Saturday, May 2, 2020

A Nostalgic Tablescape of Comfort

As we all face various levels of being quarantined to our homes and grabble with the news of the coronavirus, for me, it is also a time to engage in some reflection, soul-searching and a bit of reminiscing.  Do you find that whenever you face some difficult challenges, you spend some quiet moments unraveling your thoughts like you would when sorting out old memorabilia and nostalgic keepsakes from a timeworn attic trunk?  It is not uncommon for me to draw deep into my memories like the depth of the antique wood trunk where my warm, fuzzy, sentimental thoughts are stored from the past to help me find encouragement, comfort and reassuring hope.

In doing so, it has recently inspired me to create a tablescape from my childhood which captures one kind of these best times...time in my mother's kitchen.  Looking back, I can say with greater realization and appreciation that my mom was an excellent cook.  She spent hours in the kitchen, if not the entire day, cooking up a delicious culinary storm for our large family, friends, neighbors and relatives. Her social gatherings also included exchanges of recipes from other great cooks, some times exchanging recipes written down on scraps of paper like the back of envelopes or grocery receipts or even on paper napkins.  She spent her "free" time in search of new techniques or methods of cooking, baking, freezing, canning or preserving food.  She always sought out the best person with expertise to learn from when experimenting with a new food item, like, for example, her introduction to frog legs, carp, local wild mushrooms and farm-raised bison.  All of these foods were foods we did not have on our regular menu. Therefore, at times such as this, the kitchen was more of a lab for experimentation. The world of food was always open to her and she took every opportunity to explore it.

With that being said, I often remember her very large cottage kitchen with its vintage fruit motif and retro buttercup yellow formica and chrome table.  A kitchen which was every chef's dream because of its abundant space.  One entire kitchen wall was lined with a combination of wood and white metal cabinetry that were decorated with fruit decals and a huge farmhouse style sink.  The enormous size kitchen even included a large oak Hooiser cabinet that I absolutely adored.  I loved the various compartments it held for her stoneware mixing bowls, beverage glasses and her metal flour and sugar canister set.  It included a little compartment with just enough space to hold a deck of cards, Yahtzee dice and papers and a small size candy jar filled with a generous assortment of individually wrapped candy from the one and only candy store from our small, charming town.

It is these treasured times that have encouraged me to design this Nostalgic Tablescape of Comfort to share with you in hope of bringing you some reassurance, consolation and encouragement to reach back into your own past and bring out a happy, cherished memory of comfort of your own.  The metal fruit motif bread box, which is used to hold red geraniums and white peonies as a centerpiece for this table, captures the style of mom's cottage kitchen beautifully.  The cracked handles on the bread box were replaced, but the bread box is in excellent condition.  The use of a red striped ticking tablecloth and vintage red striped placemats summarizes the style of her cheerful vintage kitchen.  Red striped metal enamelware used for the table also reflects the sign of those times too. 

It is only fitting to serve up some fresh fruit such as grapes, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries with some fresh sweet whipped cream as part of our home cooked meal.

A pot of red geraniums and a trowel sticker made a perfect pick to embellish the fruit.

Fresh, sweet strawberries ready for dipping.

I couldn't resist adding the salt and pepper shakers in the shape of watermelon slices to this fruit inspired table.

Of course, watermelon slice napkin rings are a good choice for each place setting which also includes a watermelon slice snack plate.

And what foods might represent those joyous moments which bring plenty of smiles and can warm your heart?  Some crusty homemade baked bread served warm with melted butter is a perfect accompaniment to a hearty meatloaf with gravy and roasted green beans with garlic.  For dessert, there is nothing better than soft chocolate chip cookies.  What could possibly say "comfort food" more than this?  (See the bread and cookie recipes listed below.)

Since May 10, 2020 is Mother's Day, I would like to wish everyone a very special day full of expressions of love and virtual hugs.  May you all remain safe and healthy.   

Happy Mother's Day!💕

Below are the recipes for both the bread and the chocolate chip cookies that I used.  Perhaps, with the additional time being at home, it may provide the opportunity for you to give it a try too.

Crusty No-Knead Dutch Oven Baked Bread

1 packet powdered yeast, Red Star or 2 1/4 tsp of instant yeast of choice
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3 C all-purpose or bread flour
1 1/2 C warm water ( temperature 121 degree F)

Mix with blender and pastry hook until gently until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball.  Over with wrap and towel and place in an area free of drafts or warmer area of the kitchen.  Let rise for at least 7 - 8 hours.  

Just before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees and let empty dutch oven warm up in the oven for 20 minutes before baking the bread.  

Flour cutting board and scrap out dough onto floured surface.  Sprinkle with flour and pull sides of dough into the center to form a nice smooth ball when flipping it onto the other side.  Place ball onto a sheet of parchment paper.  

Carefully remove dutch oven pot from oven using oven mitts, remove lid and gently place parchment with bread into the pot.  Cover and place back into oven and bake at 450 degrees F with the lid on for 30 minutes.  After which, remove the lid and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes.  

Remove and let cook enough to handle and serve warm with butter, flavored dipping oil or, for breakfast, with jam.   

Yum!  Enjoy!


When it comes to choosing a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, I find the recipe of my choice is one I found in Pinterest and is Joanna Gaines's Signature Chocolate Chip Recipe.  Of the many chocolate chip cookie recipes that I have tried through the years, I prefer this recipe because I am a soft cookie girl.  This cookie remains soft after several days when covered with wrap or stored in a container.   I believe that the cookie has a better flavor and retains its softness because it calls for the use of brown sugar instead of white sugar or a combination of both in the recipe.  Served slightly warm, these yummy cookies ends the day with happy faces.

Joanna Gaines's Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick of soft, unsalted butter
2 C light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 350 degrees (F).  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In medium size bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

With a mixer, gently blend butter and sugar in bowl until light and fluffy and add eggs and vanilla.  

Mix in flour mixture a little at a time until blended and add chocolate chips and mix until chips are incorporated.

Drop by teaspoon onto parchment paper and bake for 10 -12 minutes until lightly browned.  

Store in container and enjoy.   (Be sure to bake several batches.  They will be gone in no time!)


  1. Gorgeous table!How inviting and happy!

  2. So cute!! And the goodies sound wonderful!

  3. What a beautiful post! My mother also had a yellow formica and chrome set in my childhood kitchen. Many years later I moved into a little furnished cottage that had the same set in the kitchen; felt right at home!

  4. I enjoyed your trip down memory lane. I have lots of good memories of my mom's kitchen, but not many are of food. She was a diligent cook, but not a particularly good one, lol!

  5. That is a beautiful table and I loved hearing about growing up in your mother's kitchen. We made what looks like that identical bread recipe and last month and it was so darn good!!

  6. What a lovely tribute to your mother. Your family kitchen sounds so charming! Love this table and that bread box centerpiece’. Best wishes to you for a Happy Mother’s Day!

  7. I'm featuring you on the Little Cottage Link party on Monday!

  8. Your table is beautiful and your recipes sound delicious! Thank you for sharing at Party In Your PJ's.

  9. Happy Mother's Day to you! Thanks for sharing your beautiful tablescape and the story behind it at Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy. Delighted to feature you this week! :-)

  10. Love the watermelon theme! Thanks so much for linking up with me at my #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 12, open May 1 to 26. All entries shared if social media buttons are installed.

  11. Love the watermelon them and the salt and pepper shakers. Thanks for sharing at #HomeMattersParty

  12. Marsha, your tablescape inspired by your mother’s kitchen is just lovely. I love the red and white! I’m so happy to feature you this week at Celebrate Your Story!

  13. I'm a new follower! Thank you for sharing with us at the TFT party! I'm featuring you this week! Pinned and shared!

  14. We sure have enjoyed featuring your awesome post at Full Plate Thursday,484. Hope you are having a great week and come back to see us real soon!
    Miz Helen