My mom and my grandma are the kind of women who keep a formal dining room for special occasions, complete with fine china, starched white table clothes, and centerpieces to set the mood. Grandma has a large hutch in her dining room, full to bursting with her dishes and silver, with enough place settings to always have enough. Mom kept hers high out of reach in our tallest cupboards. Their tables set for holiday dinners held an aura of elegance that called for reverence and decorum and made the meal an occasion.
I love the symbolism of table settings and fine china. Putting out our finest so that all are welcome, each has a place. For some, they are passed down through generations, a family's finest possession. Others are given, almost as a right of passage, as young couples start their new home and life together.
And have you seen Manners of Downton Abbey? Edwardian tables are so beautifully intricate and precise!
I remember registering for my own table settings. I've heard that "12 is too many, 8 is too few," but I somehow ended up with three sets of plates. I can't imagine what my thinking was in keeping them all! 8 White place settings for everyday? 8 Yellow for special occasions? And the last set? If I remember correctly, they were a gift given months later, without a gift receipt, not from the registry, and too darling to part with. And so, with my mother and grandmother as my example, I have stored and cared for my many plates, moving them from state to state, and utilizing them for dinner parties inspired by the visions of my childhood.
Matt incredulously guffawed when I told him how many people I had invited to our little Thanksgiving dinner party. I couldn't help it- it's part of who I am! As it turned out though, several people had to cancel last minute, and we were easily and comfortably able to fit everyone in our home.
We set two tables with full place settings, and created our centerpieces out of our homegrown pumpkins and a treat of beautiful fall flowers for our centerpieces. I couldn't resist the colors and variety!
We cooked, cleaned, and set-up all day- but I truly loved every minute, so reminiscent of generations and traditions of beautiful and lovingly prepared tables and menus.
I love that this is something we do together. I almost think Matt enjoys it as much as I do!
And since we hope to host many such evenings in our home, we added some folding chairs to our reserve. They were happily on sale, thank you very much, and I'm very pleased with them!
Each of our guests brought something to share, and our big contributions were the turkey, stuffing, and rolls. Matt makes a mouth-watering turkey, bathed in a ethereal brine, stuffed with aromatic fall flavors, and massaged with a buttery, pecan, deep fried sage rub. Yum.
The recipe everyone was asking for was Matt's stuffing. If you've never had real stuffing made from scratch (although not actually stuffed), it makes all the difference. This year he used sourdough bread and the recipe was perfection.
My can't-have-Thanksgiving-without-them recipe has to be my grandma's white rolls. They are home to me. The women in my family have made thousands of these rolls throughout their life times, and mine are getting better and better with each attempt. I think I will make some more for real Thanksgiving and share the recipe as my treat to you!