Something More to Read?

WILLARD started going out to everyone’s email boxes today; it takes two days for the whole list to go, and even though you might have just read yourself practically silly, you know there could be a surprise for you here, and of course, there is!   But perhaps we need a little mood music?  Here’s a song to dance you down the page; great soundtrack from the movie French Kiss . . .

This is a photo of my heart-shaped Lemon Pepper Tea Biscuits, just out of the oven, still warm, ready for someone to slather them with butter and Cranberry-Orange Marmalade.  They are one of the recipes featured in a new cookbook I’m very excited about — it’s from Where Women Cook Magazine, and it’s called CELEBRATE!

I am one of the twenty-eight women featured in this book; honored to be included with such luminaries of the food world as Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman), Angie Dudley (Bakerella) and Molly Wizenberg (Orangette).  One of the special things about this book, besides the obvious, is that each woman is pictured doing her thing in her own kitchen; there are tons of wonderful photographs, sixty recipes, and lots of tips for celebrating life, with cooking as the magical ingredient.  My chapter is called “Kitchen Table Tea.” The kind of everyday celebration we have in the kitchen with our girlfriends.   Each contributor chose a different theme to focus on.

(Do I like tea, really, or is it just the dishes?  That’s the question!)  Anyway, I have the first copy (still warm off the press) of CELEBRATIONS that was sent to me here on the island.  I’m going to sign it and send it to one of YOU as a Thanksgiving present!  Just leave a comment at the bottom of this post, and on Friday we’ll let the RNG (Random Number Generator) pull a name out of our hat and see in what corner of the world this book ends up.  But for all of you, my girlfriends, scroll to the bottom of this post, and I’ll give you the recipe for the Lemon Pepper Tea Biscuits. ♫ Do I love you, Oh yes I love you  . . . ♪

For me, the Thanksgiving countdown has begun . . . I started making my shopping list this morning . . .

Taking center stage is my grandma’s stuffing, which requires real bread that has to be air-dried for three days. Two days won’t do it. Don’t even think about putting it in the oven to dry.  Those are the rules.  So, I need to be ready.  My ironing board does double duty as drying rack for the bread, spread out on cookie sheets in the pantry.

Plus, right now is gravy-making time; I need it for dinner, but I also need it for leftovers, so I start early and make extra.  I learned to make gravy when I was very young, but still tweak it a little bit every year; a little of this a little of that; vermouth?  Red wine?  Plain this year? Joe always has his family’s 2¢ to add to the pot; sometimes requiring a restraining hand on his pouring arm.  Shall we have sage?  A teeny bit of cloves perhaps?  Perfect gravy is the mark of distinction in our family — no one can describe exactly what makes it perfect, but we sure know it when we taste it!

I’m already done making the butters:

One for each biscuit plate (the baking powder kind).  Yum.

I use leaves for place cards at Thanksgiving (as long as there isn’t snow on them!).  I made these from rhododendron leaves, which are the perfect size, especially if you have a “Marjorie” coming to dinner, because her whole name fits on one!  Plus they’re smooth and flat and don’t break too easily. I pick the leaves the day before and keep them in the fridge so they stay fresh, then write the names on as big as possible with a correction pen (after first practicing on a paper towel!).

OK, so would you like to go to the grocery store with us?  This was yesterday!

We’re almost there, I kept thinking the leaf would jump off, but apparently it really wanted to get to the supermarket parking lot, and wasn’t going to give up until we were there!

OK, that’s enough of that.  It’s been a red letter week for me, a feature in a new book, and another really nice article in the winter issue of Cape Cod Home Magazine.  ♥ You guys must be spreading the word, something crazy is going on; so much to be grateful for.  Plus, we have best friends coming from England next week!  And to top it off, I already figured out what I’m giving you for Christmas! And I’m excited because I think you’ll like it!

 So I am off to the City (that’s Domesticity City of course); I’m taking the day off to play with my house, nurk around in the guest room, organize the pantry, play ball with the new Kitty, hug Girl, kiss Joe, watch old movies, nap, and so on.  But before I go, I want to give you that recipe and remind you to leave a comment to enter the drawing for the book — tell us the strangest, most quirky, or favorite thing you ever had at Thanksgiving — for me it’s always the same, Rainbow Jell-O, not very strange, but definitely quirky, and also a favorite.  How about you?


If you want your biscuits to be heartshaped you will need a miniature muffin pan with hearts!  I have this cast-iron one and I love it. This easy quick recipe makes one dozen delectable biscuits.

  • 1-3oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 c. self-rising flour, sifted
  • 1/3 c. either chopped dried cranberries or currants
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • sanding sugar (opt.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a deep, medium-sized bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and zest with mixer on med speed until smooth.  Scrape down bowl.  Stir in sour cream.  Gradually beat in flour until well blended.  Stir in cranberries or currants.  Put a heaping tsp. of dough into each cup of an ungreased miniature muffin pan, filling the space completely and leveling the surface of the dough. Grind pepper over the top.  Sprinkle with sanding sugar (if desired).  Bake for 15 min. or until light brown.  Pop out muffins into a basket lined with a tea towel; cover to keep warm. 

Guess what?  A foghorn is blowing, I can hear it sounding out up from the water.  Later gators.  ♥ have a wonderful day! xoxo

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1,719 Responses to Something More to Read?

  1. Nina says:

    Love the look of the book Susan! I may have to treat myself for Christmas! Also I love your red and white china and wanted to ask do you buy certain patterns or do you buy any red and white patterns and mix them up. My favorite colour is red. It’s powerful and cosy at the same time! xx

    • sbranch says:

      I agree! I love pink and red china, and feel fine about mixing them up … I don’t really look for any special patterns, I just look for what I like! I always know it when I see it!

  2. Maryellen says:

    My favorite Thanksgiving food is our oyster casserole. My grandmother always made one and we have lost her recipe. A few years ago (okay, probably longer than I think) my mother and I found a recipe in Country Woman’s Christmas book that is very similar, almost as good and much easier 🙂 – it is our new tradition. My mother and I were the only ones who like oysters, but since she has gone, I have converted my oldest daughter and youngest son to believers and share it with me! This year I plan to tempt the grandchildren (age 3 and 20 mth old twins.)

  3. Noelle says:

    Hello Susan;
    I love the ride, reminds me of Montauk. Oh I have two of your books that you signed, would just love to have something special like that again! I love the butter leaves they look divine. thanks for all you do!

  4. I think we both must be dishaholics! I currently have a beautiful set of Blue Willow like my grandmother had, but I love all transferware–all colors! I saw some lovely pieces of pink willow at Tuesday Morning last week, but can’t figure out how to explain to hubby how they ended up in the dish cupboard! He doesn’t share my dish love! I love Fiestaware too–so happy and joyful!
    Stick Horse Cowgirl V

  5. Becky says:

    My husband just gave me a Kindle Fire so I can sit in my La Z Girl and read this wonderful blog. I thought we would never taste my mom’s stuffing until I made yours last Thanksgiving. It was wonderful! Mom passed away 14 years ago. My sisters and I have tried to remember how she made it (unfortunately she never wrote it down). We remember it had lots of celery and onion and there would be slices of bread all over the kitchen for days. Your stuffing recipe is as close to mom’s as I can remember. Thank you, thank you! Have a blessed holiday!

  6. Love your blog and the book looks yummity-yum. Thanks for inspiring us!

  7. Cindy says:

    The strangest Thanksgiving dinner was at a buffet in the local Indian casino. We never did that again. But the best part was, we were all together as a family. And we thanked God for that!!

  8. Enikö says:

    Ha, ha, ha…taking your favorite oak leaf for a ride…too funny! Cograts on the article in Cape Cod Mag! Love the Celebrate book! Sue, did you say you had copies of the Where Women Create magazine that featured you for sale in your store? I couldn’t find it. xo

  9. Donna says:

    Once I was invited to share Thanksgiving with a wonderful Italian family. You would not believe the wonderful Italian dishes and desserts they served. Imagine this once upon a time turkey gal (now I’m a veggie) sitting down to spaghetti! Hey, actually, as I’m now a veggie, spaghetti would work!
    (I found my When Women Create magazine at Barnes and Noble.)

  10. JoAnn Petersen says:

    Loved the Kitchen Tea. My favorite thing is tea parties and red transfer ware dishes I collect all sizes and and color , I also have blue, green, brown.purple but my favorite and what I have the most of is red.I have been in love with you and your books, recipes, I started collection when you did art work for County Living I think we still lived in Calif. but we have been in Texas since l980 and I waited for every book to come out I am a true fan. I was so excited when you designed fabric because I am a quilter and truly love fabric
    I feel like you are my true friend we are kindred spirits when you were writing about looking at country living I was living that with you I am truly a country girl . Love ya’JoAnn
    Oh, yes I have two new kitties Max, Sami, yellow tigger stripe that help with the quilting and every thng else they can get into.

  11. Donette LeTourneau says:

    O-the joy I get reading your Blog. I must admit I chuckle when you post about your love of fake fruit and those blissful Counry Living mags. I too poured over them (even the adds in back!) and mentally planed my home and decor. Thank you for bringing such momories back. happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  12. CAROL O. says:

    Hello Susan….and a very happy thanksgiving to you and joe… favorite thing of course is the Stuffing…and I have used your recipe…I mean Grandmas….for a few years….and because it soooo similiar to my moms….and drying out the bread is so awesome and I feel so chefy….and I love the Rainbow Jello…which I usually make at Christmas time…and have passed it on… thank you so much…loving the blogs….I am 3 behind….but catching up…right now…I hope that I get picked for the drawing some day….YOU have such nice things to give away….talk soon….
    carol o. from Southern Cal.

    • sbranch says:

      Isn’t that the truth, just having that bread out there on the ironing board makes me feel like I’m “doing something!” Love that Carol, Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. Hi Susan,
    I got my Celebrate Book This week. You look so lovely. I am having withdrawals becuase my Willard never arrived in my mail box. LOL It is somewhere floating in cyber space. Can you please help me find it? My email address is
    Thank you
    Elizabeth Quigley

  14. Diane Leonard says:

    Love your website. Must send one tiny correction to the poem “A Prayer for a Little Home.” The last stanza should read: “God bless when winds blow, Our home and all we know.” (no “thee”) Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm, information, inspiration, and talent.

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