Monday, November 16, 2015

Finding Beauty

I'm not one to park in front of the TV and watch horror unfold.
The only time I've ever felt "glued to the TV" during a news story was the Valentine's Day Carnival Cruise of 2013.  I could not get enough of the telephone calls from customers stranded on the ship.  It is so cold! We are going to freeze to death! We haven't had a hot meal in six hours! It was like 60F and they had enough sandwich supplies to last them for weeks.  They were being towed back to port and had to endure about 48 hours.  Oh! And there was actual shit flowing down the walls.  It was just awful enough to be captivating, but not tragic or horrific.  I lost hours just sitting there giggling, reveling in a glow of Schadenfreude.  
But when something so evil happens, I can only handle snippets here and there.  I try to be aware of my personal threshold between being informed and being bombarded.  During these disturbing events, I channel my energy into something creative and beautiful.  I think we all appreciate beauty more when the world feels ugly. 
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Going into this week, the pace of my Thanksgiving prep reaches fever pitch (I have no idea what fever pitch means outside of the fab rom com Fever Pitch).  It's the time to really start laying the foundation--cleaning china and crystal, polishing silver, mapping out the table.  It's also one of the three busiest weeks of the year (always a toss up between Fourth of July, this coming week, and the week before Christmas).   So before, between, and after work, I'll be trying to cross things off my lists. 




Also, this past weekend I tried to make a Things I Always Forget list.  Included were Jetdry, dishsoap, coffee*, and...uh...I forget the rest.  What are the things you always forget?
I try to always pamper my dishwashers leading up to Thanksgiving, as the holiday demands much from them.  I run an empty cycle with this, and make sure the rinse aid reserve is filled to the brim. 

*You may have gathered that I am a Tim Horton's coffee devotee. I hate making coffee at home. I'm terrible at it and it always tastes like burned ass.  I have this coffee maker and don't think I can blame the equipment.  I draw the line with coffee and cannot be bothered to grind, roast, blah blah.  I have enough to do.  But I always make coffee at home on holidays because I think Timmie's should be closed and I don't want to contribute to their numbers that prove it's lucrative to be open.  Seriously, if you have any tips for making coffee at home taste less like shit--please share.  Which brand do you buy? I always make Dunkin Donuts on vacation and it's fabulous.  But everything tastes good on vacation.  
With Love

46 comments:

  1. Sad weekend. After a certain point I couldn't watch/listen either.

    Your Thanksgiving prep is admirable! I've done nothing! Love that champagne bucket.

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    1. Thank you! I love it, too. It goes well with everything and at every time of the year. And believe it or not, it's used quite frequently :)

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  2. You and I are a lot alike in our view on the news blitz that we are subjected to. 24/7 news agencies have to fill 24 and 7, and no one should immerse themselves in it to that extent ... unless you're the. President or a military or intelligence commander

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    1. (Continuing, because there's something about some comment boxes that doesn't play well with an iPad).

      We need to know the basics of what's going on in the world. I don't think it's healthy for the average person to be consumed by it. For me, I'm on what I call my 'news boycott'. I won't allow myself to become wrapped up in things over which I have no influence. There are people out there who take care of that stuff, and I am not one of those people.

      Polish your silver, plan your table, and tend to your dishwasher ... That's how we defeat evil ... By refusing to allow them to destroy the things that bring us joy.

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    2. I so agree with you. I try to find ways I can help, but not just sit there in horror. So terrible that these ghastly occurrences are so frequent. I made my wreath and even though it's not going to help anyone, it did feel better to sort of put the gesture out in the universe.

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  3. the world is just going mad and it's frightening on every level. they say every generation says this and i suppose that is true but man things are bad. i don't watch the news at all.

    on to the beautiful stuff...your silver looks so pretty and i really need to get busy. i have so much on my plate at the moment that i just can't get organized. i've never been like this before so maybe it's a good thing? i'll let you know the day after thanksgiving. my guest list is at about 25 right now and i don't have a dishwasher. xo

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    1. a more relaxed approach isn't bad! As long as you have a timeline, you'll be fine! You're a pro. Can you rent plates and stemware and cutlery? Then you'll really eliminate a huge amount of work. That's so inexpensive to do here, not sure if the Everything is More Expensive in California rule applies here, as I'd imagine there is a lot of competition among businesses there. 25! Mine has gone the opposite this year, I was thinking it'd be about 17-20 and it's at 8 now. Which I am happy about. My Christmas dinner is huge, so it's nice to have Thanksgiving small. Wish we were closer as I will still undoubtedly cook for 2500, so I could handle most of your crowd's food too.

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  4. Did you ever want to yell, "shut the hell up Savannah"?The today show people drive me nuts. I love your nice shiny things. But I have to say I am stumped on what is in the pots...looks like bread...could we have your recipe? Blessings to you, xoxo,Susie

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    1. Hahaha! Yes I kind of do! I feel bad for her especially because she is such a qualified, successful, intelligent person and I'm sure she often squirms having to report the way that show does. Yes, it is bread! I will post the recipe next week. Thabk you!

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  5. I most definitely want to yell “Shut up, Savannah”. It’s important to keep up to date on serious news. However, I despise the rubber-necking approach of the news media to tragic events such as the Paris attacks, which seem to always cross the line from simply informative to unnecessarily ghoulish and voyeuristic. I can only watch for short periods.

    Several coincidences regarding your Thanksgiving prep have made me both laugh and think I’m in the internet Twilight Zone. Yesterday I decided to clean my dishwasher! I used a Bob Vila technique using white vinegar and baking soda, but your method sounds quicker. Then I was reading Food 52’s Genius recipes for Thanksgiving, and saw Meta Given’s recipe for caramelized pumpkin pie that could perhaps sway me from my aversion to anything pumpkin. In the same post was Nancy Silverton’s whipped cream recipe almost identical to yours, but using creme fraiche or sour cream in place of cream cheese for stabilization. Thinking I might have to make pumpkin pie so I have something to try out all three whipped cream methods on!

    http://food52.com/blog/11799-32-genius-recipes-for-thanksgiving

    http://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-clean-a-dishwasher/#.Vknp2WRViko

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    1. voyeuristic is the perfect word to describe the news.
      How funny! Oh Bob! Where is he nowadays?! You should absolutely try the pumpkin pie! I might make mine with heavy cream this war instead of evaporated milk. My friend and farmer/historian extraordinaire Elizabeth has me convinced it's better. I would imagine the results of your experiment will be the crème fraîche will be most expensive, the sour cream will taste the best, and the cream cheese will hold up the longest. Please please report back! Also, at your urging, I've canceled the feud once more with Ina. I recorded several of her Thanksgiving episodes yesterday.

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  6. I have no taste for today's butchery and mayhem, I watch enough to be informed then turn on some music or a light-hearted movie. It just affects me too much to over-think it, and over-thinking is something I always seem to do when it comes to senseless violence. So I TOTALLY understand moving on to things that make you happy and I think it's a great thing. So what do I always forget for holidays dinners? It varies, but I usually try and make do without whatever it was. And for coffee? I like anything "buttery caramel" flavored -- impossible to wreck! Enjoy your holiday prepping!

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    1. Exactly! I will find myself sitting there in tears and disgust and then wonder "and what good is THIS doing anyone?" Then I flip to Hallmark Christmas movies!
      Thank you!

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  7. I'm with you on only being able to watch so much. Many times I'm sitting there with tears running down my face. I'm wishing for peace worldwide.

    As for coffee, try adding a 1/2 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa to your coffee grounds before brewing. My grandmother always did this (using plain old grocery store brand beans) and her coffee was always wonderful. She always said while it didn't add sweetness, it would cut the bitterness of the coffee.

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    1. Oh, me too! It can drag you down so far so quickly and for what?
      Thank you so much for this tip! It makes a lot of sense! Especially because I always feel my coffee at home is lacking backbone. And adding coffee to chocolate helps enhance the flavor, so why shouldn't it work the other way? Thank you, thank you can't wait to try!

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  8. Here's an old Southern diner trick: add a little bit of salt to the grounds of so-so coffee. Really smartens it up, plus you can add the hypertension benefits of salt to the adrenal overload of coffee! I have that exact coffee maker, though, and it makes great coffee--although I insist on grinding my beans right before brewing and I am sort of a $20 a pound coffe snob. I can handle cheap wine but don't give me crap coffee! Actually, don't give me cheap wine, either. Must be just a plain old beverage snob!

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    1. oooh I will try the salt too. That makes sense! I wonder if salt and chocolate would work! For someone who will drive across the state for duck eggs and brings a sourdough starter on vacation to keep it fed, you'd think I wouldn't have such an aversion to fussing with coffee a little bit. I really should just get a damn grinder shouldn't I? I'm not a coffee snob I just really love Tim Horton's!

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    2. Actually, Stephen, I'M the coffee snob! You're the lovely fellow pulling up in the drive-through lane at Timmies with the sourdough starter riding shotgun in the car!

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  9. First, the coffee: I'm a New Orleans-style coffee devotee (shocking absolutely no one). The Community Coffee + Chicory is best, but you do have to be careful if you have guests who take their coffee black as it's meant for something along the lines of cafe au lait and is practically motor oil on its own. But it's so substantial and decadent and helps round out a hearty meal, I think. Why serve all that butter and cream and leave people with a weak cup of coffee? No future in that.

    Secondly, I tried your stabilized spiced whipped cream this weekend, and it was perfect. Perfect, I tell you! I stored it at the back of the fridge and sort of glared at anyone who kept the fridge door open for more than about 2 seconds (Martha Stewart dagger eyes, maybe?) but it was really fabulous. Many thanks.

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    1. Oh I love chicory coffee! That's a good idea. Maybe I should just do that, since I take mine with a liberal pour of cream anyway.
      I'm so glad you loved the whipped cream!! Thank you so much for trying it and letting me know! I really appreciate it and am always glad to know when one of my recipes translates outside of my kitchen :)

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  10. I know exactly what you mean about listening to too much news...I feel so overwhelmed by it all.
    Doing something productive can be soothing.
    Your silver looks sparkling and your dishwashers musy shine too! I have never run mine empty...must do this soon.
    As to your question about coffee I use a French Press and freshly ground coffee beans..I like dark roast and espresso. Since my trip to Paris I now foam skim milk and serve it in a bowl.

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    1. Thank you! Yes! They are sooooo clean after I run Lemishine through them! Try it, you will love it. Isn't it funny all the kitchen equipment I WILL buy and yet feel like I don't want to bother with a French Press. Maybe I'll get one of those. I

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  11. I watch lots of political news so I was already in front of the tv on Friday when things started happening. I'm sick about it but today I had to pull up my socks and use my best strategy for trying to make the world right: polish and clean. It's a real relief of anxiety and stress it can't be denied. Even though I'm actually not helping anybody.
    Your coffee situation, I can relate. Dark roast coffee is always very burnt in my opinion, I avoid that. I buy an organic medium roast and I use the moccamaster from Williams Sonoma. I suck at making coffee. I'm definitely trying that tip of the cocoa that Wendy has offered, it makes sense.
    Off to polish more brass XOX

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    1. I feel the same way! Ooooh Dani I should have known you'd have the good one! I bought my cuisinart with no research and then about two years later learned that the Moccamaster is the best of the best. Hate dark roast! I thought of you last week as I was bidding on some fab brass candelabras. So sad, I lost.

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  12. hello darling.

    I hopped on my stationary bike in front of my giant media room telly on Saturday morning at 6am and was shocked and sad to see what was happening.

    I immediately went into an exercise and cleaning frenzy to cope with the stress. I was already upset as my friend had gone for a walk in my city in a quiet suburb and had found an innocent cyclist stabbed 8 times by a crazed maniac with a screw driver. She had to call the ambulance and police and stem the blood. What a week.

    We have a nespresso and I like it.I wake up and drink 2 black coffees no sugar.

    I love all the photos in this post xxxx

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    1. That is so scary! Oh how terrible. I've always wished I could drink black coffee but I just don't like it. I like mine with a liberal pour of cream but never any sugar. Even worse is when my coffee is made wrong and I can taste Splenda in it. So gross!

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    2. splenda offends me.

      ditto margarine.

      was wondering if that stuff was a soufflé but I see it is BREAD. Nice.

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  13. Hmmm. I never heard of that brand of coffee "burned ass." Do you have a French Press? It's a no brainer. I don't even drink coffee, but have no trouble making it. Come on Stephen, you are just putting us on!

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    1. No I don't! I will get one. I've just assumed that it's my fault and not the machine's. No, I swear I'm not! There are some bizarre things I really struggle with. For instance, slice and bake cookies. Or cookies in general. My cookies always spread into one giant cookie. I chill the stupid dough and blah blah but it's still a problem of mine. Also, when I used to nanny for my cousins no one would eat my Kraft macaroni and cheese because I messed it up somehow.

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  14. Tim Hortens coffee is the best. I did not know there are outlets in your state. Have a happy thanksgiving we have done ours already.

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    1. Yes! We are lucky considering we are Canada's neighbor! We have many here! I love the timing of Canadian Thanksgiving!

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  15. You can buy any type of coffee you want and it will taste good if you brew it in a Chemex. We bought one a few years ago and threw our electric coffee maker out after the first cup. We actually take it on vacation with us when we rent houses and such because all you need to do is boil water and pour it over the grinds. That's it.
    My brother and sister in law spent a weekend with us over the summer and went home and promptly ordered themselves a Chemex. You will never look back.
    I recapped my first day in Nashville on the blog this weekend - I know you've been asking how it is going. :)

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    1. I've never even heard of this! I will research. Thank you so much! And thank you for letting me know you've updated! I have checked so many times!

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  16. Stephen Andrew I love all your posts, but this one especially due to the shiny silver. There is nothing more satisfying to me than polishing my silver. I know that is a little odd, but the transformation is very satisfying.
    I don't drink coffee (tea drinker), but my husband takes it all very seriously. Our last house we installed a very fancy Miele built in coffee machine. The thing was the BANE of my life. I had them out to fix it over 6 times, and each time the service guys would say "Is the grinder broken?" Which it wasn't. But the fact that they'd say it so confidently always made me think that it was the next thing to go. Eventually after a lot of tantrums from me to Miele they replaced it (although I had to pay more money) with a newer machine. We then sold the house, vowed never to install another bloody built in coffee machine and bought a nespresso. My husband says it makes better coffee. So that's my recommendation! The pods make it all very easy and fool proof.
    Good luck with the prep!

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    1. I say the exact same thing alll the time! It is illogical how satisfied I am after I've polished. Most of my silver is silverplate and most was inexpensively picked up at thrift stores. That's always my favorite, bringing home dirty old tarnished silver and making it gleam! Oh how annoying about the built-in Miele. It's funny because those took forever to become popular here and we're really only just starting to see them. I'm glad you found a much better and much less expensive solution!

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  17. I was in a hotel where they only had one news channel that had Paris on 24/7. It wasn't healthy...

    If anything Thanksgiving is well timed. In fact I might even do a small chicken roast just to mark the occasion this year. Never tried Tim Hortons - but in American I love dunkin donuts but lately my husband is turning into a coffee chemist and keeps asking me to taste the differences in all the blends - can you taste the marshmallow? can you taste the blackberries - it is endless nagging in the mornings. It's like the pepsi challenge all the time...

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    1. Oh how awful! I was wondering how all of this impacted your trip. The Pepsi challenge! That is so funny. I think I have kept myself out of home coffee making for fear of becoming like your husband. I'm already so obsessed with so many things and have made so many simple tasks very complicated that it's nice to just get in my car and buy coffee with no process. Next time you're in Canada, or some states in the U.S., you must get some Timmie's coffee. It's so good and it's never been scorched and microwaved tasting like Starbucks.

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  18. I can go either way in these situations - go crazy nesting and wanting to take control over every little thing in my house or just throw my hands up and think 'fuck it.'

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    1. I totally understand! I think there are moments where any sense of control feels lost during these tragedies.

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  19. Another great Stephen post. I love how your blogging comes alive during the holidays! I too have to immerse myself into the beautiful things in life after getting the facts in tragedies too. Otherwise, I internalize and have nightmares and total anxiety about the world I have brought our 3 kids into!

    Husband makes chai in the morning with yummy spices so I never drink coffee but I use a simple French Press Plunger when we have house guests and just use Duncan Donuts coffee beans. Everyone seems to like it.

    I love polishing my silver and your wine cooler is beautiful!

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  20. What's in your dutch ovens? The wreath is sweet, I love France and Paris, I hold it very dear to my heart and it pains me that Europe is being ruined by hate!!!!!!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I just am so much more inspired by the holidays. I don't really do anything that great outside of them :)
      Sounds like I need a French press! It's bread in the Dutch ovens. Was testing a new recipe! It is such a tragedy.

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  21. We like to forget our relatives, and so we do. We go out. There's just been too many years of after-dinner "discussing" about whose relatives annoy us the most, his or mine. We decided it's a draw, and we now go out! They don't like it, but we're happy! Sadly, though, all my nice stuff is getting lonely. We watch enough news to be informed and then it's back to our own little world....relative-free!

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    1. Good for you! I think everyone should do what they love on holidays and it sounds like you've struck the perfect balance!

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  22. Buy the Dunkin Donuts ground coffee sold in the DD coffee stores, not the grocery.
    .

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