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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dining by Candlelight

Do you save your “good” dishes for special occasions? And then find you never use them at all?

I love my “good” stuff—the crystal candlesticks, bone china and linen napkins—and when I finally decided to bring everything out more often, ordinary dinners seemed so much more special.

When our kids were little, we used to have Sunday dinner by candlelight. They loved to drink their milk from a couple of old pewter wine goblets that gave a resounding thunk during a toast. What they didn’t know was that they were eating the turnip I’d mashed into the potatoes. In addition to creating atmosphere, candlelight will hide a multitude of sins that a lightbulb can’t disguise.

We’ve packed lightweight candlesticks and tapers into the Rocky Mountain backcountry. Not many things are more romantic than dining by candlelight along the shores of a pristine alpine lake.

I often set out candles in our backyard in the evening. Even if we stay indoors, the view through the window is nicer by candlelight.

These days we use our dining room a lot. It’s small but quite formal, with pine paneled walls and a coved ceiling—an easy setting for creating atmosphere. With a nice tablecloth and a couple of candles, even grilled cheese seems special!

I’m not sure what we’ll have for Valentine’s Day dinner, but it’ll be something fancier than sandwiches. Whatever I decide, I’ll share the recipe on my blog on Friday.

Are you planning a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner? If so, here’s my challenge to you. Pull out all those special things you’ve been saving. Whether it's a family dinner, just you and your sweetie, or a solo experience, make your evening something to remember. You deserve it!


PS: I loved that the cover of my first book, The Man for Maggie, showed the hero and heroine sitting by candlelight. I even have an old pair of candle lanterns just like the one on the cover. Perfect!

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At 4:25 PM, Blogger Karen said...

After years of collecting china, then spending $600 to complete the set, I began to wonder why I'd packed them away for "later." I hunted down my grandmother's silverware, unpacked the dishes, and have been using them ever since, often on an antique tablecloth. Everyone always sits up a little straighter, thinks a little longer before speaking and tries harder not to spill at a delicately set table. I love it!

Now can someone explain to me why anyone would want to mix turnips into perfectly good potatoes?

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I have a lovely set of Royal Doulton that I intended to use for everyday, but I like my Pfalzgraff stoneware, all matching so much I couldn't give it up.

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Good for you, Karen! I also find that people tend to linger longer over a beautifully set dinner table, sipping coffee or a liqueur.

LOL at your question about turnips in the potatoes! Like many kids, mine went through a phase of not wanting to eat vegetables. A little mashed turnip in the potatoes could be easily disguised by some dim lighting and a ladle of gravy. Ditto for mashed yams or carrots.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Their stoneware is gorgeous, Diane. I'd love to have a set in one of their Christmas designs, but I don't have room for more dishes!

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Loved your story about the turnips in the potatoes, Lee :-). And what a terrific idea to carry candles into the wilderness for adding some atmosphere to a fabulous setting!

Now I'm itching to light some candles tonight ;-). Maybe I'll set one by my computer and write by candlelight :-).

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Christine said...

I don't have "fine china." But I love dishes and cool napkins and must making the table look pretty. We often have people over and they are like, "why did you do this for us?" and I say, "because I love this, it is my thing... and to have a pretty table and pretty things out... " well it is just so special. Why wait? We have so little time here. Why not make the most of it?

On Valentine's we are "racletting" dutch style. We'll have cheeses, meats, veggies, easy sweets and we'll sit in the breakfast nook with a beautiful table cloth, music and chill while we eat many "tiny bites" of yummy food.

BTW, I LOVE turnips.

At 10:49 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Terry, you'll have to let us know if writing by candlelight affected what you wrote. I know some writers who love to create a "mood" in their writing space - music, candles, favorite scents, etc. - and they swear by it.

At 10:51 PM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Christine, your Valentine's Day "dinner" sounds informal but oh so elegant at the same time.

I love turnips, too, although I won't be serving them for Valentine's Day dinner ;)

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I'm definitely breaking out the china this year for Valentine's. And lighting some candles. I love candles but don't light them enough. Turnips? I'll eat rutabegas, but only if they've been cooked by my husband's grandmother.

If anyone needs help sneaking veggies in a child's diet, V-8 Fusion has vegetables in it. My daughter and husband like the Strawberry Banana.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Enjoy your Valentine's dinner, Mo! I confess to being a candle addict, although I'm careful to put them where the cats can't get close to them.

Re: getting kids to eat veggies. Jessica Seinfeld, wife of Jerry, wrote a cookbook with recipes that use vegetable purees in unlikely ways. Broccoli puree in the brownies and that sort of thing!

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Great post, Lee! I do believe in using all your "good" stuff now! What are you waiting for!

Love the lamps on your bookcover. And I try to light candles everyday.


At 1:56 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

ITA, Theresa. We should use the beautiful things we have and not save them for...?

I don't light candles everyday, but I sure do light them often.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we get a lot of winter wind storms, and those often equate to power outages. Now, when the wind blows, I use that as an excuse to light candles and set them in every room in the house. Just in case!


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