Showing posts from August, 2009

Easy Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

I have long since stopped expecting an answer when I ask Ron what he would like for dinner - but to my surprise(!) tonight he suggested he would like some meatballs.

I had ground beef on hand, homemade bread crumbs, fresh parsley, dried sage and dried black and shitake mushrooms.  I combined the meat, fresh herbs, bread crumbs, anchovy paste, lemon and garlic; gently pan-fried the meatballs in olive oil and removed them to paper towels while I made a quick sauce.

To make a rich gravy, I soaked the dried mushrooms for a half-hour-until a dark, robust flavor and color developed in the warm water.  A half cup of the mushroom water was blended into 2 tablespoons of the reserved olive oil.  I whisked together 1/8 cup warm water with 2 tablespoons of Bisto (Beef) and added it to the mushroom water.  I eventually added the soaked mushrooms in the final stage of cooking.

A little red wine, a teaspoon of espresso powder, a pinch of salt and, finally, I added the cooked meatballs back to the sau…

Pan-Fried Chicken With Risotto

Just a little hint of coolness in the air and I am transported to one of our favorite Tuscan villages, Terranouva.

We have traveled to Tuscany several times in early fall to catch a great airfare deal but it has become one of our favorite times to visit Italy.

There are all sorts of festivals, including Perugia's chocolate festival- positioned between ancient buildings, fabulous museums and, oh yeah. . .lots and lots of chocolate-the only other place I remember anyone ever shoving chocolate at me was in my dreams!

I didn't start the blog to ramble on about chocolate . . . I intended to share this ingenious Knorr product

from the IPER store-Porcini-flavored cubes. I found them last night tucked away in the back of one of my cupboards. I made a pan-fried version of the Pollo Al Mattone and served a delicious risotto with porcini and field greens. It was authentically Tuscan.

Stuck On You!

Besides hoarding beautiful dishes and serveware, I might be a little bit "hoard-ish" of pretty paper. I have a chest of drawers that is filled with some of my favorite scraps.

Martha Stewart sent me a boxful of beautiful paper, rubber stamps and ink after a Lupus Fundraiser back in 1996. After reading an Atlanta Journal article where I was quoted as "wanting to be Martha" when I grew up, I was invited to host Martha at the luncheon and return her safely to Hartsfield Airport after the event wrapped up.

I used some of her beautiful papers to wrap gifts for my friend, Char, before she passed away. She loved beautiful packages!

These magnets that I made for my office represent a gift from Japan and wedding flowers from the pages of an annual wedding book.

The blue-checked paper was in a gift box from Tokyo,Japan. A lovely family stayed at our B&B for a week before the marriage of their daughter to a young Newnan man. They shared a few of their pre-nuptia…

SWEET Pepper Sauce, Batman!

Friend and fellow blogger, Susan Coggin, generously shared brightly-colored, garden-fresh peppers from Quail Hollow.  My bag was filled with dangerous-looking hot varieties laced with a few sweet peppers.

Alone in my LA-BOR-A-TORY I fired up my bunson burners!  Into the little beakers, I threw a little of this and a little of that!  (Mostly garlic, herbs and spices)

A sugary peach syrup from a previous blog was gently swirled into the smokey beaker and finally, the mixture thickened with the addition of two tablespoons of raspberry jam.

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Limoge Monograms

One of the many reasons I enjoy our old house, even though it continues to be too big for two people, is that I occasionally stumble upon old forgotten trinkets. Yesterday, I opened a cabinet under the staircase and enjoyed some of my beautiful keepsakes-artfully displayed for maximum enjoyment.

I'm looking forward to cooler weather so that I can make the climb into our 1200 sf of attic space. It's hung with old pictures and strewn with boxes of goodies. Bolts of fabric casually piled in a corner remind me of my decorating days in Atlanta-so long ago!

Since I rarely go to the attic it doesn't feel like my space-which makes for a fun afternoon rediscovering box contents and poking through the bolts of pretty fabric.

I enjoy the cabinet under the stairs so much that when it's time to wash the contents I take pictures of the arrangement so that each beautiful piece goes back into its rightful place. Over the next few months I'll share the contents of my cabinet and …

" A Place In The Sun" TV Britian's Channel 4

I received an email about TV show, "A Place In The Sun" and a companion venue, OverSeas Buying Exhibition at the NEC-Birmingham. The exhibition will showcase properties for sale through-out Europe, as well as answer questions about living abroad!

Unfortunatly I can't attend but it definitely sparked some favorite travel memories. I blogged a little about our Birmingham, England trip earlier this spring after stumbling upon on a beautiful costume bracelet scored at the Rag Market held on weekends in Birmingham.

I relunctantly sampled my first kidney pie, loved English bacon and particularly enjoyed the local pubs including Mad O'Rourkes, famous for its "Desperate Dan Cow Pies", complete with horns!

There were so many wonderful surprises in Birmingham, famous for it's "metal" bands of the 80's - including Black Sabbath and Judas Priest.

Totally unfamiliar with Birmingham, the sight of colorful handpainted canal boats drifting along the 174 m…

Mainstreet Newnan Oktoberfest Boutique Tasting

For a complete list of fall events visit

Mystery Peaches

It's hard to believe that these pinky-red beauties are peaches. Back in March I shot beautiful images of the spectacular blooms that laced my pretty little tree! And for the first time since planting the tree I had a treeload of small peaches.

I am having a difficult time identifying the variety and if anyone recognizes the 2 1/2 - 3 inch peach I would appreciate some help!

It could not be a more perfect peach for my taste! Sweet, somewhat firm cling peaches. The flesh is a brilliant pinky-red with a distinct raspberry peach taste! I mean, come on! Perfect on a delicate angel food cake, next year I will take the production much more seriously, ensuring that not one small peach ever hits the ground!

If you remember from my earlier blog, I remembered the name as a King peach-at least part of the name. I remember because my great-grandfather on my mother's side was a King, from Serepta, Louisiana.

The gentleman who plucked my small tree from the wild assured me this was a pr…

Senoia Road Kill Hot Sauce

I love sampling local foodstuffs and around our area we find alot of BBQ Sauces, jellies, bread and butter pickles and occasionally some really great cheeses. Sweet Grass Dairy is one of my favorite artisan cheesemakers and is located in right here in Georgia.

I don't see many hot sauces but I have run across a few great ones. Being a Louisiana girl I'm pretty settled on Louisiana Hot Sauce-perfect for my crispy soft shell crab po-boys and consequently I don't tend to look much further.

One surprise was a few bottles of Chef Boy Hidy Hot Sauce. I met Gary Waters at a party at the Botantical Gardens in Atlanta, years ago. A passionate foodie like myself, "Chef" introduced me to his hot sauce on an episode of Home At Last! Pleasantly hot with a well-rounded taste, I have used and enjoyed every drop of flavorful sauce.

The Senoia Road Kill Hot Sauce is another new one. I found it in a shopping bag after a trip to a friend's antique shop in Senoia. Carriag…


I don't use enough Tahina in a year to pay for a large jar . . .only to watch it turn rancid.

So I create a more relaxed Italian version of a Chick Pea spread that delivers amazing flavor, a rich, smooth texture and loads of vitamins and fiber.

For two cans of Italian chickpeas, I strain the off the liquid, add three to four tablespoons of my homemade garlic oil, add four or five cloves of fresh garlic, 2 tbsp of white sesame seeds, 1 - 2 tsp of sesame oil and a tsp of fresh lemon juice. I use a pinch of kosher salt to round it all out.

I love this milder version. It's so tasty served on top of my fire-roasted bread or as in this picture with my homemade cracker bread.I've topped it with fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes tossed in a little fig balsamic vinegar!

A small grating of pecorino cheese on top! And my husband tells me I have given him new reasons to come home at night!

Hey, whatever it takes!

Favorite Aprons

I was inspired today by an artist friend's blog about her apron-making talent. She designed a pretty retro-style apron and suddenly I was up running for one of my new acquisitions.

I started "my collection" the first year of Home At Last! I still have all my old aprons and have many favorites including . . . a very small delicate apron that belonged to my grandmother.

One of my newest favorites is the one featured in these photos, from Harrod's Department Store. It's laminated and easy to clean. Perfect for baking and BBQ-ing! I picked this up in London after sailing across the Atlanta on the Queen Mary en route to Tuscany! Talk about a relaxing vacation. . .

Six luxurious days aboard a very elegant ship bound for the other side of the big pond. Sigh . . .how I miss our early evenings in the Queen's lounge, sipping cosmos on a buttery leather chesterfield sofa . . .mesmerized by the large, dark gray-green waves lapping up against our ship.

Sunny afternoons we…

European Vacations

As many of you may have noticed I'm not cooking very much these days. (We aren't eating too well, either.)

Renovations of our wonderful old house keep us busy-when we aren't producing or editing for television.

Nearing the end of our stewardship of this fabulous house, we are in the final renovations . . .updating bathrooms-adding much needed storage and general re-decoration.

One of the hidden pleasures of all this hard work is stumbling upon keepsakes from our travels abroad. This hand-painted champagne flute is a perfect example of a great summer vacation spent along the Rhine River in Germany. After discovering UNTours on Oprah we rented a roomy apartment in Baccarach, Germany.

I think we rented our apartment for two weeks-giving us plenty of time to explore, relax and enjoy local history. We attended a summer festival along the Rhine in Bopart, sipped local wines at a 400-year old winery in nearby Cologne and drifted quietly along the Rhine River-experiencing the my…


As the weekend comes to a close, my cracker-making experiment has left me with a couple of observations.

1. I didn't need fancy tools to make delicious crackers.

2. I'm a really messy cook!

3. Practice makes perfect.

Today's cracker making was easier than yesterday. I even developed a few of my own little tricks along the way.
I found hand rolling with a wooden rolling pin to be just as easy as the pasta maker and more fun! I prefer the
irregular shapes over the rectangles.

I also found the pin was useful when I wanted to press the cheese and spice mixture into the dough. My only thought with that . . .make sure you keep the rolling pin well-floured.

I tried my own bread recipe for the dough, today. The Armenian recipe called for as much whole wheat as white. I chose my recipe because it has five flours including white whole wheat and semolina. We agreed it had a lot more flavor.

I also am able to split the recipe for bread or pizza dough. I even had time to mix up (2)5 cu…

I'm Sorry. . .Our Kitchen's Closed

The Estruscan Chicken is delicious! Moist, well cooked and tender. I drizzled the cooked chicken with extra virgin olive oil and served it with lemon wedges.

A simple side of snap beans and goat cheese was the perfect choice! A glass of sparkling Pelligrino water and I could imagine myself sitting in my hillside villa in Tuscany.

After dinner I played with the cracker bread and enjoyed great results. Since it was my first time, I developed my own methods as the process went on. What I found . . .the paper thin is more effort but definitely worth it. I used the 4 - 6 setting on my pasta maker and passed through each setting once. I also started out cutting rectangles but as I tired I tried other shapes-The more rustic it was the better I liked it. I thought the crackers were attractive standing on end-like in my picture. They would be great served at a wine tasting.

The taste and texture are delicate and delicious. I developed two toppings. The plain parmesan cheese and then a …