Monday, September 19, 2011

More Anthropologie love

I don't do ornamental kitchen accessories.

My kitchen is naked of bits of wrought iron. There are no ceramic roosters or pigs or cows roaming my counters. (And why is it always farm animals? Not just farm animals. Farm animals on the people food chain. A ceramic kitchen donkey, for example, is pretty rare. A kitchen rooster...not so much. Is it easier to eat bacon if a cute, winking pig sits by your sink?)

Sorry. I'm digressing. And this isn't a sermon on becoming vegetarian. That would be hypocritical. And it isn't a rant about farm animals used as decor. (One of my favorite decorative pieces...a remnant from a French Country obsession I had years an iron rooster that sits in my music room.)

Don't get me wrong. My countertops are cluttered. Always. (Which may be why I don't want to add to the chaos with copper this or china that.) I do love useful kitchen items though. The graceful curves of utensil canisters or mixing bowls or pitchers make me swoon. So I'm always keeping an eye out for something utilitarian and colorful and lovely to add to my kitchen.

So of course I fell in love with these.

These little spice jars from Anthropologie are perfection. They come in four soft, beautifully retro  colors, perfect for a vintage kitchen. Each lid has a rubber ring to make the container airtight. Their size is perfect for spices (or sugar cubes or paper clips or tiny dog treats). I keep salt and pepper and a combination of sugar/cinnamon in mine. I think I'll put sugar cubes in the fourth. Each is numbered and says, "Plein de Bonnes Choses" along the bottom (which frankly veers a bit Martha Stewart for me...although cutely Francophone. Still that doesn't detract too much from this jar's overall adorableness).

Best of all, each spice jar is only $4. Four dollars! Come on. What can you buy for $4? Another dish towel? This is like the perfect little treat for your house.

Just picture these in your Cooking Apple White (or white or cream or yellow) kitchen.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Picnic potato salad

Summer is officially gone and past, but that doesn't mean that picnicking season is over. I love fall picnics. The crisp air. The turning leaves. And for you football fans out there, it's tailgating season. What's a better accompaniment to hot dogs and hamburgers than a good potato salad?

This recipe was inspired by Will's grandmother, Viola, who always included mustard and pickles in her potato salad. That's part of the beauty of food, isn't it? Food is love and memory, and a way we share ourselves with others. Grandma Viola is no longer with us, but we remember her every time we prepare this.

So here it is, from Grandma Viola's kitchen to yours.

Picnic potato salad
inspired by Grandma Viola

1 lb new potatoes
3 eggs, boiled
1/4 onion, chopped fine
1/2 celery stick, chopped fine
1/4 cup pickle slices, diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Scrub the new potatoes, and add them to the pot. Boil potatoes until they start to become tender. Drain and cool in ice water or in the refrigerator.

Dice potatoes, leaving their skins on. Peel and dice the boiled eggs. Add both to a large bowl. Add onion, pickles, celery, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper, and mix well. Chill for an hour before serving.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A day trip as summer draws to a close

Where did August go? Where did summer go?

Here, it disappeared in a haze of sunscreen and chlorine and a flurry of IKEA bits. Every few days or so, I'd think, "I must remember to share this!" But each time, I'd go to bed without having committed that thought to screen. we are. The lazy days of summer are winding down, and the start of school is just around the corner (if it hasn't already started for you). I'm not looking forward to the hectic schedule of early mornings and homework and extracurricular activities, but I think we need it. The children have grown restless, clawing at the walls and each other.

If your children are restless too, I prescribe a trip to Georges Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands. It's a short ferry jaunt from Boston or nearby ports. Take a Boston's Best ferry (available from multiple ports). On weekends, the MBTA runs a commuter ferry from Quincy that may be a more affordable option, especially if you have children.

Georges Island houses an amazing Civil War-era fort, Fort Warren. Even if you aren't a history buff, Fort Warren draws you in with its beautiful labyrinths of stone and picture-perfect panoramas up top on its ramparts. Definitely bring flashlights and comfortable walking shoes. We explored for hours and and found so many mysterious nooks and secret stairwells.

The flashlights we had brought that day were small, and their light feeble. As we wandered through the echoing rooms, we entered an interior stone hallway. The pale light from far-off windows barely gleamed on the shallow puddles at our feet. I turned the corner and entered a large room. It was pitch black. The faint beam from my flashlight barely cut through the darkness. Things at the edges of the light merged into shadow. Suddenly, scenes from every scary movie I'd ever seen flashed into my mind. A white mist began to rise from the floor. I heard one of my children say, "I'm not going in there." And we all walked veryveryveryfast out into the shockingly normal sunlight. Later, we heard that the fort was reputedly haunted by a ghost, The Lady in Black. Perhaps we met her.

Georges Island also houses a visitors center, a snack shop that offers hot meals, and picnic tables if you want to bring in your own food. No alcohol is allowed. There isn't much of a beach (it's very gravelly and is right by where the ferries come in), but the children spent many happy minutes combing for treasures and came home with pockets bulging with gorgeous seaglass. It's easily the best place for seaglass that I've ever seen.

A wonderful day trip as summer draws to a close. Happy Labor Day weekend. I hope you're enjoying the last of the lazy days. I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging and the crisp days ahead.