Sunday, March 31, 2019

Around the Kitchen Table: Setting the Table + #Giveaway





LESLIE: One dish, two dish, red dish, blue dish.

Nine sets. That's how many dishes Mr. Right and I have collected, from four hand-rolled and glazed plates by the renowned potter, Dave Shaner, to service for four in my parents' Poppy Trail and service for who knows how many in my late MIL's Wedgewood. In our nearly 20 years of marriage, we've added to the classic "everyday white" Buffalo china and brought home the colorful melamine picnic set.

And we're not even talking stemware, flatware, or serving pieces. (Hands OFF my Fostoria Americana, you Kondo-maniacs!)


So when I saw this piece in the Washington Post about restaurants moving away from "the big white plate" to a more eclectic style, often mixing vintage patterns (or sturdier modern versions), I thought "Ha -- a trend I'm ahead of!" The red and black Poppy Trail -- I think my father, a traveling furniture sales rep, scored it on a visit to one of his dealers in the early '60s -- mixes artfully with the edged white Haviland plates Mr. Right grew up with. (In this photo, I've topped the two plates with a cup and saucer a dear friend brought me 30 years ago from Hong Kong. And a feather.) If more than 11 show up for our annual holiday brunch, we just slip those red plates into the stack of Haviland and four guests feel extra-special. More than 15? I haul out the pressed glass luncheon sets my mother used for her church circle gatherings. (I suspect they were freebies or "traffic items" my dad's company offered retail customers with purchases.)

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How do you set your table, Kitcheneers? Classic white or mix-and-match? Vintage? Heirlooms? One set sparks joy and begone with the rest?


DENISE: Like Leslie, I've picked up sets of dishes from various sources. When I married my Mr. Right, we registered for a  Pfaltzgraff Folk Art set for our every day dishes and bought a set of good china from some party we attended.

Our next set  came from my Grandma Swanson's estate. No one wanted the old green dishes she used for everyday so I took them. Later, I discovered they were Jadeite and highly collectible.




After that my mom gave me a 1950's Capri Seashell snack set and my mother-in-law gave me a violet snack set.



I also have a complete set of Christmas dishes thanks to my mom's luck at raffles.




So what do we eat on? You guessed it--plain white plates I bought in bulk at Meijer.

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LUCY BURDETTE: Most of my plates have come from Ebay, both fine china and everyday, believe it or not. We have one set of beautiful china, which I fell in love with when John and I were looking years ago. He couldn't quite get over how "wild" it was (see the little animals and palm trees,) so we gave up looking. Some years later he realized how cute it was, but by then it was no longer made. So he found it for me on Ebay, great guy that he is. 

And P.S., I'm not a famous decorator, so mostly I use little props from our daughter's wedding to complete the table.
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Daryl:  Moving around a lot has made me divest of lots of pieces. I have my favorite platters and bowls and such.  An earthquake took a lot of my stemware, including pieces I inherited from my mother. But I still have all the fine china that my husband and I received for our wedding. Royal Doulton. Simple and elegant. I remember shopping with him for just the right pattern. I have used it yearly for all  holidays that aren't Christmas. Why not Christmas? Way back when, Chuck surprised me with a complete set of Spode Christmas Tree dishes and glassware. What a treat. Every year since, we've added a serving dish to the collection. I love "breaking out the dishes" for the holidays. I stack them up, wash them, make sure there are no chips, set the table... It's festive and fun. As for everyday, I use a set of plain white dishes. Food looks good on white.  However, I do have an eclectic collection of single pieces of china and simply colorful plates that I use to display the foods I cooked for Mystery Lovers Kitchen. 
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PEG:  Over the years, we collected a beautiful set of dishes from Cerulean called
"Vieux Chine."  The dishes are very "precious" and need to be hand washed so consequently I don't use them all that much anymore.  But they look very pretty in the china cabinet!

One day I went into TJ Maxx and saw a dozen plates with a toile de Jouy pattern.  I think they were about $4.99 each.  I convinced myself I didn't need any more plates even though I had fallen in love with them--the plates depicted each of the four seasons in the well-known toile pattern.  We went on vacation and when we got back two weeks later I decided if the plates were still there, I would buy them.  They were and I did! 


I did a little research on them (Wikipedia so nothing too deep) and discovered the Niderviller pottery manufacturer, which is listed on the back of the plate, is one of the most famous French pottery manufacturers of faience. It has been located in the village of Niderviller, Lorraine, France since 1735. My husband is convinced they are "Christmas plates" because the toile is red and white and because I generally only use them in December!


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Sheila Connolly: Generations of my family seem to have been avid collectors of fine china, and somehow I ended up with 69 bone china teacups and 14 teapots. And a lot of dessert plates. (You'd think the family had been obsessed with dessert!) There's only one inherited dinner service, which belonged to my great-grandmother, and I use it only for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as it must be washed by hand.


But I thought you might enjoy this doll's tea party. My grandmother worked for Lipton Tea in Hoboken and then New York in the 1950s, and this would have been a promotional picture for them dating from 1952. I love all the doll-size furniture, and we kept the Chinese porcelain miniature tea-set for years, and for a time I had the doll's high-chair that the bear on the right is sitting in. Don't miss the cat sitting under the table!

P.S. I'm having a wonderful time picking up mismatched plates at Irish flea markets and second-hand stores! No sets any more.



Cleo Coyle: Good food on a white plate describes our daily routine. Because Marc and I grew up in working class households, we have no heirlooms to speak of; and because we make our living in the arts (LOL!), we have never splurged on fine china. Older New Yorkers may remember a famous store called Fishs Eddy (Broadway & 19th Street). The store is still around, though it's very different these days (selling mainly new and novelty dishware). Years ago, however, Fishs Eddy primarily featured an eclectic mix of old plates, cups, flatware, and glassware excavated from NYC basements, restaurants, diners, etc., which they would re-sell in their retail store front. Marc and I always enjoyed going through the store to see the interesting lots the owner found. Here’s a pic of one of the restaurant plates that I purchased years ago—a great canvas for serving steaks and chops. 


If you'd like this recipe,
click here or on the photo above.

Whatever plates you have, whatever good memories they bring, we hope you will always eat with joy! 


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What about you, readers? Classic white or mix-and-match? Use "the good stuff" or leave it in the china cabinet? Leave a comment below with your email address for a chance to win our Mystery Lovers' Kitchen prize package -- an ARC of Leave No Scone Unturned by Denise Swanson, the new paperback edition of Death on the Menu by Lucy Burdette, and a paperback of Wreath Between the Lines by Daryl Wood Gerber! (US addresses only; winner will be chosen Thurs, April 4.)





107 comments:

  1. Cleo, I remember Fishes Eddy! We bought dishes there --a dozen large white (heavy) plates for $.75 each! Also some oval ramekins we used to make individual pot pies. I remember they had sets of dishes from some of the old ocean liners and we spent hours looking around!

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    1. Peg - So glad to know you also have great memories of the store! I remember those ocean liner dishes, too. The store is still there (Broadway & 19th) and still run by the same woman. She still sells old china and mix and match plates, too. For anyone visiting NYC, it's still a fun place to shop and a great part of the city to visit--between the Union Square farmer's market (open Mon., Wed., Fri, Sat.) and Eataly.

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    2. Paper plates. I shred them afterwards and put them in the worm bin. Retired to a house without a dishwasher and I am on strike.

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  2. We have a set of Corelle that we use. The china stays in the cabinet.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

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  3. I have Fiestaware, which I love, love, love, and I add new colors when they come out and pick up old ones at garage and yard sales. I only registered for China because my mom made me, they are still in the boxes, never used. We have one holiday meal every year, Thanksgiving, which loans itself well to using the Fiestaware, so looking to offload the China on someone. My mom, on the other hand, has about 3 different sets of China, including one for Christmas and one for Easter. Kkcochran (at) hotmail (dot) com

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    1. Oh, I love Fiestaware -- and so does my gal, Pepper! Both the vintage and the new colors are so pretty and dish-washer safe so they can be used every day and still look great!

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  4. I like to use the good china on special occassions and have a very nice set we received as a wedding present. I also have a stoneware I use on a daily basis. I feel paper products should be used sparingly. bernice-kennedy(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

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  5. For many years, we used a yellow set of what was called Melmac for our every day dishes and the Butterfly Gold Corelle set that was a wedding gift from my parents for our "company dishes". Now I use my Mother's Corelle (flower pattern) for every day. Still have the Butterfly Gold Corelle. dbahn(at)iw(dot)net

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    1. I bet there's a lot of Corelle in MLK readers' kitchen cabinets! Ours -- ee-gad, a 10th set -- is in the garage in a box of dishes we took out of the camper when we sold it!

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  6. I leave the "good stuff" in the china cabinet. It was here already when we moved in and to be honest, I don't really like it, but it belongs to my husband's grandmother so I can't get rid of it. I have mixed sets that we use for everyday. JL_Minter@hotmail.com

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    1. Hmmm. Any other family members who might think they're just the thing? I firmly believe dishes want to be used!

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    2. I have a full set of my mother-in-law's china in boxes in the basement. It's supposed to be for one of my girls to have eventually but I'm pretty sure neither of them is going to want it.

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    3. I've got my MIL's Wedgewood for a similar reason -- her daughter had a set and *her* daughters weren't interested, so my husband said "sure!" I hope the girls will change their minds... And my niece has my mother's Noritake, which is fine with me!

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  7. If I had more cupboard space, I'd have a lot more sets. It seems I give them away every time I move. Mixing them? I'd never thought of that!

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  8. Oh goodness! The dishes! Lol! Well, for years we were a family of 6, so we had to have LOTS of dishes. My mom bought us 2 sets of John Deere dishes (plates, bowls, cups, etc). My MIL gifted us 3 sets of Christmas dishes for our first holiday season. We have moved from the farm (and the farm décor) and so I have gotten rid of most of those John Deere dishes. Now I have an eclectic mix of other dishes given to us. I have a set of 4 clear glass plates and bowls. I have a set of 8 springtime colorful plates and bowls. When we had family coming for a wedding this fall, we realized we may need more dishes, so we bought several types of navy and white dishes. Now I have 16 plate settings. Lol! wjcline (at) att (dot) net

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    1. I forgot about my 2 formal china sets, one from my mom from 1972 and one from my grandma from 1948. Those only come out on rare occasions.

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    2. John Deere dishes? What a hoot! Years ago, I visited a client who had a John Deere toy and model collection -- hundreds of pieces -- but no dishes! Those navy & white sound classic, and great for mixing and matching!

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  9. We have just about worn out our everyday dishes, and I am thinking maybe that it is time to use our good china from time to time instead of just letting it sit in the china cabinet. I also collect Gaudy Welsh China which I inherited from my maternal Grandmother, but it's more for display than use. bobandcelia@sbcglobal.net

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  10. I love using Fiestaware. I like mixing the colors and it makes for an interesting table setting. My "good" China is all packed away in my China cabinet. My Mom gave it to me when I got married, but I can only remember using the "good" china a few times. These days I want dishes I can put in the dishwasher.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Fiestaware is perfect for mixing and matching! Our Metlox is comparable to the Fiestaware, so it goes in the dishwasher, as does the all-white Haviland. I have friends who put their good china, with designs and all, in the dishwasher -- modern appliances have a delicate setting, so if yours does, you might consider it. My only hesitation would be for metallic trim, though a friend with gold-trimmed china does use hers everyday and uses the dishwasher.

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  11. We have a mixed collection that we use.
    1.Fiestaware
    2.Plastic plates with whimsy designs from Kohl's (I've had these plates since my kiddos were little)
    3.BGH plastic picnic plates with southwest design.
    Bakingcookies32(at)Gmail(dot)com

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