Sunday, October 16, 2011
Blogtoberfest Day 16: Autumnal Tea Towels and Menu
Part of the pleasure of change of seasons is experiencing little decor and menu changes. With the change of colour outside, I bring out of the linen closet tea towels in the rich, warm tones that echo those of the falling leaves. I have probably stated before that I use tea towels regularly and very rarely use paper towels. The tea towels tend to fall into several categories: old and worn ones for mopping up all sorts of messes and spills, clean and slightly faded towels are used to dry off freshly washed produce or slightly dampened to provide a temporary cover for dough, extra absorbent towels such as terry or waffle weave are usually reserved for drying clean hands, pretty and decorative towels are used to dry my hand-washed china and Pyrex with linen a must for glassware and crystal, and, at the end of the list, are the tea towels that I find so attractive or decorative that I cannot quite bring myself to actually use. I know, from the number of tea towels that I find at the thrift store, that many people do not use the tea towels that they have had in their possession. There are often very utilitarian designs alongside the souvenir towels. I suspect that they were received as gifts by people that do not actually realize how useful a tea towel might be. I am not really complaining when I get to bring home what they have not used but I am concerned that quality and quantity of tea towels has diminished. How often will you find an example like this one in 100% linen from Ulster Weavers named 'Tibbles and Woo"?
This example still has the paper label stating that it was made in Hungary with the pattern called 'Love Birds'. When I travel, I sometimes see souvenir and decorative tea towels but they are rarely made of linen and tend not to have the same quality of graphic design. I was tempted to compare these two vintage examples with modern, Autumnal themed towels that I also own and I have to confess that they were not interesting enough to bother photographing them. I do know that orange and brown were really done best in the late 1960's and early 1970's when these tea towels were probably made but I am sure that manufactures now could do a better job than they tend to do. Fortunately, great designs are available from some crafters on Etsy and other hand made market places. I am also thrilled to have found that Emma Bridgewater has re-issued some of her mother-in-law, Pat Albeck's amazing designs. Pat Albeck really is the mother of graphic tea towels and I will do a post about her shortly as she is so inspiring.
I mentioned menu changes above. This is a wonderful time of year for soup! Most recipes make enough for generous servings and left-overs which are perfect for lunch. Today, I made Tuscan Butternut Squash and Cannellini Bean Soup with Swiss Chard which I found in Fit Pregnancy magazine over ten years ago.
Tuscan Butternut Squash and Cannellini Bean Soup with Swiss Chard -serves 6
3 slices bacon or 2 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 (15 1/2 oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained
1 lb. squash, peeled, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups Swiss chard, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon; cook for 2 min.
Add onion oregano, and rosemary. Saute for six minutes or
until onion is soft. Stir in broth, beans, squash, and garlic;
bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 min. Stir
in Swiss chard and cook for 10 min. more or until squash and greens
are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Nutritional information per 1 cup serving: 210 calories, 3.5 grams fat,
21 % protein, 7 grams fiber.
I rarely use bacon and today used turkey instead of chicken stock. I had slightly more squash, stock and Swiss chard than the recipe called for but that just meant there will be leftovers for lunch. With it we had a simple Bruschetta made from day old baguette(much thriftier way to buy bakery bread), 1 tomato diced with about 5 cloves of garlic. After slicing the bread, I drizzled the slices with olive oil, spooned around a teaspoon of tomato mixture on each slice along with a small amount of mozzarella and bake each slice on a baking sheet and rack for about 5 to 7 minutes at 350 F.