Foodie Friday: An encore performance

22 Nov
November 22, 2014

Some traditions are hard to improve upon, and our Thanksgiving Day turkey with dressing happens to be one of those things. Why mess with a really good thing?

Connecticut Country House Roasted Turkey

One turkey; brand and size of your liking (we here at Country House prefer a fresh, organic bird if at all possible; just order a few days ahead of time from your butcher)

¼ cup of olive oil

Ample kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1 bag of croutons

½ large onion

2 sticks washed celery

6-8 leaves fresh sage

1 stick of sweet (unsalted) butter

½ cup milk

¾ pound of loose sausage

6-8 slices of thick cut, smoked bacon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Take the shrink-wrap off of the turkey in the kitchen sink. Find and reserve the turkey neck and giblet for later. Rinse the turkey very well with cool water, both outside and inside both the neck and abdomen cavities. Place the turkey inside an oiled roasting pan. Place a 1” rack inside the roasting pan first, this helps the bird cook more evenly. Using your hands, massage the olive oil well all over the outside of the turkey. If you have a helper, rotate the bird as the other person liberally salts and peppers the outside.

For the stuffing, cook the sausage in a non-stick pan, breaking it up into small pieced as it browns, then reserve. Place the stick of butter in a large frying pan on low heat. Finely chop the onion, celery and sage leaves, then add to pan with butter. Cook them on medium/low heat for about 5 minutes until soft but not browned. In a large bowl, dump the croutons (we use the bag that says it will stuff a 15-18lb. turkey).  Drizzle the onion mixture, sausage, and milk evenly over the croutons. Using your hands (make sure the other ingredients have cooled sufficiently), thoroughly mix the stuffing well.

Leaving the turkey in the roasting pan, stuff the neck portion of the bird first. Don’t be shy, push the stuffing vigorously into the cavity, then use cut down wooden skewers to secure the skin flap over the stuffing. Flip the bird over and repeat with the large body cavity; I find that pushing with a closed fist is very efficient at getting the most stuffing in the turkey. Don’t worry if stuffing/sausage falls into the roasting pan, it will enhance the gravy. When done stuffing, drape the bacon over the bird evenly, situate your turkey on the roasting rack; in the middle of the roasting pan…and in she goes!!

General rule of thumb for turkey is 15 minutes per pound. In the first hour or so the bacon is rendering it’s fat; so no basting is really not needed. After that, baste with your basting liquid (see gravy) every ½ hour or so. If you see that the breast or drum sticks are browning too early, you may cover them with tin foil to slow the cooking.

Some ovens cook faster than others, so check the bird at least an hour before the time estimated for the turkey to be done. Thermometer placed in the breast, looking for 165-170; in the thickest part of the thigh, 175-180 degrees.

Once done, place the turkey on a large cutting board with a “moat” on the borders to catch the juice that will run out. Remove the stuffing right away and place tin foil on top to stay warm. Cover the turkey with tin foil as well and let rest at least 15 minutes. Take this time to bask in the glow of admiration of your hungry guests, who are busy “nibbling”.

Enjoy your turkey!

Love, Nora

Photography by Darryl Arbesman

Ring around a napkin

19 Nov
November 19, 2014

Our Holiday 2014,  A Country House Christmas in New Hampshire e-magazine is due out right after Thanksgiving(!!).

But until then, I must scoop this holiday issue by sharing with you just one of the beautiful little things that my dear friend Dana (the lady of the New Hampshire country house) created and shared with me.

Dana very simply crafted napkin rings by looping copper wire (found at your local hardware store), and stringing fresh cranberries, bay leaves, and oven-dried oranges onto it. Easy. Beautiful. Unique.

This may just be the perfect touch to your Thanksgiving table…Why wait for Christmas?

Love, Nora

(P.S. For tips on drying oranges and apples: http://www.connecticutcountryhouse.com/2013/02/scentsational/)

Winter’s eye candy

17 Nov
November 17, 2014

I came upon these photos that I took last year of some very gorgeous Amaryllis I was growing…and realized that if I want to repeat this for the new year, I’ve got to get going and pot them up now!

Depending on the variety, it can take 6 to 10 weeks for an Amaryllis bulb to bloom. I love having something so stunningly beautiful growing and showing itself off in the winter months.

Amaryllis bulbs like snug pots. I fill a clay pot half way with good organic potting soil, insert the bulb so it’s halfway planted, and fill in with a little bit more of the soil. Water well, and place in a sunny spot.

They’re just so beautiful.

Love, Nora

 

 

 

Ghost stories

31 Oct
October 31, 2014

I’ve always loved a good ghost story. I’ve culled together quite a collection of paperbacks that tell stories about New England’s hauntings. Little did I know I could write a book on my own experiences….because little did I know twelve years ago, when we moved into our new old house (c.1767), that we would be co-habitating with a 200+ year-old dead guy (and company).

Yes, it’s true. I wish it wasn’t, but it is what it is. Friends who are sensitive to this sort of thing have felt the undeniable energy that circles from the dining room with the big cooking fireplace through the parlor and back into the hallway and stairwell.

The “presence” in the back hallway and stairwell is where quite a bit of the unexplained occurs.

Back when we first moved in, I could smell apple pie baking in the middle of summer. One night, after turning off the lights and trying to get to sleep, we were startled by the loud sound of someone (an adult someone) falling down the stairs – right outside our bedroom. Our son Conor was fast asleep in the bedroom right across from us. Murph and I were so startled, and such cowards, that we quickly pulled the covers over our heads and pretended that we didn’t hear that!

Since then, there’s been a man’s voice coming from that direction, as well as a glimpse from my peripheral vision of a tall blonde young man with a white high collared shirt walking into the parlor. My knees buckled at that one.

One of my sensitive friends says she sees/feels the presence of two people – one large burly gentleman in a heavy coat, and a younger man. She said that they don’t really understand what I’m doing (they must be referring to my obsessive re-styling of the place) – but that they like it! I’m so glad.

….to be continued.

Happy Halloween!

Love, Nora

Simply sunflowers

28 Oct
October 28, 2014

I have to confess I can never resist a sunflower.

Whether they’re from my garden or local market, just one look at them and they make me smile. I’ve found that I’m not the only one. There’s something about their yellow-orange silver dollar or dinner plate-sized faces that makes everyone take notice…and just plain happy.

Now’s the perfect time to find them at your local market. And if you find sunflowers with very thick stems and big green leaves – all the better!

I love them as a solo flower or bouquet. When I add them to any mixed bouquet, they instantly elevate the presence of the entire thing.

It’s a simple little way to add a little more “happy” into your home this time of year.

Love, Nora

A bug’s life

20 Oct
October 20, 2014

So what do you get a little boy on a business trip to Paris? Why, a bug of course!

Quite simply that’s how our bug collection was born.

For me, trips to Paris wouldn’t have been complete without a stop at Deyrolle and buying one very cool bug. Since 1831, Deyrolle has been a house of curiosities located on Rue du Bac, one of my favorite streets in Paris.

I love the curious nature of an insect. Up close they’re fascinating – and beautiful. Whether they’re boldly grouped as part of a collection, or featured as a simple solo piece or two, they add a certain je ne sais quoi……actually the more I think about it, the word would be elegnce.

Love, Nora

Discovery

13 Oct
October 13, 2014

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”         – Marcel Proust

Happy Columbus Day!

Love, Nora

Foodie Friday: Country House Harvest Soup

11 Oct
October 11, 2014

Even though the kitchen garden, and our local CSA (a.k.a. Community Supported Agriculture) share is winding down, they’re both still gifts that keep on giving. The basketful and big wooden bowlful of hodge-podge veggies that are taking over the kitchen island just cry out “Soup”!

Good idea. 

Besides, what’s more perfect for a chilly autumn afternoon than sipping on hot comforting soup made from the best harvest of the day. We call this divine autumnal concoction, Country House Harvest Soup.The ingredients listed below happened to be what we had on hand this week. But come to think of it, I don’t think we’ve ever made this soup twice using exactly the same veggies! I think that’s the beauty of it.

Country House Harvest Soup

1 medium eggplant

2 medium onions

4 medium new potatoes

1 medium yellow squash

1 acorn squash

2 green peppers

2 quarts chicken broth

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Put 1 ½ quarts chicken broth in large pot, set temperature on low.
  • Wash and cut off ends of eggplant and yellow squash, and cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • Peel onions, cut into ½-inch thick slices.
  • Scrub potatoes, leave skin on, and cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • Quarter acorn squash, scrape out seeds with a spoon.
  • Quarter green peppers, clean out seeds.
  • Cover two cookie sheets with aluminum foil, then lightly oil.
  • Distribute vegetables evenly over both sheets, they may touch but try not to crowd them. Spray lightly with cooking oil on top, and liberally salt and pepper.
  • After about 1 hour, check the two sheets. As veggies brown and caramelize, use tongs to pull them out and place into the chicken broth. Onions and peppers will cook quickly. Check the veggies every 20-30 minutes and repeat process with all but acorn squash.
  • When the acorn squash is soft and a teaspoon easily slices through to the skin, remove and let cool. When cool enough to handle, scrape out squash with a teaspoon and add to the soup pot.
  • Once all veggies are in the pot, simmer at medium/low for about 20 minutes.
  • Ladle broth and veggies into a blender until blender is ½ full. Put top on tightly and blend until creamy. Placed blended soup in large bowl and repeat the process. Return blended soup to pot and adjust seasonings. If consistency is too thick, add more of the reserved chicken broth.

To read about creating the perfect autumn setting to serve this Country House Harvest Soup in: http://noramurphycountryhouse.com/magazine/autumn-2014/country-house-celebrates/#.VDhzyShhodc

Enjoy!

Love, Nora

 

Autumn is officially here!

26 Sep
September 26, 2014

“Summer ends, and autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.” – Hal Borland

Well said Mr. Borland.

Good-bye summer…loved you. Hello beautiful autumn…hope to love you more!

It’s time to move onto the newest Nora Murphy Country House Style Autumn issue.

www.noramurphycountryhouse.com

Hope you enjoy…love, Nora

 

Carpe diem!

23 Sep
September 23, 2014

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – F.Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Happy fall…let’s make it a memorable one!

Love, Nora