Christianity/Religion Food Holidays My Family Photography

A Grand Finale Dessert

DSC_0342, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

On Thursday evening in their home in San Diego, Steve and Dearrah hosted a dinner for the six ministry couples in their church. They graciously invited Jerry and me to attend; we eagerly accepted. It was a luscious meal, with this beautiful dessert as the grand finale. Dearrah had scooped clean an orange, filled the shell with orange sherbet., stored them in her freezer until it was time to serve them, then inserted a mint sprig in the sherbet and scattered around fresh raspberries and confectioners sugar. It was a stunning presentation.

I’ve mentioned before how blessed I am to have three wonderful daughters-in-law. Dearrah excels as a hostess and as a pastor’s wife. She performs her jobs in an excellent way, making Steve proud of her, and making me proud. She is truly a wonderful asset to our family. You can see what a beautiful table she sets, but in addition to that, she is sincerely hospitable, making all who visit their home feel welcome and cherished.

Animals Food My Home Sports Weather/Nature

A Fish Tale

big bear, silverwood, crestline, fawnskin, green valley, san bernardino national forest, lake arrowhead, lake gregory, crestline

They tell me that Crestline’s Lake Gregory (a glimpse of which we can catch from our dining room and game room windows) has excellent fishing. Jerry and I aren’t much into fishing, although it appeals to me, and I’ve done a bit of it, usually with pitiful results, having more excellently tangled my bait in overhead trees and underwater roots than ever snagging fish. Recently, I came across a picture of a huge catfish, about which I blogged here. Today, I found a video you must see about the landing of a gigantic fish. Makes me want to go down into our basement, find my tangled up pole, and head down to Lake Gregory.

America Art/Architecture Food My Home Photography Social

A Nod to Silver


The Christmas public display of Victorian silver at Windsor Castle, UK

Courtesy of BBC: The Christmas display of Victorian silver at Windsor Castle gets a final dusting before going on public display.

When I was preparing for my Christmas party, I spent several hours one day reaching into a deep cupboard, pulling out my large silver pieces, being dismayed at the amount of polishing they would need before being presentable, then rubbing and burnishing until all the pieces gleamed. Some people don’t care about owning silver for that very reason, and admittedly it does require a fair amount of maintenance. Silver is so beautiful, though, having a certain gleam, and acquiring a desirable patina as the pieces age and are used. Check it out: set a piece of silver against stainless steel, and you will easily observe the warmth coming from the silver, while the steel has a cold, blue feel. A table set with silver pieces, tastefully positioned candles and gleaming crystal is a veritable work of art.

We don’t have a large collection, of course, mostly pieces that were given to us on our 25th wedding anniversary, gifts our churches presented to us, and a few things we bought ourselves. One big purchase we made near the time of our 25th anniversary was sterling silver flatware. I keep it in a felt lined drawer in our dining room buffet, and use it a lot. It doesn’t hurt it at all, of course, as differing from fine crystal, there is no chance of breakage, and actually used silver becomes more beautiful with age as it develops the desired patina. I do count each piece, though, when I am cleaning up, for it’s too easy for a spoon or fork to get pitched into the trash.

We live in a fast-paced world of throw-away dishes, snatched up food from drive-throughs, and frozen dinners on foil trays. Each has its place, and from time to time helps us all get through a jam-packed day. However, today I think I’m going to make a little plea for a bit more formality, a touch of gentility, a brief review of Miss Manners and a well-set table; a nod to silver.


Food Holidays My Home Photography

An Evening of Christmas at the Buxtons’

Christmas Party 2006, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

Edit 5:00 (Thought you might like to know who is in the pictures. Left is Sharen, our travel agent, seated is Ken, our neighbor from across the street, Jerry with his back turned, and seated on the fireplace hearth is Lu, a neighbor from down the street.)

One of the highlights of the Christmas season is when Jerry and I open our home for a few hours of celebration with our neighbors and other friends. Last night was this year’s party, a little smaller than in other years, but wonderful just the same. I attribute the smaller group to other churches having functions at the same time, friends who had out-of-state guests, neighbors who were out of town and others who had to work, and people just not being able to be two places at once. (I certainly will not let myself believe they didn’t want to come to our fine party. 🙂 )


Avocado crab crostini

Scotch eggs

Spinach quiche

Cheese tray and assorted crackers

Relish tray olives, cheese stuffed red peppers

Fresh fruit

Cranberry salad

Chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, peanut brittle, assorted nuts

Raspberry stollen

Pumpkin tarts with cranberry/caramel sauce

Coconut cream pie

Apricot cheesecake

Banana bread

Carrot bread

Pecan cookies–Chock full oatmeal cookies

Cranberry/eggnog punch


Edit 5:00 Left to right around the table. Pearl Lormand, Dearrah’s (one of our daughters-in-law) mother, Barry and Sam, our next door neighbors, Day Lormand (married to Pearl) and Karen Pound, the Lordmand’s youngest daughter.

The last guest left around 11:00, and although I had refused clean-up help from all who offered, finally Holly and Patrick insisted, so they did much of that job…and I did appreciate it.

When they first arrived, Holly handed me a present and said, “Open it now.” Not needing to be pressured into doing so, I cut off the ribbon and removed the paper. Revealed now was BALDERDASH, the game I love but didn’t have of my own. It was probably around 10:00 or so when Holly said, “Let’s play…and we did…and it was hilarious.”

How do I feel today? Exhilarated, full of the Christmas spirit…and, I hate to admit it, but tired, very tired. ( I cooked all the food, except for assembling the quiche and putting together the Scotch eggs. Rebecca came up and helped me for a few hours in the early afternoon. It would have been hard without her.) Not to worry, in a few hours, I will be fully restored.

Remember on this Christmas season Sabbath to love and honor our Saviour who is the reason we have such times of joy and celebration as these.

Christianity/Religion Food Holidays My Home Photography Uncategorized

Bon Appetit, a Wire Egg Basket and Christmas

Eggs, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

“The skeptical New Yorker in me tries to hold back, says to be cool. Yet as I approach Rockfeller Plaza via the passageway off 50th Street, I can’t help grinning at the first glimpse. It is always magical. A towering Norway spruce, draped in five miles of red, green, blue, and yellow bulbs, bringing a burst of joy to the heart of Manhattan.

To fully appreciate the harmony of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, I go around the corner to the entrance on Fifth Avenue, opposite the block’s second greatest holiday attraction, the storytelling windows at Saks Fifth Avenue. From here, thanks to the slope of the approach to the Plaza a breathtaking panorama unfolds upward. In the foreground are the graceful, somewhat ethereal, white wire angels installed annually in the Channel Gardens, their long brass horns point toward the bright animation of the Plaza skaing rink and, …..”

I’ve taken these words from an article by Nao Hauser in the December 2003 issue of Bon Appetit, for in many ways her (his?) attitude concerning Christmas, its institutions and traditions reflects mine so well. There are so many areas of our lives in which we must exhibit restraint, hold ourselves back, “be cool.” Christmas is not one of those. I’m not talking about spending money, although some of us may spend more than we should at this time, and we should be cautious about that. We can celebrate in a very fine way without extending ourselves past what is appropriate for our own budget.

I speak instead of focus on our great God and His gift to the world on that Christmas long ago (whatever month it was). I speak of baking for our friends and throwing parties, of decorating cookies with our children, of pots of chocolate, of walking our neighborhoods and feasting our eyes on twinkling lights and swaying tinsel, of parties and sing-a-longs, of children dressed in bathrobes at the Sunday school drama where the youngsters sing off key and it’s perfect and they forget their lines and they grin and wave at mom, of tiny Mary and Joseph and a plastic Jesus in a makeshift manger, of concerts and Handel’s magnificent Messiah, and, yes, crowded malls, and wrapping presents and traffic and honking horns.

It’s Christmas! Tomorrow is my first party, an annual get-to-gether that Jerry and I host here in our home. We missed last year for we had been traveling and was not home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, but all the other years since we have lived here in Crestline, we have thrown a party for our neighbors and friends…and we both love doing it.

I’ve been cooking a lot, but except for what can only be done at the last minute, I am finished. I’ve used lots of eggs, and that gives me a chance to set out this little wire basket that I picked up somewhere, sometime, in some era of my life. I think it may be for eggs…not sure, but I love the way it looks and when I’m doing lots of cooking and need eggs at room temperature, I bring out this wire basket and set out my eggs. I’ve made a Christmas present from this—a Christmas present for myself—a chance to pause and consider the beauty and incredible elegance of the simple things of nature that set around me every day, of gifts I have been given, of simple objects I possess, that seen through “opened eyes” are found to be stellar works of art.

It’s Christmas! Don’t restrain yourself. Rejoice, celebrate, give…to others and to yourself. The Messiah is come!

9:30 Edit: As you can imagine, a little help in my house wouldn’t hurt today. I found just the worker I want over at Bereans. You can’t miss this. Play the whole video; you will be quite astonished.

Food Science & Technology Social

McDonald’s Wants a Sandwich Making Patent

While you and I are finishing up the turkey by creating fabulous sandwiches in our kitchens, McDonald’s has filed for a patent on sandwich making. Sounds like a joke, but it seems to be for real. Follow the link and you can actually read the patent application.

From Monday

McDonald’s puts patent on sandwiches


McDonald’s wants to own the rights to how a sandwich is made.

The fast-food chain has applied for a patent relating to the ‘method and apparatus’ used to prepare the snack.

The burger company says owning the ‘intellectual property rights’ would help its hot deli sandwiches look and taste the same at all of its restaurants.

It also wants to cut down on the time needed to put together a sandwich, thought to have been dreamt up by the Earl of Sandwich in 1762.

The 55-page patent, which has been filed in the US and Europe, covers the ‘simultaneous toasting of a bread component’.

Garnishes of lettuce, onions and tomatoes, as well as salt, pepper and ketchup, are inserted into a cavity in a ‘sandwich delivery tool’.

Read the rest of the article here. 

Food Holidays My Home

Turkey Brining in Crestline

I haven’t told you of the near fiasco I had with Tom Turkey as I subjected him to a brine soak on Wednesday. The difficulty came about in two ways: 1. A non-reactive pan (which I do not possess) in which to boil the brine is recommended. 2. A container large enough for Tom and his bath was necessary. I didn’t have that either, so I first tried a large oven-baking bag…stuffed in Tom, poured in the brine, which, despite recommendations to the contrary, I had cooked in an aluminum pan, and which turned out fine. What didn’t work out was the bag; it quickly sprang a leak, so I grabbed a white trash bag, and Jerry and Andrew pushed Tom, the original bag and the brine into the white trash bag. Then in a large ice chest on the back deck they placed Tom, covering him completely with ice.

Several hours later, thinking the turkey should be turned so that every area would be evenly brined, Jerry checked on the turkey, brine, and ice chest situation. “Shirley, both bags have now developed a leak, and the brine has leaked into the ice chest. ”

I really didn’t know what to do, because although I could certainly cook a turkey without its being brined, I wasn’t sure about the salt. Had Tom lolled around in the brine long enough to be salted, or should I salt him as usual? I couldn’t think of a way to know. An hour or so before bedtime, Andrew brought Tom into the kitchen. “Mom, there’s really quite a bit of brine in the bag. I think everything is all right.”

Tom was washed well, patted dry, talked to, and placed into the refrigerator. On Thanksgiving morning, I decided not to salt him, thinking it would be better to have him undersalted than oversalted. I peeked into the oven an hour or so after placing him there, and saw a beautifully browning bird, and knew then that he had been well brined. He turned out to be exceptionally moist and succulent…think I have never had a better or more beautifully cooked turkey.

I only heard of brining in the last few years. As I understand it, turkey meat strands are tightly woven, so that the juices produced as a turkey cooks often just drain off and are not absorbed into the flesh, which produces a dry meat. Brining is a chemical process that loosens the tight meat strands, making space for the juices that are formed, with the ultimate presentation of tender, succulent turkey meat.

The ultimate brine recipe is found on this link: I used apple juice, brown sugar, Kosher salt, coarse grain pepper and sage.

For the future:

1. I will always brine any turkey I cook.

2. I will buy a non-reactive pan in which to boil the brine, and for other food that really needs such a pan. Think marinara sauce and other tomatoey things.

3. Got to come up with a better brining container for a 20 pound turkey. I really don’t want to buy that big of a pan. There surely is a better bag I can find. Any ideas?

Animals Food Photography Social Weather/Nature

Record Breaking Catfish

Fried catfish is a southern dish that is scrumptious, often served with hushpuppies and fried potatoes. I have eaten it many times and find it quite delicious.

In the response to this article in the UK Daily Mail, more than one reader suggested that such a specimen should be returned to the water. What are your thoughts? Should the fishers keep such a fish, or in regard for its beauty and size, should such be released?

‘Jaws’ record-breaking catfish caught in Spain

Last updated at 15:41pm on 23rd November 2006 A British angler has landed a European record on his first catfishing expedition. Carl Smith, pictured right with friend Dave Jones, caught the 226lb wels catfish on holiday in Spain. The men struggled with the 8ft monster for more than 90 minutes and have named it Jaws.

Children Food Holidays My Family My Home Photography

The Skillful Breaking of an Egg

DSC_0337, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

“Granny, I know how to break an egg,” Gentry had told me earlier in the day.

Children Food Holidays My Family My Home Photography Uncategorized

Gentry Cooks on Thanksgiving

DSC_0336, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

Although Rebecca and I had done extensive preparation and cooking the day before, Thanksgiving morning found us in the kitchen again. We had helpers who absolutely love to cook. Aunt Becky is in charge here as Gentry breaks an egg into what will become a cake, and Cole and Brady are watching closely, wanting to get their hands in. At one point, I heard Rebecca say to Brady who is 3 years old, “Here, Brady, you hold this can of pumpkin and keep it very warm.” I looked over, he grinned at me, and held tightly to his can.