Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cowboy Dinner

Texas Lasagna for Eight

My brother was visiting from Dallas for several celebrations crammed into three days - his birthday (I won't mention an age but it begins with a 6 and ends with a 5), his only daughter's first baby shower, and my Granddaughter's 12th Birthday party.  Since so many things were happening at the same time, I decided I needed to do as much ahead as possible.  On the night they arrived, I served "Texas Lasagna," which I'd made about ten days ahead and froze.  
The table started with a green 90" to-the-floor base cloth.
Next up, a burlap square topper that began my Cowboy theme.  (Which would have been ironed had I not been stressed and running behind.)
I followed that with a vintage 1940's cowboy themed square cloth, placed so that its points were in between the burlap ones.
Branding irons, cast iron skillets, cactus and cows are symbols of how lots of Easterners think of Texas so I thought I'd play into that perception.
For our centerpiece I continued building on the theme by using succulents, planted in three fishbowl-shaped vases, instead of flowers.  
I just went to our local Home Depot's plant section and bought a variety of tall, short, big, little succulents and arranged them in the bowls.  (If you plan to leave them in the bowls, put in a first layer of gravel, sand, or marbles so the soil will drain well.)

I used my Red Wing "Chuck Wagon" and "Round Up" dishes.  The top one, with a cowboy cooking, is "Chuck Wagon" and the lower one, with a cowboy heating a branding iron, is "Round Up."

The first Red Wing stoneware company began in 1877 with two kilns and four potters' wheels.  Power for the plant came from a 24hp steam engine. In 1884 a fire from the kiln spread throughout and when it was rebuilt it was on a larger scale.  In 1906 it merged with three other potteries but in 1967 it closed. In 1984 the rights were bought and production was restarted.  Inexpensive tours are given, in Red Wing, Minnesota, at specific times every weekday.  
These two patterns, introduced in 1957, are impossible to tell what pieces went with which name, and are fairly rare due to having never been produced for retail sale, but rather by mail order only.  
I used the lug-handled cereal bowl for my chunky guacamole, a favorite of my vegetarian sister-in-law.
I used two new amber-colored glasses for water and red wine.  I have a lot more vintage dishes than crystal and glassware so I use new whenever I don't have an old set that goes well with the colors or theme. 

I've collected, what I call, cowboy cutlery for many years.  I have pieces with bone handles and pieces that are wood.  (In opposition to real ivory, which is a solid cream color, bone has brown slivers of color, which can sometimes be seen with the naked eye, and always with a magnifying glass or jeweler's loop.)  All of these pieces are bone.  Forks are the easiest to find in lots of shapes and sizes.  Knives are also fairly common but I don't think there are spoons.  Some of the forks have four tines and some, three.  It is my understanding that the ones with three are older.

Instead of napkins, I used vintage tea towels, each with a Western or cowboy motif.  All were purchased from Michelle Piccolo who sells at the Red Barn during the Round Top antiques fair.

I used two sets of vintage collectible salt and pepper shakers - bulls and cactus

I keep half-fold place cards in lots of colors.  Just one thing I don't have to locate and buy when I'm getting ready for guests.  For an elegant dinner I wouldn't use stickers but for my "cowboy" dinner, they're just fine and, since I'm a scrapbooker, I have lots of choices.  (Hint: if part of the sticker goes off the paper, coat the exposed part with a little baby powder so it loses its stickiness.)

A complete place setting 
Food was served buffet style on a table with a vintage rectangular cowboy cloth.
The dessert fork, for our pecan pie, was placed at the top of each dinner plate.

Chunky Guacamole and Homemade Chips
Texas Lasagna
(Cumin vs Oregano; Cheddar vs Mozzarella)
Sauteed Veggies from our Garden: Zucchini, onion, yellow squash, asparagus, and tomato wedges plus store-bought fresh corn cut off the cob since ours isn't ready yet
Salt and Peppered Ciabatta Rolls
Pecan Pie