Curried Corn Soup

 

Years ago, one of my most eagerly anticipated days at the holidays was a trip to the little town of Coventry, Connecticut, for a visit to Caprilands Herb Farm. My dear friend Catherine Reischer and I would drive to Adelma Grenier Simmon’s 18th century farmhouse, surrounded by fifty acres of fields and woods.

 

 

Adelma was the owner of the herb farm she named for the purebred goats she once raised there–capra is latin for goat. As time went by she converted the rocky land to an herb farm, and her home became a cafe and visitor’s center. Adelma is gone now, and the farm she loved is being converted to a non-profit center called Caprilands Institute, and is open only by appointment.

 

 

I still have several of the books she wrote, and the recipe for the delicious Curried Corn Soup she served at her luncheons. It’s not for the diet-conscious, but it’s perfect for a chilly November day.

 

 

CURRIED CORN SOUP

1/4 lb. butter

1 tbsp. curry powder

1 tsp. powdered freeze-dried shallots

2 1-lb. cans cream style corn

1 1-lb. can whole corn

2 cups cream, warmed

1/8 tsp ground rosemary

2 tbsp. chopped chives

Melt butter in pan, add curry, stir until smooth. Add shallots, then corn, stirring slowly; then cream and rosemary. Garnish with chives. (Evaporated milk or half-and-half may be substituted for cream.) Serves 8.

This is a delicious indulgence. Enjoy!

Sailors for the Sea

 

I have always loved the sea. The ocean is a source of peace and strength for me. The beauty of its waves, beaches, animals and plants has been my design inspiration for years. My love for our oceans is part of my passion for creating homes that support our health and well-being, and that respect the fragile ecosystem around us.

 

 

My eco-elegant color palette often includes the infinite blues of sea and sky, the velvety greys of the fog, the bleached white of seashells, the sandy beige of the beaches, and the soft greens of pine trees and bayberries for island or coastal homes.

 

 

No wonder, then, that when I learned about the organization Sailors for the Sea, I knew I had to support their work, and share their message. A new friend who serves on their Board of Directors, Vin Cipolla, introduced me to Sailors for the Sea, explaining that their mission is to unite boaters to save the ocean. According to scientists and environmental groups, our oceans are in trouble:

 

 

The 8 million tons of plastic waste that enters the ocean each year? That’s the equivalent of about 1.5 million cars. While battling these problems is a formidable task, Sailors for the Sea refuses to be daunted by the challenge. Through four primary programs, Sailors for the Sea is working to reverse the tide of destruction.

 

CLEAN REGATTAS

 

The Clean Regatta Program unites sailors by offering support and resources to protect and conserve the ocean. Regatta organizers are equipped with a sustainability plan to reduce the environmental impact of their event. A “green team” is assembled to plan sustainable initiatives. The number of best practices followed determines a regatta’s certification level.

 

KELP

 

Kids Environmental Lesson Plans help children understand the oceans’ influence on them, and their influence on the ocean. The goal is to help today’s children become empowered as tomorrow’s ocean stewards. Lesson plans include topics such as Catching Fish; Beaches, Bays and Rivers;  Living Underwater; and Aquatic Animals. The KELP program wants children to know and love the ocean before we ask them to save it.

 

OCEAN WATCH

 

Ocean Watch is a resource where dozens of informative articles on topics such as ocean wind power, boat disposal, the loss of Lion fish, and how to save turtles are made available to the public. Knowledge is power!

 

GREEN BOATING GUIDE

 

Sailors for the Sea provides a free, downloadable guide for boaters, filled with critical information for everyone from the smallest boaters to the largest mega-yachts. Topics include: Pollution Prevention, Reducing Your Impact, Eco-Friendly Products, Greening Your Getaway, Wildlife and Habitat Protection, and Boat Maintenance. As someone famous once said, “When we know better, we do better.”

 

 

There are all kinds of ways to get involved and support Sailors for the Sea. My husband, Frank, and I have contributed as Ocean Guardians. Our participation with this wonderful organization is part of our commitment to give back to the ocean communities that sustain us, and that we love.

 

 

The American naturalist Henry Beston once said that “The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach.” Sailor for the Sea’s wish–and mine–is that everyone who hears the sound of the ocean may one day be assured that the water rushing to shore is clean, and remains a rich environment for all the wild things under and around its waves.

 

 

I hope you’ll join the more than 1.3 million people engaged with Sailors for the Sea. And “be the change you want to sea.”

 

 

Welcoming Your Holiday Guests With Style: Part One

 

Thanksgiving is a day, an event, and a feeling we evoke by how we present a single meal to the people we love.

 

 

One of the joys is the repetition of traditions year after year, with family members who travel from near and far to come together under one roof. We all love to see Grandma’s china, the silver brought from the old country, the crystal goblets that were wedding gifts, the green bean casserole that doesn’t taste the same any other time of the year.

 

 

Welcoming your guests with style, though, sometimes means rethinking what makes a home a sanctuary, and what makes a table setting a delight. From flowers in the foyer to cozy nooks arranged for quiet time with a book and a cup of tea, blending old traditions with new ones allows the family to grow and change. And that’s exactly as it should be.

 

 

I want to share with you some of the special touches I’ve enjoyed creating for both my clients and my own family. I also want to introduce you to the floral artist I turn to for special occasions: Adam Manjuck, owner of Flowers and Flowers in Darien, Connecticut. He’s spent years creating gorgeous floral and foliage displays for his clients, and specializes in going into their homes and decorating every room with beauty and elegance. He’ll return to Holistic House next month to share even more decorating ideas for the season’s best holiday displays!

 

 

So come in, get comfortable, and let’s talk turkey!

 

 

Throughout your home, beginning at the doorstep, engaging all the senses creates a festive frame of mind. Adam points out that when people enter his shop, they are immediately aware of the rich mix of fragrances, from green growing things and soil to the delicate scent of bouquets of flowers left out for visitors to touch, smell, and enjoy.

 

 

“People are enchanted by the bountifulness and the mingled smells in the shop,” Adam explains. And one of his touch points for holiday decorating for his clients is to create an enticing bounty of fragrance and beauty at home. Our sense of smell can take us back in time, or keep us firmly in the present moment. Adam likes to blend the earthy smells of cinnamon and eucalyptus in addition to floral scents.

 

 

Adam continues: “Thanksgiving isn’t all about the table. We do accent pieces around the house, too. The entry way and the powder room are perfect spots for another splash of flowers and foliage. But the table at Thanksgiving is the experience.”

 

 

Adam and I agree that it’s key to have the right sized centerpiece! Candles and flowers that are in the way don’t work! Adam says: “It’s either high or low–not in between.” Guests should be able to see each other and converse easily around the table. No one likes to leave the table with a stiff neck from dodging the flowers to talk to Uncle Ned.

 

 

Choose a theme and then don’t be afraid to pull in items that aren’t, strictly speaking, made for dining. The seaside dining tableau, below, used the brilliant shades of orange, blue and white to sing a song of the sea. Napkins were held with rings of polished abalone shells, and tiny seascape Battersea enamel boxes were scattered across the table to set an ocean wavy mood. Whimsical items show your personality and are often conversation starters for guests as they get to know their seat mates. The vintage Murano glass, with its soft tints of amber and green, are a bit of cherished history.

 

 

Bone-handled flatware pairs perfectly with Hering Berlin hand-painted porcelain. 

 

 

You don’t always need elaborate decorations; sometimes a simple soup tureen can be an eye-catching focal point, especially on Thanksgiving when it’s shaped like a pumpkin.

 

 

Don’t automatically reach for a vase to hold flowers. The ivy twining around the table above was cut in my garden just that morning, and was the perfect touch.

 

 

Vintage serving pieces, bowls, and even fish bottles can make charming receptacles for flowers. Use the things you love–just arrange them in a slightly different way, and add a spray of ferns, olive branches, or dried grasses to create a stunningly original centerpiece.

 

 

Adam explains that he likes to use the homeowner’s containers instead of generic bowls or vases for his displays. Especially at Thanksgiving, there are sentimental pieces that should be in a place of honor. “Mom and Grandma like to come and see the piece they gave to my client,” he says.

 

 

When filling those bowls, his focus is on abundance. “I use lots of foliage,” he says. “You can add flowers and a candle to something low and long that elongates the table. I like trilogies–one larger display flanked by two smaller ones. You can put candles in between. But everyone needs to have something pretty in front of them!”

 

 

Just as in designing interiors, where texture can add another level of interest, Adam believes in texture and something unexpected. He might tuck in antique hydrangeas, chocolate cymbidium orchids, or seeded eucalyptus.

 

 

African pods are another favorite for shape, texture, and color!

 

 

The beauty of a single flower shouldn’t be overlooked. The Swedish philosophy of “Lagom,” meaning “just the right amount–not too much, not too little,” encourages selecting one beautiful item for contemplation. A single spray of flowers can be just the right touch.

 

 

In the same way, a fall leaf can be the simple touch that’s just enough.

 

 

Whatever you do, don’t overlook a special place of honor for the desserts. We created this display one year for the historic Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Connecticut. The Victorians knew that the richness of desserts deserved a rich setting as well!

 

 

However you begin the holiday season, I hope you’ll find comfort, warmth, and joy with your family and friends as you collect new memories. See you next month at Holistic House for Part II of Welcoming Your Holiday Guests with Style!