a saddle on her. Retired racehorses famously come without brakes or steering, and Rose was no exception. But she was bold and kind and willing to consider doing things my way, so before long we were spending most days in the arena, and a few exploring the farm roads creating the checkerboard of alfalfa and cornfields surrounding the barn.

Like many late autumn days in the Sacramento Delta, Thanksgiving dawned cold and foggy. Due to bring cranberry relish (recipe below) to a potluck hosted later in the day by East Coast transplant classmates, I headed out early to ride. Most of the other horse girls had left for the holiday, so the barn was quiet and I stayed close in the arena. Alone in the brisk morning air, with the prospect of four quiet days, good friends and a phone call to Mom, on Rose’ back at a smooth canter, a sense of gratitude and appreciation of Thanksgiving which I had never experienced enveloped me.

Ironically during that ride I fell off Rose for the first time, when we parted ways on an approach to a little crossbar jump! We were both fine, and the mishap only serves to punctuate the
tremendous physical sensation of riding that amazing horse that memorable day, giving thanks for so many good things in my life.

Rose spent the next twenty-one Thanksgivings with me. She faithfully trailered up and down the state as my career dictated, ever generous, always beautiful, constantly giving me new reasons to be thankful. Every year possible, we honored an annual tradition of riding on Thanksgiving Day, even if only for a few minutes during years when her or my various infirmities meant we hadn’t been out much. So many years, we took long satisfying trail rides under sunny blue Southern California skies, crisply marking the many good things that had happened during the year, and all we had to look forward to.

thanksgiving day circa 2002, jean and rose

This will be my first Thanksgiving without Rose, who now gallops freely anywhere, any day she chooses. The young horse that has boldly taken up residency in the stall where she died will probably need until next year, God willing, to be ready to carry his new mistress forth in the tradition of the Thanksgiving Day ride. So this year, when that welcome autumnal break arrives and I find some way to give thanks out of doors, much of it will be for the many incredible days spent on the back of the generous creature who continuously brought new meaning to gratitude.


1 bag fresh whole cranberries
1 large orange (including peel)
1 large apple (I like Gala)
1 cup sugar
½ cup fruit juice (orange, apple, cranberry, lemon as you like)
½ cup water

Combine all ingredients in food processor for coarse chop. As you prefer, serve raw (use less liquid), or cook 10 minutes over medium heat. Serve warm or cold. Make extra, it gets better with age. Also makes a nice hostess gift!

© Jean Schanberger 2008. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

how much do you love thanksgiving?

thanksgiving is my favorite holiday....i think it is because the point of the day is giving thanks, being grateful and celebrating family, friends and terrific food....some of my favorite memories involve sitting around the dinner table talking, eating, drinking, laughing.....and what is more quintessentially thanksgiving than that?

i thought it would be cool to create a series focusing on thanksgiving memories..good, bad, quirky, happy, sad, bizarre, traditional, non-traditional..whatever...and so next monday, october 27th, is the launch of a thirty day t-day blog-a thon. i am thrilled to announce that some of my favorite foodies, chefs, bloggers, writers, artists, craftspeople, friends, family members and business colleagues have agreed to guest blog and share whatever they want regarding this no rules/rules to them was to tell a story..that's it...many will share their favorite recipes too. this should be really fun..and since i did not get too bossy with deadlines the stories will be posted when they are posted :) ...meaning there may be a few days with no stories..and a few days with multiple postings...please check in frequently as the project will run through thanksgiving day...and... as always..i invite you to participate by sharing your stories in the comments section of my blog...this should be fun!!

looking forward to hearing from you..
happy fall!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

soft boiled eggs anyone?

when i started this blog i did not realize the emphasis was going to revolve around cooking. the original plan was to write about what i was doing post corporate life..i should have realized that after 20 years of working 10-12 hour days, traveling 50-60 percent of the time and having loads of catch up work on the weekends, having the opportunity to cook as much as i wanted would be irresistible...regular readers know that i cannot sing, dance, paint, draw or my artistic endeavors rely on the art of cooking... the smell, taste, look and feel of cooking and baking..the beauty of fresh produce at the farmer's market..or the way my imagination is inspired by rows of ingredients in a gourmet store..or country market...the creativity that comes from making up recipes based on remembered tastes...or favorite recipes..or tasting a dish that you know could be improved just by adding a bit of this..or a lot of that...

so cooking is my art form...and story telling during my blog posts can feel quite creative...but when i get to writing the actual recipe it is very straight forward..1 cup of x ingredient, 1 tbsp of that..mix, stir, bake..etc. i love to read and love to find passages in books describing meals, dishes and cooking..often this will be the starting point for recipes of my own. i was re-reading a book by the author toni morrison last week. she is one of my favorite authors but i had not read anything by her recently. i stumbled upon the novel, song of solomon, which i first read about 15 years ago. (it was originally published in 1977).... and, because it is the story of a man's life and family, there are frequent passages involving food.

song of solomon is the story of a boy, macon dead, jr (but everyone calls him milkman.) he is the “son of the richest black family in a midwestern town” . milkman was born in 1931, the same day the town’s insurance agent kills himself while attempting to fly off the roof of the hospital. (milkman is the first black baby allowed to be born at mercy hospital..referred to as “no-mercy”)...the story covers milkman’s life, his family, the exploration of his history, his roots, his travels to the south where his father was born, the journey to find the family's misplaced gold, and ultimately the magic and sorrow that comes with really knowing yourself..the good and the bad. there are a lot of depictions of meals and food throughout the story... as i was reading the book, i was struck by the beautiful way she describes recipes...much more creative and poetic than my style..i thought it would be interesting to compare 2 versions of the same i picked one of my favorite examples of the beauty of morrison's writing…oh yeah..and i love eggs! milkman’s aunt pilate makes him soft boiled eggs the first time they meet. now, i cook eggs all the time..and have a favorite poached eggs dish. for this post, i substituted soft boiled eggs for the poached to stay true to the book... my recipe is straightforward..and the only poetry comes from imagining the taste of the finished dish. pilate’s recipe for soft boiled eggs follows mine. the beauty and brilliance of toni morrison shines through. you will see the difference…

soft boiled eggs with heirloom tomatoes and sourdough toast

bring eggs to room temperature.
place just enough water to cover the eggs in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.
add 2 tbsp kosher salt to pan
prick wide end of egg with a pin or needle
using a slotted spoon, place the eggs into the water
when the water comes back to a boil reduce heat to simmer and begin timing. large eggs take about 4 minutes for firm whites and runny yolks. experiment with timing to suit your preference.
serve immediately with tomatoes and toast drizzled with olive oil, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Soft Boiled Eggs, by Pilate Dead
“You ought to try one. I know how to do them just right. I don’t like my white to move, you know. The yolk I want soft, but not runny. Want it like wet velvet. How come you don’t just try one?”....”Now, the water and the egg have to meet each other on a kind of equal standing. One can’t get the upper hand over the other. So the temperature has to be the same for both. I knock the chill off the water first. Just the chill. I don’t let it get warm because the egg is room temperature, you see. Now then, the real secret is right here in the boiling. When the tiny bubbles come to the surface, when they as big as peas and just before they get big as marbles. Well, right then you take the pot off the fire. You don’t just put the fire out; you take the pot off. Then you put a folded newspaper over the pot and do one small obligation. Like answering the door or emptying the bucket and bringing it in off the front porch. I generally go to the toilet. Not for a long stay, mind you. Just a short one. If you do all that, you got yourself a perfect soft-boiled egg.” Pilate Dead from Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

here is a the book..try the will not be disappointed.. let me know what you think in the comments section of this post...and please share your favorite recipe descriptions from books...i will keep posting recipes i love...but the artistry will come when you imagine the finished dish..not from my recipe writing style :) oh..and feel free to share your favorite egg recipes too...

happy reading..happy cooking...

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Monday, October 6, 2008

do you wear an apron? would you like a recipe for peanut butter cookies?

so what do those two questions have to do with each other? both aprons and peanut butter cookies remind me of my grandmother...she always wore an apron while cooking or cleaning..and her peanut butter cookies were a family favorite.

my maternal grandmother's name was mildred but everyone called her mim.... she was a fantastic cook..spent most of her days in the kitchen..and always managed to look perfect when sitting down for dinner. she wore the coolest aprons..and there was something special about the moment she took off the apron and sat down with the rest of us at the dinner definition of family. i started collecting vintage aprons a few years ago..and really fell in love with the designs. i hesitated wearing them..they were so beautiful..and i did not want to "mess them up" by staining them while cooking...(and yes, i do understand that misses the point of an apron)..i shared this concern with a fellow collector who told me that vintage aprons have witnessed years of family stories..and that i should add my stories to the rest...i thought this was a really appropriate sentiment.

when i started my eco-friendly company, aprons seemed to be a perfect product offering...but i wanted them to be beautiful, "green", handmade, practical and i wanted them to be worn.
i think i have found the perfect solution..our aprons were designed using a vintage sundress pattern from the 1940's...there was even a receipt in the pattern envelope, dated 1943, where someone bought 2 5/8th yards of gingham for $2.15! the craftsperson, naomi wilson, incorporated all the authentic sundress details..the sweetheart neckline, halter ties, gathered bodice, sewn on patch pockets...yet the open back and long ties provide all the versatility of a well made apron..and they are totally green using repurposed linens.

in true napa farmhouse 1885 style, we most often wear the aprons with our favorite jeans and tank tops..although..for special occasions...they are perfect with a little black dress..mim would be proud. you wear aprons? why? what kind? when? please share your stories in the comments section of this post.

now..for those peanut butter grandmother's version called for vegetable shortening. i have substituted butter...however, the rest of the recipe is from mim...she made these cookies for her children..and her grandchildren..these were my favorite cookies when i was growing up..they still are..and every time i make them, i am reminded of my grandmother, wearing her apron, cooking for her family..defining what family is all about...sharing her love in everything she did...enjoy!!

gran's peanut butter cookies
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter, organic if possible
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
additional granulated sugar for sprinkling

preheat oven to 325 degrees. butter/flour 2 cookie sheets. using an electric mixer, cream butter and peanut butter together until well mixed. add sugars and vanilla and mix well. add egg, beat until thoroughly incorporated. sift together dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients and stir until not over work dough. form dough into balls 2 inches in diameter. place on cookie sheets and flatten with tines of a fork. sprinkle cookie lightly with additional granulated sugar. bake for approx 12 minutes. cookies will be very soft. remove from oven and let cool on sheets on rack for 10 minutes. remove cookies from sheets and place on racks. allow to thoroughly cool.
for additional information regarding our apron collection, please visit our website
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