Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Eve

Dinner for House Guests 

By the night before Thanksgiving I already have the table set in the dining room so dinner for seven house guests the night before is on the round table in the dining area of the sun room.  Our menu was warm olives and pear crostini in the family room first.  Upstairs the main course was a pork crown roast, wild rice stuffing with cranberries and hazelnuts, whole roasted green beans, and twice baked acorn squash with butter, brown sugar, & nutmeg.  Dessert was a store-bought chocolate mousse cake.  For the table setting, the first layer is a round, to-the-floor, pin-tuck cloth in chocolate brown.
 The china is Mason's Leeds luster transferware.  It's one of my favorite sets and has a prominent place on two shelves in the dining room china cabinet as opposed to the 50 dish cubbies where most sets are stored upstairs, above the kitchen.
I used two sets of glasses, one new and one antique.  The new, on the left, were used for water.  The antique mix-and-match pressed glass ones with gold rims were used for red wine.
The gold butter pats are beautiful and for this dinner I used them for salts.  My oldest son makes an artesian smoked sea salt (check out so I used plain sea salt on one half of the dish and his black, smoked salt on the other.  The salt spoons are "Lily of the Valley" Ca 1892.  I collect all things lily since I have a Granddaughter with that name.

A stack of the little dishes I used for salt in the china cabinet.

The napkins have a pale gold center and darker border.  The napkin rings are metallic gold knots.

The silverplate flatware is "Charter Oak" by International-1847 Rogers, Ca 1906.  I used the dinner fork, French hollow-handled dinner knife, and teaspoon.  It's a lovely, highly collectible pattern that I love to use for fall and winter table settings.

The photo below of a complete place setting shows a different pressed glass pattern used for wine.
A pretty quilted, reversible throw, in colors that went well with the dishes,
 covered the table used as the buffet.

The table used for serving the buffet style meal was a rattan
one that is always there, sometimes as the kids' table.
I love to be organized.  It's what saves me from stress meltdowns when I'm having a dinner party for 8 or 24.  I always have been good about getting food prepped and tables done early but until fairly recently I had not figured out I needed to get out all the serving pieces ahead of time too.  I'd be directing helpers at the last minute where to find a bowl or serving fork.  Now I put them all out where they will be used with a Post-it saying what that piece will be used for and I put the serving utensil beside each piece.  Then when it's time to dish everything up, a helper can go get the serving piece and bring it to the kitchen, fill it, and take it back to its place without me having to stop and supervise.
The large round platter, or chop plate as it would have been called originally, was used for the crown roast.  I put the vintage silverplate carving set, "Reverie," Ca 1937, by Rogers & Bros., beside it as well as a Charter Oak meat fork.   I used a "Grande Baroque" sterling buffet spoon for the wild rice stuffing and a slotted spoon in the same pattern for the green beans.                             

 The centerpiece was in a hand-turned wood vase that we got from the artist at the First Monday fair in Canton, Texas.  The florist lined it with a plastic bowl so it would not get wet and used flowers in colors that matched the dishes.  I like to take a container to her and text a photo of a place setting and she chooses the flowers.

I made the place cards using scrapbooking paper that resembles grasscloth wall paper and attached a different fall leaf sticker to each. 

The sun is setting and it's about time for guests to arrive, my favorite brother (I only have one), his sweet wife, his daughter from New York City and her boyfriend, and a cousin of my husband's to whom we're very close.  It will be a fun prelude to a bustling Thanksgiving Day!

Recipe for Twice Baked Acorn Squash

One large acorn squash for every 4 people
3 Tbsp light brown sugar per squash
3 Tbsp butter per squash
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg per squash

Cut the squash in half and scoop out seeds with a metal spoon.  Cook four halves (will be 8 servings) at a time by placing them in a microwave safe 8" square glass baking dish (face up or down does not matter), covering with plastic wrap, and cooking on high 11 minutes.  Stick a fork into the squash part to make sure they are tender.  Do not pierce the skin.  If not tender, cook another minute or two.

Scoop the cooked squash out into a bowl, making sure not to cut into the skin.  Mix in the butter, brown sugar, and nutmeg with a fork, mashing the squash.  Refill the skins.  Cut each half in half again to make four wedge-shaped servings per squash.  Can all be done ahead, covered and reheated in the microwave just before serving.

P.S.  Sorry I've been away so long.  I think August was my last post.  It's just been a busy fall.

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