Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Weekend Whirl: The House Concert

I jumped out of bed early Sunday. We were expecting a crowd for breakfast--visiting grandchildren and daughter-in-law from Virginia, our great-granddaughter and our house guests. Such a Sunday calls for one thing: pancakes, and lots of them, with piles of bacon and sausage. I was so busy with cooking and visiting I forgot to take pictures! Cadyn, who was celebrating her 4th birthday weekend, looked like a little princess in sparkly pink and black, but that did not stop her from dragging Mamaw Jennifer for a long walk in the woods. I enjoyed some time on the deck with my granddaughters before heading back into the kitchen to start preparing for the house concert. 

Granddaughter Allison was a champ, putting together the cupcakes I'd baked before breakfast and decorating them so prettily. These cupcakes were something I remembered from my early years of marriage: make your usual kind of cupcakes, and when they are baked and cooled, cut a small round cone shape out of the top. Fill the hole with pudding (I used French vanilla instant pudding), then replace the cut-out cone shape. Dust with powdered sugar, and you have a lovely, cream-filled (sort of) cupcake that looks delicious and probably has a few less calories than the frosted version. We did frost a few too, and decorated them with colored sugar sprinkles.

The guests arrived, introductions were made, and then the fun began:

Although the day was on the cool side, we opted to have the storytelling on the deck. The sun was warm enough for most of the time, and the space, arranged in a sort of cafe style, worked well. The backdrop of beautiful blooming and budding trees was perfect.

Lorna shared some funny tales, some thoughtful ones, and a couple with songs or music. Her version of the Two Sisters (or Twa Sisters, Child Ballad #10) using the dulcimer, is mesmerizing. I followed up with the Appalachian version of the ballad, Dreadful Wind and Rain; the two are an interesting example of how the ballads traveled and changed in the folk process.

We finished the afternoon in the log room with several of the guests sharing stories. Four members of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild were present, and one of those, Mr. Jerry Manning, drove three hours to attend. It was an honor to finally meet him. A total of 14 people attended, including our friend and neighbor Warren (of the blog My Home Among the Hills) and his daughter Abigail. Warren wrote a great blog on the afternoon; you can read it here. Another neighbor brought her teen daughter who listened intently, and a few days later showed her mother a reference to one of the tales Lorna told (Tam Lin) in a book she was reading.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and I am sold on the idea of house concerts. I hope to do more of these in the future; I have so many talented friends and it is such a pleasure to introduce my friends to each other.

In case you're wondering what other food we served:

Larry dug sassafras roots and I made a punch using the sassafras tea he made mixed with ginger ale. It was delicious.

I made simple hors d'oeuvre by cutting flat sandwich rounds in half, spreading them with cream cheese mixed with Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning & Salad Dressing Mix, putting thinly sliced cucumbers on top of that and sprinkling with lemon pepper. I found this recipe a few years ago and it remains a favorite.

My sister Maggie taught me another simple finger food: use a round cracker like Ritz, top with a round slice of goat cheese, a slice of tomato, and a leaf of basil. Yum!

With a veggie tray, an arrangement of strawberries and grapes, pistachios, potato chips and the cupcakes, that was the refreshments I served. Another guest brought pub cheese and pretzels, and another brought habanero dip with pretzels. Both were delicious additions to the table.

No photos of the table--I was too busy visiting and enjoying myself! That's kind of a shame because it did look lovely. Fun to use all these cool vintage dishes :)

Tomorrow: Monday's school performance, more grandchildren, stargazing, and good-byes.

Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Michelle said...

This does sound like it was a hit. I hope these continue to be a success for you.

Anonymous said...

Susanna, I do wish that I could have attended your house concert. I'll be there next time for sure.


JJM said...

Sounds like a lovely day all 'round, and I grabbed the two finger food recipes for future reference.

Another variation you might want to try: Ritz, goat cheese, and a dab of raspberry-and-habanero jelly, or else raspberry jelly and a sprinkling of herbes de Provence. And, in all-grown-up company, Merry Tomatoes: cherry or grape tomatoes; prick a hole in the base of each one, where it's not conspicuous; marinate in vodka for at least a few hours -- you could just fix this in the morning and have it ready for the evening festivities; serve with toothpicks and a few bowls of lemon pepper for dipping; reserve the vodka for bloody marys later ...

Mixing sassafras and ginger ale sounds good, too!

Just one question, though: do I infer correctly that the safrole that's dangerous to one's liver is not present in the sassafras root? --Mario R.

Nance said...

wow! what a week; what a weekend! love hearing about it all. And your flowering trees are in bloom! We must be behind you a week or two.

Granny Sue said...

Mario, the safrole is certainly present, but to be in danger from it a person would need to drink something like 10 gallons a day for a prolonged period of time. I figure there's a lot worse things in soft drinks and booze to worry about :)

I like your "marinated" tomatoes. Gives a new meaning to pickled veggies!

Sue said...

What a wonderful idea. I only wish I lived nearer...Maybe you'd let me attend!


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