Notes From Swan's Nest

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Winter and Spring

It was warm enough in the mountains this afternoon to work outside without a jacket, but the welcome respite from the cold will be brief as another snowstorm moves into Colorado tomorrow.
 
Across the country, folks are getting slammed by a succession of winter storms that shut down schools and offices, knock out power to many, and cause havoc on the roads. At the same time, television news segments this week have offered up winter’s lighter side – scores of children, young adults, and those whose usual maturity has been set aside in the interest of good old fashion fun, sliding down hills on anything that will take flight through fresh powder.
 
And yet, in our Dallas, Texas gardens the daffodils are blooming and azalea buds are beginning to swell in anticipation of their annual breathtaking display of pink, salmon, red, and white blossoms.
 
While last weekend’s snowstorm took hold, I was caught between the winter weather outside and the springtime I longed for as I made preparations for a dinner party.  I purchased several bunches of cheerful, yellow daffodils and placed them into a vase, which I set in front of the built-in gas hearth in our new kitchen, and tucked a gorgeous, pink and white amaryllis into a formal white stoneware pot for the center of the dining table. I nestled small electric candles into a series of miniature glass compotes filled with clear glass stones to provide a touch of stylish ‘chic’ to the table, and paired white dinner plates with gold chargers.
 
The casual menu started with individual chopped, iceberg lettuce salads garnished with arugula, julienned basil, red endive, sliced tomatoes and cucumber, a garlic-laced buttermilk dressing I created for my newest cookbook Celebrating Home, crumbled applewood smoked bacon, and a “rose-like” garnish of red endive cut crosswise. Following the salads, we feasted on smoked pulled pork – a gift from Dallas neighbors; slow-cooked, northern Mexico pinto beans flavored with jalapeños, garlic, onion, and bacon; cornbread muffins; and apple tart topped with a lattice crust and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce. Tantalizing aromas filled our home, but the best part was the animated conversation as guests relaxed and enjoyed the simple meal.
 
It won’t be long before spring arrives in full force, but while we’re waiting, try blending a winter menu with spring décor for a very fun gathering with friends.
 
- Christy