6 (+ 1) Things I loved at NY Now Gift Show

I just came back from the gift show in New York and am feeling inspired. Can't wait for the new things to start arriving!

 

  • One of the things that I got to do is see the solar eclipse. It gave me a warm feeling sharing this incredible event with hundreds of people outside the Javits Center. So cool!

 

 

 

  • These porcelain bowls are made in Japan. The artist made a whole collection featuring his cats Sakon, Ureme and, the boss, Kabamaru. Fun!

 

 

  • The new Chilewich collection was fantastic! Can't wait to get it in. (October)

 

  • This display at Roost was so beautiful. 

  

  • I discovered a talented Canadian artisan that makes spectacular wooden bowls out of tree burls. Some of them are massive. This one is about 4' across. I ordered 2 small one-of-a-kind burl bowls and some beautiful live-edge salad bowls in different sizes. (October)

 

  • I found an amazing collection of hand leather-bound books. Gorgeous atlas, dictionary, thesaurus and journals. (October)

 

  • One of the things I love about going into the city is having great meals at some of my favorite restaurants. Sunday I ate at Felidia. So amazing!

 

Anyway...come on in and say hi. And, look out! This September new, exciting things will start arriving! Thanks for checking in...Ciao!

 

 

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A Recipe for Summer

It's the high summer season. I love summer. I love everything about it: long days of nuturing my gardening and mowing the lawn, eating al fresco, swimming in the sun, walks with Siri, wearing flip flops. But, especially, I love my summer produce! I went shopping at None Such Farm and at the Stockton Farmers Market last week and came home with so many locally grown fruits and vegetables. Mmmmmm...

So, l was home last night with fresh picked zucchini, onions, garlic, tomatoes and a beautiful eggplant. I had some nice kalamata olives and, of course, some French feta (my fave...I always have some in my fridge). I decided to create something for dinner...I realized I had all of the ingredients of a classic ratatouille, but I wanted to make something to have with pasta. Here's what I came up with.

Rigattoni with "Deconstructed" Grilled Ratatouille

First, as the base for the dish, I decided to make a fresh raw tomato sauce. So I diced up 3 large plum tomatoes and put them in a big bowl. To that I added 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced, salt, pepper and a big glug of a fruity extra virgin olive oil. I let that sit while I went on to the other vegies.

The raw tomato sauce is great on it's own with any pasta. Just a grating of Parmigiano Reggiano and your good to go.

 

The pepper and onion seasoned and ready for the grill pan. 

 

I cut the onion, 2 zucchini and the eggplant into rounds and cut up a bell pepper. I laid them out on sheet pans, seasoned them with salt and pepper and gave them a drizzle of olive oil. I grilled them on a grill pan on the stove and set them aside. 

The zucchini getting good grill marks.

 

That's a lot of grilled vegies!

 

I brought a large pot of salted water to a boil, while I coarsely chopped about 1/2 cup kalamata olives and set that aside. I grated some Parmigiano Reggiano, minced some fresh parsley and basil (about 1/2 cup's worth) and cut about 8 oz. of French feta into 1/2" chunks. Then I cut up the onion, pepper, zucchini and eggplant into large dice.

 

 

The vegies ready for the final assembly. 

 

When I added the hot rigatoni the scent from the garlic and tomatoes was so heavenly.

 

I find that French feta is creamier. I love incorporating it into pasta dishes.

  

When the pasta was done al-dente I drained it and added it to the bowl with the tomatoes and garlic. I tossed it while the pasta was hot. Oh, the scent! Then I added all the diced vegies and herbs and tossed that. Looking and smelling good so far! I added some parmesan and combined it all. Lastly, I incorporated the feta and gave it a taste and adjusted the seasonings, adding a bit of olive oil. It was all so yummy!

 

It was totally delish! And see how beautiful it looks?

 

I had so much grilled vegies that I used the remnants to make an impromptu caponata. It made for a great breakfast the next morning on some toasted French bread and avocado.

 

I hope you get a chance to make many wonderful summer dishes for you and your friends and family. Enjoy the lazy days of summer. Until Next time. Ciao!

 

 

 

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My Night With Mitchell

Mitchell Gold visited last Friday. He was on his way to spend Saturday at the beautiful Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams signature store in King of Prussia and he e-mailed saying he was spending the night at Lambertville House. He invited me to go see Chely Wright, the country singer, who was performing at the Rrazz Room in New Hope. I accepted, of course!

After a visit to the store, Mitchell and I walked to my house along the tow path. Though he's been to Lambertville several times, he seemed impressed by the beautiful, serene walk home. At the house, Siri greeted us at the door with her usual wagging tail. It was great to show Mitchell the house, even if it's still a work in progress. He loved it!

 Mitchell, Siri and me in my kitchen.

  

Once we were seated at our table at the Rrazz Room, we ordered drinks and dinner. Chely came over to say hi to Mitchell and sat with us for a while before the show. She gave a great, generous performance. She loves to tell stories about her life on the road and about her home life. She and her wife have twin boys. She showed us pictures. They are adorable. She also spoke about Faith in America, a non-profit organization co-founded by Mitchell "whose ultimate goal is to end decades and centuries of using religious teachings to justify marginalizing and discriminating against others." Chely is on the board of the organization with Mitchell. We've been big supporters and often attend fund raisers for Faith in America. Have a look at their website.

Waiting for the show to begin. Mitchell's shirt was a big hit!

 

Chely telling tales of her life at home and on the road.

 

After the show. She's a beautiful, warm and talented woman.

 

After the show we bar-hopped for a bit and had a really fun time. One of the funny things about being out on the town with Mitchell is the fact that, after having a business for 24 years, everywhere I go I keep meeting up with people I know. Mitchell said, "You know everybody!" Well...almost...He laughed when I would point to someone and name the MG+BW piece(s) that they own. All in all it was a magical night of drinks, dinner, conversation and merriment!

Well, thanks, again for tuning in. 'Till next time. Ciao!

 

 

 

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Anniversary Blog: 24 Years in Lambertville

July is our anniversary month. I can't believe Blue Raccoon is 24 years old. Wow! We opened in our little spot on Church Street on July 15, 1993. Here are some fun facts and pictures:

Oh, my...were we ever that young? We got the space June 1, 1993. It took us 6 weeks to pull it all together and open. We had our first sale that day.

 

 

I'm sure many of our longtime customers will remember this corner. The signs are hanging in our store on Coryell Street. The vintage blue bench has a fun story, which you can read about below.

 

After a slow, but steady first few months we could see that people were coming in and connecting with the store. Business grew until we were able to move to a larger location at 6 Coryell Street in the summer of 1996. 

 

Did you know:

  • Always trying to be creative with my visual merchandising, I decided to hang a vintage bench on a wall at the Church Street store. I could have sworn I anchored it in properly ... well, it came crashing down with a ruckus that startled everyone in the store, including our English bulldog Dottie, who barked her butt off! Luckily no one was near the thing.
  • Speaking of Dottie ... we went through a rough time house training her. It took us months! Once she peed on a rug in the front of the store where a little girl was walking in with her parents. These wonderful customers became regulars and every time they came in with their daughter the little girl would say, "That's the doggie that peed on the rug."
  • The blizzard of 1996 was so severe. Remember? We could not open for a week. We would drive in, check messages, then go home. Church street wasn't cleared of the snow until 2 weeks after. 

 

In the back of the store: Dottie needed to check out Dash's crate.

 

 

In 1997 we started to carry upholstery. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (The Mitchell Gold Co., back then) became, and continues to be, our premier line. We have a great relationship with them and they helped us grow. Since we were selling all of this upholstery and furniture, we eventually started to offer in-home design services. 

Through the years we've tried different things, but we always tried to stay true to our vision of offering great products that have a balance of style and function. All of that, combined with our own great customer service, allowed us to continue to grow. We still love what we do. 

 

Nick, with his dyed hair, talking to Mitchell Gold at our fall of 2001 in-store event.

 

 

The final design installation at a home in Stockton.

 

 

A family room in Princeton, NJ. 

 

 

A dining room in a Pittstown farm house that I am very proud of.

 

Did you know:

  • Super storm Sandy blew the power in Lambertville for 10 days. We lost all of those days of business during a normally busy season.
  • People still ask about Dottie and Dash. Dottie passed away in May of 2006 at the ripe old age of 13-and-a-half. Dash passed away 6 years, also at the ripe old age of 13-and-a-half. We now have Siri, a beautiful pitbull mix that we rescued in 2012.
  • When we opened cell phones were just starting to be use and there was NO internet!

 

We have a lot to be thankful for. We work hard, yes, but we have the best customers any business could ever want. That makes all the difference in the world. We have become friends with quite a few of you and we are grateful for that. We love our town of Lambertville on the Delaware. I guess it's time to start planning our big 25th anniversary!   

Well, thanks for checking in again. Until next time. Ciao!

 

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Cast Iron Cooking

I was planning on grilling chicken for dinner the other day, but it was just too hot out. It was so nice and cool in the house. I thought to myself, "why stand in front of a rack of hot coals in the humidity, when I can be cooking in air conditioned comfort?" I know. I know...I'd be warming up the kitchen and all, but...

I had a whole chicken from None Such Farms that I cut up. I decided to make a stew or roast in my cast iron skillet and serve it with a nice summer salad.

I have had my cast iron skillet since 1979. It's a 12" American-made model that I've cured and nurtured through the years. It's been a workhorse, one that I appreciate almost every day.

 

Here's how I made this Skillet Roasted Chicken:

I sprinkled the chicken parts with salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin and pimentón (sweet Spanish paprika) and let it sit while I started the base for the roast.

I cut 2 thick slices of bacon into 1/4" batons and crisped them in the skillet with about 2 T olive oil. I took them out with a slotted spoon and drained them on paper towels. In the same skillet with the bacon drippings I browned the seasoned chicken in two batches. I set the chicken aside.

After draining off all but about 2 T of the grease, I added a big glug of olive oil to the skillet. To that I added 1 small onion, sliced and 1 bell pepper, sliced and some salt and freshly ground black pepper. I softened the veggies for about 6 minutes. I added 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves and cooked that down for about 1-2 minutes, until aromatic. To that I added about 10 small cherry tomatoes, cut in half. Then I added 2 bay leaves and 3 sprigs fresh oregano (you can substitute a pinch of dried if you don't have any fresh). I deglazed the whole thing with 1/2 cup dry white wine, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the skillet. Then I added the bacon and reduced the sauce for about 5 minutes. I poured the sauce with the vegies and bacon into a bowl. Then I put the chicken back in the skillet in a single layer, poured the sauce, vegies and bacon over the whole thing. I then roasted the chicken in a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes.

I took the chicken out when it was done and gave it a squeeze of half a lemon and topped it with sea salt.

It was delicious with a salad and warm crusty bread. And I stayed inside in the cool AC watching an episode of Veep, All so good...

 

One of the new cool, and highly functional, products we've brought into the store is this light weight griddle that can be used to make this recipe. It can also be used on a grill for a great side dish of potatoes or other vegies. 

As always, thanks for checking in! Until next time. Ciao!

 

 

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