Christmas Movie Recommendations

ELEGANT SURVIVAL CHRISTMAS MOVIES

Some Recommendations:

 

Beautiful Christmas imagery and a touching, amusing story make Fred Claus a magical, hilarious and romantic family film.

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote is a delightful time-capsule about the human condition, starring Patty Duke, Piper Laurie and Jeffrey de Munn.

Music of the Heart is based upon the true story of a violin teacher in Harlem. Starring Meryl Streep, it is one of those New York movies that realistically portrays the plight of talented people living there, and ends with a stunning, triumphant scene. The extremely talented Meryl Streep learned to play violin for her part in Music of the Heart.

The Elegant Survival Choice for Facial Blotters

End-Papers as Effective, Inexpensive Facial Blotters

Pack these papers in a purse or pocket for instant summer facial blotting–regular old end-papers from a beauty supply store cost only a dollar for one thousand, whereas the facial blotting papers we bought at Shiseido several years ago cost over ten dollars for a packet of one hundred. Now they are up to fifteen dollars per hundred.  End-papers work just as well to remove oils and  give your face a matte finish.

©M-J de Mesterton

The Elegant Lady’s Boudoir Suggests End-Papers or End-Wraps as Facial Blotters at a Fraction of the Usual Price: 99 Cents Versus Ten Dollars

Elegant Tahini Sauce

M-J’s Simple Recipe for Elegant Tahini Sauce
Sesame paste mixed with lemon juice, water, salt and the merest hint of garlic powder makes an elegant tahini dip or sauce for mezedes, or pre-prandial appetisers.

Use this elegant and simple tahini sauce as a dip for flat-breads, steamed cauliflower, celery, other fresh vegetables, and fried potatoes. Optionally, you may drizzle olive oil over the tahini.
People find tahini sauce very pleasing in the summer months, and it is economical to make, since the sesame paste expands greatly when mixed with water and lemon juice.

Live the Elegant “Pouch” Lifestyle…

…with beautiful pouches in various materials. Organize and protect your silver, jewels, brushes and watches; make sachets; present little party-favours in pretty little fabric bags. Go “green” with canvas or burlap pouches, or go for the glitz and glamour of organza. Use fabric pouches to store your lingerie for travel.

Elegant Canvas Pouches by PouchMart of CaliforniaThere are so many potential uses for pouches that I shall just give you the link to PouchMart in California, and you can dream up your own uses for them. The prices are fantastic for all the elegant drawstring pouches they offer, both plain and fancy. Buy them in multiples of ten or twelve, for about a dollar or less apiece. Have fun putting your stuff in pouches!

©M-J de Mesterton 2010

M-J’s Winter Health Smoothie

cropped-aeedd-elegant_smoothie_winter_health_copyright_de_mesterton.jpg

Green_Smoothie_M-J_de_Mesterton_Recipes
One half-cup of water, one fourth-cup of lemon juice, one jalapeño or serrano pepper (roasted, pickled or fresh), two stalks of celery, one-half of a cucumber, one tablespoon of thick yoghurt or one half-cup of buttermilk, one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of parsley, all whirled in a blender till smooth. Add water if necessary for processing.

big grinCopyright M-J de Mesterton 2009

Elegant Party “Champagne”: Cristalino Brut from Spain


Cristalino Brut from Spain: Inexpensive Substitute for French Champagne

Available at Cost Plus World Market

Inexpensive Substitute for French Champagne

“Bright green-gold color and aromas of apple, spices, flowers and nuts. Crisp, bright and dry with medium-full body. Intense ginger and apple flavors with nutty and floral nuances. Clean, lemony finish that is quite dry. A pleasure with chicken salad, scampi, filet of sole, brie and fruit desserts. Serve as an aperitif, too.”

M-J de Mesterton Makes Cornish Pasties

Cornish Pasties by M-J de Mesterton, Photo Copyright Elegant Survival 2009

M-J de Mesterton Makes Cornish Pasties

Cornish Pasty Made by M-J de Mesterton, Photo Copyright Elegant Survival 2009

I’ve been making Cornish pasties since the age of 20. My mother wrote a book about the pasty and its history which was published in 1990, but my method and ingredients differ from hers. The following is my pasty (pronounced “pass-tee”) recipe:

I will not formally transcribe my recipe and method for making pasties, because I never use measurements. I can tell you, however, that they are made with a short crust containing both butter and lard, water, a teaspoon of malt vinegar, and unbleached, plain white flour. Since salted butter is used in the dough, add just a dash of salt to it. I add sea-salt and hand-milled pepper to the filling, which consists of four ingredients, diced very finely: tri-tip steak, which is always well-marbled and never tough; ordinary, high-starch brown-skinned potatoes, turnips, butter bits, and white or Spanish onions. The finely-diced beef and vegetables are tossed together in a mixing bowl with the salt and pepper before being laid upon the dough, dotted with butter and enclosed. The edges are crimped, either on top or on the side of the pasty, and a couple of well-placed slits are made in the top to allow steam to escape. The final product is brushed with a beaten egg mixed with a teaspoon of cream. The pasties are then baked in a very hot oven for close to one hour. Once the pasties have cooled for about twenty minutes, serve with an oil-and-vinegar-dressed lettuce salad. Offer Cornish cream, Spanish or Mexican Crema, or sour cream as an optional condiment. The pasties depicted here, which I made, are the optimum size for a meal; the dough for them was shaped into a ball about half the size of a woman’s closed hand, then was rolled out and cut around a 7″ luncheon plate. Making giant pasties just isn’t elegant, nor is it traditionally Cornish. I also make miniature pasties for parties, by using a tin can or the bottom, inner ridge of the same luncheon plate as a cutting guide. These mini-pasties are easily eaten by hand with a cocktail napkin to catch any pastry-flakes. For a basic short-crust guide, please see my Elegant Apple Pie recipe.

~Pasty Recipe and Pasty Photos Copyright M-J de Mesterton, Author of Elegant Survival

M-J de Mesterton Makes Cornish Pasties

Cornish Pasties by M-J de Mesterton, Photo Copyright Elegant Survival 2009

M-J de Mesterton Makes Cornish Pasties

Cornish Pasty Made by M-J de Mesterton, Photo Copyright Elegant Survival 2009

I’ve been making Cornish pasties since the age of 20. My mother wrote a book about the pasty and its history which was published in 1990, but my method and ingredients differ from hers. The following is my pasty (pronounced “pass-tee”) recipe:

I will not formally transcribe my recipe and method for making pasties, because I never use measurements. I can tell you, however, that they are made with a short crust containing both butter and lard, water, a teaspoon of malt vinegar, and unbleached, plain white flour. Since salted butter is used in the dough, add just a dash of salt to it. I add sea-salt and hand-milled pepper to the filling, which consists of four ingredients, diced very finely: tri-tip steak, which is always well-marbled and never tough; ordinary, high-starch brown-skinned potatoes, turnips, butter bits, and white or Spanish onions. The finely-diced beef and vegetables are tossed together in a mixing bowl with the salt and pepper before being laid upon the dough, dotted with butter and enclosed. The edges are crimped, either on top or on the side of the pasty, and a couple of well-placed slits are made in the top to allow steam to escape. The final product is brushed with a beaten egg mixed with a teaspoon of cream. The pasties are then baked in a very hot oven for close to one hour. Once the pasties have cooled for about twenty minutes, serve with an oil-and-vinegar-dressed lettuce salad. Offer Cornish cream, Spanish or Mexican Crema, or sour cream as an optional condiment. The pasties depicted here, which I made, are the optimum size for a meal; the dough for them was shaped into a ball about half the size of a woman’s closed hand, then was rolled out and cut around a 7″ luncheon plate. Making giant pasties just isn’t elegant, nor is it traditionally Cornish. I also make miniature pasties for parties, by using a tin can or the bottom, inner ridge of the same luncheon plate as a cutting guide. These mini-pasties are easily eaten by hand with a cocktail napkin to catch any pastry-flakes. For a basic short-crust guide, please see my Elegant Apple Pie recipe.

~Pasty Recipe and Pasty Photos Copyright M-J de Mesterton, Author of Elegant Survival

M-J de Mesterton Makes Cornish Pasties

Cornish Pasties by M-J de Mesterton, Copyright 2009

I’ve been making Cornish pasties since the age of 20. My mother wrote a book about the pasty and its history which was published in 1990, but my method and ingredients differ from hers. The following is  my pasty (pronounced “pass-tee”) recipe:I will not formally transcribe my recipe and method for making pasties, because  I never use measurements. I can tell you, however, that they are made with a short crust containing both butter and lard, water, a teaspoon of malt vinegar, and unbleached, plain white flour. Since salted butter is used in the dough, add just a dash of salt to it.  I add sea-salt and hand-milled pepper to the filling, which consists of  four ingredients, diced very finely: tri-tip steak, which is always well-marbled and never tough; ordinary, high-starch brown-skinned potatoes, turnips, butter bits, and white or Spanish onions. The finely-diced beef and vegetables are tossed together in a mixing bowl with the salt and pepper before being laid upon the dough, dotted with butter and enclosed. The edges are crimped, either on top or on the side of the pasty, and a couple of well-placed slits are made in the top to allow steam to escape. The final product is brushed with a beaten egg mixed with a teaspoon of cream. The pasties are then baked in a very hot oven for close to one hour. Once the pasties have cooled for about twenty minutes, serve with an oil-and-vinegar-dressed lettuce salad. Offer Cornish cream, Spanish or Mexican Crema, or sour cream as an optional condiment. The pasties depicted here, which I made,  are the optimum size for a meal; the dough for them was shaped into a ball about half the size of a woman’s closed hand, then was rolled out and cut around a 7″ luncheon plate.  Making giant pasties just isn’t elegant, nor is it traditionally Cornish. I also make miniature pasties for parties, by using a tin can or the bottom, inner ridge of the same luncheon plate as a cutting guide. These mini-pasties are easily eaten by hand with a cocktail napkin to catch any pastry-flakes. For a basic short-crust guide, please see my Elegant Apple Pie recipe.~~Recipe and Pasty Photos Copyright M-J de Mesterton

 

Cornish Pasties by M-J de Mesterton, Copyright 2009

Cornish Pasty Made by M-J de Mesterton, Copyright 2009

What to Do with Over-Ripe Bananas

Over-Ripe Bananas, about to Get a Make-over (photo copyright Elegant Survival)

Over-Ripe Bananas, about to Get a Make-over (photo copyright Elegant Survival)

Ripe Banana Sections,  Ready for Smoothies (Copyright Elegant Survival)

Ripe Banana Sections, Ready to Freeze for Smoothies. M-J's Gardening Tip: Bury the banana peels deep under your rosebush, or add to compost bin. (Copyright Elegant Survival)

Delicious, Economical British Classics Presented by Elaine Lemm

Here are three classic British recipes presented in video form by Elaine Lemm on about.com: the Cornish Pasty (a favourite in my family for four generations, which I made for English-Speaking Union parties at my house many times); Bakewell Tart (invented in Bakewell, England), an elegant dessert, the taste of which  reminds me of Danish pastry; and Irish Colcannon–a vitamin-rich, green-and-white dish that could serve as an economical meal, which contains three vegetables. Note that Ms Lemm crimps her pasties on top. Cornish style dictates that pasties be crimped on their sides.

Cheddar Cheese Stands Alone at Elegant Survival

Cheddar Cheese and Rock Painting by M- de Mesterton, Photo Copyright 2009

Cheddar Cheese and Rock Painting by M-J de Mesterton, Photo Copyright 2009

California Cheddar by Albertson's, Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2009

California Cheddar by Albertson's, Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2009

My two favourite cheeses are Cheddar (named after the town in England) and Parmesan (named after Parma, Italy). Of course, I am fond of other cheeses from around the world, such as Swedish Farmer’s Cheese, Danish Havarti, Kashkeval, feta, halloumi and brie, but these two cheeses seem to have many more applications.

One of the nice things about Cheddar cheese is its versatility: it is always welcome at a cocktail or drinks party, and melts well for nachos and other American dishes.

The charming host of America’s Test Kitchen, Christopher Kimball, also of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, has written about Cheddar cheese in its latest number, and has also conducted a taste-and-quality test of various Cheddars offered in most American supermarkets. I have always depended upon the quality and taste of Tillamook (Oregon) and Cracker Barrel brands. The test results bore out my choices. Another great Cheddar from the U.S.A., available in several western states, is Albertson’s supermarket brand California Cheddar (pictured here), costing about four dollars per pound, a price which is commensurate with that of the two aforementioned selections.

Here is the article about Cheddar cheese from this month’s Cook’s magazine.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2009

The Elegant Survival Source for Gloves

Ladies' Lambskin Gloves

Ladies’ Lambskin Gloves: Protect Yourself and Your Family from Flu, Colds, Staphylococcus Aureus, MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, a Deadly Skin Disease) For comfortable year-round wear, silk-lined and unlined leather gloves are ideal. 

I’ve advocated the wearing of gloves on Elegant Survival since its beginning in 2006 (see “The Merits of Wearing Gloves”, my old article). My husband and I have worn gloves for decades, whether or not they were in fashion. Now, there are even more reasons to wear them, with the proliferation of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus and H1N1 viruses, both of which may cause death, and are transmitted by surface-contact. Traditionally, it did not have to be cold outside, as it was on Inauguration Day outdoors in Washington, D.C.,  for ladies to wear gloves. Gloves will protect your hands from deadly germs and viruses, protect your jewelry from unwanted attention in-transit, and cushion your hands should you trip and fall on the pavement. For reasonable prices and a very extensive selection of glove styles, try

Inexpensive, Tough, Useful Leather Gloves: Just One of Many Styles at www.gloves-online.com

~~M-J de Mesterton, Copyright 2009

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