Elegant Basket of Tea Towels

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Christmas Present Idea: a Silver-Plated, Large Basket for the Kitchen Counter or Hanging on a Cook’s Cart~Perfect for Tea Towels, Fruit, or Casual Flower-Arrangements
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Scandinavian Cinnamon Rusks

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Day-old bread is sliced and moistened in milk and/or cream, then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon before being slowly baked in a low-temperature oven. This is the simple formula; every Scandinavian who makes this traditional toast or “cinnamon rusks” has his or her own technique. Cinnamon toast is a popular accompaniment to coffee. Scandinavian coffee is typically brewed “strong” using light-to-medium roasted beans. My Swedish grandparents had this traditional combination of cinnamon toast (kanelskorpor) and coffee every morning, though they did not make it themselves as I do. I sometimes use home-made brioche loaf for this purpose, as it produces a very light cinnamon toast or kanelskorpor. Cinnamon is a health-promoting substance in many ways. Here is an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola on the health-benefits of CINNAMON.

©M-J de Mesterton

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Clothes Unmade the Man

If one cannot see immediately what is wrong with this lamentable suit, then the clothing industry has accomplished its apparent mission of brainwashing an unwitting, mysteriously willing public into believing that the swill they’re pumping out is anything but poison. I really miss Roger Moore and Sean Connery as James Bond. No misanthropic designer was making their legs look short while their torsos look too long, and giving their feet the appearance of wearing over-sized clown shoes. O tempora, o mores….

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Today’s tailors have totally lost the plot. When the actor playing James Bond is not “suited” properly, what hope is there for the rest of us?~~M-J

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Ugliest Suit in the Movies, Designed by Tom Ford and Worn by Daniel Craig as “James Bond”

And now a breath of fresh air, because after years of the same old hip-huggers or “low-pants”, billowing shirt-waists that cannot be tucked-into them, neckties that end at the nether-region, skin-tight, truncated trousers that end above the shoes, lateral wrinkles from cloth being pulled to the sides, a man’s suit of clothing that doesn’t make a monkey out of him seems downright innovative:

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Elegant Winter Dressing with M-J

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Above: M-J de Mesterton in a Tibbett Duffel Coat of Elysian Wool, Insulated Aigle Boots from France; a Mongolian Cashmere Scarf by Johnstons of Elgin, Scotland; a White Fox Hat Made in Helsinki; a Plaid Tweed Skirt, Black Leather Cashmere-Lined Gloves from Italy, and a Walking Stick Made of Scotch Broom

PUBLISHED in DECEMBER, 2016: Wear warm clothes when it’s cold outside and inside. The days of women showing their bare arms year-round just because an occupant of the White House does it to show off her biceps are coming to a close in about three weeks. The current president has, since 2009, kept the oval office at a balmy 85° year-round, as though he were in Hawai’i, while instructing the citizenry to “tighten your belts”. The rest of us, if we have heat at all, keep our places at 68° or even cooler, thanks to the punitive cost of fuel.

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Above: on Christmas Day, I’m wearing a turtleneck under a round-necked dress, nylon stockings, a silk & cashmere pashmina, and faux-fur-lined tall leather boots. Most winter days, I’d be wearing tweed and sweaters.

Elegant Dressing for Autumn: Classic Tweed Travelling Suit
M-J de Mesterton in Aquascutum Tweed Suit, Her Perennial Favourite

Rugged, traditional, and elegant tweed made from Scottish wool is the best material for fall and winter dressing. Easily covered with a trench-coat or embellished with a pashmina or long wool scarves, tweed will keep you warm and dry. Tweed suits, skirts, trousers and jackets are always fashionable.

My husband and I found it odd, if not historically-incorrect, to see the inhabitants of Downton Abbey wearing sleeveless flapper dresses all over the huge, inevitably cold and difficult-to-heat house, at all hours, without wraps or sweaters. Those dresses were made to be worn at nightclubs while dancing the Charleston, where  hyper-activity and body-heat of the crowd made it possible to stay warm while baring arms.

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Dining at Downton: thanks to cocktails, aperitifs and wines, scantily-clad ladies there could abide the evening without shivering. Or maybe not; Ralph Lauren designed wardrobes for the series, and may have just assumed that women dressed like flappers in most situations because it was the Roaring Twenties. I doubt that 1920s women were so silly, but there have always been nonsensical followers of fashion, like the ones who are now wearing peep-toed shoes without stockings all winter long in cold climates. My grandmother, who was born in the Victorian Age, told me that to be beautiful, one must suffer–I know that freezing’s not what she meant. Even body-heat from large groups at table does not take the chill off England’s grand country houses for most months of the year; shoulders are usually covered with something at dinner, such as a little fur garment or shawl that could be removed later in the evening for dancing. And no self-respecting woman would be standing about the house during winter in just a sleeveless gown.

Speaking of winter dressing and silly followers of fashion, here is a post that I made here at Elegant Survival News in December, 2011:

Talking Heads Clad Badly and Barely-Shod

Summer Dress and Peep-Toe Shoes in December?!

From 2011: Why is the anchorwoman wearing a sleeveless summer dress in cold NYC on December 6th? Are biceps something that female talking heads suddenly find a crying need to bare, even in freezing temperatures? Are they using too much energy, in an effort to keep tropically warm indoors? Is it seasonally appropriate to wear bare-toed shoes on wintry days, as the woman in red is doing, or sandals (the first lady wore sandals at a Kennedy Center gala last weekend) in December? I don’t think so. These women are on a national television show, displaying their irresponsible, energy-inefficient lifestyles before the public, as if to say that a size XXX carbon-footprint is desirable. The rest of us are wearing wool and tweed, living in homes with little-or-no  heat most of the time.

In an Alpine Climate, January: Dressing in Furry Boots, a Scottish Hand-Made Fair Isle Sweater, and an Austrian Wool Skirt

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Outsized Fruits & Vegetables; Chicken on Steroids?

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2016: I hadn’t gone shopping in a while, so when I came upon these grapes and jalapeño peppers at Albertson’s a month ago, they seemed normal at first. At home, they looked larger than life all of a sudden, like the Grapes that Took Over the World, and Jalapeños as Big as Texas. They may be genetically-modified (in fact, I’d put money on it). Yeah, them grapes were slightly smaller than golf-balls, and twenty years ago women would have been runnin’ scared at the sight of ’em. Those peppers ain’t just big, they are hotter than Hades. Talk about getting more bang for your buck–for all I know, the whole lot is deadly poison. Sure as shootin’, I am not going back to that store for more. The chicken breasts we bought there were just enormous, probably from a fowl critter named Dolly (in honor of the lamb created in a lab, not the huge-breasted singer, Ms Parton).

After poaching and frying those pieces of chicken, having spent more than an hour in the process, we were stunned at the foam-rubber texture of the alien meat. The animals had to have been pumped full of SOMETHING unnatural to make their breasts as large as those of turkeys and render their flesh absolutely inedible. My husband, who had innocently ordered the stuff at Albertson’s butcher counter, brought all the chicken back for a full refund. Don’t let grocery stores ruin your meals–make sure the chicken you purchase is of normal size. Good thing we did not unwittingly serve this faux fowl to guests. That would have been ruinous!~~M-J

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And now, the eternal question: which came first, the funky chicken enhanced by hormones, or the FREAK EGG?

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Elegant, Wind-Proof Patio Furniture

Garden furniture that stays put in the wind is made from lightweight metal with a wide-open mesh. So, instead of the wind blowing over your chairs, it passes right through them. ©M-J de Mesterton 2016
Garden furniture that stays put in the wind is made from iron or metal with a wide-open mesh. Outdoor furniture that has a solid surface, even if it is lightweight and diaphanous, can turn your chairs and tables into dangerous kites during windstorms of 30 mph or higher. So, instead of the wind blowing your chairs about the patio, it passes right through them. Keep your cushions from flying and fading by simply stacking them indoors when not in use on the terrace.
©M-J de Mesterton 2016
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Elegant Outdoor Furniture

Plastic furniture is sometimes all right indoors, especially if it is in the high-styled modern idiom, and was created by or emulates that of 1950s and 1960s designers such as Eero Saarinen. But outdoors, one ideally will have garden or patio furniture made from wrought iron or of teak-wood, which will not deteriorate from exposure to the elements. Wooden and iron furniture exists in perfect harmony with landscaping and nature, especially when made in greens, browns, and other earth-tones.
Here is my Princeton, New Jersey garden courtyard, where I had outdoor dining furniture by the now-defunct, elegant wrought-iron furniture company Lyon-Shaw, and a smaller chat-table in iron, wicker and tile, by Alfresco Home.
My Elegant Patio Furniture Blends with the Garden
 A smaller side-table, also in wrought iron,  enhances the main outdoor dining set.
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Nostalgia: Remember Elegantly-Dressed Men?

In this stylish drawing of a man, you don’t see a skinny jacket that is bursting open to expose sad trousers that hang at the hip instead of at the waist, a bulging shirt and too-long tie. What we see here is a man who wears his trousers at the right length, ones that don’t pile-up like discarded potato sacks on top of his shoes, and which come up to the actual human waist, thereby visually lengthening his legs. And we see the gentleman’s traditional accessories: hat, gloves and walking-stick, all of which serve a purpose, including protection from the elements, enthusiastic pigeons, dirt, germs, roving animals, and whoever may dare to attack him or anyone else in his immediate vicinity; the gentleman is always well-prepared for a stroll down today’s mean streets. Alas, this picture is clipped from an advert by Burberrys that appears in one of my 1930s Sphere magazines. Today’s men, in general, look like short, dumpy cads in clothes that are designed to distort human proportions. (Add the slovenly yet popular three-day growth beard to complete a tragic modern image.) Never in history has so much sartorial splendour been readily accessible, and yet men have seldom looked worse. It doesn’t cost any more to dress correctly than it does to do it badly, especially since some of the ghastliest clothes are going for the highest prices. There are very few contemporary examples of elegant dressing in trendy venues and magazines. Help yourself by not following fashion, but instead by looking toward the best elements of the past for useful examples of tasteful masculine dress.

©M-J de Mesterton 2010

UPDATE: IT’S NOW 2017, and menswear has become steadily worse in the past seven years. Here’s a video that makes me nostalgic for the kooky clothing of 1966, when I was eleven–people then looked better than they do today–but, it also demonstrates that following fashion blindly is utter folly:

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Simple and Elegant Christmas Cookies

Lady M-J de Mesterton's Christmas Cookies or Biscuits

Christmas cookies, adapted from a 1950s recipe by Antoinette Pope (The Antoinette Pope School of Cookery).  I’ve been enjoying these since I was a child. Here are the ingredients:

One half-pound of butter

Two and a half cups of flour

One cup of powdered sugar

One tablespoon of milk (full-fat, of course)

One teaspoon of vanilla

One egg yolk mixed with two tablespoons of cream (to brush on top, as a base for sprinkles–adds nice flavor, believe it or not)
If you are going to use icing and a piping bag to decorate these Christmas cookies, skip this.

Method:

The ingredients, except for the egg yolk and cream, are mixed together and rolled out to a quarter (1/4) inch thickness. Then cookie-cutters are employed; the things are brushed with egg yolk/cream and sprinkled with colored sugar. I prefer Swedish pärlsokker, or white pearl sugar. Transfer the cut-out cookies to an upside-down cookie-sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

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From News Target: the Latest Survival Articles

03/18/2019 / By Mike Adams

Spanish Tortilla with Roasted Grape Tomatoes

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Photo: A basic Spanish tortilla is usually made with eggs, potato and onion. Here is a version of that traditional dish that I made yesterday for my husband’s main meal.  Four eggs; one pan-fried, diced potato; shredded Parmesan cheese; bits of brie and small, whole tomatoes were used to make this individual serving.

Beaten eggs are added to a diced, sautéed potato in a cast-iron pan; cheese and roasted small tomatoes are added, then after cooking for one or two minutes to firm-up the bottom, the whole pan goes under a broiler until the eggs are puffed and lightly browned on top.

Below: Grape-sized tomatoes are roasted in an oiled cast-iron pan, first on the stove and then for a few minutes in the oven under a broiling-flame. This process allows tomatoes to become concentrated in flavour, while making them easier to eat when incorporated into an egg dish. ~ Copyright 2018 ©M-J de MestertonRoasting_Tomatoes_in_Cast_Iron_Pan_Copyright_M-J_de_Mesterton.JPG

 

Spanish Baked Omelette with Potatoes and Cheese

Elegant, Re-Purposed Olive Oil Bottles

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Large address labels and felt pens were used by M-J to make the contents of these elegant olive oil bottles easily identifiable. The original labels (as on the new bottle at left) of two empty containers were soaked-off in a sink half-full of very hot water.  This trio of full bottles sits on the counter, ready for use on salads, cooking (a few drops of olive oil may be all you need to fry an egg) , drinking (add a teaspoon of cider vinegar to your water-glass in the morning and/or evening for enhanced health) and spot-cleaning (wipe-down windows, appliances and counters with a few drops of white vinegar). These particular vessels came with optional spouts, which make dispensing small amounts of liquid quick and easy. ©M-J de Mesterton 2018

Re-Using Commercial Bottles Elegantly

Re-Using_Commercial_Spice_Containers_Elegant_SurvivalA red pepper bottle from which the label has easily been soaked-off is pretty enough to leave on the table with your favourite salt-shaker. To me, the ubiquitous bar-code on labels is an awful thing to see, therefore, in spite of this particular spice bottle label being tasteful and attractive, the entire thing had to go.Made_My_Own_Label_for_Re-Used_Olive-Oil_Bottle_M-J_de_MestertonA large, beautiful green glass olive oil bottle is now living a new life as a cider vinegar dispenser, for which I made a label with white paper tape, coloured art-pens, and clear packaging tape (these high-quality olive oil bottles come with stoppers strapped to their necks that one can install for ease-of-use, instead of the original bottle-caps). This is a great way to have your “oil & vinegar” at hand.

©M-J de Mesterton, November 2018

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As Mrs Bucket would say: “It’s Bouquet!” HAPPY HALLOWE’EN, or ALL SAINTS’ DAY

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Make a Miniature Salt Shaker

Making Mini Salt Shakers
Re-purposing another commercial container: a tiny jam jar was converted into a casual mini-salt shaker and filled with Himalayan salt. It’s handy for a TV tray, or to keep nearby when eating popcorn, should it be sorely lacking in sodium, and a walk to the kitchen would interrupt your movie-viewing. Here are the tools I used: a sharp-pointed pair of scissors and a meat mallet. I was too lazy to visit the garage for a nail. Instead, I covered the scissors’ nice old handles with a silicone pot-holder so the mallet wouldn’t damage them. This worked fine. There are three small holes–I started small and then tested them for proper flow-rate. ©M-J de Mesterton 2018

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On  the left is a larger home-made salt-shaker, strictly for use in cookery; after this photo it will live in the pantry. ©M-J de Mesterton 2018

 

Freestyle Eggs with Purple Onion and Serrano Peppers

I’m calling these two  eggs “freestyle” because they were lightly fried to so-called “over-easy” level, but very uncooperative when I attempted to flip them with my spatula. The eggs are accompanied on this plate by purple (“red”) onions sautéed  in butter with serrano chile peppers, and  a bit of labneh (strained yoghurt) which is sprinkled with cayenne pepper. Adding a freestyle shake of Himalayan salt, I consider it a low-carb, highly-nutritious breakfast. ©M-J de Mesterton

Highly Nutritive EGGS
Eggs are Rich in Nutrients

Purple Onions Fight Cancer
Red or Purple Onions are Beneficial to General Health

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Red or Purple Onions and Hot Chile Peppers are Good for the Heart

SERRANO PEPPERS

  • Vitamins: Serrano peppers are a good source of vitamin A. You can get almost 20 percent of your daily recommended vitamin A intake from a 100 g serving. The vitamin A that you get from serrano peppers helps with the synthesis of red blood cells along with helping to support your immune system. Vitamin C is also important for the function of your immune system and 100 g of serranos provides about 74 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin B6 is another important vitamin that helps your body to produce neurotransmitters as well as to ensure that it metabolizes fat and protein properly.
  • Minerals: A 100 g serving of serrano peppers provides 4 percent of your daily iron and 5 percent of your daily magnesium. Iron is important for making the red blood cells in your body that transport oxygen. Magnesium is important for neural function, muscle contraction and for the coagulation of blood among many other processes.
  • Dietary fiber: Serrano peppers contain 3.7 g of dietary fiber per 100 g serving. Dietary fiber has health benefits that include controlling both blood sugar and cholesterol. Fiber binds with low-density lipoprotein thus preventing its absorption by your body; similarly, it slows your body’s absorption of sugar and this helps with the control of blood sugar levels.
Capsaicin
Capsaicin is the compound responsible for the heat in hot peppers. It has numerous health benefits despite having no nutrients. While serranos are far from being the hottest peppers, they still offer an abundance of heat. The Scoville rating for these peppers is in the range between 10,000 and 23,000, which makes them up to 10 times hotter than a jalapeño (comparing the mildest jalapeño to the hottest serrano). The higher the Scoville rating, the hotter the pepper and the greater the concentration of capsaicin.
You can use serrano peppers to treat and prevent health conditions like:
  • Heart disease: Capsaicin’s cholesterol-lowering benefits allow serrano peppers to be beneficial for heart health. Chile peppers also prevent the contraction of arteries, which restricts the flow of blood to the heart.
  • Intestinal issues: Research has shown that capsaicin can help with the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. There is also evidence that it can help to kill the H. pylori bacteria that is a factor in stomach ulcers.
  • Cancer: It’s believed capsaicin has the ability to treat cancer. Studies have shown that it is effective for fighting prostate and breast cancers in that it stops the spread of cancer and induces apoptosis in cancer cells, which means that it causes them to self-destruct.
  • CAYENNE PEPPER IS HIGH IN CAPSAICIN
  • Hot Peppers for Health
    Cayenne and other Dried Chile Peppers Help Prevent Colds and Flu, Build Tissue, and Prevent Heart Attacks

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    Capsaicin-Rich Cayenne Peppers are a Heart-Tonic and Anti-Inflammatory Fruit

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    M-J’s Cayenne Pepper Plant with Red, Ripe Fruit