Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

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Pink’s Hot Dogs – Vintage Post

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Eric reminded me that I had an inkling to start a blog when we were in Los Angeles. I thought you all might get a kick out of a couple of those vintage posts.

From November 23, 2008.

Tonight we finally made the pilgrimage to L.A. from Santa Monica to Pink’s Hot Dogs for one of their legendary franks. After standing in line for an hour and ordering up, we enjoy our meal alfresco – a pastrami-swiss dog with fries and a coke for me and a chili dog and a sauerkraut, tomatoes, mustard and bacon with onion rings and a coke for Eric. Consuming the dogs took no longer than 10 minutes, I’m afraid.

Of course we had to check out the bathrooms – they serve over 2000 hot dogs a day and I was feeling brave. Although I took no photos of the bathroom, it was spotless. This was a well run operation.

So if you are in Los Angeles and craving a piece of history and have at least an hour to kill, get yourself a spot in line at Pink’s Hot Dogs and remember – cash only!

Thanksgiving to Go

Monday, November 9th, 2009


Happy Monday, Darlings!  As promised, each week before Thanksgiving we will broach another topic. Today, we are discussing whether you actually need to cook. Do you really want to weigh yourself down cooking a zillion sides and pies that will just stress you out before you even get to the table?  Are you doing it because mama and granny did?  Come on – you are much too sophisticated for that type of thinking. It’s 2009, for goodness sakes.  You can turn on your laptop and order the entire meal online while sipping your latte at Starbucks.  Even Miss Hospitalityaholic is not cooking everything after assembling this list. The pies will be ordered and I will pickup the bread from one of the many fabulous outlets seen here. Sure, I will bake and mash the sweet potatoes (probably the day before), throw together a salad and make my mom’s special sausage and raisin stuffing. But the boys are frying a turkey outside (ohhhh, fire!) So don’t fret, my sweeties – here are some places in Atlanta to order and pickup and also, for my out of town friends, some sites from which to order the whole enchilada. Or turkey. I don’t judge.

Alon’s, Offering orders a la carte from several menus, you can chose from appetizers, sides, meats and relish, artisan breads and desserts, all individually priced. Last day for orders will be Mon., Nov. 23 and pick-up by 4 pm Wed., Nov. 25. 1394 North Highland Ave. 404-872-6000.

Murphy’s, Offering to-go meals for 4 at $125 and for 8 at $250. The menu includes roasted boneless turkey breasts, herbed cornbread, cranberry orange relish and each meal comes with a pie. Orders must be placed by Fri., Nov. 20 and picked up Wed., Nov. 25 between 11 am-6 pm. 404-872-0904. 997 Virginia Ave.

Muss & Turner’s, Offering a prepared package of sides and desserts that serve four at $99.93. Includes roasted vegetables, Ritz cracker dressing, green bean bake, sweet potato mash, gravy, lingonberry sauce, wheat rolls and choice of pumpkin or pecan pie. Orders will be taken until Nov 21 and pick-up is 11 am-6:30 pm Wed., Nov. 25. 1675-309 Cumberland Pkwy SE. 770- 434-1114.

PARISH: Food and Goods, An a la carte menu, that will include an all natural creole fried turkey with creamy horseradish sauce for $112, Broccoli & Cheese Casserole for $9/quart and Maple Creamed Sweet Potatoes with PARISH Granola: $8.50/quart. Orders need to be placed by Nov.13 and picked up Nov. 25. 404-681-4434. 240 N. Highland Ave.

Rolling Bones Premium Pit BBQ, This menu twist on the traditional Turkey includes a whole turkey and cranberry relish for $60, or bone-in turkey breast with cranberry relish for $45, beef brisket with a side of horseradish for $70, whole duck with fig relish for $35 and sides by the quart for $8. 404-222-2324. 377 Edgewood Ave.

South City Kitchen-Midtown, In addition to offering a dine-in option, they will offer take-out for parties of 8 or more at $22.50 per person. Orders will be taken until Fri., Nov. 20 and pick-up is on Wed., Nov. 25. 404-873-7358. 1144 Crescent Ave.

The Shed at Glenwood, You can have a fully prepared meal for $150 for six to eight people. This includes a roasted turkey, a number of sides and an apple pie. Orders must be placed by Sun., Nov. 22 and picked up Wed., Nov 25, 5-7 p.m. 475 Bill Kennedy Way. 404-835-4363.

Or…if you are just really overwhelmed and want all the Thanksgiving goodies sent right to your door, here are a few suggestions.

Gourmet Grocery Online, These folks will send you a Turducken next day Fed Ex. This Cajun Stuff specialty starts with a semi-boneless turkey. This is stuffed with a boneless duck, dressing, then a boneless chicken and finally more delicious dressing. The final product will weight 15-16 lbs and will feed about 20 people. At $119.99, this will set you at about $6.00 per person, not including sides.

Schaul’s, There is nothing quite like a fresh turkey from Schaul’s. Schaul’s Turkeys are plump, juicy and fork tender. Carefully fed and raised, assuring a delicate buttery flavor that is unmatched in other brands. Fresh turkeys are available only during the week of Thanksgiving. Helpful cooking instructions are included with your order. Starting at $40.60 for a 12-14 lb bird to feed your friends and family.

The Fresh Lobster Company, No one ever said you have to eat turkey. How about some fresh lobster or some other type of seafood? This is making me rethink that big bird. Right now they are running a special for “free overnight shipping” if you order 10 or more Maine products. Hmmm….after careful consideration and Maine’s recent overturning of same-sex marriages, I can’t in good conscience recommend anything from Maine. So lets not call these guys, mmmmkay?

Gourmet Station, Are there just the two of you this year? Playing hooky from the in-laws while watching the Macy’s parade? Good plan!  Gourmet Station will deliver your entire meal for $99.99. There you go – have another glass of wine and enjoy the game!

Greenberg’s Turkey, If it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for me. Everyone is raving about Greenberg’s. It’s a smoked turkey, so if that is not your thing, you might want to reconsider. But their prices are terrific, starting at $27 for a 6 lb bird that should feed 12-18 people all the way up to a 15 lb turkey that will feed 30 – 45 people for $64.35. Add around $10 for shipping, and I consider that a deal. Pop over to the grocery store, buy some Stouffer’s sides and you are good to go.

iGourmet, Heritage Turkeys are never frozen, includes neck and giblets, and comes with a traceability certificate that states the turkey farm where your turkey is from. The bird’s genetics can be traced back to the 1800’s, ensuring a true “heritage” bird. Starting at 8 lb, going all the way up to a huge 22 lb, this should provide all your turkey needs.

Just make sure you have plenty of lovely sandwich bread, mayo and chips for turkey sandwiches the next day. You are going to be tired after all that shopping on Friday.

Some things never change.

xoxo, Patti

Next Monday – The perfect table setting.

Cabbage Reigns Supreme

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Happy, Happy Sunday, Darlings!

For all of you that do not live in Atlanta, I have to tell you that you missed a great time yesterday in Cabbagetown. Chomp and Stomp is just the southern social event of the year. I rode over early with Crystal and Teague so we could help Miss Lisa set up at her booth. The top was off the jeep and the day was warm and sunny. In November!

We arrived and I helped Miss Lisa with her sign for the day. She decided on selling locally made snap-when-you-bite-them hot dogs and beautiful white bratwurst.

You know what? I have so many photos, I believe I will let them tell most of the story. And away we go!

Miss Lisa's Specials of the Day

Miss Lisa's Specials of the Day

Those Gorgeous Brats

Those Gorgeous Brats

Miss Lisa & Mr. Bob Share A Moment

Miss Lisa & Mr. Bob Share A Moment

Mr. Bob is a restaurant reviewer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, so we kinda have to hide his face. You would agree his is a great face, if you were to meet him.

There were a slew of celebrity judges on hand to judge the chili (and there was a LOT of chili to judge). There was Kevin Gillespie, of Woodfire Grill , who might very well go all the way on “Top Chef,” Kevin Rathbun, who slew Bobby Flay on “Iron Chef,” Scott Serpas, Shaun Doty , Joe Truex and certainly not least of all, Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Holeman and Finch.  Some fun shots for you:

Chefs Gillespie, Serpas, Doty, Hopkins and Rathbun

Chefs Gillespie, Serpas, Doty, Hopkins and Rathbun

Chili to be Judged

Chili to be Judged

Chef Gillespie Takes a Moment for his Fans (me!)

Chef Gillespie Takes a Moment for his Fans (me!)

As exciting as mingling with celebrity chefs is, there was also live music and other celebrities as well. Hollis Gillespie (no relation to Kevin, I believe) is a famous author who is about to have her books adapted into a television series. She is seriously hilarious and took a moment to let me be photographed with Lary, her bff and herself.  Go buy one of her books!

Hollis, Patti and Larry

Hollis, Me and Lary

And of course, lots of friends and neighbors were there, too.

Leila, Val and Jay

Leila, Val and Jay

Val, Me, Leila, Miss Crystal

Val, Me, Leila, Miss Crystal

Val and Me Before We Entered the Toilet Plunger Relay Race

Val and Me Before We Entered the Toilet Plunger Relay Race

Yes, Miss Val and I entered a relay race – I called it the Toilet Plunger Relay, Chomp and Stomp called it the Cornholing Relay Race. One member of the team holds a toilet plunger between their legs and runs to the next member, who is holding a roll of toilet paper between her legs – #1 has to use the plunger to thread the toilet paper onto the handle of the plunger. It was fun. We didn’t win, but we laughed – a lot! Oh, and we had to do it while holding a cabbage on our heads. Pretty!

Now for the main attraction – The Cabbage Shredding Contest.  Our bestie Teague has won this competition 3 years in a row.  First, there were two heats to see who would battle Teague for his crown. Then it was time for Teague to show em how it’s done. Little Michelle handed us her ball point pen and we all wrote a big  “T” on our palms to show our support. Teague was clearly in the lead when all of a sudden, he dropped his cabbage! We all gasped and waited to see what would happen next. Teague, the consummate professional, just popped over the table, grabbed the cabbage core and once again took the crown! We all howled with joy! Wooooooo Hooooo!!! I even got some cool action shots. And I won’t even make you wait to see them.

Teague Was In It To Win It!

Teague Was In It To Win It! Look at the Cabbage Flying!

Our King and Queen

Our King and Queen

As Teague’s motto goes – “Today We Slaw!” and slaw he did. He most certainly did.

Besides cabbage and chili everywhere, there were some other food vendors (besides Miss Lisa and her awesome dogs and brats). Lets take a look, shall we?

Perla, One of Miss Lisa's Coffee Girls

Perla, One of Miss Lisa's Coffee Girls

Nobody Can Resist a Corndog!

Nobody Can Resist a Corndog!

Funnel Cakes! Fried Dough! Nom, Nom, Nom...

Funnel Cakes! Fried Dough! Nom, Nom, Nom...

After all our darlings filled up on chili and beer, Pie Queen Crystal and Cabbage King Teague (foodie royalty!) invited us all back to their house for a bonfire.  Miss Lisa was so sweet and gave me a bundle of bratwurst and buns to take to the bonfire and I added some blue corn chips.

Miss Crystal grilled the brats while we all warmed ourselves by the fire. They were insanely tasty and everyone gobbled them up.  Then Becky and Tim introduced us to a twist on an old favorite – ‘smores.  They took two slices of Italian bread, brushed it with olive oil and salt, grilled it, spread it with a nice smear of Nutella, roasted a marshmallow and slipped it between the two pieces of grilled bread. It was heavenly. Tim called it “Italian ‘Smores,” I said it should be called “It’s A’smore.” Whatever you call it, I can tell you what it tastes like. It tastes like you need one more.

"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, It's A'Smore!"

"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, It's A'Smore!"

By this time I was pretty beat and ready to hit the sack. Eric and I bundled up and walked home as our shoes crunched the dried, fallen leaves underfoot.

I am going to leave you with a quote from Mr. Tim’s blog :

I hope you live where you love and if you have a longing to be somewhere you’re not I hope you find your way there.

For me, that place is Atlanta.

xoxo, Patti


Saturday, November 7th, 2009

2008 Photo by Laura Fries

2008 Photo by Laura Fries

Hello Darlings!  Today is so very special – it’s Chomp and Stomp Day! Now, for my friends not in Atlanta, this is something akin to Christmas. It is Cabbagetown’s huge chili cookoff and blue grass festival.  There’s beer vendors, chili vendors, celebrity chefs and all kinds of adorable crafts to buy. Not to mention that everyone in Atlanta will be there.  I would say that it’s another event that makes Atlanta feel like Mayberry – like the pie off we just had in our neighborhood.

I will be there helping my dear friend, Lisa, at her booth. Word is that she is roasting a pig and will have brats and arepas to offer something other than chili.  Do you know what an arepa is?  Oh my goodness – Eric and I had one at a street festival in Manhattan years ago and I’ve been trying to find one ever since.  They are corn cakes filled with cheese and grilled – like a Venezuelan grilled cheese. Check this out – a restaurant devoted solely to arepas – its foodie heaven!

And our bestie Teague will be there, defending his Cabbage King crown.  Teague has been the king three years in a row. To win the crown, one must shred as much cabbage as possible in the alloted time. No one has beat our buddy.  We will be there en masse, screaming our lungs out for him. Go Teague!

Tomorrow will bring the wrap up of Chomp and Stomp as everyone hits their bottles of Pepto and aspirin.

Go, Teague!!!

xoxo, Patti

Pie, Pie, Everywhere A Pie

Friday, November 6th, 2009

When our darling friend, RayRay, accepted an invitation for dinner at our house, I wanted to make something cozy for  him. Like a hug.  It would be the first time I had seen him since we had arrived home from L.A.   It is really getting cold here in Atlanta (49F last night!) so hearty fare was definitely called for.

In my mind, Shepherd’s Pie filled the bill (or fit the bill? which one is it? i can never remember).  Now, I know Shepherd’s Pie calls for lamb, but I didn’t have any lamb.  So ground beef would have to do.  Eric let me know this would be considered Cottage Pie.  So, Cottage Pie it would be.  A fresh, green salad would be a terrific starter. For dessert?  I got the skinny (although skinny is an ironic word to use here) on sweet Brooke’s ooey, gooey butterscotch pie.  Go visit Miss Brooke at Tongue-N-Cheeky.  She is too creative and adorable to believe. Truly – go check her out. That is your blogging homework for the day.

Rounding out our dinner party was, of course, Miss DeVore (everybody loves this girl!)  Now, Miss DeVore has a new beau and would you believe me if I told you that he had been RayRay’s mentor at his early days at CNN? What are the chances? It’s crazy! They just visited all night about everyone they knew.  You know I love when that happens!  As they gabbed it up, Eric and I heard our wedding song, “At Last,” by Etta James, playing on the radio. We excused ourselves to “clear the table,” and sneaked in a little slow dance by the sink. We’re mushy like that. I don’t think we were missed.

Shall I share some photos? Yes, I think I shall!

Shepherd’s Pie first. This is so easy to make.

Carrots, onion, mushrooms, celery sauteing

Carrots, onion, mushrooms, celery sauteing

1 lb of ground beef gets added to the mix

1 lb of ground beef gets added to the mix

I also added some canned peas to fill it out.  Then I boiled about 4 big yukon gold potatoes and threw a handful of grated cheese into them after they were mashed. Mmmmm….cheesy potatoes!

Fluffy, tatery, goodness!

Fluffy, tatery, goodness!

Before you assemble the dish, take a can of cream of mushroom soup and pour it into the beef and veggie mixture to make a sauce (I never claimed this was gourmet cuisine).  Then take your prettiest casserole dish and pour the beef mixture into it and smooth the potatoes on top.  I sprinkled some paprika on top of mine to make it look fancy. Take a look.

Nom, nom, nom

Nom, nom, nom

I baked it in a 375F oven for an hour. It was all bubbly and gorgeous when it came out. Despite the fact that I forgot to put the casserole dish on a cookie sheet to catch any drippings. Yes, the smoke alarm went off. And no, none of our guests seemed to be fazed by it. That’s good wine!

Dessert was so delicious!  Here is the pie recipe straight from Tongue-N-Cheeky herself, Miss Brooke.  Have you clicked on the button to see her site? I’m going to hound you until you do. You will totally thank me for it.

Bet-Yer-Bottom-Dollar Butterscotch Pie

  • 1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 3/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • Caramel Ice-Cream Topping
  • Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Press crust into the bottom of a pie pan, cutting off excess around the edges.  In a large bowl, beat together eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk. Stir in butterscotch chips.

Pour into prepared crust.  Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes. If crust becomes too brown while baking, cover lightly with tin foil. Remove from oven, allowing center of pie to fully set as it cools.

Drizzle warm pie with caramel sauce & a dollop of whipped cream before serving.

Now I have been exceedingly busy as of late, so I skipped the caramel sauce and whipped cream (what was I thinking??), but it was loved by all. And it went together in a snap.  I added a few chocolate chips to mine.  Pictures, please!

Tender crunch on the outside, ooey, gooeyness on the inside!

Tender crunch on the outside, ooey, gooeyness on the inside!

My only issue with it was that the crust browned too quickly. And I am not talented with making aluminum foil into covers for said crust.  But, I tried and it came out pretty well.  I have got to get some of those pie crust shields. Like these. I would probably bake more pie if I had this handy little gadget.

All in all, a good time was had by everyone. As I was washing the wine glasses from last night, I mused on how to dry those darn decanters.  There happened to be a Perrier bottle sitting by the sink, so I thought I would cover it with a dish rag and see how the decanter dries on it.  So far, so good. Just remember to push it back on the counter so it doesn’t get bumped.  I suppose you could also use a hair dryer to get it super dry, but who has time to do that?

Decanter Drying 101

Decanter Drying 101

There you go, Darlings!  How do you like our new site?  You should be able to leave comments now without sacrificing a limb, so please say hello.

Happy Friday!!

xoxo, Patti

Breakfast In Bed

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

What could be more luxurious?

Breakfast in bed is a golden opportunity to show your love.  It doesn’t cost anything, but it can certainly start anyone’s day in the best possible way.  Accoutrements you might need include a tray, some big, heavy coffee mugs and big napkins (i.e – those Ikea tea towels for $.49).

What to serve for breakfast?  This is a great time to get creative. Use last night’s leftover pizza, homemade scones or whatever is laying about that seems good (this might be the time for that Halloween candy that didn’t get handed out).  Whatever might make your beloved smile.  It’s that easy.  Eric and I like english muffins (all those nooks and crannies!). They’re easy to make and that crunchy, butter-drenched goodness would happily wake anyone up.

If you feel you need to shop before you venture making breakfast in bed (not that you’re actually making the breakfast in bed, you are just bringing it to one very happy recipient). Here are some shopping ideas that would make the experience just that much nicer.

A gorgeous serving tray.  Some like a flat bottomed tray (like we use, in the photo above), or you might prefer the type that has legs, for all you tall folk. Like this one.  Here’s a whole website devoted to breakfast trays – how cool is that? You could get one that holds the newspaper so you all could snuggle in on a weekend morning.

Big coffee mugs. I seem to have a lot of luck finding great ones at Cost Plus World Market. These are my favorites:

These hold lots and lots of coffee

Here’s a link to those Ikea towels I swear by. For forty-nine cents each, you can have a whole flotilla of these. I use them for everything.

Another nice touch would be a single stem in a tiny vase. My knockout roses are still blooming like crazy, but I know that is going to be short lived. Plus, this would involve me going outside in pajamas to cut roses and the neighbors would look at me funny. So you might want to scrap that idea unless you already have some flowers inside.

The most important thing you can serve with your breakfast in bed is a sunny disposition.  I know a lot of you are not morning people, so I might be asking a lot. But if you are (like me), bring your tray into the room with a soft, gentle greeting – we don’t want our victim beloved jumping up with fists in the air because you startled them.

Just don’t be surprised if you both call in sick and declare a hooky day!

xoxo, Patti

Special Note:  One person I would not like to see having breakfast in bed, is Jack, father of our darling, Matt, who is in the hospital.  If you could send some great thoughts, prayers, karma his way, I would most appreciate it.  I would much rather that Jack is jumping up and making breakfast for the family.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Alack and alas, Halloween is over. Say goodbye til next year, Jack O’Laterns. But before we do, let me share some shots.  First, you have to see Eric’s finished costume:

Didn’t it turn out great!?

A couple of our trick or treaters:

Love that money hat!

Eric and I went to a couple of parties last night.  The first, over at The Fourth Ward, was a doozy.  The decorations were really fab.  Despite the fact that Mother Nature did not cooperate, what with rainy, very cold weather, we had a wonderful time.  The costumes were so creative, too!  Some pics for you all.

A creepy seer….her head floated in the crystal ball

There’s always room for cake….or not.

Somehow, the Geico dude fell in the dip. So sad.

Pretty streamers just make a party.
I have to have these – aren’t they cool?

Halloween is the time to hang those old family portraits
This one had super sticky ooze dripping from its mouth. I like that.

J -E- L- L- O !!

Bobbing for eyeballs

I think our host was whipping up a little something….

I have the exact same candy bowl! Minus the hand trying to escape.

He just lost his head over all the excitement

Bjork hangs with Paulie and Juno

Spy vs. Spy

Our great friends, Christy and James

Eric and me as the Minotaur and Medusa
Aren’t our babies sweet?

Chris, our host and the creator of all this mayhem

PeeWee and the Vampire
Halloween brings everyone together!

As much fun as this was, we had to leave to go back to our neighborhood party, hosted by Garry and Poppie.  Everyone looked amazing, but I was so beat I forgot to take photos! Uh oh. Hopefully someone took a bunch that I can borrow and post. Some highlights included our besties Crystal and Teague dressed as The Pie Queen of Adair Park and the Cabbage King, respectively.  Taruan and Chioke really stood out dressed spectacularly as The Ringmaster and Thomas Jefferson.  We ended the night by the fire outside and decided to change it up a bit.

Oh, Minotaur Fur! Cozy.

Cutest story of the night came from Tiffany and Ashley, our darling neighbors that live across the street from us.  They both came as bloody, zombie doctors.  They were looking to liven up their costumes with blood stains and didn’t have any red food coloring – the conversation went something like this:

Tiffany – “I said to Ashley, you know who will definitely have food coloring?”
Ashley – “Uh, Patti?”
Tiffany – “Yes! But lets see if we can make it ourselves. We have some red candies to top cupcakes with. We can melt them down with a little corn syrup and water.”
Ashley & Tiffany – “Patti would be so proud of us!”

And so I was. They looked great. So great that a spartan wanted an exam, so I pulled Tiffany out of there. We were both grateful. LOL.

From there, Eric and I took our leave. Walking home in the misty moonlight with our shadows reflecting on the sidewalk, the Minotaur and Medusa cuddled up and called it a night.

Hope your Halloween was special. Because you are special to me.

xoxo, Patti

A Night Out With My Delicate Flowers

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Oh Darlings, this week has been a flurry of activity!  What with getting ready for Halloween (almost done with Eric’s costume!) and all our other events.  Crystal and I took some time to breathe deep and enjoy a night out with our wonderful friend Kathryn, who just finished the 3 Day Walk for Cancer (20 miles per day!)  Our destination – The Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  Now, I have lived in Atlanta on and off since 1992 and have never been here.  Oh, what I’ve been missing!  And Kathryn chose this night so we could watch the Chefs Pumpkin Carving Contest.  Kevin Gillespie of this season’s Top Chef was one of the competitors (we saw him in the lobby after the challenge and he looked beat).  But there was so much more than that to see.  Custom Scarecrows dotted the landscape with their spooky and funny personalities.  I have just got to share with you.

First one up – A giant panda with a giant cupcake!

A dragon made from recycled cans

“Will work for food”

Me, with the cooking crow lady

Very hungry pumpkin baby

Pumpkins all laid out for carving

Part of the Henry Moore Exhibit

My favorite photo of the evening
One pink lady’s slipper

One of the pumpkin entries


What does any of this have to do with cooking? Well, not a whole lot. But we did see Kevin Gillespie from Top Chef and lots of those scarecrows involved food or cooking (Atlantans love to eat!)  We girls just wandered around, catching up with each other and getting to know Kat’s friend Gabrielle.

I arrived home after 9pm – Eric was just winding down from his workday.  Neither of us had eaten. What’s for dinner?  I’ll tell you what’s for dinner – pappardelle and boar ragu, that’s what.

Remember my advice about a stocked pantry?  We were sitting down to a gourmet dinner in less than 15 minutes.

Today – making lunches with Lisa at her Cabbagetown Market – come say hi!

xoox, Patti

A Feast for the Senses – Homemade Pie and French Onion Soup

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

UPDATE: Read more about our Pie Off at my friend Mr. Tim’s blog

Happy Sunday, Darlings.  Saturday was so wonderful. Just a perfect day.  I got up early to make my sweet potato pie for the neighborhood pie off. Eric got up very soon after (on a Saturday!)  There was a park dedication across the street from our house with a cookout and live music, as well as the pie off at Tim and Becky’s house.  The pie off is well loved by our neighborhood and this was the second annual. Becky made everything look so beautiful and the pies were so spectacular that every photo was fab.  Let’s share:

BBQ on the park

Waiting for the contest to start
(there I am in the green sweater and pink scarf)

Pies awaiting judgement

The categories were sweet and savory

Miss Becky’s Incredible Key Lime Pie

My darling boys, Taruan & Chioke, enjoying pie<

Our bestie, Jeff, who would kill me if he knew I put his photo up – Shhh.

Someone liked my pie!

Kids love pie

This is still such a new contest that all the rules and regulations are still being set. When I first brought my pie to Tim and Becky’s house, I was told to write the type of pie on a card so no one would know who made it.  Then it was decided to have a “Parade of Pies” for all the contestants.  Um….wouldn’t everyone know who we were if were parading with our pies? Lol. I love our little small town neighborhood that lives under the guise of being “big city.”  Today we were all Mayberry.

The winner? I am thrilled to announce that it was my darling Crystal, whose ginger pear pie made everyone swoon. And it was adorable to boot! Take a look:

Contestants awaiting voting results
(Isn’t Becky adorable in her polka dot hostessing apron?)

And now, let me introduce to you, your Pie Off Queen for 2009 – Miss Crystal!

Hooray for Crystal! And hooray for all of us getting to eat pie! It was a blast.

But there was a costume at home waiting to be built. Eric and I headed home (it’s so great to have a neighborhood where we can walk to all our friend’s homes), saying hello here and there to various neighbors all enjoying the day.
Eric and I spent a good part of the early evening cutting patterns and sewing this beast of a costume. It was so much fun to have a quiet evening with just the two of us puttering around, making a furry mess of the house.  When it came time for dinner, we both knew we were making onion soup and just couldn’t wait.

The onions prepped, butter and oil melted in the pan – the phone rings.  I had been waiting to hear from friend and neighbor Tracy to call me so I could help her into her Elvira costume for a party she was attending.  Eric was so great to watch over the soup so I could run across the street to play dress up for a minute.  Here’s a pic of Tracy.  Doesn’t she look amazing?

Tracy as Elvira at the party

With Tracy all tucked into her dress, wig and shoes, my work here was done.  Home to Eric, two cuddly dogs and onion soup.  I didn’t realize I had been gone an hour (girl talk!) and my darling had tenderly watched over our dinner. The house smelled delectable!  And my sweetheart was so sweet to take pictures of the process – he’s so wonderful! Some foodie photos for you:

Starting the onions

Yummy, Carmelized Veggies

Action Shot! Stirring in the beef stock

Simmering for three hours

Time to Eat!

Holy Toledo, it was good. We used Julia Child’s recipe and couldn’t understand why she didn’t include more herbs and spices. How could we have tried to second guess Julia? She’s always right. This soup, with its croutons of Tuscan bread and shredded gruyere was perfection.  My darling served up the soup and we ate while watching my Gators beat Mississippi State.  Eric even cleaned the kitchen as I finished watching the game.  That, my darlings, is the perfect husband.

And the end to a perfect day.

Warm yourselves up with some soup and some pie. You will have a huge smile on your face. And I love it when you smile.

xoox, Patti

Monster Fingers and Movie Night

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Yesterday was a favorite type of day. Scheduled to make cookies with my friend Dawn and her little one, Megan.

But best laid plans – Dawn had a family emergency and could not make it.  I had just put together the sugar cookie dough for our afternoon.  Hmmmm….we had folks coming over for movie night and I had a bundle of candy, snacks and popcorn.  How about one more treat?

I saw online where someone had made finger cookies. So cute. I only wish I can remember where I saw it so I could give them credit.

Anyhoo, I shaped the dough into fingers and topped the fingernails with raspberry jam. Don’t they look cool?

Ohhh, spooky!

Tray full of spooky!

I baked them at what I thought would be the appropriate time and temperature, but they took longer than I expected. A lot longer.  And how did I not expect them to expand like crazy? Like any cookie would.  What I ended up with was what Miss DeVore called “Monster Fingers”.  Or “Ogre Fingers” – I like that one, too.

Oh! You would like to see a picture of the finished product? Well, ok.

Even scarier Monster Fingers

So, my advice to you, if you choose to make these, is use very small pieces of dough.  Roll them very long and skinny and they should look more like people fingers. But monster fingers are fun.

Last night at movie night we previewed Drag Me To Hell from Sam Raimi. Campy, funny and sometimes scary.  There were 10 of us nibbling on Halloween Candy, Swedish Fish, Twizzlers, Monster Fingers, Cajun Trail Mix and of course, Popcorn.  A fun night was had by all.

We had three snack stations so no one had to wait

More snacks and party favors

Today, we are off to the neighborhood Pie Contest, in which I am entering a Sweet Potato Pie. Yum. I will report back on all the pie-y goodness.

Make your Saturday count!

xoxo, Patti