Flooding Susie’s Inbox

December 28, 2009

Merry (Belated) Christmas!

Filed under: Uncategorized — sashyjane @ 6:04 pm

I hope you all had a lovely holiday with your family and friends.  I certainly enjoyed myself this weekend! I got far too many presents and had a lot of fun with Mama’s new Wii (it’ll be more fun when I have 2 feet) but perhaps my favorite part was buying and wrapping presents for my family.  I absolutely love it when I pick out the perfect gift for somebody and they are thrilled with it! I also had a lot of fun wrapping them all up with beautiful ribbons, papers and some of Mama’s little Christmas pins.

Did you have a restful Christmas? Did you come up with any brilliant new wrapping strategies?  What’s your favorite memory?


December 19, 2009

There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for roasting…

Filed under: Entertaining, Family, Food, VeryVera — sashyjane @ 10:59 am

In movies and TV shows, you always see the impeccably dressed matriarch slaving away in the kitchen for days to present her family with a magnificent feast at the impossibly glossy and beautifully set dining room table. The patriarch then stands and says a few words before rolling up the sleeves of his oxford shirt and cashmere pullover to carve the beautiful bird. The family gazes up adoringly at this patriarch as he slices off picture perfect slices of golden turkey that isn’t at all dry. The boys straighten their ties and the girls straighten their pearls. They almost always look like Ozzie and Harriet.

In my family, it’s quite a different picture. There are card tables and folding chairs scattered throughout the house, almost everybody is in jeans, everybody brings a dish or two and we set the casseroles and platters on the kitchen counter and each member goes through the buffet line, helping themselves to the bounty. Sounds a little more attainable, right? The only problem with the potluck style supper is that inevitably, everybody needs to warm their dish “just a few minutes” on the stove or in the oven.

Avoiding this problem is simple with a little preplanning when deciding which dish you’re going to bring. For example, prepare the yummy and oh-so-satisfying baked spinach and gruyere casserole or the savory and sweet rye and apple dressing, bake them at home and transport them in an insulated bag or cardboard box lined with towels. For as long as I’ve known her, Grandmama keeps a cardboard box lined with an old beach towel in her truck for just such occasions.

Desserts are always an easy contribution. Cheesecakes can be made ahead and refrigerated. Layer cakes can be iced far in advance and easily transported in a cake carrier. Brownies, cookies and pies can be prepared the week before pulled from the freezer the day before to thaw. Cranberry sauce is another easy way to contribute a holiday staple without getting underfoot in the kitchen. Daddy prefers the cranberry gelatinous cylinder while the rest of the family goes for the homemade cranberry-orange sauce. Either way, it’s prepped and ready to go ahead of time. In true Southern fashion, the green beans we eat at Christmas have been cooked to death and usually arrive hot. This leaves the kitchen free for the last minute dishes like the maple glazed carrots, gravy and roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans.

Even if your Christmas dinners look more like the Nelson family’s than mine, a little forethought and preplanning can save you or the host(ess) a great deal of stress and last minute prep work. And that’s the way to really enjoy the holidays.

Blue Potatoes Au Gratin
2 1/2 pounds blue potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded Gruyere
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish or similar sized casserole dish. Arrange the sliced potatoes in the prepared dish. In a medium saucepan, saute the minced garlic in butter over medium heat until softened and fragrant. Stir in flour and cook for 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the cream until smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour cheese sauce over the potatoes in the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes until browned.
*from the Food Network

Rye and Apple Dressing
½ stick unsalted butter
½ loaf rye bread, cut into ½ inch pieces (about 6 cups)
½ loaf sourdough bread, cut into ½ inch pieces (about 6 cups)
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, cut into ½ inch pieces
Salt and pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 c. chicken broth
1 c. fresh parsley, chopped
¼ c. fresh sage, chopped
2 large eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a deep 3 quart casserole. Place bread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden, 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and ½ t. each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the apples and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the vegetable mixture, parsley and sage to the bread and toss to combine. Mix in the eggs. Transfer to the prepared dish and cover loosely with buttered foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, 12-15 minutes.

Maple-Glazed Carrots
3 lbs. carrots, sliced ¼ thick on the diagonal
¼ c. maple syrup
2 T. unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, combine the carrots, syrup and butter with 1/3 c. water, ½ t. salt, and ¼ t. pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring once, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, 12-15 minutes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 c. pecans, roughly chopped
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss Brussels sprouts, pecans, oil and garlic with ½ t. salt and ¼ t. pepper. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut side down. Roast until golden and tender, 20-25 minutes.

All recipes and carrot  image from Real Simple Magazine

Article originally published here.

December 10, 2009

Believe it or not, I’m walkin’ on air.

Filed under: Family — sashyjane @ 2:39 pm

I just remembered something! Last week, on the 2nd and 3rd of December, it was Susie and Mama’s birthdays! What a terrible sister/daughter to not have recognized them on my extremely wide-read blog!

For Susie’s birthday, I found an adorable Nine West orange leather bag and Nine West alligator belt.  Being the bargain hunter that I am, I scored both gifts at Marshall’s. I’m about 99% sure there will be a Marshall’s/TJ Maxx/Home Goods in Heaven. Look it up, I think it’s in Revelations.

The Boston Satchel fit the bill for Susie.  She wanted a brightly-colored, easy-to-wear bag that wouldn’t slip off her shoulder.  You can find one like it here. (But you’ll pay less at Marshall’s)

For Mama, I decided to go less practical and more sentimental.  Since she’s an elementary school Media Specialist (that’s a librarian to you library lay people), I ordered her favorite childhood book on Amazon and a vintage copy of a Margaret Wise Brown and Crockett Johnson book. (If you are interested, this Etsy seller was absolutely fabulous!)

To accompany her sweet books, I made a few bookplates.  The first set had Harold and His Purple Crayon featured.

The second set featured another curious and sometimes mischevious little creature… Tater!

Mama LOVED them! I presented them to her over supper at Bonefish on her birthday.  We celebrated Susie’s birthday the day after Thanksgiving (because she had to get back to school) at Rhinehart’s.  If you’re in the Augusta area, you MUST go to Rhinehart’s at least once.  It’s not much to look at but it’s probably my favorite restaurant.

In other news, I got my cast off on Tuesday and I’m now the proud owner of an AirCast.  I’m supposed to be wearing this cast at all times (with the exception of bathing) and walking with crutches for about a week and a half.  I’ll then start walking with no help from the crutches until January 5. I’m a little gunshy right now with putting my foot down.  I’m afraid it’s going to hurt so I haven’t been walking around too much.

Be jealous of my” Storm Trooper goes skiing look.”

At least it gives me less of a cankle than Uggs would.

December 8, 2009

Where are you, Christmas?

Filed under: Uncategorized — sashyjane @ 3:24 pm

I still have yet to put out any Christmas decorations. :( I’m just about to bust at the seams to get crackin! Maybe somebody can take me by my house to at least put out a wreath.

I (hopefully) get my cast off today!! Huzzah!! By about 4:00 this afternoon, I’ll be walking out of the doctor’s office with a walking cast! While I’ll still be unable to drive, having 2 legs will definitely be a huge improvement.

Until I have something stellar or exciting to share with you, I’ll leave you with these pretty Victorian Christmas cards I found here.

December 1, 2009

Just the beginning…

Filed under: Uncategorized — sashyjane @ 1:51 pm

I try really hard not to be one of those people who decorates for Christmas right after Halloween but seeing as it’s December 1, I figured one little wimpy Christmas tree in my office wouldn’t be too terrible.  I’ll jazz up the rest of the office a little later.

I can’t wait to be walking again so I can decorate my house. :)  Have you decorated yet?

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