November 2009 Chickens in the Road Newsletter

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November 2009 Chickens in the Road Newsletter


*Story: The Keeper of the China
*Kitchen Extra: My Pumpkin Pie
*Embarrassing Photo of the Month: My Craft Room
*My Favorite Thing Right Now: Your Enthusiasm
*Recent Highlights: Apple Spice Simmering Potpourri, Pear Pressure, The Peaceable Kingdom, and More
*Sneak Peek: The Boys
*Blast from the Past: The Bright Day is Done

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*Story: The Keeper of the China

I’m not a china person.


China makes me slightly uncomfortable.

I don’t host elegant dinner parties. Nine times out of ten, if I have someone over for dinner, we’re eating on the porch. The porch is not conducive to china. Not with dogs and cats and chickens and goats running around. I like casual. I like jeans and stoneware and Mason jars with tea.

But I have china.


It sits almost all the time in my cabinet, protected from dust and breakage and dogs on the porch. And me–because, seriously, I’m scared of breaking it. I’m also scared of washing it because it has to be hand-washed.

I have the china, but it doesn’t really belong to me, or at least that’s how I see it. I’m the conduit for the china.

This china came from my mother. My mother loves elegant. My mother hosted many a party with table cloths and petit fours and punch. She had dinner parties with china and serving pieces on the table and silver. She even had teas. My mother was a preacher’s wife and always involved in community groups. She loved to entertain and dress up. I have her silver tea service.


I make Morgan keep it polished.

I also have my mother’s vintage bubble glass punch cups. Dozens and dozens and dozens of them, along with the matching bubble glass luncheon plates. (I think the bubble glass is pretty cool.) Some of the bubble glass is on the shelf above the china here. Occasionally, I do take out the bubble glass or the china for food photography.


When I moved from Texas, my mother asked me to come over to her house and pick out some china. She has another set of china that I actually liked better. She calls it a luncheon set rather than formal dinner china. Maybe that’s why that set appealed to me so much more. It’s casual, green with little pink roses. And there’s not so much of it. It’s also an older set, much more antiquey. I really wanted that set.

You know, however much I could want china, which wasn’t all that much.

I brought Morgan with me. She was at that time eight years old. I brought her into my mother’s dining room to the china cabinet and said, “This china will be yours someday, so you choose.”

And I silently willed her to choose the casual green and pink luncheon set because it would take up so much less space and at least I halfway liked it.

Of course she chose the other.


I said, “But don’t you like this one better?” Trying to talk her into the luncheon set. “It’s so much cuter!”

She could not be swayed from the fancy allure.

My mother was given this china for Christmas in either 1959 or 1960. My father was preaching at that time for the Sunset Ridge Church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas. The church ladies wanted to present her with some fine dinner china because they had noted that she only had the little green luncheon set, which wasn’t really up to snuff for my mother’s joie de vivre for entertaining. My mother went shopping, only too thrilled to have some fine china. She chose this pattern at Joske’s Department Store. In the china department at Joske’s that day, they had a table set with this china. My mother fell in instant, complete love with it. It was the most expensive set in the store, but the church ladies didn’t care. They wanted to buy her place settings for 12, but she told them to only get 10 because that was all her dining room table would seat. (She was sorry later that she didn’t get 12.) She still talks of how much she loved using it because it is so beautiful.


It’s the Grey Fleur de Lis pattern by Spode.


When I lived in the slanted little house for 2 1/2 years, all my things were in storage. Except the china. My mother couldn’t bear the idea of her china being in storage. (What if it got stolen? Who would tuck it into bed at night? Who would read it stories?) I didn’t want my mother awake at night worrying about her china. So I kept boxes of china in my bedroom in the slanted little house, tripping over and around them for 2 1/2 years.

Now it’s at home in my china cabinet.

I take it out on holidays and Morgan comes down to find me washing it, getting it ready for the holiday meal, and she always says, “YOU’RE USING MY CHINA!” It’s very exciting.

I still feel a strange disconnection to this china. I don’t really like it much, even though I appreciate its quality etc. The pattern is very subtle in its elegance, very muted in its colors, very formal. Not really my style at all. But what I love about this china is that my mother loved it and my daughter loves it.


This china wasn’t meant for me. I am just here to pass it down. It took me a while to realize that that was enough.

(Tell me about your china? Check out the china topic here at the Chickens in the Road forum. I’d love to hear your china stories!)

*Kitchen Extra: My Pumpkin Pie

A number of people asked about my pumpkin pie with rum and walnuts after I posted it on my Daily Farm Photo page so I want to share that with you here this month! It’s based on a very standard, common pumpkin pie recipe that you can find anywhere, but with just a touch of holiday special. On Thanksgiving, I want pumpkin pie to be pumpkin pie. I don’t want it to be pumpkin cheesecake or chocolate pumpkin pie or pumpkin meringue or anything else. I want it to be pumpkin pie like I knew it when I was five. But I want it to have a little extra oomph so that it knows it’s a special pie for a special day at the same time. So here is my pumpkin pie, a pie that knows it’s meant for Thanksgiving but is sporting a little extra sparkle in the rum flavoring and the chopped walnuts studding the edge of the crust.

How to make Pumpkin Pie with Rum and Walnuts:

16-ounce canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin puree
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
12-ounce can evaporated milk
2 tablespoons dark rum
pastry for single-crust pie
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk eggs then add to pumpkin mixture along with milk and rum. Mix well. Pour into prepared pie shell. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts all around the edge of the pie. Bake at 375-degrees on the lower oven rack for 50-55 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).



*Embarrassing Photo of the Month: My Craft Room

Another seriously tragic revelation.


What happened to my place to sew?????? HELP!!!!!!!

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: Your Enthusiasm

Ball Blue BookI’ve never seen so much enthusiasm for anything as when I was able to, due to the generosity of an anonymous donor, give away a Ball Blue Book. Your enthusiasm for canning is exciting! I want to do everything I can to get more Ball Blue Books into more of your hands. I’ll be giving away a Ball Blue Book once a week. Watch for the random weekly Ball Blue Book Project giveaways in the daily blog! You can also sponsor a Ball Blue Book. Read more about The Ball Blue Book Project here.

*Recent Highlights: Apple Spice Simmering Potpourri, Pear Pressure, The Peaceable Kingdom, and More

In the barn, you’ve got to see The Peaceable Kingdom, a duck that really reminds me of me in Another Cautionary Tale, and the end of Mean Rooster in The King is Dead. Find all my cute farm animal stories here.

Try my Cornmeal Yeast Rolls and Caramel Pumpkin Pecan Bread Pudding, then check out our serious efforts to stock up in Let Me Show You My Freezers. Don’t miss a thing in my kitchen! Get all my recipes.

See all the fun I had with six buckets of pears in Pear Pressure, my battle with fire in How (Not) to Start a Fire in a Wood Stove, and take a bumpy ride down our country road in It’s Not Just a Road, It’s an Adventure with this fun video. See all my country living stories.

Don’t miss Apple Spice Simmering Potpourri and see all my other posts in crafts.

Also see all my garden stories.

*Sneak Peak: The Boys

Sometime soon…. Probably sometime in December….


The boys will be coming to the farm! Eclipse and Rhett (Nigerian Dwarf goats), pictured here, and Mr. Pibb (Fainting goat). After losing Pepsi and Honey, I’m a little scared. Come along to hold my hand….

Read all my goat stories. (Most of them are FUNNY, I promise.)

*Blast from the Past: The Bright Day is Done

Wasn’t it bad enough that the chickens weren’t laying? Did they have to start quoting Shakespeare, too?

Read The Bright Day is Done for all the dramatic nonsense.

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