Archive for November, 2010

November 29, 2010

So wrong or so right?

by Crystal Cook

Do you give a hoot about this vintage salt and pepper shaker? The head opens ever-so-wisely to present the shakers, while the body is hollow for storing sea salts. Very clever Mr. Owl! So give it to me – is this dish so wrong or so right?

November 22, 2010

The Deviled Egg Tray – It’s a Southern Thing

by Crystal Cook

In the deep South, some things are just a given.  For instance, every type of soda is always (and I mean ALWAYS) a Coke®, all tea is sweet tea, and you always will find a deviled egg tray in the cupboard. Over the years, my deviled egg tray has brought me much joy.  At times when I could not get home to Georgia for the holidays, breaking out my tray and making a batch of eggs was a simple way to bring the spirit of home to me.

Below is my favorite twist on the southern deviled egg recipe. I highly suggest that you make them a part of your appetizer spread this Thanksgiving.

Enjoy, and now go call your momma!

Southern (as in the South of France)  Deviled Eggs

  • 12 hard-cooked large eggs, shelled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Additional chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Ok, so the hardest part about this recipe is boiling and peeling the darn eggs. Seriously, it has taken me years to master this task! If you have already earned your hard-boiled egg scouts’ badge, feel free to skip over the following “how-to section.”

To achieve perfect eggs, rule number 1 is NOT to use super fresh eggs. If you bought the eggs that day – you are in serious trouble. That fresh egg is guaranteed to have more craters than if it were hit by an asteroid! I recommend using eggs that are about a week old, or, if in a bind, go purchase your eggs from the local convenient store down the street. I find they do not stock, as umm, frequently as the grocery store.

Place eggs in a large enough saucepan so that they have plenty of room in between them, then cover with enough cold water by at least an inch. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a medium boil and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and place eggs in a bowl of iced water. (Think blanching!)  The ice is an important step, as it helps not only with the peeling, but it cools the eggs down fast enough to keep the yolk yellow – no green eggs here!  Chill for a few minutes until the egg is completely cooled.

Now let’s get to the moment of truth – peeling!  To peel, crack the egg on all sides and roll it between your hands and a hard surface to loosen the shell. I find that if you start at the larger end, that you will discover a little air pocket and it is easier to get a hold of the membrane. I also tend to shell the eggs under water. Not sure why that helps, but it sure seems to! Ok – that’s all I got.  I hope you all have 12 perfectly gorgeous eggs. Now on to the easy part of the recipe!

Combine boiling water and sun dried tomatoes in a bowl. Cover; let stand 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Cut eggs in half lengthwise; remove yolks. Place yolks in a medium bowl.  Add tomatoes, mayonnaise, and next 7 ingredients (through pepper); stir well. Place egg white halves onto your adorable deviled egg tray and spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons egg mixture into each egg white half. (Use a pastry bag to keep things neat!) Sprinkle with additional chopped parsley for a lovely presentation.

Yield: 2 dozen (serving size: 1/2 egg)

November 20, 2010

Vintage Fashion: Ask Miss Vivian DuBois

by Crystal Cook

Dear Miss Vivian. The Queens tend to wear a lot of Patton leather pumps with our delivery outfits, but we would love some variety. What other 50s type shoes are appropriate for the time period and where can we find them?

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Oh, Kitten! With all due respect to the great general George S., and to the delicious actor George C. (whom ugly babies around the world resemble), it is in fact PATENT, not “Patton”, leather. Patent leather–invented in 1818–is leather that has been given a glossy, shiny finish through the application of a linseed-based lacquer or (in modern days) a plastic coating. And while Miss Vivan simply adores a shoe so reflective that a naughty beau might use it to ascertain the color of her foundation garments, in the 1950s patent leather was typically reserved for fancy evening dress, or for little girls’ shoes.

Ladies’ day shoes (an important distinction, as opposed to evening or “leisure” shoes) in the 1950s tended to be made of calfskin. The simple pump, with a 2-3” inch heel and a rounded, slightly pointed, or boxy toe was a very common silhouette. As “denim dungarees” and Capri pants grew in popularity, flats began to gain a foothold–pun intended, Kittens! Of course, no self-respecting bobby-soxer would be caught dead without a pair of penny loafers or saddle shoes (to be worn with pants, skirts or dresses).

Some of the shoes we tend to associate with the 1950s were really more what Miss Vivian considers “specialty items.” For example, stilettos with spindly heels and toes so pointy they could kill a roach in a corner were originally for “fast” girls, though eventually they found their way onto the feet of more sophisticated ladies, as street fashion so often does–and eventually, by the 1960s, into Everywoman’s closet. Platforms–a holdover from the 1940s–were more common in the early 1950s, but lived on, particularly in “play” shoes.

Now, Kittens: where to find these fabulous fashions for your feet? With devoted surfing, it is entirely possible to find the real thing on websites like eBay and Etsy, especially if you happen to be blessed with petite little paws. The drawback to authentic vintage footwear tends to be its durability, or heartbreaking lack thereof. At sixty plus years old, the leather and glue in these beauties are understandably fragile, and many’s the time that Miss Vivian has found joy turned to tragedy as a divine pair of vintage shoes has absolutely disintegrated around her feet upon wearing.

But chins up, Kittens; there are a number of lovely resources to satisfy your vintage shoe needs! Miss Vivian has been rewarded with several pairs of absolutely marvelous, faithful reproductions of vintage designs by Crown Vintage, sold (of all places) at Discount Shoe Warehouse. For the computer-savvy Kittens among you, there are fabulous websites like Rocket Originals and Remix Vintage Shoes. Oh–to die for! And for pure comfort when you’re on your feet all day, whether it be delivering casseroles or running your media empire, swing dance shoes  (check out Everything For Swing) can provide your tootsies with unparalleled comfort and authentic vintage design. What could be better?

So happy vintage dressing from head to toes, Kittens!

November 17, 2010

Barnyard Breakfast

by Crystal Cook

My absolute favorite meal of the day is breakfast. Maybe it has something to do with all my farm animal crockery? Let’s face it. Cows and chickens just make breakfast more fun.

I like to make moo sounds when pouring milk over my cereal. Moooooooo. Don’t youuuuuu?

Not only are these dishes adorable but they also inspire me to step outside of my comfort zone and create. In fact, my little cow butter dish just begged me to make a yummy buttery creation.

So now I sit enjoying a flaky hot croissant with strawberry butter!  Thanks Mr. Cow. (Yes, I am talking to an inanimate object).  Butter compounds are simple to make and can add a little something extra to your morning. If you’re all about savory just add a couple of tablespoons of oil to your butter, and chopped fresh herbs of your choice. Delicious!

Strawberry Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

Makes 1 cup.

In a medium size bowl combine the strawberry preserves, orange juice, and orange zest. Place the softened butter in the bowl of a food processor. Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter at medium speed until it softens and lightens in color, about 2 minutes.  Add strawberry mixture and blend for another minute.

Remove butter from bowl and spoon onto parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a log, using the edge of a baking sheet to form a tight log. Chill for 2 hours before serving. Place in the super cute cow butter dish and get ready to make someone’s morning!

November 15, 2010

So wrong or so right?

by Crystal Cook

Hi, my name is Crystal, and I am a dishaholic. I come by it honestly—my mom and my sister both suffer from the same infliction. Over the course of this blog, I will post about my precious pieces and collections in hopes of finding others like me, or come to the sad realization that maybe (just maybe) I might have a problem.

With that said, I do realize that some items I own are questionable.  For instance, what do you think of these throwback seashell trivets? By elevating the macramé design-style of your grandma’s trivets with seashells, I think these beauties really add that “extra funkiness” to the dinner table. But that’s just my opinion. Is this extra funk so wrong, or so right?

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November 13, 2010

Inside the Queens Studio: Meet Miss Abigail!

by Casserole Queens

Drawing inspiration from James Lipton (or maybe Will Ferrell playing the part of James Lipton on SNL), we periodically interview someone we find interesting and inspiring. In our first installment, we talk to author and advice-giver Miss Abigail.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Abigail Grotke, aka Miss Abigail. I began collecting advice books back around 1985, and the collection has grown to over 1,000 books since then. I’ve scoured these books to glean wisdom from advice-givers of yesteryear, and have been doling out advice from classic advice books on the web since 1998. The best-of the website was turned into a book, Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, and the book recently inspired a play, which is opening Off-Broadway on October 24 and is starring Eve Plumb (Jan Brady) as Miss Abigail!

I have an extensive background in print and digital publications and a keen interest in historical materials and pop culture, not to mention a love of crawling around dirty used bookstores to find the perfect book to add to my collection. During the day, I work on digital library projects for the Library of Congress (currently I help archive the Internet), and have previously worked in the publications office of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 2004, I was named one of 55 Library Journal “Movers and Shakers,” an annual feature which sets out to identify “emerging leaders in the library world.”

I live in an old house in Takoma Park, Maryland, with my talented musician husband Denis Malloy, and our terrier mutts Felix and Lulu.

What is your “recipe” for success?

Good friends, good wine, good food, good fun!

If you weren’t an expert advice-giver you would be…

Well, since it’s all a hobby, the expert advice-giver actually answers the question “if you weren’t a government employee what would you be”?

If your personality could be described as any casserole, what would it be?

A classic chicken pot pie. Warm, comforting, with a crust that is a bit flaky at times.

What dish from your childhood brings you the most comfort and why?

Grilled cheese. It’s the only thing I ate for years, and I still get a lot of joy from them, particularly with a nice hot cup of tomato soup.

Best piece of advice you would give to a seventeen-year-old girl going on her first date to a fancy restaurant?

I’d have to stick with table etiquette advice, because manners are so important to making a good first impression. And the seventeen-year-old has probably not had much experience in fancy restaurants (she must have found a great date!).

I consulted with Betty Betz’s Your Manners are Showing: The Handbook of Teen-Age Know-How (1946). She says: “It’s not easy to make sparkling small talk if there’s a major conflict starring a knife and a fork whirling around your brain. Basic table strategy is simple, like all good manners. Once you learn the routine, your table manners will come naturally…”. In addition to the usual advice about where your drinking glass is and starting with the outer forks, knives and spoons, the author gives a few specific tips that might be helpful to our seventeen-year-old girl:

“Always remember to raise the food to your mouth — don’t duck your head over your plate like a hungry bird of prey. Don’t play games with your food, and never twiddle with the silverware. Habits like these make you appear ill at ease, so be smooth; remember to keep your hands on your lap when you’re not eating.

Be as attractive as you can at the table — this means not talking with your mouth fill, and avoiding unpleasant or off-color conversations. Don’t sprawl on the table or tilt back on the legs of your chair. Never comb your hair during a meal, and if you feel a sneeze coming on, turn your head away from the table. …

If you happen to make a mistake, brush it off lightly and don’t let it ruin your evening.”

This tip from Sophie C. Hadida, in her 1950’s book Manners for Millions, might also come in handy: “It is discourteous to order at a restaurant any food which through its odor may disturb others at the table. Such foods are strong cheese, onions, chives, garlic.”  Ms. Hadida also provides some advice for the boys – hopefully this girl’s date will pay attention to this one!

“I once heard a young man say, ‘I should care whether my girlfriend likes onions or not. If I want to eat onions, I eat them. If she doesn’t like it, she knows what she can do.’”

Such a person is the personification of selfishness. The poor girl may be helpless. She has no other boyfriend at the present time, and is forced to go out with Jack, who chooses to eat onions that evening. No one wants to be accused of having halitosis. Eating onions is courting a form of halitosis which is really more objectionable than the unavoidable kind, because the implied discourtesy irritates.

Elbows on the table…yes or no?

Oh, most definitely not. In an 1880 book called Decorum: A Practical Treatise on Etiquette and Dress of the Best American Society, written by John A. Ruth, the author advises “Keep your elbows at your side, so that you may not inconvenience your neighbors.”

I’ve also got a book titled “Elbows Off the Table: Manners for Teen-Age Christians.” (1957) I checked that, as it seemed to be the perfect reference on this topic. This author’s advice – oh wait, a surprise!: “Don’t put your elbows on the table, except between courses. Don’t lean. In fact, don’t put your left hand anywhere on the table; put it on your lap.”

We’ve all been on those dates when the check comes and conversation instantly becomes strained…should the girl nicely get out her wallet to pay or is that the man’s responsibility?

While times have changed and sharing the tab is much more common, sensitivity may still be a concern if the boy and girl don’t know each other well (if it is early in the relationship). Back in 1950, Evelyn Milles Duvall in her Facts of Life and Love provided some advice that might still ring true: she mentions that Dutch-dating, “wherein the girl and boy share the cost, is not a common practice in most communities — perhaps because the boy’s pride is involved. A girl must be extremely tactful; boldly buying her own ticket or handing him the cash in public may be offensive and embarrassing to him. It is usually wise to have the arrangement definitely understood in advance and to give the boy the money before leaving the house. In some cities a girl dutch-dating with a boy at a restaurant can simply ask the waitress to give her a separate check.”

Your spouse called and his Aunt Edna is coming into town and coming over for dinner. Quick– what is your go-to meal?

Luckily my spouse does most of the cooking, so I’d help do the dishes! But if I were in charge of cooking, and I had anything in the kitchen, I’d do some steamed artichokes, mashed potatoes, and probably some baked salmon. Then I’d top it off with a flourless chocolate cake!

If someone wrote a book about you, what would the title be?

Romancing the Artichoke

To learn more about Miss Abigail, visit her website at .

November 11, 2010

What I did with my farmers market loot!

by Sandy Pollock

I love the farmers market.  I recently visited a great one in my hood in DC. The Dupont Circle Farmers Market is fantastic and year round!

I bought some amazing stuff and here’s what I did with it.

I love, love, LOVE the combination of basil, tomato, cheese and balsamic vinegar. We snack on this all the time. Whether I slice up all the ingredients and nibble straight from the cutting board, or stack them up with little extras like pesto or tapenade and pop them in the oven, there is rarely a nibble of food left to be had.

Today’s recipe is a play on the same yummy snack that I love. My farmers’ market delights inspired these amazing balsamic grape tomatoes on garlic and goat cheese toast. I am in love with this snack and you will be too!

Let’s get cooking!

Slice some crusty bread into 1/2 inch slices, brush with olive oil, then toast.

Look at these gorgeous tomatoes!

Slice tomatoes in half  (I used the whole pint) and mince the garlic (2 cloves).

Heat olive oil in a saute pan (about 2 tablespoons).

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add some quality balsamic vinegar to the garlic (about 1/4 cup).

Add the tomatoes and mix to coat.

Let them cook away. The balsamic vinegar will reduce and become syrupy and the tomatoes will start to release their juices.

You will suddenly have way more juice than you started with and that is all good. Just let it reduce down. You don’t want the end result to be soupy. You are looking for a thicker sauce.

Toast is ready.

Take a whole clove of garlic and rub it on the still warm toast. It adds such a nice layer of flavor. Really worth doing.

Now it’s time for the cheese! This time, I used goat cheese (another farmers market find), but mozzarella is also a good choice. I just wanted something really creamy and spreadable.

Spread a good amount of cheese on each piece of toast and try not to eat it before you get the tomatoes on there, but be warned — this will be a difficult thing to do.

Tomatoes still cooking away and looking amazing!

My sad-looking, but still very tasty basil!

Spoon a heaping amount of the tomato mixture on top of the goat cheese and top with some basil.

Admire it for a minute.

Now eat!

This is the perfect flavor combination for me. I could eat something like this every single day.

November 8, 2010

DC’s Dupont Circle Farmers Market

by Sandy Pollock

I live in between two great farmers markets in Washington DC. This week I am focusing on the Dupont Circle Farmers Market. I am super jazzed because there’s a chill in the air and I can bust out a scarf and light sweater! I had the best time and bought a bunch of amazing food and will share how I used it soon! The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times of London named the Dupont Circle Farmers Market one of the top farmers’ markets in the country. I bought this bread from Bonaparte Breads and it is delicious! I will show you how I used it in an upcoming post! I also acquired these beauties and paired them with the bread above. So delicious! Hope you enjoy the pics, and the recipe that will follow. But in the meantime, I hope this inspires you to head out to your local farmers market and get cooking!

November 6, 2010

Tailgating with Casseroles

by Casserole Queens

With cool weather settling in and football season in full swing, we wanted to help you bring your tailgate to the next level with a few tips and ideas from the Casserole Queens.

While hamburgers and hotdogs are usually a tailgate staple, there’s no reason not to bring something new to the game with a new recipe, or of course, a casserole!  Because casseroles are easy to transport, easy to heat up, and easy to serve a lot of people, they are a no-brainer for your next tailgate.  Check out these crowd pleasers that will make your tailgate the most popular pre-game party place.


Kick-off with a Kick Casserole

1 ½ cups of dried elbow macaroni
2 cups of broccoli florets
1/3 cup dried tomatoes (not oil pack)
1/3 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil, crushed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups milk
1 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cup shredded Gouda cheese

Cook macaroni. Add broccoli; drain. Set aside. Meanwhile, snip dried tomatoes. Place tomatoes in a small bowl; add enough warm water to cover. Let stand for 10 minutes or until softened; drain well. Set aside. In a medium saucepan cook green onions in hot butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in flour, basil, cayenne pepper, and salt. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Add cheeses, a little at a time, stirring constantly after each addition until melted. Stir in macaroni-broccoli mixture and softened tomatoes. Transfer to an un-greased 1 1/2 –quart casserole.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350° oven about 30 minutes.

casseroles are a perfect complement for every tailgate.  To go with your game day casseroles, here are some ideas for decorations, drinks, tailgating games, and even some kitschy outfits to support your favorite team.

A great way to incorporate a casserole into your game day menu is to heat up your casserole at home then pack it in a cooler where it will stay warm until you arive on -site. Once there the Queens recommend disposable chafing dishes.  They are easy to set up, and the wire frame/holder can be reused and really do a great job at keeping food hot.  A sample is at the link below but you can find these at any party supply store.

Disposable Buffet Serving Kits

For more tailgating recipes, check out


Food Network


Be Prepared

Pre-pack food (make a list the night before of items to pack in the morning, as well as items to pick up on the way to the tailgate, like ice.), prepare for weather (make sure you have covers for your dishes, and a place to store things in case of a downpour), check regulations (from alcohol to barbecue pits, check with the school website before bringing these items to your tailgate)



Have a fabulous tailgate while showing your team colors with these easy tips.  If you don’t already own your own table cloth and plates with your teams logo, there are plenty of sites you can order them from.  Most party supply stores also have paper plates in cups in a plethora of colors, so you are sure to find everything you need in your team’s colors there.  Here are some helpful sites:

Tailgater Zone

Tailgating Party Supply

Visiting your team’s official website is also a great place to start looking for inspiration and unique items.

A couple helpful hints when buying your decorations: First, set a budget. Try to buy items that can be used all season to help cut down on costs. Next, scout out your tailgating spot so you can know how much room you have, and so that you can take full advantage of your surroundings (surrounding trees, shady areas, and good places to set up tables and chairs.)



Since just beer isn’t enough at the Queen’s tailgate, impress your guests with some of these must have beverages for game day:




Even if you can’t dress in an apron and heels, try these sites for retro inspired t-shirts and outfits with your team’s logo

Distant Replays

The Original Retro Brand


Watching the game at home

Even if you can’t make it out to tailgate every week or your team is playing away, watching the game can be just as fun.  Get out your decorations, and dress in your teams colors. You can even set up your favorite tailgating games in the backyard or in the living room.


The Casserole Queens

Crystal and Sandy


November 4, 2010

You know what rhymes with Halloween?

by Crystal Cook

Casserole Queen! Yep, that’s  right—the Queens love themselves some Halloween! This year we challenged our customers to submit their best Halloween pics to receive a free casserole! The winner is the Sanchez family! Michael Anthony and Jayden’s downright scary portrayal of Chucky and his Bride earned the top prize, but check out all these delightful entries. It didn’t seem right to just pick one!

WINNERS! Chucky and his bride! Chucky—Michael Anthony Sanchez-age 9, Bride—Jayden Sanchez-age 7

Zombie hottie Kristy Gregg and Super Mario—but wait! Look closer. Yep, that is Jack Black! The Queens blog has only been live for two days and we already have an A-list celeb posting! Thanks Kristy!

Sarah Wolf and her dog Rufus are just too cute for words! Photo by Annie Ray, check her work out at

Zombie beauties Kim Dolmanet and Allison Turrell at the Zombie Ball in Austin, TX!

Little Jack C. Baker as Count Drool-cula!


Mom to be Mieke left us...well um...speechless.

Kim & Vince all dressed up in 20s fashion—a flapper & a gangster.

Meghan dressed up as Super Woman.... well she is pretty super!

Here is a creative group costume from the De Los Santos clan! Little Leo as the fearless firefighter, and his trusty sidekick the dalmatian, and his ladder!

We see you Ella Kate! Ella Kate Brotman hiding behind her jack-o-lantern.

Anna Hammond says: Look Ma! I caught a bat! Can we keep it?

Is that little Charlie Lee in that pink poodle suit?

Here is 2-year old Ivy Tully doing her part to Keep Austin Weird!

Clifford Walker submitted this photo of his wife's (Bobbe Walker) super cool Musketeer costume!

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