Saturday, April 19, 2008

What makes a home?

I was sitting in Barnes and Noble on Thursday reading the preface to Ina Garten's new cookbook, Barefoot Contessa: At Home. It is a beautiful cookbook. In the book, she describes how she has constantly had to re-make her home because her husband was in the army for many years. She brought up some really good points as to the times how her style evolved over the years and what the constant is for turning even the smallest apartment into a home.

She suggested decorating based on things most important in your life. For her family, it revolves around entertaining, cooking, and the lovely Hamptons. (How I wish I could add that to my list!)

For my family, our favorite things are entertaining our friends, cooking, lounging as a family, studying and music. Even if we lived in a one room studio there are things that I can't live without wherever we live. We always have music. At night, if I'm not in class, or we're not watching a movie or something, we listen to music. We always listen to music as we get ready for bed. Mia listens to some great Baby Einstein lullaby CD at bedtime. We listen to Dean Martin. My parents always played Dean at night. My dad had this amazing sound system, and I when it got dark outside, especially in the winter time, Dean crooned over the speakers.

A small list of the things we could never live without:
1) Music (Ipods, Itunes, radio, CD player, and Record Player--we actually have many records)
2) Books (This is more my thing, and hopefully Mia's. Dave reads magazines.)
3) Really comfy bed and bedding. We have the best bed in the entire world! We have this great pillow-top California king! I had a really beautiful all white bedding from Pottery barn, which took the two boys that I live with less than 2 weeks before they completely ruined it! Thus, we now have a really beautiful chocolate brown and robin's egg blue comforter. It is incredibly cozy. I love our bed. No matter how bad the day has been, I can come home to my bed.
4) Candles- Yankee Candle's Clean Cotton is the favorite most of the year. During the winter months, I usually burn something cinnamon or I let home-made apple cider with cloves and cinnamon heat on the stove.
5) Food- Pastries baking for some function, Mexican food in the skillet, Italian food in the oven. The kitchen is such where most conversations happen in the evening and morning. I couldn't live without my cookbooks, my Kitchen Aid mixer, Furi knives, and my new Martha Stewart food chopper.
6) Pictures of the family and places we've been. Beyond pictures in the frames, I have countless scrapbooks and picture albums of road trips, Mia, my family, my friends, our trips to London, Michigan, the beach.
7) Pillows- If you've been to our house/apartment, you'll have to move pillows, or you'll watch Bentley run through the house with a pillow. Maybe we have so many pillows b/c my husband is really accident prone. Our bed at this present time has 4 pillows used during sleepy-time, and 6 others for purely decorative and sitting in bed purposes.

With the summer approaching, and berries becoming more readily available, I have a really great recipe. This recipe is from Ina's cookbooks and her show. This recipe is really great also in the winter when the best berries are frozen.

-Ina Garten's Frozen Berries with Hot White Chocolate Sauce
1 1/4 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 pounds frozen mixed berries or frozen raspberries
Combine the chocolate, heavy cream, and the vanilla in a heat-proof bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate melts.

-About 5 minutes before serving, remove the berries from the freezer and place them on individual serving plates. Ladle the warm chocolate sauce over the berries and serve.
-Yield: 8 to 10 servings
-Note: You can either buy frozen berries, or freeze your own by placing the berries on a flat tray in layer. When the berries are fully frozen, keep them a plastic bag in the freezer. Larger berries, such as strawberries, do not freeze well.

You'll love this recipe! I use it often when we have company over and I haven't had a chance to bake, or when we've had a really heavy meal and dessert needs to be something light. If you have some martini/cocktail glasses, it looks really elegant to put serve this individually. Another fun this to do with this recipe is serve it on pound cake, or on French toast!

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