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A Collection of Vintage Bottles

A collection can be really anything. My main thought with a collection is that is makes the collector happy. There is the thrill of the hunt, then there is the elation of living with your finds. Integrating them into your life. Certainly a collection can just live on a shelf and be enjoyed visually. But I like to use our collections in our day to day. This Hawthorne stay we have been loving using some of the vintage bottles we have collected over the years. Some are French, some from England and many snatched up on trips throughout the US over the years. They most always are quite thick and I am most happy when they are embossed with letters. Often they have the place where they are made, as well as the name of the maker. Our love of letters & fonts comes out in this collection. Putting them into action is the most fun part. A bloom, a stem of leaves, herbs–they all get top billing. This stay I lined them up behind the kitchen sink and used things from around the property. Little hits of color to catch the eye as you wash up dishes or cook away.



 

 

Risotto with Fresh Asparagus & Peas

Fresh asparagus has been popping up at tons of places we have been shopping this last week. I grabbed the best looking bundle from the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store the other day, as a hankering for risotto had set in. Little did I know that the day I was going to make It world be close to 90 degrees. The process of stirring was a bit like being in a sauna, but by the time the sun set, the back screened porch had started to cool down and we enjoyed our meal out there while the crickets serenaded us. Was not finding fresh peas yet, so went with my old stand-by of a really high quality frozen bag. Opt for the larger, non-petit size. They really work pretty wonderfully in risotto. If you can find fresh, by all means use them. For the asparagus, chose the thicker the better. They hold up nicely when mixed into the hot rice. I cut them up first and roasted on a sheet pan at 400 degrees mixed with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Pull out while still a bit firm, as they will continue to cook later in the risotto. I took out all the tops and reserved in a separate bowl, as they look nice on top of the individual risotto servings at the very end.

Heat up the 8 cups of stock to not quite a boil, then turn down the heat a bit, but the stock should remain hot thru the entire risotto cooking process. Next, and here is where I like to use a good sized Le Creuset pot for cooking the risotto in, add a liberal dose of butter and cook a diced onion and shallot till they are not quite brown. Then add a good amount of olive oil to that, along with 2 cups of Arborio rice. Coat the rice with the butter and oil mixture, and sauté for a minute or two to cook through, but don’t brown the rice. All of the above is done over medium heat, but stove tops vary greatly, so adjust accordingly.

Now the liquids begin. Add one cup of white wine to the mixture. I like to use a white that we will be serving with the meal. Stir rice till the wine is absorbed. The depth of flavor the wine adds to the finished product is really noticeable.

Now the waiting hot stock takes center stage. Add one cup of stock to the mixture, stirring till the stock is fully absorbed. What holds many folks back about making risotto is there is a good amount of stirring involved. A constant stir is not necessary, but pretty close. This is where the white wine you opened comes in quite nicely. Sipping a little white wine during the risotto making process is a personal favorite–it is my break from stirring. Continue adding the hot stock one cup at a time, and the rice will become creamier as you go, as it releases the natural starches. Add the 7th cup of stock. At this point, you will be about 20 to 25 minutes into the rice cooking process. You are almost there.

Now add the bag of peas. It does not need to be completely unfrozen as the peas will defrost the moment they hit the hot rice. Stir. Now add the waiting asparagus pieces on the waiting sheet pan. Add a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir. Turn off the heat. Add another cup of stock. Stir. Add a dusting of salt & fresh ground black pepper. Stir. Put on the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes, have another sip of your white wine, as we are almost done. Once that 5 minutes has passed, give it one last stir, adding a bit more stock so it is nice and creamy. In a bowl add the risotto mixture, then add the asparagus tops to each bowl and finally a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan. A bit of work, but that will all fade away when you have your first bite.



 

 

The Table Is Set

A busy week awaits with a mix of family & friends, dinners and graduation party. Getting the table set in the morning when the house is quiet always helps relax me and takes the stress away from having to do it later in the day when the task list is longer and we are scurrying around before guests arrive. This table is layered with new treats from this stay. CoCo in Portland sent the most glorious majolica plates as a ‘just because’ gift the other day that set the tone right out the gate. The faux bois planter the latest find from my Trade Secrets outing in CT last week-end, and a French green ceramic candlestick from KRB when we were in the city helps light the way. Little pots of scented geranium with the sweetest pink blooms dropped into buckets added a bit of contrasting color. Ferns, Italian parsley and mint add a bit more natural green. Then all that is needed to complete the table before the first knock on the door is to light the candles and away we go.



 

 

On the Menu, a Heavy Dose of Greens, Please

Each Hawthorne visit, a few new goodies from the shop make their way into our suitcase. That helps add that layered ‘collected over time’ look & feel we both like so much. This trip it was the trellis placemats and the large gingham napkins I kept eyeing every time I walked by the display at the First & Spring shop.

The green ribbon orb a gift from our friend, the artist Denise Fiedler, also made its way cross country in our bag. White lilacs from caretaker Bill’s property that he brought over the day after we arrived as he knows how much I like them. Then a variety of other green things pulled from the cabinets and dinner for two was served.



 

 

Crazy for Lilacs 

When we drove up to the house the other evening, the first thing that caught my eye was the overflowing lilac bush. Caretaker Bill had sent me a photo days before of it, but seeing it in person had me almost weepy it was so abundant. I hopped out of bed early yesterday morning with the excitement of filling up the house with them. TPS went to work cutting bunches & bunches and soon the heady scent filled not only the spaces, but my heart. Here are a few spots they landed. Happy Flower Friday all!







 

 

Enveloped in Green

After a many hour delay spent hanging out in the Milwaukee Airport we had a smooth flight to New York and a rainy ride up to Hawthorne arriving late last night. The greens of the house enveloping us with a big hug. Lots of fun stuff on the docket this stay. The above image of parsley from the Hawthorne Valley Farm. Seemed pretty fitting & perfect in every way. Oh, and the lilacs are looking pretty darn swell! Sending love from the Hudson Valley, T2+B



 

 

The Gift of Lilacs

We were given these lovely lilacs as a gift the other day. My mind went instantly to setting a supper table for two around them. The Barbara Eigen vase would be the perfect vessel for the blooms which set the ‘green’ theme. Then it was just pulling things and piecing them all together. Setting a table is very much like putting together a puzzle. The only difference is you get to decide whether the pieces fit or not.

I had someone ask me on Instagram after I posted one of these images if we ever just warmed up a TV dinner? Which totally made me smile, as I loved them when I was a kid. We both love to cook so we don’t, but we do order out often. Even then, I like to set a table. The world and life has become so busy, I find the ritual of it slows down time. Then we get to sit and enjoy the meal, time slows even further. 



 

 

The Gloriousness That Is The Camellia

Flower Friday, brings us these awesome camellia that were brought by dinner guests last Friday. The ruffly blooms still going strong a week later. The petals so white and paper thin against the super green leaves that are as hearty as all get out–loving that contrast. A simple Barbara Eigen vase their home set against the green wall. I smile every time I walk past them. A lovely, lovely week-end to you all. X, T



 

 

Green & Blue 

They always stop me in my tracks. The above tulips with the big green streaks, just stunning. There was one bucket of them at the Alm Hills Gardens stall in the Market on Saturday morning, so I snatched up the better part of them for our week-end out on the island.

Things tend to be pretty red, white and blue out there, but this time green took the front seat. I have always been a lover of blue and green together. Think the sky and grass and off we go. I pulled a bunch of blue plates, bowls, silverware and glassybaby and we were set. The combo has a freshness to it. As the rain pours down outside as I type, I will longingly think of this as a Springtime combination. With a little sunshine tossed in too!



 

 

Inspiration in Green

With the arrival of Spring, I find myself craving green even more than usual. The varying vibrant full of life hue brings a jolt of energy after a long season of cold, snow and rain. For many of you back East hit with snow again, oh my, I hope this post brings thoughts of the burst of green buds and all the good green stuff, real soon.