Easter Entertaining: Recipes and Recollections

The Lingenfelsers hosted a traditional Easter Sunday dinner for family in Claxton, Georgia.
After church, a traditional Easter Sunday dinner is served at the Lingenfelser home in Claxton, Georgia.

 

Few things bring me greater joy than entertaining family and friends around my kitchen table. Easter Sunday was such an occasion. I hosted dinner for my parents and sweet in-laws, plus my husband’s beloved Aunt Polly. From Ina Garten’s Coconut Cake to deviled eggs and brown sugar-mustard glazed ham, our celebratory feast was Some Kinda Good, and as Southern and traditional as it gets. Continue reading “Easter Entertaining: Recipes and Recollections”

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Inspiration for Your Christmas Table Décor

wpid-20131216_201900.jpgA well dressed table is like a well put together outfit. It makes the kitchen feel complete and invites conversation. Y’all know how I feel about Table Talk and Family Ties, and no holiday would suffice without a properly outfitted place to dine. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen some really over-the-top centerpieces, and just like Ina Garten says, “When people start talking about tablescapes, that makes me crazy.” My style is mindful of the budget and inspired by nature, with a few items from around the house. In this post, I’ll provide you with a few tips for creating a sophisticated and simple ambiance this holiday season, using my kitchen table as an example.

wpid-20131216_202122.jpgMy table is square, so I used a long table runner right down the center of it. I gathered a few jars of varying heights from my cabinets, like jam and Mason jars, then staggered votive candles on either side of them down the length of the runner. Instead of purchasing flowers, which can be costly and require upkeep, I opted to trim a few stems from my holly berry plant in the yard. I divided the berries and some greenery among the jars. The berries cost me nothing, and they coordinate with my Christmas china and the table runner perfectly!

wpid-20131216_201937.jpgI layered some of my tree trimmings in between the candles and jars, then tucked in little red and gold ornaments to give the table that extra special touch. Pine cones or acorns would also be fun to include. 

wpid-20131216_202055.jpgDon’t forget Santa and Mrs. Claus! My festive salt and pepper shakers make an appearance every year after Thanksgiving. “He sees you when your sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…”

wpid-20131216_201953.jpgThese are the most important things to remember about table decor:
1) Always use unscented candles. You don’t want artificial scents competing with the food.
2) Centerpieces should be conversation friendly. Use either low centerpieces like my jars or tall, slender and clear vases that don’t obstruct conversation. There’s nothing like sitting down to a meal and not being able to see the person across from you. Awkward.
3) Leave your guests with room to breathe. If you’re dining family style, be sure to leave room for casserole and side dishes, and the main course. An overcrowded table feels cramped and stressful. 

wpid-PhotoGrid_1387246024119.jpgThe only thing that will make this table better is good food and good company. After all, that’s what it’s all about!

How is your table decorated? What tips would you add to my list?

wpid-20131209_193349.jpgHappy entertaining and Merry Christmas y’all, from me and Ewok.

Table Talk and Family Ties

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Our Easter Sunday dinner spread of pork tenderloin, mayonnaise biscuits, cream corn, fried okra, sautéed zucchini and squash, macaroni and cheese and pound cake with sweet iced tea.

We all know the saying, “If these walls could talk,” but if my family’s kitchen table could speak–boy, could it tell some stories. I’m fortunate enough to have been raised eating around the family table, and every day I’m thankful my parents made it a priority.

From left: Daddy, cousin Justin and Grandma Dot. Mama, the ultimate hostess, scurries in the background ensuring everyone is taken care of.
From left: Daddy, cousin Justin and Grandma Dot. Mama, the ultimate hostess, scurries in the background ensuring everyone is taken care of.

In homes across the world, the kitchen table, much like the front porch, is an iconic, central hub, especially in the American South. Formal dining rooms are different. I’m talking about the table in our eat-in kitchens–the one we cook just steps away from, where we stack our bills at the end of the day, where kids complete their homework, where the family pet begs for that taste of human food.

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Family gathers in the kitchen to celebrate my Grandma’s 75th birthday.

When I think about the people in my family who’ve sat around that same oak, oval-shaped table year after year–even the loved ones who are no longer with us–and all the abundant food that’s been presented on the table top, when I consider the memories it holds, the conversations it keeps and the prayers its heard, I feel ultimately blessed to have experienced that togetherness and I recognize those are the moments that make a house a home.

Grandma Dot makes a wish on her 78th Birthday.
Grandma Dot makes a wish on her 78th Birthday.
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Enjoying my 26th birthday with my traditional chocolate chip muffin at the kitchen table on April 6, 2009.

It’s around the kitchen table that we’ve celebrated birthday after birthday, eaten holiday meals, opened Mother’s Day cards and decorated Christmas cookies. It’s there every time I visit home. Like an old friend, it’s the one constant that’s part of the family too, ready to welcome us, inviting us to sit for a spell and stay a while. There, I eat my mom’s homemade chocolate chip muffin with one candle for breakfast each year, there I introduce new friends to the family. It’s the ultimate place boyfriends are bring-home-to-mama-and-daddy tested. We set it with our everyday dishes and fine china. We adorn it with fresh flowers and fruit in its center. There, we hold hands around it and bow our heads to pray.

Without it, home would not be the same.

My mama, Debbie, with Ewok and her Mother's Day tulips.
My mama, Debbie, with Ewok and her Mother’s Day tulips.

Sure, I’m one to curl up on the couch with a bowl of cereal now and then in front of my TV, but nothing beats sitting down to a home-cooked meal and a place set just for you, to share good food with the people you know and who know you and where you came from.

So much of my life has taken place at the family table and often, it’s the memories associated with that central element that have created the values and traditions I cherish today.

So here’s to you table….and thanks.

What’s your take on the family table? Can you relate?