Vintage Cookbooks & Turkey Tips

This time of the year I love to pull my vintage cookbooks down from the shelves and see what looks inspiring. It's also good for a little laugh at the expense of our hard working ancestors who toiled on limited budgets with limited resources.


Laguna Beach and Heisler Park

View of Laguna Beach from Heisler Park

Laguna Beach is great in the fall when the crowds have left and the temps drop low enough to enjoy the views. Recently I drove Coast Highway 1 with a friend who was new to the area and hadn't seen this part of the coast before.


Bugs and Butterflies

I love the current home style trend using Natural History artifacts such as bugs and butterflies in displays, wall papers and textiles. From mounted insects, like this butterfly exhibit, to old illustrations and museum displays, these are great details to have around the house. I think I like the water colored book plates the best, so I have been looking to find something with that type of image.

These butterflies, moths and bugs pillows caught my eye. They add so much to my natural colored sofa and were a great way to transition out of my summer color scheme. Old illustrations in black with colored details are seen on a linen textile. Made in the U.S. by American Mills LAVA pillow line, this linen version seems to be discontinued, but several other similar styles are currently available. I really like that American Mills pillows are produced in the States, so it was a bonus to find them. In trying to find others like these, I located another version online at the Screen Door selling for significantly more than the ones I was lucky to find! But, this look is so dramatic, it's worth looking into.

As someone who sews, I also wanted to find the original fabric. This textile design is part of a series by Kelly O'Neal of Design Legacy. They have several other natural history prints showing sea creatures, floral, and birds on linen textiles. It is for sale at the Fabric Finder, HERE.

If this has you thinking about adding a bug, butterfly or other natural history print to your home, you might want to take a look at my Pinterest board "Naturalist Bugs and Animals". I've had fun finding lots of inspiring photos and design ideas on this subject. With a fun natural history print, it's possible to whip up a few pillows or better yet, why not cover a chair or stool to accent the corner of a hall or room. I'd like to try that next.


Spices, Seasonings and Herbs: What to Have on Hand

Taking an herb and spice inventory: What should we have in our kitchen?

One essential element in any feast are the flavors of herbs and spices we have come to love. They make our meals special. Now that the days are getting shorter and Daylight Savings Time is over, are you cooking hearty fall menus again? A home filled with the scent of a rustic bean soup in the crock pot is one way to reward yourself for a day’s hard work when you open the front door at night.

November is the perfect month to take a spices, seasonings and herb inventory and restore your stock for the holidays. Making a list of items that need to be replaced will prevent problems later this season. I admit that this is an expensive proposition. If you want to expand your flavor selection, try ethnic markets and other non-traditional sources for your seasonings.

When I take my inventory, I like to set everything that I use to season my meals out on the counter top and see what is low, empty (who put that back?!), or old. From this I make up a list of seasonings that I need to purchase before I am caught cooking a great meal, but missing my favorite flavors.

Here is a rough list that I work from. Like color, seasonings have shades of scent that affect specific types of foods when we cook. Because of this, I tend to group my seasonings by their function. Some seasoning I buy ground, others I like to keep whole until I use them. If you have a nutmeg grinder or dedicated old coffee grinder, you can buy seasonings whole, and then grind as needed for fuller flavor when you use them. The list that follows has my favorites, but if you think I missed something, let me know. We don't want to leave anything out!

This group works into pies, cookies and deserts. But it’s fun to add them in unexpected places. Why not try cinnamon in your next batch of brownies? Ginger is another spice that can warm up so many foods, and is a great addition to tea.
Vanilla Extract
Almond Extract

Warm tones like these spices add dimension to squash, soups and bean dishes. Try healthful turmeric, it really packs a punch and adds a gorgeous yellow to the dish.
Madras Curry Powder
Garlic Powder

While meats can vary from dark to light, and change in flavor, some seasonings are classics. Chili grows complex with cumin and various types of chili powder. Tandoori Masala is an Indian mixed seasoning that is fun with all meats. It’s a more complex mixed seasoning than most produced by US spice brands.
Chili Powder
Tandoori Masala: BarBQ Spice Mix

All purpose:
It’s possible to add most herbs and spices to any vegetable or meat, but some are the dependable standbys I must have on hand at all times.
Salt and Pepper: in grinders
Mrs. Dash blends and other unsalted herb blends

We would all love to have fresh herbs on hand. Perhaps you were able to dry some this summer. If not, you will want the freshest packaged dried herbs available for this season. This short list is probably the most popular herbs, and can help to elevate your crock pot soups to new flavor levels.