Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

Nifty Napkin Folds: The Standing Fan

by Danica Waters

 

The Standing Fan fold is an elegant, show-stopping way to dress up your formal holiday table.  Although it looks  a bit intimidating, it’s actually very simple to achieve.

 

For a softer presentation, hand-pressing the folds is sufficient; however, for crisp folds, an iron and a bit of spray starch will work wonders.

 

Here’s the how-to:

 

 

Step 1:

Lay the napkin face down in front of you.

 

Step 2:

Fold the napkin in half, bringing the corners towards you. (Yours won’t have the accordion creases yet…  we’ve worked the fold backwards so you can see what it is supposed to look like!)

 

Step 3:

Fold the napkin accordion-style from either side, leaving approximately 2-1/2 – 3 inches on the opposite side un-folded to support the fan.

 

Step 4:

Fold the napkin in half with the accordion folds on the outside.

 

Step 5:

Holding the accordion folds in one hand, grab the unfolded corners with your other hand and tuck them under the accordion folds.

 

Step 6:

Open up the fan and stand it upright.  Voila!

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Nifty Napkin Folds: The French Fold

by Danica Waters

 

Of all the napkin folds, the French Fold is one of the easiest to achieve; it’s simple, elegant, and fast!   When you’ve finished the fold, simply drape it at the dinner place.  Voila!

 

Here’s the “How-To”:

 

 

Step 1:

Lay the napkin face down in front of you.

Step 2:

Fold the napkin in half diagonally, making sure the corners line up neatly.

Step 3:

Bring the top corner down diagonally towards you, so that the crease is an inch or two in from the original bottom corner and creates a new point a few inches to the right of the same original bottom corner.

Step 4:

Bring the top point down towards you, being sure to pivot at the same place the last fold pivoted, to create a new point on the far right.  Ensure the new fold is placed at an equal distance from the other folds for a crisp, symmetrical presentation.

See?  The French Fold is EASY.

 

 

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Nifty Napkin Folds: Tiered Silverware Pouch

by Danica Waters

Now that we’ve mastered the Basic Silverware Pouch, it’s time to turn the aesthetics up a notch.  Ready?  You’re about to become a napkin-folding, silverware-pouch-creatin’ BOSS.  Here’s instructions on how to make a Tiered Silverware Pouch.

 

Tiered Silverware Pouch

 

Step 1:

Lay the napkin face down in front of you.  Keep your tag in the upper left corner.

 

Step 2: 

Fold the napkin in half so the open end faces towards you.

Step 3:

Fold the napkin in quarters.

Step 4:

Orient the napkin so that the open corner faces away from you and to the right.

Step 5:

Roll the top layer down to the center and press down.

NOTE:  Your tendency is probably going to be to try to create a hard fold the first time out.  Don’t – it overcomplicates everything and causes your tiers to overlap rather than lay flat neatly next to eachother.

Simply roll the first layer down…

 

Step 6:

… and then roll the second layer down to meet the first; press flat…

Step 7:

… and then repeat with the third and final layer.  Press all layers down well – you might want to use a warm iron at this point to reinforce the folds and give a super-crisp appearance.  Usually, though, pressing the folds with your hands is sufficient.

Step 8:

Carefully turn the napkin over.

Step 9:

Fold the right side in about a third of the way and press it down hard.

Step 10:

Now fold the left side back and press down hard.  This is another good time to use an iron, to make sure everything looks nice and crisp.

Step 11:

Flip over your pouch, insert your utensils, et voila!  Oooooh – Aaaaaah!  The Tiered Silverware Pouch is so pretty, it brings “tiers” to my eyes.  (Ok! Ok!  I couldn’t resist!)

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Nifty Napkin Folds: Basic Silverware Pouch

by Danica Waters

 

The Basic Silverware Pouch is a straightforward, classy way to keep eating utensils easy to grab.  Here’s the how-to:

 

 

 

Step 1:  Lay the napkin face down in front of you

Step 2:  Fold the napkin in half.

Step 3:  Fold the napkin in quarters.

Step 4:  Orient the napkin so that the open corners face the top left-hand corner.

Step 5:  Fold the top layer down diagonally towards the opposite corner.

Step 6:  Flip the napkin over.  The open corners should now be facing towards the upper right-hand side.

Step 7:  Fold the right side in towards the center about a third of the way.

Step 8:  Fold the left side over.

Step 9:  Flip over the napkin pouch, insert utensils, and VOILA!

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Nifty Napkin Folds: Basic Buffet Roll

by Danica Waters

With Holiday buffets lurking around the corner, today’s lesson in nifty napkin folding is the incredibly simple, sturdy, straightforward Basic Buffet Roll.

Enjoy!

 

Nifty Napkin Folds:  Basic Buffet Roll

 

Step 1:

Lay napkin face down in front of you.

 

Step 2:

Fold one corner down to meet the opposite corner, forming a triangle.  Position the triangle so that the open corners face away from you.

Step 3:

Place your utensils along the bottom and in the center of the long side of the triangle.

Step 4:

Fold one end in to cover the utensils.

Step 5:

Fold the opposite corner in to completely cover utensils.

Step 6:

Roll tightly from bottom up.

Voila!  You’re done!

 

While this fold holds just fine on its own, you can tie a bit of decorative ribbon, raffia, or other decorative on each roll to dress it up a bit.

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Nifty Napkin Folds: The Pyramid Fold

by Danica Waters

Ok folks.  The arrival of mid-October means only one thing besides Halloween:

The. Holiday. Season. Is. Upon. Us.

Face it.  We’ve got about a month until the nostalgic refrains of Christmas carols, sparkly-twinkly lights and the heavy, inescapable scent of cinnamon pinecones inundate every venue in the northern hemisphere and beyond.  Brings tears to my eyes.  (Not the holidays; the cinnamon pineconesACK!!) 

 

Since we published ideas and etiquette tips on The Great Buffet, the Allspice Chronicles had countless requests for instructions and ideas on napkin folds.  Given that there’s no time like holiday time to practice and perfect the timeless art of “napkin origami”, every Monday from now until the end of the year we will happily feature a new napkin fold, from fancy-schmancy to buffet-roll basics.  Add them to your entertainment arsenal and perfect your party-making prowess; and for heaven’s sake, teach them to the kids!  Napkin folding is a great way to keep older children occupied and feeling productive while you’re doing everything else.

Today we’ll start with something on the simple side.

Enjoy!

 

The Pyramid Fold

 

This fold is relatively easy to achieve with almost any sort of cloth.  While all napkin folds will work best with a medium weight cloth, most or all of them can be achieved even on flimsy, lightweight material if you use a bit of spray starch and an iron.

 

Step 1:

Lay the napkin face down in front of you, seams facing upwards.

Step 2:

Fold the napkin in half diagonally.

 

Step 3:

Rotate the napkin so the corners on the open end face away from you.  Fold the right corner up to meet the top corner, making sure that the new fold cuts directly down the center.

Step 4:

Fold up the left side just as you did the right; pat well to reinforce the seam that runs down the center.

Step 5:

Carefully lift the napkin and turn it over, keeping the open end facing away from you.

Step 6:

Fold the top, open section of the napkin down towards you and make the two points meet at the point nearest to you.

Step 7:

Flip the napkin over, keeping the open end towards you.  Fold the napkin in half along the center seam and stand up.

Voila!

 

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Canning for Dummies: You Have No Idea How Easy This Is!

by Danica Waters

For most of us, the very thought of canning our own food floods us with insecurities. Our skin goes pale and clammy, our breathing becomes shallow and erratic; suddenly we find ourselves approaching our kitchen like it has transformed into our 6th Grade Chemistry lab. Echoing through the mists of time and our rapidly firing synapses, the unmistakably foreboding voice of our chem teacher assures us we will most certainly blow up the house or render that beautifully blushing box of peaches to the equivalent of Montezuma’s Revenge if we make a single wrong move.

Mmmmm-hmmmmm…

Say it isn’t so!
Ok. It isn’t so. Canning is actually one of the easiest and most rewarding things you can ever hope to do in a kitchen. Here’s a short but thorough video into what canning (or “putting up”) food is all about:

Canning for Dummies: You Have No Idea How Easy This Is!

Need canning supplies? Check out our favorites featured in the links in the right-hand column of our site. Each product is personally chosen and highly recommended. And better yet, a portion of every purchase made via Amazon.com through the links on our website goes to support the Allspice Chronicles.

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The Spontaneous Picnic-Lovers’ List of Essentials

by Danica Waters

Picnics are, in my humble opinion, truly one of the most fabulous ways to dine.  Be it a sunrise affair before a great day of hiking, a traditional noontime spread, or a romantic evening celebration under the stars, eating outdoors is sheer bliss.  But spontaneity is an art form, and in order to avoid the potential mayhem and the inconvenience of having forgotten something, I’ve found that successful picnics are a heck of a lot easier to pull off when you have an “essentials pack” ready to go at all times.

 

While well-appointed English-style picnic baskets are not only beautiful and practical in that they already have plates, cups, utensils and such, I ended up abandoning mine because it never accommodated enough people.  Instead, I use a large backpack that I keep at the ready so I can grab it and go anywhere, anytime; it’s filled with all the non-perishable basics so all I have to worry about is the food.

 

Here’s what I have in mine:

 

The Spontaneous Picnic-Lovers’ List of Essentials

 

In a large backpack, beach bag, or other reuseable sack, place the following:

 

* Large Cotton Tablecloth

* Wet Wipes

* Non-Breakable Cups / Wine Glasses

* Small Citronella Candle or Citronella Incense

* Small Ziplock Sandwich Bag With Travel-Sized Salt & Pepper and other condiments (you know all those little unused packages of ketchup and hot sauce?  Save them!)

* Several grocery bags for trash removal / recycling

 

* Large Gallon-Sized Resealable (Ziplock) Freezer Bag with:

__ Plates

__ Eating Utensils

__ Napkins (Paper or Cloth)

 

* Large Gallon-Sized Resealable (Ziplock) Freezer Bag with:

__Small Cutting Board

__ Small Sharp Knife (In Protective Sheath or Wrapped In a Small Towel)

__ Cheese Plane

__ Bottle Opener

__ Can Opener

__ Corkscrew

__ A Couple of Dish Towels

__ Lighter or Matches

__ Tablecloth Clips (optional)

__ Chip Clip or Two

__ Toothpicks

__ Small Flashlight

__ Several Pre-Cut Pieces of Tin Foil, Folded Up

 

* Large Gallon-Sized Resealable (Ziplock) Freezer Bag with:

__ Benadryl

__ Bandaids

__ Antibiotic Ointment

__ Tweezers

__ Aspirin/Acetaminophen/Ibuprofen

__ Travel tissues

__ Dental Floss

__ Sunscreen

__ Bug Spray

 

BTW:  If you missed it, you can read The Allspice Chronicles’ post about the Best Natural Bug Repellents here.

Enjoy!  And Carpe Diem!

 

 

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the Allspice Chronicles

Welcome to theAllspice Chronicles.  This is a collection dedicated to the women who inspired this facet of my creative life:

  • To my Nana, a quietly strong and incredibly resourceful Southern woman, and a fantastic, indulgent cook who taught me that the art of cooking is much, much more than simply following a recipe;
  • To my Mother, a woman who was into “green living” well before it was fashionable, who approached cooking with an eye to budget, nutrition, and ease of preparation, but who also loved to throw enormous celebrations that were the talk of the town for months afterwards;
  • To my Mother In Law, who was the fuel to the flame of my culinary curiosity, who bought me my first subscription to Gourmet Magazine and countless cookbooks (all of which I still own), and whose refined European standards of style and good taste have influenced me to no end;
  • To my dear Friend, the rebellious, free-thinking abstract artist-turned-author who started her adventure in The Village and then turned her attention and energy abroad, who taught me the artistic elegance and simplicity of a platter laden with rustic breads and cheeses, the sultry, heavy sweetness of a glass of good port, and the meaning of the word “nosh”;
  • And finally to my kids:  to my eldest daughter, who, on her own now, has a newfound interest in developing her culinary skills; to my littlest girl who has been in the kitchen with me constantly since birth, and who I confidently enlist to do most of my baking these days; and finally to my son (who definitely isn’t a woman, but is included by default under the “kid” heading), who at the age of 14 makes a damn fine fried egg sandwich.  You’ve been my favorite people to feed.

“I don’t like gourmet cooking, or “this” cooking or “that” cooking.  I like good cooking.”

-James Beard

theAllspice Chronicles is a tried-and-true, personal collection of recipes, anecdotes, and other tidbits collected over nearly 20 years in the kitchen (and counting).  To me, the most fabulous thing about cooking is that it is an ever-evolving challenge. While my diet is now primarily vegetarian, it hasn’t always been so.  Likewise, through the years, my table has entertained people from all walks of life and with all manner of dietary preferences or restrictions.  It is one of my great pleasures to truly delight the palates of all; to me there is nothing more sad or alienating than seeing someone who suffers from food allergies, diabetes or Celiac’s disease unable to partake in what everyone else is having.  That’s why this collection will include options for everyone and I am including all my favorite recipes, past and present, to accommodate the tastes of vegetarian and meat-eaters alike. I have to warn you:  I’m picky when it comes to the taste of food, and I really am impatient with food that tastes like “health food” (i.e. – devoid of flavor).  I am an herb and spice freak.  Be prepared for lots of flavor.

I have always maintained that eating fabulous things does not have to be expensive, nerve-wracking, or even terribly time-consuming; indeed, most of the best recipes in my collection are actually cheap and easy to prepare.  Some are a little more intensive, but all are worth every bit of effort.  I hope you and your guests enjoy them as much as I do.

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