4.27.2009

Fiesta Ware

Here at Holly’s Diner, we serve everything (on the indoors tables, anyway) on Fiesta Ware. I love all the Fiesta Ware – navy, chartreuse, sunflower, yellow, tangerine, white, black, plum, rose, red, grey, turquoise and light blue.

It all started with my Aunt Rose in 2000 and a summer trip to Vermont. On that trip, Aunt Rose went shopping one day and came back with plates and saucers in rose and chartreuse. As I recall, the colors were both on clearance because they were being discontinued. She gave the rose to me and the chartreuse to SS’s cousin Widge. I was very happy that, first, I now had some Fiesta Ware and, second, that I had the rose color from Aunt Rose - I knew she was a major collector - although, I really loved the chartreuse color. So a few days later when we went to town, I exchanged the rose saucers for the chartreuse. I carried all eight plates and eight saucers on the flight home, so they would not get broken or lost – no packing and shipping for me!

I got home with my rose colored plates and chartreuse colored saucers, and was on a quest to fill-in with a few other pieces in more colors. I decided to focus on one color for each additional piece – soup bowls in yellow, large bowls in navy, saucers in tangerine, etc. I found some pieces at department store sales, some pieces at Pic N’ Save (believe it or not!), some pieces at garage sales and a few presents along the way.

I don’t use the rose colored plates much anymore, simply because the food just looks better on the navy and chartreuse. But I love that those pieces are in the kitchen and remind me of my Aunt Rose every time I open the cupboard…and my sister-in-law when I look at the red butter dish I was dying for one Christmas, and my step-mom when I serve on the navy and chartreuse plates, and my SRF when I pull out the plum chili bowls from the cupboard.

Most of all, it just makes me so happy to open the cupboard and see all the colors, all the choices to plate the food on and present on the table.

4.18.2009

The Perfect Crust

On my continuing quest for the perfect pizza crust, I tried a new recipe last night. As luck would have it, it was the best crust BY FAR to date, and NO ONE was at the Diner to share it - with not even HH!

This recipe came from the inaugural issue of the Food Network Magazine (October 2008) and was developed by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Although the Barefoot Contessa is not always my favorite, but I thought the recipe looked a bit better than what I had been following and was worth a try. Now there were a couple of dilemmas, the first was that it called for white flour only and I really wanted to do a whole wheat crust, but I thought I would try it. The second dilemma was that it took me about three reads through the recipe to finally find the oven temperature, and I never did find a cook time – so I went with 25 minutes with one turnoff the pizza at the mid point, from experience.

This recipe had a longer mix time than previous attempts, it required a bit of kneading, had white flour only (not by preferred wheat), and a higher cook temperature (500˚). After a bit of cooling, so I didn’t burn my mouth, the crust was cooked through. I didn’t have to pre-cook the crust before putting the toppings on and them cook some more, like I have had to do in the past. As I enjoyed the fruits of my labor, I got the crust and there was actually a bit of internal separation or “rise”! That had not happened in any previous attempts!

So next time you stop by the Diner, ask for the pizza if it is on the menu, I think this one is a “keeper!”

4.11.2009

Garage Saling

It’s Saturday, garage saling morning at Holly’s Diner. I’ve been garage saling for a long time. First with my dad and step-mom, then with HH – fortunately we both like garaging saling! And it seems we are always on the look out for something, along with those items we just can’t-live-without.

For a number of years I searched garage sales and thrift stores for a set of Pyrex bowls, from the 1960’s I think, they are one red, one blue, one green, one yellow. I would find one or two occasionally, but never all four. I would find a more current edition, but I wanted the classic ones. I found a few at antique stores, but they wanted more money than I wanted to spend. I even discovered after my grandma died that she had a big yellow one, but not the rest of the set.

So, on one of my visits to my friends Art & Donna’s, I came back from the thrift store and Donna asked me what I was searching for. I opened her kitchen cupboard, pointed to her set of beautifully loved Pyrex bowls and said “This. I’m looking for a set just like this, the classic kitchen mixing bowl set.” She pulled the set out of her cupboard and handed them to me. “Here,” she said. I told her I couldn’t, they were her’s. She said that she had another partial set and that it was not a big deal. That this set was actually one she and Art received as a wedding present some 40 years earlier. With that, I adamantly refused and walked out of the kitchen. “Donna, I appreciate the offer, but I can’t take your bowls. I admire them so much, but will find a set of my own.”

By the end of that visit, the bowls were packed and ready for me to take home. She said she would rather someone who would really use them and cherish them to enjoy them know, rather than wait until and have someone not see their value later. I love those bowls, and think of Donna every time I use them. Thank you Donna.

That was the end of my garage sale search for bowls. But I have found other wonderful treasures at garage sales. Like my brand-new spring green ramekin from William Sonoma for 10 cents. And the stainless steel egg pan in perfectly good condition for 25 cents. How about the Kitchen Aid black counter top mixer in fine working order and condition for $40. And most recently the four piece, six settings of Fiestaware in white, navy and chartreuse for $10 – my step-mom found those for me!

As you know, Mastering the Art of French Cooking is my next quest.