Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Old Tools of the Trade

Ever since high school, I've been a collector of vintage.  What I collect has changed over the years.  It started with clothing and handbags, scarves, and jewelry. I went through a very long phase of wrought iron candle holders and candelabra.  Then came the kitchen- and dinnerware.  This phase has lasted the longest.  I've started and stopped collections.  Salt and pepper shakers were my first, because they're small.  But seriously, how many sets does one person need?  I've sold most of them, except for the milk glass range set and a 'fancy' silver pair.  Of course, I should apply that thinking to my current 'accidental' collection of pitchers and creamers.  I can't resist the pureness of a white ironstone creamer, or the charm of a bright red cap on a clear glass pitcher.  I love enamelware and glassware.  Anything in aqua makes me weak in the knees.  I have a set of Sasha Brastoff's 'Surf Ballet' in aqua and platinum that I cherish.  That's my 'good' china, the set I would have registered for...if I had been getting married in 1954.  I can see that dinnerware displayed in a blonde Heywood Wakefield hutch, situated in a dining room flooded with light.  Someday.  When I have the house and the hutch.

I love mid-century pieces.  Stainless steel and rosewood serving trays and platters from Denmark.  Pyrex and Fire King casseroles for roasting chicken or baking lasagna.  Silver-trimmed Dorothy Thorpe old fashioned glasses to channel a 'Mad Men' vibe.   And the cookbooks.  Oh, my god...the cookbooks.  This blog has been a thrift shopping bonanza for me.  Know why?  Props!  An interesting plate, an embroidered tablecloth, a glass juicer.  Sometimes I'll be setting up a photo wishing I had a certain colour plate or working in the other direction, I'll be at the thrift store, pick up an item, and imagine it in a future shot.

I try to be practical (justification!).  I look for pieces that I will actually use on a regular basis.  I don't like anything too fine or delicate (hence the pieces of restaurant ware--they take a beating).  So imagine how happy I was when I came across one of my newest finds, an old enameled dutch oven.  Yes, I already had a dutch oven.  All 5-quarts of it are great when I'm making no-knead bread or a large amount of stock.  I wasn't really on the look-out for another one, but when the opportunity arises, well, who am I to say no?  This one...well, she's a looker.  She's a vintage Cousances (bought out by Le Creuset).  Cobalt blue, 18 cm, a little discoloured on the inside from use, but the enamel is still shiny and only a nick or two in the enamel on the rim and one of the handles.  A perfect bargain at $8.00.  A perfect size for me.  A perfect size for making soup.

Maybe I'll share photos of the blog props after I do some rearranging.  Maybe I need to rotate what I have and freshen up the kitchen.  Maybe I need to purge some of the collection.  Or maybe I just need to keep finding things to make in my new old tool.

Pesto Broth with Butternut Squash Ravioli
Serves 2

For the pesto:

4 oz basil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2/3 cup pine nuts
Olive oil

For the soup:

2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
4 tablespoons pesto
2 cups spinach
4 oz ravioli or other cooked pasta
Parmesan, grated, for topping

To make the pesto, remove any thick stems from basil and throw half the amounts of basil, pine nuts, and cheese in a food processor with the garlic and black pepper.  Pulse a few times to mince the ingredients and pour in some olive oil.  Stop every few pulses to scrape down the sides and mix everything together.  Add the remaining ingredients, pulse repeatedly, slowly adding more oil until it reaches a consistency you're happy with.  

Heat the stock over medium heat.  Add the pesto and whisk to mix in.  Add the spinach and let wilt before adding the pasta. Simmer for 5-8 minutes.  Ladle into soup bowls and top with grated cheese.

Note:  I used a butternut squash ravioli from Trader Joe's.  You'll find it in the refrigerated section.  You could easily use tortellini.  If you want to use a plain pasta, I would use a cut like ditalini.  

Isn't she pretty?

It all started last Summer when Dad sent me that green pitcher. 

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