The Joy of Soup

By Naira Ruiz

During winter, with its cooler temperatures and shorter days, a hearty bowl of soup becomes the ultimate comfort food.

It’s not just eating that brings pleasure—making soup is relatively simple and the options are endless.

Since I’m somewhat of a soup aficionado, I couldn’t resist trying out the recipes in “A Beautiful Bowl of Soup” which you can find here.

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I love that this cookbook has recipes from around the world and even includes dessert soups I’d never made, like Berry-Wine Soup and Strawberry Bonbon Soup.

So far, my favorite recipe is the Polynesian Peanut Soup, but since I’m not even halfway through the book, that might change.

In fact, I’ve had so much fun trying out new recipes that it’s inspired me to serve soup as a main dish at gatherings this winter, and an attractive tureen is the best way to present it. Ceramic tureens not only look great but will also keep soup warm on the table because they hold the heat.

On Appalachian Spring’s website, you can find beautiful, handcrafted tureens by Barking Spider, Royce Yoder and Robin Cage.

Barking Spider’s tureen comes in a charming rust color (find it here)

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Royce Yoder’s tureens, with their textured ash glaze, are absolutely striking (find it here).

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Robin Cage’s glossy, two-toned tureen which is both simple and elegant (find it here).

robin-cage-tu-rust-green-1Enjoying a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter day is one of the pleasures of life!

The Beauty of Fall in Your Home

By Naira Ruiz

There’s so much to love about fall. The temperature is perfect, our favorite treats get a pumpkin spice makeover and fall foliage, with its vibrant red, gold and orange tones, is absolutely gorgeous.

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It’s the one time of year where I’m constantly stopping to soak in the rich, natural beauty around me.

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But it wasn’t until fairly recently that I realized fall décor can be equally stunning. Take a look at these high-quality, hand-crafted items that evoke the spirit of fall but also work if you decide to display them all year round!

A nod to fall’s rich colors 

From the moment I first saw them, I fell in love with these metal leaf ornaments by Still Life.

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They start with an actual leaf that’s then preserved in gold, silver or copper. Each ornament takes approximately seven hours to create and the detailing is so remarkable that you can actually see the leaf’s intricate vein pattern.

 

These make perfect host or hostess gifts. You can give one by itself or use it to spruce up a bottle of wine.

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Go here to choose the Aspen Leaf style or here for the Sugar Maple. Once you decide on which leaf you want, you can specify if you want it in gold, silver or copper.

 

A nod to fall’s cheerfulness and whimsy
Jack Pine’s iridescent, mini glass pumpkins look charming displayed on table tops and bookshelves.

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And you don’t have to stick with traditional orange— they come in an assortment of vivid colors!

Click here to see a selection.

 

A subtle nod to fall

These functional, stoneware leaf trays and plates by Hank Goodman are great for those looking for fall décor that’s very subtle.

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With their simple but elegant lines, they complement both contemporary and traditional settings. You can use them to serve appetizers or use a plate stand to display them like art.

 

You can find the leaf tray here.

 

Terrafirma has arrived!

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Ellen Evans, owner and artistic director of the Terrafirma studio, produces exquisite place settings made from a base of warm, natural stoneware juxtaposed with vibrantly colored and patterned porcelain surfaces. Her creative focus is to design and produce high quality, functional works of art for the table and home using a unique, original process.

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Patterns are created by painting through textiles and lace using liquid porcelain to produce a distinctive casual yet sophisticated look that has become her signature in both dinnerware and accessories.

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Terrafirma products are made entirely by hand and kiln-fired to extremely high temperatures, giving each piece its own personality and great durability.  Slight variations in color, texture and surface blushing are the natural and desired result of the hand building and high-firing process, and assure each piece of its individuality.

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Each collectible, copyrighted design is signed and dated.  All Terrafirma pieces are food and dishwasher safe. Place settings can be ordered in our stores where you can mix and match 3 glaze colors with 11 fabric patterns across plates and bowls for your own personal set of dishes.

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Peggy Karr

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Peggy Karr has been making things for as long as she can remember. As a kid she laid out the plans to make a “flying suit.” And she was convinced that she could make one! In College she majored in art with a focus on ceramics. Her knowledge and experience with clay, firing and throwing have been a useful foundation for her foray in to fused glass.

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After her first introduction to kiln fired glass, Peggy researched the art form at Corning and through other sources. She made mold out of clay and then fired them in her clay kiln at 1600 degrees. The first effort included a square plate with a cow.

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We love how delightfully easy it is to mix and match and use in any dining/serving situation.  Peggy has created custom colors to her specifications, making each plate uniquely her own. The colors are laid on to the glass blank using as many as 10 different stencils with sifted powdered glass colors filling in the blanks. Designs generally start as a hand drawing and then gets converted to the computer so that the stencils can be laser cut.

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Each piece can be presented decoratively or is “art you can use!” Peggy Karr’s Fall designs are currently featured in our store windows. Stop by and take a peek at these gorgeous Shades of Autumn.

 

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The Serving Piece that is a One Handed Wonder

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In my humble opinion the coolest thing that we carry here at Appalachian Spring is small and very curious.

Can you guess what it is? It is one of my favorite go to gifts.

I always ask the recipient to guess what it is and most can not figure it out.  Give up yet?

It is a one handed serving tong!

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Don’t be fooled by this picture, these tongs are not just for salads, try using them for asparagus, green beans, hot bread, fruit platters, on a tray of appetizers, in a bowl of pasta, etc. Makes every holiday buffet an easy endeavor.  Be creative.  More than a couple of times I have personally given away my own pair, to guests who marveled over them.  When I first learned about these tongs, I gave a pair to every friend and family member that year for a holiday gift.

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When folded closed they lay flat and can easily be stored in the most crowded kitchen drawer or stuck into the fullest countertop utensil holder.st 2

The Parrish family makes these clever utensils from a very old pattern which was found years ago.  It’s not all magic, they steam the wood in order to bend it in to shape, then cools it.  Much the same way chair backs and musical instruments are made. The two sides are held together with a brass pin.  The Parishes use cherry, sugar maple, white oak and black walnut to create these gems.

They make a very fun gift and are very easy to store.

Chic and Stylish: farm to table serving stones

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Round Stone Beach on an island in Maine

I have spent almost every summer for the last 45 years in Maine. So if there is something that makes me feel like I am on the rocky coast of Maine, it’s going to be stones. I collect stones when I walk on Round Stone beach. I love to listen to the waves tumbling over the stones. I stack them in cairns when I walk in the woods. I have a small stone on the ledge of my vanity representing each member of our quickly growing family of 7, now 8! In my “garden” is a heart shade stone I lugged home to DC.

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Stone Cairn found on our beach walk

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Heart stone on my front step overlooking the “garden”

 

So when American Stonecraft stone slabs arrived- I was thrilled! These New England field stones are harvested, sliced, polished and then sealed.  Every field stone holds within a spectacular beauty that can only come from nature.  Each and every one is different, not only in size and shape, but the array of colors and amazing patterns of the interior.

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Field stones in New England are commonly called “New England potatoes”.  Farmers must constantly clear their fields of them.  Created by glaciers eons ago and buried within the soil, they rise to the surface and have to be removed, again and again, before the land can be farmed.   Historically they were used in the stone walls you see all over New England but these walls are too costly for today’s farmers to build and maintain so they often end up in piles.  The folks from American Stonecraft reach out to these small local farmers who are happy to supply American Stonecraft with lots and lots of field stones!

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Stone slab sandwich board

Whether you have a set of slabs and use them as plates or make it your favorite cheese serving platter, you will find hundreds of ways to put them to use. I keep one slab on my table as a trivet. I serve sushi, smoked fishes and cheeses on another. I definitely bought one to give and one for me–twice!

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Slightly large slab for summer rolls

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Keeping cheese at the perfect temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singing the Blues for Summer Dining

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Newest work of Mark Matsui, in stores now!

Blue is my favorite go-to color, it’s calm and soothing. Blue ranks number one around the world as a favorite color, slightly more popular with men than women but mostly equal regardless of age or nationality. In advertising green is associated with nature and environmentally friendly products. Red and yellow are often used to suggest speed, energy or urgency as in fast food logos. Blue is thoughtful, contemplative and peaceful.

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Colony Hotel, Kennebunkport ME

There are only a few naturally blue foods (blueberries, some cheeses and the errant ear of corn), fewer people have blue eyes,  blue seems to be a color that is just a little rare and special. It comes in bold cobalt, the softest of powder tones, or add a smidgen of green and it moves to aqua or turquoise.

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Kaser Shells

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When setting my table for a summer dinner party- I love to have a few blue pieces that catch the eye. Starting with my Fire & Light condiment dishes in cobalt and aqua, I might add a platter from Silver Ridge Studio with the fish imprint.

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Silver Ridge platter, Greenheck bowl, Byers serving dish, Schultz vase, and #Goodthingsnyc container

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Aronin platter and bowl, Cohen trivet, Massarella mug and Jeselskis plate (and more!)

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Matsui bowl, Fabrico long dish, Hillborn aqua tray, Massarella chip & dip and mugs, Meuller pitcher and plate

When I serve red potato salad gremolata*, I use a Winthrop Byers deep oval serving casserole. Crisp white linens and blue accent pieces can make my table feel cool and breezy for summer. Add some turquoise or aqua and my table suddenly feels at home at the beach or lake house. Visiting friends on the Cape-perhaps I will bring a hostess gift in blue: a bowl, a mug or two, or a vase. So many choices and each one appealing to the eye and satisfying to use.

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Byers serving dish makes a great container for a big batch of Red Potatoes Gremolata

*Red Potato Salad Gremolata

1# of “new” or red skinned potatoes, boiled in salt water (cook through but not too soft)

6 hard cooked eggs, peeled and cut in to 6 wedges each

3-4 cloves of finley chopped garlic

1 Bunch of parsley, finely chopped

3 ripe red tomatoes, chopped in chunks

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Toss potatoes with olive oil, tomatoes, parsley and garlic. Fold in the chopped eggs. Season with Salt and Pepper.  Garnish with additional Parsley. Serve in a blue bowl!