ll Cibo é L'essenza Della Vita....

"The rooms that you use on a daily basis are the rooms people will always want to sit in, because they have soul." --Bunny Williams


"If you want to live forever and ever, drink wine and eat maccheroni." ~~~Sicilian Proverb

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Napkins, Pizza, Pork and other Musings of a Tired Nursemaid

   Well! It's been quite a week. Unfortunately, blogging had to take a back seat to playing nursemaid to a whole houseful with a particularly nasty stomach bug. 
I will spare you the gruesome details

     Suffice to say that I am the lone standing survivor and holding my breath waiting for the body slam that I feel sure is coming.  Actually, I'm quite sure that it will hold off till later in the week when I am smack in the middle of a fairly major job. That's just par for the course.
     Today was the first day that a majority of family members were able to attempt a normal dinner. So, of course, being the caring, compassionate person that I am, I asked what they would like. Name it and Mama will make it for you. Fresh pasta? Homemade soup? Lobster Thermidor? (yeah, RIGHT!)

 "Mom, can we get Dominos??!!" (insert majorly enthusiastic squeals here)

NO, we cannot get Dominos! You've all been sick! I'm going to make you a good, healthy, nutritious and delicious dinner. I know! Pork medallions over linguine with a balsamic demi glace based sauce. 

"Mom, we're not hungry. We think we're sick again"

(Insert foot-stamping Mama here) 

     I love my children. Really I do. I recently had a discussion with my boys regarding good manners and why the napkins in the rings next to their plates should be folded neatly on their laps and not used as projectiles aimed at your unsuspecting mother. 

"But Mom, nobody else uses napkins"

Excuse me??

At this point Allie interrupts to agree with them. You all know Allie.

Cute little 16 year old. 

Hormonal, creative, wise-cracking teenage girl. 

This blog was her idea. 

She assured me that, alas, it's true- apparently I'm the only dinosaur in the country who uses cloth napkins. 

How sad.

When I was growing up, there were linens on the table for every meal. A freshly starched and ironed cloth and napkins at every setting- except for the older men who got dish towels. Apparently real men didn't use wimpy napkins

There were doilies on tables, lamp mats, flatware keepers, linen bags, and so much more. My Grandma Josie instilled a love of linens and textiles in me and got me started collecting many years ago. Some of my favorite items are the ones I remember her and my Mom using-  the ones I still use. 

Does anyone remember these?

Coasters were used under decanters and glassware and were available for both formal and casual occasions. 
These were made by my Aunt as part of her trousseau. 
The workmanship and tiny stitches are amazing

How fun are these?!

I've used these with Fiestaware for cookouts and evenings by the firepit

Love the retro look!

Linen with fresh green embroidery works beautifully with butterfly glasses

These are quite amazing- a combination of applique, reticella, and drawnwork

Can you imagine the hours spent

I feel sad that we seem to have lost some of the joy of entertaining graciously

I remember the polka dot set in front being a particular favorite of my mother's

So cute!!


The recipe I used tonight is loosely based on one I got from a newspaper a number of years ago. I buy the demi glace at a specialty grocery locally, but have found that many supermarkets have now started carrying it. I remember my Nonna buying little glass jars at the local butcher and tucking them down into her net shopping bag for the trip home. There really is no specific substitute for demi glace and the rich flavor it imparts is worth the purchase. If necessary, you could probably boil down some stock to a strong reduction- that's basically what a demi glace is

 based on a recipe by Chef John Pullis

6 slices coarsely chopped bacon
1 sliced onion
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar 
1/2 cup veal ( or vegetable) stock
1 cup demi glace
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-2 inch medallions
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
2 oz. butter

hot cooked pasta or egg noodles
Chopped parsley for garnish

Cook bacon and remove from pan. In bacon fat saute onion until caramelized. Add vinegar and reduce. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 15 minutes.
Heat oil and saute seasoned pork medallions until brown on both sides. Remove to a serving dish. 
Add sauce and sage to pan and whisk in butter. 
Serve with pasta or egg noodles tossed in brown butter. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

And yes- the boys ate pizza

But not Dominos

I have my pride

As Always,

Buon Alimento, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. I remember- and I have tons of cloth napkins- however full time work means cloth napkins on holidays and special sundays- otherwise they each get 4 paper napkins- and Lou gets 2 cloth napkins instead of the dish cloth!

  2. Patty-You'd be surprised what is sinking into those heads--they are watching and listening and will know what to do when they NEED to :) Hope the gang is feeling better! Girl, you are on a roll--congrats on winning Michael's giveaway!

  3. I hope you are still standing. That bug is going round these parts to. Thus far (knowck on wood) we have all kept it at bay.
    The dinner looks wonderful! And those coasters...such charm. I am with you. I miss those kinds of things!
    COngrats on your win at Gollum's (saw your name) I was almost as excited as you that you won. Those glasses are gorgeous! Congrats!

  4. We always used cloth napkins when I was growing up and I've used them every day of my 35-year marriage. I think my daughter and her husband only use them when Mom and Dad come over, and I seriously doubt if my bachelor son uses a napkin at all! My sister still uses napkin rings, although I've gotten too lazy for that. I have some beautiful linen coasters that slip onto the base of my crystal stemware. I only use them at holidays, but I think they're such an elegant touch. Always makes me smile. Your food looks delicious. I hope your Florence Nightengale impersonation will be rewarded and you won't get sick yourself.

  5. My mother has stacks and stacks of cloth napkins. We used them every day. I'll take paper over cloth for informal meals (less laundry), but I do keep a supply of white napkins on hand for company.

    Glad your family is on the mend!


  6. I think it's amazing you do this as a team... what a great way to bring people together and love the lace and settings... nice to visit!

  7. Pattiecake, you're one of the few people I know who can take a miserable week of nursing a houseful of sickies and make it something to laugh about.

    As for the linens, you've got me itchin' to work on crocheting doilies again, something I haven't done in a kazillion years. But you're absolutely right, there really is just something about things like that, seeing them, using them, touching's history and sentiment and practicality all rolled into one.

  8. ciao!!! complimenti!! i tuoi post sono sempre bellissimi!! buonissimo questo piatto unico! gustoso e saporito!! baci!!!

  9. How wonderful you were the one made responsible for all these lovely family treasures. It's really nice to see them being used. You write about them with care. I hope you are able to keep the flu demon at bay. Mary

  10. I'm glad everyone is recovering Pattie, and I hope you stay healthy! This is a delightful recipe that I would chose over Pizza anytime!

    Your coaster sets are exquisite! I would be afraid to stain them with my wine glass. My husband dislikes when I use cloth napkins, he actually prefers paper! He has a giant moustache so that may have something to do with it as he feels less guilty disposing of well used paper. So cloth napkins are only used on special occasions.

  11. Hope your group is feeling better!
    The pork looks wonderful and those coasters are fabulous!
    What's this I read on Pat's blog you are talking about moving back to NY?? I thought you said you would never do that, LOL!
    Loved the story in the previous are indeed a lucky woman!

  12. HI Pattie!

    First of all, is it possible to pass this nasty bug back and forth via the internet? LOL I swear that is what is happening!

    Second, NO you are not the only one using cloth napkins! Several of my friends use only cloth napkins as well. When Troy and I were first married, there was not a dime to spare so I made several sets of fabric napkins from fabric I had. And we just got used to that instead of paper napkins.

    Third, your coaster collection is to die for! OMG! They are all so beautiful! I search high and low for these when I go out thrifty and never find any.

    Fourth, your pork medallions look fantastic! I make a very similar dish on a regular basis. It is one of my favorites.

    And last but not least, I am so glad to hear the family is starting to show signs of getting over this bug. Now YOU take care of yourself and get lots of rest! You really need it after taking care of everyone for the past week. I would miss your posts too much if you got sick! LOL

  13. I loved looking at the pictures of your pretty linens. So pretty!

  14. Your coaster collection is fantastic. I love vintage collections that are a little unique and this one qualifies! I was laughing at the response about using children...19 and 17 still need to be reminded. Amazingly, when we had dinner at the inlaws a few weeks ago, guess what...they knew immediately to take the napkins and place them on their laps..I had to nudge my husband to appreciate the moment. They do listen...they just don't want us to know!
    ♥, Susan


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