Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In the Kitchen: A Rosemary Tableau - VIDEO

Video by Room Eleven Media

In this video, the Farmer shares about the New Year's meal, Lucky Money Stew.... be sure to check out last year's post for recipe - Lucky Money Stew.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Through the Years…

We all will be together… this line from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” chimed through my mind as I was setting my table. With sweet memories and poignant reflections, each element of the tablescape brought thoughts, stories and smiles to mind – the china, the linens, the glassware – all a part of a tablescape that has become near and dear to me.

Though this tablescape is very traditional – and the story of this tableau does commence with a woman great with child – it is not a parody of THE Christmas story by any means! 


My mother was truly great with child (yours truly) back in June of 1981. A stroll past an antique store in our small Southern town was the outing du jour for Mama on this particular day, hoping the jaunt would cause her carriage to soon deliver (I was over two weeks late and walks had become a part of her routine to entice delivery… sorry Mama for the inconvenience.) I digress…

As she perused through this particular store, she spotted a set of Johnson Brothers Christmas china that she wanted to purchase for her mama, the soon to be branded Mimi. The combination of a severely pregnant lady walking about in the sweltering Southern, early summer sun, and further coupled with the mindset many expecting mothers have (we must feather our nests, prepare for our children, buy Christmas china in June, yada, yada yada…) lead the shopkeeper to abate Mama’s pleas and lowball offer and sold her the set for a song. Mimi has been using this set now for thirty years, so I felt it apropos in using a few pieces for my Christmas table, with this coming June marking my entrance into the family thirty years ago.


The glasses, a gift from Aunt Kathy to Mimi and Granddaddy on their fiftieth wedding anniversary a few years ago, are monogrammed with a “G” for Granade - and the he claret red glass, gold leaf rims, and lettering are that perfect touch of elegant glam my table needed. They inspired the Jefferson cup arrangements filled with red roses and variegated boxwood sprigs to punctuate the tabletop with floral freshness. The Jefferson cup is shorter than a julep cup, more of a tumbler. Silver, pewter, copper and gold styles abound and these I found on a hunt through an antique mall now have their home with me, for they boast a “G.” I love to mix the initials of my surname and mother’s family maiden names – this mélange of initials gives representation of the generations at my table.


As for the linens, a mix is always fun! The hand embroidered cloth with candles, poinsettias, and holiday foliage is from Panama – a gift from a pair of dear friends who served as missionaries there. They brought this to us years ago and we all relish in the opportunity to use it. I use a round table my great-grandfather built as my dining room table, and I love to use different linens to herald the season. A sucker for checks, buffalo plaid and gingham, I used one of the red covers from my book launch party with buffalo check napkins – giving the delicateness of the table topper some pizzazz and punch.


Green chargers anchor the Christmas china and a wreath serves as centerpiece. Being round itself, it is the perfect center point for a round table, low enough to see over and to cloak a classic hurricane. A boxwood base, this wreath is filled with other Farmer’s seasonal favorites – preserved orange slices, dried pomegranates as a further Granade nod, pine cones, cinnamon sticks and a baby artichoke or two. Wreaths don’t have to don doors and windows alone!

The combo of this tablescape not only made my dining room merry and bright, it made me merrier and brighter. Faithful friends and family gather near to us – gather near the table. Set your tables with traditions and twists, and from this Farmer’s table to yours, hope you had yourself a merry little Christmas!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wreaths – an Outward and Visible Sign of the Season

Frasier Fir, boxwood, magnolia, grapevine – all traditional bases for wreaths. We can pick them up at garden centers and Christmas tree vendors and even grocery stores, but sometimes it is fun to spice up ye olde wreath with some seasonal flair. In this December’s issue of Southern Living, I took some traditional wreaths up a notch or two to festively deck our halls, doors, windows and tables with versions of wreaths donned with a bit of Holiday zest.

Rosemary and grapefruit – two of this Farmer’s favorites! From their scents to their colors and flavors, the combo of these two can be appealing to many of the senses. Sliced grapefruit and Meyer lemons combined with Savannah holly foliage and berries on a boxwood wreath is garden glam at its best! Add fresh cut red roses in varying shades and sizes for a boost of elegance and fragrance. The jewel tones of the fruit and flowers on the deep green base are luscious!

Keeping it green – a basic Frasier Fir wreath spiked with artichokes, ivy and pine sets a green theme for this updated wreath. Pine cones and pheasant feathers ground the greens with earthy browns and textures that complement as well. The tapestry of greens in various hues, tints, shades, and textures makes this wreath at home in your home all through the holidays and even into winter! With the absence of holiday sparks such as red, this wreath is soothing yet warm for the coming winter months.

Summer Lovin’ for the Holidays – preserving your blue hydrangea blossoms is a garden living great! Using them for a Christmas wreath adds a dose of delicate blue that is sharp with the vivid reds and greens of the season. Nandina berries and its foliage punctuate the dried mopheads and dry well themselves! Kept out of direct sunlight, this wreath will last a long time, looking good in January too as a piece of post-Christmas door décor or winter tablescape.


Magnificent Magnolia – Magnolia wreaths are probably my favorite in their sheer simplicity and versatility. Magnolia is a year-round décor element in my opinion and Christmas may be the swan song of this Southern staple’s regimen. Burford holly berries and Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) snuggle into the broad leaves of this magnolia wreath. Textural complements of the fine Cryptomeria foliage and the magnolia is striking and the bold red berries of the holly punctuate the wreath with some of the season’s best. This wreath is easily made from the trappings of many Southern gardens, for magnolia, Cryptomeria and Burford holly abound.


Cinnamon Twist – Taking a good ol’ grapevine wreath and weaving in some fantastic foliage is an easy way to boost this simple form from drab to fab! Eucalyptus, rosemary, magnolia leaves and sliced Meyer lemons all intertwine the grapevine. A bow of cinnamon sticks further enhances the amazing aroma this wreath boasts and picks up on the color of the magnolia leaves backing. Another wreath well suited for not only the holidays, this wreath can celebrate the winter season, for citrus is a Southern winter crop, rosemary is evergreen in the Deep South and eucalyptus can be found growing in many a Southern garden. If your garden isn’t growing deep in Dixieland, then your florists and craft shop should have all these same elements.

Take a traditional wreath and jazz it up. Remember this Farmer’s “Three F’s” to making an arrangement fabulous – fruit, flowers, and foliage. A fourth “F” of “feathers” never hurts either! These wreaths are apropos all through the holidays and even into January.  From the vow’s Granddaddy uses when performing wedding ceremonies, “the ring is an outward and visible sign of…” May these wreaths be your outward, visible sign of the holiday season! From this Farmer’s garden to yours, Merry Christmas and happiest of holidays to you and yours!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday 2011

Well ladies and gents, this book tour has come to a close for 2011 and this Farmer is humbled by the reception my book and I have had across the country! We have slap sold out of books! Second printing coming soon!

I’ve been doing some fun decorating this season and wanted to share a few things with you. No shock here, but I am still obsessed with peach/salmon/ coral orange and how fab it looks for the holidays! Of course, you can’t forget red and green but mix them all together and you’ve got something pretty grand! From the julep cups filled with my favorite hues to mantles laden with holiday splendor, I hope you enjoy these pics! Another note of fun, I’m going to chat on Martha Stewart XM Radio on Monday, December 12, 2011 at 1 o’clock EST… hope you can catch it but if not, enjoy these tips for this marvelous season! Merry Merry!!!

1.       Remember the Rosemary! During the holidays, one of the quintessential herbs of the season, Rosemary is not only fabulous for flavor but great for décor as well. Rosemary pairs lovely with pork, chicken and beef but the savory nature can go sweet with apples, pears, and even pecans. Roasted Rosemary Pecans are a favorite and my Mimi’s Apple Pie with Rosemary and Pecans is divine! Even Rosemary Ice Cream is so good with desserts this time of year. I also love to use rosemary as greenery with red roses in julep cups for bouquets and also as a key ingredient in my Farmer’s Garden Wassail.


2.       A Twist on Traditional Red and Green – I love to use red and green for the holidays but a twist on this tradition is to take shades and hues of pinks or oranges and mix in for a splash of other colors. Taking peach and salmon colored amaryllis, tulip and roses and mixing them with cedar blue greenery gives a lovely touch to the classic color combo. Pink can be used in the same fashion and pairs so well with brown pinecones, cinnamon sticks, and lotus pods.


3.       Think green – tone on tone décor of greens is classic and crisp. Shades and hues of nature’s neutral color can be layered upon one another and accented with green fruit. Green apples, grapes, limes or pears tuck in boughs of pine, cedar, cypress and holly is simply divine! Going green is so chic! Wreaths, centerpieces, and mantles can be adorned in a green on green scheme that looks great well after the holiday too. Your friends and neighbors will be green with envy!


4.       Have a Blue Christmas – if red and green ain’t your thing, try a blue Christmas! Blue cedar berries, ligustrum or privet berries, blue cypress and even hydrangeas make gorgeous tableaus when set in silver containers, blue and white jardinières, or creamware. This cool palette is fantastic with an accent of chartreuse or lime green too. take some gorgeous blue and white jars, fill them with blue spruce, cedar berries and some blue hydrangeas and then garnish the ledge with a garland of the same, and you’ll have a blue Christmas that’s nothing shy of spectacular!

5.       Think Inside the Fruit – grapefruit, pomegranates, oranges, lemons and limes – so gorgeous inside and amazing with greenery and holly berries, this little slice of décor advice will take your bland holiday to the next level. Gorgeous coral, ruby red, garnet, jade green and topaz yellow colors, like jewels, are the actual inside colors of these fruits. Wired to wreaths, donned on mantles, and accenting centerpieces, make a statement with sliced fruit for your own holiday event!


6.       The Farmer’s Christmas Sweet Tea – a holiday twist on a classic Southern drink, this version of my sweet tea recipe will welcome you and your guests to the holiday table. Delicious hot or cold, serve this drink however you fancy or depending on the weather. If it is frightful, then serve warm. If you’re having a sunny, warm holiday, then iced is totally apropos. Scents from the season and garden fill this recipe and engage the senses to celebrate this time of year.

Whatever or wherever you are this Christmas season, I wish that all is Merry and Bright! From this Farmer’s kitchen and garden to yours, Merry Christmas!!

And just for are more pics.

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