Any time of year is the right time to welcome guests to The 1853 Jeremiah Brown House, but when my work schedule slows down in Summer I’m even more ready to entertain. On Country Inn Days I sometimes like to imagine I’m the Innkeeper of my old house. I take great pleasure in getting the place ready for guests – fluffing, polishing, preparing the menu and planning the agenda so my guests have a pleasant visit. Yes, it’s a bit of work but very delightful work.
It’s fun looking through my cookbooks to choose the recipes I’ll be serving. It’s also fun reviewing my china and linen cupboards. What items haven’t been used lately?
I just love to collect pretty things, don’t you? But what’s the point in having pretty things if we don’t put them to use. I think we should use our pretty things every day, but sharing them doubles the joy. Sharing is like that.
Depending on the weather or my mood I’ll entertain guests in various rooms and settings. I also like to move guests around through the course of a visit. Variety is the spice of life, right? So as I plan the food and the serving pieces I also plan an agenda for where we’ll do what. A very short visit works well in one location, but if guests are to be with me for a longer period of time I think it’s fun to move them around a little.
So all this goes into the planning of any sort of event at The Jeremiah Brown House.
For today’s Summer luncheon I decided to start things off with coffee and pastries in the formal dining room. I’ll use my antique cutwork placemats which look pretty against the dark wood of the table.
I’ll also use my Laura Ashley china. It’s the Clifton pattern. Rather than bringing the coffee, tea and pastries to my guests I decide to set up a buffet in the Butler’s Pantry and let guests help themselves.
And here it is !
Because this food is meant to be just a little nibble before the main luncheon is served I’ve presented only two items. They are . . .
Cinnamon Coffee Cake
and Cheese Strudel.
The cheese strudel is always a big hit at my gatherings so in case you might like the recipe here it is – quick and easy.
Ingredients: 2 pkgs. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, 2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, 1 c. sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp. vanilla, (2 Tbsp. warm milk, 1 c. powdered sugar mixed together for the glaze).
Process: Beat cram cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla together. Spread one tube crescent rolls in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Pinch perforations together. Spread cheese mixture over dough. Unroll the second package of rolls, placing them on top of cheese mixture (you may pinch the edges together). Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Brush on the glaze immediately after removing strudel from the oven. Refrigerate.
The buffet is ready as is the table. Now for the guests . . . and here they are!
Marilyn and Evelyna
Connie and Jackie
See the bright, happy smiles on girls who want to have fun. These gals are a few of my wonderful friends. Girlfriends are the best! They’re in the right place for a fun day too because as host I will do my very best to make everything as pleasant and delicious as possible for them. After all, that’s my job as Innkeeper, isn’t it?
The girls make their way to the Butler’s Pantry and they help themselves to the goodies I’ve prepared. At this point I can transform myself from Innkeeper to just another Inn guest – at least for a few minutes. That’s the magic of a Country Inn Day.
Happy guests, chatting away. I pour myself some coffee. Yes girls, I’m coming to join you.
But after a while I excuse myself because I have to get ready for the next stage of this visit.
I’ve planned to serve a different sort of refreshment in the sitting room.
It’s a refreshment made with Rose wine and a handful of other ingredients.
Ingredients: A bottle of good Rose wine,1/2 cup pomegranate juice, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup super fine sugar, 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier, 1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy, extra ice for serving, 1/2 cup raspberries, 8 large strawberries, quartered and 2 red plums, pitted and sliced 1/4 inch thick.
I bought this pretty new tray expressly for serving the Sangria.
The girls relocate to the sitting room
And here I come. I’m back in the role of Innkeeper.
We toast and the party continues.
A little wine and cognac always makes the conversation more stimulating, and the conversation goes on while I, now the Inn Cook, prepare the luncheon meal.
The table is ready, set in advance with simple mats and plain white china. The special touch comes from the miniature roses held in three little watering can-baskets.
Flowers are essential for any event in my opinion. Just as food is necessary for the body, beauty is necessary for the spirit.
But what’s for lunch?
A flavorful pasta, fresh green beans and Tarragon Mustard Chicken
Tarragon Mustard Chicken
Ingredients: (for 4)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, 2 Tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots, 1/4 cup dry white wine, 2 Tablespoons of whole grain Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Process: Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and saute 5 minutes on each side or till brown. Remove to platter and tent to keep warm. Add the shallots in the drippings of the skillet and saute 2 minutes. Add the wine and Dijon mustard and bring to a simmer. Add the cream and 2 Tablespoons of the tarragon, stirring frequently. Return the chicken to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Cook until heated through. Place the chicken on serving plate and top with sauce. Sprinkle the remaining tarragon. Pairs well with Chardonnay.
Marilyn and my other guests seemed very happy with the food and that makes me happy too.
Oh, and there’s dessert.
Everybody got up to stretch their legs while I went over to the stove to prepare the Bananas Foster, that buttery – sugary – Galiano and Rum infused mixture which is blended and cooked with bananas. This yummy concoction is served over vanilla ice cream. Calories? Yes, a few, but my guests are a slender group. They can indulge every now and then.
Why does time always more faster when one is having fun? Before we knew it morning turned into late afternoon. It was a Country Inn marathon Day of chatting, drinking, eating and enjoying the company of friends. I was delighted to treat my guests to this day at my Jeremiah Brown House. I wanted the girls to share in one of my Country Inn Days. Sharing doubles the joy.
And it had been a lovely Summer’s day so before the girls left for home they decided to sit outside on the porch for just a little while. They brought their drinks out with them, got all cozy on the wicker, and enjoyed even more laughs and conversation before their long ride home.
Some of my Country Inn Days are pure rest and relaxation. (This one was a little work.) Other Country Inn Days have me off and about enjoying adventure in places near and far. There are all sorts of Country Inn Days. They take all sorts of forms, but the mission of every Country Inn Day is to help me step out of my routine and into the magic found in doing favorite things. I may not be able to go off to a real Country Inn each week, but with a little imagination and my 1853 house I can enjoy a Country Inn Day experience regularly. I hope you step out of your routines regularly too, for as nice as routines may be, it’s refreshing to vary the program now and then.
If you like to cook as I do, why not have your own Country Inn Day Luncheon.
It’s a delicious and fun way to spend a day.