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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tablescape Thursday and are you a gadget person??

  La Gioia della Tavola    

      I'm going to go off my beaten path a little here today. I read an article in yesterday's NY Times that has been popping in and out of my head for the last 24 hours- that can be quite a dangerous thing. Now, many of you know that I work at a couple of different professions, among them trainer/nutritionist, designer/decorator and cooking teacher, so I'm thinking I might have a bit of credibility in this discussion.  Here is the article. 
     I'll preface this by saying that I believe the people I live and work with on a daily basis are a fairly normal and average representation of society. (well, okay- maybe not the people I live with...). The majority of the women work outside the home and, due to the close proximity of 2 major university hospitals and the Research Triangle Park, many hold occupations in either the fields of medicine, corporate administration, or IT. In short, these are busy people.
    A chicken nugget button?? 1 button pizza?? Bar coded food??? REALLY?? I honestly can't wrap my brain around the fact that enough people cook chicken nuggets often enough to warrant LOOKING to buy a machine that does it with one button! Now, my boys happen to be the ones that would eat chicken nuggets 6 times a week if I let them- they are the world's pickiest eaters- thanks to my culinarily impossible husband. (He's lucky I love him, but that's for another post) I'm amazed.
    Now, granted, I can only form my opinions based on what I know. As you are all by now aware, I was fortunate enough to be raised with a family that lived for and BY their food. I was taught from an early age to love and appreciate every morsel that we were blessed enough to have on our table. My grandmothers both lived and cooked their way through wars and Depression. I know that I get constant requests for cooking classes from busy working families. Our local Whole Foods and farmer's markets are always packed. 
     I'm a trainer/nutritionist. I start my day every morning at 5 a.m. in a gym. I do NOT subscribe to the theory that in order to be thin and healthy, you have to look at food as "sustenance" and nothing more. Food is one of the great pleasures of life and that's the way it should be. There are wonderful meals that can be put together in the time it takes to boil water or throw a steak on the grill. There's something to be said for the release of daily stress that happens in the 5 minutes it takes to slice an onion and chop a tomato. Personally, I get rid of a ton of frustration using my mezzaluna on cilantro. :)
    So tell me- are you a gadget person?? When you're shopping for your home and kitchen, do you look for appliances that "specialize" and make quick work of convenience foods? 
A toaster/egg maker

Do you keep a bare bones kitchen with only a whisk, mixing bowl and good knife?

Or do you, like me, fall somewhere in between? 
        I will tell you that I could not survive without my stand mixer and food processor- they are used multiple times daily.

I will never have clear expanses of countertop. S-i-g-h...

       My panini press died and I am in mourning- it will be replaced as soon as I find one on sale.
        I love my rice cooker/steamer, though admittedly I could survive without it. I just don't want to
      My immersion blender is one of my favorite toys as is my torch (hmmm, my husband is giving me a strange look)

           I don't use a bread machine simply because I don't see the need for us. I have a heavy duty stand mixer to knead dough if I want it to and I actually love seeing it rise in my oven or on my counter. There's a lot of satisfaction there.

          So, I'm honestly curious and look forward to your responses. What kind of cooking do you do? Is it a family affair or a one-man show? Are these gadgets really the wave of the future? Inquiring minds want to know. The answers may also help me in the planning of future classes, though I don't expect to be able to figure out bar-coded food any time soon. I'll follow up and let you all know what I find out

         Now for the fun stuff. My Grandma Josie always told me that no matter what appears on our table or how it gets there, it should look beautiful and make your family and guests feel special. She imparted her love of linens and textiles to me and I always remember her when setting a table
This table was actually done in less than 10 minutes. A former client and her daughter called and wanted to drop by. 
These place mats and napkins were found at an estate sale in upstate NY about 8 years ago. I love how they seem to "say" Spring.


The cake server is resting on a vintage ceramic knife rest with a tiny vase attached- so cute!


Had to bring in the bunnies- Easter is just around the corner


silver rose napkin rings


and an old sugar scuttle to go with the ivory coffee set

Syracuse cake plates found in a thrift shop in NY

Can you see the mottled pale yellow glaze and mother of pearl inside the cups? The china is so thin as to be almost transparent

We are joining our lovely hostess Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for her Tablescape Thursday party! No matter what or how you cook, remember to appreciate 
"La Gioia della Tavola"

As Always,

Buon Alimento, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie

I have to add a post-script here. After reading this post, my husband pointed out that the Advantium microwave that was installed by our builder has a chicken nugget setting! Who knew??!! In my defense, it's only been 3 years- you didn't honestly expect that I'd have read the directions to the thing by now, did you? I only learned to use "defrost" a week and a half ago!


  1. I am a gadget girl myself, but admit, if I had to sell almost everything and take the bare essentials, I'd be happy with my 6 Cutco knives and my Kitchen Aid mixer ... oh and that Rachael Ray spaghetti pot I mentioned in "Mangia, Figlie" this morning. But other than that : )

    Did I mention I have a dish fetish? Could you please retake a pic of the flowered dish ... upside down this time? I love to read the bottom of dishes.

    Be well, friends.

  2. I am somewhere in between but I keep my gadgets hidden I am a clean-sweep counter kind of girl. I think you did an amazing job on your 10 min table and I am sure it made your client feel very special.Kathysue

  3. All these bells and whistles showing up on appliances are an inevitable, if not unfortunate, consequence of our ever increasingly demanding and hectic working lives. In a America, a sad premium seems to have been placed on the idea that we live to work. We are a frantic bunch.

    Personally, I like to cook. I like to cut the ingredients...I like to complain about the onion burn in my eyes. I like to imbue my food with the honor of my effort and gain from it the satisfaction found in knowing YOU made something. of course...this is weekends only.

    During the week, I just feel too plowed under after a day in the lab followed by a workout. At this time, a spicy chicken supreme, or spinach mushroom Digiorno frozen pizza is a most welcome sight. I've long since learned the benefits of owning a crock pot, so often I'll whip something up on the weekend and let it carry me through the week.

    Tonight, for example, I'll be eating a few nice sandwiches and macaroni salad; this is due to the fact that my "impossible to feed" little brothers left me a MOUNTAIN of cold cuts and cheese after not touching a bit when they were over for lunch this past weekend. Seriously...WHO DOESN'T"T EAT COLD CUTS?!?!?!

  4. Sorry, Honey. I raised you- you should know I rarely buy cold cuts! :) Did you finish the cream puffs I brought you?
    xoxo Mom

  5. Your husband's comment about the chicken nugget button cracked me up:)

    So cute!

    I AM a gadget person..Blush..
    I have too many.
    I like them all.

    But I use many.We are not fast food people..My daughters didn't grow up on them..My husband and I nevr eat them..ok ok that Costco Sushi:)


    And I will keep more on hand for last minute..
    I agree with you cooking is a wonderful ..even spiritual gardening.
    I love to prepare good food.
    Your table is pretty too:)

  6. Hi Pattie and Allie:

    I actually love gadgets...maybe it is because I used to go shopping (happy memories) at this lovely little store called Orange Tree Imports in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin with my mother. I have a few Rycraft cookie stamps my mom bought there. I LOVE my Bosch mixer, my grain grinder, my mandolin, my panini press, my crock pot, my wafflers (have 3), my pizzelle machine, and my electric knife, and I love small gadgets too. So....guilty as charged!

    Love dishes too and I love that domed cake dish. Joni

  7. Beautiful table! :-)
    I love gadgets but I have a small kitchen with almost no cabinet space so unfortunately I keep the gadgets to the very basics.

  8. For many years I learned to do everything by hand as we just didn't have the budget or storage space to indulge in many gadgets. The only counter appliances I had was a blender, a toaster and a hand mixer. Finally, I got a Kitchen Aide stand mixer, food processor and an electric coffee maker a few years ago, and love them, but I think that might be the only new things I need for now. I have more of a budget but still don't have the room. NYC kitchens, are small.

    Your table setting is so pretty and speaks of spring, Pattie!

  9. I am a gadget those pamper chef parties! I hardly ever use all those gadgets when I stop and think about it! Tony loves his mixer, food processor and knives :)
    Cute post! Made me realize I neeed to stop buying those gadgets!

  10. Great post. As to the gadgets, I'm somewhere in the middle.

    Love your thoughts on food. I cook most nights. Friday is take out pizza, it's an inexpensive break I look forward to and if my children have friends over it's easy to add another pie.I really like to go out one night over the weekend. Usually it's Sunday dinner with my Mom, but in these economic times that's probably not such a great idea.

    With the busy schedules of three over active children I've learned to turn down my expectations of dinner so that it at least happens. That has helped me avoid fast food.I love the steamer bags for the microwave. It encourages me to use fresh vegtables.

    Today I made a big batch of sauce. We ate it tonight with sausage and I'll freeze the rest. That's my fast food.

    My family is content with the meals. Last night was a pot roast in the crock pot.I'm the one that's always on the look out for something new or different.

    Oh and by the way, love those blue cake plates and the napkin rings!

    - The Tablescaper

  11. Hi Pattie and Allie, What a great post. Your table is beautiful. I agree with your Grandmom Josie. I love to set a pretty table even if it is just Bobby and me. Your yellow china tea cups are beautiful. I have a set almost like them. Doesn't it surprise you that they are that delicate. I love mine.

    I am an in-between gadget girl. There are things I can't do without. My food processor, my 12 inch all-clad french sautee pan, stand mixer (with all the attatchments)immersion blender,2 fabulous knives, well 3 if you count my serrated knife,convection toaster oven,and my hand hammered pewter measuring scoops and spoons. The measuring scoops were from a trip last year to Savannah- and I just love the feel of them. They were a big gift to myself. I left the store clutching the bag to my chest and repeating, "I will not have buyer's remorse, I will not have buyer's remorse". And the spoons were gift from my Bible study girls.
    The other gadget I just love is my All-Clad slow cooker. Bobby got it for me as a surprise. It is so over the top. I would have never gotten it for myself. I love that I can brown things on my stove in the insert and then stick it right on the slow cooker pot.

    When you get this comment could you do me a favor. My laptop is not doing well. I have my computer stud comming tomorrow to fix it- I am trying to get the list of Tablescape participants from Susan's blog, but the list won't come up. Is it me or is it her post. I would love to visit some blogs tonight. Could you check on this for me and send me a quick comment? Thanks.
    Love to you,Allie!

  12. I don't have too many gadgets -- maybe it's because I have every nook and cranny crammed with dishes! Love your soft colors on the table -- so beautiful for Spring!

  13. Yes I have gadgets gadgets, I have had to cut back on drawer space or counter space, Mr. S. loves a clear counter, seems to make him happy, oh well, adore the napkins and the placemats, they are just so beautiful with the napkin rings, soooo pretty..Phyllis

  14. Pattie, Thanks for checking for me! MUAH!Yvonne

  15. I love kitchen gadgets! Couldn't be without my crock pot and rice cooker. Our newest "kitchen love" is our keurig coffee maker. The whole family is in love with it. I wouldn't part with my Kitchen Aid mixer(she's over 15 years old) and the cuisinart food processor(even older than the mixer!). I use but take care of my gadgets, and I wait til I can buy the best so I know it will last. Loved your beautiful tablescape,especially those cake plates! The sugar scuttle is the perfect "sparklie". Very nice, as usual, love reading your blog.

  16. You just made me take a second and third view of the linens and china. They do say spring! I do like the fact you tell us how you acquired your lovely pieces. Your Grandma Josie was so correct.

  17. Hi Pattie!

    Oddly enough, I am not a big kithen gadget fan well, let me change that. LOL I don't do a lot of the NEW gadgets. I love all the old stuff that has stood the test of time.

    Love the table and that teacup, oh you know my love of teacups and that one is gorgeous! So delicate.

    Hope you are having a wonderful evening!

  18. I loved this post!!! I am a decent cook, but not great. I do love kitchen gadgets, however!

    I like making smoothies in the blender and I adore my Martha Stewart salad spinner!!! I also love my cherry pitter, weird, but fun!

  19. Oh ya, gagent girl here! I do use the bread maker. We have one that makes big and small loafs so we can have fresh bread daily.

    Your dishes are so pretty. Sure wish my thrift store had things like that! WOW!

    Your tablescape came out great.


  20. Love your tablescape. Everything is so pretty and spring like.

    I am somewhat of a gadget person.

    But I love my knives and mixer and we just adore our new toaster oven. Almost like an extra oven.


  21. Hi Girls. your table is astoundingly beautiful, but it always is so I know when I come here it will be eye candy at every turn :-)
    I'm gadget challenged so not many of them in my kitchen.. I'll just live vicariously through all the amazing things you do..

  22. Your table setting is so pretty. I love your placemats

  23. Beautiful china, love that shade of blue. I am still coveting that cake stand!

  24. I try to keep my kitchen as gadget free as possible. Prior to retirement, we were frequent movers due to our jobs and I learned, for us anyway, a zen-like simplicity was the way to go. Your tablescape is really lovely. It speaks of spring and new beginnings. Very nice!

  25. Beautiful place setting! As for Tassimo must be ready for quick access in the morning...I NEED coffee! lol Happy week!...Debbie

  26. Beautiful dishes, P!
    I am in between...I don't have a meza luna..
    I just bought a cherry pitter at the WSonoma outlet..
    Your food looks wonderful, always!

  27. 1. wonderful looking food, making me drool and I love Italian anything!!
    2. Under the Tuscan Sun one of my fav movies!
    So you remind me to watch it yet again, lol!
    3. beautiful Easter table scape, enjoy your Easter with Blessings!

  28. I love kitchen gadgets but not so much small appliances. I'm a very good customer of! LOL!

    The toaster/egg maker is a hoot! I too, love my immersion blender and I've had the same one now, Braun, for almost 30 yrs.


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